Saturday, April 22, 2006

The trouble with Sagittarians

As a 7th grader, living in Manhattan had its ups and downs.. Back then in the '70's, before Giuliani or whichever mayor shipped all the bad elements to the East river, the streets were packed with creepy contruction guys and crude street hooligans, just waiting to prey on innocent girls.. I remember walking down the street one day and a superfly looking dude slithering his arm around my shoulders and saying, 'Yo mama, you lookin' good today'.. I was 13, and not amused.. I removed his arm and said 'I'm NOT your mama', and walked away indignantly.. Nearly 3 decades later (am I THAT old? How did that happen?) my take on NYC is completely different.. I go to the city now to satisfy my wanderlust.. I'm always in the best mood there, the coffee tastes incredible, the pedestrians are fascinating in their ethnicity, the bums are refreshingly candid.. I'm walking down the street, starry-eyed and grinning at how happy I am to be alive and taking in all the excitement that is New York, passing corner stores that carry the freshest floral bouquets from Holland, suave old men walking their jack russells decked out in their little scottish capes.. I'm so content, I almost wish a brick would fall out of a window and kill me, because how can it get any better than this? And I pass a crazy street lady cursing at all the oblivious white people enjoying their mornings.. 'All these FUCKING people!' I pass her, still grinning, because it's kind of hysterical, and then she says about me as I pass 'BITCH!' I'm nearly laughing aloud, because my bluebirds are still dancing around my head in my perfect little world in my perfect little city.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Your Mother's Better than My Mother..

It was a late night conversation with my oldest friend Lena (name changed so she doesn't get in a huff).. I met her back in junior high school in Manhattan.. I was 12.. We both had extremely unconventional families.. My father and older brother and I lived in a loft designed as a photographers studio.. My bedroom was a darkroom, and my bed the place where photos are suppossed to get developed.. I was a precocious pre-teen who thought she had it all figured out.. Then I met Lena, a really sweet, friendly girl, who always wore a scarf around her hair which made her look about 35.. She wanted me to come over after school one day, but was embarrassed by her poverty.. I reassured her that our furniture consisted of electrical spools used as tables found on the street, so she felt ok about the whole thing.. Her mother was this very sweet little old lady who kept offering me iced tea.. She was eccentric, and often embarrassed her two daughters.. Like when she took us all to see Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman, everytime a suggestive scene came on, she'd put a paperbag over Lena's little sisters head.. Rose was Catholic, and occasionally would just sit and talk to herself aloud about how Lena and I shouldn't be friends because I was Jewish.. Lena was mortified, but I knew Rose was a little disconnected from reality sometimes, and didn't take it personally.. I knew she really liked me anyway, because when we all went to Roosevelt Island, she made sure to buy me Mountain Dew soda and a bag of sour cream and onion potatoe chips.. And I was very touched, because I knew sometimes they didn't even have enough money to eat .. You overlook some things, once someone shows they care about you, especially when you're craving that attention that your own family hasn't given you.. I overlooked the really bad smell I noticed one day in their house, too.. Well, not totally.. 'Lena? What's that disgusting smell?' 'I don't know.. It's that bag.. Ma!! What's in that bag??' 'Oh, I saw a dead bird on the street, I felt sorry for it..' MA!!!' (from both daughters) 'You can't keep a dead bird in the house!!' 'He's not hurting anyone'... Flash to my own mother.. My mother has suffered from depression all of her life, but I never really acknowledged it, and just thought she was absent.. Now that she's nearly 70, I'm faced with it and not sure how to approach her oncoming move into needing a caretaker.. So many different issues.. And my approach is to feel responsible, but also dread at having to figure out what she should do with her life..I'm still trying to work out stuff in my own life, so the prospect of directing a severely depressed woman into happiness is a little overwhelming.. So that night Lena and I agreed to trade mothers.. It's a perfect idea! I instantly felt stress dissipate at the exchange.. Something about perception of hardship intensifies it all, and I think we are all too close to our own situations to be objective.. So my first task as Rose's new daughter was to convince her to move into this great senior housing apartment in Manhattan.. Rose had been living in Brooklyn for about 15 years, and complaining the whole time that she wanted to go back to Manhattan.. It would make everyone's lives much easier, as Rose doesn't get around very easily, and complains loudly when Lena or her sister Jenny try and get her on a senior minibus.. They're so convenient, and come right to her house, inexpensive.. But she yells, 'I'm not OLD, I don't need this thing!' and then when they do get her on it, she scowls the whole time.. And makes loud comments about the other poor, down-trodden travellers.. 'Look at that man, he looks retarded!' Lena and Jenny just duck down and pretend they're not with her.. So Lena makes this big effort with the apartment in Manhattan.. Rose needs to be interviewed by the manager first.. Lena takes the day off from work, is on her way over to Rose's house, and calls her on the cell phone to let her know she'll be over soon.. Rose: 'Yes, that woman called me.. I told her I didn't want that apartment'.. Lena flipped out, 'Ma! What do you mean you told her you didn't want the apartment?? Do you know how hard it is to get an affordable place in Manhattan??' 'Oh, another one will come up'.. Lena was too angry to continue the conversation.. So she relays all this to me.. I tell her 'Let me talk to Rose, she'll listen to me.. We have the same birthday' .. Lena is thrilled someone else is getting involved.. I haven't spoken to Rose in about 5 years.. The last time I spoke to her, the whole family was at my house for Thanksgiving.. We were all having a great time, til Rose realized that the girls had meant for her to spend the night at my house.. They tried to convince her that we'd go for a nice drive in the country the next day..She was furious with them.. She doesn't like her routine disturbed.. Plus I didn't have a clock in my house at the time, and it was driving her crazy.. We all went to sleep by about midnight.. I kept hearing Rose every hour.. I was in a sound, peaceful sleep, then I was woken by Rose proclaiming 'How can you live without a clock? I need to know what time it is!' Back to sleep I went.. Again I was woken by her voice in the night: 'Operator? Can you tell me what time it is?' Back to sleep I fell (a perk of being a distance runner.. You can always fall right back to sleep!) Rose's voice again in the night, musing sarcastically: 'Go for a country drive! You'd think they saw enough of the country on the busride up here!' I had to laugh at that one..
OK, so I call Rose as requested.. I was getting excited about talking to her, so many years had gone by, I tend to lose touch with people, and then wonder why because I remember that I really liked them? Anyway, I figured I'd warm her up a little with catch-up talk.. I told her how I ran my first marathon last year.. I asked her if she'd ever gone to watch the NYC marathon.. She said one year she did, she was up at Columbus circle.. I got all excited, 'Yeah! That's around mile 22 where the runners enter the park!' 'Yes,' she said, 'I took a photo there'.. More excitement from me, 'Oh! Did you get a picture of the elite runners in the front or just the crowds of runners?' 'I got a picture of a nice statue in the park'.. Yeah, she's a sagittarius alright.. So I snuck in the first question about the apartment: 'So I heard Lena found a really nice apartment for you in Manhattan.. You weren't interested?' 'I like where I live.. It's on the first floor'.. That sounded reasonable.. 'Yes, but Lena and Jenny could visit you a lot more if you lived in Manhattan'.. She changed the subject.. I felt bad, I could tell it was uncomfortable for her, but I also knew she was being damn stubborn (typical again of the sunsign!), and that her daughters really knew what was best for her.. 'Rose, I'd hate to see you burn your bridges, apartments are hard to come by'.. I was wondering if she knew how hard Lena worked to get this place for her? Just when I started to think she wasn't with me at all, she said sheepishly, 'Lena came in like a lion and out like a lamb!' I had to hold back from laughing.. Lena was FURIOUS when Rose told the lady she wasn't intersted.. 'Sabotoge! My mother is sabotaging my efforts!!' We talked a little more about our art, and her starting a walking program.. I got off the phone feeling really happy to have talked to her, she's really a sweet person.. But also like my efforts to change her mind were in vain.. The next day I got a call from Lena thanking me, as she spoke w Rose, and she had agreed to take a look at the apartment! I was amazed.. Funny how people take in stuff you've told them and you sometimes think they're not even listening.. *sigh*
And it's 100% easier to help someone elses mother.. Lenas' turn

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Dried persimmons and raising Bantus..

I'm one of the biggest fans of dried fruit.. In particular, dried peaches. When done correctly, they are the most perfect food in the universe. Some fruits however, should never be dried. They can taste like a moist old sneaker. Hence, my first taste of a dried persimmon (a fruit that when fresh is quite delicious), will also be my last. OK, this is quite self-indulgent, this fruit-rant.. If anyone has been wondering where I've been, first THANK-YOU for caring! Second, sorry for neglecting you.. Third, I've been happily just not visiting the computer.. I was working on an art project with an ominous deadline, so I needed time to fret about that a few weeks while doing absolutely nothing about 'getting to business'.. Phew, it's finally finished, and I feel kind of wiped out from the effort, but cleansed and evolved.. But not anxious to get started on another one for maybe another year.. Ha ha, this from a girl who wants to quit her job to do something more creative.. I better find a sugar-daddy if that ever happens.. HA! Next to Gloria Steinheim, (sp?) I'm probably the last person in the world you'd ever find even knowing what a sugar-daddy is, much less hooking up with one.. Luxury to me is ice cubes in my drink.. Socks without holes.. Having all of my limbs.. How would I find use out of a sugar-daddy? (I keep thinking of daddy-long legs when I write that word.. Now THERE'S a useful creature.. Selflessly ridding your house of unwanted other bugs..) OK, I was really going to write about some interesting encounters in NYC this weekend, but the moment passed, and besides, I know you're all getting sick of the running stories.. Well, they'll be back, I just need a little break.. Besides, I just drank a Hoegaarden, so I'm in a festive mood..