The Internet

My cousin was married to a computer wiz who we will call CW.  He worked on top-secret defense projects.  This was back in the early 90’s and I’m not sure we should have even known what he did.  One night a number of us were out and we drank a lot.  You know what happens when alcohol flows freely.   The subject of the Internet came up and CW couldn’t stop talking about it.  I had no idea what the Internet was or how it could be used.  CW was passionate about it and decided to sneak us into his office and show us the Internet once and for all.  He brought us through the back door of his office building and we stumbled around in the dimly lit hallways not daring to put any lights on to draw attention to ourselves.  We were beyond tipsy so I’m not really sure how clearly any of us were thinking.  I do remember standing there in the dark peering over his shoulder as I looked at the computer screen.

“I don’t see how I would find any use for this in my life.”

I actually muttered those words out loud with full conviction.

Flash forward twenty years to this past weekend.  I changed Internet providers and things went badly.  I was back in the “non communicative”  early 90’s for two days and was ready to quit the human race by Sunday.  My voice hit a pitch that makes dogs howl and technicians cringe.  As it turns out, my entire life is ruled by the Internet.  I don’t know how that even happened.

The Internet expanded our world so we need not be sitting next to one another to have a conversation.

The Internet expanded our world so we need not be sitting next to one another to have a conversation.

Before disaster struck I finally met up with an old friend last week.  We hadn’t spoken for four years and hadn’t seen one another in 10.  We hit what you might consider “low tide” in our friendship and there was a natural drifting apart.  A Christmas card here or there and then silence.  Back in the 90’s, that silence probably would have stuck but in the age of the Internet silence is a hard thing to keep.  A late night “I wonder what happened to….”  and the next thing you know there that person is on your computer screen.  A friend request came over Facebook and I accepted.   A few months later, an invitation to stop by in my travels.

She lives on a farm with goats.

She lives on a farm with goats.

The funny thing about old friends is the shared interests continue.  We met up for dinner and 7 hours flew by in a blink of an eye.  We were never at a loss for conversation.  The past decade hasn’t been completely kind to either of us.  Yet, there was a lot of laughter in the telling of our tales.  Of course, it was not lost on me that the Internet is what reconnected us.

The pottery studio

The pottery studio

 

Sometimes I want to go back in time and just bop myself on the head.

 

 

Posted in Essay, Friendship, Memories, Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Syracuse

Syracuse 1
I went to Syracuse last week for business. I’ve only been to that city once before and that was 38 years ago. Back then, I was a sixteen year old whose only wish was to see the world. The words swirled and throbbed in my head like a wild drum beat that wouldn’t stop. My friend Michelle had moved to a nearby town and invited me up for a week the summer she had left our neighborhood. I jumped at the chance to travel on my own and begin my tour of the world.

Syracuse 3

My mother, a 1950’s woman, insisted I purchase a “traveling outfit.” It consisted of a pair of beige polyester bell-bottom pants, buffalo sandals with a snappy red paint blob that I added as a decorative element, a black floral polyester top and a polyester scarf around my neck tied in a fashionable knot. I was a country girl trying her best to be chic on a Greyhound bus. There wasn’t a natural fiber on me which is classic for the 1970’s. You can’t imagine the thrill I felt as my bus pulled out the Port Authority Terminal in New York. They might as well have announced on the PA system – “She’s off!”

I should also note that I was the only one dressed for the occasion.

Syracuse 2

Syracuse to me then seemed like such a far off distant place with exotic promise. Seeing it now I could only laugh. The first stop in my “world tour” was a tired city. Salt and the Erie Canal brought wealth years ago and there are buildings with amazing architecture to prove what once was. Still, it remains the first stop in what turned out to be an amazing adventure.

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One more year closer to 100

91

Well, my dad burned through another year.  He celebrated his 91st birthday today.  My brother, sisters and I all took off from work so that we could be with him.  He was pleased.

We took him to a Mexican restaurant where he didn’t recognize the food but enjoyed it just the same.  He’s a meat and potatoes kind of guy but still game for something new even now.  We sang over two bowls of pudding, one for him and the other for the rest of us.  We have to monitor our pudding intake while he just about licked his bowl clean.  Not one of us has his amazing health.  It was then he informed us his goal was to turn 100.  We all laughed and smiled.  I have no doubt he will make it, I just want him to stay as healthy as he is.

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Astoria, Queens

 

Triborough Bridge

My friends Donna and Tom are leaving New York this week. They’re headed to Florida to move permanently into the townhouse they purchased a few years ago. It’s a step towards retirement but no one has actually said that out loud. She’s taking advantage of an opportunity that presented itself and as she mumbled on the phone the other night, “It’s time.”

Donna also said, “I’ve lived in this apartment longer than any other place in my life including my childhood home.” That hit me like a bullet between the eyes. I moved into my apartment a few months after she moved into hers. The year was 1991. Yes, a long time ago and I too have lived the majority of my life at this address. It’s no wonder I’ve grown out of it.

Back in the fall of 2009, I was looking in earnest for a new home.  I explored Brooklyn and in hindsight any purchase there would have been a good one.  I hadn’t yet settled on an apartment when the year 2010 arrived bringing death and destruction to my world. To say my life fell apart, would be an understatement. It imploded on every level and the only thing that kept me grounded was my little apartment here in Chelsea.  Leaving was not only an unthinkable idea but a physically impossible task.

It’s been four years and my health is back. Suddenly, I’m drooling over the real estate web sites again. Only now, what catches my eye I don’t have enough money for.  I want space and charm which demands a hefty sum here in New York.  So, I’m saving.  Dare I mention that New York is a lot less fun on a tight budget?  It is.  The one luxury I’m allowing myself is a game I came up with.  I’m dating neighborhoods.  Dinner, a movie or just a long walk to acquaint myself with places I’ve never been to.  These explorations help me understand the real estate addresses.  I’ve decided to give you a peak into what I’ve seen.

The first is Astoria, Queens.

Ditmas Station

Exactly 55 minutes from Union Square in Manhattan and the very last stop on the N train is Ditmars Blvd. Station.  Down the steps and crossing by the elevated train trestle that rattles with the arrival and departure of every train is Astoria Queens.  The only thing I ever heard about the place was from Christopher Walken’s father.  He owned a bakery in Astoria and one afternoon I sat with him grilling hot dogs as he told me in detail how to bake bread.  We were in Connecticut and he must have been in his 80’s with a soft voice and an accent etched with hints of Queens and Germany.  I was hungry and just sat there nodding.  Later in the day, I learned he wasn’t allowed to eat hot dogs and was horrified as I was the one who brought them.  I didn’t dare mention he had 3 in one sitting and prayed he lived until I was safely on the train back to New York.   It was the early 80’s and Christopher wasn’t the big star he is today and I was his cat sitter in New York when he and his wife were out of town.  His father lived a few more years beyond that afternoon and I had launched into my career by then.

It was my friends Elena and Julia who suggested we explore Astoria and besides bakeries it also boasts of amazing Greek food.  We ate at The Original Stamatis Restaurant which is on 23rd Avenue and a short walk from the subway.  Astoria has a few apartment buildings but it is mostly made up of two story brick houses like the ones pictured below.

23rd Avenue

I’m not sure who named the roads in Queens but it is so confusing that you have to know the neighborhoods by sight.  23rd Avenue is next to 23rd Road which is next to 23rd Terrace with 23rd Street running perpendicular to all of the afore mentioned 23rd’s.  They are all near Astoria Park which boarders the East River with beautiful views of the Tribrough Bridge and Hells Gate Bridge.

Astoria is a sweet area but it just didn’t feel like a place I wanted to call home.  I’ll go back for the food though!

 

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Sunday

Roses

I took the day for my own pleasures.

Overview of the High LIne

Travel for work and various celebrations held by family and friends dot my calendar. I’m away from home more than not and constantly placating to the whims and wishes of others. Yesterday, I realized midway through a graduation party that I had enough energy to drive the 2.5 hours home. Waking in my own bed sounded like a dream in itself.

This morning held not a single plan. I was supposed to be in Pennsylvania. The day stretched out before me and I adopted the attitude of a cat. Languid movements as I headed out the door towards the High Line. I packed up my book, my camera and then ordered a latte at The Grumpy Café. I slowly meandered the side streets towards the entrance on 23rd Street.  Stopped to photograph the roses here and there.   Having so much time felt like a luxury and once up into the park, I soon settled onto a wooden lounge chair. I am reading The Paris Wife by Paula MCLain. It’s based on Hadley Richardson who was Hemmingway’s first wife. It was those years with her that he then later wrote The Moveable Feast. For the first time in my life, I’m interested in reading Hemmingway again. I haven’t since High School and I’m not sure I was ready for him then.

Relaxing on the High Line

While lounging, I texted a neighborhood friend to meet up. We made plans for brunch at Sarabeth’s in Chelsea Market. The eggs are good and in truth, it was the conversation I was craving. We settled around a tiny table in the corner , cradled cups of coffee and filled hours with stories and laughter.  Time flew, which didn’t matter since there was no particular need anchoring the day.

Chelsea Market outside

 

Later, I meant to clean my apartment but thought seeing a movie would be more fun.   I headed over to the Angelika theater where the movie Supermensch; The Legend of Shep Gordan played.  The Angelika is a small theater that placates to a heady crowd.  They have a cafe out front with wooden floors and show only Indie films in the theaters below.  I nestled into my seat in the hushed darkness.  Across the aisle was Mario Batali who strangely enough, was also briefly in the movie.

Shep Gordan is someone who seemed to be able to size up any situation and made the most of it.  I’m hoping to apply some of that attitude starting tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

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June

Spin and Win 1

It’s official, the month of May is over.  This morning I wanted to scream, “That’s a wrap!  Roll the credits.”  I’m not a big fan of the month of May.  It harbors memories and anniversaries that could be considered emotional land mines.  I wrote about it here two years ago.

Sign Las Vegas

The credits for May included my trip to Las Vegas, hiking in Mount Zion State Park and more importantly a sense of accomplishment.  I hiked with a full camera pack in Mount Zion.  It was the first time since 24 lymph nodes were removed from my arm and my heart did sing.  It was pure coincidence that the week I had my four-year cancerversary and my 40th anniversary from nearly becoming road kill that I should be out harnessing my fears and actual physical challenges.  My arm will never be right but I’m learning how to push what I can’t do and winning a few “can do’s” along the way.

Snow Canyon Parking lot

So what did I do on the first day of June?

I met up with my sister Colleen and old friends.  We toured gardens in Madison, CT.  I took the train instead of driving.  Friday night, I returned home late after a week in Texas for computer training.  I inadvertently left the keys to my apartment in the lock of my front door.  Ten hours later, I found them dangling there after searching my apartment for nearly an hour.  It’s obvious, I’m tired. Knowing Madison is a good two-hour drive from Manhattan, I decided to take Metro North.

Grand Central so very dark

Grand Central has magical memories for me.  I brought a New Year in once dancing a Viennese Waltz around the center clock as live orchestra played.  I wore a green velvet dress that a friend loaned me for the night.   Between the music and the dance, I could not contain my exuberance that such a moment was mine.  I still savor the memory.

There was a summer when I used to spend the weekends up in Westin, CT.  Sunday evenings would find me stumbling past the clock with a treasure or two found at a local tag sale.  I can still point out these treasures in my apartment.

Tonight I didn’t bring home any extra items.  I didn’t glide past the clock to any special beat.  Instead, I just stood in the center of it all just smiling.  The day was beautiful, it was good seeing my friends and it’s June.

Posted in Cancer, Essay, Memories, Photography, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Memorial Day Weekend

 

 

Flag in Northport Harbor

Memorial Day.

It’s a sad holiday that also symbolizes the start of my favorite season. A weekend of yin and yang. I spent Sunday with my favorite veteran. He wore a paper poppy wrapped around a button on his shirt.  He’s remembering faces of those who fought by his side.

Poppy 1

When I see the poppy I am reminded that once we had an uncle.  He died in the war and there is nothing left but a few photos and memories kept alive by his brother.  Buried at sea 72 years ago.  My father holds a bouquet of paper poppies and I take one to honor other aunts and uncles who are also missing.    The souls who have fought for me.  I wear it for the rest of the weekend.

We had a barbecue and installed an air conditioner in his bedroom.  He was happy for the attention though we wore him out a bit running up and down stairs.  I also weeded in the garden and decided that the dandelion blooms were blooms just the same.  They decorated the table as we ate.  I collected the greens to eat in my salad on Monday.  He doesn’t use pesticides or even fertilizers.  My father’s weeds are organic.

Dandelions It really was the perfect weekend.  A bit of rain, then sunshine, flowers all in bloom and lots of sleep.  The perfect start to summer.

Rhodedendrums

I hope all of you had a wonderful three days too!

Posted in Essay, Father, Uncategorized | 6 Comments