Monthly Archives: December 2010

i will kick your ass at yoga. namaste

i will kick your ass at yoga. namaste.The best card ever. I saw this (and stole it off) insideowl’s flickr photostream earlier in the week when I was sick-miserable and needed a laugh. Yes, she’s an ashtangi, but anyone who does yoga knows this phenom inside and out.

Thank you for all the birthday love and wishes yesterday, especially those who braved my germs and came by. I had a wonderful day, and am feeling much better, finally. One thing I can say for facebook, it turns once-birthday-well-wishing-delinquents into merry makers. I see the magic every day and it brings me cheer.

I noticed, on walking to the store for some supplies yesterday, that the grin was still on. Not from the snow, and certainly not from the ten-foot puddles on every street corner. It was the birthday grin. Yes, I might be sick as a dog but still I love my birthday. And yours. It’s, for me, fundamentally a love of life, and age, and wisdom.

Happy birthday cousin Tony. And, of course, LeBron.

And do not forget: I will kick your ass at yoga. Namaste.

(If anyone knows where one might purchase this card, let me know and I’ll happily link there. I’d love a few myself.)

i love snow

snow
116th and Broadway, February 1993

I’m more than kind of stir crazy. Fourth day of being home sick. Well, First Day I was home not sick but avoiding crowds and simply enjoying home. That night sick arrived just before Santa. Now I’m talking to myself and wondering why big dogs are so cool and little dogs are so hideous (except Daschunds. They are so cute they would never bark. Being so attractive, they don’t need to cry for attention). For example, the neighbor’s little dog that barks at all hours. 11pm? 12am? 2am? 6:30am? Acceptable? They seem to think so. My God, it’s like India. I slept from 12a-6:30a because of that mongrel’s owners. Not so much sleep for a person recovering from massive cold about to have a birthday.

Thanks for the calls and emails and stuff. I appreciate the support. I used to sing made-up songs to myself, loudly, when I was little and sick for awhile. I am just not good at staying put and doing not so much, unless I’ve made a point of it. And hey, even if I did make a point of it (the xmas quiet time), the sick part just switches it up. This was not part of the bargain.

Just when she thought it was time to relocate to tropical island, it snows. Ooooooooooooh, snow.

Saturday: Xmas. West Side Market for the citrus and seltzer. No snow.

old carSunday: Whole Foods for more seltzer and stuff, 4pm. Blizzard has started. Day after Christmas. My waterproof boots are at work, so I did what my mother did when I was little. She put bread bags over her socks to make her shoes water resistant—to her feet anyway. So I got out my sneaks and plastic shopping bags (yes, I ask for plastic. I use them for trash bags. What do you use? Do you, like, buy plastic bags for trash?), wrapped my feet up, stuffed the bags under my jeans, and headed out. Day after Christmas, but no one is out shopping. No one is out at all. The few who are seem kind of grumpy and look at me strangely. Then I realize it’s because I’m grinning from ear to ear. I don’t know why, other than I sure love snow. Do you know this smile? Unwitting and huge, your spirit feels light, and there you are, in the moment, enjoying life like mad even if your nose is running and you have plastic west side market bags tied around your ankles? (And it can’t be due to something epic or cliche, like sex or a sunset.) Snow has this effect on me.

In a smaller way, so does shopping in an empty Whole Foods, which is unheard of. Beautiful. I’m not sure where everyone was. It wasn’t really that that bad out and snow is gorgeous and fun. I filled my basket with smoked salmon (oooh, protein and smooth on the throat), green & blacks maya gold (addiction), some rice (they have Lundberg. Better quality than trader joe’s), and yogurt (ditto). Oh! They have my favorite yogurt: Redwood Hill Farms Goat Milk Yogurt. Hmm. At $7 it’s not my usual choice, handsome as the goat on the label may be. But, it’s my favorite week. And I’m a goat. (My ma’s a goat. LeBron’s a goat. You get it. Sea-goats.) Yes, I’ll take it.

I bought tissues, too. Unfortunately, recycled, which are not suitable for a cold (they’re good for kitchen clean-ups though). As a result my upper lip and under-nose are like leather.

While checking out (zero line—I picked the middle line with no one in it and was called before the people on each side of me, there before I was. Snow-lover’s luck), the woman asked me if it was still coming down. She didn’t look too pleased about it, so I put on a stern face for her and said, “Yes, I’m afraid so.” You have to do this for New Yorkers, myself included, to be polite. It’s not nice to revel in your love of thunderstorms or frigid wind-chill, or, yes, blizzards, when they make everyone else’s life hell.

And if you were (or are) stuck somewhere (God forbid on the A-train in the Rockaways all night), I do feel for you. I’m not gloating. I just love snow, that’s all. Since I was a small fry, it’s been true.

More about my little trek today, but thank heavens, I’m tired and off to bed.

xmas misery

ma-carol-xmas
Mom (center), Aunt Carol, and Santa. circa 1947. Adorable. The misery part comes next.

I had planned on a quiet, reflective Christmas this year, but not this quiet. Christmas Eve, out of nowhere, my throat swelled, my nose congested, and my energy plummeted. Usually my body allows a few days for all this to develop, but this something took me down right quick. And usually I ignore a cold, going on about my business, but it seems not an option. I’ve only been out once in the last 48hrs—to buy two grapefruits, three oranges, six lemons, and four bottles of seltzer. Merry Christmas.

Though it’s sad not to be close to family and friends on xmas, there are phones. And frankly, I know so many who dreaded their holiday plans that I felt lucky to do my own thing.

Until I got sick.

But oh well. It was still a nice day. Yes, the title is probably better suited to those who sat around while various family members insulted everything dear—or worse—but it made you click, didn’t it. I chatted it up with loved ones and went through photos and opened a present or two, saving the rest for my birthday, and heard, long-distance, how my pressies went over. I love to use the last week of the year—my favorite—to reflect and relax. A bit more challenging when my head feels like it’s about to combust.

Yes, I am drinking liquids.

I had wanted to get so much done at home this week. But I will revel in what I accomplished this year, most immediately, the photo archive. I finished! On Thursday, I tagged the 9,087th photo. All my digitized images are there. I’m not done with everything. There are still a few projects I want to edit (e.g. the NGOs in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan), and I’ve only posted some selects to January 2000 on flickr. There are also undigitized photos and travels not represented: Greece, Turkey, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, and so on, weren’t scanned for various reasons, only some of them tragic (missing negs).

Photo at upper right is of Santa in Jackson Heights, Queens.

I also saw my first Will Ferrell movie (Elf), then watched my boys, all festive in red, beat the Lakers. Definitely good for the immune system. 🙂 Happy holidays.

2010 forgotten vignettes

NewYork_2010-09_802-lobbyWhen I first moved into 802, an art deco building in Washington Heights, I adored the mural of the prancing maiden and her leashed—antelopes?—in the lobby. I still love them and the quaint building. But one day last summer, I walked in and saw these hideous sofas placed in front of her. It was clearly a sign: my days in 802 were numbered. Before these, there had been an equally old and musty sofa, but it was less gaudy, and the color at least matched her blouse.

As I packed to move, I heard lots of great stuff on NPR (like astrophysicist Brian May’s Bohemian rhapsody interview) that I wanted to look up and listen to again, undistracted, but didn’t have the time. When I was writing the chrissie/lebron/akron bit, I remembered the Rita Dove piece I heard on Selected Shorts: Strong Men, Stronger Women and intended include her in post (yes, she’s from Akron), but forgot. When I unpacked American Smooth I remembered. It demands a listen. (I listen to stuff when I clean. Makes it bearable.)

Dance is woven through American Smooth and it makes me wish, again, I had more time to dance and time to learn more. But I’ve barely time to do the things I’m committed to do well. It does make me sad that American culture has such little place for gathering to dance. One of the reasons, surely, why we are so fragmented.

Yesterday, I saw Barbara Ehrenreich on PBS. She mentioned her book: Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy. A nice change from her usual reportage about America becoming more and more like a third world country because of government favoritism of the wealthy and the insane wealth disparities that have resulted. (Did you know that “janitorial service” is the fastest growing job in the USA?) And because we don’t dance. My assertion, not hers. Maybe hers—I haven’t read the book yet.

american_smoothMy decision to finally get the internet at home so I could watch PBS (inspired, I admit, by the Circus! ads on the subway) was not misguided.

I just happened upon this line from Rita Dove, from an interview with Robert McDowell: “In African American culture, dance has always been a key element—a communal activity that soothed and united all levels.” From my travels, it seems to be that dance is something that brings people together in most cultures, save white, protestant countries. Though to be fair, some white, protestant ministers appreciated dance. Dance was a part of my Lithuanian family, though mostly in stories of days gone by. After my grandmother died, I went to a party at the Lithuanian-American club in NYC (not somewhere I generally frequent), and we danced and danced until the wee hours. At least, the older folks did. I went to a friend’s elaborate Indian wedding a few months ago, and everyone danced. What a joy!

_________________________________________

Bolero by Rita Dove

Not the ratcheting crescendo of Ravel’s bright winds
but an older,
crueler

passion: a woman with hips who knows when to move them,
who holds nothing back
but the hurt

she takes with her as she dips, grinds, then rises sweetly into his arms again.
Not

delicate. Not tame. Bessie Smith in a dream of younger,
(can’t you see?)
slimmer

days. Restrained in the way a debutante is not, the way a bride
pretends she
understands.

How everything hurts! Each upsurge onto a throbbing toe, the prolonged descent
to earth,

to him (what love & heartache done to me), her body ferocious,
a grim ululation
of flesh—

she adores him. And he savors that adoration, this man in love
_________________________________________with looking.

She feels his look,
his sigh

and she moves, moves with him to the music in the space
_________________________________________allotted them,

spot lit across
the hardwood floor.

xmas in oz

Australia_2009-12-13_NullaborWA_009No, I’m not in Oz. Only in the archive. I’ve finally made it to the 2009-2010 Australia trip. Only one year left! And who isn’t burning for an update? Today I’m on December 15, 2009: Cactus Beach, Eastern Nullarbor, SA, image 8,263. Wow. What a country.

These joyful Christmas kangaroos were tied to the campsite kitchen door at Fraser Rage Station, on the far Western end of the Nullarbor.

While I admit I’m never thrilled about the cold, NYC is especially pretty and festive this time of year, and I’m glad it’s still my home. Editing the Australia photos confirms that—though it was an amazing trip in a truly stunning country (with the weirdest, coolest animals in the world).

Going through the photos makes me want to tell the stories, of course. The scenery is so stunning and gorgeous. Once again, I’m looking back to tell stories about trips in the past, because I didn’t want to spend too much time on the computer while traveling, and because I didn’t have time when I got back. Time does give interesting perspective, though. On a 5,881 mile road trip, you can be sure there are fantastic tales.

Few Australians make that trip across the Nullarbor, and many think it’s crazy (particularly in a 1997 Holden Commodore station wagon, affectionately known as Green Dragon). For all the traveling Aussies seem to do in the world, many don’t see much of their own country. Strange, but I certainly didn’t mind the pristine, empty beaches. So beautiful.

Update: I made it to December 17, 2009! The birthday of not one, but two great-nephews (HB Porter & Isaac!). I’m stopping for now on image 8360, one year ago today, with the realization that I did not shoot at all on the stretch in South Australia from Port Augusta, down the B82, with its cute towns, to Adelaide, over to the Great Ocean Road, where I picked up on December 20th.

useful gadgets

This morning on the train from yoga to work, I sat down next to a co-worker with whom I chat quite a bit. We half talked and half did our own thing (note to the confused: this is semi-acceptable with an acquaintance on your 8am commute. It is not acceptable on dates, at dinner, &c.). I read an article I’d printed out for train reading and he played with his blackberry. “What is that,” I asked, looking at a fleshy bit with groping hands on his blackberry. It looked quite a bit like male porn.

“No, God no, he said, as he showed it to me. Now it looked kind of like a pregnant woman’s belly. Oh no, no, it was a woman’s ass with a guy’s hands squeezing it, next to some text about a Friday night party. I see. He then proceeded to write a text message and send it to a Ms. Green. Then he erased Ms. Green’s name and wrote, “Ms. Perry.” He did this same-text-name-replacement send more than ten times. I laughed at him. Oh my word. We (women) know they (some men) do this (the, “hey! what’s up?” and the “hey, how are you?” are the most obvious, though anything remotely generic is suspect), but it was hilarious to see in action, especially at 8:20am. I won’t share his dismal explanation. It’s too embarrassing.

the border matters

akronLEbI cannot believe I am quoting a Fox article, but I am. Bill Reiter has confirmed my theory posited in ain’t i a woman, lebron, & akron concrete. Akronites still love LeBron. “The border [between Akron and Cleveland] matters.”

“LeBron is an Akronite—and there’s a huge difference between Akron and Cleveland,” Eric Vaughn says as he sips a beer in downtown Akron. “There’s a natural animosity between Cleveland and Akron, and I think everything that’s played out is an extension of that Cleveland-Akron axis.

“In the end, a dyed-in-the-wool Akronite would do exactly what LeBron did, every time.”

Like I said.

And this was written before LeBron rocked his game last night in Cleveland. It was beautiful. Žydrūnas wasn’t at his best, but he didn’t fuck up. And he’s been the most solid Heat player all season, so who cares if he didn’t score. An Akronite and a Lithuanian out in the world. Awwww.

Now, if the Heat can start playing like a team, well, that would be nice, too.

According to I (tire) Akron, from whom I stole this pic, LeBron James played his very first High School basketball game for St. V’s (where my mom taught) on this day, 11 years ago, December 3rd, 1999, against the Cuyahoga Falls Black Tigers (you know, as in Chryssie’s song My City Was Gone: “I went back to Ohio, but my pretty countryside, had been paved down the middle, by a government that had no pride, The farms of Ohio, had been replaced by shopping malls, and Muzak filled the air, from Seneca to Cuyahoga Falls, said A, O, oh way to go Ohio.”

Happy anniversary, Lebron. And nice work. Thanks for kicking Cleveland ass. And for giving Akronites something to be proud of again.