Friday, November 28, 2008


On the subway I sat across from a woman in whose lap rested a bag with a chihuahua poking out of the top. The woman lovingly stroked the head of the animal, who rested contentedly, eyes closed. A garbled voice announced 181st St., and the dog's eyes sprang open. Two aquamarine opaque beams emerged from under its lids. The eyes searched blindly, then the dog closed his lids again as the woman's petting reassured him that all was safe. Between 181st and 190th the lids fluttered open and closed intermittently, revealing those ghostly orbs, a hybrid of cujo and yoda. There is someone for everyone, even for a blind chihuahua.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Jazzy Hair

Yesterday on the subway-- the slow weekend local from 190th street to 14th-- my mind wandered and I began eavesdropping. Beside me sat a young boy leaning on his uncle. All of the sudden, the boy reached up and stroked the older man's head. I want you to grow your hair out, the boy said while petting the man's closely cropped hair, I want to see your jaaaazzy hair again. The older man laughed, you don't like my hair? he asked. Nope, the boy replied, when you got married you had jaaazzy hair. You shouldn't cut your hair no more, I like it jaaazzy, the boy finished. It was a command made playful by the older man's laughter and the smiles of the elderly couple across from me.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


The first snowfall is trying to arrive. The temperature has been waiting for it all week. Too cold to walk to work anymore, and the Rose Man wasn't on his corner this Friday. The wind whips off the Hudson and swirls around Fort Tryon Park where I went running this morning. My dog and I maneuvered up and down ice-covered paths, concentrating hard, trying not to slip. We made it to the river, where my dog looked up at me with eyes made tearful by the wind. Why are you doing this to me, his eyes questioned. I had the same question for myself. Three hours later I am still trying to coax the chill out of my bones.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


It is sad to write this. Friday, as I was walking down W170th St., I found an impromptu shrine to a young man. It stood in front of one of those behemoths of apartment buildings common to Washington Heights. The wall to the left of the entryway was plastered with photos of the young man, smiling with arms draped around friends. On the ground spluttered veladoras (religious candles) next to a combination of plastic and quickly wilting fresh flowers. Propped against the building was a silver car bumper, every inch covered in signatures with the accompanying inscription: "RIP, bro".

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Winter for Real

Winter has taken up shop in NYC. People have become introverted and reclusive, locking themselves away from the cold and each other. It was a few minutes past five, but already pitch black when I went running tonight. I dressed up in those special high-tech clothes that are supposed to wick away cold, but really just cost a lot of money and make you smell funny. Most of the leaves have fallen off the trees now. I swished my feet through thick puddles of them and felt like a kid. Standing on the Linden Terrace, the view of the Hudson opened up more widely in front of me. Most of the trees have turned into skeletons. But the George Washington Bridge has come alive. It winked at me with its outline of twinkling lights. I was alone and it could have been midnight.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Flowers on Fridays

Yesterday (Friday) I walked home from work for the first time in many weeks. Lately the weather has been cold, and my feet need a break from pounding the pavement. But yesterday the clouds hung low and gray, like a blanket holding in the city's warmth. As I neared George Washington Bridge my steps quickened. I wondered if the Rose Man would be on his corner. There he stood, remembering me after all these weeks. I asked him in Spanish, does he sell roses even during the winter? He said yes, but for fewer hours when it's really cold. Good for me, bad for him, I thought. Now I can buy roses all winter long, but he would freeze. This week, I chose five orange roses and he added a sixth with a flourish. I've become a regular customer.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post-Election Day Euphoria

Today is President Obama +1 day. At the polls yesterday, people were one of the following: excited, grumpy (about the wait), or anxious (about the outcome). Some people were a combination of all three. When the results came in last night, I had trouble concentrating on telephone conversations with friends. My eyes constantly darted to the changing electoral vote tally on the TV screen. Walking to work this morning, the neighborhood (and New York City... and the nation... and the world) breathed a sigh of relief. Someone had plastered their entryway with the cover of the Daily News: Obama Makes History! Now the media's obsession with the presidential race can end. Now we can stop suffering from Republican sound bites. Now we can begin recovering from the mess of the last eight years.

Monday, November 3, 2008

NYC Marathon

Yesterday was the NYC marathon. I caught the 4 hour finishers as they ran down Cat Hill near the Metropolitan Museum. My thoughts returned to the last two years, when I was one of them trudging along. At the 24 mile mark, every painful step is painful is filled with joy. Finishing is just about guaranteed at that point. This year, the weather cooperated in a clear blue sky and I was content to stand on the sidelines. Last year I'd vowed never to run a marathon again, but to cheer along others. This year, without needing a week of recovery I tasted the excitement and pride of tens of thousands heading down the home stretch. Once you've run the NYC marathon, you don't have to continue proving it to yourself.