Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve and the snow is falling fast. The windows in the employees' lunch room look onto a Hudson obscured by dense white clouds. Snowflakes stick to the window panes and threaten to form a crust. The Greek man who runs the lunch room, and who usually pretends not to know me, wishes me a Happy New Year as he rings up my soup. People smile (genuinely) in the hallways. After the enforced joviality of the holidays, New Year's Eve is a welcome rebirth, a renewal of hope.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Subway Jazz

Saturday night, waiting for the A train (running late night local) at 59th St., I walked away from John Lennon's "Yesterday" sung as a durge, and into the cheer of "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay". Sometimes in New York, to change your mood all you have to do is walk a few feet down the subway platform. I sat on a bench listening to the old man croon Otis Redding, and thought, thank God for people who have the guts to sing their hearts out. They are a gift to us all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Yesterday I was taking the subway down to the Upper West Side. Also on the platform were two mariachis in cowboy hats and pointed boots. As they waited, they tried out new combinations: a stretch of the accordion followed by the strum of a guitar. I've seen these guys on other subway trains, usually in groups of three. They walk into the car and, as the doors close, fill it with Mexico. But these guys were missing their third wheel. Sitting on the back of the bench, they looked lonely.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Oboist

Down the hall from me lives an oboist. I don't know his name, or even whether he is really a she. All I know about this neighbor is music, the melancholy notes tinged with the exotic (like a snakecharmer) that float down the hall during practice. When I was a teenager, I played the oboe and was quite good. I want to knock on his door and ask "Can you hook me up with some reeds?" the way a junkie might ask for a fix. The addiction of music is strong after all these years.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Back Row

Last night at the Nutcracker ballet I sat in the back row beside a couple with their arms draped around each other. As the curtain went up, they didn't change position. Throughout the ballet, they leaned close and giggled: at the toy solders, at the rat king, at the Christmas tree that grew, and grew, and grew. All this didn't seem so romantic to me, surrounded by fidgety children dressed in red velvet frocks. It reminded me of the couple next to whom I'd sat while watching Indiana Jones, the woman in tight leopard print pants, the two overflowing their seats to cling to each other. I guess no matter where the back row is, it's still the back row.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Native American in Washington Heights

Today, as I waited at the Starbucks outside NY Presbyterian's ER, the man ordering in front of me looked Native American. He had a great mass of straight black hair that stretched in an uninterrupted cascade to his mid-back. He wore a beige leather jacket and leather pants with fringes. Around his neck hung a broad necklace made of white stones (bone?), and his profile resembled Geronimo. He reached into a leather paunch slung around his waist, pulled out a five, and paid for his double latte with soy. Was he the real thing? I once worked on a Navajo reservation, where I would not have doubted (oh the turquoise boulders that the old people wore!). But here in Manhattan, you have to wonder.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Moon over George Washington Bridge

Tonight as I walked through the heather garden a sliver of a moon hung like a fingernail, or a scythe depending on your political persuasion, over the loops of light of the George Washington Bridge. Two bright stars (planets) twinkled to the bottom right of the moon. I wondered: was it Jupiter? Or Saturn? I hoped at least one of them was Venus. I could use a little love in my life right now. The night was warm for December, though a cool breeze swept off the Hudson. I sucked in my breath, overwhelmed by beauty.