Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Eras/Errors Remembered

One of my principal childhood friends would have been either 33 or 34 today.

We started bonding at the beginning of 5th grade and hung tough until our massive falling out, the kind that only teenage girls seem to get caught up in, midway through the 9th grade. I only partially remember what we’d been fighting about, but gradually grew up enough to realize it was more my fault than hers.

I think of her every time I hear a ditty from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, and still prominently display the monogrammed piano-shaped music box she gave me. Some of the gold plating has worn off, but the song (“Memory” from Cats) still plays on command.

She killed herself when we were in our early twenties. I found out months afterwards, when I was back home on a break from school and someone handed me a clipped-out obituary blurb from the local paper.  

Her dad worked for the hospital where I candy striped. Post-fallout, when I semi-regularly ran into him in the hallways, he never treated me any differently from when I used to rock out at his house or he used to drive me to school. Details about certain people, places, and politics from that era have become hazy, but I’m pretty sure today’s his birthday too.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

To Dive For

When I passed by my least favorite upscale restaurant earlier today, I thought back to the afternoon I was suckered into having a tea-sandwiches-and-Perrier lunch in there. One of my former bosses has a dehydration problem and she set her plastic bottle of Gatorade on the table. A waiter dashed over and told her to get it out of sight, especially since we were “sitting by the front window.”

Give me an Applebee’s or an I-95 truck stop flapjack shack any day.

My ancestors were peasants. They didn’t need a lot of frills or any airs to have a good time, and I’ve inherited and modernized that mindset (any airs I’ve ever put on have been for comedic effect). When I choose the restaurant/bar, unless it’s for a special occasion, no reservations need to be made and the meal/drinks fest is never ruined by having to continually overhear proclamations such as: “Well, it’s official, Evan and Kit finally bought a house in the Hamptons – but not East Hampton.”

I just consulted a website that belongs to one of lower Manhattan’s finest dive joints to confirm tomorrow night’s happy hour time frame. Reviewing a dive joint’s website can be almost as entertaining as being at the dive itself. One of the house rules this place lists is “no dancing on the tables.” (I read it and wept.)  But tomorrow’s supposed to be another scorcher, so I might bring my purple tin water bottle with me. It’ll go smack dab in the middle of the table, and nobody’s going to try and stop me.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Steps into the Light

Although not all night owls are fascinating, every fascinating person I’ve ever known has been a night owl. I had a nocturnal college professor who, after delivering engagingly detailed hourlong lectures without the aid of any notes, reportedly headed to bed right after our late morning American Lit. class ended.

I like being up and out late too. After-hours antics feel more natural. But when I do have to get up early because of my day job, or travel plans, or weekend breakfast/brunch summits, I get more done throughout the rest of the day.

Lately I’ve been forcing myself to wake up much earlier than I need to, mostly just to see what it’s like. How wholesome are these early birds for real?

5:30 a.m. I open the windows and hear the birds belting out not-half-bad arias, and alarm clocks in the building next door going off at 6:00 and 6:30 and 7:00. I don’t know if my mind works better at this hour, but it definitely works differently. New thought patterns and perspectives are internally popping off, even before I have food and caffeine in me, and they’re helping me get valuable creative work done before 8 a.m.

Still, until I become a mother, there’s no chance of this happening every day. That’s a caffeine-free promise.

From what I’ve seen, when the mainstream media takes up this topic the typical research-based subtext is that early rising is the superior state – if night owls reconfigure themselves into morning people, their moods and outcomes will change for the better. Diurnal propaganda.

I’ll only be reprogrammed so much. But my joining forces with the tweety birds a couple of days a week won’t do anyone any harm. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Poisoned Apples (and Berries, Cherries, and Grapes)

I’ve always been a fresh fruit junkie. I binge on a variety of it every day and (in recent months) the habit has intensified, as my battle with Hashimoto’s disease has steered me onto much more of a natural foods/macrobiotic path. However, I don’t buy organic fruit and keep reading things about non-organic produce that are starting to scare me.

Earlier today, I snacked on cherries from my local chain grocery store. Midway through the tangy feast, I looked down and saw one cherry covered with a layer of white film, as if it hadn’t been slowly and carefully washed 10 minutes earlier.

When it’s not pesticide residue, it’s a pest. Not long ago, I gorged on some freshly washed blackberries. One was harder and chewier than the others. A few seconds later I pulled a live bug out of my mouth.

If foods labeled as “organic” by national chain stores are supposed to be no better than their non-organic counterparts, do I have to get the majority of my fruit from farmers’ markets or a community-supported agriculture program to reduce the amount of toxicity I swallow? Or will a new report soon reveal how shady these routes might be too?

As of three hours ago, I’m scrubbing each piece of fruit I wash with a toothbrush, to scrape off as much gook as possible. Do you know how long this is taking with the cherries, berries, and grapes? But get a load of this advice about how best to wash non-organic produce:  I can’t bear it - farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture it is. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Money Is Good, but People Are Better

I’m getting something professionally framed right now. My framing guy works bankers’ hours, à la the kind of banker who nurses a major coke problem. His place of business can be shuttered up at 3:15 p.m. and then reopened at 5. But I won’t go to anyone else. I wish he were my uncle.

I stopped by his gallery at an early-afternoon hour this weekend and it was closed. I’d anticipated as much and brought along some reading material and my portable canvas lounging chair so I could walk down the block to Central Park and wait for him. When I walked back to the gallery a few hours later, it was Open Sesame.

“You’re working bankers’ hours,” I told him.

“No I’m not,” he shot back, while limping toward me.

“Oh yes you are. I come by in the middle of the afternoon and the gate’s down.”

“I haven’t been well,” he said. “I had hip surgery and was hospitalized. I’m just now getting back into things.”

That was my cue to cut it.

He asked if I was a musician, thinking the lounging chair that was rolled up and strapped behind my shoulder was a musical instrument.

A visit with him isn’t much different from watching an installment of The Cosby Show. It’s a shame when it’s over and there’s usually a feel-good message or moral to take away from the experience.

I haggled to get the total price of the job to come down and he didn’t object. He told a story about his physically abusive mother who used to beat him with her heels. One beating was in reaction to his having stolen some money. She told him that “money is good, but people are better” and he’s always remembered that. It’s interesting that she taught him a “you should value people” lesson at or around the time she was roughing a person up, but if this is the childhood memory that persuades him to stick to a negotiable-prices policy, who am I to over-analyze?

On my way out he introduced me to someone, telling her that I’m very strong and if she ever needs a bodyguard, I’m the one she’ll want. How does he instinctively know me so well? I’ve been preoccupied with the bodyguard motif for 2 years! Now that he’s in this frail condition, the next logical move would be my stepping up to become his (bankers’ hours only) bodyguard, at a negotiable fee.