Nonsense

Deep Breath In…now hold it until you find sensible workout clothes!

img_8830

Early yesterday morning I was extolling the virtues of yoga for back care to a friend, and the conversation goosed me to do what I’ve been putting off for a year, buying new workout clothes.  Should be easy, no? Everywhere you look are women wearing yoga pants and capris, with oh so cute little bondage straps–err, sports bras.

I’m picky.  Yoga gear should be form fitting enough that you can easily check your alignment, and not have everything rolling up, rolling down, and twisting under you.  You should be able to move freely in whatever you’re wearing.   I had looked online last week.  Good grief, $100 for a pair of yoga pants?  By the time $60 began to look reasonable, I knew it was time to step away from the laptop.  And so I went to the local discount sporting goods store, where I was sucked into the vortex of fluorescent pink sports bras with perfectly coordinated checkered capris.  A mere $75 for an outfit.  No. Went home, went back online, found some things that were more reasonably priced, and purchased nothing.  Better prices aren’t really better if I can’t tell exactly how something is going to fit, if it will actually be comfortable to move in but discreet enough to throw a long t-shirt on top and run the girl to school.

Yeah, I’ve seen some of those inexpensive pieces in person, and they’re barely opaque enough to qualify as tights.  And the rest–including some of the very priciest ones–seem to be manufactured and promoted by the same sadists who came up with Spanx.  How the fuck am I supposed to execute a smooth downward facing dog if I’m busy trying to force air into my lungs?  Now I’m sure the idea is to hold in and hide all the rumply bits you’re trying to smooth away with exercise, but they seem to have forgotten one thing.  That excess of skin/cellulite/*gasp*/flab?  It doesn’t actually disappear with the bondage gear, just gets pushed up over the waistband and down under the rib band.  Thanks, I feel so attractive.

And ah, the sports bras. I get it, if your workout is high impact, you might want something with more hold. But for yoga?  With the way most of these things are structured, I expect mammogram results to pop out when I take them off.  And why is the choice that either they come with pads thick and durable enough to walk by themselves or no room in the design for nipples, let alone breasts?

When, exactly, did workout clothes become yet another haute couture arena?  This may be sacrilegious to say in 2016, but as long as it’s reasonable enough to get on and off the subway in, I don’t care what this stuff looks like.  I don’t care if the sports bra matches the t-shirt matches the shorts.  Maybe I’d feel differently if I worked out in a gym, or a class, and was being seen by others.  Actually, this likely contributes to why I prefer to stick to the privacy of my living room.  If you’re headed to an appointment, or date, or work, after you work out, go ahead and live a little by getting dressed in real clothes.  They don’t have to be fancy, just yanno, clean–something you haven’t spent an hour sweating in.

So yes, I went shopping in one of the basic discount stores yesterday, determined to be successful.  If I don’t care about the fashion statement, how hard could it be? First off, I thought it was the perfect time of year to replace my workout shorts (I like to wear shorts for yoga in the hot weather, sue me).  There were indeed two racks of shorts in the clearance racks of the “athleisure” department.  Are you freaking kidding me? Lycra microshorts.  Just right for the woman who wants her already sagging butt cheeks to fall out during child’s pose.  Fine, forget the shorts.  I grabbed every sports bra, yoga pant, and capri that I could find that looked like it might fit, didn’t feel like it was made from that magical duck tape/spandex blend, was under $20 and headed to the dressing room.

I could have skipped the early morning yoga session, because just trying all this crap on certainly counted as a workout.  Mrs Fringe is not a large woman.  That said, as a woman-of-a-certain-age, I’m not as small as I used to be.  These things are obviously all designed for the prepubescent among us.  In real clothes, I wear a size 6 or 4, depending on the cut and the “designer,” usually need a petite (except in pants, my legs are oddly long for a short woman), and I needed– needed–mediums in this stuff.  What the fuck?  What about women who are truly curvy?  Or, god forbid, a bit more than full figured?  Are they banished to the dismal plus-sized rack at the back because they wear a size 12 (which doesn’t necessarily mean more than full figured)? When I came home I saw the brouhaha online about a well endowed teacher in a dress that covered her completely but was, ahem, form fitting.  I wouldn’t wear it, but I like things that are roomy.  Not sack cloth and ashes, but what I consider breathable. Appropriate for work? I don’t know, but I know for sure that is a woman who would be hard pressed to find something off the rack that fit her without being either tight or tent like.

Wikipedia tells me the goal of yoga is moksha–liberation.  Looking at the western yogi-gear offerings, I suspect something has been lost in translation.  If you’re wondering, I did wear my new gear this morning and got on the train wearing my new (see above photo) slightly baggy olive-green capris, crayola-box purple sports bra, and big ocean-blue long sleeved t-shirt. I left the falsies behind.

Halloween decor?

Halloween decor?

Yesterday’s Yesterdays

IMG_8713

The other night I went for dinner with a friend I haven’t seen in (well) over twenty-five years.  I’ll admit to being a bit, umm, nervous? before going.  Completely silly, because I was the one who initiated the plans, but there you have it.  What would I say? Talk about? Edit? Would she roll her eyes as I yacked about my non-writing, much as I was determined to not talk about it?  Would the evening be a minefield of awkward pauses, as I thought about all. the. things. it would be best not to discuss?  Would I recognize her (also silly, I’ve seen the Facebook photos)? As it turns out, I knew it was her from a block away, and she told me I haven’t changed. Aah, the beauty of aging vision.  In any case it was a lovely evening and we gabbed for a solid four hours.

In keeping with the week’s theme of living in the past, pretending Nerd Child is not headed to college in three days, we went to New York’s Ren Faire yesterday.  Because we are a family of nerds, this is something we’ve always enjoyed, and it’s been several years since all five of us were able to attend together.  Who am I kidding, I love this freaking event, I don’t go “for the kids” and if I had the money I’d go every year–several times. Though not one of those who go and camp for the season.  Mostly because

Privy my left foot, I know a port-a-potty when I smell one.

Privy my left foot, I know a port-a-potty when I smell one.

Why do I love this bit of nonsense?  It doesn’t make sense, I couldn’t even read historical romance (when I read romance) because I couldn’t get past thinking about things like lice and scabies and body odor and the lack of indoor plumbing in days of yore.  Seriously, imagine what that knight smelled like when he removed his armor. I’m thinking weeping, festering body sores.

Still, it’s a romanticized era, with heroes and fantasy blended together (because so much fantasy is set in a fictionalized medieval-like setting), fancy feathers and dresses wrapped in great gusts of dust and mead.

It’s true, the fantasy aspect in these fairs is stretched to the limits, and while some of the booths and displays, and actors work hard to achieve authenticity along with comedy, you definitely don’t attend for the historical accuracy.

leather breastplates sold next to

leather breastplates sold next to

pirate costumes next to

pirate costumes next to

bet you never knew renaissance royalty liked a good pho with their turkey legs

bet you never knew renaissance royalty liked a good pho with their turkey legs

camel rides. They gave every camel a break after each ride around the ring. This guy was having the best time playing with his hay.

camel rides. They gave every camel a break after each ride around the ring. This guy was having the best time playing with his hay.

I need a dragon. To keep my unicorn company, of course.

I need a dragon. To keep my unicorn company, of course.

All kinds of crazy, fun, and interesting sights.

We spent quite a while watching the glass blowing demonstration.

We spent quite a while watching the glass blowing demonstration.

IMG_8717 IMG_8720

Pickle vending pirate?

Pickle vending pirate?

IMG_8732

Man Child spent a long time speaking with the blacksmith.

Man Child spent a long time speaking with the blacksmith.

IMG_8736 IMG_8737 IMG_8742 IMG_8758

I finally realized what the magic is for me, as I was talking to Man Child.  Sure, many of the actors, attendees, and vendors are young and beautiful in the modern way–after all, it’s roughly 600,000° in that heat and it’s a seasonal gig for the majority.

IMG_8756

Hell, the women at the booth selling hair ties downwind of the camel ring should be getting hazard pay.  Many attendees go in costume, and there’s something about being there that makes people who are otherwise sensible decide that it’s completely appropriate to spend $3-800 on a full costume.  That said, everyone is beautiful at the fair.  Much like my Brooklyn beach, you can feel it as you walk around–everyone feels beautiful.  Young, old, skinny, heavy, doesn’t matter. Full figured women are sensual, middle-aged men who haven’t seen a gym since their high school days in chain mail buying swords; if you haven’t had your wrinkles stapled into your hairline, if life has left you a bit ragged, well, so much the better as you shout, “Huzzah!”

Sunrise Thoughts

4:45am

4:45am

You should dye your hair

You shouldn’t dress so young

You should lose weight

You should gain weight

You should work out

You should reinvent yourself

You shouldn’t try to be someone else

4:52am

4:52am

You should put your children first

You should put yourself first

You should eat this

You shouldn’t eat that

You should live in the moment

You should look to the future

5:04am

5:04am

You should have faith

You should stop dreaming

You should do it only for the love of it

You should be practical

5:05am

5:05am

You should speak up

You should shut up

5:09am

5:09am

 

 

Aahhh, These Summer Mornings

Just me, my flowers, the occasional spider to watch the sunrise.

Just me, my flowers, the occasional spider to watch the sunrise.

Seems peaceful, doesn’t it?  Especially before I boot the laptop, read about the day’s atrocities and most current buffoonery of Trump.

Not this morning.  Yesterday was long and busy.  We’ve reached the portion of the summer where my anxiety begins to rise, knowing before I can weep Nerd Child will be waving goodbye, headed North to school, and I’ll be back to twelve trains a day shuffling Art Child back and forth.  Ridiculous, we still have weeks, but there you have it.  With Facebook friends all over the country and world, I’m already seeing the obligatory first day of school pics.  There should be a way to block those until Labor Day, don’t you think?

With so many guests this summer, I’ve gotten behind on keeping the apartment neat and organized.  Small space, lots of people in and out, packing, unpacking, beach bags galore and the general sloth of long hot days. Time to start getting it together, so I’m not in a complete panic in another two weeks.

Too late!

Man Child’s girlfriend, Miss Music, was here last week, came for a week after her band finished its tour.  Fun.  Except one morning, she was sitting on the couch with Art Child, turned to me and said, “Did you see that?”

“See what?”

A mouse.

In my apartment.

IN my apartment.

In MY apartment.

Sweet mother of fuck, nooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In my many, many years of NY living, I’ve never had a mouse in my apartment.  There was evidence of them in our last apartment before we moved in, so we filled every crack and hole we could find, and then put down glue traps just in case.  Big Senile Dog promptly got a glue trap stuck to his nose and each paw.  Good times.

I grew up near the water in Brooklyn, huge wharf rats could be seen regularly on the streets.  Yucky, but outside.  There was also a large population of feral cats, so mice weren’t such a thing, between the cats and the rats I’m guessing mice didn’t have a chance. I see rats all the time on the subway tracks.  Again, meh.  Part of NY life.

Back to the other morning.  We didn’t see anything, but we bought a few traps and put them down, Little Incredibly Dumb Dog only got 3 of them stuck to her, and they were much easier to remove than they had been for the big dog, because she’s used to being held to be groomed, and she’s got long hair.  Plus, not as dumb as I’d expect, she steered clear of them afterwards. Zero interest in the mouse itself.

No further mouse sightings, until a couple of nights ago, eating dinner and holy shit!  I saw a shadow fly over the living room floor.  That was no migraine floater.  The plan was to go shopping yesterday to restock on cleaning supplies and toiletries, both for the apartment and for Nerd Child to take to school.  Needless to say I picked up more mouse traps.

Got home, tore apart the living room, dining area, and kitchen, filled every hole around every pipe we could find, and laid 16 mouse traps.  When I say we, I mean Husband and Nerd Child, while Art Child and I steered clear and washed our hands every time those guys touched another trap.  I am not taking any chances.  I know, they’re a fact of life in NY, in most places, I guess, hence the city mouse/country mouse stories, but they’ve never been a fact in my personal space and I am not ok with sharing.  This apartment is crowded enough, thankyouverymuch. Nerd Child reminded me I’m against the death penalty.  Nope, only for two legged creatures.  Twitchy four legged ones need to be erased. Period.

You know how high my anxiety levels are now, right?  In case I needed a bit more, tonight is that open mic night reading.

So I got up, made coffee, went on the terrace, sat for a bit, and then prepared to sit at my desk.  One of the glue traps under the radiator worked.  But the critter was still alive, and had gotten two of my electrical cords stuck with it.  I woke Husband, went back to hiding on the terrace.  I was heroic enough to dispose of the whole thing, after it was bagged.

Yes, I took a pic of the mouse actually stuck to the trap, but I just can't bear looking at it again.

Yes, I took a pic of the mouse actually stuck to the trap, but I just can’t bear looking at it again.

The day has to go up from here, right?

Reef Problems

Beaded anemone, heteractis aurora

Beaded anemone, heteractis aurora

The one thing I’ve yet to experience in one of my tanks is a successful anemone-clownfish pairing.  Corny as it is, I’ve always wanted to be able to look over at my tank and watch the symbiotic relationship of a pair of clowns with a host anemone.  I’ve had fish lay eggs, coral frags grow into colonies, I’ve even had corals spawn, but no hosting.  In the ocean, clowns always have a host anemone, that’s how they survive.  They’re pretty tough little fish, but they are little and they aren’t fast.  So they basically live on/near and lay their eggs on anemones, bringing it food, and in return the anemone offers them protection, stinging or eating other fish that come too close.

In tanks, clownfish don’t actually need anemones, the nems don’t really need the fish, and most clowns bought and sold now are aquacultured, spawned in tanks, no experience with the ocean. I’ve had many reefing friends talk about the wonder of their clowns’ instincts, how they brought home a nem, placed it in their tanks, and their clowns dove in those tentacles within an hour, blissful.  Not me.  I’ve had two bubble tipped anemones.  The first one was stunning, but the pair of clowns I had at the time weren’t willing to give up their special relationship with the mag-float (basically an algae cleaning pad stuck on a magnet for easy cleaning of the glass) in order to live in the anemone.  After several months, that nem decided it needed more privacy anyway and jammed itself into a hidden crevice in the rocks, never to be seen again.  There’s debate as to whether or not anemones actually need to be fed, but either way they need strong lighting to survive.  Anemones are hard to keep in home aquaria under the best of circumstances, and their survival is always questionable.

Last year Husband bought me a beautiful rose bubble tipped anemone for Christmas.  These clowns weren’t interested either.  Unfortunately, my pair of skunk cleaner shrimp were way too interested, tugging and nibbling on his tentacles until those fuckers harassed that nem to death.  When he died, he nuked the tank with his own special chemical warfare and took the majority of coral with him.  That particular pair of shrimp were very aggressive together, dancing through the tank like enforcers.  This Thanksgiving, one of the wrasse decided he’d had enough, and by the time my family was eating pumpkin pie, the tank inhabitants were enjoying their own cocktail hour with an all-you-can-eat shrimp buffet.

Now the mean shrimp are gone, so of course I wanted another nem.  Add in that the clowns are displaying mating behavior, it seemed like perfect timing.  This time I decided on a different type of anemone in the hopes that I’ll be more successful, and got the beautiful yet surprisingly budget-friendly beaded nem in the photo at the top of this post.  Perfect spot all picked out, acclimated and placed him.  My incredibly shy and well behaved fire shrimp decided she didn’t like him so close to her, and proceeded to begin eviction proceedings by way of tugging and nibbling.  Are you freaking kidding me?

Anemones are weird.  Dangerous to so many creatures, they’re quite delicate.  They’re also mobile.  They’ll “walk” around the tank if they don’t like where you place them, looking for a spot to call home.  They have a “foot” that they attach to rock, sand, or corals, and once they attach it’s very hard to get them to move unless they want to without tearing their foot.  If the foot tears, they die.  They can stay in one spot for years.  Needless to say, this anemone decided he did not like the spot where I placed him, and has been walking around trying to decide where he wants to settle.

The foot.

The foot.

He seems to have picked a general area, but not the exact spot. At least the fire shrimp is ignoring him now.  It doesn’t help that he apparently doesn’t like my choice of food.  Every evening I feed the tank, and when the bits settle on/around him, he lets go of where he’s begun to attach and flips himself upside down so none of the food gets stuck on his tentacles or lands in his mouth.  He could just keep his mouth closed.  Today I figured out he prefers fresh food to frozen.

The open circle in the middle? That's his mouth. The black bit coming out of it?  A snail shell he's spitting out now that he ate the snail.

The open circle in the middle? That’s his mouth. The black bit coming out of it? A snail shell he’s spitting out now that he ate the snail.

The male clown has indeed decided hosting is a lovely idea.  Not with the anemone, of course.

Why snuggle up with a big comfy anemone when you can rub all over a snail instead?

Why snuggle up with a big comfy anemone when you can rub all over a snail instead?

Nesting

This pair has been hanging out on the water tower across from my apartment all morning.

This pair hung out on the water tower across from my apartment all morning.

The crows seem to enjoy today’s fine flurries.  They stuck around, cawing and calling and circling until the flurries stopped.

IMG_7294

It’s that time.  That time of year, when I start thinking about how nice it would be to get away by myself.  Still haven’t done it (not since I had children, anyway), but I think about it.  A little while ago I even looked up writer’s retreats for 2016.  They lose their appeal after about 3 minutes of web surfing.  Wooded settings, steep price tags, set meal times, and evening conversations with strangers.  Feel me shuddering through the keyboard?  Creating my own retreat, though, that would be lovely.  Just a few days.  Coffee, tea, salad, and Cheetos should cover all the necessary meals/food groups.  Maybe some salt and vinegar chips.  On a beach, because if I were to be overcome by the glory of uninterrupted alone-time and therefore not get any writing done, I’d still be happy.

It’s also that time when I’m thinking about writing.  A lot.  I know myself, what it means when I can’t stop thinking about a poem, a photograph, a song…and I know what’s next; obsession with the next manuscript.  You know when you hear women talk about nesting in the later stages of pregnancy? I never did that.  I do it before getting serious about a manuscript.  Why? I dunno.  It isn’t like baking or being caught up on laundry and grocery shopping beforehand makes a damned bit of difference by the time I’m a month in, but I do it anyway.  Feels like dropping down to a low gear in order to drive up a steep hill without stalling or getting caught at the red light at the top.  Not that it works, life provides red lights with regularity, and god knows I stall out all. the. time. while I’m writing, but that’s what it feels like for the moment.

So I’ve been thinking about Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody.”  I always loved this one, no matter how many times I’ve heard and read it.

I’m Nobody! Who are you? 
Are you—Nobody—Too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise—you know!How dreary—to be—Somebody!
How public—like a Frog—
To tell one’s name—the livelong June—
To an admiring Bog!
 
I’ve never been Somebody, from my vantage it seems like there’s power in it.  But there’s freedom in being Nobody, do you think?  Maybe not, maybe it’s just one of the not-so-little lies we tell ourselves, along the lines of poor-but-happy.
A few weeks ago I took this photo on one of the (thankfully) few bitter cold days we’ve had this winter.
Lost? Forgotten? Abandoned?

Lost? Forgotten? Abandoned?

The flowers, this photo, a complete story by itself.  But which one?  My first thought for a caption was something like, “Screw you and your cheap-ass bodega flowers!” Such a frigid morning though, maybe they dropped from fingers so numb the person carrying them didn’t realize they lost them until they were fumbling for their Metrocard two blocks later.  The neighborhood where I took this shot is a busy one, home to a large social security office, a few social service agencies, and several thrift stores. Maybe they fell from the cart of someone’s wheelchair, or the little basket that sits across the top of a walker.  Maybe they were dropped as someone late for a date grabbed the first available cab they’d seen in twenty minutes, or maybe, maybe, maybe.  So many possibilities, and those are just a few of the more mundane ones.
I stopped halfway through putting this post together to go pick up the girl.  In Grand Central, when you walk through the tunnel connecting the tracks for the shuttle and the 4/5/6, there are several abandoned “windows.”  I can’t remember if there used to be stores behind them, or what they were originally for, but now they’re lit empty boxes, good for backlighting the various street performers and religious groups that stop in front of them. Today I was walking past and saw this.
MTA worker with dreams of being a display artist?

MTA worker with dreams of being a display artist?

Clandestine spy code?  Pre-arranged tableau signaling the all clear for a passionate liaison between an engineer and a station inspector?  I think, if I were writing this into a manuscript, I’d have to add a crow.

The Kitchen is now Closed

Jawfish poking his head out of his cave to see if it's all clear

Jawfish poking his head out of his cave to see if it’s all clear

I hope everyone is having a happy holiday season.  Remember my last post, my big stand about refusing to make any rolled cookies in hopes of preserving my back?  Yeah.  I stuck to not making any rolled cookies, but as it turns out, if you make enough drop cookies while still up and down the train steps for 12 trains a day and add in cooking regular food, that doesn’t actually mean anything.

First came the molasses cookies.

IMG_6819 IMG_6831

Then came the oatmeal cranberry chocolate chips.

Photo by Art Child

Photo by Art Child

IMG_6841

Pause to absorb some tank serenity.

This cracks me up, the snail has some type of algae (that I don't see anywhere else in the tank) growing from his shell.

This cracks me up, the snail has some type of algae (that I don’t see anywhere else in the tank) growing from his shell.

clown trying to convince the urchin to move

clown trying to convince the urchin to move

On to the chocolate crinkle cookies.

IMG_6864 IMG_6868 IMG_6873

Now for my favorites.  Honey nut ball thingies.  They have the flavor profile of a Greek/Middle Eastern pastry but in a cookie. They’re kind of a pain to make, lots of steps but well worth it.

The first step is the killer. Chopping and chopping

The first step is the killer. Chopping and chopping

End of chopping, walnuts on left, pistachios on right

End of chopping, walnuts on left, pistachios on right

Glaze of honey, oj, cinnamon sticks and cloves

Glaze of honey, oj, simmered down with cinnamon sticks and cloves

The filling=nuts mixed with orange peel and a little of the glaze

The filling=nuts mixed with orange peel and a little of the glaze

not so secret ingredient for the dough

not so secret ingredient for the dough

By this time I was grateful for a dough that didn't have to be mixed by hand.

By this time I was grateful for a dough that didn’t have to be mixed by hand.

End result, drizzled with the glaze.

End result, drizzled with the glaze.

Last batch, pumpkin cookies with a cream cheese frosting.  Simple and pretty fast to throw together, these are almost like little cakes.

IMG_6901

Added up, somewhere between 15-20 dozen cookies, less the couple dozen that were casualties to the residual nerve damage from my fall last spring.  Lots of dropping/kitchen accidents now–I have to start remembering it’s just to be expected when calculating how much I need to prepare.

Christmas dinner I tried to keep things easy.  Ham, curried lentil/cauliflower/almond pie, and a baked spinach and pea risotto.  I’ve never made risotto in the oven before, but I saw a few recipes online, and it seemed like a great back-saver.  Blech. Let’s just say I won’t repeat that mistake.

The curry pie was also new for me, but this I would definitely make again. If I can remember what I put in it.

The curry pie was also new for me, but this I would definitely make again. If I can remember what I put in it.

Mini pies with the excess curry and crust

Mini pies with the excess curry and crust

Man Child wasn’t with us last Christmas, either, but this year we’re really feeling it.  Maybe because last year he was here right before and after, maybe because we know he’s much further away this time.  In any case, he’s been missed.  On the bright side, he definitely knows the routine/timing for us, so he and Miss Music (visiting him in Europe for the holiday) called to video chat on Christmas morning.

For you, Man Child--in case you were missing our Christmas breakfast. ;)

For you, Man Child–in case you were missing our Christmas breakfast. 😉

So yeah, I’m done.  I don’t want to mix, measure, chop, sauté, or bake anything else. More than anything, I’m sick of smelling like the inside of my oven.  Why oh why does anyone think it’s a good idea to create grown-scents and lotions that smell like food?  As far as I’m concerned, it’s a successful adult day if at the end of it I don’t reek of garlic, onions, cinnamon, or vanilla.

One of the best parts of this season has been having Nerd Child home.  Not just here, but relaxed because the college app hell is over.  This means I’m getting to hear lots of fabulous music.

Yesssssss

Yesssssss

Because of El Niño, instead of gray skies and ice we’ve seen quite a bit of fog in the city this winter.  Unfortunately, late December is still far from the end of the season, and I’m afraid we’re going to be slammed with early spring snowstorms.  This of course is based on nothing other than my pessimism.

IMG_6909

For most of us, winter weather is, at worst, a nuisance.  Our recent high temps have meant it didn’t “feel” like it should be time for Christmas shopping, but it was more pleasant when we had to.  Feeling beat and smelling like holiday cookies is solved with a shower at the end of the day.  But for all too many, this warmer than usual season means everything.

IMG_6905

Holy Papal Visit, Batman–Gotham’s a Mess!

Look up, look down, but whatever you do, don't make eye contact.

Look up, look down, but whatever you do, don’t make eye contact.

In case you’re an American who doesn’t know because you’re oh…dead and buried in a hidden cave, Pope Francis is in town.  Now, I like this pope, I like the things he says, I like the things he does even more, and I think he’ll make great strides worldwide with his emphasis on humanity, compassion, and service.  I’m happy for those who are thrilled for the opportunity to see him and hear him speak.

But for the love of all, could you learn how to train before you walk into the subway?  The stations and the train lines are all packed, overflowing with papal tourists and delays.  This morning I think I saw every  outer borough character I’ve ever written.

On the Shuttle:

“Mary, there’s a seat, go sit down.”

Mary clamps her lips together and shakes her head so hard her pin curls are quivering.

“You don’t like that seat? I’ll sit instead of you.”

“I don’t want any seat, Timothy, not just that seat.”

Timothy turns to the man in the seat next to him. “I only ride the train once every ten years or so, what about you?”

Man next to him lifts one side of his headphones, “Every day.”

“You must have a lot of extra time on your hands.  What does it take you, hours to do your hair like that every day?”

Man touches his dreadlocks, looks across at me (guess I’ve got the stamp of a regular subway rider tattooed on my face), and laughs. “I do it while I’m on the trains.”

***

On the platform:

“Steven!!  Get away from the edge, you’re going to fall in!”

***

“Oh my GAWD, is that a rat?”

***

“Is it always so hot in here?”

***

On the 2:

Group of senior women in their very best rhinestone studded Juicy Couture, talking at a young man in workout gear. “I’m tellin ya, they’ve got the best pizza on 18th Avenue, you’ve gotta go to Brooklyn.”

“Uh, ok, thanks.”

“Whaddya telling him that for, Rosemary? Don’t listen to her, honey, you’ve gotta go for the clams at Campagnoli’s.”

Pained nod from the young man.

All four lean in to him before they get off the train. “With spaghetti!”

***

There’re two things regular NYC subway riders get every day, and one of those is religion.  Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to be the most organized, tables set up and staffed at many stations, 3 in Grand Central, politely waiting for those who appear interested. Many different Christian denominations can be found with signs and pamphlets.  Every so often, outside the stations there’ll be a group of Orthodox Jewish men, offering…baptisms? conversions? in trailers.  Last week there was a group of off-key Hare Krishnas singing and soliciting donations, bright marigold robes practically glowing in the tunnels.  Then of course there are those there to alert us to Armageddon.

What exactly is a whoremonger, anyway?

What exactly is a whoremonger, anyway?

The other thing you get in the subways daily? Music.  Often great music.  I’ll admit, I’m not into the guys who’ve made instruments out of saws and violin bows, but they have their followers.  And it would be fine if the trumpets would hold off until, say, 10am.  But yeah, music is the perk of a sizable commute on and around the trains.

I love when these guys pop in.

I love when these guys pop in.

IMG_6305

Yes indeed, that's the back of a one-man-band.  An optimistic one, with a 5-gallon Home Depot bucket for a tip jar.

Yes indeed, that’s the back of a one-man-band. An optimistic one, with a 5-gallon Home Depot bucket for a tip jar.

IMG_6326 IMG_6328 IMG_6330 IMG_6331

I know, I know, for most visiting today it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, an honor.  Couldn’t they have scheduled this for one of the two days off the public schools had this week?

Happy Friday, Fringelings.

 

Making It Up

 

 I don’t wear makeup frequently, which means that buying makeup is a rarity–usually prompted by leprosy or pink eye caused by wearing really old makeup.  Recently, Art Child has been curious, and wanting to play with some of the stuff out of the oh-so-fancy ziploc bag that holds my war paint.

The day before yesterday was a fabulous one; Man Child and Miss Music had come down for a couple of days, and so we went to the beach together.  Perfect, fun, relaxed, I was still feeling good from it.

Exactly the right mood.  It was gray and expected to rain yesterday, so why not hit the makeup store?  It’s been a long time since I went in anywhere and had my face done, but I figured this way I could update my look (ha!) and the girl could watch and see how it’s supposed to be applied.  And what better way to ignore the story idea knocking at my brain than to walk away from the laptop and pretend I’m a normal woman who doesn’t imagine living houses and talking trees?  I told the make-up artist that I don’t wear the stuff often, and when I do, I like a “natural” look, minimal products.  Apparently it has been a reeeeeally long time since I did this, because there’re about 12 new steps and layers that I’ve never even heard of.  Something about priming and contouring, I don’t know.  From what I could tell, these new steps involve varying shades of gray and beige painted on, dried, and then painted again until your face has been appropriately shellacked so you look like a cadaver–this is all before applying the steps and products I’m more familiar with.

When it was all done, I looked like I was ready to jump onstage with David Bowie, circa 1981, and it was pouring outside.  Serious, monsoon time. By the time we walked the three blocks home, I had a slime coat dripping from my forehead to my knees, black gook rings covering two-thirds of my face, and my back and hip were screaming in pain. I guess the combo of high humidity, heat, and sitting still in the makeup chair for an hour wasn’t the best plan.  Nerd Child was awake by this time, looked up from his computer, recoiled, and said “What did you guys do?”

By the time Husband came home from work, I had given up and was in pajamas, in bed.  “What’s the–oh! Umm, did you put makeup on today?”  I could hear him snickering as he went to grab me a pain pill.

This morning the humidity is down, the rain is gone, my face is clean, and I’m feeling much better.  Still, I think I should stick to my algae studies on the beach. Besides, I hear green hair algae is a great wrinkle cure.

IMG_4997 IMG_4999 IMG_5000 IMG_4992 IMG_5010

O Happy Day

Bluejay, a regular visitor to the terrace while I do my yoga.

Bluejay, a regular visitor to the terrace while I do my yoga.

My Nook is working again.  If I don’t try to use it outside, in sunlight.

I’ve been in a strange mood.  Not bad, not good, just feeling the urge to lie low.  For me, this means reading. Unfortunately, the Nook wasn’t working for about two weeks, which sent me into a panic. What will I do? How will I avoid all the thoughts I don’t want to think if I can’t get lost in fiction?  Will I start collecting paper books again, until the apartment looks like a home for wayward book mites?  No, whether the e-reader remains functional or not, that last is not an option.

I dumped/gave away a lot of stuff when we moved into this apartment.  Clothes, books, toys, junk.  It’s making me edgy now, to pay attention and see how easily clutter can begin accumulating again.  I’m trying. It should be easy, every other article on Facebook or HuffPo is about the beauty and advantages of minimalist living. If only the alternating posts weren’t about how to repurpose that old box/shoe/onion skin/takeout container.  I’m saying no.  I will not save magazines for a potential project, empty cans for funky shaped quick breads. I will not save things just in case.  I will not fill Pinterest boards with pictures of unique and inspiring objet d’art made from useless and likely moldy shit.  We’ve been in this apartment for 8? months now.  I haven’t missed one thing that I got rid of. Not even the once-great thermal bag with the mystery stains and torn lining I used to use for beach lunches.

The boys’ room…well.  When Nerd Child came home for the summer, he came with all his stuff.  Clothes for all seasons, bedding, towels, amps, guitars, cords and wires.  I don’t think he’s fully unpacked once since leaving for school three years ago.  Yah yah, a good mommy would go through it all for him.  I’m not that good. For as much as I got rid of, there are things I thought I had disposed of that have mysteriously reappeared. Little things, like the full sized electronic keyboard and stand. My bell rang a couple of weeks ago, and it was my mother in law, keyboard and stand in her shopping cart.  I had no idea it had ended up in her apartment.  Silly me assumed this item that hadn’t been used in ten years didn’t have a freaking LoJack in it. If I so much as open the door to that bedroom, the damned keyboard flips me the bird and blows a raspberry from beneath its Hefty bag comforter.  In its old spot, blocking what should be a path between the door and bed, propped across two suitcases and a wheeled duffel bag.

Happy Friday, Fringelings.  If anyone needs me, I’ll be reading, before the screen goes unresponsive again.