6.28.2006

Flattery


Today as I was walking down the stairs of the Fulton Street 4/5 subway station, a guy on his cell phone interrupted his conversation to invite me on a romantic tryst. He was short and strange and leering but it was sweet!

I bought a pashmina off the street today from my favorite street vendor. I don't know his name, but I imagine he is called Barney or Willis because you see he wears a safari hat every day. He is short, and I decided I loved him when I bought a white pashmina from him a few months back and he asked me if he could have my skirt. He explained that his wife would love it and he wanted to hang it as drapes for a surprise for her birthday, and strangely I found all this to be quite charming. It was fun, in a mentally unstable kind of way.

When I wanted a black pashmina just the other day he had to dig into his bags to find one, all the while telling me what a complement it would be to my "striking olive complexion" and "Are you Mediterranean? Because you look so exotic." Hah! No I'm just boring. But every day when I walk past him I remember it, and isn' tit silly how even the most off-base and ridiculous compliments can make your day so much better.

6.26.2006

Sticky.



It is a gloriously humid Friday! New York in June, what’s not to love?

I want to tell you about New York in June, will you let me? (Please?) It goes like this:

You step outside. Simultaneously you feel AND smell the heat. You smell everything in a two-mile radius. Everything smells. At the bottom of my building there is a grocery store called the Garden of Eden, and they put their fresh fruit out on the street, and when you walk out of the building you smell this crazy smell of warm, ripe, partially rotting fruit. You smell the garbage on the corner, you smell the hot dogs in the cart. You smell the perfume of the woman in front of you and the body odor of the man behind you. You smell the exhaust of the cars and the drippings from the window unit air conditioners. You can smell the cement.

Your skin feels like it has been misted by warm broccoli water. You walk and you can feel the heat of your body steaming your clothes from the inside out, and the heat of the city steaming your clothes from the outside in. Very soon these clothes become a second skin. Sticky. Your feet are sweating; if you are wearing sandals your feet are already covered in street that you will have to wash off before you get into your clean white sheets for bed.

You reach the subway, and as you descend into the bowels of the tunnels the air grows more warm, more still, more full. You fish for your MetroCard in your bag and you swipe it at the turnstiles. They click and you push through. You weave through the throng of humanity coming in, going out. You smell dirty clothes and hair spray and gold jewelry. And then, you wait. The back of your knees begin to sweat, you feel a little trickle down your spine; your hair has fallen flat. Your eyebrows begin to sweat. The subway stinks. Urine. Feces. Smoke. Grease. Oil. Doritos. Doritos? Doritos.

The train comes and with it comes a woosh of hot air. It cools your sweaty skin and you ready yourself for the battle to come. The doors open and you go in after they come out. You hug your bag to your body as you twist and turn to squeeze in. You brush up against skin. “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, Please.” Boop-Boop.

The train rocks back and forth. It is air-conditioned in the train but it isn’t much relief. The train is packed. Standing room only.

The train comes to a stop and you prepare yourself for the brakes, but you’re still not prepared for it and you jerk a bit as you try to stay steady. The doors open. This time you fight to get out.

You push out through the warm metal of the subway turnstile and you walk up the stairs. With each step the sun gets brighter, hotter. Your thighs start to burn. You get to the top and the sidewalk is bustling. You move quickly and dodge and weave through the tourists, you walk quickly but not too fast, you are a part of a living, breathing organism.

We have taken to running the air conditioning only in the bedroom where we keep the puppy, the lucky duck. The effect of this is that when we come home from work we walk into a stale, hot, terribly uncomfortable living room. We put down our laptop bags and take off our uncomfortable shoes. We undo our buttons and then open the door to the bedroom. The blast of cool air that meets us and the change in atmosphere we feel is like that scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy opens the door of her black and white home to reveal the lush, technicolored world of Munchkin Land. It is like we are leaving the pits of hell and emerging, lifelike and wondrous, into the clouds of heaven.

6.07.2006

Sushi!


Ladies and gentlemen, tonight the Holbrooks had dinner at Nobu. A $270 dinner at Nobu.

We had a toro tartar in a wasabi soup with caviar and an Asian peach on the side to "cleanse the palate." Yellowtail sashimi on mustard greens. Red snapper and sesame oil. Then lobster tempura in a cream sauce with shitake mushrooms. And black cod in sweet miso sauce with foie gras. (I had foie gras today!) And THEN the sushi platter, and THEN the chocolate souffle and the green tea ice cream. And THEN they had to roll me down the subway steps and onto the platform. $100 per person, plus tax, plus tip, plus the fun of Oh this is Tribeca! and seeing Robert DeNiro's apartment across the street! and “Is that an Olsen twin?” And I think it was.

In two months we will move to Idaho, where the only raw fish to be found will be the raw fish we have catch in the river with our own bare hands and eat like bears, and we will remember when we are feeling sad, Hey, remember that one time when we went to Nobu? And we had all that great food? And we were in the cultural center of the Universe? And we lived there? And it was great?

6.02.2006

Rain, Rain, Come My Way


The very most wondrous and fascinating and thrilling thing about living in New York City is the storm season that occurs on or about May through August. In some parts of the country it is called Hurricane Season. Up in New York City if ever we get a hurricane it has usually been demoted to a Tropical Storm, which means I get to enjoy a bombastic storm every now and then without fear of floodings or things of that nature (nature!) and for that I am grateful because Oh how I love me a good, angry storm.

Last night we had a major thunder storm. We completely lost our power and so we watched the greenish purple sky erupt into flashes of pink light and listened to the thunder boom and rumble all night.

We live on the 17th floor and have a crazy insane view of Brooklyn and the New York harbor. We can see every blast of lightning as it hits tall buildings around us. It is like God’s fireworks show, just for us. Peter Pan was appropriately concerned, but didn't show any sign of being a neurotic mess, and that was also nice.

Then I tried to sing that "Rain Rain Go Away" song , and in so doing I realized that there are two renditions and that I have no idea which goes how and that saddened me until I forgot and became obsessed with the smell of my dog’s feet (corn chips).

Anyway my point is there is nothing I love more than a good thunder storm. We had great ones growing up in Mesa, (monsoon season!) where you could smell the rain in the desert before it even started to fall and we have great ones here. Not like the rain in Portland, which just falls about without any direction or aim and never seems to go away, like willy-nilly sissy rain. Pfft, Portland Rain is Lame. This rain has purpose! Meaning! And that meaning today was to flood the Number 4 train so that Holbs couldn't get home.

He called from City Hall where he was transferring to the R after already having tried the 2/3 but which was so crammed that he decided he'd get home sooner if he walked across the Brooklyn Bridge in the rain, which he didn’t end up doing after all, but would have been a very dramatic “take that!” to the MTA, who I’m sure would have cared very deeply. So.

But what I have really been wanting to tell you is about the Umbrellas and the Umbrella Men who sell them and how they delight me more than cream cheese. So here is what I have to say about them:

The Umbrellas are black and cost $5 and are sold by men who seem to appear magically on the streets about five minutes before a storm begins. How they know a storm is about to start or where they go once it is over is a complete mystery. But they show up. Even if you do not believe a storm is coming, if you see these men you’d best buy an umbrella. They call them UM-brellas.

“UMbrellaUMbrellaUmbrella,” they call.

Once you have purchased an UM-brella the rain will surely fall. And then you and your UM-brella will brave it together. But inevitably, your UM-brella will not live to see the end of the storm. Inevitably the winds will blow through the city streets so hard that your UM-brella will turn itself inside-out and you will stand there in the street, as rain pummels your face and streaks your mascara just like in the movies, and you will wail “UM-BRELLAAAAAA!” as you hold its broken frame to your body. You will mourn, and you will be all soaking wet.

After a really good storm it is fun to go out and survey the damage. After one such storm the Holbs and I ventured out to see the carnage and visit the neighborhood Barnes and Noble. The UM-brellas were littered like fallen soldiers in the streets, twisted and broken and discarded in the gutters. You step over them with as much reverence as you can muster. They died fighting the good fight. They died too young. You are out $5 and you still got wet. But you lived to see another day.

Like I said, the most marvelous and wondrous and fantastical thing about New York City.

(Except for Bagels.)