summer '09 in a New York Minute... red wine observations

almost 1 am

& sitting out on the stoop (wow- not going to be able to say THAT much longer...) observing the nights events: raindewy remnant drops from a quite heavy mist the past few hours, cloudy sky w/lapses giving way to the black noir (still no stars- not 1 this entire summer), a VERY reduced rat population.

Was that due to that really heavy rainfall almost 2 weeks ago? Was it the massive amounts of rat poison & insecticides they must use in this city (I have not seen 1 ant in my flat all summer- or cockroach. Was it due to running around on all that dog piss from these leashed, trained when to urinate dogs that rule the Upper West Side? Hey, it kills the trees. Oh, here, right now a owner & his 2 dogs searching for a tree with a patch of dirt. It's something to do with their claws tap tapping on the pavement that fascinated me all this time I think. As I transport myself into the world of dog- as I would probably view it if I were a dog- I have decided that dogs don't like to walk on pavement. It is such a strange existence for these dogs of NYC. I don't know really.

I'm actually feeling a sense of loss due to the lack of rats. The rats of NYC are very different than the rats of Hawaii. They are equal in size. Do that rats like scavenging the streets (Oh! There is one right now!) or the jungle more? I think in the streets they don't have to worry about other animal predators- just toxins whereas the jungle rats have to worry about animals. I would think jungle food tastes better than city food though.

My New York Minute is just about up. Time is now on the side of the jungle. I can hang in the City- yes indeed I have taken advantage of every possible opportunity to live this City life. It is a parallel universe to my familiar existence in the Pacific.

I adore the subways. Their efficiency is unparalleled- yet it is absolutely necessary to possess an iPhone w/ ALL subway apps and maps. I have mastered the art of figuring out where on the platform to stand to walk the least amount of time in the subways. I have still to master the art of exiting above ground and knowing where north is when the avenues are very far apart and trees & buildings obscure the street #'s, or south of 14th where it all turns into whirled peas. I always complained how hot it was in the stations and how cold it was in the trains. I only got on the wrong train once when I was inebriated- very late at night so a lesson learned well & early on to realize to keep it together in these instances... I tried to always ride on the first or last car so I could watch the tracks. This was always fascinating. I am so fascinated with the network of lights, rails, cables, ambient lighting and how whenever I looked off into the horizon there were little nooks & crannies of history recessed in those walls. Sometimes sporadic sunlight beamed through from the world atop the earth. Sometimes images printed on the walls that reminds me that even, and most especially, ancient man chose to express their feelings as pictographs/grafitti.

I never drove once, or missed driving. I always found it amusing that I rarely see a 4x4 driving in the city- or even a small truck honestly. I have to laugh as I can't live without my 4x4 on Maui- it is necessary requisite behavior there as is a small car is here- if you're going to have a car that is & most choose not to.

I have certainly walked all of Manhattan, & some parts of Brooklyn & less of Staten Island. Oh yea, let's not forget Jersey. I did venture there twice. Queens & the Bronx got a pass this time around but I saw enough of Queens a few years ago while temporary stationed out in Jamaica.

Three months just isn't enough time to delve into all 5 boroughs. After all, that is simply a New York Minute. 90% of my time here was school-focused. The New School was the 'mothership' for me here. Feels so incredible- STILL- to have thrown myself back into academia. It has been extraordinary connecting with the minds I encountered. What I love about the 'family' is that we all have 1 thing in common in this graduate program- our passion for travel & cross-cultural encounters and how to use language, and language learning, as a means for expressing ourselves. Everything about me has changed, become challenged in the most meaningful of ways. Just BEING here was such a challenge; not having access to a prolific ocean full of passion & renewing energy.

Yes, this deficit was channeled into other endeavors. Last night, no 2 nights ago I woke up to that sound again- the sound of a crashing wave, which I still haven't figured out its source but almost positive it is due to a large crater over on Columbus Ave. at the corner of 82nd. Whatever the reason, I adore that sound. It makes me smile to associate this unidentified sound with an identifiable association in my mind.

So back to channeling my energy in alternative NYC realities. I didn't just look at things- I looked into them. I saw things, I made observations & picked apart unfamiliar concepts to get to their core and reason for existence: everything from making one's bicycle appear worthless by painting it white & chipping it in places so it won't get stolen (most had 2 locks, but many had 3- as well as seat locks, etc.) to going to the website that tells everyone where the open bars are for the evening- usually between 5-6pm. One of my favorites NYCisms that I became accustomed to when wanting to slink around in sky high heels was to wear my thin raincoat w/the big pockets (one of my best investments while here as it seemed to always be raining or sprinkling at night) and slip them in while I schlepped about town in the comfort of m

y havaianas. The requisite phrase to Lenys was as follows: "When we get to within 1 block of the club let us know so we can change into our stepping out shoes." I recall he didn't give us enough time while walking up to Therapy. Carolina Ballerina and I unleashed our furies on him for this fau paux...

It's now 1:45 am and the rat never reappeared. I think the entertainment as viewed from the stoop is over for the evening as now I just keep seeing cops in unmarked cars drive by. The sky has changed from cloudy to now just a muted puddle. How dull these skies are if you remove the architectural buildings from consideration. Strange but I can't even say I had a successful run at being a peeping tom- everybody's air conditioners seem to be in the way of proper viewing...



Getting ready to pack up & exit this strangely charming island. Admittedly, I have been under the influence of NYC's charms- but never under the illusion that it is a city I could function in for too long a time frame. My mind has become so enriched here. My body has atrophied- in the strangest of ways. I don't feel passion from the environment. The people, yes, but the land, no. My body longs for the jungle. It longs to get back to work; back to the earth, back to the sand dune, back to the beach, back to Maui. My body needs nourishing. I need to replenish myself. I need to follow the moon, to see the stars again, to hear the animals at night, to hear the rain. How I miss watching movies in the jungle. In NYC's favor is the MOVIES! All the incredible movies I have seen here. I can't get enough. By far my favorite thing to do anytime of the day or night. New friendships have been created and I am so grateful that I have made connections on a level that these people are always a part of my life now.

I'm feeling a bit disconnected already from the City. I remember this is how I felt towards the City when I arrived. That's all. I feel better now...


Shakespeare in the Park- The Bacchae

I was the lucky recipient of 2 free tickets from the Shakespeare in the Park summer series of plays held nightly in the outdoor Delacorte Theatre. It is this opportunity- to be able to walk across the street to the Park to watch a world-class play w/world class actors/actresses- that makes me feel honored to have spent a good chunk of time in NYC & really get to know the cities delights intimately.

Tonight's performance was The Bacchae- an ancient Greek tragedy by Athenian playwright Euripides. The Thebian king, Pentheus is punished by the god Dionysus, who is living among men, for refusing to worship him. As well, his mother Agave mistakenly tears off her sons head and limbs thinking him to be a creature.

Dionysys, or Bacchus, is feeling pissy towards Pentheus, King of Thebes, his cousin & nemesis because Pentheus got the throne from Cadmus- the grandfather they both share. Pentheus is pissy at Dionysus because all the women of Thebes are deserting families & children to be w/Dionysus- the Bacchae, or devotes. They continually walk up the mountain, Cithaeron, in a trance-like induced state (well, he is the God of Thunder and a gaze from him is thought to hurl mortals into fits of ecstasy- I know a man who currently produces this behavior in myself actually...) to join their new god, and in doing so denounce Pentheus.

I loved the darkness of the material. There was such beauty to the feelings being emoted by the actors. So the play has some macabre overtones and the setting was incredible at the outdoor ampitheatre with a threatening sky ready to burst open & into a frenetic downpour- which it never did.

There is so much else to explore in Central Park as well. It is so sweet to walk up to Belvedere Castle and view the Park from above. The Rambles is a devastatingly romantic walk through a quaint dirt path with overgrown vines

rambling over the trees creating an archway to walk under as you ramble down, or up. Benches are conveniently places at remote spots throughout for lovers to partake of each others charms as the lush foliage certainly must induce feelings of seduction into everyone who crosses this path. I know I got the fever and I plan on taking a certain man here as well so we can lose ourselves in the wonders of nature and recharge ourselves by being exposed to such beauty and grandeur in the woods right here Uptown. Who would think so much natural beauty to exist here.


elusive waning gibbous moon

The silvery globe's trajectory between 82nd & 83rd streets @ Central Park West seduces thoughts into words. Out on my stoop admiring the scenery; the empty street, quiet-like with interruptions of traffic on Columbus in the background and splashes of air conditioners dripping onto stairwells seemingly deafening. Pet owners helping their pets to relieve themselves (I've said all I can say on that subject). Fancy Cleaners across the street. Mrs. Kim a really great woman but I can't help but feel a sense of violation every time I drop off my laundry...

How strange it is to have strangers- well not anymore as I know her whole crew there, so even more weird to me to have acquaintances rummaging through my lingerie. Yes, I think you can learn a lot about a person by what they bring in to get washed. What do these people know about me? Well, they know I have a lot of lingerie. They might even
know it tends to be of French & Italian make. I find this even more disturbing. This is such intimate knowledge. Do they know my stories, my secrets? Do they not even care (best case scenario)?

There has always been some quality for me or idea that is something so sweet about hanging my laundry on the line to air dry. All that vital night air wafting through the layers. All the night blooms that scent the air & envelops & nurtures the cloth. Seductive yes. The key is to get to them in time before getting cooked by the afternoon heat. It is a zen-like experience to arrange lingerie on the clothesline. Sometimes a week would pass before I could get to retrieving them so a series of soakings and dryings filtered through them. Hmmm, the secret life of my laundry; this seems like the plot of a fantastic art house film.

So these are my thoughts on this. I will be happy to give up laundry service once I return to the jungle! I shall never be able to replicate how Mrs. Kim folds everything so neatly with even creases and it has been a pleasure to understand how this can happen...

The moon veers over 83rd st.
now and soon will be eclipsed by buildings. The bottom heavy luminous globe keeps dropping through the clouds to allow a brief glimpse here and there. Again I am reminded of Maui. I can't say I have seen 1 star and certainly not any clusters of stars since my stint in NYC began almost 3 months ago. This is the exchange. The new moon nears (August 20th) and with it a traveler from afar- too far- bittersweet far. Bittersweet prose, bittersweet performance art. Scent-sationalizing, captivating, mysteries turned realities soon to morph into memories of exquisite journeys. This is the meat of life. This is the reclusive artichoke heart awaiting discovery. An epicurean treat. I'm partial to the big hearts that take some time to get to, to get through.

I've had a bit of an art history lesson recently. The importance of genealogy never escapes me. There is an elegance in knowing one's past.
There is a seduction to knowing the story behind a creepy old painting of a distant relative resting in a decaying wood frame sitting patiently in the vestibule above the mantle until one day someone, someone that walks by this painting every day and finally one day, stops and looks at it and is provoked by it. Whatever the emotion that stirs, it is family knowledge, it is a heritage and a birthright. It is cool that's all.

I have felt this in Sporminore, Italy when the need to feel family descendants washed over me many years back. Tucked away in the Dolomite/Tirol mountainous areas in the north, I was overtaken by the beauty of the area: such a high
mountain valley ascending into the mists. The land of amazing apple orchards. There was the township- which took considerable effort to reach. As I was walking up the hill to the town; a library, bar/inn and church was all that I can remember distinctly. Nobody was around and I roamed the church grounds outside and there they were. All my relatives. All the epitaphs holding precious information that links me to my heritage. It was an honor to be the first descendant of my father's to pilgrimage to
this spot. This journey meant something to me, and to my father. It was silent knowledge we shared yet never discussed really. No need.

So I relived this experience of mine through my friend relaying their story. Their story that makes them unique in this world. It is beautiful. I felt beautiful just being a part of it because it touched me and re-touched me to my story. To my family's link to humanity.

The moon has passed to the far side of 83rd st. now.


revolutions, revelations, relations

Twilight 4am NYC

Well beyond the bewitching hour, I have accomplished enough bewitching for the evening and now I lay in bed restless- awaiting sunrise. This evening’s lexical choice that comes to mind is ‘charmed’ or to charm: to delight, to attract, to captivate, allure, lure, fascinate, enchant, enthrall, enrapture, seduce, and a personal favorite of mine, to spellbind… When told you are charming, you sense a magnetism or drawing power- well, not power as that is too ill-suited a word to apply, I think, to consider for all things alluring so perhaps fascination is more easily digested.

There is a loveliness to hearing charming in conversation- especially spontaneously. My heart beats rapidly for a few short, dazzling moments while a wave of sudden shyness ensues before the afterwash of uneasy proud acceptance retreats to a moment in time you want to relive forever.

To feel those fleeting, elusive moments of that wave washing over oneself… now that is an elixir to aspire or dedicate one’s life to, to drink freely from the source- to know the source. So many civilizations before us to present day searching for ‘the elixir’ The people who laid awake through the bewitching hour perhaps asking questions to the universe and deeming a response necessary & in knowing so are perfectly content to await signs, consult necromancers, cast runes to seek destiny marking mysterious & magic significance, and all other means of esoteric knowledge.

So this ‘elixir’ goes beyond charming of course but I suppose in my world, this is necessarily included in the package deal. In my quest to find my elixir, I realize that it is already within, but the search, or the seeking to keep hold of this knowledge without letting clutter of societal banter pollute your body enough where it loses contact with the mind and the two forge 2 separate channels where moments of convergence are far and few between… yea, the division into channels frightens me. War baby.

Through moments of intense stress this semester in school I could feel my body atrophying. Not enough attention paid to hearing/ feeling clues, or hearing them but refusing to ‘go there’ because you got to see something else through that consumes you. It was 4 weeks of intensity, 4 weeks of such incredible loads of brainwork and not enough brain food to manage homeostasis. Through it all I learned so much- again. What you are reading here is my reaction to returning to a balanced state of mind. The summer intensive classes, elevated by being in NYC, had almost wiped out my capacity to keep the river moving as 1 flow. The channel was forming, it formed- for a while in my timeline. I felt the dual, incompatible rhythms. Just a little test to remember I can tough it out when needed, but it is a lot to give up- rhythmic flow of body & mind.

You’ve got to document these moments because the power, the elixir morphs into the words when needed and needing that crutch of seeing the words, well this leads to feeling the words, responding to the words and finally manifesting the words. A great outlet when deep in mental concentration for a finite stretch for me anyway. So hearing charming, as you now understanding through my words, threw my body into delightful waves of magnetism- even if only for a few moments of my timeline, it’s not a feeling to forget easily.

In other news, I am beginning to let go of NYC and welcome thoughts of Maui. I have consumed NYC & taken in its charms for almost 3 months now. NYC’s charm lies in its nocturnal pleasures offered and received. NYC’s charm lies in its movie houses (a special thanks to you Christopher for telling me of the Film Forum- probably my favorite spot, and the cheap Mexican food joint around the corner from it you can dash in & always get a quick bite before the movie). NYC’s charm lies in walking the island- everywhere once you step off the subway. Yes, NYC’s charm lies in the subway, and the iPhone w/the subway apps, the streetfinders, etc. NYC’s charm lies in the food. NYC’s charm lies in the people, the conversations, all the different languages one hears while walking- everywhere. NYC’s charm lies in its small clubs- in which Carolina, my partner in crime and schoolmate, do extended research every weekend, and many a weeknight as well.

This brings me offtrack (not really I am now thinking as there is no track…) to this past weekend. Inez is in town a few days enroute back to Puerto Rico via Portugal, and the 3 of us head to Little Italy for late night din din at OUR spot, with OUR charming Albanian waiter (“Watch out” Carolina says, “I know these Italian men- they’re trouble!”- oh gosh Carolina thank you for that one as I will always crack up when I mimic those words of yours) watching the world go as we dine at tables on the narrow sidewalk next to the (pedestrian-only on weekends) narrow street. I can feel the history as I view the present and surmise the future. We walked for hours afterwards, going in and out of clubs and really living this city. We ended up at the Stonewall Inn where an amazing cast of characters helped us on our journey while listening to finger-tapping, spontaneous karaoke-ness along w/the other patrons and a lone dancer guy who was having a marvelous time.

All the cast of characters in my NYC play are fantastical. There are no bad days here, stressful yes, but bad- no, definitely not. That’s not to say that I’m not excited to leave. These are great moments on my timeline and just throwing myself in a situation for 3 months time is a fantastic journey and my charm in life. I love to travel. I love having my mind blown. I love being challenged by new environments and finding the nuances of a place that make them yours. In a sea of millions, having places where you can take refuge & feel comfortable- this has been very pleasurable for me in this city.

Hmmm it’s now 5:30am & I have to be up at 8 to be in school by 9… damn the nocturnal charms. So hard for me to resist… Now pondering becoming enraptured by Maui’s nocturnal charms – soon enough AND w/a new jungle hut. I have seen pictures of what I think is my next shack and it is on the property where Big Bruce used to have his sweatlodge. It is a sweet property. It is a seductive property; everything is so big there: the flowers, the trees, the open starry sky viewed from the top of the property, the laying on the grass gazing up at said sky in the bewitching hour, the stream, `opili lau (if I remember correctly), the rain showers, the rain soakings, the charms- everything. Soaking up Maui’s elixir and a quick disco nap before class…