Right Trains Go To Much Needed Places

Remember Leap Day 2020? I do. It was the day of my most glorious date with myself, trouncing from gallery to gallery, across the highline, getting lost, and then finding myself at The Rubin to measure my existence. It was the last time I was in the city. A pandemic floated in, much in that freaky way the yellow smoke licks at buildings in that T. S. Eliot poem.

With a lot of trepidation and a lot of hope and excitement, I ventured out onto a train and into a city and found myself again at The Rubin, this time with my yoga gal pal, and it was glorious!

I’m pretty good with trains and subways. When the gals used to go to Shecky’s, I’d be the one they followed to get from Penn to the Puck building and back again. (However, D was better with streets—she taught me 1, 2, 3, Little Pigs Make 5 meaning 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Lex, Park, Madison, 5th, , which works only when you remember it and not when you’re standing on a street corner shouting, Pigs! There are pigs! They go to the market!).

Anyway, trains. I was nervous, standing on the platform with my mask on and a magazine in my face. Trains pulled in and out. Then when it was time for my train to arrive, a train pulled in, and I got on. Phew! I got on! It was super clean. I sat. It was super empty. I waited and then listened to the announcements that had been going on since I stepped on the train. Clearly, this announcement was just for me because it sounded exasperated as it explained this was the last stop and the train was headed to the yard. I got off the train.

Then the real train arrived. I got on the train. I used my phone with my electronic ticket app thing. My ten trip I’d bought pre-pandemic had expired and the “good” folks at the MTA did not let me extend it even though they said only essential workers should be using the trains at the beginning of quarantine, which was when my trips were to expire. So I was following rules, and they were being jerks. I bought a new ticket for this one round trip, not knowing if I’d be able to use another ten trip, not knowing if this trip to the city would be a success.

After the train pulled into Penn and I made my way to the sidewalk, I realized I’d done so without touching anything. You can get a whole lot accomplished without touching things with your hands! The first think I touched was the door to the Rubin, and that’s where I found B waiting for me. We were a bit early, but since the museum was empty, they let us in.
First up—origami! I’d followed their instructional video to make an origami lotus and sent it in. On the first floor, there’s a large basin of lotuses, many very advanced and crafty. Hanging from the top floor ceiling all the way down to the lobby are more lotuses. Brilliant!

Then we went all the way to the top to spiral our way down. We followed the arrows on the floor. We saw some exhibits and some remnants of exhibits that had been there but were interactive and so are no longer allowed. Like, the writing desk with all the envelopes was now roped off (last time, I wrote a letter). Like, the photograph of the pile of candy that had looked like a shiny rug (last time, I took a piece of candy). Still, we were in a museum! We were in the city!

The shrine room is still open. They limit it two at a time, which again, was not a big issue because it was pretty empty. We meditated a bit and then headed out to see more of the art. We talked crystals. We talked mudras. We talked how to make the intricate metal statues. We talked awe. We talked yoga. We went to the museum store and talked all things intriguing and interesting.

Then we were done with the museum and up for lunch. We walked to Chelsea Market. The streets are not crowded. This is how S had described it when she was talking me off the anxiety ledge. There are people out. There are no tourists. That makes a major difference.

Side note: When my brother and I completed our Walk To End Alz, we were walking behind some guy in Massapequa Preserve when I was explaining how I had a plan to go into the city. The guy turned around and warned me to be super careful because just last week, a man in midtown was wielding a machete. Oh, ok, thank you giant man who looks susupiciously like a man who would stand in Times Square and wield a machete. My brother told me not to worry about machetes. I figured that I couldn’t let it hold me back since that could basically happen any time in NYC, not just during the pandemic. Remember the slashings of 2016? Yeah, that was terrible. Also terrible: urban machete attacks.

We got to Chelsea Market without encountering pointy objects. We ate Thai. We ordered ice teas that the server warned several times about their being sweet. Omigosh, sweet is an understatement! I got an ice tea with lychee, and it was heaven on a sugar high. The food was delicious. The only drawback was the occasional large truck that rushed by the barrier inches away from where we were sitting, but that also reminded me of yoga in Times Square, lying on the ground with traffic a few feet away (that’s how B and I met, btw, so it all was very serendipitous).

After lunch, we grabbed coffee at a cute shop and walked in circles for a few blocks here and there, finally circling in on the garage where she’d parked. Then I walked back to Penn, again with no pointy objects in sight, and boarded the correct train the first time. I panicked when the doors closed because I couldn’t access my ticket, but then I realized that I had to sign into the app to actually get my ticket to work. Usually, I’m good with technology, but under the circumstances, my lapse is understandable.

Then I got home. I washed my hands for the hundredth time. I changed my clothes. I sighed with happiness and relief and such joy and gratitude. I’d felt so nervous and also so wanting, full of anxiety and full of need. Then I did my best to keep myself and the people around me safe, and I experienced life the way it could be again. That gives me great hope.

Microblogging Part 3

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Making friends as an adult is not easy, especially for a socially awkward introvert who can’t walk into a room of people without hyping herself up.(You should see the hype routine). Looking back, I now know I lost a lot of my life and who I’d been while I was married. A lot of friendships changed—as they do anyway—and some of the closest friends I had then were his. I’d lost a group of artistic writer friends before him, and after him, I felt like I’d lost my best friend—because I had. Still, those friendships I’d seen as drifting away did come around. When my dad died, they were there. When my wasband left, they were there. Still it wasn’t the same because I’d changed. Climbing back out of the wreckage, I’ve made acquaintances and strengthened bonds that I thought were at first frivolous or forced. Then I returned to the writing scene. Then I returned to the social scene. I returned to live my life as a new person, backed by therapy and Buddhism. Then this workshop came along. Here was a monthly gathering for not only reading but creating. The pandemic hit a few months later and my upward climb to building all who I am plateaued. Then suddenly, a friend I’d grown close to decided to not be part of my life, and losing someone special when we’re in these strange times is a greater loss than usual. And then all the losses piled up at once. And also, so did my friendships. I would not be able to be living this life if I didn’t have the most wonderful people surrounding me with such generosity, kindness, and heart. I am an adult, and I’ve made new friends, the kind I can call in the middle of the night if I need to, and also the kind who wouldn’t be into that, and that’s ok too. People need people in all different ways. Sometimes when you’re lost and you don’t know where to find your tribe, your tribe finds you. I am so grateful for the friends I’ve had for decades and the new ones I’ve made and for this writing workshop that lifts my spirits with every single word. #gettingthroughit #grief #gratitude #grateful #heartbreak #friendshipismyfavoriteship #thankyouforbeingafriend #longisland #longislandpoetry #longislandwriter #southbaysundays #writingworkshop

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Here’s the sun and the clouds unfiltered. And now here’s me unfiltered: I once had a seven year friendship with an artist whose work stunned me. Through her, I met another poet, whose work was also stunning. Those years were filled with impromptu artistic salons, bridal showers and a wedding, long days of hanging out at the preserve, eating African peanut soup, yoga, and the tribulations and sagas of men. Then one of those sagas took a turn. For months, maybe even a year, she’d been seeing someone I’d dated that ended with him simply never calling me. It wasn’t the guy that shook me. It was the lie. It was the getting the email that said I need to tell you something and the story of how they were going to Venice because they were in love. It was realizing that all that time, I’d been the only one in the room who didn’t know. Maybe I knew on some level—found it odd that he’d show up in places where we were. Felt our friendship being strained by something I couldn’t figure out. That friendship ended abruptly. My poet friend then said if it truly was the lie, then I wouldn’t be speaking to her or anyone in their circle. And she was right. An entire world of artists cut out. I know I’m better for it, but to lose that much all at once devastates the soul. And now, it’s coming back to me, like all the other losses that continue to pile high, and so I walk, always looking up, continuing to go through to get through. #gettingthroughit #grief #gratitude #grateful #essayist #creativenonfiction #longislandwriter #nofilter #amwriting #grantpark #alwayslookup #lifecoach #lifecoaching #lifecoachingtips #reikipractitioner #yogalife #Buddhistlife

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Four weeks makes one month. No, I’m not over it. We are never over it. We get through. I’m not through yet, either. The other day I got angry at myself, thinking I’m overreacting. I wrote a list of recent losses. It went twenty deep and I hadn’t reached all the deaths yet. So no, I’m not overreacting. I’m grieving everything all at once, and that may be a silver lining. Go through it all at once so that when I’m through, I’m through. Which isn’t realistic. Things happen. Remember when the tree fell on me? I could have died, and I didn’t. Anyone can die at any time. People leave. Love changes, or maybe chemistry shifts. So when I go through to get through, that means everything. It means life. It means always moving forward into the sad and into the joy. It means taking chances knowing that hurt exists and could happen, and so does beauty and bliss. It means I am so grateful that I’ve found gratitude, truly and genuinely, and I know it’s real because blue skies make me tear up with awe, bunnies make me gasp and giggle, and a smile returned makes me believe the world is good and still can be a better place. I want to be part of that, and through this maybe I already am. #gettingthroughit #grief #gratitude #grateful #longisland #heckscherstatepark #alwayslookup #essayist #creativenonfiction #longislandwriter #fitspo #piyo #piyobod #ispyny #lifecoach #lifecoaching #lifecoachingtips #reikipractitioner #yogalife #Buddhistlife

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Today I made new memories. I went to this park once by myself. The second time I went was with someone, and it was my first time out in the world after quarantine started. I was freaked out by all the people living their lives. This had all been going on as I’d been holed up in my house for months. I felt safe only because who I was with made me feel that way. Today I went back a third time, found the long path around the lake, and walked that as well as some of the trails I’d previously taken. I was alone and felt safe because I finally remember my own strength. New memories to replace the samskara. New memories to build new neural pathways. I’ve become attached to the walking, which is the opposite of vairagya, or non-attachment. At the same time, walking is helping me practice Aparigraha, non-possessiveness, because slowly I feel the non-attachment to the brokeness emerge. This is the duality of yoga. This is the duality of life. Letting go of letting go. Going through to get through. The other side is more life of the same. Life doesn’t change. The true self doesn’t change. The only real change is how we choose to react. I’m making choices that work. I’m making choices that fail. Along the way, I’m learning and laughing and crying and being, and I’m so grateful for all of it. #gettingthroughit #grief #gratitude #grateful #essayist #creativenonfiction #longislandwriter #longislandyoga #longisland #longislandparks #hempsteadlakestatepark #fitspo #piyo #piyobod #alwayslookup #lifecoach #lifecoaching #lifecoachingtips #reikipractitioner #yogalife #Buddhistlife

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Still Here

I could write about the chaos of a semester that never ends. I could tell you about my Instacart freak out concerning lots of frozen broccoli. I could also discuss what it’s like to live alone and not touch anyone for months and feel like everything is okay until going out into the world and being shocked by the sun and the grass and realizing my brain has been coping but this situation is far from okay.

Instead, I’m going to write about how I’ve gotten to do all the things I usually do in person (like teach and workshop and write and practice yoga) from my office and my living room and my backroom that is now my yoga room. I’ve been able to see my mom and chat through a window and across a yard. I’ve seen my brother, too, both in person and through technology when he’s not big on technology. I’ve started to go out and take walks with friends. I’ve started a fashionable mask collection.

I’m still here, and I’m healthy. Actually, I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for a while, and I know that’s probably not everyone’s experience, but it’s been mine. For that, I’m grateful. For all the things I’ve been able to do, I’m grateful. It’s these silver linings that make life still a wonderful and beautiful life.

 

Remember Zumba and Personal Space?

I texted my mom, “I’m going to Zumba with S.” She answered, “Personal space!” She’s never done Zumba, yet she knows of the woes of sweaty strangers touching. It’s pretty much why I haven’t been able to bring myself to go back to Zumba; also, it’s now $5 instead of $4, which seems to be a big leap. Anyway, I’ve thought about going to the Tuesday night class with a different instructor, but there’s not guarantee that instructor won’t be touchy or maybe even more touchy.

S’s Zumba class is taught by a non-touchy instructor, so I headed out, excited. Not exciting was the two hour traffic jam on the Belt which lead me to having to quickly parallel park. I am not a parallel parker, so doing it quickly is not even a notion usually. However, three tries and I was in! Then I was rushing to the class where S met me. As I filled out the “It’s okay if I die from this I won’t sue you” paperwork, S filled up her water bottle and informed me that we’d missed only the warmup. I was like, “My walk from the car was my warmup.” She was like, “Mine too.”

We wound up on the side of the room S doesn’t really like, but there was space there. Personal space. Sweet lovely personal space. Even in a crowded room, I basked in the no-touching zone.

And then we were in it. Jumping, sliding, dipping, shaking. For the past three weeks, I’ve done none of this kind of thing. I wanted to change up my workout completely, so I bought the PiYO workout (and did not pay that ridiculous price of over $70 for it). Those workouts are little to no impact from 18 to 36 minutes. After the shorter routines, I go on the elliptical. There has been no dancing or aerobics. Jumping back into Zumba made me realize how much I miss the dancing aerobics. (So much so that the next day after PiYO, I did a Just Dance workout).

I caught onto most of the choreography by watching the instructor and then by watching S.  Whatever I couldn’t catch onto, I made up. That’s allowed as long as you don’t screw up the people around you, and since I had all this personal space, I wasn’t screwing anyone up. Plus, a lot of people in the class were about a beat behind, so making it your own seemed to be a common occurrence.

Sweating profusely, I asked S what time the class ended. We had about a half hour left. However, that half hour went really quickly.  After a few more salsas and stretches, we were done. S flushed pink and I, of course, dripped.

We got iced teas! Oooh, a nice post-Zumba refresher!

So now I’m thinking I should try the local five-dollar-Zumba one more time. I can do it at home, for sure, but sometimes, getting out into a class makes it even better.

 

Best Friend Sinbad

Remember when my sabbatical ended on the most glorious note? When I found my best friend? When Sinbad tweeted at me? Twice!

My best friend Sinbad came back around to the New York area for a friendship visit with me and 348 other people. On the rainiest night of Spring, Eddie and I drove up to Nyack as the sunset for a 9:30 PM show after thinking all day we’d be going to the 7:30 show and then printing out the tickets and realizing, hey, the show starts past my bedtime. Good thing we looked at the tickets before leaving, though.

Side note: when I was an undergrad in Oneonta, we would drive through Nyack to get there. There are apparently a South Nyack and a North Nyack, and the signs say (or used to say to my recollection) So Nyack and No Nyack, so we’d entertain ourselves by saying, Soooooo Nyack?  Nooooo Nyack! This was entertaining back then. Okay, who am I kidding? Still entertaining now. Also entertaining? Mooing at cows.

The Palisades Mall is like a small village, but we easily found the parking lot we needed to be in, which was pretty full. That meant walking in the rain, but it wasn’t too bad. A plus–the line for the club was inside, unlike the line we stood on for Wheel of Fortune or when we went to see Santa at the Montauk Lighthouse.

Waiting on line with Eddie is a bit of a challenge, especially when I’m wearing rainboots and not heels. We like each other, we really do, but since he’s almost a foot taller than I am, having a conversation in a noisy place poses a bit of a problem. I’ll say something to him;  he’ll stare off into space. I’ll nudge him and say, I said something to you. He’ll say, What? I’ll say, Nevermind I don’t remember. Then we stare in different directions again.

One thing I was trying to point out to him was a woman standing on line on the other side of the rope (the line was like a line from a theme park). Her shirt said: Nah. And then right under that it said: –Rosa Parks, 1955. I thought this was Hil. Air. Eee. Us. However, trying to point it out loud enough for Eddie to hear but not for the woman to know I was talking about her proved to be impossible. But it’s a funny shirt, right? Right.

We were let into the club at around 9:30 PM. So the show didn’t start then. We were seated at a table towards the front around people who were quiet and looking at their phones for the most part. We ordered food (do not get the pretzel at Levity Live if you’ve ever had an authentic NYC street pretzel–it’s just not okay) and drinks (an unsweetened iced tea because I’m wild). Then the host came out.

The host was not the club host. He was Sinbad’s host. I think his name was Devin, so let’s call him that. He made us laugh about being in Nyack but not ready for the city, and he was mispronouncing Nyack until someone in the crowd corrected him. At one point, he forgot part of his act and looked it up on his phone, which was actually pretty funny, and it worked out only because what he said afterwards was funny. Unfortunately, not exactly memorable, but I know we laughed. [SIDE NOTE: I just mis-typed laughed so badly that spell check thought I wanted to say lathered. Now that’s comedy.]

Here’s the difference between comics and long-standing career comics: Sinbad came out and the very first thing he said had the entire club howling. It was something as simple as feeling old and wanting to sit down. It was pure funny. Eddie and I were laughing loudly out loud. The cell phone couple across from us were offering up huge belly laughs. The entire room woke up with non-stop giggles and hoots and table-slapping.

Devin stayed on stage the whole show. He was like a backup singer for a musical act, chiming in every now and then, and answering questions when asked directly by Sinbad. For the most part, though, it was all Sinbad, doing his thing and interacting with the audience. So quick. So witty. So obviously thankful for being able to do that for a living.

Sinbad

Project #ThankYouForBeingAFriend

I think I’m a Dorothy. Long before choosing among Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte in NYC, there were Dorothy, Sophia, Blanche, and Rose in Miami. Donning breezy, colorful, layered frocks, they reveled in cheesecake and lasagna while picturing Sicily and bemoaning/loving the men in their lives. Dorothy was tall, and I’m not, but she was a teacher, which I am. It’s either her or Sophia, who is short, so maybe that’s me, too.

Why a show about four older ladies living together in Miami would appeal to girls around 7 and 8 years old, I don’t know, but it did. Every episode of The Golden Girls, especially in syndication, played on screen in my living room. Then as a teen, I’d watch again. Now as an adult, I don’t watch as often, but there’s something about it that makes me leave it on.

Upon hearing there would be a restaurant dedicated to Blanche and The Golden Girls in NYC, S and I made it THE thing we’d do once it was open. Then it opened. And we did our thing: Project #ThankYouForBeingAFriend.

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Getting there proved a comedy of travel. Amazingly, we were able to text each other when one or the other was on the subway. However, those texts were delayed, so when she was getting on one train car, I was ge01043646469b843fa45ff54ad832367558a6cec7e7tting on another car. On a different train. On a different line. Whoopsie. Train after train, stop after stop, we told each other where we were, but by the time we’d receive the messages, we’d be in different places. We finally met up when I got out at 59th. As we waited for the next train to take uptown together, I got a sweet treat: a butter Kit Kat.

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We made it to 187th and walked in the wrong direction for a while before heading in the right direction and missing it again. FYI: there’s a huge scaffolding in front of Rue La Rue. Before seeing the cafe, we saw something that seems serendipitous. I mean, come on: it’s spelled wrong, but that’s totally a sign. Sophia! Right next to Rue! It had to be a sign. Literally and figuratively (see what I did there?).

When we went inside, we realized just how small it is, but we were 01080949b0c41da71e636879678f53f30de70a6b9efortunate that the film crew there from Inside Edition (or one of those shows) was packing up and we got their table. They’d been there to sing Happy Birthday because it would have been Rue McClanahan’s birthday, which is what this sign says beneath the window glare. We sat and then looked across the room at the ceiling to counter chalkboard menu next to the door. We’d have to go up to the counter on the other side of the room to order. It wasn’t the easiest way to choose what to eat, especially since we couldn’t find a menu online (but I did find a menu for some place in California that came up every time I looked up this place). I overheard the owner say that the menu would be changing based on Rue’s recipe book, so that  might be why they have no menus to hand out. I decided on a curry chicken sandwich and S chose grilled cheese. She went to order and I took pictures, most of them with glare, and made a friend who had been there two hours, gawking at everything. He suggested I get the Betty White Cake along with a piece of cheesecake, which is what he did. Then I took a photo of him and the owner in front of the weird bathroom door, which is the only thing in the place that’s really not Golden Girl themed and is more NYC weird themed.S

S came back with a #3, saying they’d bring the food to us. Then she checked out the weird bathroom, reporting that the butt and an arm were on the inside. That made sense. Here’s the front side:0197f10e3d0cad44ccbe34559ac5c93779ab1eba5c

The01c0401cd8076de8bf02b7b09e71924934585a9ac9n we waited. We watched episodes of The Golden Girls that play on a loop, commercial-free. We watched everyone getting their food and enjoying their food. We wished we had our food. We chatted some more, took more pics, S went on FB live, and then we waited more. The owner came over and chatted with us about the grilled cheese, which he’d told S at the counter when she ordered and then me right then that it had two kinds of cheeses, one expensive and one cheap, to represent each time in Rue’s life. Then he said he’d check on our food.

Then S went up to the counter about ten minutes later to check on our order. They had lost it somehow. My chicken sandwich was sitting somewhere and the grilled cheese was no where to be found, and our meal ticket had no number on it so basically we had #3 on our table for no reason. Then a few minutes later (we’d watched over an episode and a half of TGG by this point, so it was over a half hour), a runner came with my sandwich and said that he’d be right back with the grilled cheese.

He wasn’t right back. I wouldn’t eat until S got her food, but she insisted I eat, so I had a pickle. Then the guys next to us were like, You didn’t get your food yet!? One of them was like, Well, I’m concerned about it at least. Helpful in that fellowship kind of way but  not in that the-food-is-coming way. I at some chips, and S wouldn’t have any. Then she went to the counter and asked simply for biscuits and strawberry butter–her first choice–and they gave her that on the house along with #6.

So she had two inedible numbers and I had a sandwhich. I ate. She got her biscuits! Then she ate! Then the runner came by and she said she no longer wanted the grilled cheese and he almost gasped, You want to leave!? And she was like, no, I’m just not hungry for it anymore. (Another episode of TGG has passed by at this point, so that’s over 40 minutes). He said he’d pack it for her to go, and when he came back with it and a bag, he apologized profusely, saying that since the kitchen staff couldn’t handle a sandwich, they might have to find new staff.

The problem here was that, since she’d already paid, she had to get her sandwich or they would have to give her the money back, but she had no receipt and they’d lost whatever they were supposed to have on their side. The owner couldn’t even figure out what had happened, but he did ask if one of us had ordered a tuna melt. What the?

So we didn’t get the Betty White Cake or cheesecake because who knows how long we’d have to wait for that or if they’d bring out nachos instead. We DID, however, hop on over to the Golden Girls phone.

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Long cord and palm fronds, of course

In all, the experience of being there and taking in the nostalgia was fantastic. The food service, for us, not so great. However, everyone around us got their food and had no issues.

To make up for the food debacle, we headed to Bryan Park’s Winter Village so she could get fried pickles. They didn’t have them. She decided to simply get fries, and the booth that had been open five minutes before when we first walked by was now closed. S was having an unlucky food day for sure. I felt a little guilty since I’d started off with that amazing Kit Kat and then got everything I’d ordered (very late, and it’d been sitting around, but still I got it).

We checked out a cute store across from the park and didn’t find the shirt S wanted (because, you know), but we did find some cute things: ceramic VW trays, UFO bread that’s fun because it’s called UFO, and a scratch-off poster of 100 books to read (I’ve read like 30something of them).

Project #ThankYouForBeingAFriend was mostly a success. I spent a day with my “longest” friend, and even when we’re hungry, we’re having a good time.

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We took this picture 5 times until we decided this one would do.