Dim All The Lights

Summer. No, not the season. The Donna. Donna Summer! S and I saw her in concert at Jones Beach together once. Last night, we saw her music and life on the Broadway stage.

Before getting to the theatre, let me back up for a side story about how I am a giant. I stopped in Penn to grab a snack. A few people stood on line in front of me. At first, I thought the person with the large backpack right in front of me was the daughter of the women in front of her because the person in the backpack was tiny.

Like I felt at least a foot taller than her. I was wearing heels, sure, but I towered . When I saw her face, I was amazed that this was not a child. She was a petite adult.

Waiting and waiting, I pondered the snack options. Waiting and waiting, I chose and then changed my mind and then chose and changed my mind back to the original. With all the waiting and decision making, I jumped into action upon being called next.

Only I wasn’t next. I’m so not used to having to look down to see anyone because no one is ever shorter than me that I totally did not see Petite Backpack still standing in front of me. We’re all probably lucky I didn’t bowl her over. The guy at that counter was like, I think she was before you, and I turned and saw her standing there, not angry, but with a look that said, This happens to me a lot.

This does not happen to me a lot. I said a quick, Oh my mistake! and walked back behind her as she passed by me, a smile on her face. I hadn’t ruined her evening. However, I now have an experience that I will probably never have again–being the tall one.

After feeling ten feet tall, I headed out to the theatre. On my way, I found myself walking behind a man who was at least seven feet tall. I thought in that moment, If he changes direction at any moment, I’m crushed. And now I’m back to shorty short short.

More importantly, Donna Summer. S found me on line even though I was wearing my orange coat and pumpkins from a restaurant’s outdoor decor surrounded me. She said something about the show being an hour and forty five minutes. I said the email I got said it was an hour and forty minutes. Then I overheard a bartender tell a customer the show was an hour and a half. We decided to quickly get to our seats before the show was simply over.

Our seats were high up but we had a perfect view. Then that perfect view was destroyed by four people who did not know how to sit still and be quiet for an hour and forty five/forty/thirty minutes. The two people not directly in front of us kept kissing every few minutes. The woman in front of me kept talking to the man in front of S, which meant we had to keep leaning in the opposite direction. Basically, S and I watched Summer slanted way too the left.

Other than that, the show lived up to the disco and beyond spectacle it promised to be. I learned a whole lot about Donna Summer’s backstory that I never knew. I got a little confused with time shifts and which actress was playing which version of Donna Summer at times. That doesn’t matter, though, because the music and dancing and shimmery costumes and lights of dazzlement kept us entertained for that entire hour and however many minutes, and now all I want to do is listen to Donna Summer over and again.

Why Donna Summer? Years of belting out her lyrics in our bedrooms, on carrides, everywhere we could. Years of dancing at all those parties ending in “Last Dance.” Years of big hair and simple glee. Let this legacy live on.

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Wave Walk, or To Complete A List

S likes to finish lists. I like to find public art. La Mer’s Wave Walk seemed to be essential to live our lives happily. A way to promote the UN’s focus on clean oceans, La Mer Blue Heart Ocean Fund teamed up with Project O to find celebrities to create pieces of artwork about the ocean. Most are circular waves. A few are surf boards. La Mer posted an interactive map on their website to boast these sculptures.

Fact: This interactive map is the worst map. No matter when or how you open it, it always starts on the sculpture in the Bronx in Yankee Stadium. When you click on it, it sometimes goes to where you want it to go, but mostly, it does whatever it feels like doing.

Fact: The waves are numbered in a way that seems random. I’m guessing they are numbered by how they were commissioned, and then they were placed across the city. However, the placement and the numbers don’t line up, so like #1 is near #45.

Fact: One of the waves listed is not the wave that exists. The lobby of the James Hotel has a fabulous sculpture, but it’s not the one listed on the site.

So the goal to see all the waves also became a project I’m very fond of: map making. I stepped away from using maps for a while–I used to use them in creative writing and literature classes but because the Google and the Flickr change how their map tech works often, I stopped because relearning and reteaching how to make a map takes too much time. Now, however, it was me, the Google, S’s neat organized list of wave sculptures, and a dream.

I saw my first wave by accident. When Eddie and I waited for the right bagels at JFK, I found one. It’s past security, which means public art in this case is open to all those who might have a plane ticket and are flying out of Terminal 4. Finding it was a delight, though.

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Only a few days later, S found some on her own at Albee Square.

Then came our first jaunt out into the wild together. First stop, Sugartarium at Unix Gallery. This has nothing to do with waves and everything to do with her love of sweets and my love of free things to do.

Next stop? Well, that’s when we were using the terrible interactive map that barely works on a desktop computer let alone a cell phone. So we zig zagged through the city and found some near the Flatiron, Brookfield Place, the Oculus, FIT, Wall Street, and Whole Foods on Greenwich. It took hours of confused subway rides and turned around street crossing.

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Near the Flatiron, basically hidden next to a large truck. Also, we couldn’t find the subway downtown after seeing this one so we crossed the same street maybe five times.

At Brookfield. Walked in, out, around, down the promenade, and then across the patio. It’s clearly inside but not on the side where we were inside.

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Down on Wall Street, we made a friend. (The wave is actually outside of the front of the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian).

We walked by the Oculus and then back by it again. We went inside because S said I should see inside. Then we went outside. Then we looked at the picture on the interactive map and saw that they were actually inside. The address didn’t say that.

Oh sweet magnificent Whole Foods. They had a sign explaining the entire Wave Walk and Project 0 as well as where to find the wave.

The next week, we embarked on Day 2 armed with a better list of our own, a better map of our own, and pure moxie. Day 2 was about 100 degrees.  Thank you, summer, for arriving on the very day we’d be running around from north to south. First stop, Harlem.

It’s 125 under the tressle and not the address they give, but close.

Into the lobby of Sotheby’s where this surf board doesn’t look like the photo on the map.

We then made our way to the UN. We walked uphill and downhill and across streets and back across. We looked at the map. We looked through fences and gates. Finally, S climbed the stairs and peeked inside beyond security to find that they were actually inside the complex.

The security guard told us to simply go across the street and get a pass. It would take five minutes tops. Then we could get inside to see them. Ohhh. Okay. We went across the street, and S went inside while I waited outside as per the guard’s instructions. She came back out holding a blue paper bracelet and said, You wear the wristband, and I get this. She indicated the sticker on her shirt. Hahahahhahahahaaaa.

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We went back across the street and the guard smiled and welcomed us through. Security was quick. The waves were right there along with the other permanent sculptures. Also, there’s a ghost in one of these photos.

As aforementioned, the sun blazed, I sweated a lot, and so the memory of where we went and how we got there drifts fuzzily in my head. At one point, we got on a subway car that was not air conditioned, but we got to sit for a while. A balanced trade. So here are some waves we saw, possibly not in the order we saw them, but since the official map is terrible, this is still better.

Three waves along Madison.

Inside Vivienne Westwood

This one is called Mushball. It’s on either Madison or 3rd. It’s a blur. If it’s on Madison, then one of the ones above listed at Madison is on 3rd. This is very helpful, I know.

The one listed at 611 5th Ave is actually inside Saks. Why not just say “inside Saks?”

We did the hotels together: The James and then Crosby. As indicated before, the one in the lobby of the James is not listed, and the one listed on the map as the one in the lobby is not apparent anywhere in real life. The guys at The James Hotel were really helpful in simply offering up how to see the other two without our asking.

Three at The James Hotel

One at Crosby Hotel

There was also this one outside of the American Folk Art Museum.

Six at the Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle. Oh sweet mercy of air conditioning.

Drenched, thirsty, starving, we headed to Cooper Square at some point. Along the way, I bought some fruit and a protein bar that had chocolate because I was craving both along with a third or fourth bottle of water. We sat in Cooper Square while I ate. The sun had started to set, so it was around only 90 degrees at this point.

S found a 7-11 to get a Coke slurpie. I saw a Vivi’s and got a bubble tea. Oh sweet mercy of air conditioning and ice cold drinks. We also saw some typical NYC scenes along the way.

The Tide Is High wave is listed at The Kimmel Center NYU. We found the Kimmel Center. We walked around the Kimmel Center. I suggested we go into the park across from the Kimmel Center, but the map on the phone told us we were going the wrong way. We went into the Kimmel Center. I sat on the stairs of the Kimmel Center as S climbed them to look around. One of the guards spoke to her about the waves and he was like, I’ll show you. She beckoned me, and I climbed up after her. He took us up the escalator and indicated, It’s through there.

We walked down a hall and entered a room and there it stood. It wasn’t a special wave or THE wave we were looking for. However, something felt magical about it. Maybe because I was about to pass out from heat exhaustion. Maybe because it didn’t have a rope around it as most of the indoor ones do. Maybe because it’s orange and I like orange. Maybe because in the fading light, it glimmered. Again, that could be the onset of dehydration, but still. Magnificent.

We thanked the guard, who had seen quite a few on his own, and called it a day. We’d spent about ten hours searching for waves in NYC summer heat. It was time to pack it in for  now.

As a follow up, S got to see more in Brooklyn, on Roosevelt Island, and in other parts of Manhattan. The outliers are the ones in Yankee Stadium and Staten Island. The list may not have all checks by the time the sculptures come down, but it was an honest and determined effort to finish it.

I realize it’s for a bigger cause. However. The next time anyone wants to set up statues across NYC, call us. We’ll make a map and checklist and maybe we’ll offer prizes. Okay, we’re not offering prizes, but we can make a list and a map. It’s really simple. See?

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.

 

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.