Friday, May 30, 2008

please hold your applause

Standing on the platform after work, waiting for the G train.

A man pacing around with earphones in...once in awhile singing, but more than that, clapping along loudly to something only he can hear.

Please stop. Please stop now...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Something New

So I bought a bike last weekend. Isn’t it a nice looking bike? This is a turn of events in my life that I never expected… like so many other things. Riding a bike on the streets of New York? Not something I ever thought I’d be bold enough to do. I would see bikers riding around and think it would be great if I was brave or insane enough to try it, and then for some reason I thought maybe I was insane enough to try it. So now here I am, a new biker in the City.

One of the reasons I decided to try biking is for exercise. I have never been one to exercise much for the sake of exercise and the health benefits that go with it. After moving here and being more active, I have started to feel good about exercise. I walk a lot, of course, which has helped me physically, and I think seeing positive results from that have been very motivational for me. Biking allows me to exercise in a very functional way. I am getting where I need to be and I am improving my health at the same time. When I take the train I spend about the same amount of time walking, waiting on a train and then getting to my destination. I am still a fan of public transit and will continue to use it, but I am glad to be biking as well.

I will be writing more posts about biking in the near future. There’s more to share! Be looking for information about Transportation Alternatives, an organization I recently joined and am very excited about!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


This afternoon I was at a ticket counter with a friend at the Port Authority bus terminal and overheard a woman saying, "I know. I'm just buying it tonight so I don't have to stand in line tomorrow when I'm late."

Now that's a lady who is self-aware.

More Reasons to Love This Town

Yesterday was a hot, muggy day in New York. I spent much of it inside, but after work I wanted to get outside!

I took my sandwich, crackers and iced tea to Washington Square Park, which is only about half-a-mile from the store, intending to sit down on a bench, have my supper and catch up on my reading for "The Artist's Way". Once in the park, however, I heard amazing ragtime music being played and I was drawn to it. I found a nice green piece of lawn to stretch out on and just enjoyed some live music for awhile. Here's a video that I hope will give you some sense of the experience. You can see people all over the lawn and benches listening to the music, reading, eating and just chillin' out. One couple started dancing. The group playing called themselves "Loose Marbles".

After a few songs, the sky turned suddenly dark, the wind picked up and I was reminded of Kansas thunderstorms. People were quickly gathering their belongings and heading for cover, the band included. I did grab one of their CDs before they left. After most of the crowd left, the wind calmed down for a bit and no rain came. As I was walking out of the park, I ran across another group of guys playing music. Washington Square Park is right next to NYU, so I imagine many or most of the artists are students. This second group was playing some good ole' Southern bluegrass. I put a bit of money in their open case, because I feel like giving these guys encouragement to continue making good music is worth something. And I definitely enjoy listening. Here is a clip of their music.

There was a gentleman sitting on a bench listening to the group play (you can see him in the video), and he was really getting into it. You may be able to hear him letting out a whoop in the background. Between songs he went over to the group and told them about his travels to Europe and the music from there that this reminded him of. I just mention this because it is one more aspect of these experiences. There is often someone out there who is not shy to start talking to you and sharing their own thoughts and experiences. And while I don't always want strangers coming up to talk to me, it's a part of it all.

I only stuck around for a few songs because I had to get up to Midtown for my Artist's Way meeting. I was at 4th Street and needed to get to 39th Street, but decided it would be a nice walk. These are the shorter blocks and I usually like to walk. I also hadn't exercised much. The sky stayed overcast and it rained very lightly. Since it was windy again and the rain wasn't too heavy I decided not to use my umbrella this time. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake because it was still very humid, so I was sweating, and also damp from the rain, and felt kind of gross by the time I got to the meeting. Despite that, it was a nice walk and I was able to talk to my parents on the phone for awhile.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

My Umbrella, My Friend

I owned an umbrella in Kansas, and I owned a hooded sweatshirt in Kansas, but until I moved to New York, I rarely used them. Now that I actually have to walk around in rainy weather, rather than running from my car to a nearby building, I finally have a reason to own these items. For a long time I wanted to need my umbrella, and now I finally do. Yesterday was a rainy, windy day in the City and I had a great time walking, doing some shopping and puddle-jumping around town. Watching everyone else do the same thing just reinforces this feeling of comradery I sense... that we're all in "this" together.

Last night Melinda from the Pulaski House invited me to a gathering at one of her friend's apartments in Queens. The host, Grace, cooked Phillipino food (is that the proper title?), which was delicious, and I really enjoyed meeting some new people. I have some new Facebook friends now. Hah. Grace happens to own a Polaroid camera, which really livens up a party.

Melinda thinks it would be great if everyone owned one of those clear dome umbrellas, rather than the standard black umbrellas that are most used. The black umbrellas have some pointy ends that could potentially blind a passer-by. Melinda says that the points tend to be at her eye-level. Also, when you're walking into the wind, you have to walk with the umbrella in front of you, so you really have no idea what is coming ahead of you. That can be dangerous. I told her that the dome umbrellas might be a great idea, but I wasn't going to start the trend.

Another interesting thing about living in a city with so many umbrellas is the number of casualties you see on the streets after a storm. This morning on my way to work I saw many broken umbrellas on the street. And I wonder, when will my dear friend be a victim of high winds? And how embarassed will I be when mine is either ripped from my hands on the street or inverted and shredded? It can happen to anyone.

Follow this link to see broken umbrella pictures: Jessie, the owner of the blog, is described as "a professional photographer with a penchant for broken umbrellas after a hard rain".

Here's a great idea I found for recycling a broken umbrella. I'm sure this will come in handy for Halloween... or a trip to the theater to watch "Dark Knight".

I have found an interesting umbrella blog in my google searching today. I don't know why this blog exists, but it's great. Check it out. You might get some ideas for your next umbrella.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mr. Meyers

Seth Meyers from Saturday Night Live was in the cafe today.
He's a co-anchor of the Weekend Update on SNL.
You know, I'm almost feeling guilty, keeping a record on my blog of these celebrities that I see... like I'm all up in their business. I don't want to be The New York Post, for crying out loud. I'm considering what I will do with that feeling. I don't know if I'd like someone posting my hang-outs online. And they are my customers... I gotta look out for my customers, don't I? Hmmmm.....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Turkey Legs

One of my annual traditions in Wichita was eating a turkey leg from the Food Court at The Wichita River Festival every May. Co-workers from Youth Horizons and I would take off together for lunch during the week and eat some good grub. These turkey legs were huge and delicious and almost more than one can handle. The River Festival is happening this week in Wichita, and I am a bit sad to miss out on that. I hope the YH staff will be continuing the tradition. If you're in Wichita this week, enjoy the Festival!!

After our yard work today, I received a wonderful surprise. Jason was grilling a turkey for dinner, and there were two big turkey legs on that bird. He took one and I took the other. The legs weren't quite as big as River Festival legs, but they were delicious, and I was able to enjoy the tradition from a remote location.

Day of Recovery

I made it home from Kansas safely yesterday. The only bump was a 30-minute flight delay, which didn't cause me any problems. Not too shabby.

I was exhausted from the trip. The night before I left I didn't go to bed. I am a hopeless procrastinator, and by the time I got everything I wanted to get done before my flight, it was only a couple of hours before the taxi was picking me up, so I just stayed awake the rest of the night. I was afraid I wouldn't wake up on time. That started off the week, and of course I didn't sleep a lot while I was away and there were a lot of hours in planes and cars. That's the way I usually roll... needing a vacation after my vacation. It was certainly worth it.

Last night I turned my phone to "silence all" and was asleep in bed (only waking up once) until 11:42 a.m. this morning. It was great. I didn't do much the rest of the day, despite all my plans for the day, and I didn't go more than four or five blocks from my house. It was nice to be home for the day.

I did manage to help work in our backyard a little bit this afternoon. Jason, Vonetta and Lou were all working on it. We enlarged the edible garden portion of the yard, trimmed some tree limbs and made a temporary bench for the patio. Actually, they did most of the work. I only assisted a bit. The yard is not too big by Kansas standards, but the Storbakkens have made it a beautiful green retreat back there. We are having a house concert in the backyard in June. I am confident the yard will be looking even better by that time than it already does. I'm including some pictures of the day on this post. The first one is of Jason and Vonneta in the backyard. The next picture is Lou sawing some boards on our front patio. I still need to figure out how to add captions to my pictures.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Raising an Ebenezer

Today my sister Jennifer graduated Magna Cum Laude from The College of the Ozarks with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. I'm so proud of her. She actually finished courses in December, but the school only has graduation ceremonies in May. It's a great school. It also has one of the most beautiful campuses I've seen.

I decided that I wanted to be here for the graduation, so I planned a surprise trip back to the Midwest. I didn't tell my sister or my parents that I was coming, and with a lot of help from family and friends, I actually pulled off the surprise! I spent some time with people in Wichita and then met my brother Jerry and his wife Shelby in Salina. (Thanks for the ride Uncle Steve and Aunt Alice!) Jerry and Shelby live in Colorado and were also coming out for the weekend. The fact that graduation was on Mother's Day weekend was also a plus!

I'm glad I was able to be here for the graduation and to spend some time with my family. It's a good thing to walk in one's graduation ceremony. As boring as ceremonies can be, I believe they are a valuable way for us to honor people and big events in their lives, and to remind ourselves about important things.

One of the most moving moments of the ceremony was when the college recognized an Army Captain who finished his schooling in 2005 and was unable to attend the graduation ceremony because he was deployed for a tour of duty in Iraq. He is currently stationed in Alaska and he, his wife and their two daughters came to Hollister for this year's graduation. The school gave him special recognition and presented him with his diploma, after which he received a loud standing ovation from the crowd. It was a powerful moment...the kind that brings a lot of people to tears. Wow.

So here I am in Ozark, Missouri. I will write more about my trip in the coming days. Right now, however, I'd better get back to family time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Need A Push?

When you have to get to work, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Here's a video from a train in Japan that my friend Kristi shared with me. I guess I can't complain about rush hour on the A-train anymore.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ms. Diaz

I saw Cameron Diaz and her entourage in our store today.
They drove away in a very posh black Tundra.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

On the Way to La Strada

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the last stop for this train due to police action at the Bowery Station."

I'm not going to Bowery Station. I'm going to Essex Station. The next one. The one before Bowery. Take me one more stop. Please!

Unload the train. Stand on the platform. Wait.

The MTA worker walks past and repeats the message. So we wait.

"Ladies and Gentlemen. There is not train service at this time due to police action at the Bowery Station. If you want to go to Manhattan, take the B39 bus across the Williamsburg Bridge. If you want to go to......"

Frustration. Cussing. Mumbling. Shuffling. Herding towards the exits and down the stairs to the street.

The B39 is not listed on this bus stop. Where is the B39 stop?

"Where does the B39 stop?" the man asks.

I don't know.

Follow the crowd. Turn the corner. There's the bus stop. Wait while other buses pick people up and leave. Wait.

This is a lot of people who will want to get on the bus when it comes. Can a bus fit a train-load of people? Certainly not.

Here comes the bus. The crowd surges and crams. Not a chance of getting on this bus. Watch it depart, crammed full of people on their way to the bridge. Stifle jealousy. Wait.

Oh look. There goes the J train on its way across the Williamsburg Bridge. I was willing to wait for service to resume. Now it's resumed, but we still stand at the bus stop.

Faced with decision. Do I go back to the station and hope the next train comes soon, or do I wait for the next B39 bus? I wait. An older gentleman trips on the curb and another man and I go to see if he needs help. His shoe came off, but he's okay.

Here comes the next bus into the stop. A little ways across the lot it unloads its crowd of passengers from Manhattan. Painstakingly slow they exit the bus. Then, the bus turns off its marquee lights. Frustration permeates the air again.

What?!?!?!? Are you kidding me?

Start to head back to the station to wait for the train, along with a few other people. Look back. The bus turns its marquee lights back on and pulls forward to the bus stop. Turn around and go back to the bus. Wait in line. Load the bus. The crowd has thinned at this point and there are plenty of seats available. Then, the bus doesn't move. We wait. The bus driver leaves the bus running and gets off the bus.

Oh, look. There goes another J train towards the bridge into Manhattan. Guess I should have gone back to the station. Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhh....

The bus driver gets back on the bus and we are on our way across the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan.

This was my experience getting into the Lower East Side for a La Strada concert at The Living Room tonight. Was it worth it? Yes. The band was late getting started, so I didn't miss a thing. I even got a seat at a table. La Strada is a band out of Brooklyn and they rock. They use guitar, percussion, accordian, violin, viola and cello in their music. They were the first band I saw in concert after my move to New York. I was glad to see them again. If you ever come to New York and want to hear a good band, I highly recommend La Strada. I'm spreading the word. Their sticker even got a place on the top of my laptop. Here's their website: They are also on MySpace. Check them out. They were picked by The L Magazine as one of the 8 NYC Bands You Need to Hear.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

At The Hospital

Kim is one of our fellow Radical Living residents. She went into the hospital this week with breathing problems, but I'm glad to report that she was able to leave the hospital today! I had a great time hanging out with her and other fellow radicals there. This picture is of me giving moral support to Kim during her breathing treatment.

Below is a short video clip of our fun times at the hospital. Jason and Vonetta are also in the video.