23 May 2013

To Act Or Not To Act

New York City sidewalk

Dramatis personæ
Two nannies
Two children, in strollers

The two nannies are pushing the two strollers, side by side, chatting. The two children are conversing (in a manner of speaking, they are at least looking at one another). One child is wearing Crocs; however, she has one pink shoe off and in her mouth. The nannies are oblivious (see above, chatting).

I note the child with shoe in mouth and think:

Should I say something? The nanny will just be annoyed that her conversation was interrupted. But, wouldn't the parent like to know that a stranger extracted a shoe from the child's mouth? On the other hand, dirt's good, it builds the immune system. But, ohmygod: dog shit, rat poison, piss, vomit, garbage!

To act or not to act, that is the conundrum.

What, dear readers, would you have done?

22 May 2013

Wordless Wednesday: The Stories

I've worked in this building for many years, and I make my way to the fifth floor not infrequently. One day, waiting for the elevator to take me back to eight, this piece of upside-down tile jumped off the wall at me. Well, not literally - it's still cemented in place - but how had I never noticed its egregious misplacement? It's probably been like that for the whole century plus that the building's been standing. And it took me years to notice it.

Wherever you look, there are stories. If you listen, there are stories. It's why I do keep blogging, even though I have too much to do and not enough time to putter, skitter, whittle. It's because of the stories. They're everywhere and they need to be told.

10 May 2013

The Only Crowns I Have Were Put In By My Dentist

You know that I'm the kind of cranky feminist who gets all in a twist about things like the tarting up of Merida and why do Monster High dolls exist and no, little girls shouldn't dress like sluts, and nor should they be wearing lip gloss.

On the other hand, the totally stylin', fancy-sneakered, well-coifed, thirty-something guy who sashayed down Broadway this morning with this tote bag slung over his shoulder absolutely made my day.

But, I want to unpack this. I'd be appalled if someone handed my nine year old an "Always Wear Your Invisible Crown" bag or sweatshirt. No, you're not a secret princess. You're a sturdy, feisty, smart kid and it's not about your appearance, or your tiara, or your royal lineage, it's about what you can (and will) do.

So, why is it okay for a grown-up gay man* to walk around like a princess? Because he's not a kid? Because he's earned it? Because he's got a deep vein of irony? Huh?

And what does "Always Wear Your Invisible Crown" mean, anyway? Don't give me crap about how it supports self-esteem, like the Toronto school board preaches, because hello? We're not royalty. We don't wear crowns. What do we do? We model good behavior: we read books, and cook dinner, and go to work, and practice things that are hard. We exercise and we challenge assumptions and we think about issues. We read the newspaper at the breakfast table and talk about things going on in the world. We discuss things like "is there a god?" and soda with artificial sweeteners and "where did the world come from?" and the girls who like fashion.

If my kid ever wants to fly that "Always Wear Your Invisible Crown" flag, we're going to talk about that non-existent tiara and about that lack of royal blood and about avoiding crowns later by brushing your teeth now.

* I have no way of knowing if he was actually gay. But you don't spend 25 years working in the arts in NYC and not develop very good gaydar. Trust me.

06 May 2013

Unexpected Inutility

While I'm all for energy efficient light bulbs, I've never been fond of those spiral compact fluorescents. The shape is often wrong for a fixture, and the color temperature is too cold and blue, and you really don't want to have to look at them. But the LED bulbs that are starting to be available are much better: the shape and size is pretty close to an old-style incandescent bulb, the color is warmer, they go on instantly, and they're dimmable. [They are, however, exceedingly spendy up front.]

I flipped on my office desk task light this morning, and poof! The incandescent bulb expired. When he got in, the building manager scrounged me up an 8 watt LED bulb made by Philips. Lovely!

But...it didn't work. You see, the light fixture is a wall mounted, adjustable, spring arm fancy-pants thing by Tolomeo.

And as soon as I put the bulb in, it gently sank down and rested its little head on my telephone.

The problem is that the old incandescent bulb (A) weighs about an ounce, and the new bulb (B) weighs 4.4 ounces - way too heavy for that particular fixture. Happily we had some old style bulbs, but what are we going to do when we can't get them anymore? In all the hullabaloo about the phase out of incandescent bulbs, it never occurred to me that we might need to get new light fixtures.

03 May 2013

On Pigs and Birds

I stayed out late the other night, because when you get invited to a prosciutto tasting, you go. At least I do. I took my walker with me, because he’s always the perfect date, and we drank prosciutto-flavored cocktails (too sweet), and tasted four different aged prosciuttos* (from 18 months to 46 months), and ate lovely nibbles (foie gras! porchetta!), and finished with prosciutto-flavored panna cotta (delicious). All in all, it was splendid – a beautiful night, a lovely restaurant, and a whole mess of delectable pig. My only disappointment was that the very heavy goody bag** did not include a whole ham, because really? That would have totally made my day.

Anyway, staying out late meant that I didn’t take my usual train home, so instead of just the usual dour commuters rushing home to dinner, it was salted with a hodge-podge of eccentrics. I took a seat next to an older woman with a prodigiously wrinkled face, loud clothes and severe glasses. I decided I liked her when she chided the young woman across from us to “move your bags so someone can sit down”. But  then I had this peculiar set of odd exchanges with her, the kind that left me scratching my head, who are you anyway? It started with the New York Times Magazine [I was reading the very interesting Peggy Orenstein piece on breast cancer]. “What magazine is that?” I told her, and showed her the front cover. “Would you like it when I’m done?” “No”, she said, “I had it over the weekend.” But you didn’t recognize it? Later I pulled a lip balm out of my bag, a generic one, filched from my dentist who uses them like calling cards, branded with his name and phone number. “Do you like white lipstick?” she asked me. “Well, no, but it’s not lipstick”, I said, wondering if she’d never seen chapstick before. “It doesn’t have any color.” Then I opened up my iPad, to read the New Yorker. “Is that like a computer?” she asked. I paused to pick my words with care, bemused by her use of “like”. “Yes, it does many of the things a full computer could do.” “Oh,” said she, “I don’t have a computer”.

She got off the train, into the night, leaving me perplexed – there was something completely other worldly about her and her non-sequiturs. Dry, birdlike, curious, engaged but distant. Memorable.

* I should probably point out that it was actually Prosciutto di Parma, the authentic stuff from Italy, and that I didn't get paid to write about it. Also, that 46 month old prosciutto was swoon-worthy. And who knew it ever got to be that old?

** Actually there wasn't any pork in the bag.