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Archive for the ‘Dreams’ Category

In January 1996, 20.2 inches of snow fell on New York City. I know this because I just googled the stats and because I lived here in NYC in 1996.

Today, we’re bracing for another storm. If you watch the news, you know it’s the storm to end all storms and it’s named “Juno.” Names aren’t just for hurricanes anymore and since a named storm raises anxiety, “Juno” is better click bait than simply saying “it’s going to snow.”

During most of the day, the sun was kind of out. There were flurries flying on the wind and nothing was sticking. Had I been home to watch TV, I’m sure I’d have seen local news teams standing in front of the city’s salt storage or in front of a parked plow because there wasn’t any snow to stand in front of but the reporting must go on. And then I bet the coverage cut away to pandemonium in a supermarket.

Bread aisles up and down the east coast are empty. I guess people crave carbs and refined wheat when it snows.

I remember when a big snow storm, for me at least, was a big social event not a news event.

There’s a magic moment in New York City, when the snow baffles the noise. When they’re aren’t any cars out and plows haven’t made a pass, there are no motors, or horns and any city noise left to float through the air gets wrapped into the snow. People hunker down so if you’re out and about, your feet forge their mark on the pristine path and the crackle and crunch of your boots on the snow is the loudest thing around.

In 1996, I lived in a 6th floor walk up on the Upper East Side and had friends across the hall and on the floor below. We hung out in good weather and bad and on the night of the big storm, we owned First Avenue. Looking both ways was about dodging snowballs, not traffic. We ran circles and walked shoulder to shoulder in the center of the avenue and plopped down to make snow angels and more snow angels. Back home we gathered with pink cheeks, chilled finger tips and snow dampened jeans to sip red wine and wonder if we’d have to go to work the morning.

“Juno” got a late start so I think that perfect snow moment will probably arrive around 2AM when I’m tucked warm in my bed. And the friends I shared the 1996 blizzard with are now spread across the city and the country and by the middle of the night tonight, will hopefully be happily asleep dreaming of snow days.

So tonight, I’m turning off the news. I’m going to read and maybe watch a movie and sip red wine and remember the perfect pink-cheeked abandon of a magic snow moment.

 

Times Square, NYC Snowmagaddon 2015

Times Square, NYC Snowmageddon 2015

 

 

 

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I love my nieces’ chubby-knuckled hands. I know they’re growing into confident women with the strong grip necessary to lift a margarita and become margagogo staffers.

I like candle light reflected on a tin ceiling. It dances.

Alphabet pretzels (all 26 letters plus “@”) are endless party fun. They’re even better when they’re baked in butter. I’m hopeful that 2015 will see the introduction of the hashtag pretzel. #PretzelFun

Brownies, a treat that’s not quite a cake and not quite a cookie, are inspired. The person who invented them is a culinary genius and has contributed to my happiness too many times to count.

I appreciate a well placed curse word. Sometimes, it’s truly satisfying to let one rip.

Margaritas and chocolate. Chocolate and margaritas. This blog could have just as easily been called “chocagogo” and I could run around looking for the best chocolate to eat and share.

I’m lucky to have great role models and blessed to love and be loved.

I like snickerdoodles. They taste good but mostly I like them because “sinckerdoodle” is silly to say.

I have a really cool jacket that earns me tons of compliments every time I wear it. I’m lucky to have had the choice to buy it or not.

My parents are together, happy, healthy and busier than I am.

I like to make my bed with fresh, warm sheets straight out of the dryer. Then I like to get in it right away.

Volunteering makes me feel connected and I’m glad to lend a hand. I believe good intentions can start a domino effect so a small act might be bigger than I think.

Comfortable shoes are a relief.

Holiday lights and decorations and music fill me with a peaceful, warm feeling. Have you ever listened to a recording of Mahalia Jackson singing “Silent Night?” The first time I heard it, it moved me to tears.

I’m grateful for so many things big and small.

When the world becomes too scary, I count my blessings. Being grateful helps me catch my breath and soothes my soul. From Ferguson to Brooklyn to Peshawar (and lots of places in-between) there is so much pain and fear and confusion and many, many souls to soothe.  I wish I had some answers – any answers. I wish I had a broad and healing touch. It is so much. It’s so big.

So I take a deep breath and count my blessings.

And I’m grateful for my nieces’ chubby-knuckled hands.

Hope, Robert Indiana - NYC

Hope, Robert Indiana – NYC

 

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UPDATE: August 27, 2014: Subway Inn wins another stay of eviction. Maybe they will find a stone big enough? More updates to follow!

 

The Subway Inn; dive bar, landmark, home of the $6 draft, is closing.

Maybe I’m too hasty. The last word isn’t out yet. But there are some David and Goliath fights where it’s impossible for David to find a stone big enough to bring Goliath down. And the fight between a New York City real estate developer and a tenant is one of those.

Bummer.

The Subway Inn brings people of all stripes together. Regulars mix with tourists who mix with 20-somethings looking for a bargain. Stepping across the threshold turns strangers into friends.

My friends gathered there. We showed up late night and early evening (though I never made it at 10:00 AM when the bar opens) and after a formal function or two. I remember my flouncy, blue velvet dress against a red upholstered booth, rhinestone earrings glittering in the bar light and waiters in white coats bringing bottled beer and stepping out-of-the-way when a good song got us up dancing.

And the story-telling was excellent. A regular, tucked into the bar was happy to make room for me and tell me about his days delivering beer. He once dropped a keg right through the floor of the Subway Inn. He meant to heave it on the bar but the keg skidded by the bar top, gained momentum and crashed through the bar floor to lodge its edge in the actual subway platform below. He said it took years for the city to make a repair so “6 Train” riders had to step over the dent as they got on and off the train.

The Subway Inn is a time capsule. It appears as if nothing has changed since the bar opened in 1937. Not a single speck of dust has been disturbed in 77 years and now a wrecking ball is going to take care of clean-up.

Change is inevitable and often hard. Even when we’ll be better off for it, change can throw us off. The thing is, there’s no part of me – not even a teensy part, which can see how this will make New York City a better, more vibrant or more interesting place to live. And what’s happening to the Subway Inn is happening to independent shops all over the city. Landlords can get higher rent from chain stores and earn more money if they raze the old and replace it with luxury living opportunities.

If big names like Bobby Flay can’t win the rent wars (Mesa Grill is closed) what chance do the little guys have? Pearl Paint, after 50 years, is gone. Bowlmor, the oldest alley in the city and where I celebrated my 30th birthday, is closed as are all the businesses in that building. Luxury condos are moving in.

Union Square Café, a Danny Meyer restaurant, is on its way out and Chat ‘N Chew, where my friends and I have done exactly as the name requests, is gone. (There are more, lots more. Don’t even get me started on the book stores and newsstands. If you’re interested, check out Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, which chronicles the goings around town.)

The Subway Inn and independent places like it, make the fabric of New York City. They might not always contribute the finest thread to the tapestry but they’re the part of the pattern that makes you look twice. They’re the zing of interest, the beat of the street, the thing that makes you smile even if you don’t quite know why.

And they’re melting away as rent inflates and we march toward the sameness of big chain stores, banks, luxury buildings and super high-end restaurants with menus and prices that all look the same.

We are bleaching the tapestry of the city. We are turning New York beige.

I need a great drink and food to make myself feel better. Unfortunately, The Marrow (Bank St, NYC) didn’t sooth my nerves. Instead, my visit reinforced my worry that newer isn’t better.

A fair and balanced review requires several visits so let me admit straight off: My review will never be fair and balanced. My snarky tone could be the result of low blood sugar since the staff cleared and tossed my full plate before I could eat my fill and my request to wrap it fell on deaf ears. The Marrow might make the best pork chop in the entire world but I will never, ever know.

The margarita was “juicy” and out of balance. But it was a hot day so the citrus and ice was refreshing and Vitamin C is a good thing – keeps scurvy at bay.

Some advice if you decide to go: First, eat fast and don’t be afraid to slap any hand that makes a grab for your plate. And second, plan your outfit around the wallpaper. Yes, I said wallpaper. It’s so busy, it clashed with patron’s shirts. Between the fussy walls and beat up floors and booths, the vibe at The Marrow is confusing – something between eating at Versailles or in your Grandfather’s basement in Queens. 

Not beige but still a bummer.

Refreshing Scurvy Cure at The Marrow

Refreshing “Juicy” Scurvy Cure (Margarita) at The Marrow

 

 

 

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Yes, it’s true, I went to see Les Misérables this past weekend. While I was watching the show, I dreamed it was forty minutes shorter. But besides dreaming of a longer attention span, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about dreams and why some are achievable and some seem out of reach.

In 6th Grade, my friends and I volunteered to clean the attic over our friend Kristin’s parent’s garage so we could have a clubhouse. We pushed and swallowed years of dust to carve out a meeting space. As much as an attic can, it sparkled when we finished.

We never met.

I don’t recall why we needed a clubhouse. Maybe Kristin’s parents just wanted their garage cleaned and knew they could trick us into doing it. Or maybe we had a mission in mind but doomed ourselves with lack of planning. But for whatever reason, we dreamt small and didn’t make it.

That same year, my 6th Grade class went on a trip to Washington D.C. and Gettysburg. I remember very little of the trip except for a light up board to illustrate troop movement during the battle of Gettysburg and a night in a hotel room signing choir songs in four-part harmony with my roommates. The light up board was educational. The singing was magical.

My spirit soared with the high notes; our bond grew with the harmony. We sang “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” like no four tweens in a hotel room ever had. I saw big things in our future (including solos for me but I was willing to share the spotlight). Next stop: Carnegie Hall. All we had to do is practice, practice, practice.

I was still dreaming BIG the next day, until a doubter brought me down. We arrived home and as we lumbered off the bus, a classmate sniped something like, “Hey, I hear you’re going on tour.”  A friend, our soprano, jumped to my defense! She said I didn’t mean it. She said everyone knows the idea of a singing group is just a joke.

I felt stripped bare, as if I’d ridden the bus home naked and everyone noticed the moment I stepped on the sidewalk. And, I thought, I wasn’t joking.

Before I let this story tug too hard on your heart, you need to know I have precious little musical aptitude. Years of piano lessons yielded one single, shaky performance of “Cockles And Muscles” and I hated every moment of practice. I didn’t go to a performing arts school and I wasn’t paying my dues in sweat or dancing my feet to bloody stumps. I doubt my friends had begun to consider their future and I’ve learned that it’s often easier to doubt than believe.

Around the same time my singing career crashed and burned on the sidewalk, I also wanted to be a hairdresser, a Supreme Court Justice, a dancer, an actor, a teacher and a large animal vet. Those are just the ones I remember.

The hairdresser dream came out of a day at the public pool. I styled my friend Tracy’s hair during the car ride home and Tracy’s mom said it looked so good that she didn’t want her to wash the chlorine out since doing so would ruin her do. Had scissors been in play that day, her mother would have taken a very different tone.

Dreams, it seems, are tricky business.

One magic moment can set your dream machine in motion and one harsh word can break it apart.

So how do parents know how to nurture children’s dreams? And how do dreamers know which dreams to follow and which to let go?

I’m mentoring a 14-year old girl and I see that she, like most 14-year-old kids, has trouble looking past the next big moment. She likes to dance. She wants to be a pediatrician but she doesn’t like science and she doesn’t intend to live away from her parents even for a second.  I think back to some of my dreams and what became of them and I wonder how I can influence my mentee to dream well and dream BIG.

I’ve noticed that practice often trumps natural ability. I overcame middle to poor athletic ability to be a starter on my high school soccer team and score a soccer scholarship to college. I did that even though I’m likely to trip over a crack in the sidewalk and I often don’t know my right from my left. But sports were a constant in my life and I was willing to put in the work to be a part of it. I was willing to pay my dues in sweat.

I want my mentee to know that dreams are in her grasp and maybe she can tell the fake ones from the real ones by deciding which she is willing to work for. The things she loves enough and has enough drive to sweat for might be the real deal.  And if she is willing to open it up to the light of day, make her intention clear and let people know what her dream is, then she is brave and wonderful and on the right path.

So I’m proud of her because she decided she wants to play volleyball so she goes to open gym after school to practice so she can try out for the team next year. She gets mad at herself when she makes a bad play and that makes her want to practice more. The dream to play volleyball was laying right in front of her. She picked it up and she’s going for it.

I’m grateful to her for reminding me of lessons long forgotten.

I have a dream that I sweat for on occasion. I pick it up and put it down. I take it for a walk in the sunshine and then drop it back in the closet. But it’s been with me my whole life. Even when I abandon it, it doesn’t leave me. And unlike the dream of being a singing star, I can practice, practice, practice and make this one come true.

I dream the dream of writing a novel. It is my intention to get it done. I also dream the dream of getting this novel published. That one is a little less in my control but I’m going for that too. I’ll keep you posted.

If you’re dreaming of good food, drink and fun, please check out The Lion (NYC).  The Lion made lots of dreams come true when I went with The Independent Panel of Judges for an extended brunch. Everything was perfect – including that they forgot to put chicken in the Chicken Pot Pie. When we told the waiter we expected Chicken Pot Pie to have chicken in it, he pointed out that we were at a restaurant called The Lion and there aren’t any lions…. He then dreamed a dream that he could make us forget the kitchen’s “oops.”  He did an excellent job.

Please go and when you do, try the Chicken Pot Pie. I’m not joking. Even chicken-less, it was pretty good.

And if you dream of margaritas – order one! It was tasty and they don’t skimp on the tequila!

Margarita at The Lion. They didn't forget the tequila!

Margarita at The Lion. They didn’t forget the tequila!

 

 

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