Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tina Louise

OK, I know I said I was taking a break. But I had to bring you this little story -- a tale of Internet wandering and the strange places it can lead.

Yesterday, my boss and I were discussing a mysterious communication from one of our readers that mentioned “Jubilation T. Cornpone.” My boss wasn’t sure what that meant.

“I think it’s a song,” I said, and got on Google to find out.

It turns out that, indeed, “Jubilation T. Cornpone” is the fourth song from the first act of the Broadway show "Lil’ Abner," from 1956. (The song is named for a fictitious Confederate general.) Through subsequent Web wandering I also quickly learned that:

1. Actress Tina Louise, best known for playing Ginger Grant on “Gilligan’s Island,” starred in that same Broadway production. Her character’s name was “Appassionata von Climax.”

2. “Tina Louise” is also the name of an Asian Fusion restaurant in Carlstadt, New Jersey. It has nothing to do with the actress; Tina and Louise are sisters who own the restaurant.

3. Tina Louise (the actress, not the sisters) also starred in the movie “God’s Little Acre,” from 1958, as Griselda.

4. A co-star in that movie was Michael Landon, who played a kidnapped albino.

See? Don’t say you never learned anything useful from this blog.

(Photo: Parking lot, Chelsea, Jan. 2008)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Well, it's time for me to take a little blogging break. Everything is fine -- I'm just in a busy period and feel the need to back off the blog for the time being. I hope to be posting again in a week or two.

In the meantime, enjoy the silence!

(Photo: Blue wall, Bronx, Jan. 2008)

Monday, January 28, 2008


I had an interesting experience at the Zendo yesterday that taught me something about the freedom of not knowing.

I can be insecure about being caught not knowing. If I’m having a discussion with someone and they mention something I’m not sure about -- political or historical facts, for example -- I often let it go rather than asking them for clarification.

I mean, if we’re discussing a book I’ve never read, I don’t pretend to have read it. I’m not that insecure. But sometimes I’m genuinely unsure whether I know something, partly because my memory is so terrible. I coast along and wait for a spark of recognition to ignite in my brain. (And sometimes it does.)

Anyway, on Sunday, as I was entering the Zendo, another guy came in who was visiting from San Francisco. I took him to the cloak room and as we hung up our coats I explained to him a bit about the Zendo. He’d sat before, so this was more practical advice -- the location of the bathrooms for example. I told him where the keys to the bathrooms were, and then a senior student standing nearby said, “and slippers.”

So I said, yes, we also provide slippers to wear to the bathroom, so you don’t have to put your shoes on to leave the Zendo. Then I turned to the senior student and, instead of thanking him, gave him a look that probably conveyed great exasperation.

See, he’d caught me -- “not knowing” something. I mean, I knew about the slippers, but I didn’t know, at least in that moment, to tell the visitor about them.

My reaction was purely defensive. But later, during the dharma talk, I realized how silly it was. “Not knowing,” always my bugaboo, is actually a position of great freedom. To not know something leaves you open to everything.

If I'd been in my rightly not-knowing mind, I would have simply turned and thanked the senior student for pointing out that, yes, we have slippers available. Ah, well. At that moment, I didn’t know to do that!

(Photo: Bronx, January 2008)

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Isn't this a great set of playground equipment? It's made to resemble the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. Instilling community pride in the kiddies, I suppose. I found it while wandering in Chelsea a couple of weeks ago.

Wandering is again on the agenda this weekend, naturally. I have a blissful weekend of unallocated time, which I'm really looking forward to.

Saw a couple of movies last week: "Atonement," which was grim but beautifully filmed and well-acted, and "Cloverfield," which I saw because I was curious how a monster attack on New York would be portrayed. It was chilling to see how closely "Cloverfield" borrowed from 9/11, actually - debris whooshing down the streets after buildings collapse, fluttering paperwork in the air. But otherwise, it's a pretty silly movie.

Friday, January 25, 2008


I was walking in Chelsea a couple of weeks ago when I found this little stuffed duck on a subway grate. I bent down to take a photo, and as I was framing the shot a guy walked by and said, "You should HELP him, not photograph him!"

It was funny - this full-grown man wanting me to come to the rescue of a stuffed duck. Still, I left the duck to his own devices. I'm sure someone found him who appreciated him more than me.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


This is the blog entry that will fully illustrate my own personal craziness.

I was on the subway a couple of weeks ago, heading out to visit a friend in Queens. I was standing at one of the center poles, along with two kind of rough-looking guys who were engrossed in conversation.

In mid-sentence one of the guys, who was chewing gum, opened his mouth and spit his gum onto the floor of the subway car. He and his friend resumed talking like it was a perfectly normal thing to do.

Now, even by New York standards, this is foul behavior. I’ve never seen anyone intentionally spit gum onto the floor of a subway train.

I stood there, looking at the shiny pink blob near my feet. I imagined all the nightmare scenarios to come: heedless passengers stepping in the gum, cursing as they tried to wipe it off their shoes, tracking it all over the otherwise clean linoleum of the subway car.

I debated what to do. I’d just been to Starbucks, and I had a napkin in my pocket. My choices seemed to be:

1. Pick up the gum.
2. Hand the napkin to the guy and ask HIM to pick up the gum.
3. Ignore the gum.

No matter how hard I tried, #3 wasn't an option. I seriously contemplated #2, but risking a confrontation didn’t seem smart. You never know who has a weapon or who will resort to a smackdown. There were other people in the subway car, but I doubted that any of them would come to my rescue should this guy get pissed at me.

So I steeled myself, grabbed the napkin, bent down and picked up the gum. I wadded it up and put it in my pocket, looking pointedly at the offender. He had a surprised, sheepish look on his face, but did not look me in the eye. We said nothing to each other. His conversation with the other man halted entirely.

I got out at the next stop and threw the gum away. I’m still not sure I did the right thing. Did I debase myself entirely? What would you have done?

(Photo: Feelin' Groovy in Chelsea, Jan. 2008)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mermaids and Mountains

I had a great time last night with my friend Bill -- we went to see “The Little Mermaid” on Broadway. I am one of about three people on the planet who have never seen the movie version of “The Little Mermaid,” so I was starting from scratch when it comes to plot and characters, but let’s face it -- it’s not very complicated. Your basic Disney princess romance with fins.

The costumes and the sets were spectacular, cleverly evoking an undersea atmosphere with lots of glimmery translucence in shades of aqua. The performances were good, too, though some a bit generic. I particularly liked Sherie Rene Scott as Ursula, the evil octopus, and Brian d’Addario as Flounder.

So there, you see -- I’ve reviewed the show. I earned my press seat!

I was so sorry to hear about Heath Ledger’s death yesterday. (Brad Renfro’s, a week earlier, was bad enough.) I’ll never forget Ledger’s lanky, drawling presence as Ennis in “Brokeback Mountain.” It's hard to imagine dying at 28. I can barely remember being 28.

(Photo: Street art, Meatpacking District, Jan. 2008)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Letter to an Old Flame

I wish you’d move away.

There: I said it. I know it’s selfish, unfair and unreasonable, given that you were here first by a year or two. But when I run into you, or see you across a crowded room at an event -- as I did last week -- my blood runs cold. It would be nice to be able to take a walk on the Upper West Side without wondering whether I’ll run into you, and be relieved of the awkward shadow of your presence.

I still think about you sometimes. When I look at the pictures of Spain, I get wistful and a little sad. So much sun and youthful energy, red wine and gazpacho -- before we both became New Yorkers, before things got too complicated! (I almost never look at the Paris pictures. By then you were changing, and there were too many sharp edges.)

As strange as it was to have to break contact with you -- something I hadn’t done before or since, with anyone else -- it was necessary. We saw our friendship in such different ways. Our last meeting, not long after 9/11, made me realize that. There was a sort of angry cruelty couched in the friendliness. You were smiling, but your words were knives.

I hope you’re happy now, I really do. But I’m better off without you. Happier and less tormented, definitely. So forgive me, and please understand, when I say I hope I don't see you again.

I think you probably feel the same way. I guess this is what's called "moving on."

(Photo: Weathered street art, Meatpacking District, Jan. 2008)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fifth Avenue

Wow - was it ever COLD yesterday. The weather report said 24 degrees at 1 p.m., but it felt colder.

That was about when I was walking on Fifth Avenue near 19th Street, and I became interested in these barricades, with their fluttering ribbons and interesting shadows. Pictures just didn’t do them justice, though. The fluttering was essential. So here’s a short video.

There’s a bit of shake at the end because a woman walking her dogs INSISTED that I step forward so she could walk behind me. (I was standing against a wall; maybe she didn’t want to be in the picture.) Also, notice how the light changes at the very end when the sun goes behind a cloud.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I was in an all-day retreat yesterday, 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. I played the usual games to convince myself to go: “Oh, I’ll just stay a couple of hours...maybe I’ll leave after lunch...or during the afternoon.” Of course, the story kept changing as the day progressed and I wound up not leaving at all, which is what often happens. Funny how I have to fool myself that way. For some reason, I can’t just tell myself I’m staying all day and leave it at that.

It was a good retreat, and much-needed. I have been sitting daily since the beginning of the year, but nothing beats an extended period of quiet. Also, our Zen center is about to move to a new space, so this was our last retreat in our beloved old location. (Real estate costs in New York are forcing us to downsize to a smaller space, fortunately in the same building.)

A challenging element of yesterday’s retreat: One guy there was an absolute knockout. I’d never met him before. You have no idea how hard it is to meditate in a room where desire is embodied so perfectly by someone sitting nearby! It put an interesting twist on things. Of course that desire, that infatuation, is just another product of the old "monkey mind," ceaselessly looking for something to keep it busy. (I did talk to him during a break, though!)

Today I have a very light agenda: A trip to the gym at some point, a walk to photograph some graffiti I saw this week, finish my Robert Kaplan book.

(Photo: The Apple Store, Fifth Avenue, Jan. 2008)

Friday, January 18, 2008


I was killing time on a subway platform one day this week, looking at magazine covers at a newsstand. One of them had a photo of Britney Spears on a stretcher, the word “INSANE!” hovering over her in big block letters.

Is it me, or has our societal fascination with celebrities taken on a really macabre edge? Sure, Britney and Lindsey and Paris and Tom Cruise all fuel these fires with their public antics, but our rapaciousness for news about them is alarming. It’s not just that I think we should be spending time on more serious subjects - though we should. It’s the cruelty associated with this celebrity-stalking.

I mean, poor Britney. The woman has lived her entire life, practically, under an intense public spotlight. No wonder she has issues. I’d have issues, too.

And Tom Cruise, well, he’s kind of an odd bird. I watched his Scientology video (courtesy of a link from the Web site of The New York Times!) and it made NO sense. Maybe it would make sense to an aspiring or practicing Scientologist. But the point is, Tom Cruise is allowed to hold beliefs that the rest of us find a little strange, and it’s chilling that doing so leads to such a feeding frenzy in the media.

A little celebrity journalism is fun. (Hey, I subscribed to People magazine in college.) And I realize that we focus on celebrities because we want to escape from the dour “real news” out there. But let’s try to have a little more compassion, eh? Britney Spears and Tom Cruise need to lead their own lives, and when they make a misstep, maybe we shouldn’t revel in it quite so much.

(Photo: Reflections on the Hilton hotel, 41st Street and Eighth Avenue, midtown)

Thursday, January 17, 2008


What was your favorite book as a child?

In my case, you’ll get different answers depending on who you ask. My mom insists my favorite book was “Harry the Dirty Dog,” which I remember well but not as my favorite. The one that stands out for me was “Swimmy,” by Leo Lionni.

Swimmy is about a black minnow who lives in a giant school of red minnows. He knows he’s different and feels ostracized - until the other minnows are all eaten by a giant fish. He swims alone in the sea until he comes to a new school of red minnows, and devises a scheme to protect them: They swim in formation to look like an even bigger fish, with black Swimmy representing the eye.

I loved this book because it was all about being different and yet working with others and finding your place. It seems like such a ‘60s message, and in fact it was published during that decade of the civil rights struggle and burgeoning individuality. The artwork is also terrific - pastel watercolor block prints of undersea life, from jellyfish to lobsters to giant toothy fish.

I still give “Swimmy” to the children of my friends. I’m happy to say it’s still in print.

(Photo: Coney Island, June 2007)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

End of Empire

I’ve been reading Robert Kaplan’s book “An Empire Wilderness,” about the future of America and the changes transforming the country. The book was written ten years ago, so part of what Kaplan predicts as the future has already come to pass, or at least is much clearer now. But he’s always interesting to read, so it’s been worthwhile anyway.

Kaplan tends to be quite pessimistic about the state of things. His other books, “Balkan Ghosts” and “The Ends of the Earth,” were both terrific, but as I recall they were the same way. Everywhere he goes he sees dust, howling winds, empty landscapes and poverty -- or a rampant consumerist wealthier class depleting the world’s resources.

Pretty accurate, I know.

In this book, he travels through the American west, bemoaning the sprawl of cities into ecologically sensitive areas where there’s no water -- think Nevada and Arizona. He also dissects the precarious relationship between the U.S. and Mexicans, who congregate on the border in unstable migrant communities or, if they can cross, immigrate illegally. The book definitely makes Mexico seem like no picnic.

I’ve heard people say they believe the era of American global dominance is coming to an end, that our “empire” is falling. We’ve built an unsustainable society, dependent on resources that are doomed to run out and only half-heartedly searched for solutions. We ought to be thinking about what it really will take to turn this ship around -- cutting our energy consumption, pruning back our consumerism and crazy spending (both personally and governmentally) to what we really need, and finding a way to get along with our neighbors.

Globally, I’ve always thought the root cause of all our problems, particularly the environmental ones, is that there are just too many of us. Addressing that is the biggest challenge of all.

(Photo: Long Island City, Queens, Dec. 2007)

Monday, January 14, 2008


Went up to the Bronx on Saturday with some friends to photograph graffiti and street art. We walked a long way, from Jerome Avenue west of the Grand Concourse all the way over to West Farms Road. I saw tons of places I’d never seen. As you know, I am all about exploring, so that was a terrific day. People were friendly and we found lots of old deco buildings and a truly unusual school bus, among other things. (Photos to come!)

I went to the Zendo yesterday morning, and then spent the day reading and relaxing at home, which was WONDERFUL. I wandered up to the grocery store around 4 p.m., but otherwise just stayed put with the cat.

(Photo: Church in Chinatown, Dec. 2007)

Sunday, January 13, 2008


On Thursday I went to see a prominent neoconservative author speak at the 92nd Street Y. (He shall remain nameless so my blog doesn’t become swamped with neocons doing Google searches.) I knew I would disagree with virtually everything he said, but I wanted to better understand where he and others like him are coming from.

One thing he said that I found interesting: If someone wants to kill you, you cannot negotiate with them. This was at the crux of his argument that the United States should take military action against Iran.

I don’t agree with that assessment. I think you can ALWAYS negotiate. As long as you have something to offer - economic purchasing power or global legitimacy, for example - negotiation is feasible.

But it got me thinking about the different ways people approach conflict. I was taught that smart people don’t fight. I’ve always been a mediator, a reasoner, a negotiator. I don’t remember ever having a physical brawl with anyone, even back in school, and I’ve never been convinced that physical confrontation is really necessary. One can approach anything with diplomacy.

I may be wrong - maybe sometimes you have to fight. I’m sure this author and others would accuse me of being historically naive. And if you’ve grown up with a different perspective, willing to fight, and you’ve had success with that approach, I can see how you might advocate military action. But that’s an utterly foreign language to me.

(Photo: Chinatown, Dec. 2007)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Visit Times Square!

Thought you all might enjoy a quick visit to Times Square. I filmed this last night right after I left work, standing on a traffic island between Broadway, Seventh Avenue and 43rd and 44th streets.

Watch for:
1. Dog in a wig
2. Dead mountaineer
3. This Bud's for you
4. "It's somewhere around here, I just don't know quite where"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Little Things

I had a really stressful work day yesterday. Lots to do, and technology wasn’t cooperating. I got pretty wound up trying to get everything done, and finally left the office at 6:30 p.m. I raced to the subway, off to meet a friend for dinner at 7. I felt tight as a knot.

Then, as I stood on the subway platform, I heard music nearby. A man’s voice, singing upstairs in the station. He was busking for change. And what was he singing? Could it really have been “The Woman in the Moon,” a Barbra Streisand song from the 1976 version of “A Star is Born”? Why yes, that’s what it was. Accompanied by a karaoke machine, no less.

While this improbable performance was going on, and just before he launched into “Evergreen,” I noticed several large rats weaving back and forth between the rails of the subway tracks.

And I just laughed. All the tension left my body almost immediately. I mean, life is so absurd, isn’t it?

(Photo: In the East Village, Elvis has not left the building -- Dec. 2007)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Last night I dreamed that I went upstairs in my apartment.

Now, mind you, I don’t HAVE an upstairs in my apartment. My building has stairs, sure, but in my dream this upstairs climb took place within my living space.

I took an open flight of stairs up to a sort of loft, which was furnished but very dusty. It was apparent I hadn’t been up there in a long time. I found kitchen cabinets filled with stemware - wow, I never knew I had so much stemware! I found halls and rooms that I never used.

Then I woke up.

I’m told this is a common New York dream. In fact, years ago, I think I read an article about the phenomenon. It supposedly has something to do with the fact that we all live in such small spaces (well, except for the super-rich among us, which I am obviously not). It’s a function of our yearning to break the barriers of our 350-square-foot apartments.

Then again, I remember having dreams like this even when I lived in a house: the newly discovered hallway, the closet that wasn't a closet. Maybe it's just our minds trying to break their own barriers?

(Photo: Tiny birdcage, East Village, Dec. 2007)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Monday, Monday

Here is my Monday night routine.

I usually get off work at 6 p.m., so at about 5:59 I shut down my computers and make a beeline for the door. I navigate the crowds to the immense Times Square subway station and catch the R or W train to Prince Street, in SoHo. I’m always hungry by this time of day, so I stop at the peanut man on the corner of Prince and Broadway and buy a bag of hot peanuts coated with sugar ($1) which I eat as I walk up Broadway about half a block. I go into a nondescript doorway and take an elevator to the ninth floor, to the Zendo.

Monday night at the Zendo is beginner’s night, so there are always new faces and lots of great energy - a mixture of enthusiasm and fear. I take off my shoes, put on my rakusu and sometimes my robe, and find a cushion. For the next two hours, I practice amid the newbies, which I always really enjoy.

At 8:30, I make my way downstairs, usually eating the remainder of my now-cooled peanuts. I walk up Lafayette Street or the Bowery to St. Mark’s Place, where I get dinner. Sometimes I go to Chipotle for a burrito. Last night I went to Chickpea and got a falafel platter, which turned out to be entirely too much food. As I sat in the restaurant I heard Sting’s “Desert Rose” play no less than three times.

I then either catch the 6 train from Astor Place up to 28th Street, or I walk home on Third Avenue, which is what I did last night. It’s about 30 blocks from the Zendo to my apartment, which is easily manageable when the weather’s nice.

Ah, routine!

(Photo: Upper East Side, Oct. 2007)

Monday, January 7, 2008

It's called the Web for a reason

I would try to write something substantial here, except that I'm short on time. I've blown the last hour puzzling over my stats on Flickr, tracking links that people have made to my photos there.

I just discovered this stats application, and it showed me, for example, that someone posted a link to this photo from a Web site called Cinema Treasures, which is for lovers of old movie theaters. And that makes me really happy, because of course that's why I posted the photo in the first place - so people would remember the old theater.

The Web is so interesting, the way it all fits together. It's like Indra's Net, each jewel connecting to another ad infinitum. Which, come to think of it, is the way the entire universe works.

So, wow, not so insubstantial after all!

(Photo: Sunset from the Pulaski Bridge between Brooklyn and Queens, Dec. 2007)

Sunday, January 6, 2008


I'm having a great weekend! Went to the gym and had a massage yesterday, which is always welcome, and then met up with my friend Rob to wander through Central Park and the Upper West Side.

Central Park was chilly and the day was gray, but it had a kind of stark beauty: the bare trees, the steely sky. We sat on a park bench by a playground and I was absurdly reminded of the Simon & Garfunkel song "Old Friends," in which two old guys sit quietly together on a park bench. One of the lines is, "How terribly strange to be 70." At 41, I don't think I deserve a starring role in that song just yet! (And Rob's younger than I am!)

We eventually made our way to the 3 Star Coffee Shop at 86th and Columbus, an old-fashioned diner I've wanted to try. The pie was very average, but the ambience was great - a handful of vinyl-padded booths and lots of formica, and a big hand-painted mural of the acropolis on one wall.

Then I came home and watched "Barefoot in the Park," with Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, in which the delightful Mildred Natwick steals the show. Neil Simon, as usual, wrote dialogue that was a bit too clever to be real - but still, it's a fun movie. And it was great to see the footage of Washington Square Park and lower Fifth Avenue in the mid-1960s.

(Photo: 3 Star Coffee Shop, Upper West Side, Jan. 2008)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Friday, January 4, 2008


Oh MAN, is it cold. It was around 10 degrees yesterday morning. When I’m walking straight into the wind, parts of my face go numb. Nature demands mindfulness!

Last night I had dinner with some friends from the High Atlas Foundation, a development organization that plants trees and runs other development projects in Morocco. Several of these folks I know from my years in the Peace Corps. (I sat across from another blogger who I hadn't met before. Small world, eh?)

We had an interesting conversation about the moral value of supporting culture (the Metropolitan Museum was the example) versus development or animal-rights causes. One friend argued that it's more worthwhile to donate to animal groups than museums. I argued that supporting the arts has a humanitarian effect, art being an international language that can bridge cultural divides. (Not that I'm against animals!)

Anyway, it was kind of an apples-and-oranges conversation, I suppose, and maybe you had to be there. But I thought it was interesting.

Then I walked over to Avenue A to try to photograph the groovy sign at Mo Pitkin’s House of Satisfaction, but it was dark. I’ve been by three times recently and the darn thing is never lit.

(Photo: Plaza near the Javits Convention Center, Nov. 2007)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Not a Jefferson

When I lived in Florida, I owned a condo on the second floor of a low-rise building, with verdant views of trees and woodlands. Herons waded in the creek outside my window.

Then I moved to New York, and wound up on the first floor, in a 9-foot-wide apartment facing East 90th Street and overlooking the garbage. I joked that I was the only person to move to New York City, land of skyscrapers, and wind up on a lower floor.

I didn’t mind my street-level apartment, but it could get noisy at times - like when the garbage collectors started banging around below my window at 7 a.m. I was much happier when I moved to my current apartment on East 29th Street in 2002. Here, I’m on the third floor.

Before I came to New York, I’d always wanted to live in a high-rise. It seemed so elegant, the idea of standing before my full-length windows, looking out over city rooftops. The pose almost demands a tuxedo and a martini.

But then, I’m not really a tuxedo kind of guy. (Martinis occasionally!) I have a couple of friends who live in high-rises, and while their views are fabulous, I’ve detected a few drawbacks.

In my apartment, I have a tree right outside. My window looks onto its branches and I feel connected to nature. I hear just enough urban hum to tie me to the city and its street life.

High-rises, though, seem a bit lonely. You’re so far up that you don’t get that connection with the world below. Sometimes you get sound, but overall it’s a little isolating - just you and clouds and rain and pigeons. (And your dwindling bank account - high rises are much more expensive.)

So for now, at least, I’ve come to like the third floor. Unlike the Jeffersons, I won’t be “movin’ on up” any time soon.

(Photo: New condo tower at sunset, East Village, Jan. 2008)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I stand corrected - it’s what you do on New Year’s DAY that you’ll do the rest of the year, not what you do on New Year’s Eve. (I guess that does make more sense. Otherwise an awful lot of people would be partying constantly.)

In that case, I will spend the year sitting, reading, walking around New York, taking photos, and helping out the folks at the Zendo. Doesn’t sound so bad, right?

My fellow sangha members returned from their Connecticut retreat yesterday, and I helped them unload the truck and reset the Zendo. It was nice to be back in the old space. The holidays are fun, but they’re kind of like vacation - the best part is coming back to routine and normalcy at the end of it all.

Here’s to a great 2008!

(Photo: New Year's debris on Avenue A, Jan. 2008)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

This year, for the first time I can remember, I had nothing special to do on New Year’s Eve. At first, I wasn’t too happy about that. I felt like I should be marking the occasion.

But every time I thought about calling a friend or going out somewhere, I considered what the night would inevitably become - one too many glasses of wine, and this morning, a champagne headache. I didn’t want to celebrate New Year’s that way. I did it every year in my twenties, and it was fun then, but those days are happily past for me. I couldn’t think of a friend who wouldn’t be busy and who would appreciate moderation.

(And I certainly wasn’t going anywhere near Times Square!)

So what did I do? Well, as it turns out, I had a FABULOUS New Year’s Eve. I came home and read on the couch with the cat. I did laundry. I had soup for dinner.

Then I sat for a while, listening to the hiss of the radiator and the occasional whoops from partygoers at the bars on Third Avenue. I actually felt very connected to the celebrations, just hearing them. And I felt connected to the folks in my Zen group, simultaneously finishing up their own retreat in Connecticut.

And then I went to bed.

They say you’ll spend the year doing what you do on New Year’s Eve. If that’s the case, I’m happy. What better way to treat New Year’s Eve than as an ordinary night?

(Photo: Street art, East Village, Dec. 2007)