Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another Diary

Piggybacking on yesterday’s theme, I have an interesting journal story.

About five years ago, my friend Liz and I were driving around in Massachusetts. We came upon an estate sale near Gloucester and decided to check it out.

By the time we got there, everything was already heavily picked over. Among the remaining detritus, there were books scattered on the floor, many of them quite old. Being a book person, I began picking through them.

I found a diary, handwritten in a hardbound book with an embossed cover, dating from 1940. I showed it to the person running the sale, thinking they might want it. But they said the heirs wanted nothing in the house. So I bought the diary for $1.

It has a name in it, but I won’t give that away. (I’ve also changed the names in the entries below.) The diary begins on February 1:

“My birthday! Everything covered in snow! Didn’t hear much from home in Texas. Didn’t do anything all day. Harry came by at 4 and we went for a long drive. That night he took me to the Latin Quarter. We had a table right on the floor. Gee, I got as tight as a loon on 2 1/2 Tom Collins. Harry couldn’t believe it. He brought me home. Marge and Pat put me to bed. I had a grand day. I am 22 now.”

The next day:

“My first hangover!!! So help me, it is my last. Couldn’t eat all day. Finally crammed down a banana. Went over to Dean Road and ice skated. Felt so dizzy and fell so many times, I finally gave up and came home. The outing helped my head.”

On February 16:

“Pat gave Harry and I passes to Sonja Henie’s ‘Hollywood Ice Revue of 1940.’ Oh, she is adorable and her skating is incomparable. We saw her at the Boston Garden. We came home right after the show. Snow was up to our shoulders. Harry tried to jump a bank and slipped and fell. He hit me with a snowball.”

It goes on and on like this, and it’s fascinating. The young author was a fashion model in a department store -- “the clientele is the best in Boston” -- and she records her outings to plays and with various young suitors. On March 4, she went backstage at a play and met Tallulah Bankhead: “She is very witty and has a husky voice.”

Perhaps not surprisingly for a fashion model, she is surrounded by a veritable whirl of young men. The social scene eventually becomes quite frantic, with a huge cast of characters. Eventually, a couple of men ask to marry her, but she turns them down:

“Len gave me a $10,000, 7 1/2 carat engagement ring, mine to have when I say the word. I nearly fainted.”

Through it all, she goes to church periodically, enjoys nights out at plays and nightclubs, and listens to Bob Hope on the radio. There are only hints of anything really personal, like the entry when she comes home late one night with a boyfriend and writes only, “something important happened.”

Then there’s the last entry, on July 23:

“What a day! Lunch at Schrafft’s with Miss Tucker. Chuck called. Saw Walter. I never had such a dirty nasty trick pulled on me. Walter is nothing but a rat! Chuck was upset. So was I. He was swell, tho. It’s best I don’t see anyone for a while, not even Chuck. A letter from Fay Photo -- wants test shots. Harry called -- and a night to remember.”

And there it ends. So who knows what happens. Does she marry Chuck, or Harry, or Len? We’ll never know. But it’s still the best reading ever!

(Photo: Lafayette Street, March 2008)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


OK. I promised to write about writing.

I was inspired to think about this by Lorianne, who was in turn inspired by her friend Mark. Mark referred to an excellent recent New Yorker article by Louis Menand called “Woke Up This Morning,” about why people keep and read diaries:

“Rationally considered, what is natural or healthy about writing down what happened every day in a book that no one else is supposed to read? Isn’t there something a little O.C.D. about this kind of behavior? Writing is onerous...writing feels like work because it is work -- and, day by day, life is pretty routine, repetitive, and, we should face it, boring. So why do a few keep diaries, when diary-keeping is, for many, too much?”

Menand distinguishes between diaries and journals, memoirs and blogs -- a distinction that I’m not sure is really warranted. I think the writing of any of those things comes from a common place. And what is that place?

Menand proposes three theories about why people keep diaries: The ego theory, which holds that you believe everything that happens to you is important, and therefore worthy of recording; the id theory, in which people use their diaries as storehouses of secret longing and admissions they would be pained to make publicly; and the superego theory, which holds that diarists are writing for imagined readers as “exercises in self-justification.”

In my own case, I have written habitually since the fifth grade, when I began keeping a journal. There are elements of all three theories in my writing: I do write for imagined future readers, even as I dread having them read all the id-related urges and disappointments of my life.

Initially, I didn’t record secret thoughts, though I had plenty of them as a middle schooler. Even as I grew older, I never recorded anything I thought would be disastrous if publicly revealed. (I'm not sure anything fits that category anymore!)

And though I imagined readers, I never expected anyone to truly read my journals. (In this case, blogging does diverge from journal-keeping.)

For me, keeping a journal was mostly an organizing tool. It helped me record the events of my life, give them some order and perspective, and reflect on them a bit. My journals aren’t really very deep. I don’t ruminate on the meaning of life or heavy philosophical issues. I mostly write about doing such-and-such, going to so-and-so place. Which, to me, is really what life is about.

I occasionally re-read my journals, but it’s only the relatively recent ones that interest me much. As the journals themselves age and I evolve, they lose relevance, and begin to seem like they belong to someone else. (And frankly, they’re sometimes not that they’re the really BORING journals of someone else.)

Also, many of my journals seem a little whiny. When I’m venting the sorts of things on paper that I might not bring up in conversation with others, I tend to complain. In fact, I think a need to complain often feeds the compulsion to write -- Menand’s id theory in action.

These days, I have abandoned the paper journals for the blog, though here I am obviously writing partly for the eyes of others. I like the blog, because it forces me to be brief and to self-edit (this long entry notwithstanding). It also feeds another urge, a purely creative one, perhaps more than the paper journals did.

As I’ve said before, I periodically entertain the thought of destroying the old paper journals. In fact, when I bought myself a shredder years ago, that’s what I intended to use it for.

But nary a journal page has been fed to the shredder -- at least, not yet.

(Photo: Upper East Side, March 2008)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Back Yard

So I’m trying something new. I’m sitting downstairs in my back yard on Saturday afternoon, writing this entry as some little kids play loudly in the back yard of the townhouse next door.

Our little redbud tree (which I neglected to mention yesterday) is blooming pink overhead. There’s a strange bush in the corner of the yard with some really beautiful pink flowers -- I’ll post a photo of it above so someone can tell me what the heck it is. There’s another bush (below) with dark, glossy leaves and little spikes of white flowers. (How can I not know what’s growing in my own backyard?)

It’s so great to write outside! Why haven’t I ever done this before? I usually leave my laptop plugged into the wall and never take it anywhere.

I was going to write today about writing -- why I do it, why I started and can’t stop, that sort of thing. But I’m so into my surroundings that I think I’ll save the whys for another day.

We have a little bench in our back yard that the building co-op purchased a few years ago. Every winter the super breaks it down and brings it inside for storage, and every spring he puts it outside again. We also have a nice outdoor table that belongs to the super, with an umbrella and everything. That’s where I am now.

And I wish you could hear all the noises. In addition to the kids, who seem to be in an above-ground pool shaded with a tarp (which seems so weird to me, in Manhattan), I hear a soft background rush of passing cars on Third Avenue -- more like white noise than anything. A distant car horn. A piece of power equipment (a saw?) in a building nearby. An occasional bird. Layers and layers of sounds. And yet, it’s not noisy. It seems very peaceful!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Earth Day & Arbor Day

I realized Tuesday while reading some other blogs that I totally blew off Earth Day. I also blew off Arbor Day on Friday. I guess I’m not watching the calendar closely enough!

Then again, shouldn’t every day be both Earth Day and Arbor Day? When should we not be thinking about trees, about the health of the planet?

Fortunately, city life lends itself to environmentally-friendly lifestyles. We’re all crammed into tiny apartments (well, except for the hedge fund managers among us), and we walk everywhere. Many of us don’t own cars. We can’t consume much stuff, because we don’t have the space for it.

I took an online test one time, and my carbon footprint is pretty darn tiny. My weak spot is probably traveling, consuming my share of jet fuel. And restaurants, I suppose -- importing God-knows-what from the ends of the Earth.

While I can’t exactly go out and plant a tree, I can at least take care of the ones we’ve got. The back yard of my building has a small maple coming up, right in the middle of the yard -- it promises to be a nice tree in future years, with plenty of room to grow. We also have several roses-of-sharon, smaller trees that have nice flowers in summer. I hereby pledge to defend them against any and all hostile forces!

(Photo: Benches near government buildings in lower Manhattan, March 2008)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Lettuce & Betty

Yesterday I had a welcome respite from the weekday grind. I left work early to zip home and meet with Lettuce, who’s visiting New York and staying in a hotel about a block from my apartment. She and her friend Betty stopped by and met my cat, who was unappreciative, as usual. Then we set out for a good diner lunch and stroll down to the East Village to find some street art.

It was an amazing day, warm and blue and sunny (the latter much to Betty’s fair-skinned chagrin). We explored for a couple of hours and found some pretty good stuff around Tompkins Square Park and down to Houston on Avenue B. It was an added bonus that Betty and Lettuce had seen “Rent” on Broadway, so I got to explain that it was all set in the exact neighborhood where we were walking.

The only downer came when we visited one of my favorite street art walls in the East Village, on Second Street, and found it utterly obliterated -- totally painted over and blank. A guy working at a nearby gas station told us quite spontaneously that it was buffed about two weeks ago. (I think he’d seen us looking at it longingly.)

Later we met up with Bob, who joined us at the pub One and One, at the corner of First Street and First Avenue. We had a pint (or was it two?) and set off into SoHo, where although the light was fading we found more great street art, like the little fellow above.

It was terrific to get away from work and, of course, Lettuce and Betty are charming. What better way to spend an afternoon than in cross-cultural exchange? Makes for a better world all around.

(Photo: Houston Street, April 2008)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Did yesterday’s haiku seem like it didn’t match the photo? I thought they both touched on transience really well -- the impermanent spring mist, the shifting spring light on the wall. That was the common link in my mind. (Just FYI!)

This has been a really busy week! But I’ve been enjoying the urgency, the need to tick off items on my figurative to-do list. I once joked to my mom that my life was nothing more than moving objects from one place to another -- mailing back the Netflix movie, taking out the trash, picking up the laundry -- and she laughed and said, “Well, that’s what life is!” Kind of boils it down to its practical core, eh?

I’ve been having dreams lately, too, which is interesting because I almost never dream. Or at least I don’t remember them. But for the last few nights, they’ve been hovering around my head as I wake up, so I’m at least aware of their presence even though I can’t capture their substance.

When I was in college, I went to a therapist for a while who had me write down my dreams. I’d then read them to her and we’d analyze them together. (She was an ancient Jungian, who always wore purple and chain-smoked as we talked.) Dreams can hold some underlying meanings, but these days I tend to think they’re mostly just misfiring neurons -- I suspect we impose much of the meaning on them after the fact. They can tell you in general ways about the issues percolating in your mind, but I’m skeptical of a lot of the deep metaphorical analysis.

So now, I don’t even try to hold on to them. I just let them vanish, like steam. Poof!

(Photo: Upper East Side, March 2008)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Spring morning marvel...
Lovely nameless little hill
On a sea of mist

-- Basho

(Photo: Lower East Side, March 2008)

Monday, April 21, 2008


Well, I had a great weekend! Fun and busy and exhausting.

I got together with Bob Friday and Saturday nights. On Saturday we went to one of my favorite swanky bars, atop the Beekman Tower hotel, which has a great view of the East River and the area just north of the United Nations. I even had a martini, which is rare for me, and which just about knocked me out!

During the day on Saturday I went to the gym and cleaned the house, and then walked over in Chelsea. I wanted to see whether any of the street art I put up a few weeks ago was still there -- and it wasn't. Transience indeed.

Yesterday I was at the Zendo in the morning and then went walking in Tribeca, where I haven't been for about eight months. I was sorry to see that several popular locations for street art had been completely cleaned. I guess the denizens of all those ritzy lofts and shiny new condos wanted a tidier streetscape. But it's their loss.

Last night I transcribed a Dharma talk -- which is something like a sermon, or a teaching -- by a senior student at the Zendo, so we can publish it in our newsletter. It was an extra little Dharma lesson for the day, since I'd already heard a talk that morning. (But you can never have too much teaching, right?)

(Photo: Door in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, March 2008)

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Spring seems to be accelerating, with the sudden bloom of all the tulips in the flower beds in front of our building. This is the first year we've had tulips, and no one was sure what color they would be. I'm happy to see they're a beautiful shade of salmon pink.

I also thought you'd like another view of the backyard. As you can see, things are happening quickly there, too -- compare the view below to this photo, taken just a week ago. The blooms are almost all gone from the magnolia, and the horse chestnut is putting out little green umbrellas of leaves.

Pretty soon, I won't be able to see that building across the courtyard, and my neighbors and I will all lead substantially more private lives.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Valley of the Dollars

Our economy has been worsening for some time, but suddenly I feel like the signs are all around me, and growing more intense. This week, I learned of two friends who have lost their jobs. My employer is preparing for another round of job cuts. We just released our most recent earnings statement, and it was dismal.

On top of that, my 401K lost $8,000 in value over the last quarter, thanks to the slipping markets, and prices and expenses are on the rise.

I try not to stress about it too much - after all, what can I do? We all just have to ride it out. But it is troubling.

It’s especially hard to work in a place where people are perpetually leaving. Change and loss is always hard, but it’s especially hard when it comes in waves and keeps returning, so you never quite feel that you’re done with it.

As an antidote to the somber news, Bob and I went to see “Valley of the Dolls” on the big screen last night at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas, where a special showing was being hosted by drag queen Hedda Lettuce. Quite hilarious. I haven’t laughed so hard in weeks.

(Photo: Architectural detail, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, March 2008)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Love on the Subway

Last night I got to indulge in one of my favorite activities. I went to Chipotle on St. Mark’s Place after work for a burrito, and I sat in the window watching the parade of cute guys on the street below. Chipotle is built up above the street, so from the window I have a great vantage point! And St. Mark’s Place, with its erstwhile bohemian atmosphere (and its proximity to NYU) always attracts lots of cuties.

People-watching really is one of my favorite activities - I’m not kidding. Not only because people in New York are so interesting, but also because a lot of them are so attractive!

I have a friend who says he falls in love on the subway every morning. I know just what he means.

When I first started practicing Zen, I had the idea that I was supposed to quell feelings of desire. But as I understand it now, elimination isn’t really the goal. It’s more about what to do with desires. When I see an attractive guy, of course I feel a flush of desire - but the trick is not to cling to it, not to obsess about it, not to become envious or fixated. Instead I just think, “Geez, that guy is HOT!” (or “hawt,” as some of my friends spell it). And two minutes later, ideally, he’s gone from my mind. (If he’s really cute, he might hang around slightly longer than that.)

Human beings are amazing, when you think about it. All the different ways we’re put together, the ways we attract each other, the things each of us finds appealing. What a panorama, a spectrum! I wouldn't want to stop desire completely - as if it were even possible. Where's the fun in that?

(Photo: Shadow in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, March 2008)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Short Story

Note on wall near Gramercy Park:

You looked lonely.
I'm lonely too.
I'm sorry I didn't say hello.

The lobby of 85 E. 4th St.
April 19 or 18 10:30 p.m.

Monday, April 14, 2008

In Watermelon Sugar

Yesterday I was walking in SoHo, taking photos of street art (above), when I came across a few tattered old books scattered on a windowsill. Obviously they were giveaways.

Most of them were nothing I wanted. But one was by ‘60s avant-garde novelist Richard Brautigan: “In Watermelon Sugar.” I knew Brautigan because I picked up a copy of his book “The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966” at a stoop sale in San Francisco in 1991. I read it and remember liking it, bizarre and unusual as it was. So I grabbed “In Watermelon Sugar,” a Dell paperback from 1968.

I got a special bonus: Inside the back cover, an old train ticket from Greenwich, Conn., to Grand Central Station. No date, but it was a ConRail ticket, and MTA took over the Metro North trains from ConRail in it’s at least that old. The fare was $2.35 (as opposed to $13 for a ticket bought on board the train today).

I opened “In Watermelon Sugar” to a random page. It was a chapter titled “The Watermelon Sun”:

I woke up before Pauline and put on my overalls. A crack of gray sun shone through the window and lay quietly on the floor. I went over and put my foot in it, and then my foot was gray.

I looked out the window and across the fields and piney woods and the town to the Forgotten Works. Everything was touched with gray: Cattle grazing in the fields and the roofs of the shacks and the big Piles in the Forgotten Works all looked like dust. The very air itself was gray.

We have an interesting thing with the sun here. It shines a different color every day. No one knows why this is, not even Charley. We grow the watermelons in different colors the best we can.

This is how we do it: Seeds gathered from a gray watermelon picked on a gray day and then planted on a gray day will make more gray watermelons.

It is really very simple. The colors of the days and the watermelons go like this --

Monday: red watermelons.
Tuesday: golden watermelons.
Wednesday: gray watermelons.
Thursday: black, soundless watermelons.
Friday: white watermelons.
Saturday: blue watermelons.
Sunday: brown watermelons.

Today would be a day of gray watermelons. I like best tomorrow: the black, soundless watermelon days. When you cut them they make no noise, and taste very sweet.

They are very good for making things that have no sound. I remember there was a man who used to make clocks from the black, soundless watermelons and his clocks were silent.

The man made six or seven of these clocks and then he died.

There is one of the clocks hanging over his grave. It is hanging from the branches of an apple tree and sways in the winds that go up and down the river. It of course does not keep time anymore.

Pauline woke up while I was putting my shoes on.

“Hello,” she said, rubbing her eyes. “You’re up. I wonder what time it is.”

“It’s about six.”

“I have to cook breakfast this morning at iDEATH,” she said. “Come over here and give me a kiss and then tell me what you would like for breakfast.”

Sunday, April 13, 2008


I thought you might like to see the Japanese magnolia that’s blooming in the courtyard outside my window. For most of the year, this tree looks pretty nondescript. But every spring it explodes into a cloud of big pink petals.

In the middle of the photo near the bottom, you can also see one of the big green buds on the horse chestnut tree. I love that tree because it shades my window and gives me some privacy from the apartments across the way. We don’t really own it - it’s growing just outside the wall of our backyard, so it belongs to the neighbors. I’m always afraid they’re going to cut it down.

I did go to the Zendo for a few hours of yesterday’s retreat, and I’m so glad I did. It was great to reconnect with my practice after a dry spell.

In the end, I have to remember that whatever doubts and hesitations I have about practice are just more thoughts - just transient flashes of brain noise. Not that they’re meaningless. But they’re not really all that important, either.

What’s important is showing up, being on the cushion, breathing, being. Paying attention to what’s real. I was glad to be reminded of how simple it is. I plan to go back this morning, and then I’ll be back on schedule.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Last of the Curlews

Here is a legendary Reed family story about one of my childhood traumas.

It was the early '70s, and I was six years old or so. I sat down to watch an animated TV movie called "The Last of the Curlews," which as I recall was broadcast with sponsorship by Burger King. My mom sat down to watch it with me.

The movie was about an endangered species of bird, the Eskimo curlew. It told the story of one particular curlew who thought he was the last of his kind - until he found a mate. Then, in the movie's climactic scene, a hunter kills the mate. The curlew is left alone again, his species facing extinction.

My mom remembers watching this with me and thinking, as the movie's final scenes began: "Oh no!"

Sure enough, I burst into tears and still remember, to this day, how gut-wrenching that movie was. I've read more about it since then and learned that it was produced as ABC's very first "After School Special" in 1972. (I seem to remember it airing in prime time, but maybe I'm wrong, or maybe I saw a rebroadcast.) It won an Emmy the following year.

You know what, though? I wouldn't wish that movie on my worst boyhood enemy. It may have been realistic, but it was also way too harsh for many kids - definitely way too harsh for me. I think it's telling that I don't ever remember seeing it air again.

Does anyone else remember this movie?

(Photo: Anteaters, Brooklyn, March 2008)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pet Sounds

Just as I wrote yesterday's entry, it warmed up considerably. I almost didn’t even need my jacket. Woo hoo!

I’m finally getting back to my normal schedule after California. It always takes me a few days to settle into my routine. Today’s goal is to get back to the gym - I’ve been such a sloth lately - and to sit a while.

Tomorrow is another monthly retreat at the Zendo. I think I will go, at least for part of the day. I need to apply myself and get back to practicing. I’d also like to talk to my teacher a bit about my recent malaise, and finding the right balance in my practice.

Do you ever think we just have too many choices in life? Our ancestors had only one religion, for the most part - the one they were born into. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have other options, but it does lead to a sort of restlessness, and what can become an endless quest for the perfect path. And no path is perfect, you know?

I’ve been grooving lately to the Beach Boys’ album “Pet Sounds,” from 1966. “Pet Sounds,” which routinely lands on lists of the all-time best albums, was both influenced by and had an influence on the Beatles. In fact, I've read that “Pet Sounds” wouldn’t have happened without the Beatles’ “Rubber Soul,” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” wouldn’t have happened without “Pet Sounds.” In any case, it is indeed a stellar album - not peppy lightweight Beach Boys tunes like their earlier songs, but a bit doleful, with richly layered instrumentation. I’m loving it.

(Photo: Long Island City, Queens, March 2008)

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Spring is springing here in New York, but it seems to be happening very slowly. I’m not sure it’s any slower than usual - maybe I’m just overeager.

For one thing, the weather has stayed pretty chilly. I’ve been refusing to wear my coat; I guess I’ve been subconsciously willing it to get warmer! Fortunately I’m able to get by with just a jacket.

When I came back from California on Monday, the ornamental pear trees were blooming along Lexington Avenue near my apartment. In just the few days I was gone the trees turned into soft white clouds. And there are big pink buds on the Japanese magnolia in the back yard - I love it when that tree blooms each year.

We also have daffodils blooming in the front flower bed, but only in the sunny part. The daffodils in the shady, cooler areas don’t have flowers yet. Funny how nature interacts that way, with plants growing just a few inches apart on different schedules! We have tulips coming up too, but they bloom later.

It’s futile to feel like I want to hurry things along - nature doesn’t listen to me, after all - but I am SO ready for the change of seasons!

(Aside: Whenever I think of nature personified, I think of Mother Nature from the old Chiffon margarine commercials.)

(Photo: Long Island City, Queens, March 2008)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Every time I go to L.A., I pass a coffee shop called Pann’s on my way into town from LAX. It’s on a wedge of land between La Cienaga and La Tijera boulevards, with a funky swooping angled roof and a crazily tilted sign. The letters that spell out “Pann’s” come in a font that’s unmistakably ‘50s.

As you all know, I love a good diner. So last Thursday, on our way into town, Christopher and I stopped at Pann’s. We sat in one of the maroon vinyl booths and had milkshakes - mine was vanilla with peanut butter and a swirl of chocolate fudge. Mmmmm...

Pann’s, built in 1956 and designed by the firm of Armet & Davis, is a prime example of the kind of California coffee-shop architecture that was exported to the rest of the country in restaurant chains like Big Boy and Denny’s. Large plate-glass windows, angled roofs, exposed stone and lush plantings all typify this style, chronicled in Alan Hess’ excellent 1985 book “Googie: Fifties coffee shop architecture.”

The restaurants evolved this way in California’s warm, sunny car-loving climate. But they seem to work in other parts of the country, too -- and I’m glad. They're so futuristic, and yet so yesterday!

Even the tiles in the bathroom at Pann's are retro.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Palm Springs Journal

As my friends and I were driving into Palm Springs on Friday, we passed a bar with a big sign out front: “Toucan’s welcomes the ladies for Dinah Shore Weekend!”

Clueless, I read the sign to my friends. They said, “Oh! Is it Dinah Shore Weekend?”

Dinah Shore Weekend, as it turns out, is a huge lesbian gathering that coincides with a golf tournament named after, you guessed it, Dinah Shore. We had inadvertently stumbled into the middle of a big bunch of partying womyn.

Fortunately, we weren’t too visibly clueless, because there were other male stragglers around, too.

My friends Jerry and Christopher took me to P.S. as a belated 40th birthday present. We stayed at a gay resort and had a terrific time, even though we have very different traveling styles. Christopher and Jerry like to check in to a hotel and hang around the pool, relaxing and chatting up fellow lodgers. I, on the other hand, like to explore.

So some days, while they stayed put, I would go out walking through town, checking out the shops, stopping for coffee and taking photos. Also, I’m a ridiculously early riser, so I used the morning to sightsee, too. I did a lot of walking and running in Palm Springs, just as I’d hoped.

I really love the area - the climate is beautiful (at least, at this time of year) and the mountains provide a dramatic scenic backdrop, always changing with the light through the day. The town itself seems small and manageable, and also relatively affordable, despite its posh reputation. (Apparently it has experienced explosive growth in recent years.) There’s lots of beautiful landscaping and desert foliage, and since it’s spring, everything was blooming.

And as I mentioned yesterday, Chris and Jerry did make a major concession to my exploring by taking me to Joshua Tree, so I’m thankful for that!

All in all, I had a great time! Now I’m happy to be back in New York, where the trees have bloomed a bit in my absence, but where it’s also unfortunately unseasonably cold. Was I really in a swimming pool just 36 hours ago?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Joshua Tree

Well, I made it back from Palm Springs. I landed a few hours ago, and now I'm getting my life in order before I zip off to work. I'm not sure I'll be very productive today, but I'll give it the old college try.

I'll write more about Palm Springs tomorrow, but suffice to say I had a great time! The highlight was driving out to Joshua Tree National Park, which is full of amazing vistas and rock formations, as well as the ubiquitous spiny trees that give it its name. It was really stunning, with lots of spring wildflowers.

This is the panorama from Keys View, a lookout point over the Coachella Valley. On clear days, Mexico is allegedly visible.

This is a Joshua Tree - I'm pretty sure it is, anyway. (The yucca looks very similar, apparently.)

This is me being an intrepid rock climber. Nothing fancy - no harnesses or anything like that. Just me scrambling up on top of a big rock!

Thursday, April 3, 2008


I’m off to sunny California today, for a brief vacation in Palm Springs. I’m flying out in late morning and meeting up with my friends Christopher and Jerry, and we’ll all drive out to the desert together. I’m hoping to see Joshua Tree National Park, do a bit of running, and just relax in a warm, dry environment for a few days. Woo hoo!

Bob and I went to see “Stop Loss” last night, about soldiers returning from Iraq. It’s kind of a strange movie -- the first 3/4 are very moving, with an excellent performance by Ryan Phillippe. It effectively portrays the huge injustices we inflict on our military personnel in Iraq, as well as what life may be like stateside for veterans. But the ending seems a bit slapped together and unconvincing. (And sadly, there were no parts suitable for Tina Louise.)

After the movie, Bob and I went to the Cheyenne Diner on Ninth Avenue, which sadly is about to close forever. Its last day is Sunday. I had pancakes - an appropriate late-night diner food. Here, for good measure, are a few more photos of the Cheyenne.

I don’t think I’ll be blogging from California, so I’ll be back on Monday!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I know you!

I’m always amazed when I meet another blogger in person, and I feel like I know them -- even though it’s the first time we’ve technically met. That was the case with Gary when I first met him several months ago, and now I can say the same about Kim, who’s visiting New York. She and Gary and I went for a quick drink last night (VERY quick, since they had to get to a show) and it was fun to compare notes and see our common “blog mind” in action! Go bloggers!

I wonder if Tina Louise ever thought about blogging?

(Photo: Park Avenue, March 2008)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Exploiting Tina Louise

I was looking at my Google referrals yesterday - it's amazing how many hits I get from searches for Tina Louise. All because of just one post! I think I'm going to mention Tina Louise every day, just to increase my blog traffic.

For some reason, when I woke up this morning, this jingle popped into my head. And now I can't stop singing it. Sometimes I'm scared of what lives in my brain.