new york city

All posts tagged new york city

To my loved ones:

Published August 4, 2013 by Sandee

Me in the merry merry month of May

Dear diseased neighbor with bloated belly,

How dare you!  So you feel it’s okay to say that my stomach looks like yours?  You goddamned wench.  I have uterine fibroids.  Thanks for reminding me that I’m accursed!  Yes, I have issue with the fact that I do situps every other day but still appear to have a pot belly at times.  It sucks that this has happened in the last couple of years when I had been able to have pride in a flat stomach into my middle forties, glad to have at least had that, if not big titties — no I don’t really want big titties — but anyway — HOW DARE YOU!  And learn how to air smooch.  When we greet each other, you needn’t plant slobbery diseased lips on the side of my face — ungh! — just threw up in my mouth.

Dear homeless drunken neighbor in wheelchair,

Aw, thanks for offering me Chinese food this evening.  But how the fuck you can afford to offer me dinner when you’re homeless is beyond me.  I dunno but it was a sweet gesture nonetheless.  During my winter hiatus, don’t forget that offer please, as I may be broke and have to take you up on it.  We’ll have a very “scenic” dinner in the park, overlooking the Hudson River.

Dear other homeless neighbor,

Sorry I said bad things about you and your wife in another post that I wrote about the homeless people in this neighborhood.  I’ll eat those words — I swear.  I come home every day to you sitting by the park playing chess tournaments with locals.  I suck ass in chess and think that you could teach me lots.  Mr. Homeless Man, can I please play with you?  I promise I have no qualms about touching communal chess pieces.  You’re obviously a respected member of the community and I should kick myself for being such a dick — or shall I say — such a twat.

Dear “Jane”,

I’m so so sorry.  Had I known you would be going around offering free pussy to average looking men, I would have coached you better.  I hope you’re living a happy life now, and that all that had occurred between us is behind you.  I love you.  P.S.  Please stop dying your hair orange just so that you don’t look like me anymore.  It makes you look, crack-whorish.

Yours, all y’all,

Aunt Sandee

Summer in Vietnam

Published July 10, 2013 by Sandee

Times Square

Willie walked, staring straight ahead with not much of an expression.  Unless you’re a tourist, you should stay away from 42nd Street, especially in this weather.  I’ve known Willie for years, but not intimately.  We have mutual acquaintances.  We didn’t talk much when I ran into him.  I could dig the energy.  It was about conservation.  He’s a heavy-set, older gentleman, Puerto Rican.

He glanced at me wanly.  “It’s tropical heat.  Like Vietnam.  The masters used to say, be still in the calm.”

“You were in Vietnam?”

“Yeah,” he said nodding.

I thought of his age, his demeanor.  I know Vietnam veterans, the ones who have PTSD, the ones who had been drug addicts and alcoholics to cope with the horrors and aftermath of senseless war.

“Stay cool Willie,” I said.  We departed and he waded slowly into the throng.  I went to the Super Runner’s Shop to return running shoes.

Instead of being a pussy and taking the bus, I walked to 49th.  I looked at the tourists and “dirty Elmos” in Times Square.  “Dirty Elmo” is a phrase I learned from my sister.  When she visited once, she and her son were accosted by one.

Today I saw two of them — God bless them in this heat, in furry red suits.

A man caught my eye, an edgy, downtown type, not a technicolored tourist dressed in pastels.  His hair was mussed and he was tall.  The tee-shirt’s the thing that got me.  Black and white, faded.  The tee-shirt had an upside down cross, and the words, “Hail Satan, drink coffee.”  I’m no fan of Satan, but that tee-shirt was, kind of, cool.  Would I wear it?  Hell no!  He walked past me and I turned to look.  If it weren’t for the tee-shirt?  But I don’t do religious zealots uh uh, no — sorry.

I traded in my running shoes and headed for the one train uptown.  This all hadn’t been so bad.  On the downtown side, across the platform, were dull streams of light pouring in from the street gratings above.  The pillars were angular shadows.  A woman in a sharp and casual business suit stood between the shadows, reading an electronic device and holding a briefcase.  Her hair was swept back in a pinned up pony tail.  She was a lone slender figure, her features blotted out by intermittent darkness, the perfect silhouette for a New Yorker Magazine cover.

Synchronicity

Published June 30, 2013 by Sandee

pathway

At the bus stop, on my way to work, a woman came after I did, beginning a competition to board first.  She inched her way beside me, amongst others who were more or less orderly.  Generally people respect the ones who were there first.  Though aware that it was stupid, I couldn’t help myself and maneuvered between the people to stay in front of her, and she did the same, so we got to the steps of the bus shoulder to shoulder — like fucking idiots.

She dipped her Metro Card into the fare box first, winning the competition.  “You are so rude!”  I said, repeating, “You are SO rude!”   The woman, from Africa somewhere, wore a long head covering (a burka maybe) with pink and purple circles and a tunic with similarly colored circles.  She wore black pants and sandals beneath it.

Again I said, as I tend to focus and drive it home, “You are SO rude!”

She said in a melodic accent, “I don no why you doin’ chop chop!”

Oh I know why I was doin’ chop chop —  I was a fucking idiot with a toothache who had slept very little the night before.  If this woman had done this another day, I would have gladly stepped aside to let her on.  Today my spiritual energy was low.

I eventually worked it out, going easy on myself for behaving badly.  As an old man from Harlem said, generally, “If someone steps on my foot in the subway station, I apologize.”  It’s not that I’m a pussy, it’s because I understand that we’re paranoid, scared, defensive, and carry a lot of baggage, etc., and I’d like to be as helpful as possible.  But I know this shit will happen again because I’m not Saint Auntie Sandee.  But when things like this do happen, I wonder how I might do better next time.

Walking to the bus stop after work I thought about ‘chop chop’ lady.  The bus comes and guess who’s on it? — ‘chop chop’ lady!  She was smiling vaguely.  I had to smile too.

The bus got crowded.  A young couple got on.  The woman asked to sit in the inner seat next to mine.  “Sure,” I said, rising to let her in.  The man stood by the outer seat next to me and chatted with her.  Later, the person behind me got up.  The man sat in that seat.  I turned and said, “Let me switch,” so that he could sit next to the woman who got on with him.

“You’re a nice lady,” the woman said, and her male friend thanked me.  “Thanks again,” she said down the road when they got off the bus.  “Have a good evening,” I told them.

So.  I’m redeemed.  How nice if we could be like this all the time and not have ‘chop chop’ lady incidents?

I wondered if seeing ‘chop chop’ lady again meant that it was synchronicity, a sign that I’m supposed to be communicating something.  So I wrote this.  But this wasn’t the only interesting synchronous-ey thing that happened this week.

A few days ago on the way to work I thought, though I’m not influenced by mainstream ideas and think for myself, I’m not getting any validation from the tribe.  I don’t have any ‘certifications’ — so to speak — since I’ve rejected certain ‘customs’ and ‘rituals’.  I’m not trying to be hip, this is just the way it is, from when I was young.  Maybe I just have some kind of syndrome.  Anyway, I muse, while I think for myself, etc., I’m kind of ass out, because I still need to have some validation from my tribe, right?  So I get to work and read this companion pamphlet to an installation in the gallery where I work.  It talks about mainstream influence on thought patterns, group mentality, and how most people desire validation from each other in a society, etc.  And I think it basically criticized sheep mentality.

Synchronicity.  Holy shit.  Great.  Then I read this blog post yesterday, ABOUT synchronicity.  Wow.

Last week I wrote a post with some divergent ideas about society.  I wondered if this message from God and the universe means that it will be received better because of the coincidence of thinking about what it is to be different and having that thought validated by the pamphlet, and it all being in line with the different perceptions in the post I wrote about society.  What am I supposed to do with synchronous moments?  Are they the universe’s brass ring?

Call me Goofy

Published June 12, 2013 by Sandee

I’m a visionary type, idealistic.  I glaze over details in politics, and take in the gist of what’s going on.  I read historical books and essays to understand the back bone of the system.   After years of reading all the papers, The Financial Times, The New York Times, and papers from around the world, I gave up trying to remember minutiae, because I discovered that my mind processes things abstractly.   I tune into news reports and periodicals here and there but I don’t think it’s necessary to do so every day.  It becomes a bombardment.  News organizations are generating business for themselves and sometimes it’s all too obvious.  When there’s a crisis I tune in more regularly.  But I might have stopped paying attention because a lot of politics is a game that I just don’t compute because I don’t have any quile.

I see how someone might think that what I wrote yesterday about the market system was simplistic, idealistic and naïve.  Generally, the message I wanted to convey is that there’s a connection between injustices and the way that the market works, and that if you’re indignant because these injustices keep happening, maybe you should look more closely at that connection.

While I didn’t mean to say necessarily that we should be a tribal world community, I do think that there are some great opportunities to come up with a better global market system now that the world is smaller.

I don’t think there’s any wrong or right way to look at the world, because it’s really all just a process.  I just wanted to share ideas that people would think about.

I’m sure that environmentalists and naturalists might have considered that their ways for harvesting food and having community stem back to people in small tribes from around the world.  I’ve seen adages and proverbs from these tribes on walls of some of our institutions, such as the Museum of Natural History in New York City.  Wisdom from these societies is in our faces but we’re not getting it.

I cried after Hurricane Sandy thinking of climate change and what we’ve been complicit in doing to the environment, because it occurred to me that there were tribes and indigenous people who thought of the planet as a living thing to be respected.  I want people to realize that these people who have been dismissed as barbaric and primitive may have a lot to teach us.

I’d love for us to experience a heightened consciousness that helps us to see the connection that we all have to each other.  When you trample over some of us, or dismiss us as insignificant or as a drain, in the long run we’re only hurting ourselves.

I can understand that there’s a philosophy of living that is hedonistic or dog eat dog at the root.  Just don’t complain about crime, crooked politicians or wonder why you’re all depressed. There are other social maladies that can be attached to this type of an existence.  Call me goofy, but I think this is just the price we pay for ‘living well’ in a material world.

 

Boo hoo, you hurt my feelings!

Published February 20, 2013 by Sandee

Building

When I say a detached hello to people in my building, I’m simply practicing a neighborly vibe.  I think that some of the new, younger tenants think it’s annoying, because they don’t bother to say hello back.  Maybe they think I’m a pathetic lady trying to make friends.

I’ve been here 22 years and management has changed four times.  The apartments that aren’t rent stabilized or rent controlled are subjected to rent hikes based on the whim of the owners.

So new tenants, I understand your resentment and feeling of instability, especially when your rent goes up $300 after one year – ‘Oh for this dump!’ you think, as you probably qualify for better in your professional capacity.  You guys move in and out of here in the life span of cockroaches.

The solid tenants who have lumbered along in this ancient building for years are beneficiaries of rent stabilization or rent control, and I know them.  I have no idea who some of you newer ones are, but a couple of you are evil.

When you stare brazenly and don’t respond the few times I say ‘hello’ on different days — okay.  But when you fall with your garbage bag full of liquor bottles, and I’m ahead of you, turn around, see it’s you, and keep stepping, don’t mumble something that vaguely sounds like, ‘Thanks a lot for helping me’.

“What’d you say?  Fuck you.  You can’t say good morning, but expect me to help you?  Kiss my ass.”

You caught me on a bad day.  If you’d really hurt yourself, I would have helped.  I’m not a jerk.  You just became a convenient target for my anger that day.  I’ll practice self-control for the others.

There’s a four-eyed woman who rolled her eyes when I said hello.  Ouch!  But I should have taken that hint when we were in the laundry room.  I had the rare urge (You people don’t realize that I’m actually one of you.) to make small talk and you whipped around and snapped, “What!?”

That other one, who I stopped speaking to after no responses, looks at me expectantly, now that she has a new baby.  But, too late bitch – you don’t exist to me anymore.

See, I had a talk with myself to remind myself that I need to respect you all and your wishes not to speak to me, and that I shouldn’t take it personally.  While I’ll still hold the elevator door open for all of you, you are now, henceforth, nonentities.

 

Raowr!

Published February 3, 2013 by Sandee

cheetah

I’m a brown-skinned black woman with kinky hair, but people have told me that I look like white women.  It’s weird.  Years ago in a salon, a woman pointed at a white model in Vogue.  “You look like her,” she said.  The model wore a grey fur vest, a fur hat and Cossack boots – she had her foot up on a stoop.  Odd, but I saw it.

Once a woman squinted and said, “I know this is weird, but you look like this white woman on As the World Turns.”  At least she knew it was weird.

Last weekend I met three women — one said, “You look like Ali McGraw!”  Her friends said, “You do look like Ali McGraw.”  How bizarre, I thought, but Googled her and saw why they might see a resemblance.

People have said that I look like black women too.  Imagine that.

Someone said that I looked like Pam Grier.  For those who know her, look at that picture and take two guesses why I don’t look like no Pam Grier.

Pam Grier -- Ba-hahaha!

My mom says I look like Halle Berry.  But she’s my mom, so we’ll let that one slide.  Aside from that body, I don’t think she’s all that anyway.

Years ago people said that I looked like Shari Belafonte.  My dentist thought so.  “Shari Belafonte with bad teeth, huh,” I said.  He didn’t think it was funny.  Maybe he thought I insulted his dental work?

Way back my boyfriend approached, pointing — “Know what you look like?  An a-cheetah!”  What did he know from cheetahs living in the city?  I was also momentarily stunned because he had said, do you know “what” you look like.  Two other guys also said that I looked like a cheetah, but said it correctly.

I have moles all over my face and a round head?  I move like a cheetah?

I love looking like a cheetah.  Raowr!  I just wish I could run like a cheetah and not like I’m wearing a loaded diaper.

I could see Shari Belafonte and the cheetah right off the bat.

But I prefer looking like a cheetah, because when you look like a celebrity you’re relegated to being mini-me.  You’re an ersatz version of them.

I saw a stuffed cheetah at the Museum of Natural History.  That place seems so dusty and old – old in a bad way, like there’s still asbestos padding the walls.  I stared at the cheetah for a while.  I imagined patting that cheetah and clouds of dust coming out of it.

What creatures of the wild kingdom do you resemble?

Black Forest Cake

Published January 10, 2013 by Sandee

black forest cake

When not bothered with car alarms, subway track shovings, phlegm-splattered streets, or with being steamrolled by high-powered, well-dressed residents, I appreciate the city with a renewed vision.

On Sunday I enjoyed the break dancers on the train without worrying about getting kicked in the face by the one who does back flips.  Their music was an unusual underground club mix.  I wondered who the artist was, but didn’t want to push past passengers to ask the dancers.  So I just enjoyed looking at New York characters on the train like a wide-eyed tourist.  Usually I’d be scowling, hyperventilating, crying.

After Trader Joes and Fairways – both madhouses – I went to the train station without the usual threat of impending doom.  A black man sitting on a stool on the downtown side was warming up on the electric guitar.  The rhythmic pattern unfolded into Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven.  He had a nice psychedelic improvisation.  I wanted to run across the tracks to sing in accompaniment.

But you can’t have everything, right?  The conductor announced that the train wouldn’t go all the way up.  The last stop was City College.  We had to get out and wait for the next train.  Of course it was crowded.

My blood sugar tanked.  My euphoria – gone.  It dissipated into annoyance aimed at the woman who didn’t appreciate that people had gotten off at the last stop and that she now had room to move away from me.

Sapped of energy, I took the train past my usual stop to the next one because there’d be no hill.  Exhausted, I became neurotically focused on what might be wrong other than a common need to eat.

The Carrot Top bakery was on the way.  Just maybe, they would sell Black Forest Cake by the slice again.  When they had stopped selling it like this, I thought of having a Black Forest Cake party, an excuse to buy the cake without dealing with the siren call of the whole cake in my refrigerator for me to eat by myself.  What — ho!  They sold it by the slice again.

Turns out the lack of energy I had at the last leg of my trip was in my head.  I skipped home now, cake in hand.  Cake, the succor of sinners, the balm in Gilead, the rotter of *teeth bones.

*A shout out to my friend who referred to teeth as “exposed bone.”  I totally got this idea from her!