Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fleas, Falafels & Fun, Oh My

Fall is in the air and the leaves from the oak tree outside my window slide gently to the sidewalk and the morning breeze carries them down the street.

A steady rain seeps through my layers as I wander the maze that is the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene, Brooklyn on Saturday.

A parade of vendors expertly tucked beneath white tarped tents, sell everything from vintage clothing and antique furniture to original photography, paintings and etchings to hand spun wool hats, jackets and scarves with matching gloves to cutting boards turned from maple and mahogany to mounted goat and sheep heads(!) along with a cornucopia of food, ranging from the simple New York hot dog to the delicacy of crab legs, and a vast variety between the two extremes.

A hearty lunch of hot mushroom soup and a warm spinach salad keeps the cold from sinking in to my bones and I walk home, all 7.5 miles, under the setting sun.

I make my way along Atlantic Avenue on Sunday, to take in the Atlantic Antics, my passion for all things "flea" fueled during yesterday's time at the Brooklyn market.  

Six blocks, lined with street vendors on both sides of the street, is a feast for all of the senses.

Jugglers, mimes, cheerleaders, balloon artists, trumpet players, violinists, a children's choir and pirouetting ballerinas take turns entertaining the crowds who push their way along the pavement.

"The Atlantic Antics happen only once a year", a large Indian woman in line behind me laughs, as I try to choose between a Greek salad or deep fried oreos.

With her boisterous encouragement, the lettuce lays wilting on the table and I dig in to the warm, sweet, sticky chocolate. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Actual Jobs posted in New York City

Mime Available

Mime available for Shows/Tv Commercials/Film/Gala Events
Vast repertoire/experience -
Luciano S
Salary/Wage: Open
Education: Visual Arts/Mime/Music
Status: Temp/Contract
• Location: Manhattan, Brooklyn


Seeking Girlfriends for Millionaires

Are you the "whole package"? Women-run & owned, upscale & professional Millionaire Dating Co. in business over 10 years, now interviewing Admin Assts., Managers, Models & other careerwomen in the medical, hospitality, retail, advertising, entertainment, modeling, acting, publishing, PR, arts, real estate, administrative & financial fields etc... who are underpaid, underemployed or just sick of the constant financial struggle... to date & be the part-time "girlfriend" of Multi-Millionaires, CEOs, Senior Executives and other Corporate professionals. Be 18-38yrs., cute, stunning, striking or naturally "model-material" attractive (classic, girl-next-door, athletic, exotic, etc..) articulate, honest, open-minded & well-mannered. College educated a plus but not necessary. Paid interview for qualified candidates. Please ask for application.

New York Los Angeles Beverly Hills Miami Boca Raton Palm Beach Las Vegas Chicago Dallas Houston Toronto Vancouver London *Other cities upon client request
Salary/Wage: Unlimited $$$
Status: Full-time, Part-time
Shift: Days, Nights, Weekend
Location: Manhattan, Manhattan, Long Island, North Jersey 


Plastic Surgery Addict Wanted

Looking for a subject who has has used plastic surgery to make sense of the world. Someone who might be described as addicted or extremely attached to it. I'm an artist working on a project that has complete respect for the way individuals make compromises with that which is beyond words.

If you are a possible subject or know someone who might be please put them in touch with me. I will pay a finders fee if I end up working with a subject who was a referral. The subject will be paid.

It is critical that the subject's appearance (face and neck predominantly - no hidden alterations) could be described as severe.

Thank you!
Salary/Wage: 500 - 1,000 day of project- a total of 2,000 - some deferred
Status: Temp/Contract


Super Hero Needed
Are you interested in becoming a Marvel Super Hero? We are looking for talent to portray Ironman for upcoming live appearances in major retail store. You must be at least 6'1” to 6'2" tall, be physically fit and in shape to wear the molded costume. You must be at least 18 years of age, and you also must possess a thorough knowledge of Ironman and his Amazing Friends. We are looking for responsible, creative, funny and smart individuals with outgoing personalities to portray our characters. We are looking for two or three people. Position pays $10 an hour.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The 4 B's of Birthday Fun: Bathroom, Bakery, Beautician & Broadway

Of the many ways that I had planned to celebrate my birthday, spending two hours locked inside the bathroom at my house, continuously yelling "hello, can someone please help me?" out the window was not one of them!  

But, it makes for a funny story, it allowed me to meet my landlords, and it reminded me of the kindness of strangers.

My birthday begins with an early morning phone call from my friend Kevin in Homer.  We chat for a while and when we hang up, I plan to go back to sleep as it's only 6am.  I rest for about a half an hour and then the excitement of what I have planned for my day entices me to get moving.

Already showered, dressed and ready to go, I make one last stop at the bathroom to check my makeup. A quick flick of my wrist usually turns the door handle, but this morning, it doesn't turn.  I toggle the handle back and forth, back and forth, sure that the spring inside the handle will release itself, and me.

I easily remove the handle and am just as easily dismayed to find that there is no way to remove the lock mechanism without a screwdriver.  Though I have many tools in my makeup kit, a screwdriver is not one of them.

I find myself staring at the handle and as I jiggle it one more time, knowing it is stuck, and I am stuck,  a loud laugh escapes and I'm soon having to lean myself against the cool, white wall, to keep from falling over.  Seriously?  This is happening on my birthday?

After wiping the tears of laughter from my cheeks, I open the narrow window, push the screen out of the way, and lean the upper part of my body out, looking down to the right through the alley and in to the small space between my building and the next one, where I can watch people walk by.

Or I could watch people walk by, if anyone were doing so.  I wait. As I wait, I wonder how I will keep myself from going crazy if no one is along soon.  I'm in the bathroom and have no phone, no book, no computer.  My only company is my mascara brush, a lonely and unhelpful adversary at this moment.

Finally, one, two, three, four, five, six people walk by in the space of about a half an hour.  Mom's with strollers, men with briefcases, a kid on a bike, a couple holding hands, a young man walking his dog.

Leaning as far out the window as I can, rubbing my ribcage against the metal frame, I yell "Hello, I'm stuck in my bathroom, can you help me?".

No one stops, although a few do look my way.  I realize just how crazy the situation is and just how crazy I must seem. I'm leaning out the window, in an alley, facing the brick wall of the brownstone on the other side, about 30 feet from the sidewalk, with a space of about 10 feet where I can see people walking by.

This means that I am mostly invisible to those walking by.  This means that in order for someone to see me, they have to stop and look down the alley.  This means that they have to assume that the person is actually in distress and is not crazy.

I am forever aghast at the man who swore at me, as if I had planned to lock myself in the bathroom.  As if it was the highlight of my birthday to hang out a narrow window, in to a narrow alley, and to yell for help.

I am forever grateful to the young man on his way to school who stopped, turned around and came down the alley to my window.  Who took a chance that I was actually in distress and not a nut. Who offered to knock on the landlord's door below me.  Who, upon realizing that they weren't home, went to the corner store and borrowed a paper and pen and left a note on the landlord's door, telling them I was upstairs, locked inside the bathroom.

Half an hour later, when the landlord's cousin Louise emerges from their home, taking the side door in the alley right below me, and not the front door on the street as she normally does, a few phonecalls findthe landlord's brother Reggie and his son Victor on the other side of the door.

My rescuers. 

The fun continues when, after about 20 minutes, Reggie works the frame off from around the door, opens the door, comes in to greet me and then closes the door, "just to be sure it will open" and, it locks again, stranding us both inside.

Victor swears out loud and I swear under my breath, and we're soon all laughing, but only once Victor repeats the task of working the frame from around the door and releasing the door.  

Victor goes off to school, now late.  Reggie goes off to work, now late.  At last, I can begin my birthday celebrations.

The next day, I make an apple pie, with the help of a housemate, and present it to Reggie, Victor and my landlord Pooran, who I meet for the first time.  He is nervous and anxious that I am angry, but I assure him over and over that it makes a funny story and will surely be one of the highlights of my time in New York City.

Not the actual getting stuck of course, but the fact that it makes for a funny story, that it allowed me to meet my landlords, and that it reminded me of the kindness of strangers.

The day is beautiful and warm.  I pass below maple and oak trees shedding their leaves, and a slight breeze sweeps the leaves down the sidewalk ahead of me. I want to slow this moment in time down. 

At last I reach my early morning destination: Colson's Patissiere.  I'm greeted with cheerful staff and a surprise gift certificate from Taz. I am touched by his creative generosity and I heartily indulge in coffee and a sweet treat while I open gifts and cards from friends back home.

I further treat myself and indulge in a manicure and pedicure.  Kalli is my beautician and she laughs when I tell her my birthday bathroom story.

This is my first trip in to Manhattan since I arrived.  With my new birthday outfit and painted nails, I feel like a city girl and I'm ready to explore Broadway, as I wait for the doors to open for Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins is excellent and the front row seats are well worth the cost!  The staging, costumes, music and acting is phenomenal!  After the performance, I walk around Times Square, taking in the brilliant chaos.

Too much coffee, too much sugar and too much excitement leave me feeling exhausted.  I head home, having happily celebrated turning 43.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The City Really Doesn't Sleep!

And apparently neither will I then.

It's 2:30am and the neighbor who works the night shift just got home.  His early morning arrival is punctuated with a stereo cranked so loudly that the deep throbs of the bass vibrate right through the brick walls, making my bed shake.

I don't know if he just got this job or if I've just slept through his other arrivals, but I was first woken by his rude loudness last Friday.  2:32am on the dot, every morning since then, he parks his car across the street and sits, stereo blaring for ten to fifteen minutes before he slams the car door shut and makes his way in to his apartment.

As amazed as I am at the kindness of strangers here, I'm equally amazed at the thoughtless of some of them. From the constant honking of horns, to people talking, laughing, singing, whistling, playing music and screaming, all hours of the day and night, it wears me down.  

Two weeks ago, when I first got here, I laughed and took photographs of the "No Honking - Fine $350" signs.  Now, they're not so funny and I want one in front of my house and i in front of all the neighbors houses.

There's a law here that you're fined if you don't pick up your dog's shit.  There needs to be a law here that you're fined if you act like shit!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Outside, Looking In

The morning light caresses my cheek as the sun shines through the horizontal slats of the bamboo blinds.  All is still, save for the distant hum of traffic, the gentle roar of a plane and a neighbor's dog barking just a few doors down.  It's early, so early that the sun is still tucked beneath its cloudy covers.

This is my ninth day in Brooklyn, ninth of my planned ninety nine days to live here, and it's the first morning I've woken before 9am.  In fact, it’s much more before 9am.  The red numbers of the clock radio blink 6:39.
Yesterday, I resolved to rise early to explore the city as it wipes the sleep from its eyes.  I dress quickly, devour toast with jam and peanut butter, gulp down hot ginger tea and dash out in to the streets.  I'm eager to catch the rays as they shine their orange hue on the sides of the red and white brick houses.
It's easy to make my way around my neighborhood now.  I've been exploring it daily since I got here, so it's become familiar and comfortable.  Comfort makes me antsy, so this morning I challenge myself to walk further, beyond the streets I've come to know, down unfamiliar sidewalks and in to unfamiliar neighborhoods.
The streets rise from 5th Avenue to 6th and I'm soon crossing 49th.  Only a handful of people are scattered about, including market owners sweeping the dust and leaves from their storefronts, and men hovering in doorframes, drinking coffee or smoking or both.  Loose papers ride a gust of wind and dance down the sidewalk from corner to corner.  Some will come to rest in alleys where they’ll slowly integrate and disintegrate with the other trash, while others will spend the day tumbling down the pavement, skirting from street corner to street corner.
The air is early autumn cool.  My breath is visible and my fingertips are chilled.   I plunge my hands in to my jacket pockets and pass by shops bearing names and descriptions in what I believe to be Hebrew. The bright pink and yellow signs of a Polish store "specializing in Polish phone cards and Polish sausage" catch my eye as the brilliant colors leap out from among the other store windows that are covered with dark colored posters.

A small group of Indian men are huddled on the sidewalk in front of a corner Deli, smoking and talking.  I smile and nod and one of them nods in return, while the others only stare quietly back at me.  I feel their eyes affixed on my back and then, as if my walking by was like a small gust of wind, I'm forgotten, and they return to their conversation and to their cigars.

Further and further through unfamiliar neighborhoods, I crisscross streets and avenues slowly filling with school kids and workers. A sudden awareness of my Self catches in my throat and I choke slightly on an inhalation of breath.  A gloomy cloud wafts over me, and the word Outsider leaps from my consciousness and in to my heart. 
On this street, on this day, this grey day, ripe with promise and purpose, I become acutely aware that I’m a stranger in a strange land here.  I exist on the outskirts of the daily lives of the people who call these neighborhoods home.  This community is a weaving of intricate patterns, and each individual here is an integral part of the fabric. 

I'm here, perched on the outside, looking in.

A feeling of complete disconnection from my Self and from where I am, slowly settles over me, resting on my shoulders, and I shift my gaze to the dirty sidewalks, my self-assured walk has long since become a stumbled shuffle.

I’m ashamed and I’m embarrassed. I don't know anything about these people or this place.  Everything is foreign to me: the languages, the cultures, the customs, the religions, the food.
The taste of my ignorance is bitter on my tongue as I work my way back through the winding streets, passing 35th, 21st, and finally to 5th, to my neighborhood.  My neighborhood.  This neighborhood where I’m a stranger, an outsider, just a visitor and here for a very short time.

Too short a time to really get to know the Singh's, the neighbors on the first floor that I often hear coming and going early in the mornings and late in the evenings.  Too short a time to get to know the young Korean girls who skip by the house every day after school, or the small group of older, Russian women who perch on the benches across the street on Sundays, filling the air with their boisterous laughter, and taunting the bent and balding Chinese man who runs the Deshi Deli on the corner to join them.  

This is the familiarity that I crave, the experience that I want here.  The sense of neighborhood and family, to be an integral part of the fabric of a community. To be on the inside, looking out and feeling the great depth and the vast width of this city, drinking in the sense of home.  Instead, I'm just a stranger here, caught in the clean and tidy top layers of a tourist's New York, on the outside looking in.

Tomorrow morning, when the light again peeks through the slats of my bamboo blinds, I'll rise, tuck my ignorance down deep in to the bottom of my running shoes, and I'll walk again.  And I'll keep walking, until my embarrassment and disconnection is just a dark smudge, blending in with all the others on the corner of 49th Street and 7th Avenue.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Out Walking

While out walking, I found myself in a Jewish neighborhood.  The little boys, young boys and older men with shaved heads and ringlets of hair, wearing black pants, white shirts, black jackets and black hats, and the girls, young women and ladies in black dresses, black shoes.

What is the significance of so much black?

I asked my friends Phil and Alice about the Jewish people here.  This was their response:

"These folks are more than orthodox. They belong to a sect called Hasidim. They retain many of the old culture and dress from eastern Europe 100 years ago or more.

This is the period of time between Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur and is the holiest time in the Jewish calendar, the High Holy Days.  
Rosh Hashona began last Sunday ight and will end with the holiest day of the eyar, Yom Koppur, begining Tuesday night and ending Wednesday night.  Rosh Hashona is the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur is a day of fasting and praying and essentially atoning for your sins over the past year, so that you can begin the year anew.  
There is a big dinner on Tuesday evening before the fast begins and then a huge dairy meal on Wednesday evening to break the fast."

And so I begin to learn.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Weekend of Books & Bridges

The Brooklyn Book Fair was an all day event, with over 250 vendors, including publishers, authors, writer's unions, and more.  I'm a sucker for books, and so I spent the entire day, feasting on the vast array of options and enjoying readings by local poets, novelists and other authors.

After hours of walking and sitting, I longed to walk and when I walked past the Brooklyn Bridge sign, I immediately changed course and, well, walked the Brooklyn Bridge.  This walk is akin to a walker's freeway, with thousands of individuals both on foot and on bike.  There is a path to separate the two, but walkers get taken in by views of the Manhattan skyline and easily wander across "the line". The incessant honking of New York drivers is second only to the less loud but equally annoying honking of New York cyclists on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Getting Lost

Whenever I get lost, I find things I didn't even know I was looking for...  Today, on my way home, walking the 4.5 miles back because I didn't have enough change for the bus (!), I found a movie theater.