21 March 2007

Neighborhood Changes

A couple of months ago, I wondered what was happening at the demolition site at 100th and Columbus, and figured it would be more luxury condominiums.

I turned out to be right about the condos. No big surprise there; condos are the only thing being built these days. But what was a surprise was that the real estate developers responsible for them have signed Whole Foods to be their main retail tenant. Meaning that instead of being able to get paper towels and shower curtains at the dollar store formerly in that spot, the neighborhood will now have easier access to overpriced, out-of-season produce.

Obviously, I will be there every day.

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19 March 2007

My Head Itches

I could post an overheard cell phone conversation every day, but so many of them are of the "What? Wait, when did she say that? No, you're kidding," variety, that it's hard to imagine rendering them any more interesting than that in print. Today on the bus, though, I got 20 alarming minutes of a middle-aged woman talking to what turned out to be her mother, that began, "I have to take Jamie to get a really short hair cut tomorrow."

The Jamie in question was undoubtedly one of the two little boys she had with her, who were chatting about video games and telling each other dumb little-boy jokes, seemingly oblivious to the fact that there was a lice outbreak at Jamie's school, and while Jamie's classroom wasn't affected, he shares a table with Katie, and Katie's little brother Sean, you know, Melissa's son, has lice, and they didn't even know about it.

"I'm going to have them cut it like a Marine," the mother told Jamie, when she finally got off the phone -- the conversation with grandma had included a lot of F's and A's and D's, presumably standing in for words she didn't want little Jamie and his brother to hear, but inexplicably, it also included a lot of "shits" -- and asked "do you know what that means?"

I couldn't hear whether Jamie did know what getting a Marine haircut entailed, but I did hear his mother warn him not to talk about it at school. I guess she didn't want Jamie to tell Katie that Sean, her brother and Melissa's son, had lice. But telling the entire bus? That's okay.

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18 March 2007

Two Feet

I was almost killed yesterday.

That's a little dramatic. What really happened was a chunk of ice from Friday night's storm slid off a building on Lexington Avenue just as I was walking past, and missed me by only two feet. It was about the size of a basketball, one that was completely flattened by its landing. Thud.

Whenever I almost get hurt like this -- and maybe the ice wouldn't have killed me, just given me a very bad headache -- my immediate reaction is one of shaky relief. Then I think: Thank God I didn't die in such a dumb way.

I know, dead is dead, and none of us want to die any other way than in our sleep at a very old age. But the idea of dying in a way that's so completely random, so governed by just one step here or three seconds delay there, feels ridiculous. Wasteful. Ignominious. And yet, the opportunities for that kind of death in New York are infinite.

But despite the ice, I kept walking up Lexington, albeit further away from the building line. It was a nice day for a walk, and if I'd gotten on the bus you just know that would have been the day the driver couldn't brake in time to miss the taxi turning in front of it. Bam.

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16 March 2007

Make Up Your Mind Already

I am not one of those people who, when the temperature hits 50 degrees, breaks out the flip flops and tank tops. There were plenty of those people on the streets last weekend, though, when it really did seem that we had left February's frigidity behind and sprung forward, with the clocks, into Spring.

I don't need to pretend it's Summer. I was just happy to walk around all day without a hat and gloves. I don't ask much.

And yet, here we are, enduring yet another few days of "wintry mix". Another few days of hat hair and damp feet; red noses, lumpy coats, and grumpiness; gray slush at every corner.

The hardest part for me is the indecision, the hesitation. Be Winter if you have to; but then don't tease us into thinking it's going to be Spring.

Last night, I took the bus home from work. It came within a minute of my hitting the bus stop, the bus wasn't crowded and Tenth Avenue was clear enough that it didn't get stuck in traffic. If you're a bus-taker, you know what that means. Not a speedy arrival home, no. It means the bus driver goes 5 m.p.h. and rests a full minute at every stop, trying not to get ahead of schedule.

Stuck in traffic, I can take. This is Manhattan; we have traffic. Speeding through yellow lights trying not to fall too far behind, no problem. But this wishy-washy, sightseeing-tour, pretending-anyone-thinks-you-keep-to-the-
schedule-anyway-not-taking-advantage-of-an-empty-street-for-a-change-like any-normal-New-Yorker stuff? It kills me.