I really love words. Especially other peoples. If I could, I would fill mason jars with the words I wish I could say, the words that have been said too many times before, and the words I'm working towards.
Zora Neale Hurston has this quote "There are years that ask questions and years that answer." from Their Eyes Were Watching God and I've recently been struck by this realization that we never know which years are meant to do what.
I'm far too inquisitive. The people I annoy tell me so, on a regular basis. My love of the answer has led to nicknames like Hermione (aka: giant teacher's pet) and the kind of conversations that make you wish you'd kept your mouth shut.
So I have some questions, oh Years, questions that may never be answered. And answers to the things I rarely question,
On Passover, the youngest child gets to ask "The Four Questions." It's a super sacred honor that sounds, phoneticall,y like "mah-neesh-ta-na-cha-lay-la-cha-zaee-mee-kohl-cha-lay-loyt" and so on...I only remember this because, the year I was old enough to memorize them, my family and I spent Passover in Israel and the WHOLE mishbucha (family) sang along. It was jolly good fun. But I was devastated, as home videos prove (I'm the queen of the awkward facial expression and, back then, I was the princess)!
Anyway, what that mumbo-jumbo boils down to is "Why is this night different from all other nights of the year?" But I can't think of a way to ask my questions so succinctly. And I'm not really sure my life has ever given me the answers.
If we think about it, though, I am at this moment the youngest version of myself. In that case, I should be entitled to ask my four questions (right?!?!):
1. Am I doing the right thing? Better yet: Is there really a right and wrong, outside of our civil confines?
2, Does anyone really care if I straighten my hair today? Or eat another cupcake?
3. How many licks does it take to get to the center of the Tootsi-Pop (AKA: Is patience really a virtue? How do you pause life without being a CLOCKSTOPPER?!? )
4. What will really be important to me, in fifty years?
As a child, I lived in this really tiny bubble where I knew all the things I wasn't supposed to do and I did my best not to do any of them. The most trouble I ever really got into was telling both of my parents that I hadn't been given dessert, one night, and- on a whim- both of my parents gave me ice cream sandwiches. TWO ICE CREAM SANDWICHES. They were delicious. Until I got caught. And, from that ice cream sandwhich lesson, I learned to always tell the truth and appreciate the ice cream sandwiches I got.
Boy, that's a lame story.
I'm worried I'll look back on my life and wish I'd eaten the ENTIRE BOX OF ICE CREAM SANDWICHES and then blamed it on the next door neighbor's nonexistent-cat.
But 21 years have certainly brough me some answers:
1. When you put your hand on the stove, it burns.
2. Things usually happen for a reason,
3. That nagging in your stomach, like there's a child tugging on your appendix, is your instinct telling you that something isn't right.
4. Organized chaos is real. But, from anyone else's perspective, will always look more-or-less insane.
The rest, I'm still trying to figure out.
I'm trying to live in the moment, to be appreciative, to recognize when to hold on and when to let go.
I'm trying to take pride in the work I've done and the things I want to do.
I'm trying to be fair to myself. To give myself the benefit of the doubt and the tools I need to keep trying.
Maybe that's what life has taught me: To keep trying.
That is neither a question or an answer but maybe we don't know either until it's too late to revise our answers or rephrase our questions.
I think, in my transitory state a'la Britney Spears "Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman," I've recognized the importance of friendship in a whole new way. Friendship is hard. And I don't mean the "social hello" kind or the "in-the-meantime" kind or the "talk-about-nothing" kind of friendships. I mean true, solid, important friendships. Those are seven-wonders-rare. So. along with my Top 5 solo-adventures, I thought I would dedicate a moment to some of my World-Series-level New York activities that can be done with humans! Specific and otherwise.
These will always make me smile!
1. First Broadway Opening!
Seeing 'The Glass Menagerie' on OPENING NIGHT and meeting so many of my favorite celebrities at the AFTER PARTY was one of the coolest things I've ever done. Ever. Zachary Quinto kissed my cheek! Cherry Jones gave me a hug and Celia Keenan-Bolger (my personal hero) remembered me months later! ...I also gave Hunter Bell San Fran advice. Super thrilling!!
...Helps that I had such a pretty date, too!
2. Instating (and then RE-Instating) Museum Day (however short-lived)
While I try to be as culturally-knowledgable as possible in a city full of unexplored art, time tends to get away from me. So, for a few weeks in January, we went to museums every Thursday. It was such a brilliant decision: Art begets art and surrounding yourself with extreme culture and passion is a very distinct kind of power. I love being able to recall artistic things.
Two Januarys ago, an old friend of mine and I took Queens by storm and became acquainted with a brilliant group of artists who formed NO LONGER EMPTY. We walked all through the boroughs and witnessed Buddhist art in the back of a tattoo parlor downtown. The juxtaposition of loud rock music with the Buddhist art of a man who was unjustly imprisoned for three years and painted in jail was pretty magical. I love the society in this city and want to champion it, always.
3. Apple Picking Upstate
I've recently been made more aware of the world outside of New York City and I've been hungry for it. I teach a class upstate and, on a perfect Fall weekend, I picked and devoured more apples than a person probably should (hey, if an apple-a-day keep the doctor away, I should be good for a few years) and had weeks of apple pie and apple sauce and, really, all things apple! But that's a pretty good life, to me.
I happily have no shame, when it comes to baked goods. I will eat cake alone, with friends, in my room, on the floor, from right out of the oven, two days later, with extra frosting, without frosting (sad)...(that sounds kinda like a Dr.Seuss book)!
'Basically, I'm a non-discriminatory cupcake enthusiast!
I love sharing my love of the baked confection with people I love! Perfect nights at Molly's Cupcake (sitting on the swing-set stools and playing Jenga) or face-cake parties at Billy's Bakery. While those are my staples, I'd also be down for some Chelsea Market cupcake hopping, any day of the week.
...I'll start my diet tomorrow...ish?
5. Karaoke at The Way Station
Sunday nights are pretty special, in my book. But the best way to spend them is with karaoke at The Way Station! I'm a huge Doctor Who buff (don't judge!) and, while I never quite pictured myself peeing in a Tardis, it's fun to feel like a Timelord while belting some timeless tunes! Plus, Karaoke-Joe (affectionately) is the most fun of all the karaoke hosts. In a room full of genuine people, who appreciate a good Hilary Duff tune and a shot of whiskey in an espresso mug, you're guaranteed to have the time of your life.
In beginning this blog, I realized it wouldn't be fair to my slew of adventures if I didn't somehow acknowledge that, in the three and a half years I've been in New York (though not a New Yorker) I've had some pretty spectacular moments. I'm also pretty confident in saying that these are going to change. I'm lucky enough to be in a city that never sleeps (because it'sn too busy plotting its next brilliant scheme) but, pretty consistently, you can find me here. Or wishing I were!
So, before we can move forward, let's go back:
TOP 5 New York Things (ridin' solo)
1. Grazing at Union Square Market.
Especially on Wednesday's, when Baker's Bounty's at the ready with APPLE CAKE! I've broken Passover, diets, and hearts for this cake. (Okay maybe not hearts...but it breaks mine during the summer when the apple cake is no more).
My favorite days tend to begin with some Farmers Market impulse buys…and then sitting on a bench and writing about it.
2. Harney & Sons
I don't really know what else to say about this... but a tea shop, in New York is such a perfect hideaway. I go to Harney & Sons as much as a person can get away with drinking large quantities of tea in public. I don't think this is, necessarily, strictly a New York delicacy but nothing says a brisk New York morning, or a perfect friendly get-together, or a cozy writing day, like mugs and kettles and scones- oh my! It wouldn't be fair to tell the tales of my adventures and leave out the tea! (Especially on the way to the theater...but theatre talk will come later for that's a horse of a different color).
3. Going upstairs at 54 Below (and the general awesome of 54)
I love theatre more than most people (rant for later) and, I'm a pretty hardcore foodie so- the love child of all the things I love is, without a doubt, 54 Below: Cabaret club to the stars! I know some people are adverse to going to places alone but I have the best stories to tell, and meet the coolest people, on my solo-show nights! I've also BEEN UPSTAIRS at 54 Below, before the show! Now, that's an exciting one because that's where the performers live. So I've seen the nooks and crannies of 54. One of my favorite nights, I shared a few words with Steve Kazee, while he was onstage! I've sat with Marsha Norman (one of my favorite people) and cried when Jason Robert Brown sang my FAVORITE song right in front of me.
I always get: Truffle Mac&Cheese, Brussel Sprouts (when in season) and the Pumpkin Bread Pudding. To die for!
There is no better way to see the City than on your toes! Granted, on the rainiest days of the crappiest seasons, I may amend that statement but- generally speaking- nothing is more magical than being part of the rhythm of it all. I started walking through this city, before I even lived here: Transportation-adverse, on a good day. The first time I walked through Union Square (see above) I cried farmers-market tears and, in the last few years some of my favorite conversations (and kisses) have happened between the tents and the cheese samples. Early morning walks through Times Square are so serene and wondrous that they remind me why I still think there's a spark to this crazy life. I think, at the crux of it, that's why I walk: For those moments of solitude and to see something that I've never seen before or something that I've never needed to see before. I also love the signs: Between "Don't be Needy" written on meters and "In Pursuit of Magic" sprayed onto the floor, New York is full of mini-reminders. This is such a crazy place to search for solace. I am most thankful for those moments of mindfulness where I walk far enough to remember how lucky I am to be here. Right...now.
5. Smorgasburg & Brooklyn Flea
Don't call me a hipster just yet!
Part of the Smorgasburg/Flea appeal is the all-around good nature of things like crafts and cookies. I've never met an angry person at either of these Brooklyn gems. I've also met some pretty amazing humans on my craft-adventures: People who sell trinkets and handcrafted tables. People who truly believe that "One man's trash is another man's treasure.' And then people who like to eat on the pretty grass, by the pretty river.
And that's…pretty incredible.
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal.