Friday, February 20, 2009

Driving in the Snow

The last two nights, I've found myself driving in the snow. It's a beautiful experience when three things go right:
1) Windshield wipers are working
2) There aren't that many cars on the road
3) You're not trying to read street signs that are, of course, covered by newly sticking snow.

(Yeah; I had to deal with items '1' and '3' on separate occasions, but it was uneventful, in spite of said obstacles.)

There's something infinitely beautiful about going into a snow storm. When you're in a car, driving at 20-30 miles an hour, the snow comes at you, coming closer -- no matter which way the snow actually is falling -- but never actually touching you, thanks to the whole windshield thing. It's like being surrounded by one of the old After Dark screen savers. (Not Flying Toasters, y'know, the stars one...)

It's incredibly peaceful, too. Each flake lit by the headlights, causing a small reflection around it and a small bubble of pure white.

I love driving, and I love being out in a snow storm. For once, logic is right: I love driving in a snow storm.

As long as I've got no deadline and no cars around me who are being crazy. After all, I hate not being in control...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

So...why, exactly?

Today marks the 2 year anniversary of this blog. It is also, by no small coincidence, the 200th post.

Which brings up an interesting question that I have certainly been asked:

Honestly? I'm not sure any more. (Which, in a weird way, is the perfect answer.)

It started as a place to write my thoughts -- and to impress a girl (whom I dated shortly thereafter). She was a writer (I mean, I suspect she still is, but even when I dated her, she didn't do that much writing, so even if she calls herself a writer...well...I'll stop here before I say something mean) and I wanted to come across as literate.

Then, the depression I was trying to avoid admitting that I was already months into came to a point where I could not avoid it any longer. The blog was a way for me to work out my problems -- more for me than anyone else. I never really cared if people read it, but I liked the whole honesty thing and thought that maybe someone out there could relate.

It then became a tool for me to document my random thoughts and things that I've come across that caught my fancy.

Now? Well, it's me searching for the perfect use for it.

I've always gone through life knowing what I want, just not quite sure how to get it. While in some ways, I'm getting closer to figuring out how to fully achieve my dreams and goals, on the other, the more I learn the means, the less I'm sure of the ends.

I guess the only thing I am sure of is that I write in this thing. I guess it reminds the internet that I'm still alive.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wise Words from an Eccentric Jew

Nope, not me. Woody Allen. More from Without Feathers, for no other reason than it amused me.


Of all the wonders of nature, a tree in summer is perhaps the most remarkable, with the possible exception of a moose singing "Embraceable You" in spats.


Once a lumberjack was about to chop down a tree, when he noticed a heart carved on it, with two names inside. Putting away his axe, he sawed down the tree instead. The point of that story escapes me, although six months later the lumberjack was fined for teaching a dwarf Roman numerals.


The true test of maturity is not how old a person is but how he reacts to awakening in the midtown area in his shorts.


It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there for it.


Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.

Security Blankets

We all have something that we use as our security blanket -- that actual physical thing that we turn to when times get a little tougher than we'd hoped. (And if you say you don't, you're either lying, heartless, or you die a little inside when a moment comes that would merit said object.)

Mine is a 2-inch stuffed dog that used to live in my pocket.

I'm not ashamed to admit this -- though I may be ashamed to admit when he's with me. But I'm not ashamed to admit the need of something so, well, juvenile. Whether or not a therapist would agree with me, I think that the ends justify the means.

I can only speak for my own situation, but I know that this dog comforts me because he grounds me through his innocence. (It certainly isn't a memory of a better time linked to this dog; I bought him at the darkest time of my depression in hopes to have such a security blanket object small enough to conceal on my person so others would not know.) The mere existence of something so juvenile reminds me that, sooner or later, I'll be able to just enjoy things for what they are -- as I did when I was 6.

And to have that desire to return to such a time of innocence is nothing I could ever be ashamed of.

And after all -- he's cute.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Unexpected change

Sometimes, we're the last ones to see our own destiny.

And by sometimes, I mean usually.

The last week has brought along a lot of small changes in my cognitive understanding of my own self. Incidentally, these are changes that my mother has seen since I was six years old.

Without going into details on the professional and personals aspects of it, I tell a story of a a meal this weekend that scared me.

I went into a diner and ordered food. No change. It was midnight, I wanted breakfast food. Again, nothing unusual. I open the menu and decide on one of my three usuals: French Toast and a glass of orange juice. The waiter comes up, asks what I want, and out of nowhere, I hear my mouth speak the words, "I'll have a waffle and some orange tea."

WHAT?! Tea? Waffle? Since when I do eat non-eggos? Or drink any kind of tea?

I know it isn't like a complete opposite type of thing and merely a small step to the side -- which is actually dead-on with the rest of the small changes of the past week or so -- but it surprised me to say it.

It surprised me even more to have the desire to order it again...

I can't help but wonder what's next.

Monday, February 9, 2009


I'm not quite sure what's brought this up in my mind lately, but I have been thinking about the important people in my life. Friends, family, and the all-important third category: mentors.

I've been lucky enough to have a few people in my life take me under their wing and help me spread my own wings. These are people I've been able to turn to for advice professional, personal, and otherwise. People whose wisdom carries more weight than a forklift in Costco. People whose compliments are more meaningful than a positive review in the New York Times and whose disapproval -- however rare -- is enough to outweigh even the most any Jewish Mother can dish out.

I really don't have any more to say on this subject other than the fact that I know how lucky I've been -- and continue to be -- and that I hope to one day provide this service to others. I hope there is someone I have touched in a way that scratches the surface to these people around me, but I know that I cannot have nearly the same weight until I've been through another 20-or-so years of, well, life.

Certainly gives me something to look forward to!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lesser Known Ballets

I recently rediscovered the joy of reading for no other reason than the desire to have some intimate time with a book.

Of course, that's a blog entry for another time. Right now, I want to share some writings from Woody Allen's Without Feathers.

From his section on lesser known ballets, these are my two favorites thus far. (I have not finished the section yet, but these were too good not to share.)



The ballet opens at a carnival. There are refreshments and rides. Many people in gaily colored costumes dance and laugh, to the accompaniment of flutes and woodwinds, while the trombones play in a minor key to suggest that soon the refreshments will run out and everybody will be dead.

Wandering around the fairgrounds is a beautiful girl named Natasha, who is sad because her father has been sent to fight in Khartoum, and there is no war there. Following her is Leonid, a young student, who is too shy to speak to Natasha but places a mixed-green salad on her doorstep every night. Natasha is moved by the gift and wishes she could meet the man who is sending it, particularly since she hates the house dressing and would prefer Roquefort.

The two strangers accidentally meet when Leonid, trying to compose a love note to Natasha, falls out of the Ferris wheel. She helps him up, and the two dance a pas de deux, after which Leonid tries to impress her by rolling his eyes until he has to be carried to the comfort station. Leonid offers profuse apologies and suggests that the two of them stroll to Tent No. 5 and watch a puppet show -- and invitation that confirms to Natasha's mind the idea that she is dealing with an idiot.

The puppet show, however, is enchanting, and a large, amusing puppet named Dmitri falls in love with Natasha. She realizes that although he is only sawdust, he has a soul, and when he suggests checking into a hotel as Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, she is excited. The two dance a pas de deux, despite the fact that she just danced a pas de deux and is perspiring like an ox. Natasha confesses her love for Dmitri and swears that the two of them will always be together, even though the man who works his strings will have to sleep on a cot in the parlor.

Leonid, outraged at being thrown over for a puppet, shoots Dmitri, who doesn't die but appears on the roof of the Merchants Bank, drinking haughtily from a bottle of Air Wick. The action becomes confused, and there is much rejoicing when Natasha fractures her skull.


A Day in the Life of a Doe

Unbearably lovely music is heard as the curtain rises, and we see the woods on a summer afternoon. A fawn dances on and nibbles slowly at some leaves. he drifts lazily through the soft foliage. Soon he starts coughing and drops dead.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Micro Memoirs, Week 2

I'm taking a class this semester, "Micro memoirs." (How ME does that sound?)

Anyway, we have weekly exercises to do out of a book. We have to set a timer for 5 minutes and we only have those 5 minutes to write.

Here are this week's three. Note: The first is completely true, the second is made up yet comes from truth and is totally plausible for me, and the third is true except for the last line. (She still watches...)


MOMENTS (Think of small moments in your life that had energy -- that made you feel alive. Pick one and set your timer for 5 minutes.)

It was hot, I was feeling sick, and I'd just put a deposit down on a 5th floor walkup in Yorkville. I had just given up my RA job, and thus was newly homeless with the plan to spend my summer on Cape Cod with my family, but for now, I was living on a sofa in the East Village. I was excited by this small refrigerator box I was soon to call my apartment – with my roommate – but more than anything, I was glad to be underground inside a crowded downtown 6 train; it was the first place I'd been in a week with air conditioning.

I make a habit of looking around on the subway; making up people's stories, having inner-dialogues with them, and even the occasional eye contact. But there had never been a connection like this.

She was short – about 5'1”, with shoulder-length brown hair, a pink polka-dotted headband, a brown dress coming right above her knees, and tan flip-flops with a pink strap weaved between her toes. She was grasping a silver Tiffany's heart necklace. She looked at me, and I looked back at her – but even more than that, I looked into her – deep into her eyes – and she began to cry.

SOUND PIECE (Choose the sound from the list (long list to the right) with the most energy or choose one that leaves you cold. Keep in mind that a murmur may have more energy for you than a shriek.)

That damn drip shower won't stop. drip, drip. I can't drip handle it. I try to drown it out with headphones, but I've been drip wearing headphones all day – it's the hazard of working in radio. I just want my ears naked, exposed to the drip fresh-air, or what passes for it in my apartment.

It wouldn't bother me if it were more regular. Then I drip would be able to tune it out.

Or would that make it drip worse? Would that force me to use it as a metro-drip-nome for the songs in my head that cannot drip stop and let me just drip be drip alone.

But with this irregular driping that is going on, I have to wait for the next one. I have to wait for when it will drip fall. I want to write it out and catch the drip music on my score paper; turn it into the next great drip American symphony. Or at least the next great New York City Aria. I mean is there any-drip-thing more Manhattan than a leaky drip shower?

It drives me mad. I can't take drip it anymore. My roommate, in the room next to the drip bathroom, does not hear it. He thinks I've drip lost my mind. He may not be right quite drip yet, but if I don't find a wrench, he drip will drip be.

BOX (The box may be big enough to hold the Sahara Desert or small enough to hold a molecule of dust. Set your timer for five minutes and go.)

It's a new car! I loved watching “The Price is Right” when I was little. It was what I looked forward to most when I stayed home sick as an 8-year-old with the flu. That and cinnamon toast.

My favorite part of “The Price is Right” wasn't the prizes, or guessing along with the contestants, or even the pride I got when my bid would have been the winning bid when everyone else had an overbid. But I looked forward to my grandmother – the worrier of the family – calling me after it was over to see how I was feeling, and more importantly, to discuss the Showcase Showdown.

Did you see that? I've never seen someone win them both before!

Neither had I, of course. I was 8, and she'd been watching the show since before I was born – a time concept not understood by 8-year-olds.

I stopped watching “The Price is Right” when my mother implemented a rule that if you're healthy enough to watch TV, you're healthy enough to go to school.

My grandmother did, too.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What I learned at camp

Yeah, I know, it's been over 5 months since the end of camp, but I was recently asked to write up a quick thing about what I've learned from camp, so I thought I'd share with all 5 of my readers, too...

-I learned the difference between good winging it and bad winging it.
-I learned how to adjust.
-I learned how to pretend something is the most fun activity EVER, even if I hate it, if only because my enthusiasm is infectious for everyone from 6 to 16, and not because I'm furry and lovable, but because when you're in charge, people look to you for how they should react.
-I learned that when you have high expectations of someone from day one, they may fall short at first, but most of the time, they rise to the challenge and exceed your wildest dreams.
-I learned that a little camaraderie and good-will go a long way in making a great environment.
-I learned that the greatest people in the world all are still children at heart.
-I learned that you can do absolutely anything with 6 cones, 2 playground balls, 2 hula hoops, pinnies, and a smile.
-Or even just a smile.
-I learned how to lead.
-And more importantly, I learned when the best thing is to let someone else lead.

-And most importantly, I learned how to truly be me.

I'll miss that place...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I've recently become an optimist, and I hate myself for it.

I'm a curmudgeon! Optimists and their eternal optimism bug me! I mean, c'mon, NOBODY'S that upbeat all the time!

And yet, in the last couple months, I was 2 hours late coming back to New York because someone jumped in front of our train, I have had some physical pain like nothing I've ever had before, I had my locker broken into at the gym and my new phone and cash stolen, I've lost a sock doing laundry, and countless other things that when added up, would normally turn me into the muppet-watching hermit I love myself for being.

And yet?

My responses have been:
"Well, it's an adventure! And this was a great way to break the ice to have conversation with everyone around me!"
"At least now I have an excuse for not being able to sleep! And think of how good I'll feel once I find a massage therapist!"
"Nice, new, expensive phone? yes. Annoying? Yes. But I got the phone for free, so it isn't like I lost actual money from it...and hey; it took 4-and-a-half years of living in New York for something like this to happen to me!"
"Neato! I now have an extra sock in case I get a hole in one!"
and finally
"Well, whether the glass is half-empty or half-full, there's still something in it!"

How can I NOT hate myself for this? I've become everything I hate!

Just one more way I'm a self-hating Jew, I guess...

(Forgive the redundancy.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I'm a creature of habit...but if you know me well enough to be reading this blog, chances are, you knew that already.

Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday of Freshman year, I went into the same little storefront and got a lemon Snapple and paid exact change ($1.25) for it. My routine was so well-known that, by the end of the year, as I walked in, Abdul (the proprietor) was reaching into his fridge to get the Snapple as I was walking in. (This regular-ness also was beneficial when I went in the one and only time I did not have exact change. He could not break my $20 and said, "Don't worry about it; You'll pay me on Tuesday." (I, of course, did. In fact, when I paid him, he'd forgotten and said, 'What's this for?' 'Friday.' I mean, sure a free Snapple would have been nice, but $1.25 was already cheaper than any other place around...)

I take the same path to walk to the Subway every morning.

I hit Snooze the same number of times every morning -- whether I need to or not. (This one's a little weird, yes...but let's take Friday: I hit Snooze and then got out of bed. The alarm going off is how I gauge how long I have until I have to leave.)

Where was I going with this post...

Oh yeah; routine.

Today was my last day of jury duty, and I'm going to miss that routine. The entire month of January (and today), I had jury duty from 10a-1p and work from 2p-6p. The daily routine was something I really enjoyed and could handle quite easily. It was much less stressful than the hectic 12-hour Tuesdays with Wednesday off that I'd grown so used to in the past. I learned that I could handle the traditional 9-5 (or, as the case may be for my hopeful future, 10-6) without getting bored by routine.

I, of course, also learned that working in public radio is nothing like running your own archery program for children, but that goes without saying.

I still have to be at work tomorrow at 2p, but I'll still probably wake up at 8 and leave my apartment at 9, turning off my radio right after the on-air personality says, "It's 1-and-a-half minutes before 9 o'clock and you're listening to the Takeaway on WNYC AM 820."

I'm just not sure where to go...

Monday, February 2, 2009


I know...uplifting topic.

I meant to write about this a couple, three weeks ago, but I a) never got around to it, and 2) wasn't quite sure I was ready to.

I had a really fascinating 24-hour span of death-related occurrences in life. I don't want to discuss the first half of my back-to-back evening of the deceased, but the back end was fascinating and uplifting.

I went to a memorial concert for Dick Sudhalter, Newton, MA native, jazz musician, author, historian, and more than anything, respected man. I'd read a few articles he'd written and parts of a book he'd written without actually knowing who he was, but a number of my teachers were playing at his memorial and sent out mass emails, causing me to decide to put on my blazer and leave my apartment on a chilly Monday night.

Anyone who did not know Sudhalter, or Dick, as after this event I feel I knew him such to be on a first-name basis, could see how well-respected he was without ever hearing a single word of tribute just by looking at the lineup of people playing. (Ranging from Bill Kirchner and Sy Johnson, teachers of mine, to scholars and musicians in his vein such as Loren Schoenberg, to legends Marian McPartland, Bill Crow, and many others.

The community formed around this man and his work was an amazing and uplifting experience -- especially in contrast to the tragic passing I had to deal with the day before. It was a very healthy look at mortality. And more so, it made me realize how important community is.

The entire jazz community in nearly the entire northeast rallied around one another with the love of a family.

However peripherally, I'm proud to be part of this community. I hope life affords me the chance to stay a part of it for a very long time.