As the MTV Movie Awards came to a close (yes, I watch them. What?), I heard sirens outside, whining to a crescendo. I exchanged quizzical expressions with my roommates and visiting sister. “Um.. is that on our street?” one of them asked. Red light dancing on our living room wall answered the question.
Perched on a balcony, we watched a total of four fire trucks roar onto our street. Most impressively, one of them parallel parked directly in front of our house. Firefighters entered one building and investigated the front foundation of several buildings next to it, seemingly without haste.
After around 15 minutes of scrutiny, the members of the FDNY hopped back into their trucks and rode off without explanation or any sort of fire fight.
Amidst the scrawling variety of crude drawings, sloppy signatures, eyeless movie posters, and the ever-present F-word, there sometimes exists a subway quote of a different flavor. I stared at this one for a while before I took a picture.
Last week I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona for work. I was put up in a swanky hotel replete with stellar amenities and mountain backdrop. I arrived looking like I always do when I travel — seat-mashed hair, sweaty complexion, and in heavy footwear (inappropriate in 90 degree weather) so I wouldn’t have to lug them in my carry-on.
As I rolled up to the gorgeous Royal Palms Resort & Spa, I instantly felt that there had been some mistake. Me, at this place?!
I was early and my room wasn’t ready, so I grabbed the shadiest table (I’m so, so pale) I could find near the pool. I looked around; the attractive Royal Palms patrons seemed to all be lounging in designer suits and cover-ups, silently sipping icy drinks. I ordered a quesadilla and a beer, which made the waiter giggle.
The landscape was beautiful, but what struck me was that everyone I encountered was so incredibly nice. Whether it was the attentive concierge or my coworkers out of the Phoenix office, I was blown away by the unfaltering smiles and happiness.
As my three days in Phoenix came to a close, I taxied to the airport for my flight to JFK. People anxious to return to New York crowded the gate. The gate agent was… exasperated. She pleaded with the impatient to be courteous. No one moved.
The night after I returned to NYC, I attended the Unknown Art Show at the Hudson Hotel. I saw beautiful, edgy, and innovative pieces created by local artists, and I felt the energy of the music and people in the basement space. It turned me on.
Even though I savored the sunshine and warm pleasantness in which I was wrapped for a few days, I find I need an edge to my life. A different kind of positive attitude. And that is why I live in New York.
For a weekend that was supposed to be dreary and wet, I’ve spent a lot of time outside. This hot spring Easter morning, I lounged on my roof, first with a cup of coffee then with a glistening bottle of Corona. My friends and I listened to music, gazing across other Brooklyn rooftops and the people outside. Someone was washing his car, a neighbor worked on his rooftop garden, and a couple sauntered outside dressed in suits, pastels and shoulder pads, ready for afternoon mass.
Spring in the city. Flowers blooming amidst skyscrapers. It’s beautiful.
I can hear the subway creaking along the curves in the outdoor tracks that weave between the buildings in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It’s dark outside, just before midnight, and I’m having a beer with my window open. Today’s temperature nearly struck 80 degrees. A few nights ago I was shivering beneath my covers, thinking that Mother Nature is kind of a bitch. Today, she smiled. Spring in the city.
The warm air carries different sounds. The wind doesn’t whistle; it puffs. Baseball bats crack. People talk through smiles, their open jackets flapping. Sunglasses and squinting. Flowers for sale on the sidewalk.
Spring is streaky, an in-between that never lasts. But everyone feels spring. It’s audible. And my ears perk up to happier people and their sounds in the warm air.
Today is St. Patrick’s Day, or as I (and many of my fellow proud and pale Irish-people) like to say, Amateur Day. It’s become a day with a ready excuse to get wildly inebriated while wearing copious amounts of green clothing and accessories stamped with shamrocks. And this annoys me.
I have great pride in my heritage and specifically in being Irish. In fact, quite a few years ago, a few friends of mine gifted me a small (literally – it’s about 2″x2″) book entitled Being Irish… Contemplations on the Nature and Meaning of the Irish Race. It is in no way sincere, but here are some of the entries I enjoy (and identify with):
Being Irish means…
you swear very well.
you have no idea how to make a long story short.
there isn’t a huge difference between losing your temper and killing someone.
someone in your family talks too loudly.
someone else in your family can’t hear anything.
at least one person in your family is yelling right now.
at sporting events, for some reason, the people around you seem very uncomfortable.
you used to get embarrassed when you were younger–not so much anymore.
I think you get the point.
Part of being Irish is about being able to laugh – at your friends, at your family, and most importantly (and generally most often) at yourself. But really wrangling a definition for what truly embodies the Irish is elusive. The stubbornness, the freckles, the ferocious loyalty, the capacity to love and laugh, the bountiful joy and whiskey (I have Bushmills in stock) – the facets are many. So, on this St. Patrick’s Day, I say “Pionta Guinness, le do thoil” (A pint of Guinness, please). And if you are so inclined, read through some of my favorite Irish quotes, sayings, and blessings.
“I’m fucking Irish, I’ll deal with something being wrong for the rest of my life.” – The Departed
“This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.” -Sigmund Freud, on the Irish
“We are all of us in the gutter. But some of us are looking at the stars.” -Oscar Wilde
“A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures.”
“Ireland is rich in literature that understands a soul’s yearnings, and dancing that understands a happy heart.” -Margaret Jackson
“Maybe it’s bred in the bone, but the sound of pipes is a little bit of heaven to some of us.” -Nancy O’Keefe
May the sun shine, all day long,
everything go right, and nothing wrong.
May those you love bring love back to you,
and may all the wishes you wish come true.
On the afternoon of Saturday, February 5, I received a shocking phone call. One of my friends had passed away in a tragic, freak accident the night before.
The details about what happened are fuzzy. No one really wants to talk about what happened, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is that Christofer Roseberry, known best in my world as Christofierce or Ferocious, is gone.
Christofierce was just that – FIERCE. I remember the first time I met him. Two of my fabulous gay male friends were having a housewarming party, and Chris was in attendance. I knew only the hosts, but I happened to make eye contact with Christofer from across the room. He flashed a giant, devilish grin at me and sauntered over.
“Why hello there, gorgeous. What’s your name?” he asked. I told him, and he replied, “You can just call me Christofierce.”
From moment one, I felt Christofer’s energy. He reverberated human electricity. Chris was such a radiant human, living and loving so unabashedly that his life force impacted me every single time I saw him. Not to mention the fact that he would pick me up (or any number of other women near me), swinging us around the dance floor whether we wanted to or not.
I attended a memorial for Christofer last Wednesday, and though crying was inescapable, the stories many shared made almost everyone in attendance smile and laugh. And I think that’s the way Chris would have wanted it. He brought immense joy to this world, and seeing how many people packed the tiny space in Alice’s Tea Cup in Midtown East – New York City (though he was from Ohio) reconfirmed the kind of man he was. One of my favorite stories came from one of the managers at Alice’s Tea Cup. She recalled the last time she saw Ferocious – he was twirling at the hostess stand.
There is no way around it – life is short. I try to make every day count, to have at least one genuine moment of uniqueness and wonder each day, but sometimes it’s more than easy to lose sight of that. Things like this reinvigorate that goal. If I could do anything to pay tribute to Christofer, it would be to live and love as fiercely as I possibly can. And I am determined to do so.
I remember watching 1999 tick over to 2000, and for the life of me, I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that we’re now a decade deep in the 2000’s. My brain is something of a sponge, absorbing masses of details every second I’m living and experiencing, but doing a full recall on the decade sounds a bit taxing on my noggin. And terribly boring for all of you. So, I’m going to talk about 2010.
January 2010 marked six months of living in New York City. Well, I was living in Queens and working in Manhattan, and I certainly learned the differences (real and perceived) between all of the boroughs. Absurdly (to me), there are Manhattanites who refuse to step foot in Queens. I am generally a laid-back lady, and I did not feel the same — my roommate and I gave our new-found home borough the tagline “Queens : Come as you are.” In Queens, you can leave your house in sweatpants.
The spring was bustling, mixing concerts with visits from family members and friends, dancing in my neighborhood (please go look up Jackson Heights), dancing everywhere. Easter Weekend sangria. So many friends, mostly old and Penn State or hometown-proud (respectively amongst my closest friends), but a few new. But certainly there are downs that accompany the wonderful ups. Such is life. And during the spring, like the sporadic but necessary storms that rumble and erupt overhead, I had a decent amount of rain.
The weather warmed up, and the streets became sweaty, sometimes steamy with unfortunate smells. City smells. Despite how grass-less summers in New York City may seem, I learned that you never have to give up the sports you love, even if they require a field. I was wrangled into a softball league during the summer of 2010, and though I had the same first-day jitters I had when trying out for Varsity as a measly 15-year-old, I found that I loved those jitters. I loved turning them into cockiness (read: confidence) on the field (and I got to explore places like Randall’s Island in order to get to said field), and I loved the feeling of going full-force for the first time post ACL replacement surgery in 2007.
Fall blew in, breathing change cooly on my neck. A fresh start in a new apartment, sampling life in yet another borough (Brooklyn). New professional opportunities sparked a ferocity to continue growing in my field, I challenged myself to a 10K Mud Run (replete with military-style obstacles), I dined at restaurants I’ve never been to in neighborhoods I’d not yet explored, I took walks in the city at night. I did handstands in the middle of a basketball court in the dark. I reveled in the football and hockey seasons, getting used to being a minority fan. A displaced Pittsburgher. I learned what it felt like to spend Thanksgiving in a different state, yet still with my family.
In the pacifying cold of winter, I felt the sadness of older relatives slipping away. And the shock of losing one who wasn’t so old. I learned that moving forward is the best direction, the only direction. I learned that drinking wine and laughing with my family is an incredibly important activity in my life. And I learned that I can love again.
J-G-L-6 (getting to Manhattan from Brooklyn post-blizzard) : Waking up this morning was difficult. Not only is it December 27, two days after Christmas, but I knew I wasn’t going to like traveling to work after the sky decided to open up and dump feet of snow on the NYC Metro area. I peeked out my window to find every car in the lot behind my building buried under puffy white snow.
When I opened my door to trudge the usual 7 minutes to the JMZ stop at Myrtle-Broadway, I found thigh-high mounds waiting for me on the sidewalk and street. After somehow managing to get onto the train platform, a J slowly cruised into the station. The normally-express J was running local, which wasn’t a problem, until we arrived at Hewes St., just two stops from Manhattan. With the subway doors not closing, everyone began to get antsy. Finally, the conductor announced that the train directly in front of us was stuck on the Williamsburg bridge. Ten minutes passed without update. Ten more minutes ticked by. Worse news came with the next announcement – the bridge was impassable and all passengers were asked to find alternative transit. I clambered down to the street with my fellow passengers, and most of us trudged a few blocks to the Broadway G stop. Twenty minutes of waiting for the G… to only go one stop. Twelve minutes of waiting for a Manhattan-bound L. Five minutes of waiting for an uptown 6. When I emerged, Manhattan didn’t look much better than Brooklyn. Two hours and four trains later, I arrived at work.
L (the woman who collapsed on the platform) : I was making my way home late on Friday, December 17, coming from the UES going home to Brooklyn. The 4 on which I was traveling downtown arrived at Union Square around 1 AM (technically December 18), where I needed to transfer to a Brooklyn-bound L. I hurried to the track, noticing from the stairs that a train was still idling at the station. I picked up my pace as to not miss the train (few come at that hour), but much to my chagrin, every single car was packed with people. I walked along the platform to one end, searching for a space I could slide into, but no dice. I turned around and decided to walk until I met the other end of the train. As I passed the stairs I had come down I came upon a large group of people crowded around something. With headphones in, I couldn’t hear what anyone was saying, but I noticed a woman’s legs stretched out on the ground, facing downward. The crowd parted, and I saw that the woman was shaking, maybe seizing and probably unconscious, her head cradled on the lap of a young woman who looked to be in her mid-twenties. There were MTA support members there, but the young woman seemed to be taking control of the situation medically. I instantly thought of my friend Beth, who is my age and a nurse. I thought that Beth would have done the same thing, jumping into action in the real world if necessary. Calm and compassionate, yet strong and in control.
I witnessed a few things that evening that made me hopeful for the human race and alternately made my stomach turn. The young woman, who I would bet any money is in fact a nurse, was beyond brilliant. The MTA support listened to her instructions as she held the woman in place, supporting her neck and head. She calmly and kindly asked the man holding the woman’s purse and coat (who I can only assume was the fallen woman’s husband), if she had taken anything, if she had eaten anything that she could be allergic to. Many bystanders were concerned, wondering aloud if they could do anything, put a call into the paramedics, anything. Some were not so concerned, pulling out their smart phones to take video, for instance. A group of young men even hit on a young woman a few feet away from me. She was appalled, looking around after it happened to see if anyone noticed. I did, and I gave her the palms up and rolled my eyes. “I hate idiots like that,” she said.
Eventually the overcrowded train pulled away and another L arrived. As I stepped onto the train, I felt torn about leaving the face-down woman, though I was never directly involved nor do I have any medical knowledge or expertise. It just felt strange to walk away from something like that, turning my back on an emergency. The scene took quite a while to leave my mind and leave me in peace. I still think about that woman, though, and I hope she is okay.