Gramercy Park

The following story is brought to you by this sponsor:

Wanna feel that burn from a good work out? Well, join the “I live in a fifth floor walk up club, today and burn, baby, burn (insert Saturday Night Fever soundtrack reference).

The fog lifted subtly from the serene East River. A yellow boat steered elegantly against a backdrop of an industrialized, but bustling Brooklyn. The Chrysler Building was engulfed by an adorably fluffy cloud.

This spectacular show was witnessed from my bedroom window. I adored my bedroom and it’s view, which were on the 14th floor of a brick building on Manhattan’s East Side. Although, I didn’t have a doorman, gym or functioning laundry mat in my building, there was one amenity, which tickled my fancy the most.

An elevator building, oh boy. Ever since I was a lad living in a closet in Queens, I dreamt of being lifted up into the sky. More importantly, I strategically chose my location for one very important reason.

“I would like an everything bagel withe scallion cream cheese. Oh and a large coffee, please,” said I with my mouth watering. Throughout my years in New York, I always lived around the city’s best bagel shops. In my east side apartment, I lived dangerously close to Essa Bagel, one of the city’s most highly revered bagel shops.

One faithful morning, I finished my scrumptious bagel and headed toward Gramercy Park. Unexpectedly, I heard a classic New York accent garner attention from my eardrum. “Hi honey, question?” asked the voice. An elderly woman stood in all black. She was wheeling a granny cart. It’s the closest New Yorkers get to driving. Granny carts are ideal for loading up with groceries and laundry. Her cart appeared especially heavy.

“Can you help me take my cart up? I’ll give you ten dollars,” she said. I have always hated lifting anything heavy, but at that moment, I graduated to a “pushover” status and agreed to shlep the cart up to her apartment.

“Thanks dahling, my apartment is over there,” she said. The charming grandma lived in an enchanting apartment block in Gramercy, an affluent neighborhood in Manhattan’s east 20’s.

I entered her building’s lobby, which looked like every other New York walk-up building. “My apartment is on the sixth floor. Remember, drag, and don’t lift the cart up the stairs. I’ll wait down here,” she said. “Oh, the Karma Gods better serve me up something wonderful for this one,” said I, internally.

The voyage up commenced. Instantly, I hated having to drag that heavy cart up the stairs. Also, I wondered, how old people survived in a walk-up. “Are you okay up there? Remember drag, don’t lift,” said, our lovable senior citizen. Her New York accent intensifying. Even on a winter’s day, the sweat poured. Every set of stairs was even more daunting than the last.

Eventually, I reached the top. I was awaiting a medal for my courageous voyage up. Exhaust-idly, I walked down the staircase. I reached the lobby. “Hey you looked stress,” she commented. “I am fine, thanks,” I replied. “Here’s ten bucks, thanks so much dahling,” she said, after going through an archaeological dig in her purse.

I really wanted the ten dollars. My conscience took over. “Look, it’s fine. I have a full time job. Consider it a favor,” said I. “Buy yourself a coffee or something, she said. I still wanted the ten bucks, but I walked out. “No, it’s really okay. Lovely to meet you. Have a great day,” said I. “Thanks again,” she replied, while cracking her coconut exterior and revealing a sweet smile.

I stepped into the bitter winter cold, which was quite refreshing after that work out. Passing the beautifully guarded and very private, Gramercy Park, (the actual park, which the neighborhood derives it’s name from) I thought to myself, “gee, must be tough being old and living in a walk-up, glad I could help that nice old lady out.”

Months later, I traded my elevator building for a fifth floor walk-up in Harlem. After dragging that granny cart up sixth floors, I had proper training in maneuvering a walk-up. I do daydream of living in an elevator building again. These days, I don’t need that gym membership, since every step up to my apartment feels like the equivalent of running the New York marathon.

 

Sing along with Radiohead

“Fake Plastic trees by Radiohead, isn’t exactly a staple on Christmas Eve. After of campy holiday songs ware off, nothing says happy holidays like mellow 90’s Brit Pop.

This past Christmas Eve, I woke up excitedly. I blasted the quintessential Radiohead jam and did the happy dance. “Yeah, I am on vacation, this is thrilling,” said I. That morning I opened my Facebook. It was a montage of photographs featuring luxurious images of New York airports from JFK’s Delta airlines terminal to planes waiting take off at Newark.

Then I realized, “oh yes, it’s Christmas Eve,” everyone is going home for the holidays. I too was headed out west for Christmas, but didn’t leave till the next day. A part of me, just wanted to be home in California with my father, enjoying the back patio and grilling steaks. Tear, tear, I had to find a way to comfort my poor self, while I waited for time to pass by. Oh and did find the ideal while to brush off that lonely feeling, the New Yorker way.

On my day off, I headed for my happy medium, Brooklyn Bagel in Chelsea. “That’s right nobody is going to be in town, except tourists and they’re in Midtown. No lines for me,” said I. Those were the cliché famous last words, since Brooklyn Bagel was packed. Although, the streets were a bit emptier, everyone had the same idea.

Fortunately, I found a seat and indulged in a most delectable bagel. “I must keep myself occupied and not get homesick, how do I do that?” I took a long walk from Chelsea to the East Village. While fastening my pea coat, I peered into the pavements of gritty yet charming First Avenue. “Wow, it’s oh so quiet, just like the Bjork song,” said I.

“There won’t be a line at the Bean (coffee shop) or at the Strand (bookshop). Wow, fuck loneliness, the East Village feels like my own personal playground and it’s fantastic,” said I. It was marvelous walking around without people traffic (my previous New York years, I was in California for Christmas eve). Then I realized, “oh I still don’t have someone to spend Christmas Eve with.

Like any proper urbanite away from family on Christmas Eve, I had found my alternative and it wasn’t on Grindr.

Rocco was his name. He’s a cold-blooded fellow, thanks to being a turtle (which falls in the reptile family). My friend Krista had me feed him his holiday supper, since she was in Chicago for the holidays. That’s right; turtle sitting wore off the loneliness of being away from family. Watching the turtle munch on vegetable sticks gave me purpose in the midst of jingle bell rocks.

After an adventure in turtle sitting, I took the 3 train home to Harlem. An elderly woman hopped on the train and proclaimed “Merry Christmas to everyone.” Surprisingly, everyone was equally jolly in the tough nosed subway. The holiday cheer actually made my night.

I came home and packed my bags. For my holiday dinner, I ate a chicken pot pie. I traded Radiohead for a Charlie Brown’s Christmas tunes. It was a great end to a day, which could have been lonely, ended up being lovely. With eyelids fully closed, I eagerly awaited the early morning flight to California and quality time with my father.

 

Madonna on a T-Shirt

“I feel like I just took a bath, a bath in my own sweat, ” said I. Welcome to summer New York. It’s that riveting time of year, when the garbage gets stinker, rich people flock to the Hamptons and shirtless men jog along the Hudson River.

While most New Yorkers hate the slushy sidewalks of winter, I find my greatest inspiration in a snow -covered city. Though the weather may not be as delightful as an autumn walk in Riverside Park, I still open myself to the inspiration around me.

That’s right the inspiration was all around me. Unfortunately, writer’s block had captured my brain cells. I cried a bit.

As I struggled in literary purgatory, I wondered, if my creative streak done was done with. I stared into the blank page of death. In the grand tradition of logical Manhattanite, I brought my problems to that most treasured of New York characters, the Upper West Side therapist.

“I feel a certain amount of guilt lately. I don’t know if it stems from too many of years of Catholic school, but I am around all this inspiration and can’t write for shit,” I told her. She shook her head and glared up from her decorative journal.

“It’s ok to not feel inspired, but I do have something for you,” she said. I looked on with great curiosity. She pulled out a very mysterious little cloth bag. As she handed it to me, I looked in puzzlement.

“Those are Guatemalan worry dolls. You tell them your worries and place them under your pillow at night. At night you wake up and your troubles will diminish,” she said with an honest smile. I shook my head and thought, these are stick figures made from real sticks and adorned with yarn, but if she says so, I’ll place them under my pillow, “I said to myself.

As predicted, I told the stick figures my troubles and placed them under my pillow. To my surprise, writer’s block didn’t go away, but it made for a good laugh.

The odyssey out of writer’s block land continued. I sat out in coffee shops in the East Village, took field trips to Brooklyn and wandered Harlem, but alas writer’s block became a chronic condition.

Unexpectedly, I ended up on Fifth Avenue in the 50s. I waited to meet up with a friend. The humidity levels blanketed Midtown’s glamorous office towers. I craved the artificial chill of a chain store on a summer’s day.

I headed to Uniqlo. I was wow-ed by (of all things) the t-shirt collection. The t-shirts were a bit of artwork. There were artist interpretations of London’s Big Ben & Paris’s Arc de Triomphe. However, I was most delighted by the musician’s collection.

As a Madonna fan, I loved the t-shirts featuring the queen of Pop. In the middle of t-shirt land, the walls of writer’s block crumbled. “I found my inspiration, a story about t-shirts,” said. Although, I hadn’t worn t-shirts in years (button downs and polos are more of my style), they were a significant part of my life as teenage fashionista; it was an integral part of my identity. A story was born. The paragraph started like this:

Growing up, I would take trips my favorite clothing shop.  I would pick out very decorative t-shirts. I adored the art work the most. They represented my love of travel, newspapers, New York and status as a teenage reject.

After my trip to Uniqlo, I quickly put my fingers to a keyboard and wrote my t-shirt story.  My battle against writer’s block ended at that moment. The blank page had been adorned with words about my adolescence. I once again felt like a well-inspired and fun loving writer. I stared at the Guatemalan worry dolls and proclaimed, “Hey you guys tried your best.” Then I turned off the lights and fell into a world of imagination.

 

Augusten

Droopy ears, a button nose and a tail, which wags to the sounds of Ethel Mermen, this character isn’t another gay date for me; it’s my ideal future puppy.

Augusten (named after author, Augusten Burroughs) resides in the figments of my imagination, alongside all my imaginary friends of yesteryear. The idea of having a puppy didn’t quite find it’s home in imagination land, until one spectacularly chilly April afternoon.

While out in the East Village, I decided to visit my favorite coffee shop, The Bean. It’s a most wonderful cozy place, on the corner of Ninth and First Ave. Regardless of the unseasonably cold temperature; I bought a Mona Lisa (a cousin to the Frappuccino, an ice blended beverage with vanilla flavoring). I sat outside on one of the inviting benches and people watched.

While watching, hipsters, old people with rent control and clueless tourists, I started to shiver. However, I continued to sit on the bench, since I was thoroughly enjoying the free entertainment. As I peered to my right, a very attractive silver fox (attractive older guy), strolled Ninth Street with an adorable, but gigantic, black lab.

“Geez, big dog= big apartment,” said I, while sipping into the final stretch of my blended drink. The black lab walked toward me. I didn’t pay him any attention, since I was listening to Tori Amos and drifting into never land. The dog parked himself in front of me. His frustrated owner tried tugging his leash, but the dog wouldn’t budge.

“Sorry about that, he’s never done that before,” said Mr. Silver Fox. I played with the dog a bit, but really I was interested in the owner. My thoughts were “this dog is a yenta.” He’s trying to match two lonely New York gays. Finally, after a few minutes with the dog and Silver Fox, they left. No romantic connections, but the playing with the puppy kept me thinking.

” A dog, such a novel idea. We could go play at the dog park at Madison Square Park, take long walks in the East Village and watch great John Hughes films from the 80s at night, said I.

It was simply magical. Especially living by myself all the way uptown, a dog would be a great companion. I could also join doggy owner groups. It was also a fantastic way to meet guys. The gays do love their dogs.

As the idea became more endearing, I called my cousin. “You with a dog. I can’t see you picking up poop,” said she with a giggle. Poop, that’s right, they do poop, said I to myself.

Bringing Augusten, home didn’t seem so wonderful. I realized at this point in my life, I didn’t spend much time at home and need a bigger apartment.

Hence, my puppy will become a reality years down the line. In the meantime, my (0wn) droopy ears and I will enjoy treats, while listening to super duper gay Broadway show tunes.

The Witty Wordsmith

New York, late winter, the sky is an intense shade of grey. The trees remained bare of any lively bright leaves. In the midst of the eerie grey, a remarkable bit of sunshine played peek-a-boo behind a rainy cloud.

On such an idyllic winter’s day, I set off on foot for St. Nicholas Park in Harlem. It’s a most wonderful park, which fades into hilly fields of green. Regardless of the cold, I’ve always adored sitting on a park bench and reading a good book. Quality time with a book is my ideal form of therapy. I fade into a character’s shoes and forget any of the day troubles.

On one riveting expedition, I sought a most wonderful park bench. As, I picked a perfect little spot for literary madness, the cold winds penetrated through my layers, and pea coat.

For once in my life, I shivered. The goose bumps on my arm grew more sensitive. At that point, I had to look elsewhere for a romantic date with my used book from the Strand bookstore.

I wandered through Harlem’s Hamilton’s Heights neighborhood. It’s the perfect backdrop for any quirky film (Wes Anderson’s Royal Tenenbaums was filmed there). The brownstones are eccentric yet sophisticated characters in their own right.

The hills have provided an escape from the quintessentially Manhattan painting. Bay windows, dramatic stoops and old world charm could inspire poets, painters and playwrights of life to create a proper work of art.

While heading up the hill toward Broadway, I was craving a hot chocolate from the Chipped Cup (my favorite coffee shop, uptown). On that pleasantly quiet Sunday, everyone had the same idea.

The quaint coffee shop was filled with patrons. I was disappointed, since I just wanted was to read a good book. So, I headed back down to 145 street.

To my disappointed, Dunkin Donuts was also filled to the brim with people. I didn’t want to go back to my apartment, since I was really craving a coffee shop. Instead of giving up hope, I took an unexpected turn.

The Eighth avenue subway provided the ears with a classic sound, which only a raspy record player could rival. I found my reading spot, a seat on the subway platform. Even though, the subway has many distractions, I’ve always found it an easy place to concentrate on a book there.

When the A train arrived, I boarded it merrily. I even found a seat. However, distraction found me. “Why don’t you put a chip in me, so you know where I am at all times, said a girlfriend to an equally angry boyfriend. They fought. They whole train watched. Trying to hold back laughter, I tried very hard to not loose concentration on my book.

The arguing heightened into theatrical satire. “Fuck it, I can’t think with this racket going on. At least, there aren’t break-dancers on this train, ” said I. “Showtime,” yelled a boy with a boom box.” Break-dancers with a giant boom box appeared from the blue to everyone’s annoyance.

My eyes didn’t leave my book. Anyhow, my brain was completely distracted. I made it to West 4th Street. Randomly, I decided a cannoli would be amazing.

So, I boarded the F train to Second Avenue and ended up in the East Village. I headed up First Avenue and into the old world charm of Veniero’s (legendary dessert restaurant in the East Village). I ordered a cannoli and opted for a cappuccino rather than a hot chocolate.

I took out my book and found a swell place to concentrate. It only took a long walk, two trains and another somewhat long walk to find my literary Zen. Regardless, my literary Zen was a whole lot better with a delicious cannoli accompanying it.

Think Unicorns

Pretzels, potato chips & goldfish (sushi’s cheesy cracker cousin), all foods I thoroughly enjoy. However, one life event made these delicious foods, a forbidden fruit. Let’s back track. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon in the East Village. I wandered around First Avenue, pondering life deep philosophical questions. Should I have Indian for lunch? Or Thai?

There was a tingle in my mouth. Wow, something just doesn’t feel right. I called my dad. “Antoine, have you not been wearing a scarf over your mouth?” he asked with a stern tone. ” No, I never do,” I replied. ” It’s bad for your teeth, wear a scarf. It’s too cold out there,” he replied. I didn’t believe I could actually get frostbite in my mouth, especially after being quite accustomed to New York winters.

The next night, the temperatures dropped dramatically. As expected, the Polar Vortex had become a part of New York daily life like the deli or a metro card. Regardless, of the Polar Vortex, I took advantage of the empty sidewalks. I had a most magnificent walk on Manhattan Avenue in Harlem. Everything was quintessentially adorable and bursting with character. Sadly, the beauty didn’t diminish the pangs of pain, which eventually developed in my mouth. “Ouch,” I said.

I convinced myself, it was nothing, just an unrealistic case of frostbite in my mouth. When I rose from slumber, the pangs of pain arose with me. “Shit, I think I am going to have to see the dentist.” Casually, I browsed the Internet to make an appointment. As I bit into my croissant sandwich, all hell broke loose. I was in too much pain.

In a great panic, I made an appointment. There was something cool and hip about my dentist’s office. There were plenty of Rolling Stone magazines to read and good people watching from the Union Square crowd.

My dentist walked in. He looked more like a recent art school graduate than a traditional dentist, which put me at ease, since I am in the creative field.

He brought me for an X-ray and as expected, bad news. ” Yeah, you have a wisdom tooth, which needs to be pulled out. This going to be harder, since you’re 30 and they typically get more imbedded within the gum as time goes by. Oh and you also have an infection from this. You need to take both teeth, he said.” I opted for only one tooth, since it was cheaper.”

While numbing my gums for the archaeological dig, I braced for madness. Also, I prepared myself for a voyage into a mystical land, which mirrored English countryside. It had unicorns and jellybeans blossoming from the ground. “Okay, kiddo are you ready? He asked. “Oh yeah,” I said terrified, but said with great confidence. The digging began.

The dig for the tooth intensified. I could feel the pressure as he strategically dug for that precious relic. A few minutes later, I experience a tug and surprise, my wisdom tooth came out. “Congratulations, do you want to take a picture for your friends to see?” he asked. Naturally, I pulled out my iPhone and snap. Then I went my merry way to Walgreens for some fun medications.

After my adventure in the pharmacy, I took the N train to Times Square (where I transfer to the West Side trains). Naturally, I was in terrible pain, as the N, Q & R trains stopped running properly. Feeling loopy from surgery, I tried to take a cab home, which didn’t quite work out for me. In the middle of chaotic Herald Square, I schlepped it to Seventh Avenue and got on a 2/ Uptown train.

The subway was itself typical sardine can. I desperately wanted a seat. The thespian in me had an idea. Back in 1988, when I was 4. I pretended to be dizzy, playing to my unsuspecting cousin’s emotions. All I wanted was a soda and I knew I could get it by being dramatic. I was ready for performance, but no need. The subway emptied at Times Square and I got a seat.

Arriving at my apartment in Harlem, I opened up the fridge and ate cheese. I had to consume the cheddar like a mouse, since I could barely move my jaw. Two pills went were taken and the pain was gone. Eventually, I started feeling normal. However, booze and crunchy foods were out of the question.

Until the next episode of dental surgery, I will jam out to “Geek Stink Breath” by Green Day. The music video reminds me of my journey into the land of dentistry and teeth pulling.

My Very Own Mary Poppins Bag

Marie Antoinette’s lavish wig collection, traveling banjo players and a used copy of Catcher in the Rye, would fit perfectly in Mary Poppin’s bag. The unique fashion item, featured in both the film and book are a hoarder’s dream. You could fit your whole life in there, then take a magical umbrella and fly around London.

Years ago, I wandered around New York with my Pan Am messenger bag. Like Mary Poppins bag, I too thought that everything including the kitchen sink could fit in. Old copies of the New York Times, snacks, a notebook, a couple books and an iPod charger were placed in strategically. Then one day, I found out that bags break.

While walking in SoHo, I felt my bag lower and then rip. I nearly cried. I ended up with a new bag and decided to make it a shrine to organizational thinking, which lasted 15 minutes, just like fame. After years, with a messenger bag, I switched over to having a backpack again. I felt like a college kid again. Then my backpack felt like an elephant was living in its tight quarters.

Therefore, I wondered New York without a bag. Then one day, after coming home from gay bingo, I noticed my pockets. They were filled to the brim with crap. “So, I decided the time had come to invest in a bag.

One afternoon, I stopped by the Strand. It’s one of my favorite bookstores in the city. I wanted one of their easy to carry, colorful tote bags, which they are renowned for. The smell of old books welcomed me into the old shop, like lavender on a spring’s day. A particular bag stood out from the rest.

William Shakespeare, Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, Homer, Herman Melville looked more like mighty super heroes, than dead writers. Growing up, their words inspired me to not only drift away into imagination land, but also take on writing. Emily Bronte and Jane Austen spoke to me “Love, buy the bag, it might inspire you having writers tagging along on your every New York adventure.”

“You might be inspired to write the next Pride Prejudice,” said Jane. ” Or Wuthering Heights, dear,” replied Emily. “Ye ol boy, buy the bag and then a notebook to write a saucy sonnet.” said dearest William. ” Just buy the bloody bag and don’t go before the wallpaper,” said Oscar. Herman and Homer simply zapped me. Soon, I bought the bag. The literary superheroes cheered.

I took my tote bag everywhere with me. They adored the New York adventures as much as I did. Having a smaller bag also meant, I was forced to only put a few items in. Sorry Mary Poppins you can keep your magical bag, I love life with my tote.

Quack Says Duck

New York weather is radical like Sylvia Plath, Jackson Pollack & Joan Crawford at a dinner party. What could be the most beautiful day; eventually ends becoming a humidity induced rain shower, followed by a rainbow, but more rain. On one of those quintessentially humid (& seemingly rainy) New York afternoons, I waited for Tony outside the Plaza hotel.

The forecast called for rain showers. In my own grand tradition, I left my umbrella on the subway. As I waited for Tony to arrive from Queens, I was praying to the weather gods. Please weather Gods don’t rain on my parade. Naturally if Barbara Streisand landed from the heavens and started singing “Don’t rain on my parade,” I’d be ok with that. Tony showed up with a surprise.

“Here, it’s going to be raining.” He handed me an umbrella. Unlike the generic umbrella bought at the local bodega, this umbrella was bursting with character.

The handle had the face of a duck. I smiled and proclaimed, “Oh my it’s a ducky umbrella.” Though, the rain didn’t appear that day, we had a wonderful day at the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art). While admiring all the avant-garde gems at the New York legend, I was most excited about the umbrella. While an hour previously, I had fear torrential rain with my new cute umbrella, I longed for it.

Ducky (as I lovingly named my umbrella) & I wandered the streets of Manhattan together. He kept semi-dry and refreshed in the most intense of storms. One day, my life changed.

I took Ducky to my favorite deli in Midtown. It’s where I go before work to enjoy a bagel & coffee. The forecast called for severe thunderstorms, but the morning was bursting with sunshine. I took Ducky out anyways. Hours after leaving the deli, I forgot Ducky. “Oh no, my quack is missing.”

However, the weather was still sunny and gorgeous, till I left the office. As I got on the subway to meet a friend for coffee, it looked like rain was on its way. I thought, Ducky was gone for good, no need to check the deli. As I exited the 6 train at 23rd street, the skies over Manhattan were dark and haunting. While, I sat with Jenny over coffee, a major thunderstorm hit. No umbrella in sight.

While walking down a rain soaked Broadway, I stepped into a Duane Reade & bought a new umbrella. “$11 bucks for an umbrella?” that’s not right, I told the cashier. She didn’t really care & I bought a very boring umbrella to keep dry.

As I walked toward the West Village for supper, the umbrella wouldn’t open all the way, leaving me partially soaked. Walking past the perfectly adorned brownstone residences, I proclaimed “Ducky, I miss you.”

As time went on, I returned to my deli. There in a shelf close to the cashier was Ducky. He was safe & sound. I almost kissed his beak, until I wondered where that beak had been.

From then on, Ducky & I enjoyed our rainy days together. We loved walking from the East Village to the West Village with rain pouring & fashion by David Bowie playing on the iPod. What can I say? We’re always going to be New York boys.

Cherry Blossom Boy

“Oy, I am schvitzing!” said I, while walking home on a random Tuesday night. New York magically transformed itself from Antarctica sans the penguins into a sunny paradise with a Margarita or two (or three).

The heat penetrated through my buttoned up shirt. Oddly enough, there was a charm to the change in temperature. The gritty city was beaming like a ballerina on stage at Lincoln Center.

However, as the journey to my apartment commenced, it hit me. “Oh no, winter is over.” My cardigans and sweaters will go back in the closet (unlike their owner) and hibernate till late fall. Nothing quite compared to strolling the West Village & East Village in my fall/winter wardrobe. Tears flowed down my cynical cheeks.

I finally arrived in my apartment and stared out the window. The sky was simply cinematic and devoid of cotton balls. At that moment, I realized it was time to embrace change. Rather than turning on my window unit, I walked out of my apartment building and enjoyed the early evening.

I took my nightly crosstown walk to the West Village. Although the sidewalks had awoken from winter’s slumber, I still missed the cold dearly.  Then I ventured into Washington Square Park madness, which captured my attention.

There were Skateboarders, street musicians & banjos vs. drums competing for the undying attention of my eardrum. Sword fights with glow sticks turned the park into a rave meets Star Wars film set.

I sat on a park bench and celebrated the dose of massive stimuli. If heat brought about all this fun, then I would fancy more spring weather. As I wandered more, the city truly morphed itself into a giant block party.

The next day, I woke up to more enchanting blue skies. I excitedly stepped out in a light sweater, only to run back upstairs and put a pea coat on. Spring only came for a day and went back into hibernation. Winter winds would dominate the weather trends in New York for weeks to come.

A few weeks later, spring arrived again and I embraced the comeback. Cherry blossoms colored the sidewalk with impressionist inspiration. Cafe tables spilled into the sidewalks invoking a bustling cafe culture from the East Village to Hell’s Kitchen & beyond. I went back to weekend morning walks along the Hudson.

Alphabet Soup

In super market aisles across America-land, lives a can full of words. Alphabet soup is the dream that after school specials are made of. Not only, is it a tomato broth meet pasta marriage, but a very educational way to eat and learn.

The most thrilling part about the literary soup is find interesting letters to play with. Growing up it was always a delight to spell out words with my soup. Sometimes, I would find amazing acronyms and adjectives to play with. Other times, I thoroughly enjoyed discovering unexpected nouns.

Living in New York is similar to diving into a sea of alphabet soup. There’s always an unexpected and very joyous adventure.  The sweet sounds of piano playing in the heart of Washington Square Park, serenading the jaded senses.

Strolling into a Lower East Side art gallery for free booze, only to realize my buddies just happened to be there. Then there are always the quirkier moments, i.e . naked painted people as an art exhibit all to themselves.

However, sometimes we become someone’s inspiration. Audria and I had a day of brunching and working on creative projects. After reaching our creative goals and doing a little happy dance, we decided to reward ourselves with a walk to Tompskins Square Park in Alphabet City.

While enjoying the lovely blue skies, which over naked trees & gentrified graffiti, we found Zen on a bench. While we talked, a very bohemian photographer approached Audria. ” Excuse me, could I photograph your shoes?” he asked. Audria wore a pair of distinctive leopard print ballet slippers. She gladly obliged.

Soon, we were asked both asked to be photographed. He took candid pictures of us conversing on a park bench. ” I hope I don’t come off as creepy,” he asked, looking a bit embarrassed. Being an extrovert, I told him ” no, go ahead take more pictures.” So he did. Soon Audria, her shoes and I went from muse to friends with the photographer.

We had so much fun, talking, that an older gentleman sitting next us, joined in on the conversation. He gave us a whole history of the neighborhood from which buildings were burnt down thirty years to freighting stories of a decaying New York.

As our conversation became endless, it hit me. From sitting in a park bench, we made two new fascinating friends. It all happened in a very unexpected and New York kind of way.

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