Bird & Stone

bird and stone braceletsI love these bracelets by the female-founded company Bird & Stone. Produced in the USA, each one is tied to a “cause” and a non-profit organization that receives proceeds from the sale. Aside from the fact that I love the politics behind every statement and cause they support, this is the kind of small business entrepreneurship that I want to support. The products are ethically manufactured, and their simple designs are elegant and powerful. And since I have a “nevertheless she persisted” sticker in my office, I practically hyperventilated while ordering my bracelet, which helps support Planned Parenthood of NYC.

Other issues addressed are women in politics, women’s health, girls’ education, poverty alleviation, stopping sexual violence, and climate change. I encourage you to check them out at birdandstone.com.

Good, and Lazy, but Good for You

daily-harvest.jpg

So this is how I get my produce these days. These cups are loaded with fruit, veggies, herbs, nuts, other stuff that I often don’t want to think about, and it’s all good for you. And it tastes good when you add some kind of milk to it (I add almond milk) and blend it. Yum, really. Sometime it’s a dark, lumpy green, and sometimes it’s a really offensive puce color. Like that Crayola color, burnt umber, that no one ever used. Often it looks nice, like raspberry or light green. But mostly it borders on the edges of the green family, because there’s always a leafy something in it. Kale, spinach, whatever makes us big and strong.

I do feel guilty, briefly, about getting these cups delivered, but only until I realize that without them, I wouldn’t be drinking these smoothies at all. I’d rarely buy the ingredients to make them so well-balanced, and throwing a banana and an apple in a blender with some protein powder and chia seeds in no way resembles these delightful drinks.

I also get my food in a box, so what can I say? No one ever taught me how to cook, and I understand that take-out seven days a week might be hazardous to one’s health. I do have to put the food in a pan and cook it, which is presenting a challenge, but so far I’ve only destroyed one pan and a couple of pot holders.

Try #Daily Harvest. They also have lattes and cookies. How could you go wrong?

Remember

When I was a child, people often asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I think they found it comical when I said that I wanted to be a college professor like my father. Har-dee-har-har. “Why, she’s a real cutie, Les,” they’d slap my dad on the back. “You’d better watch out – she’ll take your job someday soon.”

Yeah. As if.

palette

Then, when I was older, we’d have to write essays about people we admired. Can you imagine kids today having to do that? I feel bad for them. I’m sure the selections would all be pop stars or actors. There was a time I wanted to be Gloria Steinem. And then Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Briefly, in college, I aspired to be Georgia O’Keeffe, but then I decided the lonely life of a painter was not for me. Or more accurately, a blunt instructor told me I’d never make a living as an artist, so I’d better look for something else to do where I had “actual talent.” He said that just before he told me I couldn’t major in Art, even though I’d taken all the prerequisites for three years. I’d have to start over in a new field.

Yeah. As if.

ballerina

So I danced, for several years. I wasn’t bad. Not good enough to go on a stage, but I did read a lot about the prima ballerinas that one was supposed to admire. I really wanted to emulate Mikhail Baryshnikov – flying and jumping around with pure abandon. Not many roles for female dancers doing that, except where I ended up. In the circus.

Flying through the air on a trapeze is exhilarating – until I fell from 50 feet without a net. Landed on the clown car.

Back to the discussion of heroes and aspirations. Can a young man become an astronaut if that’s who he admires in grammar school? Sure, if he studies and has a passion (and aptitude) for the science required to achieve that goal. Right? But what if he wants to become rich and famous, like Justin Timberlake or Lebron James? Hard work and passion can get him to a certain point, but what are the odds that he could break into the music business and become a success, or be chosen to play for an NBA team? What I mean is, are those goals realistic? Not to be too judgmental – well, all right, I’m going there – but think about how many athletes and musicians are positive role models. If a kid aspires to be “just like Mike,” what exactly does that mean?

I’m trying to stay away from politics in this blog, but I think the childish, vindictive, and unstable occupant of the White House has done nothing but harm to the national psyche. What do we think its long-term effect is going to be on the youth who are taking it all in – the lying, the thuggish bullying, and the narcissism? I hope that no child chooses to write “When I grow up I want to be Just Like DT” (I won’t write out his name).

I hope they aspire to be much better people than that.

A Beautiful Thing

metrocardWhen I was a kid and my father would bring me into the city for a visit to a museum or to the theater, we’d take the train and then the subway, using those old tokens. I still have one or two somewhere, in the bottom of my coin bottle. I couldn’t get rid of them. Even though the MetroCards are wonderful conveniences (but they also have allowed the MTA to easily and substantially increase prices over the years), the tokens were cool.

I like to walk, when the weather is good. This is a perfect city for walking, except for the tourists. In the summer, it’s good, because lots of people leave. I had a car when I first moved here, but it met with an unfortunate combination of explosives and fire. So much for the combustion engine, eh? I use the subway when I have to go long distances, but that hardly happens, except for visiting Lincoln Center or MOMA.

When I was a child, my father let me figure out how many tokens we’d need for our trips to the city. We saw the Nutcracker, skated at Rockefeller Center (even though there was a better place in Princeton, it was still cool to go there at Christmas and skate near the tree), and went to dinner at the top of the World Trade Center once to celebrate some award I’d gotten. It still gives me a lump in the throat, what was lost there.

It’s a wonderful city. Not mine yet, but I hope it will be someday.

On This Small Island

Housing costs a lot of money. On this little island, twelve miles long and not very wide, it’s amazing what some people will pay for an apartment. Millions. As others live in cardboard above airshafts and in tents in the parks, some of us are lucky enough to have real homes. How does this happen, how can we square that up?

The commute into New York for the “working class” is getting longer and longer, as folks need to go further out to find affordable housing. Students and young faculty are lucky to be offered places to live at the many academic institutions around town, as I did when I first rode into Manhattan on two screeching wheels, ready to conquer the world. But I wanted to do it without exposing my past – and that meant I had to live off what I made. No digging into the secret bank accounts, Cassie!

When I did have to hide from some bad people from my past, I didn’t go “underground,” as they say. I went to the Pierre Hotel, seen in the photo below. Known as one of the most expensive in New York, it has rooms to rent by the night, week, month, or longer. It also has extravagant condos for sale. If you want to see how the 1% live, Google this place, and get ready to retch. (Yes, I stayed there. What can I say? It was an emergency.)

pierre hotel outside

It’s hard to be “normal” and live according to your means in Manhattan. No to the designer shoes and clothes!! No to the chic new dining establishments! No to the hottest hair salon in the Village! You can eat if you buy your food at C-Town, just check the expiration dates; be thankful that “vintage” clothes are still a thing and shop accordingly.

My determination to start fresh and live a modest life lasted an entire year. It was going along swimmingly until the murder of the leader of my writer’s group. I still didn’t think there was any reason to alter my beige existence, even after my best buddy Michael criticized the decor in my faculty apartment. I mean, really? It’s a stack of boxes (see below).

NYU Faculty housing

The location is primo and the price cannot be beat (and there’s parking beneath the building, if you can afford both the fees and the car). But if and when the feces hit the fan at work, not only is your job suddenly in jeopardy, you’d better be ready to join the fellas living on the airshaft. I guess that’s one way to keep the workers in line.

I prefer the Pierre.

Bubbly

There’s nothing quite like a nice glass of pink prosecco. It’s better than Champagne, I may venture, because it is so light and fruity. There’s some difference in how each one is processed, which accounts for the difference in flavor as well as price, but I’m not an expert so if you want to know the deets, you’ll need to Google it yourself. I’m also not cheap, but I do think the lower price point makes it easier to have the sparkle of prosecco more often than the special-occasion treat of Champagne. Right? So get yourself a couple of bottles and prepare for the holidays in style. Having just celebrated a birthday myself – I’m a Pearl Harbor baby (the day, not the year, thank you very much!) – I recently had reason to enjoy a glass embellished with a couple of ruby red cranberries. Very festive-looking, and changing the taste not a bit. Consider that part of your decorating scheme, from Cassie, with love.

Culture clash?

Soho original

How does the proverbial Cigar Store Indian still exist, in modern Manhattan of all places, where we conned the Native Americans out of their homes and killed them off with our foreign diseases? This substantial statue in Soho, a little worse for wear around the nasal area but otherwise in pretty good shape, guards a small cigar shop filled with twenty-somethings pretending to be adults smoking cigars. In the City that practically wets itself (oh, alright, it does wet itself) celebrating Columbus Day with a parade and all the fluffernutter that entails, we forget that there were people living here before the Europeans invaded.

This statue should’ve been moved to Washington DC along with the National Museum of the American Indian back in the 1990s.

I’m sure there must be other Cigar Store Indians left in the City. If anyone spots one, send me a pic.