Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Taking Manhattan

If you were to ask me, I am not a birthday person. The last time I celebrated a birthday in any big way was in September 2002 when I hosted a fundraiser for three of my favorite non-profits by inviting 200 people to my San Francisco flat. Anal, over programmed person that I am, people were invited in shifts, but there was a point when a likely 90 people were in various parts of the flat and garden at one point It was a great event, but within weeks, many aspects of my life cam unraveling, with both of my parents, a difficult aunt that I was nonetheless very close two, both of my cats, and my significant other disappearing from my life.

Two years ago, when I refused to mark my 50th birthday, I was certain that my life was the embodiment of the Cavafy poem "Candles" in which there are many extinguished candles behind me and few leading me forward. In fact, it was hard to see any light.

This year I decided to visit Manhattan to celebrate year 52 and my 20th year of working for World Neighbors. Neatly, a blogger meet up emerged organically, and it was an amazing, touching four day weekend.

Nasty weather, humidity and an hour delay did not manage to dampen my spirits when I arrived Friday night and headed up to the East side Friday night Joy's place (she embodies the lyric from 42nd Street of "sexy ladies, from the 80s...) where she, Mark and Gary buzzed me in and were serenading me with a birthday greeting at the top of the stairs with handsome four-legged Basil peeking through their legs to smile at me and flash his potato chip loving tongue.

Afterwards, Joy took me to see a friend of hers named Robert at the Rodeo Bar and I videotaped it and you can see on my previous post. Late as the night may have gone on, I kept reminding myself that it was not even midnight yet in San Francisco.

After a breakfast with Nicole in Little Italy, I went to the Tenement Museum in the morning and then saw Boeing, Boeing that Gary and Mark treated me to see. It was a wonderful show, hilarious and perfectly staged.

That evening our blogger group had the meet up at the Soho Grand. Steve, Jill, Husein, Ched, Kim, Brice, and Ed were all there. After a few drinks, we had greasy food in Chinatown.

Sunday I saw the Van Gogh exhibit at the MOMA and then saw the amazing production of August, Osage County. Spoiler alert: In the third act, when one character said "He's not your cousin, he's your brother!" a man behind me, in a thick Okie accent, belted out "Yep, that's Osage County." Seated in the third row, I was oblivious to the fact that the show went on for more than three and a half hours. I could have watched another five. And what a thrill to see Estelle Parson on stage for the first, and likely last, time in my life. At 80, she was a ball of energy, charging up and down the stairs, struggling with a daughter trying to strangle her, and nearly chewing up scenery in this amazing play.

That night I headed over the bridge to Park Slope to have dinner with W______ and had a few moments of icky nostalgia in what used to be the flat we shared on Garfield. .

Monday, I took a quick stroll through Central Park and then visited Gary’s school on 23rd Street. His kids were very sweet and smart and had many questions. I spoke a bit about my work with World Neighbors, and I was amazed that I was able to hold the attention of five-year-olds with some heavy global issues. Gary is an amazing teacher in action, and his co-teacher Lauren is just as gorgeous and graceful in action as she is in their videos. I spoke a bit about the issues of inequity between boys and girls in the Global South, and I was greatly impressed by the questions of the girls in the class. I hope it doesn't take that long, but when there is a woman in the White House, I wouldn't be surprised if it's one of Gary's former students.

Finally, I strolled through Wall Street which has an odd pall on the day the market took its biggest drop ever. Ironically, I was on CNN for an 18th of a second while strolling before the cameras.

The whole trip was way, way to short. The high point was truly the blogger meet up. We're not sure how we all came together, but we think it was likley the handsome and charming WAT in southern Cal.

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At 5:49 AM, Blogger Lora said...

oh hey! I throw shift parties all the time!

As for birthdays, I've given up on people in my home and I just send out an evite for everyone to meet up at the ballpark for the homegame that falls closest to my birthday.

No clean up, no expense, and everyone has a good time.

At 7:22 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

LORA - I probably need to try to ballpark option as well.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

Now we take Berlin.
(it had to be said :))

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Jill - "You see that line there moving through the station? I told you, I told you, told you, I was one of those..."

I couldn't resist that line either.

Love that song and loved meeting you!

At 4:18 PM, Blogger Gary said...

The only thing missing from this visit was the reenactments of certain scenes from VOTDs, but that said it seems like an experience chock full o' memories.

What a pleasure it was to meet you. I thank you for dinner, for sharing a bit of your knowledge with my students and for that impressive book. I actually used it today in a lesson(remember how they were taken aback at the sheer size of that thick book) and look forward to sharing the stories with them this year.

I can't get Gina Gershon in a stewardess outfit out of my head. :)

At 4:34 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Gary - Well, we'll save our Valley of the Dolls re-enactment for the next time.

You certainly did seem smitten by Gina. Are you changing teams?

So glad you and the kids are that book. They inspired me to follow through with my pledge to volunteer at 976 Valencia. Being with kids enriches our lives.

At 12:35 PM, Blogger marxsny said...

I'm glad you enjoyed August, I too felt as though I could have watched for the rest of the day. I don't know anyone else who has seen it so I guess your opinion validates mine.

At 12:46 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Mark - Did you see it with the original cast? As first I was disappointed that I didn't, but being in the third row to see Estelle Parsons at 80 give what will likely be her final great performance was a near religious experience.

At 3:46 PM, Blogger marxsny said...

I saw it with Estelle Parsons. Deanna Dunagan and Rondi Reed (Mattie Fae) who both won Tonys had left the production already. Estelle Parsons and Amy Morton were both amazing.

At 4:28 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Mark - I was just amazed that at 80 Estelle was running up and down those three flights of stairs so often, surviving being strangled by her daughter and having so much energy for being on stage three and a half hours.

At 7:08 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Hey, I want to be in on those VOTD reenactments. :)

(I want to be Barbara Parkins, even though she plays the most boring character.)

It was great meeting you!

At 7:39 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Steve - We will definitely need to have a VOTD re-enactment next time. Gary, Mark & Joy are definitely already on board. I think Jill and I may do "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf".

At 9:08 PM, Blogger Joy Keaton said...

I just got home from seeing August: Osage County! WHAT A HOOT! EAT THE **&&*ING FISH!

At 9:19 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Joy - Glad you enjoyed it. I laughed, I cried, it was better than... I really could have sat there for another 3.5 hours of family dysfunction.


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