Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Week 21 Milder weather finally

                            "Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box."  Deepak Chopra

Still feel like I’m recovering from a couple of very busy weeks.  How did I work full-time, and run the All Night Party all those years (among other things)?  One answer could be that I was 15-20 years younger.  That’s okay, I do thrive in being busy and productive; which is good as I have been invited to take on some more projects; more on that later.

Seen while on errands

 I used to hate errands.  Dealing with traffic, parking, in and out.  Of course, I appreciate that being on Sabbatical, and having the huge gift of time changes everything.  But, simply jumping on a train for a couple of stops, then walking; past the Plaza, Central Park, then down 5th Avenue, somehow makes it more exciting.  I actually giggled as I passed a Guy my age nonchalantly walking down the street smoking a joint.  “Yes, Bob, the times, they are a’changin”! 

Following my errands I went to one of my favorite places, the Library for a free reading.  From the NYPL website: Break-A-Leg Productions presents: "Delicious Comedy Reading Series" (Love Lasts Beyond February 14) -"The Square Root Of Love," by Daniel Meltzer, an O. Henry and Pushcart Prize winning author of many stories, memoirs, essays, poems, and plays. This stage reading portrays four preludes to love from youth to old age, from innocence to maturity.

·         In The Square Root of Love, two genius level college students discover that Man or Woman does not live by intellectual pursuits alone. 
·         A Good Time for a Change finds a successful executive and her handsome young male secretary ready to make a change. 
·         The Battling Brinkmires are George and Marsha Brinkmire, a middle aged couple who have come to Haiti to get a "quickie" divorce.  This one has a surprise ending. 
·         In Waiting for to Go, we are on a jet waiting to take off for Florida. He's a retired plumbing contractor who thinks his life is over she's a recent widow returning to her home in Hallandale."

It doesn’t get much better than that!  My Memoir Class is also keeping me busy.  Just getting there and back takes up a good part of my Wednesday.  No complaint, as it’s interesting, with lovely Ladies.
The Algonquin
Lobby of the NY Bar Assoc.
I joined my new friend and hairdresser at her Toastmaster’s meeting for a luncheon.  I have always been fascinated by Toastmasters.  We’ll see.  As always, I love seeing different buildings in the city. The SEC Rough Riders Toastmasters meets at the NY Bar Building in Midtown.  It’s beautiful.  Because I was right across the street, I decided to do some reading in a place I just recently read was one of the best places in the world to read!  The Algonquin Hotel, made famous by Dorothy Parker and Friends for their lunchtime Round Table.  It is lovely.

Kris and I finally caught up, and lunched as ladies at the little French restaurant, Lucien, in the East Village.  It was a long, leisurely one with wine.  The perfect French onion soup and cassoulet, followed by tarte tartin were just what the doctor ordered for a drizzly, foggy day.  A lovely nap was the icing on the cake.
Emir Gamsızoğlu's photo.

On a perfectly mild day, my Philosophy friend and I celebrated after class with a great lunch salad at Hi-Life in our 'hood.  We then went down to the Village for some culture.  Classical pianist Emir Gamsizolgu led us in a Birthday party for Chopin at Caffe Vivaldi.  I was delighted when my Friend announced it was the most relaxed she had been in a very long time.  A perfect Saturday afternoon.
From Gallery website
To complete my week I ventured down to Essex Street Market (which is very awesome) to meet with a new friend at Cuchifritos Gallery & Project Space. We met and melded well while working wth Artivists for Vday.  We are planning another project together.  Another dream getting fulfilled; having a life in the arts?  A very interesting performance piece is taking place in the gallery.  A young photographer, Kathleen Ching, has a solo exhibit, Pain is Invisible, presented and supported by the Richard and Mica Hadar Foundation.   Very interesting.
Walking to my train through the LES into Soho, enjoying the mild weather, I passed a gritty little bar, Sweet and Vicious, advertising hot spiced cider and a heated patio. Don't mind if I do! I thoroughly enjoyed my first outdoor cocktail (spiked with whiskey) while catching up on some reading. Lovely way to end a nice Sunday.



Monday, February 24, 2014

VDay One Billion Rising for Justice

“That we find freedom, aliveness and power not from what contains, locates, or protects us but from what dissolves, reveals and expands us.” Eve Ensler

Ms. Eve Ensler

After the heady experience of the wonderful Athena Film Festival, I knew I must buckle down a bit to gear up for VDay’s  One Billion Rising for Justice (OBR4J).  Having happily accepted the position of coordinating volunteers, I wanted to do a good job for this wonderful organization.  Eve Ensler started this organization 10 years ago.  From its website:  V-Day's mission is simple. It demands that violence against women and girls must end. To do this, once a year, in February, March, and April, Eve allows groups around the world to produce a performance of the play (The Vagina Monologues), as well as other works created by V-Day(for example “The Good Body”), and use the proceeds for local individual projects and programs that work to end violence against women and girls, often shelters and rape crisis centers. What began as one event in New York City in 1998 today includes over 5,800 V-Day events annually.

That is not to say I didn’t keep my now regular evenings at my Sojourn for music with friends. I have talked about Keren and her Sugar Daddies.  On Tuesday nights,
Gus Fafalios plays classic rock with his drummer, and often guests.  Last week was a wonderful singer, Allyssa.  This week it was with varied artists, including a young transplant from San Francisco, Andy Liszwski, who works in medical sales by day, and sings in subways for his art!
My PhotoSince it was the second week of the month, I headed to the Village to Cornelia Sreet Cafe early on Tuesday evening for Thomas Pryor’s “City Stories: Stoop to Nuts.”  On this evening, Tommy’s guests were all women artists.  From the program:  Sherryl Marshall is a New York singer who has worn any musical hats in her career.  Agatha Nowicki is an award winning actress/writer.  Regina Ress award winning storyteller, actor, writer, and educator, has performed as taught from Brazil to Broadway, in English and Spanish, in settings from grade schools to senior centers, prisons to Carnegie Hall, homeless shelters to the White House.” 
Marie's CrisisOf course, being in the neighborhood, I had to spend a bit of time at Marie’s Crisis where I was invited to sit at the piano with a couple of fascinating Ladies who invited me to some of their “Chick events”.  I hope that pans out.  I ended my night “at home” enjoying my music at Sojourn
Before buckling down to tackle VDay, and its volunteers, I headed up to the Kingsbridge Library in the Bronx where I had been admitted to a Memoir Writing class.  On Wednesday afternoons for the next couple of months, I will be spending time learning and honing my skills, surrounded by like-minded women.  I am excited and delighted. 
Photo: Hard to believe this was a week ago. Kind of wishing we had taken this picture at the beginning of the day, but the v-team still looks gorgeous even after a long day of rising. Love you guys!
VDay.org "Crew"
After all ready spending a couple of hours on the MTA to get to the Bronx and back, I headed back out to the gritty neighborhood of Buschwick in Brooklyn to stuff gift bags at the
Cobra Club/Yoga and Spirits, a cool neighborhood joint.  I have so enjoyed getting to know the small core of VDay.org. 
Yet another winter storm allowed me to hibernate the day before One Billion Rising for Justice.  I spent of the day on my computer, organizing, emailing, reassuring people that the show would go on, in spite of the weather!  Getting on the road at 6am, I decided to take a cab as the trains have been a bit iffy and crazy this winter.  One young Man walked past me on 2nd Avenue frustratingly muttering “Have the cabs gone on strike without telling us?”  I asked the Guy across the street trying to find a cab going in the same direction as me if he wanted to share, if a cab ever came.  One finally did, so we climbed in.  That 10 minute ride was very interesting; we managed to get our life stories shared.  (When I shared this encounter with my dear Friend, she explained that  many years ago, she studied this very phenomena is a graduate psychology class.  Apparently, it is not uncommon to share life stories with strangers in trains, plains, and automobiles!)

VDay’s One Billion Rising for Justice held at the Manhattan Center was special, emotional, fulfilling, and in spite of the weather, filled with amazing People.  From the Program: 
                                                              Just Love

                                Release. Embody. Love. February 14 NYC

               Join us for a journey from release through embodiment to love.                                                  

                                   Each talk throughout the day is connected.

The morning session was  Releasing the Trauma  with Maya Azucena. Eve Ensler, Dr. Hyun Kyung, Gabrielle Bernstein, Patricia Moreno, and Dr. Christiane Northrup.  The afternoon was Bringing in the Love with Maya Azucena, Meggan Watterson, Rha Goddess, Danielle LaPorte, Patricia Morena, and Eve Ensler to lead us in dance.

All day there were trained therapists and counselors on hand as well as bodyworkers (practitioners in Vikaz, Craniosacral Biodynamics,  Dynamic Embodiment, and massage therapy). 

Melissa Reiker leading dancers
While Just Love was going during the day, an amazing group of “Artivists” were snaking, dancing, flash mobbing all over the city.  Popup arts events were held including theatre presentations, media installations.  What a real treat, pleasure, and privilege to work with such wonderful People.    

Photo: Today's shout out is to the amazing NYC Artivist Committee and all of the incredible people who came out in full force throughout the city on 2/14.  I love you all, you made NYC RISE and I could not be more proud to be a part of this movement with you! Christina F. Liu, Joya Powell, Melissa Riker, Sumathy Kumar, Cat Watters, Vilma Lince, Heidi Russell, Lolan BuSe and SO many more (sorry if I missed you, make yourself known in the comments!!!!) Awesome photo by Paula Allen
Times Square Flash Mob

Heidi Russell

Come out to dance tonight at the Hammerstein! NYC dances!
If that wasn’t enough we then moved into a Dance Party: Rise NYC in the Hammerstein Ballroom. Batala NYC (the Women's Drumming Group I had met in December), DJ's Natasha Blank and Beverly Bond, Maya Azucena, Ramya Ramana, Eve Ensler,and many others entertained and led us in dance. Simply wonderful, magical day and night.

Photo: Eve thanking the brilliant V-day team x
VDay. Org at Rise NYC Dance Party


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weekend 19 More Film Festivals

                   "Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. 
                                                   Always work with it, not against it."                      
                                                                       Eckhart Tolle
My heart always breaks a bit when I met retirees who are miserable and bored.  Interestingly? most of the time these people are men.  My heart sings, with some envy, when others tell me that they have no idea how they ever found the time to work as their lives were so full.  That is exactly how I feel about my self-gifted sabbatical.  I am so busy!
Pic from the spring
On a Saturday night recently, with no real plans, I decided to go down to the Village for some music.  I again went to Club 55 to see Ayana since it was the first Saturday of the month.  Andrew Yamato writes in New York magazine: “ Unlike other, more devoutly traditional venues, this unpretentious basement gem showcases not only new players, but also new styles—which is what jazz used to be all about in the first place. “
Late night Piano Man
Had a bite to eat, great bartender, cool place, underwhelmed with my food, so won’t mention the place.  I may give it another try.  Then I decided to treat myself to Marie’s Crisis, as it always gives me a smile.  As I entered I was hugged by a lovely Lady, Director of Volunteers at the Food Bank’s Food and Wine Festival last fall.  I now really know people as I roam around the city.  Love it!
The next day at 4th U’s planning meeting for the VDay weekend at the end of March (presenting Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” and “The Good Body”).  A beautiful young Lady directing one of the plays shared that she was distraught as she has just been texted that the founding director of her small theatre company had just died.  Philip Seymour Hoffman.  Surprsingly, I felt haunted, as I literally had “walked in his footsteps” the last night of his life.  I appreciate that many, many people also did.  My Ladies were true fans.  I always admired him.   Such a sad waste of a talented life.  My prayers are with his family, most especially his chidlren.
From the Boston Globe
Superbowl.  I could care less, even when the Patriots are in it.  I simply don’t like, nor understand football..  Growing up with two brothers, our home revolved around their chosen and beloved sports of baseball and hockey.  I did go down to Times Square to explore “Superbowl Boulevard.” It was impressive. This city knows how to go all out!   So, with no interest in the game, I did walk a few doors down to a Super Bowl Party.  Regulars at my Sojourn whom I had just met, invited me to their Party.  I hate cocktail parties with strangers.  God knows I can talk to a wall, but put me in a “cocktail party” (like a net-working event) situation, I freeze.  But, I was in NYC to explore, and God knows I had left my comfort zone behind in Milton last October.  I am so glad, and as always, grateful I went.  I had a thoroughly wonderful time meeting yet more new People, and learning fascinating things about my fellow Sojourners and neighbors.  And, who couldn’t love the Yellow Lab Puppy add with the Clydsdales?!  (Casey, may you be having a blast in puppy-heaven..)
Another of my many dreams in this life of mine has been to work in the Arts.  I have no desire to be in front of anything, although the huge story-telling movement is pulling at me?!  Many people have told me over the years that I’m a great story teller; my family simply raises their eyebrows.  When I would share the dream of “not having to work,” many people would ask, “What would you do?”  Even now when I meet people and tell them of my Sabbatical many (usually men) ask “What do you do all day?”  Well, these days fly.  And, my answer was, and still is “ a lot of volunteering.”  What’s fascinating, as I didn’t plan this, much of my volunteering revolves around Films.
On yet another wintry day, after having a lovely Thai lunch with a woman I did volunteer work with at YearUp in Boston, I took advantage of the warmer temperatures!, and took a very long, leisurely walk through Central Park.  It was a true Winter Wonderland.  I was on my way to another wonderful evening with Rooftop Films.  Rooftop along with Piper Heidsieck Champagnes was screening the beautiful and eloquent Roger Ebert documentary “Life Itself” at the Paley Center for Media.  I was fortunate to meet Chaz Ebert, Roger’s wife who graciously and beautifully took part in the Q&A with the director, Steve James, following the film. 

Athena Film Festival, co-founded by Melissa Silverstein (Women and Hollywood) and Kathryn Kolbert (Director of Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College) approached Rooftop Films looking for good volunteers.  My name was among many given.  Oh, what a wonderful weekend I spent on the Barnard College campus.  Working with many familiar faces and great people and meeting new wonderful Ladies, I was on the hospitality committee and had the privilege and pleasure of guiding some very interesting Ladies.

From the Internet
Participating in a panel discussion “Barnard in the Biz,” Naomi Foner was gracious and friendly.  From her bio at the festival: “From Barnard’s class of’66, Naomi Foner is an American screenwriter who has written for several feature films, including Running on Empty (for which she received an Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and won the Golden Globe), Losing Isaiah, and most recently Bee Season.  She was involved at Children’s Television Workshop in the development of Sesame Street and The Electric Company (where she played the character Naomi in the Love of Chair segment and was associate producer for two years).  She is most proud of her children, Maggie and Jake Gyllenahaal, her grandgirls, and the Blue Ribbon she earned for her carrots at the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair.

From Robin's website
        Robin Marantz Henig moderated the discussion following the film Decoding Annie Parker.“She is a contributing writer for  The New York Times Magazine.  Her articles about health and medicine have appeared in numerous publications.  She has publishes nine books, one of which, The Monk in the Garden: The Lost and Found Genius of Gregor Mendel, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Award.  She received a Career Achievement Awrd from the American Society of Journalists and Authors as well as a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship.” (And, she was the Barnard college roommate of Kitty Kolbert!).

     Maria Agui Carter, a fellow Bostonian, introduced and had a wonderful discussion following her documentary Rebel.  From the program: “Shrouded in mystery and long the subject of debate, the amazing story of Loreta Velazquez, Confederate soldier turned Union Spy, is one of the Civil War’s most gripping forgotten narratives. Who was she? Why did she fight? And what made her so dangerous that she has been virtually erased from history?  This is one film I did not get to see, but definitely will, It has been shown on PBS, and will also be shown at several National Park sites.
From the internet
Poster        Finally on Sunday, I had the pleasure of spending time with Director Susan Seidelman and her husband Jonathan Brett  with whom she often collaborates (most recently the short The Dutch Master for which Mira Sorvino won an Oscar)..  She gave a great Q&A following her film The Hot Flashes: ‘An unlikely basketball team of unappreciated middle-aged Texas women challenge the current high school state champs to a series of games to raise money for breast cancer prevention.  I watched the film in its entirety that night at home on Netflix.  Fun movie, providing good giggles with a great cast (Brooke Shields, Wanda Sykes, Daryl Hannah, Camryn Manheim, Virginia Madsen).  Susan’s other films include: The Smithereens, Desperately Seeking Susan, and Boynton Beach Club.

           The movies I was delighted to see:
banner-belle-film_mobile_1         Opening Film, NYC premiere: Belle: Belle is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay, an 18th Century Admiral in the British Navy.  This was beautiful, highly recommended.  The Director, Amma Asante, introduced and had a wonderful discussion following the film.

decoding-annie-parker         Centerpiece Film: DecodingAnnie Parker: “Based on actual events, Decoding Annie Parker tells the story of two very different women on seemingly similar paths towards ground-breaking discoveries affecting women with breast cancer.    It was devastatingly beautiful, gut-wrenching, and of course, important.  Another interesting discussion moderated by Robin Marantz Henig with Director Steven Bernstein (Monster, Like Water for Chocolate), Robert Benezra of the Cancer Biology & Genetics Program at Sloan Kettering Institute, and Dr. Alison Estabrook who is Chief of the Comprehensive Breast Center at St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospital and Professor of Clinical Surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.

The Book Thief (2013) Poster
From imbd.com
in a world         In a World, Directed by and starring Lake Bell: “In A World… brings its viewer into an idiosyncratic world where one woman fights the odds and finally finds her voice.  Great fun, a wonderful way to end a long day 

The Book Thief: “Based on the bestselling book, The Book Thief tells the inspirational story of a spirited and courageous young girl who transforms the lives of everyone around her when she is sent to live with a foster family in World War II Germany.  It was devastatingly beautiful.  One of the best adaptations, of book to film, I think I have ever seen.
GAF at convention         Closing film: Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way “tells the story of this trailblazer who served as role model for women and men across the nation and around the world.  Director Donna Zacarro (Geraldine’s Daughter) and Marie C. Wilson, founder of the White House Project and Athena Center Fellow joined the audience for yet another discussion following the film.  I had no intention of staying for this film but am really glad that I did!
(A fun aside for me...I ran into a Lady who came to the Superbowl Party at my neighbors at every event I went to that week.  She didn’t talk much, to me, at the Party other than to say she worked in the film world.  By the end of the week, she had warmed up a bit.)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Week 18 Career explorations

"You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right."  Rosa Parks

Winter twilight
Yet again, I’m falling behind on my updates! I am getting so comfortable in my Sabbatical.  Keeping busy with many volunteer activities, meeting wonderful People, listening to music in my “Cheers”, Sojourn, not setting alarms most days. (I love that’s as it was one of my dreams..not having to set an alarm every day.)  Definitely enjoy fulfilling dreams.  And, then there’s the healing.  It is happening, thank God.  I am finding my Philosophy class helps so much, the camaraderie of the class is wonderful, and my almost daily practice of meditation. 
Le Pain Quotidien
on 77th (2&3)
That is not to say, it is still pain-free!  I constantly research job opportunities. What is it I want to do?  When I research Dental opportunities I feel true dread.  I cannot go back.. The People I meet give me affirmation in what I am doing is “right and brave.”  It will come to me, I know.  On that note, I met with my Philosophy Friend and her BF who is quite an entrepreneur, and may be a new experience in work for me, at a neighborhood Le Pain Quotidien.  I love that “chain” of patisseries.  Part of its philosophy: “Le Pain Quotidien means the daily bread. And to us, that means everything. It’s much more than mere sustenance; it’s a way of life. As our loaves emerge from the ovens, warm and fragrant, friends gather around our communal tables to share in the time-honored tradition of breaking bread.”
This winter is getting to me, as it is so many.  The Polar Vertex’s are getting me down.  I am finding myself truly hibernating.  But, hibernating here in NYC, knowing how much is outside my door is so different to my mental health than being stuck inside, alone, in the ‘burb of most of my life. Funny how that is.  Snowy days are at least warmer, and can be truly beautiful.  On one such day, I met a high school Friend for tea (her birthday!), as she was in the city on business.  It was a real treat, and a lovely couple of hours spent at Perk Kafe in Midtown.
Some things are being cancelled due to weather, but I have still managed to spend some time across the street at the Yorkville Library tutoring Seniors on the computer.  I always go in with trepidation, and sometimes what my Senior needs is more than I know to share.  But always, I leave feeling good, having made yet another acquaintance in the city.
             A lovely Lady I have chatted with a few times at my Sojourn is an Event Planner.  Her work is stunning.  Nancy and I met at Sojourn one night to chat about the fact that she needed a Publicist.  She was kind and gracious and we pondered if this could be something for me?  I shadowed her on one of those fiercely cold days..observing how delicate roses can be; was very impressed with how she handled some crisis’; loved the street in the flower district I got introduced to; was delighted to spend time at the Cipriani 42nd Street helping to set up the Gala for America Needs You.  Nancy then generously treated me to dinner at a wonderful Greek restaurant in our neighborhood (where one of her collaborators work, so we got to visit again), Yefsi Estiatorio.  I must share a quick small world story:  Nancy’s second collaborator raised her two children in the North End of Boston.  They most likely all spent many days together in the Waterfront Park! (memories of Barbara, God love her, flooding back.) Ultimately, after writing a very rough draft of a PR piece, researching what PR really entails..I decided that is not where I want to head professionally.  Nancy agreed we’d still be Sojourn friends.
Keren and the Sugar Daddies
           I have found another place to see one of my favorite new bands, Keren and the Sugar Daddies.  I joined some of my Sojourn friends a couple of times and ventured over to the West side to see them at Prohibition.  I am officially a groupie for the first time in my life !
The Orchid by Georgia O'Keefe
            Have I mentioned how much I respect and enjoy all the many facets of the NYPL?  I became a member, which allows for discounts on special lectures and “Live at the NYPL” events.  On a Friday recently, I headed out to attend one such event, and decided to first spend some time at the MOMA which is free on Fridays from 4-8pm.  Another exhibit I wanted towas closing. American Modern: Hopper to O'Keeffe  was a treat.  However, one of the participants in the show, one of my all-time favorites who actually lives at the MOMA, brought me to tears, yet again.  This time bittersweet tears of sorrow, mourning.  Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth evokes so very many memories of Maine.
             Off to the magnificent Library on 5th Avenue to what is becoming a favorite auditorium, Celeste Bartos Forum.  I had a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours with James McBride and The Good Lord Bird Band.  Author of the classic memoir, "The Color Of Water", this was a celebration of his 2013 book, the Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, "The Good Lord Bird."

And we're back with a Southern Comfort favorite: Gumbo Z'Herbes!!
First course: Gumbo Z'Herbes

            A very special treat was a night spent at City Grit with my one of my special Friends from the Food Film Festival.  From its website: City Grit is a culinary salon- a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste.”   Sarah Simmons invited me after working with her at the FFF here in NYC on October.  A perfect winter Sunday Supper of fried chicken was held at a really cool space in SOHO, and old Catholic school.  (Alas City Grits will lose its space there when the building gets demolished, but they’re on the lookout for another.)  And, Sarah’s fried chicken dinners have been so popular her plan is to open a small restaurant dedicated to that!  Our incredible meal was made so very more enjoyable by our table-mates, of whom we have friended on Facebook, and hope to see again!  Lovely People with poignant stories.

Main course!
Nomadic Matt's Travel Site             I took my first online course.  “Stress-free Budget Travel” was a two day webinar with Matt Kepnes, a Boston boy who now bases himself in NYC, but has been traveling the world for years.  He has an award-winning blog-site, Nomadic Matt. 
Classic R&B, Motown & Soul: ADA DYER & THE "A" BAND -...
Ada Dyer
            (I forgot to mention another memorable first I enjoyed a few Sunday nights ago, BB Kings’ Blues Club.  I found a great show on my Play by Play, and thoroughly enjoyed Ada Dyer and the A Band at this classic joint in Midtown.  My “date” for the evening was a wonderful young woman who has musical aspirations of her own (including a possible course of study at Berkely in Boston).  Her boyfriend was in the A Band).