Monday, May 22, 2017

Talking Bella out of school to see The Mets

5/10/17 20:53

This was one of those events which took years to accomplish.  Three years ago, we were at church.  I was with Bella and we were walking to hall where there’s coffee and snacks after service.  I helped Ruth, an old woman retrieve her walker and she thanked me. She looked at Bella and me.  I’m not sure what triggered her memory but she said, “I remember my father taking me out of school to see the Brooklyn Dodgers play.”  That memory triggered Bella.  And on our way home, she asked if I can do the same for her.  Like I said it was years in the making.  Major League Baseball does not play many games during the game and barely any during the school year.  But I remembered.  I didn’t need to be reminded by Bella.  The child does not let anything go.  I called Ali and let her know what I wanted to do.  I put in for a day off which was approved.  She slept in that morning and we left the house around 11:00.  Before we left the house, she wanted to know who we were seeing. The Mets.  Oh, she said, I thought we were seeing the Long Island Ducks.  I explained that R.A Dickey was pitching, and he was a special pitcher since he throws a knuckle ball.  The ball floats in the air and is hard for a batter to pick up and make contact with.  I don’t think she cared.  She was off from school.  On the way in, I asked her what a full count was.  This is a question I ask her each time we are at a game.  We discussed baseball in general, the rules and the teams we were going to see.  As luck would have it, there were discount tickets in Group On, we paid $20.00 to sit at field level, but we were far back from any action, way back in the right field.  Paid $25.00 to park and I explained how The Mets use to play in Shea Stadium.  We found the bases which are marked in the parking lot.  Took pictures around the stadium and discussed Jackie Robinson.  I was at Shea when President Clinton and the commissioner retired number 42 from all teams.  She may have been off from school, but there’s always time to learn.  I bought a sausage and pepper and a Stella beer, $19.00.  She didn’t want anything to eat.  We took our seats, the sun was slightly breaking through the clouds.  It was a good day for baseball, but not for the Mets.  Matt Harvey had a great first inning and let the air out after that.  He served a three run dinger to the Brave’s catcher who was batting 166.  RA pitched well.  I saw him the day he won his 20th on September, 27th 2012 when he pitched for the Mets and won the Cy Young award that year.  Yes, I took that day off as well.  I read his autobiography, which is a great book.  You can say I am a fan of his, so I was happy to hear he was pitching, and it was his first start at Citi Field since he was traded five years ago.   The Mets were getting blown out of the water and we left.  We picked up Ali at work and were home in time to make it to confirmation class.   The next Sunday, I saw Ruth take her seat before service began and I made my way down to speak to her.  I have to let you know, you inspired me to take my daughter out of school to see a baseball game.  She held my hands with in her fragile grasp and remembered telling me about the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Now it’s your turn.

Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Alabama Shakes brings down Carnegie Hall

March 25, 2017
I apologize for the delay since I should have wrote this last weekend.  I’m trying to write a blog entry once a week.  Once a week.  That is all.  Yet, even the single entry can get tangled in other demands.  Writing is a discipline.  Either I have it or I get distracted or lost in other habits.  Anyway, here is my review of the Tibet House concert on March 16th…as always thank you for reading it.
I was in Pennsylvania on business and yet I had tickets to see the show at Carnegie Hall.  When I bought the single seat – a few weeks back – I bought the most expensive - in the orchestra. I knew I had to write down the event my book since I would forget.  I had made plans with a client to visit the company and yet, even with the date marked down, I still forgot.  But, I was not going to miss this event.  The lineup was incredible, Iggy Pop, New Order, Alabama Shakes, Patty Smith, Laurie Anderson, and others and of course the esteemed composer Philip Glass.  It was a benefit concert for the Tibet House and yet it was also a celebration of Philip Glass.
After driving a few hours up the NJ Turnpike, I drove up to the George Washington and drove down the West side of Manhattan.  It was dusk.  The lights on the bridge were faint as well as the dim lights from the multitudes of apartments and offices rectangled in the steep skyscrapers.  I made it to the parking garage and walked three blocks to Carnegie Hall.  I ate dinner at a rest stop in New Jersey. I was not sure, how much time I would have before the show started.  I had time.  Bought a t-shirt, found my seat and was impressed with the expansive white room, the gold and the high ceiling as well as the sparse stage.  I was there with enough time.  I could have sat down and ate. 
The seats in the hall were cramped.  They were built for another epoch.  I was pulled into the conversation from a couple who sat in front of me.  Eventually, it was time for a bathroom break.  It was already ten minutes after the show was scheduled to begin.  Maybe it begins at 8?  Go ahead and take a piss. I decided to get up and make my way out from the middle of the aisle where I sat.  I made my way to the bathroom.  I heard applause as I stood there.  I was late.  I couldn’t go anywhere.  I stood there. Quick rinse in the sink and a swift jog back to my door where I was…stopped.  You can’t go in.  The monks are chanting.  The doors were closed.  The usher walked away and I tried to sneak in.  Nope.  There was another usher on the other side keeping people like me out and away from receiving a blessing.  Eventually, the doors were opened and I was back in my cramped seat.
Most of the night had shouts to resist Trump and the shared dismay that we have Donald J as our president.  Laurie Anderson was the first act and performed a beautiful piece on her late husband, Lou Reed who I saw perform at another Tibet House benefit concert.  Alabama Shakes could have performed the whole show since they brought the house down.  I was there to see them and Iggy Pop who performed with New Order and heard a rendition of Joy Division’s She’s Lost Control.  Ben Harper performed and introduced his daughter who sang with him.  The theme of family was evident.  Philip Glass’ son played, Patty Smith’ daughter and son played as well.  Patty Smith closed the night with a Bob Dylan song and final was, People have the power!

 I was not sure what to expect driving back.  The city streets were narrow since there was a snow storm just a couple of days before.  It took me two hours or so to get back.  I climbed into the bed leaving the fabled city so many miles away. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Vulnerable Men?

3/11/17 15:53

Earlier, I had a coffee with Jeff, a friend from church.  It has been a couple of years since we hung out.  But I wanted to reconnect.  I wanted to have a man to man conversation.  As men, we tend to keep our guard up.  Why do you want to meet?  What’s in it for me?  What do you need?  It’s understandable.  We tend to be on guard, defending our lives and fiercely defending our privacy.  As an example, a few years ago when I met with PJ, an old friend, which is another example of me trying to reconnect and check in; he needed assurances before we met; he texted back, “Tell me two things, you’re not coming out and you’re not dying.”  I assured him I wasn’t dying, but I was always fond of his muscles.  We met a few weeks later - with his wife.  Ali could not make it. I’ve seen him once before by chance while I was on a business trip in Malvern, PA.
I’d like to find out what does it take to maintain a friendship with a guy.  Guys don’t call their friends.  No one calls anyone - it's all through a text.  How do guys get together, it just happens or they make plans for some event.  Most of us are too busy and we use the weekends for down time, relaxation and spending valuable time with our families, but we need more.  We need to let down the guards and just be.  Be vulnerable?  Dare to be?  This is where I was coming from.  I want something more authentic than getting a few beers or seeing a concert and I wanted a one to one.
When I reached out to Jeff, he said – sure let’s get together.  I thought we’d sit down and get carried off in some small talk, but we delved down on politics, our families and our church.  We both came out after two hours knowing this is the start of something.  We had some ideas for the church.  I recommended we go out to dinner with our wives.  I hope this happens soon, since life lulls us back to our comfort zones, nudges us back into repetitive routines and soon enough another month passes.  Soon a year passes.  And the idea is put on the shelf for another time when say the weather changes or whenever “the time is right.”  Try something new.  Make that call and reach out to that person you want to speak to.  This is the time.

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Every Two Years, this time Sally Field and Matthew Broderick, a Night in the city with my wife

2/26/17 21:53

Yesterday, we left the house just before 11:00 in the morning.  I filled up on gas and we bought bagels before our drive into the city.  We had the day planned for a few weeks.  We did the same thing two years ago.  Catching two plays and spending the night in the city.  The first play was Glass Menagerie, starring Sally Fields.  The second was Evening at the Talk House starring Matthew Broderick. 
You know one of those days when everything fell into place.  There was a coupon for half off 24 hour parking which I printed.  The traffic to the city was very light and we made great time.  The parking garage on East 38th took my car.  We walked up to the hotel.  The Courtyard on east 40th and to our surprise there a room was available.  We had a room with a view instead of an alley, we could see buildings.  The low hurling clouds which carried looming rain; scraped over steel roofs. 
We made excellent time.  Made it to the Belasco Theatre and waited in line for ten minutes.  We walked up to the balcony. I forgot, but I bought tickets for the first row up.  First row on the balcony.  Our seats were very good.  We saw an incredible play.  I was struck with Sally Field and how she captured the part of Amanda Wingfield.  Reading who’s who in the cast, I read this is Madison Ferris’ Broadway debut.  This is an actor who is disabled and yet like an ignorant fool, I thought she played the part.  She was incredible and I wish her a successful career.  I can’t forget Joe Mantello who throughout the play kept the audience hanging on the edges of our seats. 
After the play we headed back to the hotel and looked at some places to eat along Fifth Avenue.  We walked down to Grand central, I thought it would be a good idea to dine in one of the restaurants under the still blue constellation ceiling.  Nothing really struck us, and certainly not in the lower dining area.  We found the Brooklyn Diner on 42nd Street.  The same place we ate two years ago.  I had matzo soup and a Stella and ordered a Cuban chicken meal.  Ali ordered chicken soup and a burger and a Coke.  The soup was delicious and I thought our waiter was the same we had last time we dined there.  The soups were large portions – large enough – could easily have made it our entrĂ©es.  The rest of the dinner was just a delicious and we headed outside and felt the first heavy drops of rain. 
Ali needed batteries for her hearing aid, bought them and walked around Times Square in the rain.  We had our umbrellas and were prepared, unlike a lot others.  I heard some call out, I didn’t know it was going to rain!  With time to kill before the next event, we stopped into a deli for some coffee, tea and a split a brownie.  Our timing was perfect.  We sat on stools facing the street and watched the pouring, windswept rain rip across the street, racing strangers and tourists, some wearing ponchos on open double decker busses were huddled together.  The deli was filling up with strangers to get away from the rain and to buy anything.  Thunder and lightning struck. I looked at my watch and suggested we leave at 7 which will give us more than enough time to walk to The Pershing Square Signature Center.
Gradually, the rain lightened.  More and more were making their way down the sidewalk and we left our deli and ventured into the light rain and leapt over puddles and made out way inside the center.  We waited.  When the theatre was opened we were greeted by Jill Elkenberry and Annapurna Sriram who were serving drinks to the audience who were coming in.  The stage was set between two sections where we sat in the second row.  I was impressed.  A couple came in and were taking their seats next to us and asked if we had mingled with the cast who were walking around the set.  No, I said.  They went back down and started talking to John Epperson.  I met Larry Pine who thanked me for coming and then spoke to Michael Tucker who I have seen on TV.  We spoke about the weather what else do strangers talk about?  The play itself was bizarre.  It was funny at times and yet both Ali and I were sort of distracted by a subplot within the story which did not add up.  I’d like to speak to Wallace Shawn about this play and make some sense of it.  Not that I would.  As we were walking away from the theatre, I overheard a man declare, “I hate Matthew Broderick, he plays the same fucking character in all of his plays!” 
We went to Junior’s like we did two years before and took our seats at the bar.  I had a vanilla shake and tea.  Ali had a tea and ordered a slice of their famous cheesecake which we split.  I noticed one of the bartenders who was serving in another section and said to Ali, I think that’s the woman who served us two years ago.  No, she said.  And eventually she came down and took my credit card.  I asked her how long she has been working there, she smiled and said two years.  I said I remembered her.  Not that she would remember us, but we discussed the plays we saw and were going to see for the rest of the year.  Before we left, I asked her name, Jess.  She works there on Saturday nights, so if you’re ever in the need for a suggestion of what to see on Broadway…talk to Jess.  And we made our way back to the hotel as a massive crowd was flooding its way out from The Lion King.  Traffic came to a stop and the crowd was dense.  Eventually, we made it back to our room and I lowered the shade and called it a night.  A rare night when my wife and I could get away from the house and kids and hear the rippling winds on the 26th floor in New York City.  Maybe it will be in another two years?  I hope not.

Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Riding the ferry to Bridgeport

2/18/17 08:15 on board the ferry to Bridgeport
It was one of those nights when the bright moon light was shining on my side of the bed.  I’m not sure what time I was woken up by the light.  I watched as the crescent drifted across the night sky, getting up once to use the bathroom and going back to sleep.  Tried to turn to the opposite direction, but Ali was snoring.  She apologized and turned over.  It was one of those nights when sleep was broken and I am sitting here on this floating metal machine as we sail across the Long Island Sound to Bridgeport.  Somewhere off the coast of Connecticut there is a Russian spy ship or trawler. I don’t see any boats or tankers.  In the summer, Jet Ski jumpers are ripping through the breaking waves in the wake of the ferry.  Sailboats are lingering in light breezes.  Boats are everywhere.  It is stark outside.  The sky is light blue.  The weather is expected to be beautiful this weekend which is one reason for the crowd on this ferry.  We assume we’d get on early.  We assumed we would beat the crowds.  Take the 0800 and be on our way to Boston.  Seeing this packed ferry, all seats taken… I am anticipating heavy traffic.  The abundance of travelling families is on packed display, with kids and dogs and friends and whatever else they have brought with them for this holiday weekend.  President’s Day is one of those holidays that sneak up on us.  Many of us are not aware that Monday is a Federal Holiday and schools, banks and some companies are closed.  Sharp Clinical is closed.  I packed some running gear since I like to run in new towns and yet curious to see how much snow the area received.  If there is too much snow, I will hit the treadmill for a few miles, three miles. I don’t like running on the machine.  It is boring, facing the same wall, watching a small screen the audio on mute and my thoughts are a circular pattern of; this is boring, why is it taking so long?  Only a quarter of mile?  Here we are.  Waiting to get to the other side.  I can hear the rampant conversations and the lulls. There is laughter.  There is anticipation of seeing Mo Cheeks and the rest of our family.  I want to hit a book store.  There I said it, the man with too many books wants to hit another store.  We sit packed together on this long bench.  

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Be Authentic and Take a Stand

2/12/16 21:37

I could hear the screams from up here.  21 Pilots just won a Grammy and our youngest was screaming.  I’d rather clip my toes or fold my laundry than watch any of the award shows.  I don’t care to watch the Superbowl either, so it’s not just the shows, but the insane blitz of celebrity and glamour.  There doesn’t appear to be anything or anyone who is authentic, and yet I watched Meryl Streep take a stand against our current President.  She spoke from her heart.  Last night I was speaking to a family member and he cringed when thinking of Trump as our leader.  I am sorry I am going off on something else.  But here it is.  Thoughts on a Sunday night before the new week begins.  I will be travelling for work and meeting with prospective clients.  There is nothing authentic about Trump.  There is said it.  I pulled it all together.  Be real.  Get real.  Take a stand!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

2/4/17 07:31

I know what you’re thinking.  We’re like two old friends who sit across from one another over a beer.  We haven’t seen each other for a few months.  It’s good to catch up, but there gets to be a point in the conversation when the breaks and the silence seeps in and we smile aware of the spreading distance.  I’ll help to make you more comfortable and do what I can to bring you back.  It’s the way life works. Some of us move on and we return searching for the familiar reassurance; we are alright.  Aren’t we?  Let me get this off my chest.  Was I disappointed with the results of the last election?  Absolutely and I am reminded of this most days.  It’s like a nightmare we are living through, but this struggle will continue for years.  Being the eternal optimist, I have already heard and seen the progress.  We are making our voices heard.  Instead of focusing on that here and now, I want you to know that I am alright.  I’ve removed myself from Facebook, but not in an official way.  I’ve tried this before and like a gnat, the FB continues to come back to remind me of its existence.  I am on Twitter, but scroll through most of the advertisements.  I’m focused on sending out query letters for my new novel and Ali and Amanda have helped immensely with editing both the manuscript as well as the letter.  I was sending letters and receiving minimal responses, and knew there was something amiss.  Ali caught the spelling errors and streamlined the summary.  I am reading more.  I’m struggling through Wicked by Gregory Maguire, this is my third attempt and yet I will get through it.  Still waiting for the “controversial” scene which is the reason why I am painfully getting through it.  Not my style of writing.  There I said it.  Last weekend Amanda was home and I read Maya Angelou’s Letter to My Daughter.  The book itself was not a letter nor did she have a daughter, but it was a series of essays on her life and living a virtuous life.  When I think of her work, I think of Amanda.  Here are some quotes from the book which I hope you will read.

“…courage is the most important of all the virtues.”

I would recommend reading her essay from the book, National Spirit, “For the past four decades our national spirit and natural joy have ebbed.  Our national expectations have diminished.  Our hope for the future has waned to such a degree that we risk sneers and snorts of derision when we confess that we are hoping for a brighter tomorrow.”

Thank you for reading this

Talking Bella out of school to see The Mets

5/10/17 20:53 This was one of those events which took years to accomplish.  Three years ago, we were at church.  I was with Bella ...