Thursday, October 16, 2008

Do You Smell What Barack is Cooking?

A faint stench permeates the smoggy air of the city. It's not the least not in the traditional sense anyway. It's the smell of politics, and as election day looms ever closer, it thickens and spreads into every corner of the city. I have always felt rather removed from election business, only bothered by it when I chose to flip on the TV to watch a debate or happened to drive by a yard sign. But here, politics are unavoidable. I would expect to encounter the unabashed preachings of campaign teams in places like Union Square or Washington Square, where rallies are continually held for one cause or another. But the most surprising choice for a soap box has been the subway. I cannot sit down on a train car (if I were ever lucky enough to actually get a seat in the first place) without hearing someone strike up a conversation with his neighbor about Joe Six Pack...or is it Joe the Plumber? Flyers, T-shirts, and, yes, even condoms are being passed out that are plastered with the faces of the presidential candidates. I am often passed up because people think I look too young to vote, but I am never spared their speeches on foreign policy, medical care, and tax breaks. I am beginning to think I could qualify to be a political correspondent for CNN or Fox News.

Even cooler than Election Tuesday is Free Tuesday at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. The Gardens are only about 4 blocks from my apartment, and I can walk straight through Prospect Park to get there. Jonathan Prim and I spent a few hours walking through it. An entire garden is dedicated to roses. There is also a Shakespeare Garden that is comprised of plants and flowers mentioned in the works of the Bard. The whole thing is stunning, I'm planning on going back in the spring to take pictures when everything is blooming instead of dying. Little gems like this keep Gotham City interesting. I forgot my camera (ugh), but here are 2 that I snagged from Jonathan.

We also went to Battery Park, which is where you go to take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I'm saving the trip to Ellis Island, I want to devote an entire day to it. I snapped a quick pick of Lady Liberty below...she's kind of hard to see, but she's on the left:

In other news, I journeyed to the West Village on a mission to take some pictures of something inspiring. On a plain chain-link fence that guards a police station, I found it. Tiles For America is a September 11th memorial. People from all around the world decorated tiles with words of encouragement, prayers, memories, names of the deceased, and messages of hope. Some of them just painted something beautiful in honor of those who perished. All of these tiles were collected and hung on this rusty fence on West 11th street, and there they perch as a reminder, as a challenge, as as a plea to those who pass to strive for a better world. I'll let a few of the pictures do the rest of the talking.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Desperate HouseLives

This has been a long but very exciting week and a half. First, I found out that I'm going to be an aunt. Second, I met Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, and Suri. Since I'm sure you can guess how the first thing happened, allow me to explain the second.

Katie is in a play on Broadway right now ("All My Sons") and Monday is Broadway's day off. She brought Suri to the restaurant while I was hostessing. She and Suri were already upstairs when I got there, but imagine my surprise when the first person I greet at Alice's is Tom Cruise, surrounded by flashes from cameras of 50 paparazzi and fans waiting outside. I have no idea how everyone knew they were coming...I work there and I didn't even know. They had the whole second floor to themselves, but they brought Suri downstairs and let her walk around the restaurant to look at all of the Alice in Wonderland pictures and merchandise. Katie even wore some of our fairy wings in the restaurant. They were such nice people, and it was cool to see them playing with Suri. Tom even shook hands with my manager and I before leaving. The story is everywhere on the internet if you want to see some pictures.

An old friend of mine brought up a good point when, after reading my blog, she told me in a Facebook message, "Isn't it funny how we all find entertainment in each others' lives?" Meeting Tom and Katie made me think about the millions of people worldwide who bought their US Weekly or watched Entertainment Tonight and found the most exciting part of their day to be news of TomKat leaving a quaint New York restaurant. What's ironic, to me, is that Tom and Katie worked so hard to be where they are, whether they like it now or not. And now, they are trying desperately to have just one dinner, one moment of normalcy as a family. And those of us who aren't stalked by television crews spend our time blogging about them and wishing we could have the whole top floor of the restaurant shut down for us. We are all curious about each other. It's my belief that this is partly why all art forms are as revered and addicting as they are. We love to explore our options, to see what life might be like in a different time or place, under different circumstances. We love to wonder "what if", even when we are completely happy with where we are in life.

Mark Twain put it best when he said, "There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy." Here you are, reading the blog of a girl who has done nothing so far except try to reach for the stars, and who hasn't so much as lifted a foot off the ground yet. And I love to read or hear stories about home, about trips to the lake for three day weekends or what size the developing babies are, how business is doing and the concerts you go to. Perhaps this chronic restlessness, this insatiable curiosity about the human condition, is what keeps us moving on from one seemingly dull day to the next. Perhaps we all want to live life so much, that one life is just not enough.