Tuesday, July 17, 2012

BEAR

 (photo taken from Howling for Justice: Blogging for the Gray Wolf)



Before she even told me her name she told me most of her life story. I was on a layover waiting for flight 1557 in Salt Lake on my way home to Seattle.  She was returning from San Diego on her way home to Kalisbel, Montana. 

The day before I was sitting in a 5 star hotel in Colorado Springs, wallowing a little in self pity because I'm aging and struggling financially. On that same day, she was spreading some of her dead husband's ashes on the beaches of California - the rest of them lay in an urn on the seat next to us at the airport bar.

He died three months ago, unexpectedly, in the middle of the night next to her in bed. She shared her story with me in detail:  On the night he died they built a bonfire in the backyard and invited neighbors over for beers and company. He argued with one of them and she scolded him for it. They went to bed a little mad at one another; "never do that," she told me. "It's true what they say, don't ever go to bed angry."

He had a snoring problem and she woke because she was so used to hearing it every night and this night, the silence startled her. She pushed at him but he was unresponsive. When she turned  on the light she immediately noticed, he was blue. "I knew right then, he was dying" she said. "I heard the death rattle."  She called 911 and a neighbor who arrived shortly after performed  CPR for half an hour until the paramedics arrived. 

She stood over him and begged him not to go, but there was nothing she or anyone could do. Her husband died that night of a sudden heart attack.

Her name is Mary, her husband's name was Barry but she and everyone else call him Bear. They were soul mates, according to Mary. When they met 14 years ago she was engaged to someone else, but the minute she met Bear she knew he was the one for her - she quickly broke off her engagement and 3 months later Bear moved in with her. 

Bear was an artist with a passion for tile work. He loved animals, Mary and Dancing with the Stars. He told Mary that when he died he hoped he'd be greeted by Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of Animals because he'd much rather hang out with animals than people. In my imagination, based on the gleam in Mary's eye and smile on her face when she talks about Bear, I picture him as a big burly happy man with a heart of gold. 

She misses him terribly. In the last three months she's had three different memorials. Bear wanted to be buried in a pine box in the back yard but Mary said no way. She didn't want to have to visit him there if someone else owned the house. So in a compromise she created three tiny pine boxes and buried some of his ashes, along with a love letter she wrote to him, on their property. Later, Mary took more ashes and three-wheeled around their property scattering Bear while taking shots of whiskey.  Finally, she put a tiny amount of his ashes in a silver bear pendant that she wears on a chain around her neck. She plays with it while she tells stories about him.

Mary shared mistakes she feels she made with money and Bear and wishes she'd better prepared for that day.  She's stuck now with a house she can't afford, a lot of Bears financial debt, and anger at his absence. She's had to take another job (as a cashier at Kmart), to get by and is still unsure what she'll do to survive. She hasn't gone back to the house in months - it's too sad she says.

Eventually Mary had a flight to catch and so had to go. She left fairly abruptly. Not angry or sad, just matter of fact. She had a plane to catch, and after all we didn't know one another so there was no lingering. We hugged and simply said good bye, I told her I'd be thinking of her and wished her well - I didn't know what else to say.

I don't know why Mary chose me, out of the blue to share the intimate details of her life. But I do know that I'll  never again go to bed mad, and I certainly won't cry over my age or the contents of my bank account.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Oath: A Country Divided

Here's what I have to say in this debate about who is to blame in terms of the "hate" speech that is responsible for the political inspired violence in our country: Hold your people accountable - that's all I ask - and I will do the same. Should the company I keep, the officials I elect or the media I support become hateful or distrustful - I will hold them accountable - I ask you to do the same.

In honor of
Christina Taylor Greene - do it for her generation!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Delightful, Graceful, Moxieness


Last year at about this time, I choose my “word for the year.” The word I chose was “grace” -- and, apparently I didn’t know what I was thinking because had I known what the “gods” were planning for me, I would have realized that “grace” was far from what I was about to evoke for my life circa 2010. I don’t know -- maybe I tried, but I certainly wasn’t graceful or grace-filled this last year.

Or maybe I was. Let’s take a look…

The year began with the loss of my job. I’ll never forget it: I was sitting having lunch with my co-worker Shelley, before the start of the show I was producing at the time. I glanced at my phone and saw a text from my boss that said, “Meeting in the conference room, now.” I looked up at Shelley and said, “Damn, this is it, we’re going under.” And I think I was the only one who cried (not gracefully), even though I knew what was happening.

It was rough, because my work at Air America was so fun and creative and I produced a show I fully believed in, with a wonderful, kind host and co-workers who were (are) hilarious, smart, interesting and great at what they do – it was a huge loss, the demise of Air America (just sayin’).

Right then, in early 2010, my world felt a little out of sync. Maybe my word felt that way, too: I’m pretty sure I drew more on my 2009 word “moxie” as I tidied up my desk, collected severance and applied for unemployment. From January to April I enjoyed New York, very much. And though it’s a sort of a blur, let’s just say I was graceful as I did it, so there’s that to my credit.

In April I returned to Seattle, and as you’ll notice from the title of my blog, resent(ed) it. My intention was to find work in either Seattle or New York, but in reality I knew I had to take what came, so I did.

The first job I landed was a news editor position at a local Seattle TV/radio station -- and it didn’t go well. Truth is, I tried really hard to invoke grace but unfortunately I seemed to be in the middle of a wrestling match with Moxie (circa 2009) and in the end, Moxie won. Consequently, the first few months of the job I probably could have spent some more time keeping quiet and learning the ropes before I gave my critical opinion of what and how I thought things should be done. Though, thinking about it, in the end it was grace that kept me from walking off the job completely. So in November, Grace and I packed up our news editor bags and hit the road for greener pastures.

Looking back, those seven-ish months were hard for me – April through November. I wanted to be better in my job but knew my heart wasn’t in it and likely never would be. My friendships in Seattle had changed dramatically during the years I lived in New York and I just wanted to go back there. “Grace” was not a word I was evoking – at all (sorry, Grace). I think the word I was drawing from was “confusion” -- with a dash of sorrow.

2010 came with its relationship hardships as well. In November, I headed east to run the New York Marathon. And here I can comfortably tell you I did run it with grace. I was very mindful the entire time of going slow, taking it all in and breathing through every single borough of the City. I made it a graceful little victory in more ways than one. That said, I knew my visit wasn’t entirely about the race. I had unfinished business with a long-term boyfriend that was either going to bust it wide open or nail the coffin shut. In my mind I thought I would be fine either way, as long as it was definite. Well, definite it was. Without boring you with the details. I’ll just say it ended. Dramatically. In Times Square at about two o’clock in the morning. It did end though. Like a bull in a china shop. Coffin closed, nails lodged solidly intact.

So here we are, Grace and I, ending 2010 looking at one another like we’re strangers. We never really did hit it off. We tried though -- we really did -- but Grace, she was too meek and I, with all my moxie, became overbearing.

So now what do I do?

Well, I’ve thought about it. This year I’m not as much looking for a word I can draw upon. – (I initially thought of “want” as my word, but that’s just a recipe for disaster, isn’t it?) – instead I’m grabbing something I can own.

My word for 2011 (insert drum roll) is simply “Delight” (with a capital D) and I expect a great deal from it, so:

Dear Delight,

I’m ready, bring it on!

As Ever,

Tina.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Measuring Karma


I know, I know. I promised a picture a week. I promised pithy reflections on my shifting bi-Coastal life. I promised to write. And, well, I didn'tand so here we are. With the first blog post in (how shall I put this?) in way too long.


I know you likely forgot about me and my promises -- and so who really cares at this point, right?


Wrong. Because I have something to say.


Again.

So! Let me just preface this whole story by telling you that even though I’m back (for now) in not-as-crazy-as-New-York-in-just-about-all respects - Seattle, finding parking, especially close to my door, is not easy. I live in a busy area where that commodity is scarce. So when I come home and luck out on a spot, I'm a happy girl. I tell you this so you'll keep it in mind as I relate to you the woes of my day.

Alright. So, I come home today and find a spot close to my door, and that makes me feel good because today I'll have to unload (I’m being honest here) my laptop, my purse, two iPhones (long story), other random items from my car along with some garbage in the way of an empty single tall vanilla latte cup, a can of shaving cream . . . and....

I digress.

Point is, I found a great parking spot. But as I pull in, some guy starts yelling at me:

He: "YOU CAN'T PARK HERE!"
<<I roll down my window.>>

Me: "What?"
He: "You can't park here!"<<rude, snotty, almost-yelling tone>>
Me: "What are you talking about? It's a public parking spot."
He: "Yeah, I know. I just moved my truck from here."
Me: "Huh? Your truck isn't here. I'm parking here."
He: <<even more rudely, now times ten>> "NO! You can't park here. We're moving these stones."
Me: "What? What are you talking about? It's a public parking space. You aren't..."
He: <<interrupting, ‘cause he's rude and terrible>> MOVE!! YOU CAN'T PARK HERE. I LIVE RIGHT HERE."
Me: "Yeah, well I live right here, too, and this is a public spot."
<<some kind of additional rudeness ensues>>
Me: "You know, you don't have to yell at me If you were just nice in the first place, I wouldn't be fighting back, but you're an ass."
<<I then give up and go find another spot . . . but I'm pretty mad.>>

As I walked the almost full block from the new parking spot to my apartment, I was angry at myself for giving up. That guy was a jerk and if he had just kindly asked me not to park there, I would have had no problem and simply driven on. But no! He had to be some loud jerk and make me move. And then, of course, I had to replay the scenario over and over again in my head -- and change the ending to me winning the fight and the parking spot. The whole thing rolled around in my brain like a pinball for likely way too long.


Eventually, though, I forgot about it.

Until . . .


I get home late tonight, glance at the same spot – which now is empty -- and see a tape measure and metal box haphazardly left right there in the middle of the former battleground. So I occupy the spot and pick up the metal box, and inside is a picture of the very same Mr. Rude, his car registration, detailed drawings of a construction site and various other notes and phone numbers.


Now I’m feeling a little powerful: after being yelled at by this jerk, I'm suddenly in a position to help him out. I can leave his stuff in the rain to get ruined or stolen or I can be a nice person and track him down and make sure he gets his stuff back.


So what should I do?

I know what the RIGHT thing to do is, but I'm so tired of doing the RIGHT thing. What would happen if I did the WRONG thing? What would happen if I just left the stuff right outside where I found it to get soaked in the deluge that’s in our forecast?


I'm sure you know what I did. I tracked the jerk down and he came and picked up his crap this afternoon. But I was ALMOST a bad guy, and I kinda liked it; so no promises next time.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sunday 6.6.10


I know, I know I said a picture every week - let's just pretend I said that yesterday and now here we are. This rain is not easy, but then it creates a sky like this and you have to be thankful for it all...right?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

You Can Take The Girl Out of New York




I promised myself I wouldn't be one of those bloggers who posts, just to post. I mean really, this isn't a lesson in creativity, it's something I have to do like eating cheese or drinking wine - I mean brushing my teeth or shaving my legs (anyway you get the idea - it's pretty much a necessity). I tell you that because I'm ashamed of myself for not writing in the last few weeks.

So here we are - by now you realize (because all you do is keep track of me and my life) that I've moved back to Seattle from New York - and am still in denial about it. Seriously, no matter which eye I close that Space Needle is NOT morphing into the Empire State Building; all it does is move a little left or right:


Only half of me is officially IN Seattle because most of my furniture, a few x-boyfriends and some odds and ends are scattered from the Upper West Side to Brooklyn Heights with a few crumbs still layin' around the streets of Chelsea. I shouldn't sound so nostalgic though, really - I mean let's face it I complained about New York as much as I am beginning to complain about Seattle (I'm rarely fully content). Truth is my meat IS here - clothes, friends, family and favorite weiner dog so I am grateful for that.

As I begin to bring the rest of my heart and soul back to the Emerald city, fully aware of it's resistance, I'm doing my best to employ Grace (let's not forget it IS my word for the year). I, believe it or not, fully restrain myself when faced with a crosswalk that in any other city would welcome a saunter through; (red light and all). I've honked my horn only a handful of times even though Seattlelites insist upon merging when EVER they feel like it and I smile at the Barista who genuinely wants to know how my day is; no matter how early I've arrived at the shop.

All in all I'm sewing the experience of these two cities together and soon will cross out the New York and become The Only Livin' Girl in New York Seattle. But bear with me because it might take a little more time.

Meanwhile - I've decided to take a photo a week of my new life here. Which will likely be more interesting when I visit New York in June - ok, I'll stop. But really, a photo a week of my life no matter where I end up...promise.

{space needle photo taken by the wonderful Kristen Gill: check her out here!}

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What I'll Miss


Things I’ll Miss About New York

  • Art
  • Friends
  • The Brooklyn Bridge
  • Brooklyn in General
  • Fascatti Pizza – Henry St.
  • Henry Street Ale House
  • Waking up with anxiety only because I couldn’t choose what amazing thing I would do or see in the city
  • Brooklyn Heights
  • The feeling of satisfaction I felt consistently when I arrived where I wanted to go with out looking at a map
  • Being lost
  • The Village: every single stinky inch of it
  • Wine in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday with no judgment
  • That musical note the subway makes when it leave it’s stop
  • The Mariachi Band, break dancers, du-op singers in the subway
  • Broadway
  • Random street art like the girl in a cage in Little Italy
  • Brunch
  • Halal – pretty sure I don’t know what it is, but I’ll miss it anyway
  • The walk between Canal St. & Little Italy: one minute you they’re pushing fake purses on you the next Cannoli
  • The Highline
  • Cheese everywhere
  • Walking everywhere
  • The festival of San Gennaro: It’s like an urban Puyallup Fair
  • Complete and meaningless street fairs and random parades
  • The Carrot Peeler: RIP
  • Always feeling inspired
  • Central Park
  • Tini little parks that seem to just be there because New York City knows how to use space
  • The Guggenheim
  • Intellectual conversations with cab drivers who fought through horrible conditions in their country to get to the US
  • $5 mojito’s made at your blanket in Central Park
  • The Chelsea Galleries
  • Stormy – the old woman who has lived in the Chelsea Hotel forever and still thinks she’s a security guard
  • The Spotted Pig
  • The changing of the seasons – colors of the trees in Autumn, Flowers in Spring, Snow in Winter – heat in Summer
  • The skyline
  • Running over the Brooklyn Bridge whenever I wanted dodging tourists and being annoyed by them, then remembering I’m freaking running across the Brooklyn Bridge!!
  • Restaurants where you have to bring in your own beer/wine
  • Farting out loud whenever you want because you can’t hear a thing on Manhattan streets (not that I ever did that)
  • Walking across the street against a light because you can
  • Housing Works – where I bought a lot of clothes
  • The Brooklyn Promenade
  • Little kids who seem to own the city and the subways after school
  • Diversity
  • Listening to 7 different languages on the train (I like to count them)
  • Central Park before or after 9 when the dogs are free to play
  • Random sightings of famous people: my favorite Paul McCartney in the subway tunnel
  • Fashion
  • Cabs

Things I won’t Miss About New York

  • Cabs
  • Fashion
  • $7 bottles of Amstel Light
  • Getting run over by bikes while running in Central Park
  • The tunnels of garbage
  • Always feeling inadequate
  • All that waste
  • Sore feet
  • The impossibility of buying all the groceries you need and want and being able to carry them home
  • The unpredictable weather
  • Cabs
  • Rats
  • Knowing that there is a whole world going on in the city that I’m not invited to and even if I was invited would not have anything to wear to “it”
  • Overpriced everything
  • Cabs
  • Times Square
  • Playing bumper cars in the grocery store no matter where you are
  • Being late no mater how hard I tried

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Farewell Tour

(photo take by Francisco Cuevas )

I'm back in New York on what I originally called my "Goodbye Tour," but am now changing it to my "Farewell Tour," because I refuse to say goodbye to this town. I may only be back in love with New York because I've returned in the best time of year when she's clearly been spit and polished a bit. Flowers are blooming, the sun is out and even the grouchy ladies at the Fairway Market on the Upper West Side have a tiny skip in their step. Fine by me though, I'm perfectly happy feeling such infatuation with the City while I'm "on tour".

The good news about my time here right now is that I have a lot of it - time that is - and though my Kindergarten teachers never believed I could do it, will use my time wisely. Yesterday was officially Day 1 and I lapped up and savored every minute.

I set out early yesterday morning, flip flops on (it was 80 degrees out), back pack full with my Time Out New York, my book (Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed), 2 pens (so as not to repeat the pen disaster of 2008) and 2 camera's. I started at Columbus Circle where I met up with a friend early in the morning partly because she's an early riser and partly because I love the off-leash hours at the park when the dogs are frolicking in the sunshine. And they were, we were politely visited by a skittish wiener dog, two older golden labs and sniffy white poodle.

After the Park I was determined to head to my next favorite place in New York, Madison Square Park. I've had some of my very favorite moments in this park where I was often visited by my friends Loneliness or Self Pity who were often run off by Inspiration and Wonder. This day I knew there was some funky art installations around the park but wasn't sure what exactly I was looking for. So, I hopped on the first train to downtown thinking I could get off at either 14th or 23rd, close enough to walk over to the park. Well, silly me, my inner New York compass is all jumbled up right now and I ended up on West 4th & 6th Ave (a pretty long walk to 23rd and 5th).

Knowing I had plenty of time I decided to skip, I mean walk, up town. So I did, I walked up 6th Ave which I had done many times in my life living in New York but today was different. I was looking at the city with such love in my heart and so much more appreciation. I felt almost like I did when I arrived and began my love affair with her. The Empire State Building, which for a while became just a landmark that was always there, looked more majestic than ever and I regretted not appreciating it more when I saw it over 300 times on my walk to work every day.

As I continued to walk up 6th Ave. I loved knowing where I was and what was coming next. I purposely stopped at the stationary store to buy a journal, the Starbucks to use the potty and of course a little deli for a snack. Finally I got to my destination, The Flat Iron Building which shadows Madison Square Park and looked up to see this:

My heart skipped a beat, a jumper? Nope, more great art in New York. I knew there was something like this going on in the city but wasn't aware of the magnitude. Antony Gormely has placed over 25 sculptures cast from his own body throughout buildings in and around Madison Square Park. As I looked around from the corner of 23rd and 5th and throughout the park I began to spot them and take pictures:



I love these installations so much, first because there is something incredible about looking up to see them hidden around the city, but also because of Gormley's intention: He's illustrating the relationship between the individual and the urban landscape - and what a better place to do that than in New York? He talks about the contradictions created by life in the city; which according to Howard Halle of Time out New York are alienation, ambition, anonymity, fame. To me it's that thing about always having to be aware of my surroundings and my place in the world, however humbling, while either living or visiting Manhattan. Anyway I'm babbling now, but I was totally inspired and taken by these works, and just felt so lucky to have lived in a city that supports this type of art.

After my moments of joy I continued walking north, feet pretty much worse for wear:

This is getting long, so I'll just tell you, my day ended with more fun New York nuggets including an overpriced glass of wine outside at the Shake Shack, attempting to get my old camera repaired near the Empire State Building only to be denied because they just didn't feel like it and and playing bumper carts while fighting my way through the Fairway Market on the Upper West Side.

But possibly my favorite moment of the whole day was when I watched an elderly Asian man fold a page of a magazine into an airplane on the subway. I smiled as he finished and he handed it to me "for you, this is for you, give it to a child" he said. I left the train delighted and decided I was a very deserving child.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Taxi Cab Justice

(image by kefek's photostream on Flickr)

If you've followed this blog at all you know that I have really struggled with love, hate and guilt when it comes to New York City cab drivers. I've fought with them, yelled at them, stiffed them and even tried being nice to them. Though, I have had some amazing experiences in cabs talking with drivers who've lead incredibly interesting lives, I always feel like when I'm in a cab they are "takin' me for a ride" as it were. But when I read the latest report from the Taxi and Limousine Commission about how NYC cabbies have gauged riders out of $8.3 MILLION, I'm pissed! Although I'm also feeling a little vindicated on this one - I mean I did call it, after all - but from now on I'll be even more on my guard when traveling around the Big Apple - and you should too!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Seattle Meets New York on Alki and in My Head

Yesterday I was on Alki Beach in West Seattle talking with a friend, reflecting on my confliction about the coasts and the current state of my life. I am always amazed by the beauty and grace Seattle has over the spirit and chaos of the Big Apple. At the same time though, both cities have given me so much and so each get a piece of my heart no matter how I slice it.

Isn't it funny how just as I was pondering both, they appeared before me in this way?

I simply love how during my moments of confusion I can meld the beauty of both; that I think, is where my personal grace exists these days and I'm holding tight to it.