Friday, September 30, 2011

Stick to Your Own Lane

If you've never ridden a bike over the Brooklyn Bridge at 5:00 PM on a summer afternoon here is what you can expect:

  1. You will be sharing the bridge with hundreds and possibly thousands of pedestrians, at least ½ of which are tourists.

  2. You will be sharing the bridge with tens and possibly hundreds of bicycles going in both directions and sharing a narrow bike lane on the north side of the walkway.

  3. You will need a bell and possibly a set of healthy lungs for the inevitable shout out.

  4. You will need patience, a keen set of eyes and some intuition to recognize which peds and fellow cyclists pose a risk to you and others.

  5. You will most likely NOT look up much to enjoy the classic structure and phenomenal view.  I try and slow down and do this more often.

Yesterday on my morning commute over the bridge I was surprised to find a smattering of workers in yellow vests making an effort to keep people on their respective sides of the bridge, a noble but thankless effort. You will still find the occasional outright idiot as the following story illustrates.

On my way home after the downpour yesterday I was enjoying a relatively uneventful ride over a relatively empty bridge.  I was rounding the east tower cautiously so as not to hit some picture taker taking a leisurely stroll across the bike lane. Then I saw not one but two jerks on bikes in a row going too damn fast and heading strait for me. The first one avoided me but did get to hear my heartfelt, “You're going too fast!!” as he passed me. I told you that a heathy set of lungs comes in handy. The second jerk on the other hand was really heading strait for me, wearing headphones and traveling a pretty good clip. As he approached me I yelled the “too damn fast” mantra and braced for impact. He slammed on his breaks and fishtailed putting his rear wheel right in my path. Bam. It's a good thing I wasn't going fast because the whole thing could have been much worse.
This guy was of a stereotype I can't stand; big, beefy, muscular, handsome and full of himself. I would have hated him immediately on general principal but when the asshole shows his stripes... let's just say I ripped him a new one while he tried to apologize. As he blubbered, “I'm sorry” over and over again, I let loose with a line I use on Gusty when he pees on the seat and leaves it there, “Don't apologize, just don't do it you shmuck!!” I leave out the “shmuck” park when speaking to my son. I must admit I enjoyed having the opportunity to tell some jerk exactly what I thought of him without recrimination and he gave me an opportunity to use the word “shmuck”. For this I thank him.

I hope the tourists enjoyed the show.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Who Needs Limbs? Who Needs Heads?

Yesterday Gusty and I were on the subway coming home and I was talking to him about school.  I had questions about some methods the teachers are using to boost reading comprehension. The conversation went on for some time during which a gentleman got on and sat opposite us.  A few stops later this gentleman got up to leave the train but not without saying to The Prince, "You are a very lucky young man.  You have the best mommy in the world.  Have a great day."

I will try and remember this man the next time I want to rip The Prince's limbs off.

On a less pleasant note not only should I be glad that we have some art at school but I should be glad that we have a school and that our teachers are safe.  The Acapulco drug wars rage on with tens of thousands dead and no end in sight.  These thugs are holding what was once a major tourist destination hostage.  Their latest extortion targets are the teachers.  Its almost October and many schools haven't opened because the teachers are scared and they should be.  They have been told to hand over 1/2 of their pay to the gangs or they will be killed.  Most recently severed heads were left on the steps of a primary school.  I have no idea how to help these people but knowledge is power they say.  This short piece from NPR will help to illustrate the problem.  I can only hope that their children will smile again as Gusty does in the photo below.

Acapulco Teachers Threatened by Drug Gangs

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I think I can...

Up at 6:00, shower, dress, put on makeup while sweating.  It's nearly October.  I should no longer endure sweating while applying makeup.  Listen to utterly depressing story about Acapulco teachers being threatened by drug cartels.  If the teachers don't hand over 1/2 of their pay to gangs by October 1st they will be killed.  Before the story aired 5 severed heads were left in front of a primary school in Acapulco.  Next.  Pack lunch for The Prince, out the door by 7:10.  Ride subway to 59th St. , the Bloomingdale's stop where I spent so much time with my grandmother. Walk The Prince to school for 8:00 drop off.  Return to subway and take R train to Prince St.  This self imposed walk from Prince to Franklin is practically all the exercise I get in a day.  Work.  2:30 return to 59th Street and retrieve Prince.  Take F train to 2nd Avenue and go to Whole Foods for snack and some homework before 5:00 capoeira class.  4:45 walk to capoeira.  5:30 leave capoeira and go to Saxelby at Essex Market for cheese, eggs, milk.  Go to subway to return to The Prince's school for meet the teacher night.  Wait for train.  As soon as train arrives realize I've left my iPad at capoeira.  Return to Rivington and Suffolk and climb 3 flights to retrieve iPad.  Notice Denial who has come to collect The Prince and take him home so I can return to school. Hand him bag of groceries since he's not carrying anything.  Return to subway and arrive at meet the teacher night 30 minutes late.  Learn that because of budget cuts art will be taught as a segment in the second semester.  Remind myself that we're lucky to have any art at all.  Take 5 train back to Brooklyn accompanied by at The Clash and Allure magazine.  Buy vodka.  Go home to discover that Denial has produced penne and red sauce.  Make and drink screwdriver, eat small bowl of penne, make and drink another screwdriver.  Fall asleep on Denial's lap after having had discussion about the sorry state of art in NY public schools and enjoying a little Spartacus.  Up at 6:00.

Link to Our Capoeira School

Corn Chowder

Yesterday I was sitting at my desk pondering the fact that I had not enjoyed nearly enough corn this summer. This is not what I am supposed to be doing at my desk. Suddenly it hit me, "corn chowder!!". I spent the rest of my time at work trying to figure out how I was going to do all that I had to do and secure quality ingredients for my stew. I was on a mission.

As much as I want tot say that I always produce healthy, fresh, nutritious meals for my family, those instances are fewer and farther between than I would like. Yesterday I happened to be wearing "killer" heels against my better judgement. Wearing "killer" heels is always against my better judgement but that doesn't stop me from wearing them. As a result my shoes and I went shopping with The Prince at Union Square after school. It was a good day at the market even though I can no longer go there without considering all the farmers not making it in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

$20 and two stops later my feet were killing me. I mean really KILLING ME.

The Prince was no help when to came to carrying the 25 lbs. of groceries home so I soldiered on in my"killer" heels; the "killer" becoming more appropriate with every step. An older man on the subway actually offered me a seat. Was my pain that apparent? The Prince wanted the seat, but I held firm.

Finally arriving home I removed the shoes and got down to the business of corn chowder. I shucked and removed the kernels from 6 ears of corn and used a box grater to get at the corn milk. Potatoes, poblanos, onions, celery, tomatoes, some spices and a healthy dose of dairy pulled it all together.

The Prince was working on his homework and I sat dutifully updating my resume. Denial arrived about 7:00 and proclaimed that the house smelled good. Hooray!

Homework, dinner, update resume (for about 15 minutes), Adventure Time With Finn and Jake, Regular Show, put The Prince to bed... suddenly the resolution I made to tackle the list of things that needed to be done that I made at work, instead of working, is looking more and more impossible. The best of intentions, the best laid plans.

Knitting, TV, sleep.