Friday, February 27, 2009

Movies, Mice, Running, Feet

Hmm... I don't really know what to write about tonight, but my blog has been kind of neglected lately, so I feel I must write.

It's Friday night and I have just finished watching Possession, which I liked. It was a bit farfetched in some places (grave-robbing?) but a good story, and beautifully filmed. Gwyneth looked so pretty. And the scenery, even the indoor scenes, make me want to go live in a Victorian English library, complete with fur rugs, walls of bookshelves, wax flower arrangements under glass domes, butterfly collections, and all that. Too bad I'm allergic to England.

I'm also allergic to cats, unfortunately, because I really need to get one! I discovered another mouse in the house. (Now none of my friends are ever going to want to come and visit me.) Don't worry--it's gone now. I also discovered where, I believe, the little rascals are getting in. My room is heated by a thick pipe that runs from floor to ceiling, and whoever installed the floor in my bedroom did a bad job of lining it up flush with the pipe. There is a large triangular gap that could certainly fit a mouse through it. I don't know why I never plugged it up before, but now it is stuffed full of plastic. I need to get some steel wool and do a proper job, but this will do for now. Meanwhile, there are traps set everywhere, so if there are any more mice hanging out, they had better watch out. I guess it's time for a thorough Spring cleaning. Everything is getting washed and scrubbed!

My other Spring project is working myself back into shape. I've been so sedentary all winter. Unlike any previous job, I mostly sit down all day at work. Then when I get home it's dark and very cold. Sprinkle in a few dozen Dunkin Donuts shops that I pass daily, and I've got trouble. I mean, I haven't gained lots of weight--I'm just not fit or muscular like I want to be. Flabby, actually, if you really want to know. But this week I've gone running three times so far, and I have vowed not to eat any sugary junk food for a month. That includes donuts! It's been quite a challenge, actually, especially when E came home from the grocery store with two half-gallons of ice cream, tasted one, and declared she hated it so if I wanted, I could have it. I am happy to say that I was very very tempted, but I was very strong, and resisted. When I start to crave a cookie or a bowl of ice cream, I just visualize getting into my swimsuit when I'm at the beach next month, and that does the trick.

And it's still cold outside, but not so cold that I don't warm up when I run. And since its dark when I get home, I don't run through Harlem. I take the train downtown and run where its more populated, and where a jogger doesn't stand out. I swear, people in Harlem act like I'm an alien when I run through their neighborhoods. It's such an oddity to see a runner, that everyone stares and has a comment to make. So I go elsewhere. When it gets light, I will run in the Park, and it will be nice not to have to stop for red lights at every street corner.

My body feels better already. I feel more energetic, healthy, and alive. I know running is not for everyone, but I think exercise is so important to health. We've got to keep our bodies fit so that we can get the most out of life.

Actually, we've had two warm days, despite the prediction for snow on Sunday. I'm getting to the point where I can't bear to put on a coat or stockings. On Thursday I wore high-heeled open-toed sandals to work while everyone in New York is still walking around in their fur boots. That evening, I got on the bus and saw one guy do a double take. He glanced at my feet, looked back, and followed my bright red toenails with his eyes as I passed his seat. Sure, maybe he's a foot-fetish weirdo, but I tend to think he's like me--sick and tired of winter. It's been so long since he's seen toes that he was stunned by their sudden appearance on a city bus in the middle of February. Then again, I have been told before, by a stranger, that my feet are extraordinarily beautiful. But that is a story for another day... For now, maybe I'd best keep my feet in socks for few more weeks, so as not to overwhelm people.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I hope I get to live in New York for at least several more years, but you never know where life will lead, so lately I've been thinking of all the things I've seen and done here, and what I have not done yet but should definitely do before I someday leave. Last night I had the pleasure of celebrating National Pancake Day with my friend Jeff. We went to IHOP where they were giving away free pancakes! It was pretty sweet. I can't believe that the only IHOP in Manhattan is just down the street from my house! Anyway, talking with Jeff reminded me that there are many places in New York that I have been meaning to go, but just have not. So I have begun to make a list, starting with:

The Brooklyn Museum. I hate to admit that I have not been there! It is supposed to be terrific. It's just that sometimes Brooklyn seems so far away.

Katz Deli. The big fat sandwiches, with their accompanying pickles, are calling me.

Shake Shack. I need to go before it gets warm, because otherwise the lines are outrageous.

Camp. It's a night-spot in Brooklyn where you can make your own s'mores at the table! What could be better? Why am I not there right now making s'mores?

The Doughnut Plant. Why are all the places on my list either museums or places with food? Oh well. Look at the flavors of these donuts! I've got to try one, but how will I be able to choose which flavor?

S'mac. Macaroni and cheese all the time, all the way! Again, why am I not there at this moment? Plus, Oprah loves this place.

Grimaldi's Pizzeria. Pizza is the food of the gods, so if this place is as good as everyone says, it must be heaven. I guess I should plan a day in Brooklyn, starting with the museum, pizza at Grimaldi's and then s'mores at Camp.

Where else do I need to go? Oh yeah, the Metropolitan Opera! I really want to see an opera. And surely there are some other things in this city that I need to see before it's too late. My list will surely grow.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I take back what I said about the winter air not being bitingly cold anymore. It's very very cold!!! Very very windy, too. I'm freezing! When is spring going to come?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rescue Baptist Church

My favorite thing about this church is the beautiful white scroll decoration above the doors and windows, which looks Scandinavian to me. So small and cute.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


There I was, curled up on my bed with a book, minding my own business, when all of a sudden a mouse ran across the floor! I screamed for E, and she came running with a flashlight, but we couldn't find where it had gone. I have a sick feeling that it has a nest somewhere in my laundry pile. I have a lot of clothes, and sometimes I go for 2 months without doing laundry, so the pile can get large. Now I guess I need to stop procrastinating. I also have a bad habit of eating in my room. I'm not really that messy--the only dishes that might be laying around are an empty cereal bowl or a dried up glass of water, and I never leave wrappers laying around. So I don't know what attracted the mouse to my room. All I know is that it has to die soon. After E and I spent a few minutes looking around the room, and getting more and more freaked out by the possibilities, I stuffed towels under the door of my room and went to the grocery store to buy traps. They were on sale! Now there are five traps set in various places around the room. Two with cookie bait, one with apple, and two glue traps. And as soon as I was done setting them, I had an overwhelming urge to take a shower. So now I'm clean, camped out in the living room on the couch, but unsure if I'll be able to sleep tonight. That mouse better be dead by morning! This is war.

Sigh. Now it's the next morning, and I am happy to report one dead mouse! Gross, but good news.

Diamond District

Yesterday I got to go on a run to 47th Street. My boss had some collections of jewelry and watches that needed to be returned to the vendors we'd borrowed them from, and our regular errand guy is on vacation, so I was sent, along with our security guard, to return the goods. 47th Street, particularly the area between 5th and 6th Avenues, is known as the Diamond District because it is nothing but jewelry stores. And they aren't regular jewelry stores--some of them are huge complexes full of small numbered "booths" where individual dealers display and sell their wares. The street is full of Orthodox Jewish men in black brimmed hats, while less religious men stand in the doorways of the shops and call to passersby to come take a look at their wares or sell their jewelry and watches. If you have gold to sell, now is the time--gold is almost $1000 an ounce. 47th Street is the place to sell it. On my run I also got to see the place where my boss sends old gold jewelry and watches to be scrapped. Sometimes scrapping is the best option, because these days you never know how long something is going to sit on the shelf and not sell. Sometimes it makes more sense to have the cash, even if it means scrapping a hundred-year old pocket-watch that was given to someone's grandfather upon retirement. There is little sentiment on 47th Street. There, jewels are lined up in windows like soldiers, meant to dazzle the eye, not capture the imagination. Everyone is intent on the business at hand, the buying and selling and constant exchange of goods. With stocks slumping and loans defaulting, some people are calling for a return to the gold standard. In a time of ephemeral security, the tangible nature of gold and gemstones is reassuring. Diamonds are forever, and gold is pure. The line at the gold-scrapper's shop was long. The people want money.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Dali decided that the reason all of us that work downstairs are having trouble sleeping is because we are suffering from lack of sunshine. Apparently there is an actual disorder, and some people get sunlight lamps for the winter to keep their spirits up and regulate their body clock. I laughed it off, but there may be something to it. Thinking about it, I realize that on most days, I see a little sun in the morning on my way to work, and then a little more on my lunch break (if its a sunny day, but lately it has been cloudy and gray) and that's it, because by the time I get out of work, it's dark. So my body clock is probably in need of a tune-up. Add to that my natural proclivity to avoid going to bed at a decent hour, cold weather that makes me feel like hibernating, and a tendency to always wear black and gray so that I blend in perfectly with the monotone gray of the cityscape, and you've got one sleepy girl. Oh well. I think spring is just around the corner. The wind whipping around the Manhattan skyscrapers is still cold, but it's no longer biting. Pretty soon there will be crocuses popping up in the park, colors everywhere, and I'll be spending my lunch breaks soaking up the rays instead of soaking wet from the rain.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Beach Dreaming

Everyone in New York is getting cabin fever, I think. The winter is dragging on, and we're all sick of the cold gray days. No wonder I've been dreaming about the beach. Luckily I was able to finagle a few days off in March, so I'm going to take advantage of the low airfares and my awesome friends and go spend a long weekend at a North Carolina beach house! I know the beach in March, even in North Carolina, isn't necessarily going to involve swimsuit weather, but there's a hot tub there, and I love beaches in all weather. I've probably mentioned that my family's tradition was to go to the Oregon coast every New Year's Day. So if I can love a blustery January day in Lincoln City, a spring weekend on a southeasterly coast should be absolutely divine. Really, I'm just dying to smell the salt air, feel the waves, run barefoot in the sand, and see the horizon. Even though Manhattan is an island, and I'm pretty sure the Atlantic is just a few miles away, somehow living here doesn't seem like beach living all that much. I miss the beach! Anyway, I'm really tired right now and probably just rambling on, but I'm so excited about my upcoming trip, I just had to share. Can't wait!

New Addiction

As if I didn't have enough to keep myself occupied what with applying for jobs, baking cookies, crocheting stuff, painting, sewing, working full-time, working part-time, writing, reading, and being addicted to facebook, I am now also addicted to indexing census files on I've always been obsessed with genealogy, and old stuff in general, so my two passions have united in this volunteer effort. is a website run by the LDS church where people can find information about their ancestors and stuff, but of course people can only search what is online, and there are millions of census records and other primary documents that were written up in the 1800s, and made into microfiches later, but now need to be entered into a digital format. So anyone who wants to can volunteer to download some scanned images of these records and enter the information into table form, so it can be eventually used by people who are searching for information about their ancestors. So far today I have transcribed five pages of Canadian census forms from 1860. It's so fascinating, because even though I am just copying the names, nationalities, and ages of the people, the census forms also include occupation and other things like how many acres of land the person owned at the time, and what crops they were growing. It's so interesting to see peoples occupations listed, everything from "Servant" to "Gentleman." The occupations of some of the women are "Spinster" or "Widow." Some people might find this kind of work utterly boring, but I can't get enough of it. My imagination starts to see these long-ago people, and contemplate what their lives were like.

So, if you want to do it to, all you have to do is go to the website, click on the indexing tab, create an account, read the tutorials, and get going. Once I figured out how to download the latest version of Java, I was all set to go in a matter of minutes.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Church

The Harlem church of the week is Antioch Baptist Church, on 125th Street:
The blue limo might be a hearse--I'm not really sure. But it was a Saturday morning and another church down the street that I wanted to photograph was definitely having a funeral, so I walked over to this one instead. In a city where most structures are vertical, this church is oddly low and horizontal. Also odd are the wood facade with its small grated "windows" and the white fence-like decoration on either side of the small steeple. I like how the blue limo matched the blue signs and sky, and how the words Antioch and Baptist form a perfect cross.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Blame Cupid

As my Valentine to you, I want to share one of my favorite albums of all time: The Lexicon of Love, by ABC. You may ask incredulously, "who?" You may laugh out loud. You may think I'm ridiculous and never take my music suggestions seriously again, but I don't care. I loved this album the moment I first heard it, and never get tired of listening to it.

The Lexicon of Love was ABC's debut album, released in 1982. They have been described as early New Romantics: carrying over the glam of 70s disco, updating it with synthesizers and lush orchestration, and mixing in a luxurious retro vibe with their sparkly tuxedos and references to Fred Astaire. A lot of people have panned ABC and this album over the years, but I think its making a comeback as music critics realize its staying power. It was crazy and over the top during its time, and it still is! That's why I love it.

It seems funny to say this, but I love this album because it seems to capture my personality and experience with love more than anything else I've heard. It's witty, acerbic, self-deprecating yet arrogant, a little crazy, but contained and superbly crafted. The lyrics are poppy and bitter at the same time. There is an energy and earnestness tinged with desperation and resignation that conveys the vital importance of finding true love, even as the singer's heart is broken at every turn. Listening to this album on vinyl is even better, because the scratchiness of the record adds a gorgeous layer of nostalgia. I guess I can't really explain it fully, but this album makes me happy. I told you, I like sad music! But this is really happy sad music. Check out the cheesy video for "Poison Arrow"...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Handsomest Man

I know this is silly, but I just saw the most gorgeous man I have ever seen in my life! I think he even surpasses the Danish man I saw in France back in the summer of 2000, who until now I considered the handsomest man I had ever seen. This new guy was on the downtown C train, when I hopped on at 86th Street. He was sitting across from me, and was probably in his early 30s, tall but not too tall, with thick dark hair and a very short beard. The best news--he looked at me, and seemed to keep looking. But then he got up at the next stop, 81st Street, and that was the end of that. I thought for a moment about following him, but then I remembered that I am actually a sane person. What a pity.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Now What?

I don't know who took this picture, but I just love it. It kind of reminds me of how I feel right now. Kind of bored, kind of aimless, kind of wandering around in the snow at night. There is no snow here, but the winter is starting to get to me. This week has been kind of a rollercoaster, and yet I don't really feel like anything interesting has been happening in my life, if that makes any sense. I'm feeling torn between hibernating in my room and busting out on the town, but I don't know what I really want to do. Part of it is that I just got my final grade for my Master's program! And it's not at all what I thought it would be. I thought it would be higher. Not super high, but higher than that. And yet, I'm not really surprised, because I was under a lot of stress during the research and writing of that paper (having a traumatic move, for one thing) and working full time (I was stressed out about money, and thought I would have plenty of time for research after work). Most of the time of writing it, the last thing I wanted to do was work on that paper, and yet if I could have, I would have spent a whole year on it instead of the five months.

My grade is still great, but not as good as I hoped it would be, so I feel kind of frustrated and impotent and a little despondent at this point. The anticipation waiting for the grade was terrible, and yet good because I could imagine the best case scenario. So to find out that I'm just average is kind of a disappointment. And yet, part of me doesn't really care, because the whole thing is over and done with, and I've learned a lot, which is the important thing. Where do I go next is the question now, and what do I do with myself? Questions are filling me with hope, renewed interest, trepidation, anticipation, nervousness, fear and excitement.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Celeb Sighting

I emerged from my basement cubicle today to find the paparazzi three deep outside the store, cameras up against the glass. It may be the closest I'll ever get to experiencing how the animals feel in the zoo. The celebrity shopper was Lily Allen, looking at Rolexes in a spare moment. She's in New York promoting her new album, which was released today. I remember hearing a charming interview with her a couple years back on NPR, but I have not been a huge fan of her music. Nevertheless, she was lovely in real life, and it was fun to have a real star in our midst. But what gave me the most entertainment was the crowd of people outside. I ran out the back way to snap a few shots, and everyone was asking "Who's in there?" The crowd grew, traffic stopped, and I laughed at it all. Why are people so silly?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Lessons the Hard Way

It was a good weekend for me, but my sister had a hard time. I was going to rant on my blog about stuff that happened to her, but instead of rehashing it all, I'll just tell you what we should all try to learn:

1. Don't be afraid to say no sometimes, like when you feel like you are being asked to do too much.
2. Ask for help when you need it.
3. Don't dwell on what you imagine other people are thinking about you. Chances are, they aren't even thinking it.
4. Don't worry about things before they even happen, because chances are they won't even happen.
5. Everyone's burden will be lighter and easier when we all work together, so look around and try to identify others' needs and see if you can help.
6. To all the Mormons out there--remember that we are given callings so that we may serve one another, not order them to serve us. Be kind, gentle, and sensitive to the people you work with in the church. We are imperfect, struggling, fragile humans, all of us.
7. Remember the common courtesies: Please, thank you, how are you? Especially thank you.

Well, there are probably a few more things to learn, but these are the ones that have been roiling within me, needing to find expression.

I felt like a bad sister, because I wasn't there to help E out when she needed me, but there are some lessons we end up learning the hard way. Hopefully she's not holding it against me, and hopefully she is learning how to be a little braver and bolder, knowing her own limits and setting boundaries. Sometimes as LDS women we feel like we must say yes to everything, help everyone, do everything we are asked to do because that means we are sweet and good. But there is a fine line between going the extra mile to help out and becoming someone's doormat. When you let other people take advantage of you, it benefits no one.

Anyway, sorry to be cryptic, but I don't want to embarrass E any more. She's been through enough!

Let me just end by saying a farewell thank-you to the rolling cart that sustained my sister and I through countless trips to the grocery store and laundromat, a traumatic move, and many odd trips to Target. May you rest in peace in the alleyway behind our apartment where Trini no doubt has thrown you. And Trini, if by some chance you are reading this instead of standing out front talking philosophy and religion with some random ruffian, E promises to return your cart next time she sees you. Thank you for being there to loan it to her at the moment she needed it most.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Haitian Evangelical

During a winter week that brought single digit temperatures to my city, I felt a tiny bit of island warmth emanating from this Haitian church. I love the blue tiles, and I think it is so interesting that when they converted the brownstone apartment into a church, they added wooden inserts to the main-floor windows to give them that ubiquitous gothic arch that characterizes a building as a church. (Click to enlarge the photo) But the arches are all but hidden by the thick metal grates. I also think that the weathered, plain cross is interesting, and I wonder if it is that way on purpose.

Well, happy Sunday! I will try to post more later... but I've got a busy day ahead.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

One Reason I'm Single

Last weekend Dali suggested that I ought to go out after work on Friday. She'd read about this Meetup group called something like Brainiac Singles of New York, and they were going to meet at the MoMA at 6 on Friday night and take advantage of the free admission. She's more proactive than I am about finding things to do around town, and ventures out frequently to try new things and meet new people. So I decided to go, because why not? It couldn't hurt to meet some new people, smart ones at that, and do something I love (walk around an art museum).

So me and two of my other coworkers walked over there after work last Friday evening to try and find the Meetup group. We get out of work after 6 though, so we were late, and while we were milling around in the lobby trying to spot a group that resembled "Brainiacs," I suddenly saw two friends from church. I said hi and introduced them to my coworkers, and we chatted for a moment. When I mentioned that I was there to try and find a Meetup group, all of a sudden this guy who was walking by stopped and said, "Hey! Are you here for the Meetup group? Where is it?" We tried to be friendly, and he introduced himself as Jason, and asked if he could tag along with us. The Brainiacs were no where to be found--they must have already gone in, so we decided to just go in too and make the most of it.

It was nice wandering around the MoMA, because it had been a while since my last time there, and I didn't realize how starved I was for some art. My coworkers and I had a fun time taking in the new exhibitions and talking about our experiences studying art in college. Jason was a good sport and wandered around with us, and I admit he was really nice, but... He stuck to me like glue, which is already a little annoying, and then he said he had never been to a museum before in his life. "What are some good museums to go to in New York?" he asked me, rendering me speechless. I hate to sound like a snob, but how can you live in New York and never have been to a museum? How can you live to your mid-20s or whatever he was, and not go to a museum? So I tried to explain art to him, but that's a little impossible when you're starting from scratch. He didn't get it, either, so that was frustrating. But somehow he kept wanting to talk to me, and at the end of the night as me and my friends parted ways, Jason asked if any of us wanted to get some food, but we all said no--we had to get home. So he was like, "Okay, let me give you my number. Call me the next time you go to a museum." And because I don't know how to say no, I pulled out my phone and he spelled his first and last name for me, and he entered my number in his phone too.

He called me two days later, and left a message, but it was all muffled, so I deleted it. And I didn't call back. Is that mean? I didn't feel any attraction at all, was mildly annoyed by him actually, and am very selfish with my time. I'm not going to go out with someone just because I don't want to be mean, or because they are nice and I feel sorry for them because they've never been to a museum before.

I thought that was the end of it, but then he called me again today. This time I could hear the message clearly, and it said, "Hi, this is Peter. Give me a call back when you get a chance! (muffled sound)" I've been replaying it and replaying it, and am starting to wonder if I'm the crazy one, but I'm positive that when we were at the museum he said his name was Jason. The voice is the same. The muffled sound at the end sounds to me like he is starting to say, "I mean..." but E thinks it sounds like "See ya."

Either way, the question is: Why do I always attract weirdos?!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It's About Time

The last time I saw one of these, I was in Europe. I love it! It's the perfect solution to the problem of vast ugly parking lots. Tiny cars means more people can park in the backlot at Crook's, next to Weaver Street, or in the parking lot of Carrburritos. Or on any street in New York.

Can You See Him?

Sometimes I walk to Columbus Circle after work and catch the train home there. Sometimes when I do this, I pass the Ziegfeld Theater, which tends to play host to a lot of movie premieres. This time it was The Pink Panther II. Because a blizzard was going on at the time (my camera doesn't capture snowfall very well, but trust me--it was blizzardly weather), there were plastic tents covering the entire sidewalk in front of the theater and only a few gawkers trying to peer in, instead of the usual throng. I arrived just in time to barely make out the figure of a person with white hair making his way down the line, shaking hands, pausing for photographs, and so I'm going to just say it was Steve Martin. The plastic made it hard to tell, but it probably was him.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I Forgot to Say

Yesterday I forgot to write that when I came home from my outing with Marcus, I noticed crime scene tape all around the apartment right across the street from mine. The glass from the first floor windows was shattered all over the sidewalks, and the rooms gaped black. I asked Trini, walking his doll of a pitbull, what had happened. "There was a fire," he said. In the few hours that I was gone, a fire had gutted the first floor apartments of the building across the street from mine! Crazy. Actually, the crazy thing is that there isn't a shred of information about it in the news, so I don't know anything else. Maybe now my neighbors will stop smoking in the stairwell.

Monday, February 2, 2009

An Eventful Day

I was determined to get a lot accomplished today, so as soon as I woke up I got busy. I went to the post office to send and receive some packages (you'll get it in time for your birthday, Kaitlin!) and then I went back home and cleaned my room. It was sunny and warm outside (warm=40s) so I decided to go out church-hunting with my camera. There are so many churches that I see randomly during the week when I don't have my camera with me, so I try to remember to go back and capture them. But it wasn't the greatest day for church photography. Some of the ones I wanted the most were blocked by big trucks, or had the wrong sort of lighting. Also, there were a lot of people out today, because of the nice weather, and I feel self-conscious taking pictures of buildings with people watching me. Oh well--it was still a nice ramble. I like to wander around, no matter where I live. Today in my morning wandering, I actually ran into my friend Tamara, near Morningside Park. I asked her about her current dating project, and she said that it's going really well. Her goal was to meet a lot of people, and open her mind about dating a little bit, and she's accomplishing that, for sure.

After Tamara and I parted ways, I continued my wandering. The thing about being a white girl in Harlem is that you attract a lot of attention from guys. I'm not saying anything bad about Harlem guys, but they have a very vocal way of showing admiration for women, which sometimes shocks me, just because it is so different from the way I was raised. As I wandered around Harlem, in noon-time broad daylight, I had at least ten "Hey Sexy!"s, three guys making hissing sounds after me, five guys tell me I was beautiful, one "Mommie!" (that's what the Latino guys say, for some reason). It was crazy! I hadn't brushed my hair, I was in baggy old clothes, and I wasn't showing any skin except my hands and face, and yet I seemed to be some kind of man magnet. One brazen man even came up to me as I was taking a picture and introduced himself. His name is Bobby, and he asked me to take a picture of him, so I did, and am publishing it here on my own little wall of shame, for all to see. He was nice, but please! Not to be rude, but--he's missing a front tooth! He started telling me about his life, and asked if I was married. I lied and said I had a boyfriend to deter him, but he still asked for my number. I said I wasn't comfortable with that, and he was nice enough, said he respected that, and shook my hand. I hurried up and took my church picture and got away, but wasn't even all the way down the block before I got another catcall. What is with these men????? Now, to make my parents feel better, I must say that I have never felt unsafe in my neighborhood. I don't wander the streets at night, just in broad daylight, and I think I've just come to the conclusion that in order to survive in Harlem, the men have to be assertive, and they are raised in a very vocal, effusive culture. So I just accept it, consider it a compliment of sorts, try to be polite but not overly friendly, and hurry along my way. In this case, I hurried home and hid for a while!

Later I ventured out and went over to the east side to run some errands. On my way back, I hopped on the the C train at 86th Street, sat down, looked at the guy next to me, and it was my friend Marcus! It's so crazy that in such a huge city I randomly ran into two friends in one day. Marcus was on his way to meet the missionaries, so I tagged along. The missionaries have to teach a certain amount of lessons each week, and if they don't find enough investigators they meet with members, so Marcus and I filled in as pseudo-investigators and we had a nice scriptural discussion and chat. The thing I love about Marcus is that his fridge is stocked with all kinds of delicious cheese! During our chat, we started talking about churches, and I mentioned I'd never been to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, which is the largest cathedral in New York (maybe even the world? I need to check that fact...) So after the elders left, Marcus and I headed over to see it, because it is just a few blocks from his house. It was AMAZING! I've seen the outside before, but this was the first time I'd been inside. Marcus took a ton of pictures, so I'll share them later in the week... What amazed me was the size (you could fit the Statue of Liberty in the transept), the vivid colors of the stained glass, and the amazing woodcarving on the chancel, choir screen, and some of the altars. But there was also outstanding stone carving, ironwork, and tapestries. It was gorgeous, dark, mysterious, and a little creepy all at once. Such enormous structures with such an abundance of artwork built in always amaze me.

After wandering around in the church for about an hour, Marcus and I walked through Morningside Park and then I headed home. I was invited to a couple of Groundhog Day parties, but I decided instead to just stay in and hibernate a little after such a busy day. So I'm trying to crochet now, but my hand is hurting for some reason. Typing doesn't really help, but I can't just sit around and do nothing. Anyway... that was my day.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Not Quite Harlem, But...

My church of the day (and sorry it's so late) is actually in Washington Heights, not Harlem, but I really love it. It opened in 1930 as the Loew's 175th Street Palace Theater, for movies and vaudeville. I was trying to think of the architectural style, so I looked on Wikipedia, which says that this building has been called both "Cambodian Neo-Classical" and "Byzantine-Romanesque-Indo-Hindu-Sino- Moorish-Persian-Eclectic-Rococo-Deco" !!! It is humongous, and apparently very ornate on the inside as well, which to me is a reflection and culmination of the roaring, extravagant 1920s. In the 1960s the theater was saved from demolition by becoming the Christ United Church, run by the famous Reverend Ike, who apparently dresses in furs and bling and drives Rolls-Royces. All I know is that the building is amazing looking, and has a sign on the outside that says something like "Come on in, or smile as you pass." And they still host performances by music groups and orchestras, to pay the bills, no doubt. I'll have to go take a look at the inside of it one of these days.