Ten Things That I Want To Do In NYC

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Ten Things at That I Want To Do In NYC

“New York has a trip-hammer vitality which drives you insane with restlessness if you have no inner stabilizer.’ Henry Miller

From 1892 to 1954, more than 12 million people entered the United States through the Ellis Island Immigration Center. This place was the first point of entry for most immigrants, My Grandparents came through there. Its’ a good time to see and contemplate an era when the United States answered the pleas of refugees for a better a life.

Big museum plans. The Whitney Museum has moved downtown to a cool  space in the Meatpacking District. The Metropolitan Museum Of Art  is leasing the space for its Modern Art call the Met Breuer. Giacometti is  at the Guggenheim and a there is a great  photography exhibit at MOMA. Henri Cartier Bresson is at the International Center For Photography.

NY is a city of foodies and chefs. There are so many  restaurants to try. I will let you know how I do.

Take a walk through Central Park. It was always our bit of nature in the city.

There is the best shopping in NY. I want to visit my favorite department stores, Bergdorf Goodmans, Barneys and Henri Bendels. I also loved shopping in Nolita, Chelsea and the Lower East Side.

There are so many Street Art  Walking Tours  to choose from. Painted murals, graffiti, mosaic installations, sculpture, art embedded in the pavement, stencils and stickers are found all over the city. 

I grew up seeing  Broadway and Off Broadway Theatre in NY several nights a week. We have our tickets and I can’t wait.

How cool is this? Apparently they built Highline Park on an  unused elevated subway line on the  West Side. 

I’m glad to have the opportunity  and privilege to finally visit the 9/11 Memorial. 9/11 is not a past event; terrorism and acts of violence continue to be a current part of our everyday life.  So, the museum is a visit to a horrible act of the past, but one that continues to persist and be a part of the modern world. 

Visiting Lincoln Center and my mom. My mom asked that her ashes be strewn over Lincoln Center so she didn’t miss anything-especially the opera. She said that she wanted us to stop by and visit her and see a show in NY. 

Fly safe,
JAZ

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Dying Around Thanksgiving

Dying Around Thanksgiving

“There is no death. People only die when we forget them,” my mother explained shortly before she left me. “If you can remember me, I will be with you always.” Isabel Allende

My mother died the weekend before Thanksgiving. Now I always associate the planning for Thanksgiving with the helplessness I felt knowing that my mother was dying. I need a constructive way to get through the day.  It involves lighting a memorial candle,  going to temple and saying the prayer honoring the dead.  I do something she loved in nature or in culture and I talk to her in my head.

I was supposed to be ready when my mother died. She was ninety-one when she went into the hospital for the first time since the birth of her children. She had a long life.  “Who is the president?,” they ask to check her mental capacity. The correct answer was Bush. Her answer was “Don’t get me started.” I should have been ready, but I wasn’t.

When we lose a parent as an adult, we are supposed to be prepared for this normal life passage, or at least be  more ready to accept it when it does happen. We are expected to pick ourselves up, close the wound quickly and move on. We should not require so much time to “get over it.” This loss is expected and in the natural order of things.

Losing a parent is extremely difficult for most adult children if you have had a good relationship with your parent and even if you haven’t. (That is harder) My husband had left a couple of years before that so loss was becoming a theme in my life. My mother was my best friend and my support system throughout that time.

She was not religious.  But she went to temple one day a year to say the Prayer of Remembrance for her parents. When I was twelve I started offering to go with her. She replied that  she didn’t need company. She was going to say  “Yiska”.  It sounded very mysterious. Yizkor is the Jewish memorial prayer for the dead. The word means remember.

My mother  didn’t believe in celebrating death. She would say, “Do for people while they are alive.” She had stopped going to funerals  for her dying friends many years before. She must have done a lot because one hundred and fifty people who I did not know showed up for her memorial service and many spoke. They were her theatre community.  They were the people she had met and given theatre tickets to throughout her life. She opened their world or she shared their love for the arts right up to the end. They became her friends and ranged in age from thirty five to a hundred. 

My mother had requested that her ashes be spread over Lincoln Center and Broadway, so she did not miss anything. ‘When you come and visit me, see a play, ballet or an opera”, she said. None of us knew when we said yes, that it was illegal, but we did it.

I sit in temple feeling a weird kind of peace.  “Who is in the first seven days of mourning?”, asks the rabbi.   “Who is in the first eleven months of mourning?  Who is celebrating a yortzheit today?” I stand and say her name.  The ritual seems to help me. As we start the prayer, “yit gadal va yit gadash….  I struggle to keep up with the words in Aramaic. I have the same conversation with my mom every time I say the prayer.  “What are you doing in temple on such a beautiful day?” she asks.

I leave the temple thinking of  a conversation that I recently had with my children. “Can you get us Hamilton tickets in NY?” asks my son. “No,” I reply.  “If Nana was alive, we would have seen it already,“ said my daughter. “If Nana was alive, we would have seen it in preview, at the Public Theatre for half price,” he answered. My son said that he would try for the day of show ticket lottery when he is in New York. The legacy lives on. 

Happy Thanksgiving and Fly Safe Mom

JAZ

The City – New York

The City   –   New York

“New York City has finally hired women to pick up the garbage, which makes sense to me, since, as I’ve discovered, a good bit of being a woman consists of picking up garbage.” Ann Quindlen

The city was what one called it if you lived in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, New Jersey or Long Island. If you were a certain kind of girl growing up in Brooklyn, everything in the city (Manhattan) was better. I rode the subway for an hour to get my hair cut at Bergdorf Goodman.  I would come home and rewash it and blow dry it the way I wanted it to look. I was sure that anything I did in the city would make me chic and cool. A hamburger in the city just tasted better to me.

I knew that if I lived in the city all my problems would be solved. I got my wish. My parents got divorced and we moved to the city. We were no longer bridge and tunnel people or the family we were before. I still had my Brooklyn accent but I was ready for my life to completely change.

I would finally be a grown up. I would kill water bugs and cockroaches without screaming for help. I would not be afraid of crazy homeless people. I would shop at Gristedes, Dean and Deluca and Zabars instead of Waldbaums or the A and P.  I would walk to theatres, museums, restaurants, clubs, bars, Bloomingdales and Bendels.  I would take taxis everywhere.

I actually stopped riding the subway when I lived in Manhattan. Growing up riding the efficient yet terrifying crime ridden NY subway daily has left me with a fear of subways. (Pre Mayor Guiliani who cleaned up the city). Commuting is a way of life for every New York kid. I was commuting to school from the time I was eleven years old. I saw muggings, heard gunshots, dealt with the tough kids, gropers and saw people drunk, violent or crazy on a daily basis.The bystander’s avoid eye contact indifference I have from growing up in NY is something I still work on. The street smarts I learned there help a lot when traveling in foreign countries.

But I love everything about Manhattan. I love crowded streets, vertical architecture, beautiful well dressed people, whistling obscenity yelling construction workers, downtown black uniforms, the pace, the lights, skyscrapers, pretzel carts, noise, Chinese food, coats, Sunday Times, different languages all talking simultaneously, unfriendliness, Broadway, cultural activities,  galleries, museums, coffee shops, not pristine streets and the anonymity.

Living in New York City is not an easy, comfortable life. You fight the elements daily – traffic, crime, crowds, weather and indifference. You do not have the sensation that you live in a protected bubble.  You are always aware of potential dangers out in the world. It is not for everyone.

You may not be able to keep the world out, but you get the entire world. You are exposed to people of every type, kind and ethnicity, who teach you about how many different ways there are to live this life. You have access to great opportunities as a result of your location. You never feel there is a place in the world where more exciting things are happening than where you are.

A place does not change your life. It is what you do with it and how you react to it which causes change. There are certain places where it is easier to find out who you really are and what your uniqueness is in the world. For me New York was such a place. I look back at it fondly because it was the place where I was so young and anything was possible.

Fly Safe,

JAZ