Chapter XVII

because you never know someone from the very beginning


June 2007

I Love New York

There are many reasons to love New York City.  Times Square is not one of them.  Or at least for those of us that live here, it is not one of them.  Leave it to the tourists – they can have it.  The City is too crowded anyway – it’s good to have an area for out-of-towners to congregate and mill about.  Aimlessly.  Looking up.  Bumping into people.  Standing at the top of the subway stairs.  Stopped.  Taking pictures of police cars.  Going to Red Lobster.  Or Olive Garden. 

I don’t care if I sound like a snob.  Times Square is a nightmare for those of us that live here.  Ask any resident when was the last time they were in Times Square.  They will likely say "thank god, a long time ago."

I know whereof I speak.  I WORK in Times Square.  It’s the end of my morning commute.  It’s like walking to work after the Justin Britney re-united tour has just let out into the streets.  Brutal.

Well, yesterday I had to eat my words, just a little bit.  Yesterday I liked Times Square.  I got out of the subway and saw a crowd of people looking up.  Nothing unusual about that – but they were all staring at a man running.  There was a man running on a treadmill on the balcony of the Reuters building.  He was promoting a new product and doing a 24 hour run to prove it’s effectiveness.  That was cool.  He stopped running at one point.  The crowd grew concerned.  He started again.  The crowd was pleased. 

And then I heard a loud "Ohhmmmm" from somewhere.  Had the Dali Lama landed in Times Square?  Or perhaps Madonna had descended on 42nd street and was giving a yoga concert.   Not quite, but close.  Yesterday in the middle of Times Square there were yoga classes all day open to the public!  The chants were coming over a loud speaker, and there were nearly 200 people from the looks of it downward facing dogging at 42nd and Broadway. 

Cool.  In one of the loudest, noisiest, most crowded areas of town, people were finding peace in every step. 

Chasing Daylight

I just finished an extraordinary book titled Chasing Daylight.  You can get it here.  I had read about the book on about 500 blogs, so I finally said "what the hell" and bought it to see for myself if it lived up to the hype. 

Well any book that brings me to tears lives up to the hype, in my opinion.

It’s not a big book.  It’s not high literature.  It’s a plain, straightforward, sensible, humble memoir about death.  As someone who thinks about death more than the average person (I have planned my funeral.  Most of my friends know what to expect – fried chicken, a New Orleans band, dancing.) I was excited to read about it from the horse’s mouth…from someone who was in the midst of the experience.   As much as it was about death, it was also about living and acceptance.  The art of acceptance.  I am not sure there was anything earth shattering in this book, but sometimes it’s the simple reminders that have the most impact.  A few of the things that stood out to me:

  • O’Kelly describes himself as someone whose "capacity to confront reality" served him well throughout life.  This is an interesting trait, and something I aspire to.  Confronting reality sounds simple.  But much of our strife in life comes from not only not accepting reality, but not acknowledging it in the first place. 
  • He also discusses the importance of distinguishing passion from talent.  I have a pet peeve – when people say they can be anything they want in life as long as they try, believe and have passion.  Call me cynical, but my answer for this is "Maybe."  Believe, be hopeful, work your ass off, but realize that certain things in life require raw talent.  Accept it and be happy.
  • There have been several books and articles this year on the topic of atheism and how crazy all of us are who believe in God.  Perhaps.  There are worse things than being crazy.  And since we don’t yet have a cure for the common cold, I can accept that there are things in life that cannot be proven, scientifically dealt with or tied up with a neat bow of black or white.  I like shades of grey.  In Chasing Daylight, O’Kelly confronts an atheist by saying "But I want to understand how you can’t believe in God.  Isn’t that the same as consciously making the decision not to let love into your life?"

I found this last bit fascinating, and am still thinking about it.  Love is hard to touch, see, prove, and describe.  It’s elusive.  It does not always make sense.  It is rarely logical. 

So this is how I judge a book – am I still thinking about it, did I want it to go on and did it touch me emotionally.  This is a solid yes on all three counts.

Lesson of the Day

It’s never smart to eat four packages of Sweet Tarts in one hour.  Or within 30 minutes.  Like I just did.

It’s especially not smart to do that after having two and a half pieces of pizza for lunch a mere 2 hours ago.  Like I just did.

Talk about a roller coaster food coma with a sugar rush chaser.  Crashing and burning, as we speak.

As Annoying As She is, She Makes a Damn Good Pasta

I was on a flight the other week and noticed that a Food Network Star Chef was on my flight.  No, not Rachel Ray (can you imagine – five hours in a locked tube with circulated air with that woman?  I might have DIED.  Fine, she is cute and gets people to cook, but does she ever have a bad day?).  I could go on and on about Rachel, but I digress.  Said Chef was not Rachel, but Giada de Laurentiis, in the flesh.  She seems very nice (on the show – I did not talk to her) despite having the most irritating way of saying "spaghetti" I have ever heard (her version "spigEEtti" makes we want to hurl).  So when I watch her show, on occasion, I watch it on mute.  Much more tolerable.  Or maybe I have boob envy, I don’t know.  She also has ridiculous boobs.  If you have ever seen her show, you know what I am talking about. 

Anyway.  I never make any of her food, probably because I never listen to her show, so though I can see what she is doing, I really have no idea what’s happening. 

Tonight I had a craving for shrimp, go figure.  Two nights in a row – a shrimp pasta for me.  And I decided to give one of her recipes a try.  You might be asking how I knew what she was making, since per my comment above, I had not actually listened to her as she described the ingredients.  Well, not being a moron, I remembered seeing her on mute make the pasta with shrimp, lemon, garlic and shallots – all ingredients I know on sight…so thanks to Google, I landed on her recipe.  Trust me, it was not so easy, just typing "Giada Shrimp Pasta" will not get you to the same place. 

And her recipe was darn good.  I give props where props are due, so if you are a cook, safely try this one.  I bet you will be pleased.  I would add a little white wine into the shrimp in addition to lemon juice (I did not tonight because much to my horror, we are out of white wine).  I also used a lot of red pepper flakes.  Be generous with the seasoning.  The arugula is a great touch (arugula, I have determined goes with just about everything, and in everything…it’s a soup, a salad, a pasta enhancer.  I may paint our apartment with it and take it out shopping). 

Here is a picture from her recipe page on

Ei1005_shrimplinguine_e My shrimp looked slightly more appetizing (not pale and sad like hers) but I cannot find my camera, so this will have to do.  Here is a link to the recipe.  Go make some shrimp spigheeti.  Mmmm mmmm good.

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