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Posts Tagged ‘New York City’


DecemberShell1December’s shell looks like it could have been plucked from Lido Beach on Longboat Key, FL where I spent my last days of December.  Riddled with pin-sized holes, this shell was in its early stages of becoming one with the sandy beach but on a different piece of Florida’s coast, probably Venice where I visited a couple of winters ago.  Beaches are where I get my best thinking done while staring into the rushing waves of the ocean and breathing its salty air.  I love walking a beach; it’s usually where I become most aware of how wonderful my life is and how fortunate I am.

This particular weekend I was in town to attend a close friend’s daughter’s wedding.  This friend has been in my life for decades – as a suite-mate in college and then together as young professionals Marianne&Me2sharing an apartment to begin our early adult lives away from the safety of a college dorm.  We’ve stayed in touch since with some years offering more sporadic attention than others.  Sharing this special celebration with her and her family marked the end of December and another month lived.  It was the perfect way to kiss the month goodbye.

My month opened in NYC with my husband to attend Broadway shows, one of our greatest joys in life.  Sitting close to the stage and being swept up in its theatrics makes my heart swell to almost bursting levels.  We try to get there once a year, usually during Thanksgiving week when we head north to visit family. cropped-once-program-cover_sm.png All we do is feast on theater, taking in as much as we can in just 4 days.  We’re stuffed by the time we head for home and happy for the gorging.  Now that my life is no longer consumed by work I have the great luxury of nurturing my loves.

SunGlowIt’s dizzying to recognize how much and how little can be accomplished within a 24 hour period.  Is accomplishment, though, a valid gauge of a day’s value?  I could give a laundry list of much that happened this month between the two trips – challenges that plagued me, friends I spent time with, movies I saw, stories and books I’ve read or am reading, sorrows and joys I’ve experienced and current events that have angered me.  They all indicate hours and days within a month that I’ll never get back.  So they have been lived and experienced.  In some cases though, time was spent mindlessly and when I became aware it was a week later with minimal recollection of what happened.  Maybe it’s simply the mundaneness of life that should be considered special.

My driving work years were consumed by pop culture and current events for entertainment development.  Time was devoured by my jobs and I invested no effort in developing a personal life and other areas of interest.  Those years were thrilling, stimulating and exhausting and while caught up in that whirlwind it was unfathomable that there could be any other kind of life that could offer as much personal reward.

beach3Walking the beach and recognizing the joy it conjured made me realize how rich life can actually be and how broad its potential.  Instead of this life’s chapter concentrating on growing “the next big thing” why not allow it to nurture all the things I love, the elements I forfeited during those laser focus years.  Over the past three years that list has grown quite robust:  books, theater, music, hikes, mountains, beaches, biking, friends, family, animals, volunteer work, discussion groups, movies, food, woods, travel.  To engage in life doesn’t mean I have to accomplish something, it could mean relishing the magic of being human and all that entails.

What a wonderful opening thought for 2013.  Though December can be a heavy, dark month I feel lighter with that thought.  Happy New Year to me.  And to you!

It’s the forest through the trees.

 

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New York makes me nervous.  The constant rushing, people walking every which way, mobs of people moving shoulder to shoulder – it makes me irritable and brusque at the same time it stimulates and invigorates.

It doesn’t help to stay in the theater district during Thanksgiving time.  Broadway around Times Square is one packed people mover, everybody with their own agendas and absorbed in their own worlds.  And if it’s raining?  Forget it – expect to be poked and prodded with umbrellas – no body part is off-limits as people rush in every direction hurrying to their destinations.  Me included, by the way.  I have no patience for strolling tourists who block entries to stores and stand gawking at the galaxy of mega neon signs in high-rise city.  They stand in the middle of the sidewalk, oblivious to pedestrian traffic around them.  This is every man and woman for themselves time and I find my temperament adjusting accordingly.

When we finally make it to the hotel and into the pint-sized elevator to our closet sized room the quiet becomes a deafening respite to the symphony of noises outside.  Sigh…. and collapse onto the bed.  At home in Tennessee, every window invites a view of the woods and gardens.  Here on the 6th floor of the Amsterdam Court Hotel on 50th between Broadway and 7th – I get a peek through a dirty window at an even dirtier building next door.  There is no nature to soothe the senses until you make it to one of the many small parks – and the mother of them all, Central Park.

And yet – I love it.  For a short time it’s the only place I want to be.  Enveloped in a myriad of foreign languages, I love the direct and forthrightness of life in the Big Apple.  Listening to New Yorkers yell at each other as part of casual conversational discourse is refreshing and reminiscent of home in Philadelphia.  That’s just the way North Easterners talk to each other, thank you very much.  A brusque, in your face, no holds barred style of conversing.  Say it like it is, no hidden agendas.  Ahhhhh… home.

The sophistication, the melting pot of nationalities, the open-minded acceptance of every creed and sexual identity is what America is about.  Should be about, anyway.  And I appreciate the individual expression of it all.

But I’m also glad to come home.  To take a rest from the crazy, bustling, busy busy busy world of NYC to the woods, hills and mountains of Tennessee.  The nervousness fades, the irritation subsides and the deep breathing resumes.

Carry on…

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NY - the BroadwayEvery year or so we head to New York for an orgy of theater, one performance after the other.  We see more shows in 4 or 5 days than some people experience in their lifetimes.  It’s my favorite thing to do and fills me up until our next visit. Theater has always been my first love and I dreamed of being a star on a Broadway stage one day.  But reality took over and eventually my sensibility caught up to the realization that performing was not my strength.  That didn’t dampen my love for the performing arts, though, and attending top quality theater is necessary fuel for my soul.

This trip takes place pre-Thanksgiving, 2011, when we attended 7 stage shows in 4 days.  Here’s a snapshot to tickle the taste buds for the rest of you theater lovers with plans to visit the Great White Way.

Fantasticks has been around for 50 years and this is the first time I’ve seen it.  What a delightfully intimate experience in this small off-Broadway stage where our front row seats had the actors practically in our laps during some of their leaps.  It’s a sweet love story built around a contrived feud between two neighbors.  Songs are lovely and the performers are real pros.  Pop star Aaron Carter is in this show and while he’s adequate as the young love interest, he’s the weakest link on the cast.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular is a feast for the senses, in fact, it’s actually an experience of sensory overload.  Of course there are the Rockettes– but their backdrop is a 3 story high screen on which runs a variety of technicolor scenes from stars of the Milky Way to a computer generated tour of NYC streets.  More than 1200 costumes are worn in this show, all color coordinating with the sets, backdrops and lights.  The double-decker “tour NY” bus seen in one scene is 34 feet long and 12 feet high, yet is dwarfed against the scenes running on the LED screen behind it.  It’s an amazing show, impressive in every way!

Hugh Jackman at the X-Men Origins: Wolverine p...

Hugh Jackman on Broadway might have been my favorite experience this year.  This man can do it all – act, sing, dance, ad-lib and his breezy, natural showmanship is a sheer delight.  He’s supported by 6 gorgeous “dream girls” whose voices provide beautiful harmony and whose dance skills add sexy flair to his choreography.  Jackman is on Broadway for just 10 weeks before he leaves to film the role of Jean Valjean in the movie version of “Les Miserables.”  If you can swing it – his show is not to be missed!  Hugh Jackman on Broadway

Sister Act is a high energy musical after the first 20 minutes or so.  It was a good show, not my favorite.  The acting disappointed me and wasn’t Broadway calibre, in my opinion.  But once the music and staging kicked in I started enjoying myself, especially the large ensemble numbers.  Actress Patina Miller (Deloris) is the real reason to see the show.  She belts out song after song with a strong stylized alto voice that epitomizes a Broadway star.

War Horse is a stunning play staged at Lincoln Center depicting the 8,000,000 horses that were killed during WWI.  This is what theater is supposed to be.  Inventive and effective staging offer the perfect blend of “see what’s being said” vs. allowing your imagination to tell the rest of the story.  The Irish brogue is flawless and the horses … ah the horses…impressive life-sized puppets, each operated by 3 people who control all movements both large and small.  Subtle ear twitching, snorting, trotting and galloping all accomplished by the humans beside and underneath – yet all any of us see are horses.  Live, spirited, muscular, living-breathing horses.  Uncanny and incredible!  Definitely deserved its Tony!

Sons of the Prophet, a comedy that does provoke a number of laughs with the twisted perspectives of its characters, is well acted and interestingly staged.  But its story of relentless dysfunction among its characters grew tiresome for me – partly because the 1 hour 45 minute play had no intermission and partly because its circular story seemed to go nowhere.  At one point it just started, and at a similar point it simply ended as though the entire play was just a lift from a typical dysfunctional series of events among the participants.  I must say that there wasn’t a weak performance among them though, including Joanna Gleason who’s been seen in many TV series and movies in her career.

Billy Elliot is a really powerful musical about the dancing dreams of a young boy despite his non-supportive working class mining family.  This show has it all – strong story, powerful music, quality voices and effective staging and set design.  There are 4 boys who play Billy; we saw Peter Mazurowski who’s a killer little dancer at 11 years old but whose forte is not yet singing.  You’ve got to hurry to catch this show because it closes in early January.

Excellence at its finest is what Broadway is all about. It doesn’t matter if a show is happy or sad, you’ll usually find me crying in the audience overwhelmed by the sublime.

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