21 May 2010

why does it always rain on me

How incredible! You can literally live in a shoe...in New Zealand. Tasman Bay, Nelson, New Zealand, to be more specific. It stirs up my wanderlust, which has been irrepressible lately. More information on The Boot, yours for $160 a night:

The Boot is a retreat ideal for romantic weekends and special occasions. Our private boutique bed and breakfast accommodation is a two storey cottage in the shape of a giant boot, furnished especially for two. It is located in the heart of the beautiful Tasman region, centrally between the Able Tasman National Park, Kahurangi National Park and Nelson. A perfect position for exploring the highlights of Tasman Bay, Nelson, New Zealand.

The Boot stands nestled within a grove of hazelnut trees. Outside, the courtyard, surrounded by a fragrant garden, offers sun loungers for relaxing on hot afternoons and an alfresco dining area for spending lazy evenings beside the outdoor fireplace. Inside luxuriate on the comfy couch in front of the open fire, or enjoy an early night in the comfort of the upstairs bedroom. In the morning your choice of breakfast will be delivered to the door.

Our relaxed, quiet bed and breakfast adopts sustainable practices without deterring from the luxury experience that we want all our guests to enjoy. We use organic produce as much as possible, including our own free-range eggs and fresh fruit from the orchard. Guests are welcome to wander the paths of our 2.4 hectare garden during their stay.

Whether in Nelson and Tasman on holiday, or for some special time together, the two of you will enjoy your nights of escape from the world at The Boot.

There are two chairs at the table, two champagne flutes, two coffee cups. There is space for two on the couch, space for two on the bed, space for two in the shower...

The Boot, with its unique shape and tranquil, secluded surroundings, offers the utmost of romantic, hideaway accommodation for couples. Be it a special occasion or simply time alone The Boot is the perfect lovers retreat.

Downstairs there is a comfy couch in front of the open fire, a kitchenette with mini-bar and tea and coffee making facilities, and a tiled bathroom equipped with toiletries, soft towels, hairdryer and a shower built for two. Up the spiral staircase is the bedroom with regal queen-sized bed, dark curtains for late morning rises, and a Juliet balcony with views into the courtyard and across the pond. The courtyard itself is a sheltered outdoor space surrounded by a fragrant garden, ideal for soaking up the Tasman sunshine on sun loungers or enjoying long evenings of alfresco dining beside the outside fireplace.

Fresh flowers, fine Nelson Art, candles, complementary chocolates, a stereo and no TV complete the romantic scene. Breakfast of your choosing is delivered to your door any time before midday.

11 May 2010

The wee small hours

I find myself up, nights, crossing my feet in creases of sheets and squinting at the ribbons of light cast diagonally from the window.
My thoughts twirl.
Wee small hours, solitary, can play tricks with our heads...
oh to roam the streets of Manhattan, find dog-eared creased-leather-covered books of poetry left like arrows pointing to someone else's story.
To visit Lady Chrysler's moon-dust glow again.

MAY 11, 2010, 4:13 PM

Insomniac City

All-Nighters is an exploration of insomnia, sleep and the nocturnal life.

Todd Heisler/The New York Times

I moved to New York a year ago and felt at once at home. In the haggard buildings and bloodshot skies, in trains that never stopped running, like my racing mind at night, I recognized my insomniac self. If New York were a patient, it would be diagnosed with agrypnia excitata, a rare genetic condition characterized by insomnia, nervous energy, constant twitching, and dream enactment. An apt description of a city that never sleeps, a place where one comes to reinvent himself.

I brought very little with me, in part because I wished to leave behind reminders of the life I’d had, but also for more practical reasons. My new home was a virtual treehouse, a tiny top-floor walk-up apartment at eye-level with the Ailanthus boughs. There was not room for more than a desk, a chair, a mattress. Nor, a need: You see, the place came furnished with spectacular views of Manhattan.

What I didn’t know when I rented the place was that the French restaurant located straight below my apartment had outdoor seating till 2 a.m. Lying awake in bed, I could literally hear glasses clinking, toasts being made, six stories down. This was irritating at first. But it wasn’t long before I discovered a phenomenon heretofore unknown to me: Laughter rises. Hearing happy laughing people is no cure for insomnia but has an ameliorative effect on broken-heartedness.

If you are lonely or bone-tired or blue, you need only come down from your perch and step outside. New York — which is to say, New Yorkers — will take care of you.

Sometimes I’d sit in the kitchen in the dark and gaze out at the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. Such a beautiful pair, so impeccably dressed, he in his boxy suit, every night a different hue, and she, an arm’s length away, in her filigreed skirt the color of the moon. I regarded them as an old married couple, calmly, unblinkingly, keeping watch over one of their newest sons. And I returned the favor. I would be there the moment the Empire State turned off its lights for the night, as if getting a little shut-eye before sunrise.

Here’s another wonder I discovered about life here: In the summertime, late into the night, some leave behind their sweat-dampened sheets to read in the coolness of a park under streetlights. Not Kindles, mind you, nor i-Phones. But books. Newspapers. Novels. Poetry. Completely absorbed, as if in their own worlds. As indeed, they are. I had never seen anything like this until I took a shortcut through Abingdon Square Park one night while walking off my own mild agrypnia.

First I saw an old man reading a newspaper from which someone (his wife?) had snipped numerous articles; it looked like a badly botched doily. I tiptoed past, as if wearing slippers, and he, as if at home in his La-Z-Boy, did not glance up.

Next I spotted a young man reading a paperback with a distinctive brick-red cover. I was pretty certain I knew what classic he had in hand but had to make sure. I fake-dropped my keys nearby and crouched down for a better look. Just then, the young man shifted in his seat, denying me absolutely proof. That’s O.K. I was left to imagine him imagining himself as Holden Caulfield.

More in This Series

At the far end of the park, I found a middle-aged woman bathed in light Vermeer would have loved, reading what looked like a textbook. Was she a teacher preparing for tomorrow’s class, a student cramming last-minute, or neither of these? Perhaps she was simply teaching herself.

Of course, not everyone awake at this hour is an insomniac. The city is alive with doormen, delivery boys on bikes, street sweepers, homeless people, hustlers, prep cooks popping up out of trap doors in the sidewalk. I make a point of waving or nodding hello when I can. I have come to believe that kindness is repaid in unexpected ways and that if you are lonely or bone-tired or blue, you need only come down from your perch and step outside. New York — which is to say, New Yorkers — will take care of you.

One night not long ago I was walking down Hudson Street when I spotted a dollar bill on the sidewalk. Even at my age, 49, such a find seems magical. Free money! I leaned down to pick it up just as a woman opposite me was doing the same thing: “A dollar,” I heard her murmur, and our heads practically bumped. We both laughed. I happened to reach it first, but it seemed ungentlemanly to take it. “Here, it’s yours,” I said, offering it to the woman.

“No! No, it’s yours, you got it first.”

“No, I insist, you take it,” I said, but by this point, she was walking away, arm in arm with a handsome man; she already had her prize. Suddenly, inspiration struck: “I’m going to leave it for someone else!” I called back to her.

“Perfect!” she said, over her shoulder. “Good night!”

I dropped the dollar back onto the sidewalk. It was liberating: To throw money away or, more accurately, throw it to the fates, as I had with my life by moving to New York City.

I walked a few steps and, I kid you not, hid behind a tree to watch what would take place. One couple passed by without noticing the dollar, then another. Finally, a man about my age came walking in my direction. Hunched shoulders, troubled look, pulling on a cigarette. Definitely an insomniac,I thought. I want you to have it. It’s yours. You deserve it.

From my secluded vantage point, I watched as the fellow spotted the dollar. He stopped, looked around to see if anyone was in the vicinity. Perhaps someone in front of him had dropped it? No, the sidewalk was empty. He picked up the dollar and pocketed it with a small smile then went on his way. As did I, back to my treehouse.

07 May 2010

Only hymns upon your lips

"Just too unreal, all this..."
"Still you know they will fill your heart and mind
When they say, there's a way through this..."
"Another dream, another love you'll hold..."
"Had a sweetheart on his knees, so faithful and adoring
And he touched me, and I let him love me
So let that be my story..."

I don't do sadness.

03 May 2010

my heart is riding on your wings

You would have been 95 today.
I love you, Grandma.
P.S. I have a million dollar hat, too.
P.P.S. Your storm lamp turns my bedside reading aglow. Your needlepoint adorns my wall. Your handkerchiefs cover my countertop. You are missed, but still are very very present.

02 May 2010

where do we go from here?

4 AM. Awake, at turns amazed and disturbed by the inconsistencies in my life and in the world. Overwhelmed, by beauty and by ugliness and by my inability to fix it.

Somehow, art and music recover my missing piece. They resurrect my soul.
"I am folded and unfolded and unfolding
I am colorblind
Coffee black and egg white
Pull me out from inside."

"and miles to go before I sleep...and miles to go before I sleep..."