First snow

The day after Thanksgiving

I walked across the park to the Met this morning for a Rodin–Hockney twofer. Rodin was a bust—heh—unless I somehow overlooked 3/4 of the exhibit, but Hockney was fab. Afterwards I strolled slowly down Fifth Avenue—as one should, especially in autumn—had a croissant at the Plaza, stopped at the Time Warner Center for the loo, and then walked down to see Hello, Dolly! (starring Donna Murphy!).

Lessons learned: 

  1. My favorite thing at any museum is watching people look at art. It makes everyone seem small and vulnerable, the way they inadvertently show their whole open selves.
  2. My favorite photographic subject isn't people or landscapes or architecture, it's things in front of other things.
  3. Lotta hot dogs in this town.
  4. I love the light at the end of any tunnel.

Ready to move on

For a long time I've had this nagging feeling that leaving New York will mean I failed somehow, failed some meaningful, important test. That because I waited so long and worked so hard to get here, moving back to Chicago will be an admission that I wasn't smart or strong enough to succeed. Then yesterday I read this:

New York can be a crutch. Yes, your music career is stalled. Yes, your art remains unknown. Yeah, you’ve yet to be published or your startup is only hype. But you live in New York, and that makes you better than the people who don’t (or so you reassure yourself). Where you live is not an accomplishment.

That seemed profound, although it probably isn't (I'm a very shallow thinker). But it's true for me. I thought being here would be enough—that the act of living here would be a self-fulfilling achievement, and would mean I had done something—and that I wouldn't have to work anymore to figure out what I want from my own life. What I wanted was to live in New York! It's big, it's glamorous, it's loud and cool and hard. Only that isn't enough anymore. I've reached the point where it makes me lonely and sad, where it has crippled my desire to create anything, and my only real failure is letting myself pretend otherwise. But that's the one thing I can fix, so now I'm planning and tossing and counting the days until I can go.


Three short things

1. There was a little girl singing on the bus this morning. She was sitting right behind me and singing very softly, not performing for the crowd in the way of annoyingly precocious tots, or even in a way that indicated she wanted to be heard, but in a way that sounded like she was singing to herself—the way I whistle to myself—because she had a tune in her head and letting it out made her happy. I listened to her and thought about how different the bus felt this morning compared to a year ago, when we were all sharing a collective mental breakdown, and how I wouldn't relive that nightmare for a million dollars served up by a buck naked Mark Ruffalo. It felt good to remember what it used to feel like to not be embarrassed by America the morning after an election. Grammatically that's the saddest sentence I, Kari, have ever typed but I don't even care. It's a blog, dummies. You get what you pay for.

2. I'm no longer reading or believing articles about nutrition, I decided last weekend as I enjoyed a lunch of Flamin' Hot Cheetos. They were terrible and I had some regrets, but I just can't be some maniac who cares what she eats all the time. That's a ridiculous and exhausting way to live a life. If I wake up one morning and my pants don't fit I'll just wear what I wore the day before and then buy some new pants. Case closed. Not guilty.

3. As a coping mechanism over the past year I've slowly been watching the entire run of the television series Frasier. Perhaps you're familiar? I remember watching a few episodes in a casual way when it first aired a thousand years ago but I was never a major fan. I can't imagine being a major fan of Frasier. (Does Frasier have major fans? Please feel free to self identify! Also the show Wings: speak up, people who cared enough to keep that on the air.) 

Anyway, it's on Netflix. I just reached the end of season 7, where Niles and Daphne drive off together in a Winnebago, an event that should have occurred much, much earlier, I feel, if only to relieve some of the boredom of watching Niles drool over Daphne for seven entire years. Sheesh. But although the writing can be shockingly lazy and overly dependent on stereotypes, it's also pleasant and comforting, like Martin's old chair. The characters, if you think about it, are very sad. As sad as the characters on Cheers, or The Office, and I suppose that makes sense. Most sitcom characters are sad. As are most people in real life. I hope this is not news to you.

Sitcoms are more realistic than a lot of dramas in this way, in mixing the light with the dark (save The Leftovers, which hit both Light & Dark at a perfect pitch & then tossed a boatload of absurdity and sex lions on top), although not much else about Frasier is realistic at all. But it's so much better than reading the news or watching just about anything that's really on TV. The things I love best are Frasier's apartment and his devious agent Bebe Glazer, who shows up once a year to get him a better radio deal. Bebe is my hero: she's like Irene Dunne as a sociopath, like an Irene Dunne who just killed and ate Katharine Hepburn for breakfast on her way to kill Rosalind Russell. She reminds me of that vine, clematis, which this gardening website calls "the queen of climbers." One episode I saw last night ended with her and Frasier riding a donkey onto the set of a morning talk show they were temporarily hosting while she simultaneously tried to get him a better radio deal. None of it made any sense but nobody besides me seemed to notice. I enjoy Niles most of the time and Daphne has grown on me over the years but Martin is the only person I relate to out of the regular Frasier milieu: all he wants is a beer, a chair, a dog, and a TV. Those are not bad goals. Sorry to report that Frasier is my least favorite character on the TV show Frasier, but that's life. Or TV, I guess. Like most things, however, he's getting better as he ages.

4. Look at that, not so short! And now officially more than three.

5. Maybe this will be the holiday season when I fall in love with people walking slowly in front of me while staring at their phones. Fingers crossed.

Transit notes

Some people like to make a lot of noise when they get on the train—usually teenagers, but not always. Some people just want to be noticed, I suppose, or poke a hole in the air you're sharing. Same with playing loud music in a car with the windows rolled down: "I am here." Or, in the immortal words of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, "I won't be ignored, Dan."

Tonight a man and a woman boarded at the 57th Street station, both a little raggedy-looking. Like times were hard. He was carrying an enormous wrinkled shopping bag, the kind that discount mall Santas lug their presents around in. They couldn't find seats together so they settled about ten feet apart and hollered back and forth to each other all the way to Columbus Circle, with him rooting around in that bag on the floor the whole time, clearly not finding what he needed. At Columbus Circle they both made their move to the open seats at one end of the car, opposite each other. She spread out and stretched her feet across the seat next to her and he shuffled through his bag again, pulled out a book, and handed it to her across the aisle.