Sunday, May 15, 2016


Tonight they were showing a movie in the park down the street from me.  It had been a lovely spring day, so an outdoor movie sounded pretty sweet.  Then I thought I'd get extra fancy and even make popcorn before heading over - like, the real make-it-on-the-stove kind of popcorn, with butter and the works.  So off to the grocery store I went.

After strolling up and down the aisles several times, I couldn't find it anywhere.  I asked the guy working, "Excuse me, could you please tell me where I can find popcorn kernels?"

"Oh, sure, microwave popcorn?"

"Oh, no, actually just the kernels.  Like the old-timey kind you make on the stove."

This was clearly a concept he had never before considered because he just stared at me for awhile.  "Well, I'll just show you all the popcorn we have."

OK, fair enough.  So I followed him to the microwave popcorn section and there, way up on the top shelf, was a jar of popcorn kernels.  I pointed them out.  "Oh, yeah, those.  That's perfect.  Thanks."

He seemed a little shocked that they carried such a thing, but he got them down for me and I went on my merry way.

Back at home, I got right to the business at hand - oil heating on the stove, kernels measured out and warming in the oil, butter melting.  All was going well for a time.  The popcorn had just begun to pop so I was giving the pan a little shake, as you do.

Then, suddenly, a rogue kernel decided to jump out of the pan, un-popped yet scalding hot, and fly directly down the front of my shirt and just stick there.  So with one hand holding a pan of burning hot oil , I began to jump around while trying with the other hand to un-stick the scalding hot kernel from my chest.

A couple other kernels must have been amused by this, because they followed suit and also took a dive down my shirt.  More jumping around followed, but at least I had the sense to put the pan down.  Man, those little suckers were HOT!

Things settled down, and the final result was more or less successful.

By that time it had started to rain a little, so I took my old-timey self and my old-timey popcorn, climbed into bed and watched an old-timey movie on PBS ('Holiday' with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant).

The girl got the guy, and this girl got her popcorn.  All is well.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Oh, Dave...

Dave is my guy.  He embodies one of my favorite personality trait combos: an exterior facade of gruffness with a twinkle in the eye that exposes an inner softie.  Crazy smart.  A relentless flirt but still a gentleman.  Curious.  Generous in a quiet way.  Oh, yeah, and funny. 

His was one of the rare shows I made a point of not missing, and his opinion on matters both silly and significant always rang true.  He was a voice of reason when appropriate and necessary, questioning and passionate about issues that bugged him, tender and sweet with the people he admired, and a big goofball the rest of the time. 

All of these things observed from a distance, of course, through many years of watching and laughing and sometimes even crying.  I've never met him and can't claim to know him, but I'm crazy about him anyway.

In light of other things that have happened recently, it seems frivolous to mourn the loss of a TV show.  Surely there are more important things.  But, no doubt, there will be a void after this evening and it's gonna be weird.  His wife and son, the ones who truly love him, have been kind enough to share him all these years and I guess it's only fair that they should get to claim him for awhile. 

But I'll miss ya something awful, Dave.  Honest to God. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Memories of Easter

Easter was one of my favorite holidays as a kid, and I still enjoy it.  For me it's not a religious day, but one of childhood memories and springtime cheer.

Like many families we would color eggs every year, relying on the old standby, PAAS Easter egg dye.  It's comforting to know the essentials haven't changed much over the years: the same cardboard box, colored tablets, and octagonal wire egg dipper that you'd bend into the proper angle for scooping.  (I also have a vague memory of a spinning contraption that painted as you twirled your egg, but I think that was a fleeting trend before I came onto the scene.)  Mom would boil the eggs and we'd commence with the color mixing, pouring the vinegar into assorted cups and mugs while watching the tablets dissolve.  Years ago they included decals for adornment, the kind you'd scratch on the reverse side until the design transferred to the egg.  There were the usual suspects: bunnies, flowers, and chicks.  In recent years they've switched to stickers, which are not only less fun, but also seem to fail at the actual sticking part of the deal. 

We constantly came up with new ideas, but the basic techniques were the same.  Some eggs would sit patiently in a cup while they turned a deep hue, others were criss-crossed with colors for a plaid effect.  There was the draw and dip method and the trickle down technique.  My brother Bob always had meticulous designs - the one I clearly remember was dyed bright yellow and featured 'GRADE A EXTRA LARGE' perfectly cross-hatched in black ballpoint pen.  A few of mine invariably turned a lovely shade of grayish-brown, the result of one too many color combos, and a few others were covered in fingerprints by the end.  Perhaps not masterpieces all, but nested together on a bed of  iridescent Easter grass, they looked pretty good. 

It wasn't our tradition to hide the eggs, or even eat them, really.  Maybe a few of the less successful examples were consumed (not by me...yuck!), but mostly they just sat there being pretty.  The funniest thing, and the part that still draws quizzical looks to this day, is that our mom saved them - not for a few days or a week, but for years!  And years and years.  She saved them until they eventually became almost petrified, with a hardened yolk rattling around inside.  We wondered aloud more than once what would happen if they ever broke.  Would it be a horrible, smelly mess?  Well, it never happened.  They sat undisturbed in a Red Owl grocery bag for decades, time capsules wrapped in a fragile shell. 

Oh, and the Easter baskets!  Our mom was the Easter basket maker extraordinaire.  Some were made from recycled green plastic strawberry containers, a few were simple cupcake liners.  Some were handmade from woven construction paper or string wrapped balloons, and others were more traditional.  No matter the shape or size, all were brimming with candy: malted milk balls, jelly beans, those hard candy shells filled with white marshmallow creme, circus peanuts, M&M's, Peeps, star shaped chocolates, Reese's peanut butter cups, and chocolate bunnies. 

Baskets were hidden all over - upstairs, downstairs, and in every hidden nook.  Each was assigned to one of us with a little slip of paper bearing our name.  Upon waking that morning, you'd usually find an obvious one sitting right in your bedroom.  Then, pretending not to look around too much, you'd begin to explore the rest of the house.  Sometimes you'd be excited to find one, only to discover it belonged to a sibling, so you'd slyly put it back in its place and continue your search with a knowing look on your face.  All of us would be wandering about, trying to look casual as we snooped in kitchen cabinets, reached into golf bags, and brushed aside curtains.  Once in awhile we were able to expand the hunt outside, but Mother Nature didn't often cooperate.  We seemed to mill about for hours, all the while accumulating more sugary goodness.  (As the youngest, I'm pretty sure I made out like a bandit.)

When it was finally decided that everything (hopefully) had been found, I would gather my candy booty and transfer it to the largest basket, astonished at my good fortune.  There I would sit, methodically sorting and unsticking the marshmallow bits from the Easter grass bits.  I think we pretty much ate with abandon - I don't recall ever having a two piece a day limit or some such nonsense.  Mom was cool like that.  : )

These days I still look forward to Easter.  Always a supporter of the jelly bean industry, I keep a jar filled (and refilled) for a solid two months.  My new tradition includes the Easter Parade along Fifth Avenue, and the consumption of Peep-laden cocktails (thanks, Tom!).  Now please excuse me while I don a ridiculous hat and go for a stroll.

Happy Easter! 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Ghost Corner

All of this is horribly sad.  A gas explosion and massive fire obliterated part of an east village block earlier this week, leaving dozens homeless or injured, and two missing.  I am completely fine, so my feelings of loss are only superficial, not comparable in any way to those who have been displaced or lost businesses or, worse yet, are still awaiting news about missing loved ones.

But this neighborhood has been the center of my universe for most of my New York life, and I think the same is true for many of my friends.  My first apartment was two blocks down Second Avenue, between 4th & 5th, right above what was then the Sizzling Szechuan restaurant.  It was considerably less polished back then - a perpetually drunk guy used to stand outside our gate with bottle in hand, so we referred to him as Joey the Doorman. 

It's impossible to know the number of times I have trekked up and down these blocks.  Whatever I happen to be doing on any given day, at some point I usually end up walking the same path down Second Avenue and branching out to its surrounding streets.  So many memories of late night tacos at San Loco, lunch with Sean and my visiting mom and sister across the street at Virage, sitting at Stage Restaurant's narrow counter while waiting for take-out mashed potatoes.  The block is filled with places like that - a few of these that remain were opposite the blast and are still around, but several others were not so lucky. 

Many continue to write about one of New York's most beloved stores: Love Saves the Day.  It formerly occupied the corner of 7th Street and despite its closing a few years ago, it's clear that love ran deep.  Many have also noted its notoriety due to a famous scene in "Desperately Seeking Susan" having been filmed there.  It was filled with vintage toys and clothing, copies of Life Magazine, bubblegum cards and cat eye sunglasses.  I wandered in there my first week in New York and happily lingered over every display.  Sitting on a pedestal jammed among the clothing racks was a huge ceramic lion head wearing a crown.  To my horror, after I was about two feet past, the damn thing fell off the pedestal and crashed to the floor.  I swear I didn't touch it or bump it or even breathe on it, but there it lay nonetheless.  The guy at the counter - I'm drawing a blank on his name but he was always there - looked me over and must have seen I was a newbie because he took pity on me and didn't say a word.  I was scared for months to go back in, but eventually I did and it became one of my regular haunts. 

Now that corner of the block is completely gone.

It's easy to lament the changing face of the neighborhood in the last few years, but it's still pretty great.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.  New Yorkers always do right by their neighbors in times like this, and I'm sure that will be the case again.  It's just difficult to process yet another black hole where something beautiful stood.  I wish strength to everyone affected as they put back the pieces and try to assemble some sort of life again.  We're with ya.  xo

I'm still trying to find the best way to help or contribute, but if you are so inclined please check out these options:

Sarah Larson expressed her thoughts more eloquently than I in her New Yorker article.  Worth a read:

Or read more here:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Heart Some Art

In the hierarchy of admirable people, art teachers belong in the top tier.  I am extremely fortunate to have known many great ones, and to have grown up in a place where the arts are valued.

Ms. Monson was our art teacher in elementary school, and again later on in high school.  I mentioned that the arts were valued in our small Minnesota town, and I think that is in large part because of her.  Art class wasn't just an afterthought, something to fill up an hour in the day, it was a priority.  I guarantee that any one of us who spent time in her classroom can still vividly recall the smell of paint, and the big sink to wash out our brushes in the back.  Each of us has a favorite project that we could talk about in detail many years later.

See, she didn't just hand us some paper and pencils and leave us to our own devices.  We made marionettes and used papier mache.  We painted murals, learned perspective, and listened to the song "Vincent" by Don McLean.  We were introduced to the work of Matisse and Marc Chagall.  We made a mess on her pottery wheel, and sculpted animal banks out of clay which she fired for us in her kiln.

And the thing is, we all felt like Da Vinci.  Throughout the year we'd hand in our finished projects for review, and after a week or two she'd hand them back to us.  These were highly anticipated moments - if you didn't get yours back, it meant she was saving it for the art show in the spring.  Such pride!  Everyone had some pieces included because, really, everyone is an artist.  And she understood that art is as much about heart as it is about technique.    

The art show itself was an impressive affair.  The junior high gym was transformed into a gallery, with formal divisions and professional looking mattes, and live music provided by the orchestra.  A first grader's still life was equally as important as a senior's self-portrait.  And each night, you'd see kids leading around their parents, eager to find and point out their masterpieces. 

In a time when art classes are being cut mercilessly, it strikes me often how lucky we were. 

Most schools today have very limited art programs, if any, and it only seems to get worse.  Thankfully there are private organizations that work to fill in the gaps, but they can only do so much.  One here in New York City is called Free Arts NYC, and I am privileged to volunteer with them from time to time.  They run Saturday art workshops and a variety of more long term art-based mentoring projects for at-risk children and families.

Today I spent time with these kids again after a few years of letting it slide, and it has filled my heart. 

So I guess this is just a public thank you to art teachers everywhere, especially mine.

My hippo bank.  : ) 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dad Thoughts

It's been a few weeks now since our dad passed away, and I've had bits and pieces of stories popping into my head ever since - all these random things I hadn't thought about in ages but suddenly remember like they just happened.  So I figured I'd jot a few down before they popped back out again.

Robert Ero Kutsi.  Dad.

Grocery shopping was one of my favorite things to do with my dad.  There were seven of us so it seemed like we were always making a trip to Red Owl or Juba's for something.  Mom would make the list and Dad would do the shopping.  The actual list was a loose guideline - he'd always toss extra stuff in the cart.  By the time we left we'd have row upon row of brown paper bags lined up in the back seat of the car.  Then when we arrived home and a box of Little Debbies was pulled out of the bag, he'd always say, "Oh, I can't believe it.  That little old lady must've been sneaking things into my cart again."  Every time.

Of course everyone knows he was Mr. Golf.  Always golfing, talking about golf, teaching golf lessons, coaching the golf team, relaying his last round shot by shot.  (I'm really not exaggerating here.)  I cannot say the same for myself, but it was always fun to hang out in the clubhouse and drink iced tea. Sometimes we'd go down to the driving range or the putting green and just mess about. 

When I was in Junior High I decided to join the golf team as my brothers and sister had before me.  Not really a perfect match - my skills were sadly lacking but I gave it a go anyway.  At the time I was much more interested in Cyndi Lauper and David Lee Roth, and my fashion sense was '80s over-the-top vintage all the way.  When it came time to take the golf team picture for the yearbook, I was wearing something like a long printed skirt topped off with a tuxedo jacket with tails and Converse high-tops.  I remember my dad just having a bemused look on his face as I stood there with everyone else in their polo shirts and windbreakers. 

Not only was he our golf coach, but he also taught us all eleventh grade English.  Most people would probably not be thrilled to have their dad as a teacher, but I always thought it was kind of cool.  He also taught the parents of many of my friends, so that was pretty funny too, especially if he told us stories about them being troublemakers.  Thankfully he was a teacher most people liked, even when he gave them a hard time, and I was the kind of kid who came home and did my homework after school without a lot of pestering. 

His classroom for the longest time was on the third floor in the corner.  There were no windows, and he had the ceiling plastered with posters.  The one I remember was of Ernest Hemingway, but they weren't all literary or educational - some were just goofy.  I liked to go up there after school sometimes when I was younger, and once in awhile he'd let me correct test papers for him.  By the time our class came around he'd moved to the second floor to an actual room with windows, but I kinda missed the old one.

For the most part, he just told stories.  I think I described him once before as the ultimate storyteller and mischief maker.  He was always getting in trouble for not creating a lesson plan - after twenty plus years I doubt you need one - and he'd get way off track.  Yet somehow he'd teach you something eventually, or at least entertain you enough to stay interested.  And he was fair.  If you could give an articulate answer as to why you answered a question the way you did, more often than not he'd give you the benefit of the doubt.  He and a fellow teacher, Mr. Wickersham (Wick), were buddies, and I think their storytelling abilities were nearly equally matched.  Each of them told stories about the other, and the two of them together were nothing but trouble, in only the most charming of ways.

The story I always remember involved my brother's friend Patty.  One day she was tardy or absent, and my dad had to fill out the attendance slip.  Well, apparently he got to thinking about lunchtime, because instead of her name he wrote 'Patty Melt' on the slip.  The office called him a few minutes later asking, "Bob, what is Patty Melt?"  I don't know why that one sticks with me, but it still makes me chuckle.

When I was really young, I used to love when he'd read to me.  Both my mom and dad were incredible readers.  My dad would ham it up, creating voices for all the different characters.  There used to be a series of books called Sweet Pickles, and I remember one character having a temper tantrum in the story.  I don't recall if it was a turtle or a duck, or whatever, but my dad went all out.  He was huffing and puffing, red in the face, and the voice kept getting funnier and funnier the madder he got.  By the end of it, we were both crying from laughter. 

He was also a softie.  His eyes would tear up easily, then he'd give an embarrassed grin to deflect attention.  I guess all the Kutsis are softies.

And he could make friends with anyone.  My mom and I would be at the mall shopping, and we'd come out of a store twenty minutes later and he'd be deep into conversation with somebody he'd just met.  They'd be sitting there on the bench together as if they'd known one another their entire lives.  That always amazed me.  My brother Jace has that same talent.  He could also spot a fellow Finn a mile away and would make a point of sharing that connection by throwing in some Finnish word or reference.  He dressed up as Miss Piggy for the Pork Producers golf tournament.  He joked around with every waitress, particularly if they seemed to be a little crabby that day.  Then they were really in for it - endless harassment until they finally gave in and smiled. 

A perfect man he was not, but he was our dad.  I'll miss all of these things about him.  I suppose it was his time and he was, as he'd say, "ready ready ready to rock-n-roll." 

This photo was taken in August 2011, the last time I got to see him.  xo

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Love Grows

I was thinking this morning - a gray and dreary morning - that it has been quite some time since I've written.  Looking through some old notes, I came across this story and noticed that it was written exactly four years ago today.  And now the sun is out, so I figured I'd share it again...xo.


Today was one of the happiest days I've had in a long time.

My mom always had the best garden in the world when I was growing up.  She was constantly outside digging around in the dirt.  I have a picture of her when she was just a little girl, holding a watering can, smiling away like a born gardener.

When she visited me in NYC, we walked through the Liz Christy community garden on Houston Street.  It's easy to miss when you're rushing around consumed by your own life and worries.  But it's there, hiding behind an iron fence - a little patch of tangled paths and wildflowers, bashful violets, and proud perennials.  Once you find it, you feel as if it's blooming just for you.  My mom loved that 'secret garden’ and would often ask me about it. 
I love it too.

Today I planted old-fashioned pink roses in that garden, in memory of my mom.  Or, I should say,  I watched as a real gardener named Penny planted them for me.  Sadly, I did not inherit the gardening gene.

The sky was blue and it was warm.  The first really perfect day of spring.  Our roses now snuggle up beside that iron fence, and will eventually climb it to reach for the sun.  Keeping them company is a gorgeously fragrant magnolia tree, in full bloom today.

I dropped in a little note to my mom before the last handful of dirt filled the hole.  I promised to visit her often in the secret garden.

Then my new gardener friend, Penny, made an innocent suggestion that meant more to me than she'll ever know.  "Here, why don't you hold the watering can, and I'll take your picture?"

I've never been happier to be my mother's daughter.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

That Day

September 11, 2001.  I've been trying for the last week to write about that day.  Actually, for ten years.  But to write means to relive and remember.  The pictures in my mind aren't coming out as words.  They're stuck there, and I'm not at all confident that what I have to say will be adequate.  Sometimes I wish I'd kept a journal, recorded history - but there are some things you don't forget no matter the time that passes.

Even though I remember every second of that day, the images can be a shock to the system.  With the tenth anniversary approaching, the coverage is understandably extensive.  Graphic video clips that have been mercifully shelved for a few years are being shown once again.  And I do think it's important that they be shown, so the day doesn't become a meaningless holiday in the future.  So the kids that are now old enough to ask questions hear the full, haunting story.  But god, it is not easy.             

I feel a little guilty even writing my story.  After all, I didn't lose anyone close to me that day, and for that I am supremely grateful.  Thousands of people have much more to say than I.  Still, I love New York City.  I love my friends and I love my life.  And as horrific as it was, I'm glad I was here to live through it.  To have been watching from a distance would have been worse, I think, like seeing a friend in pain but being powerless to help.  I wish I could have been heroic, magically protected the city somehow.  But I wasn't one of the heroic people.  I was just here, trying to make sense of it the best I could.  And nothing made sense. 

Part of the reason September 11th was so devastating, for me, is because the days prior were pure happiness.  Sean and I had spent a long weekend in Cape May, NJ, eating ice cream and salt water taffy, playing mini golf and listening to the waves.  Not a worry to be found.  On September 10th we left, reluctantly, and headed back to New York City on the bus.  Little did we know as we approached the familiar skyline that it would soon be forever changed.  I will always keep those days safely in my heart.  They were some of my happiest, the memories made even more sweet by the contrasting sadness of what was to come the following morning.

Strangely enough, my mom in Minnesota knew about the attacks before I did.  My job at the time was located on the upper east side, in an isolated residential area.  I walked the long crosstown blocks from the 6 train to York Avenue and said good morning to the doorman, William, as I always did.  He was on the phone and barely acknowledged me. 

My phone, too, was ringing when I got in.  It was my mom.  She never called me at work, and I was a little surprised she even had the number.  Her voice sounded funny and she was clearly trying to remain calm about something.  She said, "I know you're fine, but I just wanted to hear your voice to make sure."

It seemed a very strange thing to say, out of the blue, so I asked her what she was talking about.  All the emotion erupted then, and she told me with hurried urgency what had happened.  Still early, details were confused and accounts varied, but it was serious and that was painfully obvious. 

Sean worked downtown on Franklin Street, far enough away to hopefully be out of danger, but close enough to make me anxious anyway.  He used to go to the World Trade Center on his lunch break all the time.  After we'd spoken on the phone I felt a little better, and left the office immediately.  I couldn't get home soon enough. 

As I rushed through the lobby, William was still on the phone, looking more upset.  We learned later that his wife had died in the towers.

It was bizarre because, up there, the skies were still blue.  It could have been a normal day - but the unrelenting sirens and chaos told a different story.  Everyone was in shock, just hurtling forward.  The sidewalks were filled, and people streamed onto the roads.  Every few seconds you'd have to scoot to the side to allow a fire truck to pass.  Many people were crying, others were staring blankly.  It was so mixed up, and nobody knew what was happening.  Cell phones weren't so prevalent then, and most of the signals were lost anyway.  Sometimes you'd pass by someone repeating a bit of news, and you'd strain to hear what they were saying.  Then the next person would have a different story altogether.  When the news started circulating that the towers had actually collapsed, a brand new wave of panic hit the streets.  We all just kept staring ahead as the cloud darkening the sky became clearer and more in focus. 

It took about two or three hours to make it home to the lower east side.  Sean was already in the neighborhood waiting for me.  I lived on Norfolk Street, and they were renovating the apartment across from mine.  I remember sitting on the stoop outside my building, and I must've looked dazed or something because one of the construction workers put his hand on my shoulder and asked me if I was okay.  Finally I saw Sean, and was overwhelmed with relief and happiness.  I still remember the shirt he was wearing. 

Phones were barely working, but I managed to call my mom on a pay phone.  My mom.  My family.  The thousands of people killed would never speak to their mothers again, and they would not speak to their children.  Or their husbands.  Or their brothers and sisters.  Or their friends.  That cruel fact was not lost on me in that moment, and I felt so insanely lucky.  Sure, I've lost people in my life, but I had a chance to say goodbye, to prepare and grieve.  They were not murdered and they didn't vanish into thin air.  That kind of loss is incomprehensible to me.   

Everything below 14th Street was shut down to traffic for awhile.  Going out the following morning to get a paper, I remember my heart just racing.  It was too quiet, a living cemetery.  There were a few people  around, but no one was talking.  No one was laughing, or yelling, or anything.  People you met on the sidewalk would look up, catch your eye, and sometimes their eyes would fill.  Or they'd just look down.  Cops and armed troops were all over, and you had to present an ID just to get back on your block.  People were buying water and supplies, trying to make themselves feel like they had some kind of control over the situation.  It was just so unnervingly quiet.  Then the silence would be broken by a fighter plane patrolling the skies overhead, and a glint of terror would rise up in your throat once again.  As anyone will tell you, the sound of a plane overhead will never again go unnoticed.

Many local TV stations had transmitters at the World Trade Center, so it was difficult to get the news at first.  I didn't even have cable, so it was random at best.  For hours and hours we stayed in front of the TV as the story emerged and evolved.  Over and over again the scenes played out.  Horrible scenes that no one should see.  It was too much.  Every day it was only the news.  This is an odd thing to remember, but late one night an actual TV show came on and it was one of those Twilight Zone rip-offs.  In the story, a kid who was part robot came to life and I just remember it being disturbing and really eerie.  At any other time it would have been corny, but it touched a nerve somehow and seemed wildly inappropriate.  Thank goodness for David Letterman.  When his show came back on after a week or so, it was a highly anticipated moment for me.  It's a small thing, and probably silly, but things seemed almost normal for a short time.  And his monologue, as he worked through his own discomfort with even putting on a show, was the most genuine I'd seen.  To this day, I tear up watching it.   

The air is beyond my capacity to describe.  I lived far enough downtown that the smell was distinct.  Fire and acrid smoke and things you didn't want to imagine.  But you knew exactly what was in that air, and it was hideous.  Sometimes the scent would fade, but then the wind would change and there it was again.  At times I would wake up at night because the smell was so strong and there would be sirens in the distance.  But I couldn't find any news.  I'd get up and go out to Rivington Street and try calling my mom on the pay phone.  Had something else happened?  She'd assure me things were OK and I'd sleep again, if I could.

The posters are probably what I remember most.  There was no way to even absorb the heartbreak contained in those pictures and the words printed below them: MISSING or HAVE YOU SEEN...?  Detailed physical descriptions, notes about where they worked, what they had been wearing.  Messages scrawled in a child's handwriting asking a daddy to please come home.  They were absolutely everywhere, layer upon layer.  And you knew that someone, some family, had all his hopes pinned on that poster, desperately willing this person to come back.  So you'd take a good look, just in case, but you knew they weren't coming home.  And weeks and months later, there they still were.  Faded by sun, wrinkled by the rain.  But the hope was gone.

Enough cannot be said, ever, about the first responders.  Some of the most wrenching images are of firefighters and the NYPD.  Courageous beyond the limits of courage.  And to see even these men, so steady, overcome every now and then by a moment of sorrow, well, it was almost too much to bear.  Yet they carried on somehow.  There is no way to thank them properly, but we should all try.

Most of all, the day belongs to those who were lost, and the families that were left behind.  Families that have begun to move on, found the inner strength to share their stories, and helped the rest of us remember what matters in this world.  The city, too, is moving on.  There are signs of optimism at long last, after years of hurt.  Something I, for one, am proud to witness.

So there they are, my fragmented memories of that day.  Inadequate, as I said, but the best I can manage at the moment.  New York City, you have my heart.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

You're SOOOO Welcome!!

It's been raining for the last few days, so the subways are soggy and humid, just like all the commuters crammed inside.  Today was especially crowded at rush hour and I let a train or two pass before deciding to squeeze in.  Still, even that one was packed.

A dad and his three young girls got in at the next stop.  All of them had crazy, messy hair and rain spattered clothes.  They were huddled around the pole trying to hang on and stay upright.  With only one stop to go, I got up and offered one of the girls my seat.  She was probably four years old if I had to guess.  

In a squeaky voice, unprompted and very enthusiastically, she exclaimed, "Thank you SOOOO much!!"

It was so cute and unexpected that I laughed out loud, and felt compelled to tell her dad, "That's a sweet girl you have there."

Now, it's a little sad that this would be deemed a newsworthy event, but I don't see too many kids with good manners these days.  There are some, of course, but all too rare.  Anyway, it made my day and I honestly could have hugged her.  And her dad.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I Want To Know What Love Is

I heard this song today while shopping at Key Food. 

And then I remembered my mom standing at the kitchen counter in our red house on Second Street.  The radio was blasting, and she was singing this song.  Singing as loudly as anyone could sing, chin up, eyes closed, fully dedicated to the performance. 

Except her back was to the kitchen so she wasn't aware she had an audience.  Well, not until she turned slightly and noticed me standing there, hand over my mouth, practically falling over trying not to laugh. 

A jump and a scream...Tar-RAH!!!!  Oh, and the laughing!   

But who could blame her, really?  I found myself doing the same thing tonight while watching the video.  So here you go - crank it up, and I dare you not to sing along.  ; )