Saturday, August 26, 2006

Present Joys

Quakerdave over at the Quaker Agitator reminded me a couple of days ago that when a person spends a lot of time blogging the current state of the nation/world in these post-9/11 times, he or she can start sounding pretty negative. Somebody taught me a while back that it's always good to make a gratitude list of things you're grateful for whenever you're feeling down, depressed or sorry for yourself, since often enough you're simply forgetting so many of the blessings you've been given in this life and focusing on the "bad."

So, working from Quakerdave's post and from a post by Paul at Shower of Blessings, here is my current gratitude list, heavy on the summer activities, or as Dave and Paul have called it, "Present Joys":

Watching the Mets with my girlfriend on TV or heading out to Shea and seeing them live. It's the 20th anniversary of their World Series victory in 1986 and it is also the best season they have had in quite a while. I have been enjoying watching this team and the guys on it (Beltran, Delgado, Wright, Reyes, Floyd, Glavine, Pedro, Wagner, Chavez, Bradford, Heilman, El Duque, Trachsel and of course the manager, Willie Randolph.) I dunno how it will end and it doesn't really matter. The AL is a much better league this year, so chances are, the Mets won't win it all. But it has been a lot of fun to watch them so far.

Running around Central Park or along the Hudson down to Battery Park.

Looking out my window and seeing the entire west side of Manhattan and the Hudson River from my 22nd floor apartment. Sometimes my girlfriend and I light candles, drink coffee, put on some music and just spend hours looking out at the view. It's amazing, just watching the life of the city unfold below. I have lived in some awful rattraps in my time but I love living where I do now and I know I am very lucky. Every morning I wake up, look around and say "Hey, this is pretty good."

Picnics with my girlfriend in Madison Park or Central Park or on the 66th Street pier. Especially the pier. I love watching the Hudson River while listening to all the kids and the families playing together on the pier.

Listening to music at home - lately I've been listening to Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, The Grateful Dead, Funkadelic, Sly and the Family Stone, Love, The Move, Electric Light Orchestra, The Blasters, Frank Sinatra, The Velvet Underground, Television, Patti Smith, Suicide, Tom Verlaine, John Cale, Lou Reed, Joe Strummer, The Specials and The Beach Boys. Especially the Beach Boys actually. I used to despise the Beach Boys and country music when I was a kid, but as Dylan wrote once, "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."

Buying fresh fruit and vegetables from the Green Market and the woman and man from the upstate farm who sell their produce on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 43rd Street and 9th Avenue. Dinner tonight was barbequed tofu and zucchini, fresh sweet corn (no butter or topping needed!!!), whole wheat pita bread, celery and carrots from the farmer's market, roasted red bell pepper huummus and red and green apples. Dessert is going to be a fruit salad with fresh watermelon, peaches, cantalope, strawberries and pears. Simply amazing! I love summer produce and I love buying it from local growers. It is more expensive than the local farmers market, but a lot less expensive than Food Emporium and the food is delicious. Also buying local helps with our carbon footprint.

Watching The Colbert Report and the Daily Show on TV. Also Olbermann. Other than the Mets and some old movies, I can't stand anything else on the tube.

Seeing live shows. This summer I only saw three: Little Feat at Battery Park City, Tony Levin at BB King's Club, and Rosanne Cash/Steve Earle at the Hammerstein Ballroom. They were all fantastic, but the Cash/Earle show was something else, perhaps because we had third row seats in an audience of 200. I have never enjoyed a show like that before. In fact, Rosanne Cash is playing Carnegie Hall in October and my girlfriend and I are going to attend that show as well.

Drinking coffee in coffee houses. Currently I like Newsbar on University Place because it's great for people-watching or reading The Economist (they actually carry it most of the time and its free to read) and the coffee is pretty good while the iced tea selection is spectacular.

Burrito Box on 58th and 9th Avenue. Fantastic vegetarian fare including tofu or seitan burritos. Really cheap too, though not too much seating.

Red Bamboo Vegetarian Soul Food Cafe on West Fourth Street. The food is amazing, it's almost all vegetarian or vegan (there is some dairy if you want) and I always leave there stuffed AND carrying a doggie bag.

Reading China Mieville. I'm starting Eric Flint's 1632 now.

Watching Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo on DVD.

Watching All In The Family on DVD.

Watching the change of seasons. It's still summer, of course, but today felt positively fall-like here in NYC. An ominous cloud cover hung over the city most of the day and the weather was cool and drizzly. It felt like fall. My girlfriend put on a sweater when we went out to dinner tonight. Strangely enough, my buddy in Portland told me today that the weather was hot and sticky in Oregon. Seems like Portland's got NY weather and we've got Portland weather!!!

Well, I think that's about it. It's been a heckuva summer and I have really enjoyed my rest and recreation. I work very hard during the 10 months of the school year, so I don't begrudge myself the summer off. And the longer I go on teaching, the more I need the summer!!!

Wow. Looking back on the list, I can see that I do have a lot to be grateful for. So let me give thanks and now sign off for the night.

I think you've enjoyed NYC more than I have this summer...but of course I had to work ;-)

How do you afford a 22nd floor apartment on a teacher's salary? I live on the 4th floor and I bought my apartment in the real estate crash of the early 90s.
I'm glad to hear about the brighter side of RBE. Consider watching "House" though.
Elizabeth, when my girlfriend and I were looking to move from our rattrap in Queens, we wanted to find something that was close enough for us to walk to work, was clean, quiet, safe, and was located in a neighborhood we liked. We found that we had to sacrifice space in order to get those things, so we live in an alcove studio (it's a big studio, but it's still a studio.) But when we moved, there was no fee, the building threw in two years of free gym membership (and having the gym in the building is great, especially in winter), the view was absolutely spectacular and we saw that the concierges, handymen and other employees were friendly and dependable. The best part? When something breaks, they fix it right away. I mean, right away. And I no longer have crazy, noisy neighbors who threaten you ar two o'clock in the morning when you ask them to turn down the salsa music

We could never afford to buy an apartment in a building like this. We have to rent. But after the next lease we're going to be able to upgrade to a one-bedroom in this same building and we'll still able to save money to buy a house in the future outside of NY. We decided that we would rather pay a little more now and live in a place that we like to come home to rather than buy something we could afford but would hate (which was about all we could afford in NYC!!!) And being able to walk to work is great - no more 7 train hassles for us! (Sorry for the long answer!!)

nyc, I'm not familiar w/ "House". Tell me about it. I'm open to suggestions.
It's a medical drama about a cynical, nasty brilliant doctor played by British actor Hugh Laurie, who sounds more American than most Americans.

It's not like anything you've seen before.
Nice post, rbe. Sounds like you've got a lot of good things going.

But I wish you hadn't mentioned the Mets. I'm a Bostonian, and after 20 years the pain still hasn't completely left me. While you were whooping it up after Game 6, my wife was pulling me in from our 2nd floor window.

Take NYC Educator's advice - House is well worth watching.
abi, I have to say that I rooted for the Red Sox over the Yankees in the Pennant series two years ago and was happy to see them win the championship over St. Louis. it was pretty cool watching the Sox finally win (especially after watching what happened in 1975 and 1986.)

If Ozzie Guillen wasn't such a misogynistic, homophobic arrogant asshole, I would have rooted for the White Sox last year to win it all. But Guillen's a schmuck so I didn't.

You know, I was rooting for the Sox last week against the Yankees too. I can't help it. There's omething about the star-crossed that brings out the fan in me!
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