Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I didn't post yesterday, and last night, whenever I woke up, which is a lot, listening to the heavy rain, I kept having ideas what I was going to say today, but now that it is today, it's all up for grabs once more.

Yesterday started badly, with a thumping headache and debilitating nausea. I can get nausea for a number of non-life threatening reasons, so I must always interview myself, asking simple questions such as: "When was the last time you slept? When was the last time you had something to eat, a real meal? When was the last time you had a drink of water? Are you on a boat? Are you on a train, facing backward? Are you on a bus or in a car, talking too much? Did you eat sardines recently?" That kind of thing.

Yesterday morning, nothing applied, so I just got washed and dressed, and went to the other Starbucks, for a change, the one on 57th Street where I can sit on a tall stool, dangling my legs, and look at some of my favorite things going on outside.

There's a little girl sparrow, for instance, who comes to clear the sidewalk tables of crumbs, then she does the same thing on the ground. One of the young men who works there has noticed her too, he claims she always comes alone.

Myself: Maybe the other sparrows are all on a diet... Too much sugar...

The young man: Yup... And all that refined flour..."

It's a young bird, hatched this year, hasn't learnt about human beings yet: she is leisurely and relaxed, totally trusting. I wish I could always be like her.

Another thing I enjoy watching is the people walking their dogs before going off to work for the day. They are usually in a hurry, they still have other chores to do, they are on target, and sometimes you can see diminutive dogs just dig in and refuse to move on. Maybe they found an interesting smell to investigate, or maybe they have finally found the exact spot where they want to deposit their contribution to urban decay, but the self-absorbed, or sometimes plain authoritarian, owner has decided that time is up, tempus fugit et non combackibus, and the extensible leash gets longer, and longer, and longer, evidence of an unequal battle of the wills, 5 lbs of canine power vs. 165 lbs of human determination. It's always fun betting on who will win.

The other day, actually, walking to Temple past the 42nd Street Port Authority, I witnessed something wonderful.

There is always a huge busy crowd at that spot, various streams of incoming and outgoing commuters, city residents going in and out of the subway, people lining up for cabs, and transit foot traffic, like me. It's not a holiday crowd, it's a bustling, pushy, aggressive crowd, and when you go through it you are grateful there is no emergency, you are grateful you are in moderate good health and light on your feet, to dodge the odd bulldozer person who barrels through the crowd without looking who might be in the way, working their elbows left, right, mercilessly, stepping into your shoes from behind... Without warning or apology.

I suddenly caught sight of a small dog, who had sat down on his haunches and refused to budge. He was looking up at his owner, every atom of his small body expressed: "I can't walk through this mess of legs-This is hazardous to my health."

And I saw this absolutely huge, overweight, overblown body-builder of a man, with large arms, and hands with fingers like sausages, bend down, and most gently pick up the little dog, and walk on, cradling him tenderly in his vast arms, the little dog stretching his neck up towards the man's face, his eyes full of affection and gratitude, and the large man was looking down into the little dog's eyes, "It's OK, buddy-it's OK", he seemed to say.

There was so much love in that exchange I wished it could extend to the whole world.

Anyway, going back to 57th Street, another thing I enjoy watching is how people walk. They all walk from the hips, actually, and that's where the personality shows. The tilt of the hips is what determines the style of the walk, and more important, the angle of the butt. Power is in the butt, some say, and you sometimes can see it quite clearly, in the same way that it is easy to spot a really timid person, or even someone who is a "wannabe", before you even spot the Clinton hairdo, for instance.

You always have to wonder, too, what is going on in the mind of a woman who sets out on a business trip with a large piece of wheeled luggage, wearing very high stiletto, backless sandals...Boy, is that a scenario for disaster!

Fifty-seventh Street is also a good spot from which to count the inordinate number of crosstown buses that fly by "Not in Service". Cui bono? As I always like to say.

Well, after Starbucks got rid of my nausea, it was catchup on the blogs, where I spent a good time reading up on my links, and drifting off into Webland, Lala-Land in a way.

I was a photographer in one of my past lives, for a while, and I remain a visually oriented person. Douze Lunes often has good photo links, and yesterday I went to look at... Well, it's written on a piece of paper, I can't find it, it was a beautiful set of pictures of wine cellars by an Iranian living in Toronto (one of these days, I plan to add a link to the photoblogs I love, I'm easing into this blogging thing), and there I found a link to Captain Haddock of Tintin fame. I was a gonner for a good bit of time.

The Tintin site belongs to a 13-year old girl. At first, I thought it might be the work of a young Frenchman, with good spoken English but spellcheck challenged, introducing Tintin to English speaking folk. There were some spelling mistakes which I interpreted as bilingual puns, as when Captain Haddock, a rather habitual partaker of whisky (for medicinal purposes only, no doubt, to keep out the cold and the damp) was described as being "ginxed". How well I remember the feeling! But no, it was a young girl. There's a photo of her on her site, but it didn't load for me. I hope it does sometime, I would love to know what she looks like. I am a fan of hers.

Before moving on, I should add that her unfavorite character in Tintin, the singer Castafiore, "La Castafiore" as she is called in French, happens to be one of my own favorites. For years and years, every time I have prepared myself for a party, got myself "gussied up" as I call it, when I do the final checkup in front of the mirror, I always say: "Any minute now, I'm going to break out into my Castafiore song!"

(For the uninitiated, Marguerite's song in Faust: "Ah, je ris, de me voire si belle--en ce miroir!")

I think it is appropriate for me at this point to express my profound gratitude to all my links: they are diverse, stylistically and thematically, but they all evidence to the highest degree, in my personal opinion, the best, the most generous of human spirit.

You make me laugh, you make me cry, and you always make the world a better place by the very fact of expressing who you are.

Thank you!
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