Monday, August 21, 2006

Having a Drink and Drankin'

RP at 230 Fifth AvenueMy girlfriend and I got together last Thursday night to meet a third friend who has recently moved into a new apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was a spectacular afternoon in the city, and we had some time to kill.

First, we went to a roof-top bar in Manhattan that was just spectacular! 230 Fifth Avenue commands a stunning view of the Empire State Building, as well as the rest of the New York City skyline in a 360 degree view. And it don't come cheap!

We arrived early in the evening--around 5:45 or so. I would say this is the absolute outer limit of arrival time. While already crowded when we got there, by the time we left an hour later, the line to get in was all the way through the very deep lobby and snaking down the block.

We found a spot at the bar and ordered our favorite drinks--1 Stoli martini, straight up and dirty with 3 olives, and 1 Bombay, straight up with a twist. Total bill: 28 dollars! I think we were able to keep our jaws from actually hitting the floor before anyone noticed. At least it was a nice sized martini. And again, the view was stunning, and I am sure the Flatiron District rent is exorbitant. This is a place you take first time visitors or clients. It's where the beautiful people are.

Shelby at ESBWe then visited our friend and had a wonderful time. Caught up on mutual friends, noshed on light summer fare, and just enjoyed each other's company. Around 11 or so, we thought it time to go and bid our host and her roommate bon nuit.

Here's where the drankin' kicks in. We went around the corner to a favorite Irish pub, Snapper Creek. Great bartenders, a jungle gym for a bouncer, and a kick ass juke box! It's where you go to kick back with friends. And kick back we did. Talked, visited, flirted, played a really bad round of pool, and danced. And enjoyed drinks at last one third the price!

I was glad to have both experiences in the same night. It matches who most of us are as people. We put on our professional mask and go to work every day. 230 Fifth was an extension of that. Then we come home and let our selves just be. Snapper Creek definitely fits that facet of our lives. And to do both with one of my best friends was truly priceless.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Conspiracy Theory

I was on the phone last night with a good friend of ours for over two hours. It wasn't unpleasant, but my ear was VERY grateful when I unstuck it from the phone! The major topic of conversation was various and sundry conspiracy theories. Everything from September 11th to healthcare to smoking. In the age of the Internet, especially blogs, this sort of information, or published conjecture, is rampant.

I am certain that the concept of conspiracy theory is as old as humanity itself. It is the nature of the human mind to question, and to have those questions answered. Equally necessary is the need to feel comfortable or satisfied with those answers. Where answers are viewed as insufficient, uncomfortable or incomplete, people fill in the blanks any way they can. And now, with the click of a mouse, anyone can publish their views, giving other questioning minds validation of their own conclusions.

One of the things that outrages my friend the most is the medical profession, specifically managed care and drug manufacturers. It is his view, and he has researched it extensively, that there is a vast conspiracy to keep Americans feeding at the pharmaceutical trough. This is why certain alternative treatments are not widely available, why our government banned publicly funded stem cell research, and why we as a nation are sicker than other developed nations. Maybe. But it may be something else all together: Maybe it isn't a pharmaceutical conspiracy, but yet another religion based control on human behavior. Stem cells can be obtained from spontaneously or medically induced aborted fetuses, as well as the umbilical cords of full term, healthy babies. The religious right is terrified that women will run out and have safe, legal abortions feeling good that at least they are contributing to medical advancement. Can't have that!! But maybe there is something else at play. I don't know.

And then there is the matter of September 11th. Flight 800. Weapons of mass destruction. Tobacco companies. Oil companies. Here's another one: The Homeland Defense Department issued an announcement on August 10th stating that everyone should download the latest security patches available from Microsoft, especially if they are running XP. Am I alone in thinking that the government and Microsoft could be in bed together to produce a "patch" for one of the most deeply penetrated Operating Systems on the planet in order to have PCs open to scrutiny by Big Brother? August 10th is the same day a so called plot to blow planes out of the sky over the Atlantic was broken up. The perpetrators are thought to be linked to Al Qaeda. But it is a rehash of a plot exposed in 1995. I could be wrong, but I don't think it likely that they would resurrect an idea that failed.

Questioning is not a bad thing. It is healthy. It is our civic responsibility, in some cases. But I think as un-omniscient beings, we at some point, must accept that we may never know the actual answers. And some of the ones we have come up with might be completely wrong. If you consider the fact that no one can ever know another person's core motivations on any given matter, it becomes an almost infinite array of who has what to gain by doing anything. Like statistics, you can make conspiracy theory fit whatever your given agenda is. Spend any time questioning "facts" and the possible "conspiracy" behind them, and you can easily loose your mind. Of course we should not bury our heads in the proverbial sand, but we should not forget to just live life. Awareness and intellectual exercise is great. Obsession is not.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Family Time

Chris and Dad Last night was one I don't ever want to forget. Our small family had picnic down at Battery Park. We are still basking in the glow of reunion, and this was a great way to further enjoy its warmth.

My husband and son came from home to meet me in Manhattan after work, so that we could take a bus ride all the way down to the tip of the island. They brought with them light noshes for a warm evening: Nuts, cheese, crackers, berries, a yummy tofu salad, chips, and water. They also brought their good humor, and I brought the camera. Nothing fancy, just a few things from home.

It was a WARM evening, a little humid, with the threat of rain. They came anyway, and not a drop of rain fell. My husband could have taken a meeting to arrange a school function. I prevailed upon him not to, so he didn't.

On the bus ride downtown, Chris pulled a prank on Daddy that was priceless. He was playing games on my cell phone, when he asked me how to access Daddy's phone number. I showed him, the next thing you know, Brian's phone is ringing. Frantic search. Find the phone. Open it up to see MY phone number as the caller. A well executed prank by our 10 year-old that was rewarded with peals of laughter.

When we arrived at Battery Park, we walked down the paths along the waterside to the Jewish Heritage Museum, and had a picnic in a shady spot on the grass. Joining us for our feastlet were a whole host of sparrows, so we fed them bread and crackers. It was a lot of fun watching them fight over a heel of bread too big for them to fly off with.

How wonderful to see my family at the end day, and know we were going to go do something together, a bit removed from our usual routine. It just drove home that yes, we are a FAMILY unto ourselves. We were reminded to nourish those bonds, and just enjoy each other's company. The sound of combined laughter, instead of order issuing and complaining was music! Nothing about this was extraordinary. In fact, it's ordinariness almost makes it silly to mention, much less extol. But what a mark Monday night left on these 3 souls!


Monday, August 07, 2006

Christopher's Excellent Adventure

My 10 year-old son just came home from a 3 week visit with his dad's side of the family. He flew to Ohio with Dad, and spent the first week there with him, and the second two weeks there by himself. He had a blast--until he needed to come home.

After dad flew home, my son was in the care of his 16 year old first cousin for about 3 days. Did I mention he is only 10?!? While I was completely freaked out, he was entirely comfortable. In fact, his biggest fear was that my husband and I would insist that come home for lack of adult supervision. I think he felt more grown up, trusted and independent than at any point in his life. He took a trip to the bowling alley with his cousin and his buddies, played games, had meals, etc., all without the help if a grown-up for the first time. I think it had a profound impact on him. He completely trusted his cousin to watch out for him. Whether or not we felt that trust was well placed was not the point.

But then he was ready to come home. Now. Please. Once he reached that point, there was absolutely no turning back. He enjoyed his time with his aunt and her family. His aunt always provides excellent adventure. Trips to the State Fair, amusement parks, fireworks stand, all kinds of fun things that he can't do at home. But he wanted either his house, his routine or maybe something as primal as his mom and dad. And he is still young enough to be unable to verbalize or articulate a big emotion in a completely appropriate way. Easier to act out, and throw up nonexistent obstacles than delve in, look for, find and express the truth of the matter.

[In that respect, he really isn't much different than a lot of adults. Myself included. It is sometimes much easier to latch onto something very superficial that you can attach all sorts of baggage to, rather than get down to the heart of the matter, but I digress.]

When he came home (4 or 5 days early), he was clearly happy. His whole being was bubbling over. His voice was happy, his face, everything. And Daddy was happy to have his buddy back. I was thrilled at his homecoming (I sorely missed him) and to see them both revel in each other's company. My little boy came home changed kid--a little more mature. Thoughtful. Articulate. And perhaps safe in the knowledge that we did respond to his need to come home. In his mind, that most important trust was well placed.