Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Letting go

My mother thinks if I would start to embrace reality more than I do, I would be happier. Part of me knows she's right, but a bigger part of me wants to hold on to my fantasy of what life should be.

Maybe I can do both.
Annie: "I'm going to be late for the party."

Me: "Sho 'nuff."

Annie: "Sho 'nuff? What does that mean?"

Me: "Literally, it means 'Sure enough.' It's old-school ghetto slang used to agree with something.

Annie: "Well I like what we say nowadays."

Me: "And what's that?"

Annie: "We say, 'Tru-dat.' Literally, it means 'True that."

Me: "Well at least 'Sho 'nuff' comes from two words properly put together."

Annie: "Tru-dat!"

Me: "Sho 'nuff!"

Another little piece of my heart

Me: "Awww."

Annie: "What?"

Me: "You see that dog tied to the parking meter?"

Annie: "Yeah?"

Me: "You see that man in the denim jacket?"

Annie: "Yeah?"

Me: "Well that man doesn't own that dog, but he saw a car backing into the spot by the meter and he subtlety positioned himself between the street and the dog. He was protecting someone he didn't know, and those kinds of things touch my heart.

Annie: "I thought only surgeons did that."

She grows

I'm crazy about my girl...



...and I miss my baby.

Monday, September 29, 2008

In memory

Paul Newman's passing has left a hole in the world.
There's only one hurricane that will blow through the Cape this weekend--and that will be me.

Paranoid pop

Annie: "It was so funny! One of the girls at the party said she hadn't had popcorn in three years!"

David: "Why is that?"

Annie:" Because her dad said it causes cancer!"

David: "Now that's my kind of dad!"

Rescue remedy

On a rainy Sunday, Annie stood at my front door soaking wet and handed me her muddy dog.

"Please," she said. "Honey needs a nice long bath."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

In real time

Some Saturday nights I like putting on lots of eye makeup and a pair of killer boots, and going downtown to hear music. But tonight I like a hot shower, wearing something soft and comfortable, getting work done, and of course, listening to a little Bill Evans.

He's still sitting at the sidebar if you wanna listen, too.

Fall foto

By Annie Kosh

In real time



George Washington Bridge

Yesterday.

Overheard in my elevator

British guy on cell phone: "Sorry darling, you're just going to have to start loving my style because I'll tell you right now, I'm not getting rid of my shoes!"

Fact #444,444,561

I find reading instruction manuals in French, only slightly more confusing than reading them in English.

For some reason

New Yorkers don't seem to understand the concept of the 4-Way-Stop.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stranger in a strange land

After a night of showers, a big blue sky hung overhead as I walked Honey up Bennett Avenue. At 192nd Street, I was stopped by an old man who appeared to be lost. He looked a hundred years old--the kind of old not brought on by time, but by a hard life. In a tattered but clean black cable-knit sweater, shining eyes and silver teeth, he was beautiful. He held out a piece of paper wedged inside his worn leather wallet.

"Please," he said. "Is this address I find?"

He spoke in a thick Eastern European accent--the paper was covered in writing, including the number 606060.

"This doesn't look correct," I said. "Do you know what street you're looking for?"

He didn't reply.

"Do you speak English?" I asked.

"No English," he said. "I Ukraine!"

I took the paper from his hand. No street name, but there was a phone number at the top.

"Is this the phone for the address?" I asked.

He looked at me, again confused, and then said, "Yes! This is number!"

I pulled out my cell phone and dialed--and a woman, also with a thick accent, answered. I handed the phone to the old man, but he didn't want to take it.

"Hello?" I said. 'Do you speak English?"

"Oh yes!" said the woman. "I speak!"

"Well," I continued, "I'm standing on the corner of Bennett Avenue and 192nd Street with a Ukrainian man. Is he your friend?"

"Oh yes!" she exclaim. "I'm happy, so thank you if you bring him to me--please, you bring him now."

She gave me the address, but I hesitated for a moment. Her building, number 60 (not 606060), was a mile out of my way and I was headed to meet Annie after school. But I hung up the phone and told the old man to follow me--we would walk together to find his friend.

We were silent for some time--not much to discuss when you don't speak the same language. We approached a flock of pigeons drinking from a puddle of rain water and Honey shot forward, sending them flying. The dog appeared pleased with herself as she watched the birds take to the sky, and the old man laughed.

"How long have you been in the United States?" I asked.

"Four days!" He said. "I come from Ukraine four days! I never was before New York!"

I laughed.

"I have 89 years!" he said proudly.

"89 years? That's incredible!" I said, and I meant it.

He moved quickly, fluidly--I watched his feet hit the ground, each step strategically missing the holes and cracks in the street that would cause a much younger person to fall.

Honey spotted a squirrel and ran ahead on the leash. The old man laughed again and slapped his leg.

"In Ukraine, I have big park!" he said.

I smiled.

"My dog is Chinese," I said.

The old man stared.

"My dog is from China," I said.

The man smiled, "Oh! China! Good!"

I laughed.

"I speak Russia!" said the old man.

"My grandmother was Russian," I replied. "She used to say to me, 'Te Kratsavitsa. Ya lu butbya."

"I understand!" said the old man, and I hoped he understood the part about my grandmother because if not, I just told him he was beautiful and declared my undying love.

As we crossed streets and turned corners, I imagined how everything so familiar to me must look so unfamiliar to him. I began to pretend I was in a foreign country, seeing with new eyes the old bodega, the brown-skinned boys shooting hoops, the deep red of a New York firetruck.

We arrived at our destination--I told the old man what button to press on the elevator and what floor to exit. But he looked at me as if I were speaking, well, English, so I slipped Honey under my arm and boarded the elevator with him.

When the front door opened of the old woman's apartment, the friends laughed and embraced. I made my introduction then said goodbye, but already the door was closing and the two were escorting me inside.

"You stay! Said the woman, her round body wrapped tightly in a floral apron. You have tea, we thank you now!"

"I really have to get going," I started to say, but I could see that not celebrating with them would be a sign of disrespect.

The familiar blue sky was right outside the window as we all sat down at the kitchen table. We drank hot tea with sugar and ice, and ate powdered cookies from an ornate tin can. I held Honey in my lap, and as the old man and woman talked, I listened to the sounds of their language and tasted the sweetness of their tea. I imagined I was the stranger in a strange land--just down the street from where I lived, and a million miles from home.

The big Milkowski

Every time I run into my neighbor, author and jazz critic Bill Milkowski, our conversation goes like this:

"Hi Bill!"

"Hey Katie!"

"So tell me," I say, "What's coming up that I must see, that I need to see--you know, something that's gonna be so great it would be a crime to miss?"

And Bill always says the same thing:

"There are 3 things every night, seven nights a week!"

But eventually he'll be more specific, and his tip for today was Lionel Loueke and Richard Bona, this weekend at The Allen Room at Lincoln Center.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Through the looking glass

I'm not sad, I'm inside myself--I'm not lonely, I just want to be alone. I'm not depressed, I'm contracting--I'm not down, I'm up and over where I once was--taking trips to foreign places in me I never knew were there.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008



You know how people suddenly get a craving for salt, or for steak, or for chocolate?

Well all of a sudden, out of the blue, I got a craving for one of the most heartbreaking and beautiful pieces of music by Pat Metheny-- Are You Going With Me from his album Offramp. Only problem is, I don't own it on CD--how did this happen?

Enjoy it--my God, I certainly am.

Waiting

On our morning walk, Honey always stops and sits in front of the fence at Annie's school.

When will she come out?

Messed up

Annie: "But I don't want my room to be clean! If it's clean, it looks like it belongs to somebody else!"

Can't sleep

If only those naughty sheep would just come down.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Nothing's gonna change my world

Except (accept) everything.

In real time

At my desk, earl grey in my cup, and Blackbird never sounded so good.

In my dreams

Last night I dreamed I was in the house of a young, troubled woman, attending a New Year's Eve party. I stood beside the fire and told another guest that I believed New Year's Eve was a gift the world gives itself--so people can have renewed hope that life will be better than it was.

I had a boyfriend in the dream--tall, dark and strikingly handsome. He held me in his arms and I asked why he seemed unhappy in my embrace. He said he was just uncomfortable in so many clothes, that the house was too warm, so he removed several layers of jackets and sweaters then he said, "Sometimes you're so intuitive, it scares me."

Later, I was outside and he passed by with a group of male guests. I was confused because I was sure he had seen me, but he took another route back to the house. When I returned to the party, the house was empty. I assumed my boyfriend and the group of men would be inside and I became nervous. I felt as if I were being tricked, that at any time they would all jump out of hiding and scare me.

"I know you're here!" I shouted, but they weren't.

Just then a storm began--there was a horse in the kitchen, a beautiful and frightened Palomino mare. Suddenly I heard a commotion coming from downstairs--like a scene in a fairytale book, an old washer woman scolding a strange child for inviting a boy into the house who was half human, half wolf.

I knew my boyfriend didn't love me. I thought to go and comfort the mare. Instead I decided to leave the party before the guests returned, and imagined the man I loved would be kissing someone else at midnight.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Teach your children well

Annie: "Why is Grandma obsessed with politics?"

Me: "I don't think Grandma's obsessed with politics."

Annie: "Yeah, she talks about Obama and how moving his speech was, or she'll say, 'Look, that's McCain's Vice President--she killed that beautiful bear.'"

Thank you

Bill Evans--for playing on my new speakers, for sitting at the sidebar, and for always making life better.

In real time

Fall is official--on the calendar and in the air. This morning I took Honey for her first river swim by the Little Red Lighthouse.

I live here

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Evolving 101

Think of the alternative.

Lower self

I have either fallen in love with, or attracted men who are unavailable--emotionally unable, attached to other people or who live far away. Obviously, I am the common denominator, the creator of this reality--it's what I've asked for and it teaches me lessons I desperately need to learn. But sometimes I just want to toss my responsibility into the trash and feel some good old fashioned anger--I want to curse and blame, and have someone else share the burden when this perfect journey I'm on suddenly feels like an endless, impossible, and lonely climb.

Secret

To keep myself from completely living a real life--I make up stories, lie to myself about possibility, and hide behind the pretense of faith.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Who needs a companion...

When you can have a Companion 3?

I got myself one today.

I have a dream

Out of hiding

This morning, after walking Annie to school, a neighbor I've known for years stopped and said:

"You always used to have a sad look in your eyes, even when you were smiling. Now your eyes look happy."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Annie: "You want to stay hip and with-it, don't you Mom?"

Me: "I guess so."

Annie: "Then from now on, make sure when you're confused to say, 'I'm confizzled.'"

She's a dog

For a while I stopped posting pictures of Honey because she went through an "Ugly Phase."

Either she's adorable again, or I've gone blind.

Confizzled

Last night as I'm getting off the 'A' train at 14th Street, a woman asks me:

"Do you ride motorcycles?"

Me: "No, why? Do I look like I ride motorcycles?"

Woman: "Yes."

Me: "Well is that a good thing?"

Woman: "Yes!"

Olive me

Congratulations to our dear friend Tallulah Strom--who rescued this adorable Jack Russell Terrier, now named Olive, on a recent family trip to Mexico.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

In real time

I open the window and feel fall on my hand.

Tonight

Sets at 9 pm and 10:30 pm
SMALLS Jazz Club,
183 W 10th St. off Seventh Ave, NYC
$20 admission

Vocalist Deanna Kirk performs with saxophone giant Harry Allen.
Also featuring the fine pianist Steve Ash and Neal Miner on bass.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sitting at the sidebar

Today I was driving up the West Side Highway and a man shouted from his SUV, accusing me of being on crack. I laughed, but then tried to imagine what he was referring to. The only thing I could come up with was that Oregon was playing on my car stereo, and for sure, this track had me in a trance.

Wouldn't it be something if the only reason people drove like they were on crack was because they loved great music?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Did you see the moon tonight?

Sorry

My body is here, but my heart's somewhere else.

Will blog again soon.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Proof

With all my options tonight, I chose to stay home--a steel guitar playing and a box of memories at my feet. No photographs or love letters, just piles of tax returns and receipts from the past 13 years of my life.

Papers bound in rubber bands, marked and labeled. The new sofa, a crib for baby, an electric bill from the apartment on 71st Street. The music is gentle, the ceiling fan spins--low lights and a plastic bag for the stuff I no longer need.

I've moved so fast--out of marriage and into myself--through awakening, discovery, bliss and grief--I've been running like I'm wild, and these memories make me stop. Annie's first plane ride, a stub from the circus, a birthday surprise.

I cautiously sift through a stack of phone bills from the year my father died--and they go backwards in sequence. December 1996 then November--there's June and May. And before I go further I wonder--will February feel different in my hand? April--what was life like then? March. The guitar strumming hard like it can't arrive soon enough--wanting to make up for lost time, feel every ounce of everything, or maybe just wanting to let everything go. February. I hold my breath, flip the page and there it is--11:39, the last time I would hear his voice--9:16, when I was told he was gone.

The plastic bag now full of what I no longer need--a pay stub from a forgotten job, the big tip David gave, an explanation of benefits. The box of proof now empty, the bag of proof in a tin can.

The proof of this Friday night, of my husband's love, my child's birth, and of my father's death. Proof of my life unbound, no strings or ink, nothing to contain, is right here--inside a room, inside a woman, free of what she no longer needs--as the strumming frees the broken heart of the steel guitar.

Sitting at the sidebar

Who wants to hear something pretty this morning?

How about Dragon Throws Out Pearl by Makana.

Aloha.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembrance

Everyone knows where they were when they heard the news of John Lennon's death. I was 17, lying on my bed watching Monday night football. And everyone knows where they were Tuesday morning, September 11th, 2001.

I won't attempt to tell my story of being at work early that day, just blocks from the Towers. I won't try to make poetry of the coffee in my hand as I looked out my office window, unaware I was watching truckloads of firemen on their way to die.

I will mention the woman from Harlem. We held hands and did not let go, negotiating our way through crowds-without words, sharing our fear and confusion. We were strangers and sisters, and like everyone, we were on foot, heading north, looking for home.

I will say something about the two men who picked us up in their jeep-driving alongside taxis filled with bloody fares, thousands of voiceless pedestrians marching, the silence of their footsteps, and businessmen clinging to briefcases as they rode on the bumpers of slow-moving trucks. We hadn't yet known what happened, but somehow we knew we'd forever be a part of each other's accounts.

We were a family of eight million that day and the days and weeks that followed. Every missing child was our missing child, and I'll leave it at that, because I'm just not good enough to paint a picture of what it was like to be where I was, on that Tuesday morning that began much like this Tuesday morning, under a crisp blue sky, so full of hope and promise.