Monday, September 27, 2010

"Third mummy on your right"

I'm just LOVING spending time again in New York.

Some people who were new acquaintances last year have become good friends. Tamar and I caught up three times this week, twice for 6-mile morning runs in Central Park, and today for some wine and chocolates on the lawn in the park with her new friend Arn, from Vancouver, before catching some of the Black Sea Roma Festival (a celebration of gypsy music) at the Sound Stage. I walked home through the park and saw parts of it I hadn't seen before. It was really heaving; so much was going on.

On Thursday, Holly and I went to see "Catfish", one of the two films about Facebook that have just come out. I found it compelling. We're planning to see "The Social Network" when I'm back from Pennsylvania. Holly and I are planning a big walk this week if the weather is kind.

Yesterday morning, I ran about 8 miles in the park with Rich and Katie, who I met last year through the Hash/Hudson Dusters, Eddie (a blind runner) and Kim (a journalist with "Shape" magazine and formerly with "Glamour"). Kim led Eddie for the first six miles, then Rich took over. Eddie's a bit of a comedian.

I've been back in the city for three weeks and have already run in three events :-)) The T-shirts quickly start to mount up! Last Sunday, Heather (from the Dusters/Hash) and I ran the 18-mile Marathon Tune-Up together. She made it so much more bearable; it was even quite fun. And today I ran the 5th Avenue Mile and did a better time than I'd expected: 6:59. I placed 5/31 in the 55–59 category and 19/102 in the 50–59 group.

So, the last week has mainly been devoted to taking my training up a notch and working at my desk. I did manage to check out a few of the ancient Egyptian exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this morning when I called in to pick up my membership card and to use the loo before the 5th Avenue Mile race. "Just past the third mummy on your right," the attendant said, when I asked for directions.

I caught up before the race with Josh, a friend from the Dead Runners Society who I met last year in St Louis at the DRS World Conference. He ran the race in the wave after mine. We then went for breakfast with Akshay, a former colleague of Josh's at IBM.

A busy week of just living here...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Seeing double in Central Park

This morning while waiting on a Central Park bench for my running pal Val to arrive, I couldn't help noticing a pair of twins. I really thought I was seeing double.

Near the main steps up to the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, two very attractive young men were running in place, side by side, near the bridle path that encircles the reservoir. In perfect unison, their feet pushed alternately off the concrete curb and road surface, creating a rhythmic, hypnotic sound – a soundscape.

They were dressed identically: shirtless, to show off their lean brown torsos; khaki shorts to just above the knee; running shoes. In their right hands they each held a dark blue shirt. Dark, curly hair – picture early Michael Jackson – framed their heads like halos.

As passersby noticed them, they smiled.

"I thought I was seeing double," one woman said to me.

"That must be fun to watch," said another.

When Val arrived, I pointed them out and we watched them together for awhile.

As we walked over to the bridle path to start our run, I looked across at them and raised my right thumb in a salute. They raised two right thumbs in return.

Was it running ... or performance art? Are these twins the Gilbert and George of running?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sutton Square sunset

On Tuesday, I arranged an evening picnic with gal pal Holly and Maltese artist friend Norbert at Sutton Square, where this scene was shot for Woody Allen's film "Manhattan". It's a wonderful spot. Norbert has been staying with me while he completes an art project with a community garden group up on 104th Street.

On Monday morning Tamar and I ran 10K in CP, and I ran on my own yesterday morning twice around the bridle path and once around the reservoir (named after Jackie Kennedy Onassis, who used to run there). I've entered a couple of events: an 18-mile marathon tune-up this Sunday and the 5th Avenue Mile the following Sunday.

I saw a preview yesterday of "Eat Pray Love" over on 3rd Avenue. I've been looking forward to it. It was OK, but I don't think I'd see it again. I was running late after that, so instead of doing a hash run that was starting just a block from my apartment, I looked in some thrift stores where I found a brilliant leather coat.

I'm back on top of work :-))

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Harlem globetrotter

I spent a good part of today, Sunday, in Harlem. The bad part of the day I spent back at my desk, working.

Last year I found a great Baptist Church on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, just a few blocks up from 125th Street and the famous Apollo Theatre. I went back this morning … and man, that place rocks! They have a great gospel choir and band. The Reverend Dr Calvin G. Sampson, the resident pastor/preacher, was on fire. And the ladies in the congregation were totally rocking! I spent a lot of time watching one woman with waist-length braids and a jaunty hat with a feather in the side. She was giving it everything! I went across and said hello to a woman I saw three times last year. She's very dignified looking, and always wears a great hat. I left feeling very uplifted, as if I'd been to a great band gig.

Back on 125th Street, I went to the Studio Museum in Harlem. This is where I discovered the video works of Kalup Linzy last year. I'm a huge fan of his now and hope there'll be an opportunity to see him perform while I'm in New York.

Today I liked the exhibition of portraits of migrant workers in their homes by the South African artist Zwelethu Mthethwa, and former artist-in-residence at the Studio, Lauren Kelley's stop-motion animated videos using action figures and Barbies. My sister would really enjoy Kelley's work.

From Lauren Kelley’s “stories are visually and stylistically reminiscent of children’s programs that were launched in the 1970 and ´80s. Using dolls and claymation, Kelley’s visual technique contrasts with the disenchanted, sexualized narratives of a cast of discontent and struggling ingénues. Through commonplace, if not clichéd, circumstances, Kelley explores the female disposition in a demanding and oversexed world…. Lauren Kelley uses stop-motion animation to explore stereotypes of femininity and race. By using her voice to speak for a cast of black dolls, Kelley breathes life into plastic characters while poignantly and humorously addressing issues such as gender, womanhood, and the human condition. Whether telling stories of unplanned pregnancy or exploring the world of flight attendants, Kelley’s work introduces its viewers to a world in which dolls and puppets are caught in endless streams of consciousness and are trapped in a bizarre theater of the absurd.”

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Tonight, being the ninth anniversary of 9/11, I went down to the World Trade Center to see these lights. They are moving to see, but the area itself is still an ugly construction site.

I'm reading a novel based on the history of four families whose stories go back to the earliest days of New York (New Amsterdam) and up to 2001, so I skipped ahead to the 9/11 chapter while I ate dinner in an Italian restaurant on Greenwich Street before walking a little way to the site.

This morning I ran my first race since I suffered heat stroke in Kuching in a race in June.

The day was gorgeous – a perfect blue sky, and not too hot. I ran the Fitness Mind Body Spirit 4-miler in Central Park in 33:34 minutes, which wasn't bad considering I'm not running-fit at the moment. I was going to run it at a very easy pace, but a race is a race and ... what can I say? I gave it my best shot. I placed 6th woman out of 59 in my age group. Last year I was 6th in my first ever race in New York, which really surprised me. Today, I'd actually hoped for a higher placing, but the field was too strong. Even in the next age group, 60–64, five of the top women had faster times than mine.

I run races in New York as a member of the Hudson Dusters team. As a team member, you don’t just get to contribute points; you get a support network. I ran the first part of the race with Heather, a fellow Duster I met last year. Her husband, Joe, called out my name to encourage me at around the halfway mark; and Andy, another Duster, cheered me on closer to the finish. It really helps!

For my non-running friends, 4 miles (6.4K) isn’t a long way when compared to a marathon (42.2K) or even a half marathon. But whatever distance a race is held over, you give it your all. A 5K race can hurt far more than a 15K run.

After the race (I know I raced it, because I nearly threw up twice after I crossed the finish line), I introduced myself to a 77-year-old French New Yorker who I learned has been running since the 1970s. She came in just a couple of minutes after me and was first in her age group. I gave her my card, and I'm hoping to have a chance to hear her story next week.

After listening to a band in the post-race area perform a fantastic version of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”, I walked over to the Emerald Inn, on Columbus Avenue, to meet some fellow Dusters. It was good to talk with Tim (who ran part of my farewell Three Bridges Run last year) and Bill (who was really helpful to me in the last leg of the Green Mountain Relay in Vermont). The TVs in the bar were showing the 9/11 memorial service and reading of the names of the victims. Tim knew one of them.

Yesterday I ran with Tamar, who I haven't seen since my last day in New York last year. She was one of my teammates in the Vermont relay. (Our team was called “New York Running Chicks and a Few Dudes”.) She and I ran a couple of loops around the bridle path in Central Park, and then she did a third loop. We picked up coffees from a Cuban restaurant near my place (Tamar has been to Cuba, where I want to visit next year) and scrambled egg and cheese rolls from a deli nearby, and then sat on a stoop to eat our breakfast. It's good to pick up where we left off. We're running again on Monday.

After working all afternoon I went over to New York Road Runners to register for today's race, and to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to renew my membership. I was mainly interested in seeing two photography exhibitions, one of which was shots by Leon Levinstein of New Yorkers on the streets, from the 1950s to about 1980, called "Hipsters, Hustlers and Handball Players".

Speaking of photographers, my friend Norbert Attard will be staying with me next week. I met Norbert in Albury when he was an artist-in-residence prior to the opening of the new Albury Library/Museum in 2007. I then spent a week as editor-in-residence at his studio in Malta, on the island of Gozo, later that year. He has been doing a residency in Washington, DC, and will be working on a project here next week, just a few blocks from my apartment.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Uptown girl

I love living in my 'hood on New York's Upper West Side.

Since I arrived from Edinburgh on Monday afternoon I've been up and down Manhattan a couple of times. Tuesday afternoon I went by subway down to Houston Street to see "Winter's Bones" at the Angelika Film Centre; and last night the NYC Hash run was from Central Park South (59th Street) down to 14th Street via Times Square, Bryant Park, and a couple of office lobbies. I've also had two approx. 10K runs in Central Park: on my own yesterday morning, and today with Dead Runner Val. We'd arranged to meet at the Guggenheim, on the corner of 5th Avenue and 89th Street where New York Road Runners is located.

I was over on the East Side earlier to catch up with my dear friend CY, who has had a very trying half-year. Great to see her looking really well and with some exciting plans.

At the Hash last night I talked with Heather and Lauren from the team the Hudson Dusters, which I joined last year. I also met a couple of new people: James (English) spent 13 years in Miri, in northern Sarawak, where I met Jennie Soh and other people in June; and Julian, who is from south Florida, loves the Keys, where I'm hoping to spend a month next year.

An action movie is being filmed in my neighbourhood. There are trailers set up in the streets, a strong police presence, hordes of film people milling around, and hordes of spectators milling around the hordes of film people. I also saw Matthew Broderick (husband of "Sex and the City"'s Sarah Jessica Parker) crossing 95th Street. It must have been Ferris Bueller's day off...

Tomorrow is the start of New York Fashion Week.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What a blast!

I spent my last couple of days in the UK in Edinburgh, after Michele and Dave dropped me at a rail station on their way back to the east coast. I was at the Old Waverley Hotel, where my room looked directly across at Edinburgh Castle. Last night I watched the fireworks concert that closed the Edinburgh Festival from the comfort of an armchair in my bay window on the fifth floor.

Earlier in the day I visited the Edinburgh Art Centre, where I really enjoyed a very big exhibition of William Wegman's photos and videos using his Weimaraner dogs as models.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

From sea to shining sea

Our merry band of trekkers arrived in Robin Hood's Bay, on the North Sea, on schedule yesterday, 13 days after we set out from St Bees, on the Irish Sea. It was the hardest long-distance walk I've done. We couldn't have had a better group or better weather.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dales and moors

We spent a couple of days walking in the Yorkshire Dales, but saw little of the valleys. Instead, we clambered on goat tracks around the surrounding hills. The last few days we've been on the moors, where it's still grouse shooting season.

Yesterday, half of us hiked up and down these hills, part of the Cleveland Hills. The views were fantastic! The afternoon was just a very long slog. Today we could see the sea, and tomorrow we'll arrive at Robin Hood's Bay.