After what seemed like weeks of overcast, rainy days, the sun finally shone. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, just endless miles of blue and crip, clear air. I filled my lungs over and over and thought of nothing but the moment, the clean, fresh air, the bright sunshine, the relative warmth of forty-ish degrees celsius during Christmas season.
The Metro-North was fast. I stepped off the train and walked through Grand Central behind a model. In flat converse sneakers, she towered over everyone, easily 6 feet tall and thin. I couldn't see her face, but her hair was incredible, thick and glowing with health, a too-perfect shade of light red. Something in me wanted to meet her, make friends, but it's been a long time since I was that spontaneous. And I felt the thickness of my 37-year old body acutely, my short squat self who stood barely to her shoulder.
The minute we emerged into the main hall of Grand Central Station, I forgot she existed.
I met Piano Man for lunch. He lives in my old neighborhood, at 102nd and Broadway. Everytime I go there I feel calm. We had lunch at Cafe Du Soleil, a french bistro that opened when I was still living there. We were among their first customers, and they never disappoint.
PM is pretty distinctive-looking. He's almost six feet tall, very pale, and what's left of his hair is still the same soft strawberry blonde it's always been. He has striking blue eyes, and wears black leather New Balance sneakers virtually everywhere, although he doesn't own a pair of jeans. He also doesn't have a cell phone, a computer, a DVD player or cable TV.
The center of his life is his music, and dominating his studio apartment is his steinway upright, a modest instrument, with an incredibly comfortable leather padded seat. There are stacks and stacks of music piled high on the piano, and sometimes everywhere else. A few years ago he had a cabinet custom-designed to hold all his sheet music, which helps. His apartment is his music studio... or really, it's the other way around.
He and I talked incessantly for two hours. Somehow I devoured an omelet with spinach and fine herbs, and some salad. A cup of earl grey managed to disappear as well, but all I really remember is talking about the recession, his 401k, my consistent underemployment, gossiping about mutual friends, and the value of friendship in general. I teased the gorgeous french waiters, and PM rolled his eyes. He asked if he could get a cable box at radio shack, and I rolled my eyes.
I had a Karaoke date with Dave at two. Dave was my Man-of-Honor, and one of my oldest and very best friends. We meet for Karaoke all the time, and I often oversing, which I really should be more careful about. This time I was meeting him at this place near Union Square. It's been years since I went to Union Square! I got turned around walking in the wrong direction, and wound up almost a half hour late, but I found the place.
Dave had Christmas gifts for me, a bunch of Esteé Lauder stuff, which he always gives me since he works for the company and is drowning in product. Which makes me one incredibly lucky hag. I still buy from him, and probably spend more than I should, but I've got more new makeup now than I think I've ever had. I've been wearing it to work a lot, which is new for me, and frankly, a lot of fun. I feel glamorous and new - not young, just new. I'm getting better at using the stuff, from all the practice. I experiment with colors, blues and greens and purples, Eyeliner or no, less mascara or more, depending on my mood and what I'm wearing.
I used to say I only wore makeup when I was feeling bad about myself, and that was, for the most part, true. Now I wear it for fun, and because I feel I deserve some glamour. I love this change in my attitude.
Dave wanted me to sing "Buenos Aires" from Evita. I managed to pull it off, and with flare. I was in the children's chorus of that musical when I was eleven, and during the course of that show, I learned all of Eva's role, every word, every note. Over the years, I've forgotten much of it, so I was pretty nervous now that I'm asked to sing it, but with the lyrics in front of me, it all came back. Something in me burned hotly with the realization that I'm getting too old to play Eva. It would have been a perfect role for me, if I'd ever had the opportunity. I get furious sometimes, that my life has flown past me in the blink of an eye. I'm too old for most of my dream roles. Recently I've gotten just a little too fat. And I certainly don't have the dance abilities I once did. But my voice is intact, and in some ways better than ever. So I ran with it. And it felt amazing.
Listening to my friends sing, I managed to release my rage, and my sadness. I sipped my water and lost myself in the moment... and moved on.
I called Ameleh to see if she wanted to come into the city to see a movie with me, but she demurred, too comfy in her pajamas on her couch in Peekskill after a long season of hard work at her high-stress job. So I hit up PM again, and we met at Lincoln Square. I finally got someone to see Quantum of Solace with me.
Most people don't know I'm a Bond Fan. PM bought me a book called "The Man Who Saved Britain", which I haven't gotten around to reading yet but I'm planning to read on vacation in a couple of weeks. I've seen almost all the films, mostly on TV, but most since the early 90's in the theatres.
The problem with Bond is people have ridiculously high expectations. None of my friends, not even G, really wanted to see Quantum of Solace with me because the reviewers didn't like it. this always pisses me off. I have this problem with a lot of movies, my friends and family decide what to see based on reviewers. I NEVER do. I seldom agree with the reviewers, so screw them. The problem is, I wind up never going at all, because everyone would rather do something else, and there's only so many evenings in a week. Next thing I know a year has gone by.
So this time I bought the tickets, PM came with me, and we had a grand time watching things blow up and drooling over gorgeous people in various states of undress. I think I know why people don't like the film though. He never ordered the martini, and there were no gadgets, so no trip though Q's laboratory. The famous theme song has been relegated to the closing credits. It looks like they are trying to change something familiar, something we rely on seeing with each new film, that never disappoints. I disagree - I don't think they are changing anything. I think those elements will return. But I can see how people would be disappointed.
There were also a lot of bits in the film that were throwbacks to other films. I can see people deriding this as copying, or being unimaginative or lame, but I liked it. I saw it as a tip of the hat to us long-time fans, an attempt to make us feel special, and included. I think this film was a love letter to Bond fans. It wasn't what we were expecting, but I appreciated it. I don't get many love letters these days.
On my way back to Tarrytown, I slept.
G met my train, and I hopped in the car, excited as usual, and we chatted about Bond the whole way home. We talked about the stronger heroines in recent films, the good girl/bad girl dynamic, and the innocent victims of the Connery days, nice girls who would up dead. Casino Royale had a good girl who also was a bad girl, who wound up dead - a combination of all three. This film had a girl who you couldn't tell was good or bad for awhile, and another girl who was the classic Connery-era innocent - a pretty thing named Strawberry Fields, who had no idea what she was getting herself into. After an undoubtedly superb roll in 100-thread count sheets, she wound up dead.
My favorite quotes come from the bad girls. Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp: "I had to ventilate someone." Barbara Carerra: as Fatima Blush "WRITE IT DOWN!" Sophie Marceau as Elektra King: "What's the point of living if you never feel alive?" Even Grace Jones as Mayday: "What is there to say?" They always seem to know just what to say. They're clever.
This morning, I slept until 11:00. I have so much on my plate this week, I'm overbooked with wonderful things to do. G is afraid I'll make myself sick. I have done that in the past. But I don't want to miss anything. I'm going to our company's christmas party - one of my work friends is bringing me as his date. I'm going to a concert that my neighbor is playing. I'm working the whole week. And I'm supposed to bake cookies to give to various local persons as a Christmas gift - the guys who fix our cars, the guy I rent my parking space from, the girls at our Veterinary clinic, etc. Oh, and I still haven't done my Holiday cards.
I'll get it done.
I feel healthy.
This is normally the darkest part of the year, but right now it's sunny and bright, and not very cold out. I know that the worst weather usually comes after the holidays. There's always blizzards in February, and March and April are grey and wet and depressing. And I know that I'm still working on managing my depression, and that my expectations are never on target for pretty much anything these days.
I'm taking a lot of deep breaths these days. Reminding myself that the past is the past, and there is still a lot of future ahead of me, but the best part is now. Just being in the now. Sitting here, the sun streaming in the windows, my cat sleeping peacefully, my husband showering out the bits of hair after getting a trim.
Ameleh is preparing to move into her very first Manhattan apartment. Dave is at work, making women feel beautiful. Kristin and Lisa are with their families. My parents are working. Donna is watching the Bears game.
2009 is coming. What will I do with it?