Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Best of Stamford

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies.

The Official Version vs. My Version

Earlier today, I received e-mail from a Middle Eastern restaurant in Stamford, Connecticut, asking me to vote for it as the best ethnic restaurant in Stamford for 2010. When I went to the voting site, it included a link to the winners for 2009.

Stamford is my hometown. I spent ages 0-18 there.

Here is my Best of Stamford list:
  • Best rock to climb upon and eat a picnic lunch: At the Stamford Museum & Nature Center
  • Best bikeride: High Ridge Rd. from Sunset Rd. to the Dorothy Heroy public pool
  • Best friends from Stamford in the order I met them:
    • Sarah Tauber
    • Jimmy Gutterman
    • Didi (aka Nicole) Doutre
    • Helene Doutre
    • HoneyB (aka Barbara) Prins
    • J.J. (aka Jennifer Juliet) Rogers
    • Adrienne Weiss
    • Jennifer Gerstel
    • Amy Neufeld
    • Caryn Lesnoy (z"l)
    • Atalia Hochenberg
    • Svetlana Bekman
    • Leslie Karp (z"l)
  • Best stone wall: In the woods on either side of our driveway
  • Best place to ice-skate in my neighborhood: In the woods behind Did's and Helene's house
  • Best Chevy Impala convertible ride with the top down: To Friendly's ice-cream shop on High Ridge Road during spring and summer, with my parents in the front and my two sisters and I, on our knees, facing backward and gripping the back-seat as the breeze whipped through our hair
  • Best place to roller-skate alone: Hickory Road
  • Best reminder of the heather in *My Secret Garden*: At the intersection, where you turn right to go to Scalzi Park
  • Best sledding hill: Behind Temple Sinai
  • Best wild raspberries and blueberries: In the woods to the side and behind our house
  • Best pets: Didi's and Helene's dog, Fluffy; HoneyB's dog, Elizabeth; and Amy's dog, Tigger
  • Best place to play ping-pong: the Jewish Community Center's recreation room
  • Best pool to swim in as a guest: the Italian Center's
  • Best ski club: Stamford High's
  • Best salesman/ambassador/recruiter for his alma mater: Cy Carlton for the University of Michigan
  • Best contemporary mind: Scott Kogan's
  • Best resemblance to my 14-17-year-old self, or so all of our Stamford High teachers thought: Karol Nielsen
  • Best dances in the '80s, where everything from "Reunited" to "Hungry Like the Wolf" played: Stamford High's.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Daylight Lengthens

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies.

Even On a Rainy Day

Spring feels not that far off.
If it were here already, the grass would be bright-green.
Heavy, heavy water inspires blades and shoots and tree-roots.
The light in today's sky is wet.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Every Night, a DJ Saves My Life

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies.

Especially Tonight

Pat's watching infernal football games, so I'm on my own. My friend Lynn made me promise to do something fun for myself today, since she knew I needed to work and study all weekend, so here I am:

Inspired by the "Vanity Fair" article on an oral history of Disco...

I'm reading about how Fran Lebowitz used to dance non-stop for hours on the street, outside of 12 West. Like Pat was obsessed with King Kong -- the original version -- I was obsessed with the picture of Fran Lebowitz on the back of the book-jacket of *Metropolitan Life*, which came out when I was 13.

I won't try to interpret Pat's obsession (though if I were forced to hazard a guess, I'd bet it had to do with animal-cruelty as well as his special relationship with the pretty blond lady), but in my case, I just had never before seen such a cool-looking female person. She looked tough and preppy in parallel, if I recall correctly: cowboy boots, faded jeans, an oxford shirt and blazer plus cigarette. I'd never be that cool.

Now, as she's nearly 60 and I'm nearly 45, I get to read about how she loved the Disco scene. Of course, my version was rollerskating down Hickory Road in suburban Stamford with chunky headphones and yellow-wheeled sneaker-skates from Caldor, a department-store chain owned by the Bennetts, who went to our synagogue.

Catching the Vibe Despite My Age and Life Circumstances

Frankie Crocker is being mentioned in the article by Judy Weinstein. I loved him. As a pre-teen, he made me think romantically in a way that only Minnie Ripperton had achieved before him.

Maybe it's also Teddy Pendergrass' death earlier this week that's got me thinking so sentimentally of the Disco era. Picture a bunch of Bar- and Bat Mitzvah-aged kids shuffling around during ballroom and Disco lessons in a private-home's dance studio in Stamford. Did the Village People know how many of us did the YMCA dance at one another's celebrations of our Jewish manhood and womanhood debuts?

I love Jonathan Lethem's books, as I imagine that he was a Jewish kid like me, entranced by the music that played on WBLS-FM 107.5 and then 98.7 KISS-FM. I was transported by "The Quiet Storm" and even before I had a boyfriend or girlfriend, I was moved by the DJs.

My sisters, who I've written here before, loved Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell, basically thought of me as an alien, but no matter. I was in heaven whenever songs like, "I've Got the Next Dance" or "This Time Baby" came on the radio. In high school, I lost my innocence, as there was a huge, anti-Disco movement by so many boys, who said it was music for [pejorative label for gay men]. I thought they were being racist, and then I learned they were (also) being homophobic. Of course, no one suspected it to be the music of lesbians -- and perhaps Fran Lebowitz and I were the only ones who loved it....Wow, I just got to the part, where the article is quoting Fran Lebowitz:
"Disco Sucks" was a kind of panic on the part of straight white guys. Disco was basically black music, rock'n'roll was basically white: those guys felt displaced.
Seven years ago, I had a huge thrill, i.e., the revenge of the nerdy 13-year-old suburban Disco-rollerskater: In my role in GLBT Business Development for IBM, we gave awards to worthy G, L, B and T Chicago entrepreneurs, among whom was legendary Frankie Knuckles himself! What a delightful evening.

Reading a review of "The Book of Eli" yesterday, there was just one point the critic made that caused me to be remotely interested: He spoke of a scene where the Disco smash-hit, "Ring My Bell," blares.

Disco, like swimming, makes me feel vital.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Love Poem 2.0

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies.

Love Ballad

Who's That Lady both of us wondered
Our Day Will Come, we hoped and then
I Need Your Lovin' I declared, though with more subtlety
Ultimately, I affirmed, I Found Lovin'
Rush Over, you did, and swiftly, I'm in Love
My Cherie Amour, I Like What You Are Doing to Me
You're the Best Thing Just the Way you are and
Still a Thrill

Still a New Jersey Outlaw

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies.

Meditations on Marriage

The two boys/men with whom I was most intimate, but didn't marry, both have wives and children. One of the guys is a gorgeous, athletic Leukemia researcher, who went through high school and his undergraduate years at Harvard in six years, rather than eight. The other is a handsome, musical business mogul who can do innumerable push-ups on his knuckles -- or could when we were 20 -- and who sold his business for US$150M, and now, is the CEO of a global green energy company.

The person with whom I have chosen to share my life -- for nearly 18 years so far -- is beautiful, as well as the funniest person I've ever met, and is kind and graceful, with nearly a photographic memory for anything she has ever read, and she has three Masters degrees and a Doctorate.

In not being allowed to marry, Pat and I have a good problem compared to people of any sexual orientation who've not found the love of their life and who have no marriage prospects at all. Ahhh, that's the gratitude I was hunting for in the midst of the shameful news that New Jersey's Senate voted against same-sex marriage.

This morning, I heard an interview of Elizabeth Gilbert on NPR. She was discussing her "champagne problem" of trying to follow her mega-bestselling book with another. Apparently, she wrote the bestseller about getting divorced and liberated in the process, and the new book was about how she needed to marry her boyfriend in order for him not to be deported.

*That's* your champagne problem, I thought bitterly, listening to her. She has no appreciation of her freedom to marry her boyfriend in order to stay united. Bi-national, same-sex couples have not got that similar right. For that matter, neither do same-national, same-sex couples.

It is doubtful that I will read either book, but I did prize Ariel Levy's recent review of the second one, especially this paragraph:
“Committed” is an unfurling of Gilbert’s profound anxiety about reëntering a legally binding arrangement that she does not really believe in. All this ambivalence, expressed in her high-drama prose, can be a lot to handle. (One generally doesn’t indulge another person’s emotional processing at this length unless the jabbering is likely to conclude with sex.)

Why the paragraph appealed to me: It was written by an openly-lesbian journalist, who in this article wrote, referring to an old-school lesbian separatist, "If I weren’t female and gay, I doubt very much that she would have spoken to me." And I might be projecting, but I want to believe that Levy felt the same impatience as I did about Gilbert's actual champagne problem -- of having the freedom to marry the person she wanted to marry, but just being tiresomely expressive of her fear to do so.

During low points like today, as I have time to feel hurt and righteously-indignant about the New Jersey Senate's inhumane decision, I fall prey to what-if-ing.

What if I had married the doctor? What if I had married the green CEO? Well, my partner is a doctor, too (in Education), and as an active Master Gardener, she couldn't be any greener.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Writing for Relaxation

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies.

Football Offers a Bonus Opportunity

Since Pat's watching Boise State and another team battle it out, I have no excuse not to sit down and relax with my blog. Five friends and I meet on Monday nights -- except last semester, when I had class on Mondays -- and we jam about Creativity.

Tonight, I reminded myself aloud that no matter the quality of my creative voice, it is unique. And that I love blogging vs. tweeting because with blogging, I can lose myself, whereas with tweeting, I am ultra-self-conscious.

There's less discipline with blogging, the way I do it, but more satisfaction ultimately. Most often, I feel at least somewhat sated when I'm done.

What is it about friends, talking about creativity that helps me *be* more creative? I feel less alone in my fears and doubts. I feel more connected that others want to spend their free time, being self-expressive.

Tonight, I was also reminded that I consider swimming an art along with writing, as it lets me express myself, too. A friend teaches yoga in addition to painting and I swim in addition to writing.

My trunk felt strong and useful in the pool this morning. It was the engine for my arms especially. My backstroke felt almost elegant.

I'm not lost yet. In today's "New York Times," I read an article, which ended with the columnist, talking about how the potential Apple tablet would be the most exciting thing to come along, since the comic-book ads for miniature sea-horses that he saw as an eight-year-old boy.

At eight, the coolest things to me were Lego; a doll that looked like a Buckingham Palace guard; rocks and minerals; oranges picked fresh from my grandmother's grove in Israel; penny-candy; and the X-ray glasses you could buy from the back of comic books, too.

At my adult age now, I cannot think of anything purchasable, or potentially so, that has excited me more than those items, except maybe Rollerblades.

I find myself replaying my swim in my head now, and maybe I'll go to bed and do that, or imagine I'm rollerblading. When I used to downhill-ski, that's how I'd fall asleep at night on the days we did it; I'd see the trail in front of me and ski it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010: 5770 Welcomes You!

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies.

Celebrating the New Year Twice

As a Jew in America, I celebrate the New Year twice yearly. The year 5770, which kicked off in September, is supposed to signify the birthday of the world, according to Jewish tradition -- though science has shown it to be much older -- and 2010 is supposed to be the birthday of Jesus, according to Christian tradition.

It's my own tradition or habit to be reflective at both milestones and to be hopeful about what the new year will bring. It's never all positive, even as I cannot successfully predict the negative events.

Pop Culture's Lessons

Pat and I have seen a lot of movies and plays and art exhibits lately and here's what I've learned from them, to inform the rest of 5770 and 2010 (in no particular order):

"A Little Night Music:" Each of us can be an agent of absurdity, i.e., "Send in the clowns....Don't bother; they're here."

"Roni Horn aka Roni Horn" at the Whitney: Observers of art complete it.

"Bye, Bye Birdie:" Telecommunications has come a long way.

"Precious:" Literacy volunteering was the most sacred volunteering I ever did.

"Invictus:" Rallying people around something bigger than themselves always is the goal.

"The Understudy:" Meaningful work is hard to find if you want to do more than yell, "Get in the truck!" And Kafka can be a comedic device.

"Avatar:" People who systematically treat others as alien alienate me.

"Georgia O'Keefe: Abstraction:" Artwork that's relatively obscure can be the best kind, i.e., her abstract paintings and drawings -- showcased here -- drew me in far more than the flower and Southwest still-life paintings she's famous for.