Friday, September 25, 2015

Let's Visit the Subway! Post contains neither Pope nor Muppets

seated, after stink eye from NYC travelers
There were numerous causes for anxiety over Labor
Day weekend: flying with a baby, sleeping next to a baby, balancing Javier's theater-work needs, 2 hour breastfeeding cycle, sightseeing and socializing; carting about a car seat, stroller, playpen, etc.; flying with a baby...I raised hesitations frequently enough with Javier that he came close to barking at me; at which point, I quieted down* and eventually relaxed slightly, because let go and let god, right?

*to him
But all worry aside (or because of, if you're anxiously superstitious) the weekend wound up
monkey on his back. slightly excited.
being a graaaaaand week's vacation: spent nourishing time with loved hosts (including night time dining on their Astoria rooftop, tralalala), Fun Home was the most fitting musical adaptation that could have been brought to life from Alison Bechdel's graphic novel, the Public Theater's Odyssey adaptation was spectacular; and the Sparrow's brunch served up rummy egg creams and croissant french toast, while the Baby made eyes at various patrons hunched on barstools.

too young: dazzled by sports bar mega-screen
keeping close watch on suspicious little human with rattle

indifferent to Eyez in Astoria

Long Island City
Long Island City
With so much bloggy fodder, who would suspect a post about a subway station? And who am I? Is it true, that in my middle age (*cringe*) I have suddenly adopted my father's fanatical love of trains (and trolleys. subways are fine; but buses are inferior and good lord noooooo, not those horrid buses masquerading as vintage trolleys for undiscerning tourists). Hardly. I certainly do appreciate the independence afforded by a well developed mass transit system, and being the driving wimp that I am, you won't find me driving in major cities. But the thrill of an engine, the developments over model years, the (/im)precision of timetables? Not so much. But throw in some public art and I'm in. I have been struck by several airport art exhibits in the past and counted myself lucky to have taken part in the University of Michigan Hospital's "Gifts of Art" program a few years ago. Even when the art fails to resonate for me, I appreciate that it was created and funds were freed up to put the works in front of a broad cross section of the population, going about their days. While art installations in public venues are not quite the same thing as the designer's urge to unite an object's beauty and utility, it's not far off. To me, the existence of such programs affirm the psychological boon of encountering art, even if momentarily, casually. Maybe even better if casual? Art without a rarefied gallery air, art as backdrop, which will come to the foreground if given a moment's pause. Even if only one in several hundred passers-by give a few moments of focused attention, it's a worthy program. 

And so it is, with some fabulous subway stops. The MTA Arts for Transit Design Team and American Museum of Natural History finished their collaborative renovation of the 81st and Central Park West stop in 1999. The uptown and downtown stairways and platforms explore animal life, the earth's geology and (less so) the heavens, and are collectively titled "For Want of a Nail," as in:

For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail
-- Benjamin Franklin

(there are apparently all manner of variations of this, over the centuries. While not speaking to the neglect aspect -- not maintaining the horseshoe -- this also makes me think of the Butterfly effect)

The ornate tile work below is hinted at by these uptown stair parrots
Blurry, but beckoning.
Quail, shadowed by an extinct species. This brilliant "shadowing" was done throughout

Echidna? or more likely kiwi...
 This alligator (crocodile?) was my favorite, with the lower part of its body and tail spelled out with the dun colored floor tiles. I could have spent so much more time with these designs! But we were on a mission to catch the Odyssey in Central Park. So on we marched, with me exclaiming and Javier noting we could return this way (but alas, we were more tired and focused on returning to La Bebe by night's end). More details and images here and here. The downtown stop was devoted to very touchable fossil casts -- quite cool -- but the glass tiles are what I most loved.
Each tile piece is well incorporated with surroundings

star tiles also lovely.
Mundane by comparison, but the curvy letters quite appealing

What an 8! How about that S??

Friday, September 18, 2015

Midweek Caffeination, Baby Eats up the Months

FVBP, with good quality foam
I'm just not sure about the Songbird Cafe's California Roll on Brioche sandwich. Which hasn't kept me from eating it, especially since there are no tiny hands scrabbling for it with each approach to my mouth. Order something fusiony, get something fusiony. This characteristic also seems to be the defining one for this cafe: latte, yes, but Cardamom Rose latte (Compatriot's mention of which lured me to Songbird initially), latte, yes, but Fig Vanilla Black Pepper latte. Similarly, the new, modern light fixtures and jaunty chalkboard wall menu are out of sync with the ugly bones of what used to be the Flim-Flam, a down-at-the-heels diner which limped along for many years before giving up the ghost. Minor oddities aside, being an upscale cafe (with fine espresso drinks, no mistake) within a strip mall on the North Side of Ann Arbor means a wealth of interior roominess* plus easy parking. "Oh," a local proprietor assured me, "The Songbird is the nicest thing in a kind of janky stretch!"

Misfits, at reasonable prices
It's a prime location for me for this week's Dumpling-at-the-office-day, without the worry of meter feeding or any cafe owners trying to stop me from my laptop domination of a two-top. We laptop table-hogs are legion, but here, fields of space remain.

*Let the baby stroller invasion commence! Biding my time.

I had many studio-ish tasks lined up today, but almost all were located in our basement and it's a BEEEEEYOUTIFUL Summerfall day, and spending too much time inside my own house is warping me. So! Delivered some printmaking cards and set myself up here. Expressly to write, though the sad, sad activity that I almost always fall into first is flipping through recent photographs of my baby. Is part of me dying for today's separation? No. And yet, look, this expression is different from that one, and looook, even though this is blurry, it's kinda great because you get such a sense of her little baby BUSY-NESS. Oi. It doesn't help that she's turning 6 months old on Friday; hard to fathom how half a year has passed and this requires further image perusing. I have watched Javier watch videos of the baby, while the baby wiggled on a blanket, gazing up at him; I have done the same. Love makes a fool of you, parenting version? My sister is also coming tomorrow and baby documentation will enter overdrive -- she has been charged with getting new videos for our parents to watch on repeat; and our entire family is a bit ridiculous with documentation to begin with. So.

The moment following month-sticker application
I know I must eat it, but still I worry.
Adhesive means nothing to me
Here I demonstrate my sloppy-burrito technique
And here we are, a day later, Sister is safely here and watching Dumpling roll about on the floor, scouring the (low) horizons for new things to gum. She is speaking to her about her 6 month birthday tomorrow; Baby seems currently unimpressed by this. There have already been more photos taken of her than she will ever be able to fathom; more images liked and commented on. I really can't comprehend how many people have held and cooed at my child already, in her life. Don't you remember adults telling you things like,"More people love you than you will ever know?" and this resonating not at all? I remember hearing something like this, and it making no sense to me. "They watched you grow up!" How could that be, when I barely knew this adult, who I seemed to be meeting for the first time. They didn't know me. They seemed strangely invested. I didn't have words for it. And here and now, all these people with connections to Baby, however fleeting... The outer circle, maybe, their day was brightened momentarily. But the inner circle (whose circumference is far larger than I ever would have thought) is peopled with those who seem to love this new little being, whose personality is just emerging. Loved before known.