Sunday, November 21, 2004

My Village

Like all bloggers, I read other people's blogs when I have time. Some blogs leave me with the impression that the author's world is rather sparsely populated, that the author is the only bright shining star in an otherwise nearly empty universe. So I wonder sometimes if my blog entries make it appear as if I too, am living on an island populated with only a few shadowy figures who occasionally stumble into my stories like strangers bumping into each other at a movie theatre. In reality, this is not the case.

It is true that I lead a fairly solitary life devoted to my research, writing and to my birds, but I make it a habit to get out once or twice each week to visit "my" local watering hole where I sip beers and talk with whomever shows up that night, watch a little TV and read newspapers. So in addition to making friends based on mutual interests, I have also managed to develop a network of friends through my watering hole, which reveals more about these people, about their kindness, generosity of spirit and their ability appreciate (or ignore) my eccentricities than it reveals about me. I don't want to compromise my friends' privacy in my blog, but since Thanksgiving is fast approaching, I will give thanks for what I have, and I do have an amazing wealth of friends.

One of my many "watering hole friends" is a former high school English teacher who could not a find a job after graduation so he moved to NYC and became a building superintendant, or "super". Our favorite topics of conversation are poetry and food. Two weeks ago, we discovered our mutual fondness both for gadgets and for eggs. He was appalled by my lack of gas for my stove and my lack of cookware, so a week later, he surprised me with a cute little electric egg poacher/boiler and an interesting assortment of egg-opening accoutrements. This egg poacher produces the perfect breakfast of hard-boiled eggs that I carry with me in my coat pocket.

Another friend is a pianist who works as a piano tuner for Steinway. Our coversational topics are many, but music and musicians are primary themes. He is very proud of his daughter, a talented actress, and he brings his friends to see her performances. He recently brought me and several of his friends to the closing night of one of her shows, a collection of very engaging Roald Dahl-like monologues. Later that evening, we met the entire cast and ate dinner with them at a nearby kitschy restaurant called "The Trailer Park". The Trailer Park prepares the best tater tots I've ever had (the drinks weren't bad, either).

J is a set designer and producer who enjoys distracting me from my job woes by giving me enough tickets to plays that I can also share them with my friends. So far, he has given me second row seats to White Chocolate and Naked Boys Singing! (the guys in Naked Boys Singing! are gorgeous, they really are buck-nekked and oh yes, they really can sing, too). J's boyfriend works at Carnegie Hall so I have been promised tickets to performances there too, although none have materialized yet (but my hopes are high).

I made some friends while I was working, too. I particularly enjoy swapping tales about men and traveling adventures with G, a security guard for my former employer. Last year, she graciously invited me to spend Christmas Eve with her family, and it was one of the best I've ever had, despite the fact that I cannot speak Italian (several of her siblings speak English though, and her mother is well-versed in the universal language of food=love). Of course there is F, another security guard for my former employer, who is convinced that I will be a fabulous professor and provides me with access to his extensive network of contacts. I have also spent several evenings with him, complaining about the academic job market (oops) while he patiently dispensed drinks and food.

Several other friends, L and her roommate C, invited me to breakfast at their apartment several times, including a Christmas Day breakfast last year. Then there is A who invited me to fun events such as the honey harvest as I reported earlier, who accompanied me to some Upper West Side bars to watch all the presidential debates on TV and who bought me several nice dinners (and wonderful desserts) that I still think about.

I have met many wonderful people through the wonders of Craigslist, too. G is one of my "Craigslist friends" who, together with her boyfriend A, purchased my ticket to the Hallowe'en show put on by the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (described in an earlier blog entry), and then purchased a wonderful meal for me after all the ghostly shennanigans were over for the evening. In return, I share part of my abundance of tickets to plays with G. Two more "Craigslist friends" whom I will mention here are K and T. K lives in Virginia and T lives in Colorado so we have never met face-to-face. Despite this, K mailed a care package of several loaves of her delicious homemade chocolate-chip pumpkin bread to me a few weeks ago. One loaf still resides in my freezer, waiting for Christmas. T and I first noticed each other because of our mutual fondness for firemen but we quickly realized that we have much in common. We call each other frequently to discuss our philosphies of life and our respective job search woes, so I was excited for her when last week, she finally landed her "dream job" in a medical profession.

J is a recently unemployed computer programmer and a longtime friend of mine whom I met because of our mutual love and admiration for our companion parrots. Two months ago, J invited me out to a fabulous dinner in Hoboken, NJ, which is located just across the Hudson River from NYC. I still think fondly about that dinner (I ate too much, ahem) and the conversation that evening while NYC stood silently behind us, a sparkling, orderly galaxy contrasting against the deep blue velvet of the heavens.

And last but not least is RL, a former roadie for Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and a variety of other famous musicians, and his wife, A, a retired Broadway actress, who seem to have adopted me as their daughter after knowing me for nearly two years. They both are firmly convinced that I need to be fattened up (this is a common thread amongst all of my friends, despite my protestations) so they have made it their mission to feed me almost beyond my capacity while providing companionship and clever insights about books and a variety of other topics.

So as this holiday season approaches, I will give thanks for what I do have; friends. I will try my best not to be too distracted from my friends by my frustrations and despair with my circumstances. If I begin to feel too badly, I will lighten my mood by drinking a toast to each and every one of my friends. If I manage to persevere, it will be due to my little village in the heart of this Big City.

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© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist

3 Peer Reviews:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you find work that works for you. With GWB I doubt there will be much US funded research on anything natural. I'm wondering if Diane Ackerman has a website. Could you write something a la Ackerman for bird enthusiasts (as opposed to researchers and academics)? Or go perch yourself in Ithaca and see what those Cornell ornithologists are up to. Maybe NIH if you could relocate to D.C.

I'm glad my blog directed me to yours!

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, thought I'll say hello ... reading the earlier comment was reminded of an eccentric painter who used to feed wild birds from his hands and wrote a book about his technique a while back, mentioned on Amazon :)

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi again from second comment ... have you seen the 1996 episode of Hey Arnold! which featured the pigeon man ... ? Since you write sensibly would you like to share the enthusiasm for these intelligent, individualistic, almost human-like birds with other people, particularly about the lesser known and highly endangered parrots and parakeets by may be collecting information and stories on the various types which have made US their home, and their status and what care needs to be taken, what about the parrot borne diseases, how do you plan for a bird that lives so long, ... ... cheers

7:28 AM  

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