Wednesday, February 15, 2017

good decision

A friend and I were scheduled to see Jitney a few weeks ago. Neither one of us had any interest in the play; It came with our subscription package to Manhattan Theater Club (MTC).

My friend cancelled outright; I rescheduled for a matinee today.

I wake up and decide to cancel. 

I call MTC.

Tim, a never-met friend who works in the subscription office, tells me the play is  fantastic and I'd be crazy to miss it. I consider rescheduling again, but know that if I don't feel like going today, I won't feel like going a week from today. I tell Tim I'll think about it and hang up — and then argue with myself the rest of the morning.

I really don't feel like going into midtown. 

I know this is a ridiculous argument. It's easy enough to get there. And it's not like it's raining or snowing.

I haven't loved any other August Wilson play that I've seen. In fact, I fell asleep during the recent movie-version of Fences.

But he is an important playwright.

I don't like dialogue-driven plays. I hated Conor McPherson's The Weir, for example, and that won all sorts of big awards.

But the reviews on this production of Jitney have been universally excellent.

I just went to a play last night.

So what, people visit NY just to see  good theater. And besides, it's not like I'm sacrificing other plans.

I don't really want to go.

But I feel guilty not going.  

It's two and a half hours long.

I can always leave at intermission if I hate it.

Finally, around one, I decide to go. I grab a yogurt, throw on some makeup, and leave. The play starts at two. I just make it.

Everyone seated around me is decades older than I am and short. I have a perfect, unobstructed view seat, just five rows from the stage.

By the time the riveting first act ends, I'm totally hooked. 

Thank-you Tim; I'm glad I listened.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

a play in two days

I meet Susan at Westville.

We are having dinner before seeing a new play called Yen by Anna Jordan. That was last Tuesday.

Westville is my favorite go-too place for a casual, inexpensive dinner. It's a nondescript whole-in-the-wall I discovered years ago. The food is outstanding, the menu long and varied, and the prices gentle. It's unfortunate that the desserts are as good as they are as we always end up getting one.

Our seats are first row. We are practically in the squalid apartment watching porn with the two teen boys when the play opens. It's a brutal first act. 

Should we stay for act two?  I don't know. The play did start to get more interesting in the last scene before intermission. But it's so dark and depressing. These are not the kind of people I want to spend time with. And you just know the ending is not going to be a happy one. Not that I need a happy ending. It's just all so dismal. We leave.

My Via picks me up in literally two minutes.

I get home and then read the reviews. Now I wish I'd stayed. 

I call MCC theater the next day and get another ticket for tonight.

I'm glad I went, but should have stayed the first time around. The second act, far more powerful than the first, costs me an extra $15, another Via, and three more hours of time. 

Tomorrow I'm supposed to see Jitney. A two and a half hour play by August Wilson. Lots of dialogue and little action is my guess from the reviews.

I'm thinking of skipping both acts.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

a challenging task

First PlayMobile, and later Legos. These were Alexander's earliest obsessions.

He would open the instructions (usually several age levels above his own) and meticulously follow them. I was in awe of this talent;  it certainly wasn't inherited from me.

I have never been good at simple instruction-following. I resist buying things that require assembly. But sometimes there is no choice.

My all-in-one printer isn't compatible with my new MacBook Pro (that I love).  I have to get a new one. 

I order a wireless Canon printer (Pixma MG7720); better than the Canon I bought eight years ago at almost half the price. It arrives. And it sits in my living room in a huge cardboard box for about a week. 

But today it's snowing. Finally. So it's the perfect day for indoor jobs — even ones I find intimidating.

I use a box cutter to open the huge box.

It's filled with lots of brown paper that I remove. Environmentalists would not be happy.

I next cut the clear tape that's hiding in a million places. 

I remove the printer from the box, unwrap the five ink cartridges, and find the four-page quick set-up instructions, knowing it won't be quick.

I unplug and move my old printer to make space for the new one. 

I carry the new printer back to the space where the old printer was.

I then take a break —shower, make some calls, do a few emails.

I start where I left off, and the next part goes pretty smoothly. 

Until I get to the wireless connection part. There is no connection. I do a few obvious things; nothing works.

I call Canon. Get a great guy. Very knowledgeable and clear in his directions.

"Log on to your computer. "

"Go to Applications."

"Open a folder called Canon Utlities."

"Now click on this and download that. Use this program instead of the one labeled that."

"Okay, now open Settings."

"Under settings blah blah blah."

I do everything he tells me to do and it works.

None of his instructions are anywhere in the Quick Set Up Guide; and nothing he directs me to do is intuitive.

Still, I test the printing and it works. The scanning too.  And the copying.

Everything is functioning as it should. 

The pride I feel is disproportionate to the task. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

a ride on the #6

I am on my way home from a BAFTA meeting. It's rush hour.

The subway is packed. Standing room only. I am squished between other riders, barely able to breathe.

"Ladies and gentleman, this train will not be stopping at 125th street due to construction. We will be stopping at 138th Street instead and you will have to take the downtown 6 back to 125th."

This doesn't affect me. But I see others grumbling.

A few minutes pass.

"Okay ladies and gentleman, again, I want to make sure you heard my first message......" (and he repeats the information previously announced).

A few stops later.

"Hey everyone. I just got news. 125th Street is now open. You can now ignore my previous announcements to the contrary."

Then the train stalls. Stopped between stations.

"I apologize for the delay. We will be moving shortly. There's traffic up ahead due to the New England Patriot's win in the Super Bowl."

Sullen subway riders are now smiling.

Tom is on minds and hearts everywhere.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

come and gone

"Are you coming home this weekend?"

That's been my question to Alexander just about every weekend since he left last December.

And I always get the same response.

"I'm not sure yet. Maybe."

By Thursday the maybe has morphed into I think next weekend I might come home.

I love seeing my son.  Even if it's just a quick dinner and maybe an episode of SVU.

Finally, around Wednesday of this week, Alexander surprises me with, "Im coming home for the weekend."

I begin thinking of where we can go for dinner.

But by the next day, the weekend has been shortened. "I'm not coming home Friday. I don't feel like rushing to jump on a bus after working all week." Alexander lives in Philadelphia and it's only a two hour trip and he is only 24. Still, I understand.

I get home from work on Saturday around 8. Alexander has already come home, dropped his stuff, and left for a Knicks game with Daniel.  On the table I find this note.

It's an exact replica of the kind I leave for him.

Around one a.m. Alexander announces his arrival home. I wake up and we talk for a few minutes.

In the morning I kiss him good-bye before leaving for work, and by the time I get home he's back in Philadelphia.

I see him for a total of 15 minutes. His funny note makes me smile; the empty toilet roll in the bathroom doesn't.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

giving up a vice

I smoked for a brief time, but only with a lifesaver, and never before the sun went down. I wasn't a serious smoker. But when John, my boyfriend in 1982, asked me to give it up for a month, I did, and never went back.

I don't drink, except socially. And even then, it's probably some unsophisticated sweetened drink like a Cosmopolitan.

Drugs were fun in my youth, but it's been many years since I've touched anything illegal.

But games can keep me occupied for hours. 

Words With Friends is interactive and social. I have about 40 games going with about 15 people, all of whom I have some connection with (hometown, tv business, past jobs, and friends), although three I've never met.

Solitaire requires zero skill, but because it's so mindless, I play it late at night,  usually while watching Jimmy Fallon. It's better than Ambien.

When I was at Tufts, I became friendly with Toni. She was from Turkey, and arrived at college with a backgammon set. She taught a group of us how to play, and it became something we did often. In fact I bonded with Jeannie — a good friend of mine from Maine — over hundreds of games in her small dorm room, a floor down from mine. But then I graduated and didn't play for years.

In 2001 I found a site called Backgammon Motif, created in 1998 by some guy. I began playing again.  And for some inexplicable reason, this is the only backgammon site I've ever played on. 

I'd find myself playing if I was on hold with Amazon, or Apple, or anyone else.

Or bored.

Or had a few minutes before a scheduled call.

Or had time before I was leaving to be somewhere.

Or for no reason at all.

I wasted a lot of time on this mindless site.

Today I go to play on my new computer. I download Java. And, it doesn't work.  Then I get a message.

At first I think, there must be a way around this. I'm sure I can figure it out.  But then I reconsider. Ya know, it's probably time to give it up. 

I un-bookmark the site and feel liberated. 

Then I email Robin to see if she wants to see a Rolling Stones Exhibit next week. I have a lot more time now.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

a letter to my apple heroes

Dear Rob L (at Apple Care) and David K (one of the managers at the Apple Store on Madison),

You have no idea how happy you've made me. 

I mean really, I was miserable for so long. Strange how getting rid of a bad computer can feel so good.

I work in retail. The other day a young woman comes in and buys a gown she adores. She is so appreciative of my help — makes me feel as if I  personally designed and stitched the dress.

That's sort of how I feel today. You both made a situation I was dreading not so bad at all.

First, the transfer of all my data was so much easier than I thought it would be. Even this morning, when I plugged into my old laser printer, the drives I needed were already there. And though my nine-year old Canon all-in-one is no longer compatible, its newer, wireless version (Canon Pixma GM7720) is only $80.

Rob, you acted as if I were your only client. Your patience and knowledge are commendable. You made transferring iTunes and photos pretty painless. . And when something took a while to download, and you said, "What if I call you back in twenty minutes?" and then did, in exactly twenty minutes — well, that is pretty amazing too.

Then came the actual return.

I lug my much-hated iMac back to the Apple Store.  I see you, David, as soon as I walk in. You greet me with a smile, and remember our conversation from early November. You then credit me in full for my iMac. It is impossible for you to have done anything more or anything better. When I think of the hundreds of hours wasted with that unhelpful Britani Woods in Tim Cook's office I shudder. You are the one who should be sitting next to the CEO, as you represent what Apple stands for.

Rob and David, you both have erased my year-long bad feelings about Apple, and I am back in love.

It's amazing how much a bad computer can disrupt a life. Finally, I can relax. (At least regarding my tech life).

Thank you both so much.