wlotus: (Photography II)
I was sorely disappointed that I missed what sounds like an excellent concert Tuesday night in Central Park by the Shanghai Symphony and the NY Philharmonic. Determined not to miss another, I went to Prospect Park with friends last night for another NY Philharmonic concert. In spite of being too far back to clearly hear the orchestra (over the very loud voices of the small children and their caretakers sitting near us), we had an excellent time.

two little boys


+10 )

Events like this are part of why I love NY.
wlotus: (Face)
I still owe you an explanation for why I was at Sing Sing last week. What a naughty tease I am. :-) Thank you for being so patient.

Last Saturday morning I typed in the address for the baby shower I would attend late that afternoon. When Google Maps showed me the location I looked twice in disbelief. "QWC Annex: Sing Sing State Penitentiary" was in bold, black letters under the location marker. T and I studied the map in detail, sure there was a mistake, but there was none.

My mind immediately thought up the worst case scenario. "If I find out this young lady with an engineering degree and the job to match is having her baby shower at the prison because her baby's father is an inmate there, I am going to slap her as soon as the baby is born! I raised (mentored) her better than that!" I see that phenomenon a lot in the black community--professional, upwardly-mobile people (usually women) pairing themselves with jailbirds--and it burns me up every time. But I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt as we drove up there, thinking there must be a good reason for all of this.

Sing Sing Prison
Sing Sing Correctional Facility,
Ossining, NY


My resolve to give her the benefit of the doubt wavered as we drove alongside the walls of the prison, however. First of all, there were the walls: concrete walls three or four stories high in places, topped with barbed wire and overlooked by guard towers at intervals. The only break in the walls was a green door large enough to drive a bus through. The structure was downright depressing from the outside; I can only imagine how much worse the energy would be on the inside of the walls. I had never been that close to a maximum security prison before, and I hope the pleasure of a repeat experience is indefinitely postponed.

After getting directions from a guard who saw us drive around the walls more than once in search of the party, we drove across the railroad tracks and along the water towards the annex. The sight of the water on my right eased my mind.

The sight on my left of the three stories of barbed wire filling a driveway-sized gap between two chain-link fences topped with barbed wire sent my eyes a-rolling anew.

I parked my car nose against the concrete wall on the other side of the annex, took a deep breath, and went to greet my acquaintance...and find out what the heck led her to pick that location.

As it turns out, there was a perfectly good explanation. Even the expectant mother had been taken aback by the location, at first. Furthermore, her fiancé is not an inmate there. Her cousin lives in Ossining, and her cousin's church does a lot of work with the prison. Because of this, her cousin was able to use the fellowship hall behind the prison for the event. The hall was decorated beautifully and was located next to the water, with picnic tables outside, so we could sit inside or out, as we wished. One only had to ignore the fact that we were in the shadow of an infamous penitentiary, OMG to enjoy the scenery.

Enjoying the view of the water.


A word of advice: if you ever decide to throw someone a party in the shadow of a penitentiary, let them and their guests know in advance. It will lessen the shock.
wlotus: (Peaceful)
Today I shall attempt to add a little spice to my casual wardrobe.  (Me, going clothes shopping WILLINGLY?  Surely the apocalypse is nigh!)  There shall also be socializing in the evening.  It looks like another day out and about having fun and loving life.

Make it a good one wherever you are, too. 
wlotus: (Contentment)
I have a feeling today will be a quiet day spent listening to soothing music. I don't exactly feel "under the weather", but I don't exactly feel like my regular self. My calendar leads me to chalk it up to hormones and be extra-kind to myself.

Making photos at the bike blessing on Saturday was a lot of fun. It also helped me cope with the over-stimulation that comes from spending three or four hours in a new environment where I don't know anyone other than T. (I am not sure if I am more sensitive to such things now that I am in my 40s, or if I am simply more aware of my reaction as I've learned to pay attention to and respect my unique way of moving in the world.) For the first hour the combination of loud music from the DJ, the sea of unfamiliar faces, and the sensation of not really belonging (both because I am a new rider without her own bike and because I have never felt comfortable immersed in black urban culture...the energy is very different from my own) meant I was pretty much glued to T's side. It took a conscious act of will for me to venture out on my own while we were there. Social events are not my forte, but I'm not used to feeling so intimidated. I was a little surprised by my shyness.

In spite of my shyness and a twinge of annoyance when the festivities were paused so a local minister could say a long prayer over the bikers and their families (flashbacks to less happy times in the life of [livejournal.com profile] wlotus), I had a wonderful time. The food was great, as was the music. The bikes, of course, were beautiful. When we first arrived there were only about 20 bikes there, most of them sport bikes. But as the afternoon wore on the cruisers started arriving, so I had lots to marvel at. I'm a little anxious to buy my own bike--the Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Nomad is at the top of my list--but that will have to wait until my finances are in better shape.

Everyone else in my family has left for work and school. Time for me to hop in the shower, fire up some incense, and start my own work day. Perhaps I can find a way to get rid of this sudden attack of the hiccups, too!

Cookout

May. 15th, 2010 11:25 pm
wlotus: (Photography II)
This afternoon we took Volusia to the Bronx for a cookout. One of T's coworkers gave a cookout at a friend's house and invited us. The weather was sunny and warm, so we loaded up the bike and took off.

T and Her Co-Worker
T and Her Co-Worker

I like this photo of T. She looks so cool and mellow.

+3 )

Now we are at home, no thanks to the megalomaniacs on the highway. Other than that, the ride was wonderful both ways.

From the Dept. of "I Can Ride a Big Girl Bike": before we first left home, I took the bike for a spin through the neighborhood for about 5 minutes. My stopping and shifting have gotten much smoother. My turns are still a little wobbly as I learn how much throttle to give depending on the circumstances, but those are smoothing out, as well. Even the car that cut me off while I was turning on a hill didn't phase me; I saw him coming, predicted his path, and instinctively applied my defensive driving skills to put a safe distance between him and me. I'm getting more confidence in my ability to drive safely, even in traffic. This is a good thing.
wlotus: (Princess)
I have successfully disassembled, cleaned, and (mostly) unstuck the '.' key on my Powerbook! This is much reason for celebration in Lotusland, as a Lotus who cannot effortlessly touch-type her entries is not the happiest of Lotuses. :-)

Last night T and I went out to celebrate a friend's birthday. C is one of the pleasant surprises of our neighborhood. He is a server at our local Uno's, and we took an immediate liking to him from the first time he served us. Since then, we specifically ask for him whenever we eat there. We've all progressed to Facebook connections, so when his 40th birthday came around, he made sure to include us on the invitation list. Last night I donned my newly-finished tam--there shall be photos later, when I've finished the matching scarf--stuffed my ancient point-and-shoot into my bag, and went with T to celebrate with him.

the birthday group
Telephone Bar & Grill


Part 1 of the celebration was held at Telephone Bar & Grill, a place made memorable by the three working telephone booths that made up the front wall of the place. The finger food, drinks, and ambience were quite nice, so you can imagine our disappointment to find out that was their last night! New management has bought and will completely redo the place, including getting rid of the telephone booths. I am hoping against hope they decide to keep the telephone booths, after all, especially since I'd love to go back with my DSLR and properly photograph them.

At 10:45 T and I walked the birthday boy to the Part 2 of the celebration: Niagara Bar. We were looking forward to dancing, but the downstairs was closed due to a private party until 12:30. We hung out with C at the bar until just after midnight, then T and I hit the road for home. The night wasn't a waste, though; we had fun hanging out talking with him and dancing to the occasional good song the young, emo-looking DJ played. (The Smiths' "Panic" was one such song.) We even met one of C's best friends, someone we really, really would like to hang out with, again. She's a fellow artist, so we made sure to exchange cards. Before I left the bar, she and I had even became Facebook connections! Speaking of which, I need to find her Etsy shoppe and link to that, too.

the birthday boy and his best friend
The Birthday Boy (right) and His Best Friend


Today there shall be staying indoors where it is warm--this frigid weather is not for me!--where there is good music, and where there is more fun with family. I hope your Sunday is enjoyable, too.
wlotus: (Blackberry)
After a week of studying, a drink is in order!

IMG00093-20091218-1928.jpg

wlotus: (Photography II)
Last Saturday T and I trekked to Brooklyn, where she was reunited with two of her half-sisters. In the years since she last saw them, they have had children: three girls between them. T was very happy to meet them for the first time. She introduced herself to the youngest not long after we got there.

T Meets her youngest niece...who screams bloody murder.


Okay...so, the baby wasn't all that impressed. But she'll warm up over time. :-)

T, reunited with two of her half-sisters.
T, reunited with two of her half-sisters.


T's half-sisters with their mother, their kids, and the littlest niece's father.
T's half-sisters with their mother, their kids, and the littlest niece's father.
wlotus: (Peaceful)
As the weather grows cooler, T and I know our motorcycle riding days are numbered. Yesterday was cool, but sunny, so we hopped on the bike to run errands. After we accomplished our goals, we attempted a ride out to Long Island...except traffic on the Grand Central Parkway was atrocious, and we had no desire to sit in traffic. We got off the highway as soon as we could and, instead, headed to a local parking lot, so I could practice my riding skills.

Because the parking lots tend to be full during summer weekends, I hadn't gotten much practice in the past month. I was concerned I had forgotten everything I'd learned, but I needn't have worried. I only stalled the bike once taking off, and I'd gained enough confidence from being a passenger to lean and accelerate into my turns, rather than wobbling slowly along and remaining upright, depending mostly on turning the handlebars. I made a number of huge figure-8 circuits through the parking lot before properly parking the bike next to T. Then I did my standard, "I drove the bike!" dance, complete with shaking tailfeathers and flapping wings. :-)

Financial constraints kept me from taking the Motorcycle Safety School course for my license this year. I hope to recitfy that next spring, as quickly as possible.

I have today off, so today is full of laundry, a trip to BJs, good music, and sweats, as the temperatures aren't expected to get out of the 50s. *sobs* So long, summer!
wlotus: (Photography II)
I enjoyed meeting [livejournal.com profile] alois and touring the Robert Frank exhibit with him. [livejournal.com profile] alois has a refreshingly relaxed attitude about photography that I usually expect to only find in people who have many years of experience under their belts. Talking to him, I would never guess he's only been doing photography for a few years. I was also surprised to find that like me, he has a background in the sciences, not the arts.

We walked through the exhibit, which included some of Frank's early work as well as The Americans in its entirety. We both came out of the exhibit reflecting on our own work...not that either of us want to copy Frank's style, but studying his style gives us ideas for our own. For my part, I am encouraged to be a little less critical of my work, as I believe I am squashing both my creativity and passion that way. While I ought to strive for technical perfection (meaning, photographs that do not have glaring technical problems that take away from the subject), I need to allow myself a bit more leeway in terms of composition. I need to also remember that a photo which may not work well alone may become powerful when combined with others. I saw several photos in The Americans which would not have made much of an impression on me alone, but when combined with a series of four or five packed a punch.

Art is subjective and nowhere near an exact science. I must tattoo this fact to the inside of my eyelids.

Today's meeting was a pleasant change in my normal routine. It's always interesting to match a face with an LJ name, especially when the face belongs to someone pleasant!

Met Atrium
Met Atrium
wlotus: (Happy)
Don't knock social networking; you can get the hook-up that way! Yesterday was a perfect example. I was playing around on Facebook when I noticed a friend had just posted about needing to give away tickets to see The Neville Brothers at B.B. King's Bar and Grill in Times Square. I had never heard their music, though I knew who they were, so T and I jumped at the chance to check them out. What. A. Treat! I made some excellent photos and came away with the soul-stirring sounds of bayou funk ringing in my ears. The venue was standing room only, but I doubt we would have sat much. We sang along, whooped, and shook our tailfeathers through the entire 90-minute performance. It was a fun ending to our day.
wlotus: (Default)

Arturo O'Farrill conducts "Picadillo"
21 June 2009


As part of this year's Make Music New York festival, Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra performed a two-hour set outside of Symphony Space (Broadway and 95th St.). T and I went after church and had the pleasure of running into [livejournal.com profile] jadegirl and [livejournal.com profile] holzman! The music was great, and the company made the experience even better.

+12...
wlotus: (Peaceful)
T, driving my car

After puttering around the apartment all morning, T and I headed out into the grey, damp afternoon. Our goal: drive to Long Island to browse some motorcycle shoppes and possibly buy me some touring boots. That is, T drove and I happily parked myself in the passenger seat...where I promptly fell asleep.

Our first stop was the store where T bought her bike in 2004. The store had changed management twice since then, but the new owners were the two guys she remembers from when she bought her bike. They didn't have the boots I need, but they are able to order them for me. She trusts them, so I'll probably place the order next week.

The other dealerships T remembered being in that area are gone, casualties of the recession, I guess. But the guys at her shop told us about a place 5 miles down the road with a showroom full of new bikes. We visited them before heading home, and holy cow, where those guys right! From wall to wall the showroom was full of bikes of all kinds, with cruisers and touring bikes along the first wall by the door. We sat on a Yamaha Royal Star Tour Deluxe and immediately fell in love with it. It doesn't weigh much more than T's Suzuki Volusia, but it has a much larger engine, more comfortable seat, and more natural reach for our arms. The shop was closing, so we didn't stay long, but it was long enough to get us charged up about the road trips we can make on that bike.

10 days until T starts her 3-day riding course to get her license. I need to get my boots, and fast!
wlotus: (Happy)
Today a friend of T's met us so she could practice riding in an empty lot. (Until she gets her license, she is supposed to ride only in the line of sight of another licensed rider.) This is T, riding her Suzuki Volusia 800 in the lot.

T riding her cruiser.


Um, who is THAT?!? )
wlotus: (Happy)
Back in the mid-nineties I was active in a small, black Pentecostal church in inner-city Syracuse, NY. One of the hats I wore in that church was assistant to the children's choir director.

God's Potential, ACJC Childrens Choir

God's Potential, ACJC's Children's Choir


Before the year was out, I became an unofficial mentor to two girls in the choir. The eldest of the two (RH, age 10) is standing in the back row and wearing a blue-green dress in the above photo. They were good girls, and we somehow ended up hanging out together on a regular basis. I'd take them places, have them over to my house, and be a role model just by being myself. I was very aware of my influence on them, though, so I always had my eyes open for teaching moments.

When I finished my master's degree in 1998, I took her and her sister with me to Sears for my graduation portraits. I don't normally do things to call attention to myself, but that time I donned my academic regalia at the car and walked through the parking lot and mall with them to the portrait studio, so they could observe people's reactions to me in my cap, gown, and hood. Then I took them with me to the engineering school convocation on the campus of Syracuse University, where they would see me cross the stage and hear my name called. Neither had been to a college campus before, and at that age they hadn't given any thought to college. We had an intense talk about how much college costs (they were appalled) and why it was important to do well in school, so one could get scholarships to pay for it. RH didn't say much, but I could tell I had planted a seed.

Yesterday I was one of the proud onlookers at commencement on the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University, where RH received her B.S. in General Psychology (with a minor in Art Therapy).

RH and her mom
RH (right) with her Mom


She worked full time in her field and earned scholarships to pay her own way through undergrad. Come spring of next year, she intends to begin graduate school, though she hasn't yet decided if she wants to pursue social work or therapy. (By the way, [livejournal.com profile] iswari, she was very impressed when I told her about you receiving your Ph.D.)

To say I am humbled to know I had a hand in this young woman's development would be an understatement. She is a focused, humble person who hangs out with good people. At the tender age of 24, she already is making a difference in others' lives through her work. I am tremendously proud of her.
wlotus: (Happy)
Here's a sure equation for a marvelous weekend: introduce your friend of nearly 21 years to your friend of 18 months and have them get on like a house on fire.

Three Lovely Ladies
From l to r: B (my best friend from university), T, me
Mohegan Sun Casino
2 May 2009

From the moment we arrived on Friday, B made us right at home in her cozy house. For our part, T and I helped her cook, successfully troubleshot a few software problems B had, and upgraded her computer memory. We also got some good ideas for things we can do to make our living space as comfortable and clean as hers. Between the coziness of the house and the quietness of the neighborhood, we were almost sorry to leave.

T and I had planned to return home Saturday evening after our trip to Mohegan Sun. But at some point that afternoon B said, "Y'all don't have to go back tonight, do you?" Why, no, we didn't, as a matter of fact. We didn't get home until midnight last night. All of us had a wonderful time enjoying one another's company. There was lots of laughter, hours of good conversation, and even a good movie (Slumdog Millionaire).

On Friday B is leaving for a six-month job assignment in the DC area. T and I see a road trip in our future.
wlotus: (Photography)
Many of you know my Canon EOS 5D is my Precious. (Know The Precious. Love The Precious. Amen.) Today my 5D and the spring weather bring you photos of T's Precious:

T's Precious


Three years ago, before she could turn her permit into a license, T was injured on the job and has been unable to ride. Her riding mentor has been storing her bike for her since then. Now she is finally healthy enough to start riding again. We went over today so she could get reacquainted with her baby. A few times around the block, and it was all coming back to her.

T's Precious


Well now, what do you know: she has a passenger seat. 'nuff said. *innocent look*
wlotus: (Peaceful)
I'm spending the afternoon sitting at the window with my laptop on the windowsill, so I can look out at my wet neighborhood. Earlier this afternoon I had been knitting as I took notes of our weekly conference call. I'm an account executive on the financial services team of People's Financial Network, and we meet each week by 'phone to exchange information and ideas.

In my past jobs, I hated meetings. Most of them felt like a waste of time, and many were full of useless propaganda, either for the company or for someone's personal agenda. (We weren't supposed to notice, though.) But I've sat in on several conference calls with the financial services team as we've gone through our various permutations, and all of them are full of useful information. It helps me to touch base with the others, especially since I work from home. So, I don't mind calling in each week. (It also helps that Verizon Wireless recently started their own Friends & Family program, so I can use my minutes for business calls, rather than using my minutes to call my 5 most-used personal numbers.)

In which our heroine rambles about her day(s). )
wlotus: (Photography)
Though yesterday was brisk, T and I wanted to get out of the house. In the early afternoon we packed our knapsacks and hit the sunny streets in search of the bus to take us to a local shopping center.

And awaaaaaay we go! )
wlotus: (Photography)
Today is cool, but it is sunny. That means I need to be out and about making photos. Of what, I do not yet know, but I know I need to do it.

T thought she had a dentist appointment at 1. When she found the appointment card, she realized that is NEXT Saturday. When I picked myself up from laughing hysterically, I agreed to hang out in Manhattan with her. So we are taking our cameras and going to cause trouble...I mean, explore Manhattan.

You have a great day, too. :-)

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