• Day 263: New York, New York

    Date: 2010.11.08 | Category: Uncategorized | Tags:

    Whenever I come back to New York City, where I lived for 15 years, it’s as if it’s 1995 and I never left.  I hurl myself full-throttle into Manhattan, including going to the opening of “Carmen” at the Metropolitan Opera (left) thanks to a former TV producer friend who now has a top job in management at the Met.

    And Manhattan responds by holding a knife to my throat, letting me know that you can’t just leave and expect to be the same person you were when you were living here.

    I used to keep up a furious pace while living here.  But after a few days back, I realize that years spent in a 500-year-old village on the Mediterranean have taken their toll.  I start to feel a little overwhelmed, tired even – which never happened when I was a full-time resident here.  Back then, this hyper-caffeinated island just fed my hyper-caffeinated soul.

    As William Wordsworth put it in Intimations of Immortality:

    There was a time when meadow, grove and stream

    The earth, and every common sight,

    To me did seem,

    Apparelled in celestial light,

    The glory and the freshness of a dream,

    It is not now as it hath been of yore;

    Turn wheresoe’r I may,

    By night or day,

    The things which I have seen, I can now see no more.



    I love Central Park, especially the 6.2 mile loop I used to run almost every other day. Whenever I’m near the park, I often look toward the interior – as if the 30-year-old me is still in there somewhere.

    Instead, I walk part of the loop with my cousin Kathleen, who’s come to town to catch “Billy Elliot” with me, a Broadway show I’ve been meaning to see for years.  Kathleen and I have never lived in the same place but we have a history of connecting at key moments, often taking a walk wherever we are and talking about our family.

    Kathleen sometimes used to come to the city with her son T.J. Wagner, who loved Broadway shows.  We went to see “Cats” right before it closed. I expected it to be a bore-snore, strictly for blue-hairs from Iowa fresh off the Big Apple tour buses. Instead, I loved it and T.J. was inspired.  Today he’s a drama student at Ithaca College and Kathleen made me email the cellphone photo we took from the theater (left) to him at school.

    Those who have been reading this blog know that I spent three weeks on the Dukan diet, fully expecting to stay on it until I met my weight loss goal.

    Instead, I returned to the U.S. on Oct. 25th and promptly fell off the wagon. Not only did I go off the Dukan diet, I also ate some candy.  The Dukan diet is over. No way could I keep it going over here.  And I was horrified that I ate some M&Ms and some Kudos bars during my first week here.

    I have always been afraid that if I began to eat candy again, I would never be able to give it up again.  Instead, after just four days, on Oct. 31, I vowed to get back on the wagon.

    I haven’t had anything sweet since.  It hasn’t been difficult.

    I doubt I’ve had any more weight loss but it’s heartening to know that falling off the candy wagon for four days doesn’t mean I can’t get right back on track.

    I might re-start the Dukan diet when I go back to France, but it’s too difficult to stick with it in New York City.

    I’m also mindful of something a friend in France said to me a few days before I left for New York.  All this diet and weight stuff on your blog, she said, it’s not really you.

    What’s much more me is seeing live art like “Carmen” and “Billy Elliot.”  I am fascinated by people at the top of their game – and you don’t get much higher than the Metropolitan Opera or Broadway.

    The young boys who star in “Billy Elliot” amaze me almost more than the sopranos and tenors at the Met.  I can’t begin to fathom what it’s like to be 13 years old and in charge of carrying a Broadway show, complete with complicated balletic choregraphy and aerial stunts.

    But I do know that they get me out of my own petty head and inspire me, along with a memoir by Andre Agassi called “Open” with which I am currently mesmerized.

    Like people who reach the Met and Broadway, Agassi, of course, is a champion.

    I like what he writes on page 359 about how he continued playing and excelling at tennis, a sport literally forced on him by a domineering father:

    “I play and keep playing because I choose to play.  Even if it’s not your ideal life, you can always choose it.  No matter what your life is, choosing it changes everything.”