New York

Where the Sidewalk Ends (Part 1)

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bright eyed and bushy tailed at the beginning.

I’ve always wanted to walk the length of Manhattan and watch how the neighborhoods change from block to block. Two weeks ago, Mike and I grabbed our water bottles, donned our sneakers and headed  up to the northern tip of Manhattan.

We rode the A train till the last stop in Manhattan, Inwood 207th St. The subway ride was pretty typical: From 42nd St. to Columbus Circle, there were the usual hoards of tourists, pouring over their subway maps, scratching their heads in confusion. When the A train raced past the next few stations (because it is express), a group of Italian tourists jumped up demanding to know why the train wasn’t stopping. This happens every time. We explained that the next stop was in Harlem and they could turn around there. Upon mention of Harlem, they gave us a look that said, “Please don’t mug us.” The next twenty minutes of the ride was silent – the car filled with depressed looking people who just wanted to get home. We got off at the last station, eager to see Manhattan by foot.

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The entrance of Fort Tryon Park

We were immediately taken aback by the beauty of Ft. Tyron Park. It’s easy to forget that Manhattan was once a wooded, swamp land. This park is a great reminder of what Manhattan might have looked like hundreds of years ago.

A stranger asked if we wanted our picture taken (something I always offer to tourists to prove that New Yorkers are not as mean/rude as the stereotypes suggest). It was fun feeling like a tourist in a city I practically grew up in. Everyone knows to go to Central Park when they visit the city, but I’d highly recommend this park. It has a wide open courtyard (with clean bathrooms), rocky hills to explore, and stunning vistas of the Hudson river.

 

If you’re planning a trip to the city, I would recommend a visit to the Cloisters, a medieval castle in Manhattan, and then a picnic in Ft. Tryon. The fall is really the best time to visit because the colors of trees are stunning.

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I’ve never seen this view of the George Washington bridge.

The next twenty blocks were uneventful, but we did eat some pretty amazing empenadas. It’s pretty remarkable how quiet some parts of Manhattan are – I’m so used to the constant noise of midtown. Just as we were getting used to the peace and quiet, we started to notice a lot more honking and traffic; a sure sign of the George Washington Bridge. We tried to take more pictures of the bridge, but there were too many aggressive bikers in their neon spandex, yelling at us to get out of their way – they were in a rush to enjoy the day.

So far that covers the first 2 miles of our journey. Stay tuned for the next 11 miles!

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The virtues of a group

Four years ago some of my friends and I started a writer’s group. We met every week and shared samples of our writing. We’d offer feedback and encouragement. It was one of the highlights of my week.

There’s something that happens when you share something as personal as your rough drafts. You’re basically saying, “this is the best I can do for the moment. Please be gentle. Please don’t hate it (me).” And in this process of sharing we became really close.

Writing can be lonely and isolating. One of the reasons I like blogging is that I get instant feedback, and connection (even if it’s just a cyber connection). But my personal writing is, well, personal, and I don’t want to share with the world just yet. That’s why it’s so great to have a writer’s group that you trust and respect that will help you coax your writing out of the laptop.

The four of us have been through 2 weddings (soon to be 3). A birth, a break up, firings, hirings, 6 new apartments, and all the other ups and downs of life. We set up our own writer’s retreat. We send each other articles when we think it’s applicable to our writing. We notify each other of grants and great opportunities. We recommend and share books.

Having a common passion for literature brought us together and made us better friends. I’m so glad Sojourner, Stacey, and Kelley are in my life. Although we haven’t met for a few months (we got side tracked by a wedding and a new baby), I know that I have a community of women who will give me the support and encouragement I need -whether it’s for my writing or for my life.

I hope you all have, or will create, a similar group. It doesn’t have to be writing. I’ve always wanted to join a quilting circle, for instance. At least in New York, it seems like friends always get together to eat or drink. It’s nice to have a different reason to get together- one that nurtures your interests.

A right to be protected.

Rainbow flag flapping in the wind with blue sk...

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Do you believe that the law should protect you from discrimination and harassment?

Do you believe every man and woman deserves this protection?

Do you believe people of every age/creed/ and race deserves this?

Do you believe every gay/ straight/ bi person deserves this?

I hope so. Fortunately the Human Rights Act provides this protection. Can you think of any reason why a person wouldn’t deserve this protection? Maybe because they murdered a child? Maybe because they are a terrorist? Maybe because they identify as a different gender than what they were born as? No, that last one would be absurd. Right?

In New York State, the bill excludes gender identity. That means any transgender person can be fired from their job, evicted from their apartment, sexually harassed, refused medicaid, and much more, and there is no law to protect them. The Human Rights Act was written to protect people who are must vulnerable to discrimination, and yet it is leaving out a group who needs it. They are not asking for extra rights, just the basic rights that most people take for granted. New York City has a bill that includes gender identity protection , but New York State does not, and neither do many other States.

For the past week I’ve been volunteering at the Empire State Pride Agenda. It’s boring work but it needs to be done. Eventually wrongs get righted. We look back at history and ask how did people ever justify slavery? Why weren’t women allowed to vote? Why were Jews banned from golf courses? Why was it such a big deal that JFK was catholic? Think of all the things we find acceptable in this day in age, and wonder if your grandchild will one day ask you why. Do you have a reason?

One of the people I look up to must in the world is transgendered. Not only is he hilarious, intelligent, open-minded and an amazing cook, he taught me what it means to truly accept yourself. The HeSo project would never have been possible if he didn’t first inspire me. A gift like that needs to be treasured and protected.