Last Friday, the Good

Woman in mask at vaccination center

Last Friday, April 2nd, in the Second Year of Our Pandemic, 2021, was Good Friday, and also a good day.

The night before, of course, I had a stressful dream about how my friend Allison and I narrowly escaped the flood, freed the refugee children from her attic (but abandoned the elderly people), and tried to organize everyone into two large rowboats. I woke up when Allison climbed into the boat I was supposed to row, pushing her half of the crowd of children out into the floodwaters without an adult or a second oar.

I got up early to make my Today is watercolor.

I am very excited by painting with watercolors right now, and have nearly used up an old block of watercolor paper that I received as a gift when I was in junior high school. I am even using the backs.

Then it was time to do the pet feeding dance. Schwartz and Eggi are easy these days (although Eggi is on a bit of a diet because bitches have hormone cycles and boy, does she). Captain had a sour tummy in the morning so I was pressed to add something delicious. Fellow was away for the weekend at a dog show.

cat sitting on yoga mat
Schwartz has his own mat

Then I had pilates with the cat.

Then we had a riding lesson which was very amazing (I mean, riding horses is very amazing. Prehistoric people probably would have eaten all the horses if they hadn’t figured out how to use them as engines, and together we went on to invade almost the whole earth, and then about a hundred years ago we quit on the horses and switched to gas-powered internal combustion and heyo, I guess, sorry about the greenhouse gasses to the whole earth and all its inhabitants).

Then I came home and changed out of my riding clothes and printed out an appointment ticket I found lurking in my email and headed to The Bronx.

One thing about living in Bedhead Hills is that it is 1977 here, so in order to get to places like North Dreadful, where it is 1957, or New York City, where it is 2021, you must also time travel. I do not know precisely why, but going backwards in time is easier around here, and you can do it in your car, but going forwards in time usually requires taking a train. Otherwise, the length of your journey can vary from an hour, to many hours.

I took the precaution of listening to a fully dramatized Hamlet in the car, so there were ghosts and a mad scene and the clang of swords on the Hutch.

I should probably say that New York’s Governor for Life Andrew Cuomo announced that people over 50 without pre-existing conditions were eligible for the coronavirus vaccine in the state in mid-March, but at first I wasn’t able to find an appointment for a shot within two hundred miles. Eventually, I took an appointment that was about a hundred miles away, and then, checking and refreshing the Am I Eligible page on the website at odd hours of the day and night, was able to improve my arrangement, finding something both sooner and closer. And despite the fact that people I know all over Westchester County have been able to get appointments at local pharmacies or at the mass vaccine event being held in White Plains in the convention center, the best I could do was a senior center in The Bronx.

When I arrived in The Bronx, I found myself in the car dealerships/car repair/window tinting/tires neighborhood, where the streets are wide but crowded with rows of double-parked cars, so a driver must proceed like Alice, at the beginning of her adventures in Wonderland, where she follows the rabbit (who is late) down the hole and begins to fall, very slowly, and for a long time. I passed the best parking spot and had to tootle around the block looking for another.

It was then so easy to find a parking spot I walked away thinking that it might not be a legal space to park, but if my car was getting towed, so were several other even larger cars. And owing to the length of the trip, and the time travel, and the meander past the weaving cars requiring new tires and window tinting, I was on the verge of running late myself. It was easy to see where the entrance was, with Stand Here circles on the sidewalk, two ambulances, and a police officer. As I approached the entrance, a very man came from the other direction, striding and swaggering in such a way that even the molecules of air moved out of his way, and as he got closer, his legs got longer, his stride lengthened, and he got even taller, or maybe I got shorter, or maybe both, and, but, so that when we reached the policeman at the same time, I was practically invisible and the much larger man went first.

As the large man stepped to the doors, I was confronted by a surprised NYPD officer, who hadn’t seen me approach, and demanded my ID and appointment ticket. My Westchester friends have relayed tales of going early to their appointments, but in The Bronx there are large signs out front making clear that you cannot be early; you must be within 30 minutes of your appointment.

I followed the enormous man into the building and startled another screener, who let the man go but gave me a stern but muffled lecture about keeping my ticket handy. A man stopped me and took my temperature, and gestured that I was to proceed onwards. I followed the arrows on the floor. A woman with a clipboard said something I did not understand, so I wandered forward and sat in an empty folding chair. A woman at a desk with a computer asked me for something so I produced the ticket. She didn’t want it. She wanted my ID, and she kept it on the desk in front of her while she furiously typed.

Then a National Guard solider in a desert-camo uniform and cap, crisply creased pants tucked neatly into pristine tan boots appeared with a small plastic tray. A nurse in navy scrubs took two syringes, and two cards from the tray, one for me and one for the next person.

The nurse told me to take off my sweatshirt, which I did, and she reached for my right arm. I asked if we couldn’t use my left arm. She asked me which arm I wanted. I said left. She reached out and grabbed the deltoid on my left shoulder, pinching it hard, and told me to relax the muscle, which I attempted to do and no sooner had I made that attempt there was already a needle in my arm and it was done. It didn’t hurt at all.

She slapped a bandaid on me and was gone in a flash

The woman with my ID completed her furious typing and examination of the object of interest. She placed a sticker on me with the time I was free to leave written on it, and with my license gave me a sticker and the precious white card with the details of my Pfizer shot. A sticker. I got a sticker.

I rose with my winter coat bundled in my arms and went to find my way to the waiting chairs, following more arrows and stickers on the painted concrete floor. There, a woman in a traffic safety vest with a lanyard and ID badge wandered through the grid of chairs, singing volubly. She held a gigantic bottle of spray sanitizer, which she applied to chairs after people left.

“You can sit anywhere,” she said, with the same sing-song cadence to every person who emerged.

An older man circled the chair in front of me, and was encouraged by Safety Vest to have a seat anywhere. He sat. They must have exchanged other words, but I was a little lost in my own head. The ceiling was very high, with frosted glass panels set into a frame, so the enormous room was filled with natural light. I wondered what the enormous room of the senior center was normally used for; table tennis? Safety Vest told the man in from of me, “Jesus is my boss.”

He replied, but I couldn’t hear him, and she said, “I’ve been singing and dancing my way through my whole career in New York.”

When it was my time to leave, Safety Vest came to me, looked at the time on my sticker, and said, “If you feel ok, you can go.”

I looked her directly in the eye and burst into tears. I had to explain that I was fine, just emotional. A year ago, we didn’t know how long the pandemic would be, and vaccines were something people talked about as something hopeful, something possible, but a big if. I’ve felt so much worry about when the vaccine would be available to us, and so frustrated with trying to find an appointment, that here I was, crying tears of relief. “We’ve had a lot of that today,” she said, and went back to singing.

I exited just behind the every tall man I entered behind. His great strides slicing through the air had gotten him his vaccine only a moment before I got mine. On my way back to my car, I saw a big pile of poo in the grass, and I do not think it was from a dog.

On the drive home, Hamlet was captured by pirates.

I saw “Present Laughter”



What I saw: “Present Laughter,” a revival of a Noël Coward play, starring Kevin Kline at the St. James Theater on West  44th Street in Manhattan.



What I did beforehand: dinner at the upscale and modern Chinese restaurant Hakkasan at 311 W 43rd St. Some reviews dismiss it as being part of a chain. Pre-theater dinner options are limited, and this place is very good. Show up early and grab cocktails in the bar.


Something I ate: hot and sour soup with chicken and chocolate passion fruit dessert 

What I wore: a weird combination of a new sweater and tweed skirt, with tights. I should have worn wool tights, but I don’t have black ones. And a black Barbour down coat that is too tight in the arms and shoulders when worn over a sweater. 


Who went with me: the Bacon Provider and a lot of eager Kevin Kline fans.


How I got tickets: online, from Ticketmaster. Alas, they require you to pay quite a bit extra to get physical tickets, so I had to do the print-at-home deal. My preferred plan is to pick up tickets at will-call, so I don’t have to wait for them to come in the mail, store them, and remember to bring them. An 8 1/2 by 11” sheet of paper from my computer’s printer with a bar code and some boxes of text describing the event is no substitute for actual tickets. Real tickets are memorabilia. E-tickets are trash.


Why I saw this show: I grew up in the same suburban St. Louis neighborhood as Kevin Kline, and back in the 80s I thought he was hilarious and brilliant.


Where I sat: Mezzanine Row A, seat 109, between my husband and a distracting woman who took up a lot of oxygen if not space.


Things that were sad: the acoustics were meh. I think the play would be better in a slightly smaller venue. 

Things that were funny: the chain-smoking Swedish housekeeper, the aggressive Trump-style injurious handshake of the wacky playwright, the baby-men business partners, slamming doors, ringing phones and doorbells. Kevin Kline is still hilarious and brilliant. What a joy to see great physical comedy live on stage. 

Things that were not funny: the actor who played the secretary seems to have been injured in the first act, and was wearing a bandage on her left wrist in the second act. The coffee that was served onstage over and over was said to taste like curry but in my excellent seats I could see plainly that it was water.   


What it is: another vehicle for an aging-but-vibrant actor; also a funny mid-20th Century farce from a true master of the genre about an aging-but-vibrant actor. 

Who should see it:  backstage comedy devotees, Kate Burton buffs, dressing gown enthusiasts, forties fashion fanciers, fools for redheads, Matt Bittner freaks, Ellen Harvey hounds, latchkey lovers, hat mavens, Noël Coward nuts, suckers for the mellifluous baritone of Peter Francis James, Reg Rogers regulars, Kristine Nielsen groupies; admirers of Tedra Millan (it’s her Broadway debut), Kevin Kline cultists, disciples of Cobie Smulders, and Bhavesh Patel boosters.


What I saw on the way home: jackhammers


I saw “The Light Years”

What I saw: “The Light Years,” a play by The Debate Society, at Playwright’s Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street, in Manhattan, on the south side of the street after the scaffolding ends but before the Hudson River, on that weird off-Broadway strip of theaters I can’t keep from confusing with each other. 

What I did beforehand: the first year we lived in New York, I thought that coming into the city on a MetroNorth train was like riding an futuristic satellite elevator from an orbiting space station to the surface of the planet. The atmosphere was different. And the gravity. The conductors needed shiny silver suits, of course, but I used my imagination  Five years later, I don’t feel like a prisoner here as much as I did then. Still, the way the train dives under the streets just south of Harlem means the commuters have to emerge from under the city’s skin, like parasites hatching. I brought homemade beer, anyway.

Not The Graduate. But almost.


What I wore: Chinese-made Australian boots, new James skinny jeans, black Brooks Brothers fitted cotton blouse, too long Eileen Fisher cardigan, hoop earrings, gold bead necklace, black parka, favorite rag & bone scarf.

Who went with me: The Graduate and his gf S; she liked my jewelry.

How I got tickets: about a week ago, online. They were the last three seat available.

Why I saw this show: it was billed as a “spectacular tribute to man’s indomitable spirit of invention.”

Where I sat: Row B, Seat 5, next to two unoccupied seats on one side and a woman who laughed too much on the other side. I, also, laughed too much.


Things that were sad: [spoilers]

Things that were funny: lightbulbs, songs, monologues, promises, and a bucket.

Things that were not funny: this one time I was brushing my teeth and I went to put the toothpaste back in the medicine cabinet and got shocked by it. This is the primary memory I have of the place we lived in Salt Lake City in the mid-80s.

Something I ate: a bag of peanuts in the lobby

At a food museum near the theater
What it is: an unusual play about the creators of the 12,000-seat theater called The Spectatorium for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. 

Who should see it: electricians, Chicago aficionados, history buffs, aluminum evangelists, love story bugs, theater nerds, devotees of the Depression, bicycle enthusiasts, folding attic stairs fanatics, dirigible fanciers, soliloquy fiends,  junk junkies, lovers of lightbulbs, milk maniacs, World’s Fair nuts, suckers for jingles, impresario connoisseurs, and anyone who’s ever wondered if there’s an inventor living in their attic



What I saw on the way home: the ceiling of Grand Central Terminal, with its light-bulb constellations .

I saw "Sweat"

What I saw: “Sweat,” a play, at the theater known as Studio 54, on West 54th Street in Manhattan.


What I did beforehand: PT on my right knee which I found out this week hurts not because of a ligament tear (hooray!), but because of arthritis (boo!). I was happy about this for perhaps 12 hours, until I realized it meant that instead of surgeryI was facing some amount of knee pain for the rest of my life, which I would get to manage henceforward. Then I went and got my hair cut. 

What I wore: plaid wool dress, ripped tights and Fluevog boots. 


Who went with me: B., a friend of my parents, who I’ve known since I was a kid, and haven’t seen since 2004.


How I got tickets: online as soon as the new venue was announced after missing the chance to see this show’s sold-out run at The Public Theater. 

Why I saw this show: rave reviews.

Where I sat: Row A, on the end, with no one in front of us. 

Things that were sad: this perfectly paced play is about the destruction of working class lives thanks to the relentless forces of unchecked American capitalism. 

Things that were funny: it is not a funny play, but it is not without humor.


Things that were not funny: the venue shows evidence of having been painted, as if current management accepts that audiences look askance at obvious shabbiness, but it’s like someone’s brother-in-law got them a really good deal on many gallons matte black paint and the paint was applied by people who’d never painted before, and as quickly as possible. Crumbling theater venues can do shabby gloriously, like BAM’s facilities. Studio 54 looks like the party ended in 1980, and they just woke up and swept a little.

Something I ate: confetti eggplant and filleted whole durade, part of a really fine and fun meal sitting at the bar of Taboon, on 52nd and 10th Ave. When you go, make a reservation. Share the entrees and order lots of meze plates. 

What it is: a big (and by this I also mean important), serious play with a strong ensemble cast. If this was not the best play I’ve seen in the last year, it was certainly in the top five. Tackling issues of economic uncertainty and race relations in America with fully fleshed-out characters and meaningful stakes, “Sweat” engages on all the levels the talking heads on TV don’t.

Who should see it: line workers, strugglers, bartenders, union members, strike breakers, white supremacists, people who’ve done time, conservatives, drunks, survivors, managers, liberals, know-it-alls.


What I saw on the way home: the dark Saw Mill River Parkway, built with bridges too low for buses, so only passenger cars could use it and specifically buses could not, stretched out before me in a familiar blur. This road is like everything we’ve ever done in America.

I saw "Dear Evan Hansen"

What I saw: “Dear Evan Hansen,” a new Broadway musical, at the Music Box Theater on West 45th near like, I dunno, 8th Ave.


What I did beforehand: saw this guy worshipping the clothes in a store, and then met up with my friend Bill from the Internet, and we had drinks. It was hard to feel like we weren’t toasting the life of our dead friend, America. RIP, America. We knew you when.


What I wore: two black shirts with jeans, hiking boots, big parka, the earrings before I broke one.


Who went with me: white people.

How I got tickets: just a couple of days before, online, for about $400.


Why I saw this show: I wonder if the world is divided into the bullies and the bullied, with some overlap. 


Where I sat: Row H seat 106, between this guy whose plane from LAX was three hours late making him miss the opening song so he had to sneak in courtesy of an usher with a flashlight and slide past me with his butt in my face after the show had started and, oh, him, and a group of three empty seats on the other side of me that were sold when I checked online. 

Things that were sad: I cried all the mascara off my eyes in the first act.


Things that were funny: people checking their phones at intermission, during a play (partly) about the power of social media.


Things that were not funny: I took off my glasses at intermission (to look at my phone) and they fell off my head and I didn’t notice until the lights dimmed for the second act, so I had to sit there, not able to see perfectly, waiting for the end so I could turn on my flashlight and crawl around. I started looking as soon as people started clapping, but couldn’t find them, and as poeple left the theater a few of the people around me noticed I was looking and pitched in. The person to find them was a house manager. I thanked him, but it felt like it wasn’t enough. 

Something I ate: homemade chips at Joe Allen.

What it is: a fine, energetic musical about a lonely, anxious teen. With moments of great truth about trying not to suck as a parent and featuring a cast that seems to embody their roles, every one of them. Highly recommended. 

Who should see it: liars, teens, parents, people who cannot imagine that social media has a positive impact on the world. People who can’t imagine what a middle class white kid in America might be anxious about. Fans of American musical theater. 


What I saw on the way home: too many ads, which is to say, nothing. 

I stayed at the Waldorf Astoria

Elevator Selfie Ceiling 
Where I stayed: the venerated art-deco icon Waldorf Astoria. On Park Avenue at 48th Street in Manhattan. 

What I did beforehand: baked and didn’t burn the bread, riding lesson,  shower, dog walk, drove to town, dragged a wheelie bag along the freshly salted sidewalks, made the train with seconds to spare. 


What I wore: James jeans, black shirt, gray cardigan, Danner hiking boots, big parka, antique earrings that I broke when I took them off.



Who went with me: the Bacon Provider (see photo, top)

How I got there: walked up the Northwest Passage from Grand Central, taking two elevators up, one down, and a huge flight of stairs.



Why I stayed here: the Bacon Provider had an action-packed schedule in the city this week, with meetings starting at 7:45 a.m. and lasting until after dinner. 

Where I slept: here.



Things that were sad: the carpets are tired and stained. The lobby is poorly lit. Once, this was my father’s favorite high-end hotel in New York. I stayed here with him on the college visiting trip he took me on in 1980. We ate dinner in the hotel and there was a woman in a gown playing the harp. It had never occurred to me that anyone other than cartoon angels and Harpo Marx actually played the instrument before. Also, people looked at my dad and I kind of funny, not like we were a dad and his college-bound kid, but like he was a creepy 40 year old, and I his jail-bait girlfriend. 



Things that were funny: paying $25 for a champagne cocktail, and even ordering a second one. 


Things that were not funny: the serious guy carrying his fancy poodle to breakfast in a suitcase; the lack of outlets; finding a charge for a $36 shoe-shine on our bill at checkout. The Bacon Provider is extraordinarily particular about caring for his shoes, takes great pride in doing it himself, had no such shoe shine (which I knew without asking him), and when I disputed the charge the receptionist did not believe me, said that a charge like that could only appear on the bill with a manager’s approval, and did not remove it, despite telling me that she would.


Something I ate: continental breakfast



What it is: a fine, old, fancy hotel that will close in a few weeks for remodeling; most rooms are expected to become condos. The hotel was purchased for almost $2B by a Chinese insurance company

Who should see it: anyone who wants to reminisce about what seemed like classy, old-money luxury in the 1980s. Hurry.

The painting has a hole in it

What I saw on the way home: the bright winter sunlight made me carsick on the train. Or maybe I was just hungover. When’s the next election?


I saw “The Beauty Queen of Leenane"

What I saw: “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” at BAM on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, a venue that appears to be a crumbling relic but it turns out that’s ok because it’s a decorative choice.

Used to be called the Triboro Bridge
What I did beforehand: drove down from Bedhead Hills, ate at a Korean brasserie, because this was Brooklyn. Probably had too much rice wine, or dry riesling, or maybe it was whatever they brought us after dinner because they thought it was the Graduate’s birthday, even though the only reason he got a present from me was this wooden mallet had been backordered at Xmas.

Not my cocktail, tho

What I wore: gold hoop earrings from the 80s, black Doc Marten shoes from the 90s, James jeans, black tissue weight Proenza Schoule dotted tee, my mother’s bracelet, black summer-weight Eileen Fisher cardigan because climate change is real, a Marimekko scarf because Finland has a representative democracy with principles of parliamentarism, and the scowl of crushing despair that we fucking don’t. 

Just in case you think I kid

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider

How I got tickets: online, in mid-December, when people were still able to pretend that maybe everything was gonna be ok somehow.

Why I saw this show: this ad. Their expressions. 

Where I sat: Row G, Seat 2, next to a couple that was arguing.


Things that were sad: the play, like all plays (according to my cousin) was about loneliness. Also, just how crazy we are just under the surface.
I’d rather get a picture
of someone getting a picture

Things that were funny: quite a bit of funny business, including quips and gestures. Really, it was a master class in actors making exquisite choices for their physical expression. Surprises, weirdness, simultaneously natural and unnatural.  

Theater may not be as decrepit as it appears
Things that were not funny: in this play, Chekhov’s gun is portrayed by a fire poker. 

Something I ate: I think it was halibut. Or maybe flounder. One of those. It was white. Did I mention they brought these little shots at the end of dinner, because they thought it was the Graduate’s birthday? Also, carmel-popcorn on ice cream, which I have to now learn to make.
When you’re this Brooklyn,
it’s always your birthday

What it is: a disturbing, much-celebrated play, from the mid-90s. Set in the gritty sort-of-now-ish Ireland where everyone is poor and almost unintelligible to an American audience, and where everyone is fecking nuts. 

Who should see it: theater lovers seeking the sort of two hour and fifteen minute escape that will not restore their faith in humanity in any way

Not fighting

What I saw on the way home: one couple that wasn’t fighting, and one that was.

Fighting

I went to the Women’s March on New York City


What I did: the Women’s March on New York City on Saturday, January 21, 2017 


What I did beforehand: got a restless night’s sleep, waking early. Decided that if I wasn’t going to march today, I was never going to march for anything. Walked and fed the dogs. Charged a camera battery. Ate breakfast. Wondered what kind of bra you wear to a protest march. Made a pussy hat, improvising without a pattern from the polar fleece I had on hand, with cat ears that turned out too pointy and looked like devil’s horns.  Decided the hat was pretty much perfect that way. Told my husband I was going and rushed off to catch a train.

We sat together on the train. 
What I wore: favorite jeans, Sweaty Betty striped exercise top, homemade orange hat, black parka, Smartwool hiking socks, Asolo hiking boots that I had re-soled last year and I wear to walk my dogs every day (with very old custom orthotics, because this old lady has bad feet). 


Who went with me: my friend Bill from the Internet met me under the clock at Grand Central. There were a billion, jillion people in Grand Central when my train got in. 



How I got tickets: I didn’t need tickets to this protest march, just good walking shoes, a day off, and the ability and will to stand up for what I believe in. 


Why I saw this show: because our latest presidential election resulted in a wholly unqualified, unsuitable, woman-hating, race-baiting, vindictive, impulsive, lying monster assuming power, and I and a whole lot of other people are ready to do something about it. 


Where I sat: on the train. At a march you have to rise and walk.


Things that were sad: this is only the beginning. We are going to have a lot more work to do, if he doesn’t kill us all first.


Things that were funny: lots of signs.


Things that were not funny: the feeling, as we stood on 2nd Avenue waiting for the march to start, that there was a river of human beings stretching up the street as far as I could see in either direction, and that with the people in front of me and behind me and next to me on both sides there was no way for me to remove myself from the situation speedily if I wanted to. When I moved to New York in 2011, I might not have been able to keep my shit together in such a crowd.


Something I ate: a stale untoasted bagel from Grand Central Market, because if I would have asked for it toasted I would have missed my train home.


What it is: old women, weirdos, young women, union reps, young men, hipsters, young women, little kids, babies, middle-aged white people, posers, young people of color, people in professional attire, people covered in social justice slogans, old men, they all showed up in NYC united against our hateful new president and what he represents. The mood was defiant, but not quite angry. 



Who should see it: anybody who thinks that this isn’t normal.


What I saw on the way home: the train home was almost as full as the one there, where it had been standing room only. It’s going to be such a long four years.

I stayed at the Plaza Hotel

What I did: spent a Thursday night in the Tower Suite at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. 

View of 58th St. from our 18th floor room

What I did beforehand: rode the train into Grand Central Terminal thinking about , walked up 5th Avenue penned in by block after block of police barricades.

What I wore: James jeans, black suede Puma sneakers

The Tower Suite has a round, king-sized bed

Who went with me: my husband, the Bacon Provider

How I made the reservation: online (directly with the hotel), about a week ago

The tower suite has a domed ceiling 
Why I stayed there: I was planning a single night in the city, starting with the tickets I had just booked to see “Made in China,” a funny and raunchy puppet musical with a human rights message at the 59 East 59th Street Theater. I looked at a map online, and compared prices and availability of a couple of high-end hotels nearby, including  the Pierre and the Four Seasons. The thing is, though, that the book Eloise was one of my favorites as a child, and all I had to do was think about Eloise pouring water down the mail chute or feeding her mother’s attorney rubber candy, and the decision was easy. 

The best lobster roll I’ve ever had

Where I sat: I had a classic champagne cocktail and a snack in the Champagne Bar, which has chairs so comfy I want to get some like them for my new dining room when the big, bad upcoming remodel is done.

Things that were sad: we got back from dinner too late to have a drink in the Rose Club.


Things that were funny/not funny: we did manage to sneak in a scotch in the Palm Court before last call, and were overheard by the bartender as I compared the unpresident-elect to both Hitler and Stalin.

Something I ate: a lobster roll in the Champagne Bar, and breakfast in the Palm Court.


What it is: over 100 years old, but meticulously remodeled in a way that maintains its grand style, the Plaza Hotel is a beautiful, sumptuous throwback to a past New York when rich people were expected to have exemplary manners.

Our bathroom had a heated floor

Who should see it: aesthetes, connoisseurs of historic hotels, parquet aficionados, high-end Victorian cos-players, architecture buffs, Eloise enthusiasts, gold-trim fanciers, luxury freaks, marble junkies, suckers for an exquisite attention to detail, and money-spending fools.
The marble mosaic elevator floors

What I saw on the way home: thousands of NYPD assembling on 5th Avenue for the funeral of Officer Steven McDonald, a man who believed in forgiveness.  

I saw "Rancho Viejo"

What I saw: “Rancho Viejo” at the Playwright’s Horizons Theater, off-Broadway at 416 W 42nd in Manhattan

What I did beforehand: confronted some regrets, mailed holiday cards ornamented with profanity (and signed with my plea, “Don’t start the Revolution without me!”), walked to the train platform in the wake of some dude’s dank doobage, heard the conductor say, “Have a wonderful night” to each and every passenger as he punched their tickets.

What I wore: Keen snow boots, very, very dirty jeans, Big Feelings sweater, now dirty parka, knitted hat, two pairs of fingerless mittens , earrings, mascara.

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider, who met me there. 

Why I saw this show: I saw a review that said it was funny. Also, “Rancho Viejo” sounds like the kind of made-up place name I might come up with.


How I got tickets: I subscribed to the season, and shopped for tickets to this show when I saw that the Bacon Provider had an office holiday party on the 12th. When I got the email confirmation, I saw that I’d reserved a seat to the show on the 19th and not the 12th. I am fucking up all over the place these days. The night of the 18th rolled around and we were reviewing our next-day schedules and I pointed out I’d be seeing this play. I tried to sell my husband on joining me. I waited to tell him the play was three hours long with two intermissions until after he agreed to come.
“If you really don’t want to go, we can eat the ticket.”
“Well, do we at least get to sit together?”


Where I sat: I sat in Row C Seat 5, and the Bacon Provider sat on the other end, in Row C Seat 17. Because, no, we did not get to sit together. 

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Things that were sad: another play about loneliness. 

Things that were funny: there were two brilliant solo dance scenes in the third act which were weird and thrilling and redeemed how ridiculously long the play was overall. I heard audience members on the way out saying they weren’t sure they liked it, which only reinforced my positive feelings about it.

Things that were not funny: most of the first act, which has lively parts and quiet ones, centers on the exquisite self-consciousness of some reasonably well-off, older white people. The audience did not always seem to know when to laugh. 

Something I ate: pretzels in the lobby beforehand. 


What it is: a new play, lasting three hours with two intermissions. 

Who should see it: people with long attention spans who don’t mind watching white people being awkward at parties.

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What I saw on the way home: an earnest and wide-eyed woman who staggered through our train-car, asking people for cold water to drink, and the same cheerful conductor, to whom I said,  “You know, you punched my ticket earlier tonight when your shift just started. Are you always so cheerful?”

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“Yes, ma’am,” he replied. “I love my job.”