I saw "Tell Hector I Miss Him"

What I saw: “Tell Hector I Miss Him” a play at the Atlantic Theater Company in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan

What I did beforehand: riding lesson where my instructor reminded me about the red failure signals I saw on the equine simulator, dropped the Bacon Provider’s shirts at the cleaners, bought bagels, went home, showered, got dressed, walked my dogs until they pooped and then took them straight home again, changed shoes, told 19 I was leaving. Realized I hadn’t checked the train schedule. Took off my shoes again. Set an alarm so I wouldn’t be late. Sat down and posted a blog post

Drove to train station listening to the random song Apple Music picked for me, which was Simon & Garfunkle’s “The Only Living Boy in New York,” which I tried to sing along to but kind of sucked at. Got a call from one of the organizers of the auction we attended on Sunday about the week in a Miami condo I bid on and won. Rode the train. 

Got out at Grand Central. Took the shuttle to Times Square where I planned to take the 1. In the middle of the crowded station there were two, slim bespectacled guys with guitars and stylish, short-brimmed straw hats setting up. They had an amp. Their expressions were attentive, like they were waiting for something. Then they began to play. I paused; subway musicians are one of the things I actually like about NYC. A white guy in a knitted balaclava said something to me. I couldn’t hear him. I leaned in.

“It’s fake,” he said, shouting over the Spanish-inflected music. “I saw them setting up. They’re not really playing. The amp is connected to an iPod under that magazine, on top.”

I did not want to yell. I simply touched his arm in an effort to express my understanding and left him. As I descended the stairs to the platform I could still hear him, shouting at the musicians.

This is what’s happening now: angry white guys are showing up and shouting that what’s happening is fake.

What I wore: new black James cords, Chinese-made Australian boots, gray Ibex wool top, black North Face parka, scarf a friend brought me from Scotland, dangly silver earrings, high ponytail 

Who went with me: my niece, A., who came in to the city from Connecticut. 

How I got tickets: many months ago, I booked tickets to this show but changes of plans made it necessary to trade them. As a subscriber to this theater, I have the ability to change what are usually non-refundable tickets. 

Why I saw this show: subscribed to the season. 

Where I sat: Row F, seat 107. Afterwards, my niece told me that this woman in the row in front of us plays the mother of one of the actors on “Orange is the New Black.” Which is confusing because she’s not actually her mom, but if she were she’d totally come to the play, and be all proud, because that’s what moms do. This would be a time she could say, “I’m not her mom, but I play her on TV.”

Things that were sad: this play is about some terribly lonely people.

Things that were funny: eager adulterers, an eager teen, an eager young lesbian, eager drug abuse. 

Things that were not funny: I don’t understand enough Spanish to understand more than the most fundamental cuss words. 

Something I ate: a burger and fries at the Tipsy Parson, on 9th Avenue a few blocks other of the theater.

With a delicious Other Half All-Citra IPA

What it is: a fine play on a small stage with a big cast of talented actors.

Who should see it: fans of “Orange is the New Black,” people who know all the Puerto Rican cuss words, people who want to know all the Puerto Rican cuss words.

What I saw on the way home: I got to my train before the doors opened, but once the doors opened I got on board and walked past the seats facing the right way and for whatever reason sat down facing the wrong way. But I didn’t even find this out until the train started moving and most of the seats had someone sitting there so I had to choose between sitting down with someone who’d be getting up before me or might try to talk to me about fake news or something, or staying put in my own row. 

The other error I made was sitting too close to the bathroom. Really, you just don’t even want to sit in the car with the bathroom. I should have moved. 

But I didn’t move. I didn’t move because I would have had to choose between the other tired people, and most of them were men, and you know that one guy? He is out there. That one guy who thinks that because you’ve sat down next to him, you’ve chosen him. He’s won you over. It’s like you’ve accepted a drink from him at the bar, and now he’s going to talk to you. You’re going to get a piece of his mind. Or, worse. No. I did not want to sit accidentally with that one guy. I didn’t move. It was too late at night to move. Without a better alternative, the seat by the bathroom was better than joining that one guy with the wrong ideas.

There was a parade of men using the bathroom, which was worth keeping an eye on in a furtive way. No eye-contact.  Then some guy went in and was in there for a long time. Things quieted down. I forgot about the bathroom. I got absorbed in the pleasures offered by my iPhone  But then there was the loud retching. Prolonged retching. Repeated retching. People went and got a conductor who was like, oh, yeah, there’s a guy in there barfing. Like that was the most normal thing that happens. A shaved-head guy in a suede jacket near me couldn’t take it anymore and moved to another car. Then suddenly the bathroom door opened and the barfing guy came out, sat down, and passed out. I could see his name and picture on his work ID, still clipped to his belt loop. Things got quiet again. 

As we neared White Plains the barfer’s phone alarm went off. A tall guy in a serious suit and overcoat stepped up to wake him. The barfer lurched to the door and disappeared into the winter night of White Plains. 

As the train pulled away from the station, a trickle of water rolled down the aisle. Soon the trickle became a long puddle. A new guy, with dark, loose curls framing his giant, babyish face came to use the bathroom. He opened the door and loudly announced his joyous complaint to no one and everyone, “Someone’s deliberately clogged the sink!!”

I lifted my feet from the floor of the train car, but I still did not move. I can’t say why.
As we neared my stop, I tip-toed in my manure-proof, Chinese-made Australian paddock boots to the other end of the car. A tired man in an ironic working man’s knit cap and leather dress shoes stood at the edge of the puddle. I encouraged him to step back. Without acknowledging me, he was able to exit in two great long strides. I had to wade through it. 

It was real.

I stayed at the NU Hotel in Brooklyn

Where I stayed: the NU Hotel, in Downtown Brooklyn at 85 Smith Street, amidst the bail bonds places serving the nearby Brooklyn House of Detention. 

What I did beforehand: tried and failed to sleep in, had bad feelings about things, put pajamas and a toothbrush in a bag, did some driving, arrived and shit.

What I wore: a feeling of dread.

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider. 

How I got reservations: online, a few days in advance. 

Why I stayed here: we had tickets to “The Beauty Queen of Leenane,” at BAM.

Where I lounged: the room had a hammock. 

Things that were sad: I have had to learn to drink scotch.

Things that were funny: sleeping in a leather upholstered compartment.

Things that were not funny: how happy I was that there were two sinks.

Something I ate: brunch including Eggs Louie and duck fat potatoes at French Louie, around the corner.

What it is: a more stylish hotel than the nearby Hilton, at a deep discount compared to a similar place in Manhattan.

Who should see it: folks in need of a downtown Brooklyn hotel, easily accessible to many subway lines into Manhattan.

What I saw when I got home: my job as toilet paper replenisher is secure.

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 “Made in China”

What I saw: “Made in China,” a puppet musical for adults, at the 59 East 59th Street Theater, way off-Broadway, in New York City.

What I did beforehand: riding lesson. Shower. Frenzied packing. Brief dog walk. Train ride, where I had a haunting thought as we pulled out of the stop at White Plains, and chanted silently to myself, “we should have done more to stop him,” the whole way to Harlem. Walked up 5th Avenue, behind block after block of police barricades, as if I needed more of a reminder of the disaster we didn’t prevent. 

What I wore: Fluevog boots, James jeans, two black tops I bought at a boutique in TriBeCa and cut the tags out of, vintage earrings, scarf the Bacon Provider bought me from India, Eileen Fisher summer weight cardigan because it was unseasonably warm, black parka just in case.

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider.

How I got tickets: I got two of the last seats available about a week ago, online. 

Why I saw this show: a positive review in the New York Times.

Where I sat: Row B, seat 13, on the end, behind my husband. Next to me was a stylish young woman wearing shoes I envied and a menswear hat; she was telling her companion about this powerful and sexually voracious woman at work who sexually harasses everyone, young men and women alike. 

Things that were sad: another play about lonely people.

Things that were funny: naked puppets, cussing puppets, wrestling puppets, puppets on (and in) the toilet, a puppet dog humping another dog, a puppet dog with a real retractible red rocket, puppets having sex, a song about impulse shopping, another song featuring a familiar pussy-grabber’s stump-speech snippets about China, and my laughter making the woman in the hat next to me laugh even louder than I was. 

Also, when we got a beer at the bar before the show, I offered the bartender a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution, because I carry a stack of them in my purse. “Oh, yeah, I might need that,” he said. 
I got mine from the ACLU.

Things that were not funny: references to human rights abuses and our reliance on cheaply made Chinese goods.

Something I ate: a whole roasted branzino at the nearby Rotisserie Georgette, where four other tables were celebrating birthdays.

What it is: a funny and weirdly fantastic musical about loneliness, human rights, consumerism, and getting along with our neighbors. lasting about an hour and a half, with no intermission.

Who should see it: people who watch TV naked, fans of Avenue Q, kung fu film buffs, devotees of dragon dancers, toilet humor fanciers, Trump satire freaks, human rights experts, disciples of anti-consumerism.

What I saw on the way home: a Windows Media error message on a number of large monitors in a shop window on 5th Avenue, which made my husband laugh.

I saw “The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois”

What I saw: “The Purple Lights of Joppa, Illinois” at the Atlantic Theater , at 330 W 16th St. in, like, what fucking neighborhood is that even? Chelsea?

What I wore: mascara, gray Pumas, tan short jeans from Lands End that I bought when I read that they have a new CEO who is trying to make better, hipper clothes, Lilith striped tank top, Steven Alan plaid shirt, cardigan from the Faroe islands, sunglasses because I left my regular glasses back at the house in the suburbs  overlooked my glasses sitting in the center console of my car.


What I did beforehand: had a hotdog with a Bell’s Oberon wheat ale and then coffee with my friend B, who used to be an “internet friend” (a.k.a., stranger), but is now an IRL friend who needs an apartment hella bad, and after that I bought a sympathy card for my mother-in-law because she had to put her dog to sleep, and I had a conversation with the guy in the card shop and he said they sell out of pet-death-sympathy cards all the time, so I’m thinking someone excellent should do a whole line of greeting cards for pet owners and I have a whole bunch of ideas around this so get in touch if you’re gonna do it, and then I went back to the apartment to pee, and then got on the E train to the theater, and it was crowded.

Who went with me: several groups of older women, an older woman rocking sequined sneakers, two pairs of youngish guys, two pairs of well-groomed older guys, two guys with canes, two guys wearing suspenders, one guy with his Mets hat on backwards (he took it off), one guy in a straw fedora, and at least one grouchy old lady. None of the women wore hats. 


How I got tickets: online, from a chart where I clearly thought I was choosing a front-row seat (but wasn’t, see “Where I sat”).

Why I saw this show: relentless marketing

Where I sat: G101, in the back row, on the end, like I’m a trouble-making teen who expects to throw spit-balls and chew gum and bolt as early as possible.

Things that were sad: today I’m feeling like I’ve lived in New York long enough to know someone, anyone who would come with me to see more-obscure, off-Broadway shows on a Thursday.

Things that were funny: when there were only eight people seated, a white-haired woman in the second row loudly complained, “It’s freezing in here.” When no one replied, she added, “I told them, and they told me it’ll warm up when there are people in here. What good is that?” New Yorkers like to complain out loud to no one in particular. Or, maybe, to everyone in particular. But actually, I noticed at 7:34 when the theater was almost full it was still cold.
Three minutes later, there was a lull in the audience chatter as everyone collectively wondered when they’d begin. 
The play was serious, and had funny things in it, especially related to the younger characters, and a couple of Facebook jokes almost landed. Almost.

Things that were not funny:  I can now tell the different between the dry cough of allergies and other kinds of coughs.

What it is: a ninety minute play, performed without intermission. It’s about family dysfunction, and mental illness, and it isn’t as much of a downer as that sounds.

Who should see it: people who enjoy extremely awkward silences, folks with compassion for the mentally ill, and anyone who believes in redemption.

She did not notice the frolicking rats.

What I saw on the way home: two rats hard-core chasing each other around the local tracks of the E train.

I saw "Bright Star"


What I saw: “Bright Star” at the Cort Theater, on W 45th St between 6th and 7th Avenues



What I wore: Dirty jeans. A shirt of my mother’s from the 80s. That Zara cardigan. The noisy boots. 

What I did beforehand:  ate a hamburger and drank a beer.



Who went with me: a lot of white people


How I got tickets: yesterday, using my phone, with special pricing 

Why I saw this show: I was promised bluegrass music

Where I sat: Row H, Seat 9, on the left, behind this woman with like a humungous head and pretty much giant hair that was blonde on the outside and caramel-nougat-colored on the inside and she had like fallen asleep on a train today or something so she had this total sort of bed-head in the back. Actually, it was like she had another face on the back of her head, and it was trying to see, and it was looking at me instead of the show.

Things that were sad: the woman next to me was crying in response to the last song; both of the women behind me were crying, too.

Things that were funny: that I went to a show billed for its sweetness and sentimentality

Things that were not funny: there was an unnecessary banjo joke, and a pretty tasteless joke about the use of “they” as a singular person pronoun.

What it is: a musical in two acts, with an intermission. Smooth, shiny and polished, with masterful staging and seamless transitions. The band is onstage, and the actors voices were amplified to near-perfection, although this night I witnessed three glitches.  

Who should see it: people who like their Broadway musicals flavored with American country music, people who like really, really happy endings, people who reminisce about an imaginary American past where the south was just a string of charming small towns, like precious pearls on a string, full of white, God-fearing people just trying to live respectably.


What I saw on the way home: people, cabs, an ambulance, trash.


I saw "Hold On to Me Darling"

What I saw: “Hold on to me Darling” at the Atlantic Theater on W 20th St., off-broadway (or, off-off-Broadway) in Chelsea, NYC

What I wore: James jeans, black suede Puma sneakers, black Brooks Brothers no-iron cotton blouse, black Zara cardigan with self-tie that I’ve had for ages and is the only item I’ve ever bought from Zara that didn’t fall apart after one wearing; 90s scarf from my mother, who died 12 years and a couple of days ago; tan Barbour jacket.

Two Trinity Kumquat Saisons

What I did beforehand: stared in silence as I saw Joe Tippet and Theo Stockman on their way to their respective theaters; went to the crowded mall that is Chelsea Market for a sandwich, and may or may not have actually seen Ira Glass; waited for the show and had two Trinity Kumquat Saisons at a place called Cooper’s while we took the place of the most famous people in the back bar; noticed that some young people of legal drinking age appear not to be old enough to hold job.


Who went with me: my good friend W., who should continue to come see a play with me once a month.


How I got tickets: online, full-price


Why I saw this show: because it was written by Kenneth Lonergan 

Where I sat: Row G, seat 11

Things that were sad: though billed as a comedy, this play is filled with bittersweet moments about mid-life ennui, about the decline of the American middle class, about grief and mourning, about overcoming the loss of a less-than-perfect parent, and about bad decisions.

Things that were funny: Lonergan’s writing has the kind of humor that isn’t so much about laying down the rhythm track of  peals of audience laughter as it is about teasing out a ballad of muffled guffaws.

Things that were not funny: a guitar is injured in the performance.

What it is: a well-crafted and satisfying funny play, in two acts, with a fifteen minute intermission.

Who should see it: fans of hearing brilliant dialog and reasonably accurate Missouri and Tennessee accents.

What I saw on the way home: the uptown E was waiting for us, doors open.

I saw "Thank God for Jokes"

What I saw: Mike Birbiglia’s “Thank God for Jokes” at the Lynn Redgrave Theater, 45 Bleecker Street in NoHo, NYC


What I wore: pale purple Eileen Fisher long-sleeve jersey top that is starting to seem too small; long, sleeveless Vince cardigan that is ombre-dyed purple at the top and black at the bottom and it came with this stretchy elastic belt that fits into tiny belt loops that place it right up under my boobs and so obviously I’ve never worn it with the belt and honestly where is that belt anyway; favorite SkarGorn Thorn slouchy jeans that I bought in San Francisco back when I thought we were moving to California; Danner belt, real dangly purple titanium earrings that were a gift from my mother in the 80s; Dubarry boots that I bought at a horseshow at Thunderbird in Langley, B.C. in the early 2000s from an Irish salesperson who was standing in a tub of water to demonstrate the water-proofing. Someone asked me to take a selfie and I tried but I looked like an asshole in both attempts.


What I did beforehand: drove to the city, and did not almost get run off the Saw Mill Parkway by a white SUV, NY license number CMP-27** that tried to do that on Wednesday. Took the 7 from the new station at 34th St. to the downtown 6. Got coffee at Gasoline Alley. Sat on a bench and watched people do NoHo. 


Who went with me: my friend, who I’ve known 18 years, and her new-ish girlfriend, who is so much better than the sum of the parade of crummy boyfriends she had over the years that I almost don’t want to say anything about it here.

How I got tickets: online, full price, though my guests paid for dinner afterward at Siggy’s on Elizabeth Street

Why I saw this show: because Mike Birbiglia is funny, and I heard that Ben Stiller and Nathan Lane liked this show, too.

Where I sat: third row, with empty seats in front of me. Those no-shows missed out big time.

Things that were sad: When Mike Birbiglia asked the audience if anyone had ever been arrested, a guy in the front row said he was, for “hurting someone.” Mike pursued the story’s details, and revealed that someone kicked the guy’s dog on the street in Chelsea, and both Mike and the audience thought he was sort of a hero for “hurting someone.” Then, it turned out a cop saw it, handcuffed him (which is why he said he got arrested), put him in the NYPD cruiser, drove around the corner and let him go. The guy was white, of course. 

Things that were funny: all 80 minutes


Things that were not funny: whether the toilets in the ladies room were actually going to successfully flush was an issue of some stress for the lady-people using them. Also, I told a story at dinner afterwards about a pair of $410 red Italian sneakers that I found online and because the Bacon Provider had joined us for dinner, he is now trying to convince me to get them.

What it is: an absolutely solid hour and a half of conversational stand-up, woven into stories from Mike B’s life

Who should see it: fans of Twitter, fans of Mike Birbiglia, people who went to Catholic school who can tolerate a little bit of cussing, Mike’s mom

What I saw on the way home: we had dinner at Siggy’s around the corner, and were the last to leave. The subway stop nearby had a sign about nighttime uptown closures, requiring riders to catch a downtown train and switch and that seemed way more complicated than catching a cab. So we took a cab, and I was carsick.