Thursday, July 23, 2015

Scenes from a Summer

Merrie Cherry
Brooklyn drag queens are known for doing whatever the hell they want, pretty much. They'll arrive onstage with hairy legs and chests, they'll paint their entire faces as if they were applying warpaint, they'll have ripped tights, they'll throw off their wigs in fits of fabulousness. As famed drag king Murray Hill once said, they're a hot mess, but on purpose; the punks of the drag world, one might say. And they're glorious. I had never seen a Brooklyn drag show before but I made my way out to one recently. The annual festival of drag in Bushwick is known as Bushwig and it's held in September, where the borough's queens all come out to play; but the summer version of it is called Patwig. It was a day-long festival at Union Pool in Williamsburg, where ferocious queens like Merrie Cherry, Horrorchata, the delightfully named [untitled queen], Aja, and many others all came out to play in their own brand of drag. As if to say no, there's not one way to do drag, and anything I want to do, any choice I make will be beautiful. For the rest of my life, I will never forget seeing Merrie Cherry lip-synch Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," spinning on a pole, running across the stage and jumping onto a picnic table in giant red platform heels. It was sheer genderfuck perfection. I will without a doubt be going back.

Photos are from my iPhone. Incidentally, I am also on Instagram (@MissManhattanNY)!

Part of Merrie Cherry's "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Punk in Drublic
When it comes to drinking, I am a terrible lightweight. One drink, of any kind, makes me loopy, so when JW came to visit last week and we had a cocktail--yes A cocktail-- with dinner, I was done. And after dinner, around 11pm, we went grocery shopping because I had no food and it's New York so everything is open late (my grocery store is open til 1am. God, I love this town). So we were in this grocery store, giggling and wobbling through the aisles to find strawberries and yogurt and cookie dough on two different nights, and it was a completely wacky experience. JW accidentally made jokes about the phallic shape of cookie dough as we tromped through a crowd of people in the pasta aisle, my giant shopping basket filled with cottage cheese and yogurt for me, kombucha for her. They turned and stared and we burst out laughing in each other's faces. And I have to say, it was one of my greatest moments of last week.

I've probably written this before, but one of the things about living in New York is that you have to remember that it's just like living everywhere else. Yes, there are clubs open til 4am every night--trust me, I've been to them--but you know you're a real New Yorker, or at least on your way to becoming one, when you don't have to do those things or be chasing those things to have an amazing time. Sometimes you can just be punk in drublic in your local grocery store, shopping for cookie dough at 10pm with a friend. You'll simultaneously laugh and eat the dough on the way home with her, like you're still in college, as if nearly nine years have not passed since you first met. And it'll be awesome.

Nocturne Blues
It was rather toasty last weekend--easily in the 90s for a day or two, definitely. And over the weekend was the annual Nocturne Blues dance weekend here in the city (read more about what blues dancing is here). Blues dancers from all over the country and the world came to dance to DJs and live music, enter dance competitions, take blues classes, and much more. I had the pleasure of attending for two nights, both where I danced from about 10:30pm until about 3am. Hips swirl and grind, people are kind and considerate, and you leave with a warm body and a warm heart. (Not to mention you get to hang out and dance with two friends you never get to see and it's wonderful! Shoutout to the phenomenal JB and DL).

There is nothing like leaving a building having danced out your stresses and entering the dark, quiet streets of New York in the summertime, where a heated, humid breeze hangs in the air. That's the thing I've always felt about very hot weather--while it's unpleasant on the surface, on a deeper level it makes you feel alive.

Jazz on a Summer's Day
In 1959, the photographer Bert Stern arrived in Newport, Rhode Island to direct a feature film, but luckily he decided to abandon it and focus instead on the Newport Jazz Festival. The result is a documentary of a single day of the festival, featuring Stern's gorgeous cinematography and astounding jazz performances from the likes of Louis Armstrong, Big Maybelle, Mahalia Jackson, George Shearing, and many more. I hadn't seen the film previously, but what I heard about it was that each scene from the film itself was a gorgeous photograph, reflective of Stern's still work. Seeing it on Tuesday, this was without a doubt completely true. I had been invited to the beautiful Explorer's Club on the Upper East Side for a viewing of the film in one of the club's great rooms (to get to it I had to walk past a giant taxidermy polar bear!) and was utterly blown away. When you look at the film, you feel Stern looking at each of these images and understanding why he wanted to capture them, what story he was trying to tell. And it was, frankly, the perfect movie for a summer evening. As I left, I walked into the evening, dark but still well lit in the way that all New York evenings are, inspired to listen to jazz all the way home.

Check out the trailer here, but I highly recommend watching it in its entirety!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Story Behind the Story: Allis Markham

Yesterday, I had a story published on Refinery29 about the fascinating taxidermist Allis Markham. I wrote it after spending a weekend in her Birds 101 class, which she normally teaches in Los Angeles but was teaching in Brooklyn on behalf of Atlas Obscura, which seeks to put out and guide people toward unusual events all over the world.

One of the things I love most about my job is that it allows me to see and learn about parts of the world and society that I might not ever see on my own, or have the nerve or surface interest to seek out on my own independent from work. What I'm saying is, I don't know that I would have sought out Allis's taxidermy class on my own. I don't think I've ever been turned off by taxidermy, I just wouldn't have put it at the top of list of interests. But I'll write about anything I think has an unusual or underexposed story (within reason!). I love learning something new about how people live their lives.

So to the workshop I went. I could have participated but 1) I didn't really think it was relevant to the story I was trying to tell; that is, it was a profile on Allis, not about my experience of the class, and 2) I was frankly kind of squeamish about it.

Here's a thought I had that was originally in the piece that corresponds to this:

Growing up, we’re taught not to touch dead things, and especially not to cut them open. But taxidermy allows engagement with the the dead in idea and in practice and lets us understand it, possibly making it less scary.

There was something about touching something dead that I found unsettling, that there was this innate "you're not supposed to do it"-ness that kept me from touching the birds, a fear of...something? I couldn't put my finger on it and I still can't, really.

But after I spent the day watching as students opened the chests of birds, removing their raspberry-colored innards and scooping out their brains, it wasn't really such a big deal. In fact, that night during Allis's lecture, when she opened a yellow Indian Ringneck parrot herself, I put the scalpel in my own hand and separated the flesh, outlined in soft, fluffy feathers, from innards. And you know what? It was fun! I wanted to keep going, but it was time for someone else to have a try. I wasn't thinking about death, I was thinking about the present. I wondered if people who become interested in taxidermy simply have a different way of looking at life.

And it's important to note, when it comes to taxidermy, the proper term is 'mount' not 'stuff' because 'stuffing' is actually highly derogatory, probably like the equivalent of saying Ernest Hemingway was just a typist, or that Michael Jordan was a waterboy. This is because back in the day, people literally used to stuff whatever they could find, like sawdust, horsehair, and lawd knows what else into a half-assed sewn up animal skin just so it would have some shape; today, taxidermists will take days, weeks, or even months making sure every feather or hair, every muscle, every whisker is an exact scientific replica of how the specimen looks in real life. So 'mount' is the correct term, friends!

Over the course of the weekend, it was a blast to chat with Allis, drinking sangria, rose, and more rose (on the second day of class, she brings wine for the students so they can relax and feel free to get creative with how they mount their birds), discussing feminism in the taxidermy world, all of her favorite podcasts, our mutual love of Broad City, and how she arrived at taxidermy. I'm happy with the piece as it's published right now, I just always wish I could write about people forever. It's so inspiring to be around people who are passionate about their work, their play, their hobbies, or what have you.

And after the first day of class? Man, was I craving a burger. Nothing will put you in the mood for meat like a day of taxidermy class.

Here are some unpublished pictures from the weekend. I realized while I was editing that I became immune to the sight of bird guts, so tread carefully if you yourself are not yet immune to such sights...


Friday, July 3, 2015

Empire City Pride

I realize this post is coming a little late in the game, but I was excited to share it with you nonetheless.

This year, the kind fellas at the Empire City Motorcycle Club--a motorcycle club for gay men which last year celebrated its 50th anniversary--asked me if I would be a marshal in the NYC Pride March with them. Having spent a few months getting to know them, writing about and photographing them, I was more than happy to oblige. I planned my outfit a week in advance, then woke up early and got into my parade drag--rainbow eyelashes, a red rose in my hair, lightning bolt earrings and all--and headed down to 41st Street and Madison Avenue where all the bikers would meet up before entering the parade. It was an unusually cloudy and chilly day for the end of June. I wore a bright orange shirt as all marshals are asked to do, handed out ribbons and confetti blasters to the gents for their motorcycles, and walked--and occasionally ran--with them in the parade as it started. As ECMC turned onto 5th Avenue, a whirr of motorcycles roaring in unison, I marveled at the sheer badassery of these leather-bound men on motorcycles, waving giant American flags, pride flags, and equality flags. ECMC was a part of the larger motorcycle contingent, made of the Sirens MC (an all-lesbian motorcycle club) and many other clubs and individual bikers.

When we made our way down 5th Avenue, right in front of the main branch of the New York Public Library, they all honked their horns like crazy to a crowd of excited people waving rainbow flags. That was, I think, the thing that got me most: all of these people on the sidelines celebrating other people simply for who they are. As if to say, who you are is so beautiful, so exciting, I just have to cheer for how amazing and wonderful you are. This made my eyes water in the West 30s as we made our way downtown. It was humid and rainy, but it didn't matter. I was glad I was wearing sneakers so the other marshals and I could run when they got too far away from us and we had to catch up. We passed out water to the bikers and cheered right back at the crowd. During breaks, the bikers smoked cigarettes and some even let me put glitter on their faces--sometimes only one cheek, sometimes both. 

I had never walked in a parade of any kind before, save for those Halloween parades around my elementary school as a child. I felt honored to be a part of something bigger than myself, celebrating pride people take in being who they are, and how much they deserve to celebrate it after dealing with far too many years of inequality, judgement and closed-mindedness from others.

Here are is a video (where it gets really shaky is where I'm running...) and a few pictures from the parade. Thank you so much to the ECMC for having me. I wish you 50 more fantastic years.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

How An Article Happens in 83 Easy Steps

  1. Have an idea.
  2. Do some research about your idea.
  3. Pitch your editor.
  4. Have your editor accept your pitch and give you guidelines, a deadline, a word count, a rate.
  5. Say yes, those things sound great, and move forward (or ask if some things can be changed and then see what your editor says and eventually arrive at a scenario that works for both of you).
  6. Do on-site reporting.
  7. Go to the class your subject is teaching.
  8. Take lots of notes. 
  9. Photograph the class. 
  10. Eat a blueberry bagel with mixed berry tofu cream cheese.
  11. Make sure you can read your notes.
  12. Have a glass of sangria with your subject.
  13. Interview your subject and collect many minutes or even hours of interview. 
  14. Go to see your subject give a lecture. 
  15. Participate in their lecture. 
  16. Take more notes. 
  17. Spend more time with your subject, enough where you can pick up on their mannerisms and know what color and brand of lipstick they wear (or the equivalent tiny detail). 
  18. Eat a cheeseburger loaded with sauteed mushrooms with some steak fries on the side.
  19. Go to your friend's birthday party and hang out.
  20. Kiss everyone goodbye and take a cab home because fuck it, it's late and you're tired.
  21. Take the second part of the class your subject is teaching.
  22. Photograph the class again.
  23. Take more notes again. 
  24. Do another interview. 
  25. Drink many cups of mint black tea with milk and Splenda. 
  26. Do another interview. 
  27. Eat a prosciutto, mozzarella, fig jam and arugula sandwich on whole wheat bread that's delicious but far too expensive.
  28. Photograph your subject.  
  29. Go to a coffee shop with WiFi in the East Village to work on your article.
  30. Get an iced black tea because the weather outside makes you wonder how you did not melt, Wicked Witch of the West-style, on the way there.
  31. Ask if your editor would like to push the deadline up to one day later instead of three days later to break the story before another publication.
  32. Have your deadline pushed up to one day later.
  33. Tell yourself not to worry, don't be scared, you know you can do it and you know you're right about knowing these things, plus it was your idea.
  34. Sit hunched over in a coffee shop editing your photos. 
  35. Eat an arugula salad with olive oil, grilled halloumi cheese, pumpkin seeds and tomatoes; add some salt to it, for taste.
  36. Continue sitting hunched over in a coffee shop editing your photos. 
  37. Wonder why your shoulder is bothering you.
  38. Don't realize you've been sitting for six consecutive hours on a barstool.
  39. Head home.
  40. Go grocery shopping first because you have no food and will have no other time this week to go and there's only a bag of old shredded mozzarella, a chicken carcass you've been meaning to throw out, and a bottle of spicy honey mustard in the fridge. 
  41. Come home and get your mail.
  42. See that you received a check addressed to 'Elyssa Brown.'
  43. Roll your eyes and say Fuck. 
  44. Put away your groceries.
  45. For dinner, eat the crackers and guacamole you just bought; throw in some sliced turkey for good measure because you need protein, too, right?
  46. Start to transcribe your interviews, which you discover altogether are 75 minutes' worth, not 45 as you had originally anticipated. 
  47. Get eight minutes into transcription when your shoulder starts to burn and cramp so badly you have to lie down. 
  48. Take four Advil. 
  49. Lie down again.
  50. Ask your friend who transcribes interviews professionally to help you with 45 minutes of it because there's no way your shoulder is going to let all 75 happen right now. 
  51. Send her the digital interview files and praise your digital recorder for being digital and allowing such a feat. 
  52. Lie down again.
  53. Get nervous.
  54. Call your friend who is a physical therapist.
  55. When she doesn't pick up, call your friend who is an orthopedic surgeon.
  56. When she doesn't pick up, post on Facebook asking, does anyone know any stretches because my shoulder is freaking out and I have a deadline tomorrow and I can't type?
  57. Get some responses, some of which are helpful.
  58. Look up shoulder stretches on the internet. 
  59. Do them.
  60. Get annoyed when they don't work and your shoulder is now throbbing. 
  61. What the hell?
  62. Lie on the floor and stretch some more.
  63. Get scared and cry a little because you have no idea what the hell is going on.
  64. When your orthopedic surgeon friend calls you back and tells you to rub the crevice of your shoulder against the wall, do it and make involuntarily obscene noises and tell her how good and better it feels. 
  65. Take four more Advil, and then do this every four to six hours as she says.
  66. Tell her you'll go out tomorrow and get a heating pad, though you will actually forget. 
  67. Transcribe your 30 minutes of interviews. 
  68. Go to bed at 1am.
  69. Wake up at 8am.
  70. Print out the transcription from your goddess friend who finished the work in less than two hours the night before.
  71. Make a note to buy her a margarita.
  72. Sit down to read the 11 pages of transcription.
  73. Get about halfway through and pass out for two hours. 
  74. Wake up.
  75. Say to yourself, FUCK, then stumble out of bed to the stove to make yourself some tea and wake the hell up because IT'S TIME TO WRITE, dammit. 
  76. Finish reading the interview transcription. 
  77. Turn out a 2000+ word article you're really proud of in about four and half hours. 
  78. Upload your photos to Dropbox.
  79. Send the photos and text to your editor. 
  80. Take a fucking nap.
  81. Anticipate your parents and their friends asking why you say fuck so much in your blog as they read this. 
  82. Post it online anyway. 
  83. Laugh at the absurdity that is your life and how happy you are that it's never boring.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Grounds and Leaves

Perhaps once or twice you've been like me, stumbling around Union Square aimlessly looking for a coffee shop with both free WiFi and enough seats to be able to sit and use it for an extended period of time. Finding a good cafe to work in can be difficult and annoying, especially when you're lugging your laptop around, already beginning your workday with a roadblock. You might say it should be easier, but I patently refuse to patronize corporate coffee joints where there are so many independent businesses all over the city that I could support. In order to ease your frustration and ensure a positive coffee shop work environment for you, here is a short list of some of my favorite spots in Manhattan. If you go to these places, many of which I have sat in for hours and hours at a time, I promise you will not only get your work done, but you won't be in a dark, cramped corner battling a temperamental internet connection while you do it. In my pursuit of 1) coffee shops with 2) free WiFi that is a 3) independent business, these have become some of my favorite locations. Fun fact: I know nothing about coffee because I can't drink it for health reasons--at all of these places I can only speak for their tea (often English Breakfast Tea with milk and one Splenda please, if you must know), so please keep that in mind.

1. Everyman Espresso
136 E. 13th Street

Everyman Espresso is easily my favorite work location in the city. I don't remember exactly how I found it, but it's gotten to the point where I've learned the names of the people behind the counter and greet them warmly because I see them so often. They're friendly, and they aren't jerks when you tell them you want a Splenda in your tea instead of organic agave syrup. Everyman doesn't serve meals, but they do have pastries and bars for sale if you get hungry, and they allow outside food if you want to bring in something from the several surrounding to-go joints. Also, the coffee shop is actually in the lobby of the Classic Stage Company, so you'll see an occasional celebrity passing through on their way to a rehearsal or call time in the theatre (a recent sighting was Taylor Schilling, when she was doing Ivan Turgenev's A Month in the Country with Peter Dinklage). WiFi is always on point, they play funky tunes (Chaka Khan, Nine Inch Nails, Robyn) and I've never had too much trouble finding a place to sit.

2. Ground Support
399 West Broadway 

Ground Support is great because it has a nice little menu of pastries, salad, and sandwiches, and their sandwiches are half-off after 5pm. Not to mention they also have small PB&J sandwiches on baguettes for a $1.25 if you're trying to save a buck or two. Their tea sizes are nice and large, baristas are cooler than you with interesting tattoos in only black ink and they have good taste in music (aside from the one time I was in there and they played Thin Lizzy's "The Boys are Back in Town" four or five times in a row). There's a lovely sun roof in the back room, and a large glass window in the front room that give the space great light. WiFi behaves pretty well and pretty consistently. Occasionally they have free books in the back, or maybe they just did one time, but I was able to grab a copy of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark so I was pretty psyched about it. When it's nice out, they open the back doors and everyone sits on the Eileen Fisher stoop even though technically I guess you're not supposed to. If you're lucky, you'll run into rad writer Harris Sockel, who works in the area and frequents the spot. Also, lots of other attractive men who are graphic designers or work at startups and use the cafe as their office.

3. Tisane Pharmacy
340 E. 86th Street

Working at Tisane makes me feel like I'm in a 1950s drugstore, but updated and with high-end moisturizers I can't afford. There's a blue-tiled counter with barstools and flavored syrups on tap resting on top of it. There are also two small tables in front, but I usually prefer the one closest to the window because it's also the one nearest an outlet. Sometimes there's an older woman who sits there reading a book and I internally glare at her, when I should really just ask her if we can please switch tables because my computer's dying please? They have pastries from Balthazar and at least one kind of deal each day. They also have a punch card where you can earn a free beverage. There are endless varieties of loose tea, which they'll shovel into a little pouch for you as a personal teabag. I sit there for hours (no problems with WiFi) and nobody bothers me.

4. Think Coffee
73 8th Avenue

Whenever I have to be in Chelsea or the West Village at some point after working for the day, I head to this spot. It's important to note that there are multiple locations of Think, and not all of them have WiFi, but this one does. Lots of young people work there, I imagine since it's in NYU territory. I recommend getting a table in the front where there's a nice big window because it's a little dark in the back, but you have to move fast because people will jump on that real estate pretty quickly. They make a mean grilled cheese if you get hungry, but they have a variety of other sandwiches available as well. All their containers and paper products are made from recycled materials, and the coffee is fair-trade.

5. Irving Farm Coffee Roasters
224 W. 79th Street

I've had to have some meetings on the Upper West Side when people say, hey, let's meet at [corporate coffee shop name redacted]! And I'm like, no, let's meet here! Irving Farm is another scenario where there are multiple locations, but it's not a chain, and all of the locations are in New York--either in the city or in the Hudson Valley. Tables are wood and chairs are metal but not uncomfortable, and it's easy to find a spot if you're working by yourself or with a friend. Full disclosure--I've never actually worked here using the WiFi so I can't speak to the quality of it, but I know it's difficult to find an independent joint in that neighborhood with WiFi, so I wanted to mention it. They have a menu of great breadth and depth--you can get everything from salads to pretzel sticks and all varieties of coffee/tea beverage. Everyone is busy working there, so you don't have to overhear inane conversations where a college student is wondering why the guy she's having sex with isn't texting her back, and you aren't distracted with your own loud thoughts like JUST GET OUT NOW AND STOP WASTING YOUR TIME WITH STUPID BOYS WHO DON'T CARE ABOUT YOU OR TREAT YOU LIKE A HUMAN AND JUST LOVE YOURSELF PLEASE. They also have some outdoor tables in the warmer months if you'd like to work outside (though I'm not sure what the WiFi situation is with that).

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Age of Maine

As you live in New York for longer periods of time, you start to realize how important it is to leave the city for a while periodically. Not because you love it any less, but because you see more often how it's easy to get stuck and let the constant motion of the city overwhelm you. You need times where you sit and relax and do nothing, in a place where everyone else is doing the same. Sometimes I can only do this by going out to Coney Island or Manhattan Beach, but sometimes I have the opportunity to go a little further away and it's always a pleasure.

HanOre was kind enough to invite me on a trip with her family to their lake home in Maine for Memorial Day Weekend. We would take a bus out to Boston, spend the night at their home there, and then drive up with the family the next day. At first I found the length of the driving trips daunting (four hours to Boston, two hours to Maine), but the time passed quickly with reading, chatting, and the napping I found myself doing--it was as if I had saved up many of the sleepless nights I had been having for the past few weeks and was ready to cash them in.

The drive to Maine took us up through a forest, onto twisty, dirt country roads, and past the occasional deer. The Ore family's gorgeous home had been constructed from wood by hand by its former owner, featuring multiple spiral staircases and lofted, nook rooms without walls. We assembled the dock, had lunch, and then...sat. And it was so lovely to know there was absolutely nothing I had to do besides that. I had no deadlines, no pressing emails to attend to, no clients calling me. I stood and stared out onto the lake, the sun casting light on its softly rippling water.

We watched the sunset and I realized how long it had been since I'd seen one. Perhaps I've written about this before, but living on the east side of Manhattan does not afford me views of the Hudson River, where the sun sets. Until this point, it's fair to say I had probably gone months without seeing one. It's strange to think that living in Manhattan removes one from nature's daily schedule like that but, as I've said likely many times before, it's a trade off. Here in Maine, the sun looked like a giant egg yolk descending into orange and yellow clouds before it was whisked away by nighttime and the creaking of crickets. We greeted the darkness by roasting marshmallows on the grill, reaching into the woods to grab sticks and hoping they weren't actually snakes. Succeeding, I let my marshmallows catch fire while HanOre lovingly toasted hers.

In the morning, we assembled the dock and HanOre's sister, J, proceeded to jump off it almost instantly.  She did it the night before, too, before we had assembled it. "Will you jump off the dock with me?" she asked me later in the weekend. Having dipped a toe in earlier, I knew it was freezing cold, but it still wasn't the coldest water I had ever jumped in.
"Yes," I said, giving a forthright nod of my head. "I haven't jumped off anything into freezing cold water in about 10 years." When I was at summer camp in North Carolina, about that long ago, I did this kind of stuff all the time. I was looking forward to doing it again.
"Oh," her sister said, "so since you were my age?"

J jumping off the dock
before we assembled it.
"Oh godddddddddd," I groaned, laughing. It's true, J was 16 years old and that was indeed my age 10 years ago. But age is not what makes you older, necessarily. I jumped in the lake. Twice. Cold flew through my bathing suit and squeezed me tight--it wasn't so much the first impact of the water upon the jump that was especially frigid, but swimming in the water around the dock to get out that really caused me to verbalize my shivers. But I would easily do it again, and hopefully not in another 10 years.

Another of Maine's delights is, unsurprisingly, lobster. In New York, ordering such a treat would easily set you back something like $35-40,  if not more. And in Maine? A 1 and 3/4 pound lobster will set you back just $10. We picked up the creatures at a fish market a few miles from the house. I watched as the sales clerk placed a bag of them on the counter.
"So there are live animals in that bag?" I said.
"Yep," he said. "They're delicious."
"Try not to think about it," HanOre said. I would actively not participate in their boiling later, but I daresay I very much enjoyed the result of it. I cracked open the bright red shell on my plate and dipped its warm, chewy contents into salted butter with gusto. We are what we are.

Another sunset brought us more wine and more marshmallows and more sleep. In the morning, we somehow woke up early and went out on the lake with the jet ski. I had never been on one before, and was interested to find it was kind of like a water motorcycle, the thrill of speed without scary consequences. We buzzed around the lake in all sorts of directions, trying not to piss off the neighbors who were possibly still sleeping. Soon we would head back and pass out on the dock a while longer before we had to pack up the house and leave. We fell asleep in the car as her parents drove us back to Boston.

Now, back in New York, I find there's constantly a fine, humidity-induced dew over my face; the subway is starting to get hot and sleeves are becoming impossible. In the 1970s, when my mother was living in New York, she would go away to the country every weekend, and now I understood why. There seems to be an endless supply of cool breeze and bodies of water close by, quiet nights not ringing alive with ambulances, police sirens or garage doors. I am perhaps one of the few people who still really loves New York in the summertime, how hot air brushes your face in the depths of a July evening and how a margarita tastes that much better when you've really had to swelter in the subway to get to it. But I would be an insane person if I said I never wanted to go back to Maine.

 Many thanks to the Ore family for a glorious weekend.