Saturday, August 29, 2009

Crown Heights...Prospect-Lefferts Garden...Wingate...

I have been living in between three separate neighborhoods in Brooklyn for the last 7 weeks. It is a much different area than any I have ever lived in before but that doesn't make it any less New York City. If you walk one direction the people are primarily Caribbean. Most restaurants and stores are Haitian or Jamaican.

Walk in the other direction, and you enter a very Hasidic Jewish neighborhood. Every sign is in both English and Hebrew, and all the shops are closed on Saturdays.

Living here has been quite an experience for me. I've really enjoyed the different cultures. Being surrounded by people with much different experiences than I have has been quite enlightening. It wasn't always fun and games. The first couple of weeks I was sort of nervous. I didn't feel comfortable walking down the streets. I didn't know what to expect.

As the weeks went on, however, I started to feel much more comfortable and began to really enjoy my daily walks around the neighborhood.

I stuck out like a sore thumb. I am neither black nor Jewish and it was pretty obvious. I got some funny looks every once in a while but in general nobody seemed to be bothered by my presence. Some nights, I would come walking home around 1 am and the church a block down the street would have crowds of people outside socializing.

Monday nights, the Wingate park half a block away hosted the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series. Famous black artists came to the neighborhood and performed for huge crowds.

I never knew what to expect on my way home and I appreciated that.

I'm moving out tomorrow and heading back to Manhattan, the East Village to be precise. I'm looking forward to getting back to Manhattan. I really did miss it, but I will never forget the experience I had living deep in this Brooklyn neighborhood.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hardware Memories

It is funny how some of the most random places can bring back nostalgic feelings.

Yesterday, I went into a hardware store to run an errand for my editor. I don't remember the last time I stepped foot into a hardware store, but as soon as I walked in, it was as if I was eleven years old and shopping for supplies to make one of my 4-H projects.

The smell of the fresh cut wood, the plumbing fixtures, the paint...I felt the excitement I used to feel when it was time to gather parts for my model rockets and woodworking projects.

It was always about this time of year that I would really be buckling down to work on those 4-H county fair entries. I had the whole summer to work on them but always seemed to end up starting them the first week of August, only two weeks before fair time.

It still makes me proud to think of all of the things I built by myself and entered to be judged at the fair. Model rockets were the projects I was most proud of. I started out simple, but by my final years in 4-H, I was building complex multistage machines. And I was a girl, which made me all the more proud.

The most exciting part about building those rockets was shooting them off in my backyard. In order to be entered into the fair the rocket had to have been launched five times. My entire family would troop out to the alfalfa field behind the house and make a big production of it.

One year, one of my multistage rockets shot so far that it landed in the cornfield across the road. I was so upset that I might have lost a project that had taken me so many hours to build that I walked the rows of the field for hours, searching for it. Finally, just before I gave up looking, I spotted it. I don't know if I've ever been so elated to find something in a cornfield.

It is so amusing to think back to these times. It wasn't even that long ago, but I feel as if I haven't thought of those moments in ages. Just caught up in the moment, I guess. It's nice to be reminded of a different more innocent time though.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Art Museums

Mona Lisa by Da Vinci

What are we looking for when we go to art museums? What do we hope to see when, as tourists, we walk the halls of famous buildings and view the overwhelming works of art along the walls? Do we really care about the art before us? Or are we just walking through because we know it is the thing to do? I think this article in the New York Times really addresses this issue well.