Making Adult Friends: Trusting your gut instincts

All my planning was complete, and I was stepping on the final flight from Incheon to JFK International and it came to me in a thunderbolt that I had committed to spend three weeks in New York, in the house of someone I didn’t know very well. I didn’t have a Plan B if things went sour and that was an oversight.

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A common interest in photography

My intended host and I had met in a bar on a rainy afternoon in Jasper in October 2016. We spent the afternoon and evening together, drinking, eating and chatting to other hikers who were also trying to keep dry. Did I mention the drinking part? To tell you the truth, we all got smashed together and had a fabulous time. After that RJB and I stayed in touch via Facebook. We had a lot in common.

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We both love Springsteen

It turned out that RJB lives near Central Park on 5th Avenue and she invited me to visit. Sensibly, I said yes and then we spent a few moths planning my visit.

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We both love hiking
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and road trips
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and nature

My sudden concern arose from a fear that in the flesh and sober we might not be so compatible.  What happened if she turned out to have some strange and dark secrets? Could she be a member of a weird, radical religious cult and I was destined to become a captive?

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and the same sort of food!

From her Facebook posts I knew our taste in music, politics and ethics aligned well. Still I had a niggle in the back of my mind. It still might be an elaborate hoax. My worries were of course in vain. RJB was a treasure and although a self-confessed crazy cat lady, everything went well. Her husband was a lovely fellow and we got on well too.

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One of the downsides of being divorced is that your old friends find it hard to take sides and you tend to lose contact. I didn’t have many friends to start off with. The friends my ex and I did have, fell by the wayside as we spiralled down into a very unhealthy vortex of introspection as our marriage collapsed around us.

Since “getting my shit together” I have made a few really good friends. These friendships have in fact be an integral part of that renewal of my life.

As an adult it’s not that easy to make new friends. We are a little pickier and harder to please. We have much higher standards than we did as children.  Even though it is hard, I think we make it harder than it needs to be. I think we disguise fear as pickiness. We are just a bit scared to bare our souls.

This blog, Science of People [1] has some really good tips on how to make friends, but I remember reading somewhere else that how you make friends and them keep them boils down to a few basic things.

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1: You meet by being in the same pace at the same time, so you are already involved in some common pursuit.

2: You spend an intensive period of time with them participating in that common activity

3: You commit to staying in touch and

4: You actually do stay in touch.

It’s not rocket science. Of course, the most important factor is you need to trust and be open.

 

I guess with RJB I should have just trusted my gut. If she was an axe murderer I think I would have guessed in that first meeting. Little bit crazy cat lady I can deal with! 🙂

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High Tea at the Plaza

[1] https://www.scienceofpeople.com/how-to-make-friends/

Photographers at work

When I travel I like to develop a theme (and often a sub-theme) for my photos so that I can have a  unifying element in the photo books I make. It is an underlying thread that doesn’t direct my flow but,  if I see it and it catches my eye; I will take the shot. For example when I went to France for my 50th birthday I took photos of house numbers from 1 – 50. The 50 was the last page of the book. (BTW I missed number 26 and had to get one from the interwebs)  In Italy a couple of years before that I took, photos of doors. When I was in America in 2012,  I took photos on a red, white and blue theme. Incidentally, I only took red white and blue clothes with me so in selfies I would fit the theme. (I know I know….what can I say!)

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On my recent trip to New York I decided to take photos of photographers, professional and otherwise; taking photos. I had some fun, met some people when they caught me out and got a few good shots. Here are a few of the results.

I took the series above in Freeman Alley in the Bowery District. I went there to take some street graffiti pictures but found these fellows posing. I started chatting to the photographer and we had a bit of a laugh. You can find his work at @iamjustiniano on Instagram.

This series is on the Pebble Beach at DUMBO in Brooklyn. The engagement shoot was gate crashed by a photography tour who had set up for the sunset behind Brooklyn Bridge.

The photographer wanted her to hold that big wrench in a particular way and she just wasn’t getting it!

I am guessing these ones in fashionable SOHO were for Instagram.

Assorted selfies.

These final ones below aren’t great photos in their own right and were in the reject pile but these people were all taking photos of a red tail falcon which was eating a pigeon in a tree. It turned into a little community for a few minutes with people sharing their shots.

I nearly always take photos of myself in reflections like this one. If I pass a mirror I can’t resist! A reflection and a mirror? Heaven!

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al la Vivian Maier!

New York, New York (oh and a tiny bit of Maine)

I spent most of April in the US of A and most of that time, I was in New York with about 5 days in coastal Maine. I took nearly 6000 photos and around 300 short videos. I used 11 SD cards. It has taken me over a week to sift through them. Some I deleted immediately. Too blurry, too grainy or just too nothing. What I saw with my eyes did not transfer to the digital sensor. I cut the 6000 back to 2500.

These 30 photos are my favourites. Over the next few weeks and months I will go through them again and perhaps I will see some things I did not see the first time through. But for now, these photos stand out to me. (I think I did pretty well to pick 30!) I have not added any titles. I hope they stand up as interesting images in their own right. Stories about the photos will follow over the next few months.

My friend, a real photographer, says I am a “documentary photographer”.

I am happy with that title.

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Central Park, New York

New York is legendary. The thing of thousands of stories. Central Park is …well…central to many of these stories. Police dramas where unsuspecting joggers get murdered or raped on one of the winding pathways to romances like When Harry Met Sally. A quick search of the internet throws up several web pages that give you a list of movies made in Central Park. Have a look here for a start. http://www.centralparktoursnyc.com/central-park-movie/

Since being in New York I have visited the Park a lot. My lodging location helps, I’m just across the road. (Thanks again RJB!!) The pace of my morning jog has been slowed right down as I have stopped to take photos of early morning reflections in the ponds and the reservoir.

Yesterday, I enjoyed a picnic on Sheep’s Meadow and indulged in some serious people watching. On this, the first hot sunny day of spring, puffer jackets were replaced by bare chested men playing spike ball (see this video – I had never seen it before https://youtu.be/jdRKqguEbas)

The blossoms trees had blossomed and the bees were a-buzzing. Clusters of daffodils, jonquils and crocus had survived the previous week’s snow to brighten things up.

The less active, lay around on the grass reading or sleeping.

To think only five days ago the flowers were buried by snow.

I can see why this enormous Park is labelled New Yorker’s front yard. It’s a place to play and relax. A place to meet a place to zone out. A place to remember green.

A very public proposal

There I was minding my own business sitting on the basalt steps at the Pebble Beach between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges waiting for sunset and along comes a man and woman carrying a double sized white rocking chair. They plonked it down and started rocking in the last rays of sun before it dipped behind the skyscrapers.

The sign on the fence said “No pets or furniture can be brought into the park.” When I first saw that sign I thought “goodness who would bring furniture” but obviously it’s a thing.

Next along comes the Photography Tour Group. They set up their forest of tripods in front of the rocking chair. The rocking chair people moved their chair to one of the lower steps, but to the side of the camera group. At first I thought they were together but no, just there at the same time.

As I watched the wedding parties and engagement photo shoots all looking for a divine sunset to silhouette the bridge and provide a perfect back drop, I forgot the chair people.

My attention came back to the them when I saw the original couple slink off away and leave the chair empty. It was soon taken up by another man and woman who sat there chatting, when all of a sudden, he got down on one knee with a ring. The camera club turned in unison and quickly adjusted their focal lengths. At first, the girl looked a bit confused. She seemed oblivious to the hoard of people watching them. Then tears, hugs and kisses. Many, many kisses. She had obviously said yes. The crowd all around burst into spontaneous applause and cheers.

The couple suddenly became aware that they were the centre of attention. More tears, more hugs.

The original chair carriers appeared out of the crowd. There was backslapping and thank you’s from the groom-to-be and “Did you now about this??” from the bride.

It was obvious then that the man had planned this very carefully with his friends. Perhaps he hadn’t expected the camera club to be there but in the end they had better photos than the friend who had tried to take shots from a distance, so emails where exchanged. These photos are a re-enactment. They decided they needed some more photos of their own so turned the chair around and did it again. A bit of over-acting, but still very touching.

The tear-jerking moment for me though was when the girl called her Mum to let her know. You could see (and hear) her waiting for mum to pick up and the call going through to a message bank. She looked so disappointed. Then seconds later mum calls back. More tears!

Floods of happy tears.

There was no spectacular sunset that day. It ended up very overcast and cold, but I felt a little warmer for watching this bit of love. I wish this happy couple lots of luck and hope that the groom stays as thoughtful for the rest of their marriage.

No day shall erase you from the memory of time.

September 11 2001 changed everyone’s world regardless of where you lived. I remember waking up that morning without knowing what had happened. When I got to work there was hushed silence and people crying. I thought one of my colleagues must have died.

“Haven’t you seen the news?” they all said in unison to my question of “what’s happened?”

Their explanation, without the TV footage was grim enough but after watching it again and again and again (as many of us did) the enormity of it left me speechless.

While we empathised with those who had been killed and the loss their families suffered we all felt that the world had become a sadder more dangerous place.

This week I went to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York. A dreary dark rainy day made indoor activities necessary. I think all the tourists in New York made the same decision and the queue snaked along for many, many turns. My museum ticket was for 2:30PM and when I joined the queue at 2:10PM, they were letting the 1:30PM tickets in. The crowd was getting restless and I felt for the Security and Memorial staff as many people asked what they should do if they had a 2:30 ticket.

“Go away and come back later”

The response was not well accepted

“What? In a minute? It’s 2:29 now?” The man with the thick Yorkshire accent asked.

“All the 2:30 people line up over there” the Security guy said. No-one moved. He was finding it harder and harder to keep his polite “have a nice day” demeanour in tact. After some conjoling, the 2:30 queue formed its separate line in the designated spot and let the 2:00PM folks walk past.

At 3:00PM we were shuffled into the final twists of the snake. The disquiet in the crowd began to settle. Puffs of fog drifting up as they sighed in imperfect patience.

At 3:30 we encountered the first of the ways in which the world has changed: metal detectors and bag checks – the now ubiquitous reminders of the sadder, more dangerous world.

The vaulted ceiling, the dark entrance and the quiet sounds whipped you back to reality and I for one felt guilty that I had been part of a crowd that complained my entry had been delayed.

The Memorial and Museum are both astonishing in their simplicity and reverence. Built into the foundations of one of the towers, the museum’s ramps take you deeper into the earth. The exhibits, both visual and audio are haunting. A loop of photos showing people in the street watching the towers burn and then fall; clutching their mouths; clutching each other, with the sounds of people’s memories of the day playing quietly in the background; so moving that tears flowed down the cheeks of those watching.

These squares of blue representing those who were killed that covers the graves of the unidentified

Images of those killed, nearly 4000; make a particularly poignant display, so much so I did not linger.

The photos made by Stephane Sednaoui in the hours and days after the attack vividly encapsulate the terror inflicted and the subsequent urgency of the first responders who came to help.

The mood of most patrons was somber and reflective. The accents of the world surrounded me. Two young women who were sharing a joke, reminded by fellow visitors that this was not the place.

The outdoor memorial is made up of two deep pools with water cascading down the sides and falling into what seems like a bottomless well. The names of those killed cut into the metal sheets that surround it. Again simple and reverent. Some names have a flower – a tribute to their birthday.

I give this site a five star rating but don’t go expecting to be entertained; go with the expectation that you will leave feeling that this world is still sadder and more dangerous.

You can get more information here: https://www.911memorial.org.

New York: Here I Come!

In the world of writing there are two styles of writers. The Pantsers and the Plotters. Pansters write by the seat of their pants. They don’t plan, they just let the story unfold. Their characters drive the story and take it in unexpected and often unwelcome ways. The plotters on the other hand will begin by writing a story arc. They have a beginning, middle and end in mind before they put pen to paper (or more likey finger to keyboard!).

When I write I am a pantser but when it comes to travel I am a plotter. I plot in  detail! I have spreadsheets. I book my flights months in advance. I book accommodation way ahead of time. I look up suggested itineraries. I check out Instagram for photo locations. I like to know where I will be when. As a solo female traveller, I like to know I have a safe place to stay and a way to get there.

While I plan the main event, I don’t let this get in the way of a serendipitous adventure if it becomes available.  My plan may be to do a photo walk through a city.   My route will be roughly mapped out so I can get back to my lodgings without getting lost, but if a little side street catches my eye or I become enthralled by some street musicians I won’t rigidly stick to the plan.

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Central Park – December 2009

I am heading off to New York in a few days and I have nearly everything planned. I’ve been to New York once before in 2009 but only spent 3 days there.

I thought I’d hate it. I loved it and can’t wait to get back.

This time I won’t be solo. I am meeting up with an amazing lady  I met in Canada back in 2016. (That’s you RJB!) She lives in New York City and is a travel plotter too!  We have been exchanging emails, refining the to-do list.  There are a few “in pen” events which needed tickets, like a baseball game; two live music concerts and a Broadway show.  The rest of the days are pencilled in with “activities from list”. The sequence of these events will be largely determined by the weather and our mood.

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Early re-building work at the WTC site.

Our list is expansive, and I doubt we’ll cover it all. RJB is a keen photographer too so lots of our time will be spent chasing the light. Here’s a taste.

  1. Racquetball/ Spa Afternoon/Dinner at Patsy’s (Best Eggplant Parm YOU WILL EVER HAVE!)
  2. Greenway bike ride to World Trade/Brooklyn Bridge
  3. Brooklyn (the Promenade, Dumbo)
  4. Bronx
  5. Queens
  6. High Line/West Village/Tribeca/Rocco’s/Molly’s Cupcakes
  7. Guggenheim/Upper East Side
  8. R’ball/Central Park Picnic
  9. B’day dinner (night of the 5th?)
  10. SoHo/The Bowery (Great shopping, architecture, and street art!)
  11. Little Italy – Massages ($45 for an hour), Dinner, Cannolis 😊
  12. NY Public Library/St Pats/Lunch in Bryant Park/Grand Central Station
  13. Book of Mormon on Broadway
  14. Street Art
  15. Architecture
  16. Yankee Game
  17. Philly
  18. Farmers’ Market
  19. Bar/Live Music
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An interesting view from one of the Museums!

 

I am also heading up to Maine for a few days to do some lighthouse spotting and hiking through Acadia National Park. I’ll need a holiday from my holiday!

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ACKKK! Straighten that horizon girl!

My goal is to get a real taste of what it’s like to live in New York. I hope to interview some New Yorkers to get their views and opinions. I’ll be posting as I go so I hope you’ll enjoy the stories and the photos. My first visit yielded very few ‘good’ photos. Given the potential for great subjects I have struggled to pick some from back then to add to this post.  This time it will different! I better buy some more SD cards!

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Stay tuned!