Saturday, April 26, 2008

Epiphyllum 'Eternity'

Waking up this morning I'm revisiting photographs I took at Wave Hill on Wednesday. I went up for a walk and talk with Wave Hill's director of horticulture and I got up there early to see what was in bloom around the 28-acre estate turned public garden. I took close to 100 photographs, which I am finally going through today. Not to mention I have come to befriend a bunch of the horticulture staff up there. One gardener, a new friend and fellow alum of NYBG, told me I had to check out the Epiphyllum in bloom in the succulent house. I returned to the little glasshouse full of amazing creations and was nearly knocked over when I saw this guy. I'd say the flower was comfortably 5" wide and at least as long. Enjoy.

On the turntable: The Shins, Oh Inverted World

Friday, April 25, 2008


For those of you not here in New York, three of the five NYPD police officers responsible for the death of Sean Bell, the unarmed groom-to-be who was shot to death in November of 2006 outside the Kalua gentlemen's club, were acquitted of all charges yesterday by a judge in Queens. To even write that sentence makes my blood boil. One of the officers was Detective Michael Oliver who alone shot 31 bullets. And he was let off, entirely.

The NYPD disgusts me to the point where I am totally tongue-tied. Every day I pass cops on my commute, standing there, staring women up and down, and text messaging with their heads down, while I watch plenty of others on the road and the sidewalk creating plenty of violations worthy of being written up. My favorite is when there are people double parked all up and down Steinway, screwing up traffic and making it impossible for trucks to get through, but the cops are double parked too, right on the corner in the middle of the crosswalk. Nothing is going to get in the way of Sargent Fatass and his street meat vendor! The sidekick in the passenger seat, text messaging. The NYPD racially profiles when they do random parcel searches in the subway, I've seen it. In many situations I get away because I'm the unsuspecting white guy in nice clothes.

What a bunch of fuckups. But at the same time they are not all as stupid as I sometimes think. The defendents waived their right to a jury, I'm sure knowing full well it gave them a better chance. I did not hear the trial and I do not know what the judge heard that dictated his final descision, but damn right I question our judicial system right now. We have police living and working above the law, responsible for the death of an innocent unarmed man, and a judicial system that doesn't think that is criminal in any way. I just don't get it.

We sat and talked about it all when we got home, trying not to get so livid and failing miserably at keeping our cool. The thing is, how long does it take to shoot 31 bullets? I'm going to guess 30 seconds, maybe? give or take a few seconds? That sure seems like enough time to me to realize, "hey, maybe that guy doesn't have a gun and isn't trying to kill me". But no, he kept firing, as did his colleagues. They killed a man, and tomorrow they'll get to wake up and go about their usual business with no hindrance but mental anguish they might suffer. I hope the guilt rips away at their souls until they die weak and alone. Again, I just don't get it. How is 31 bullets not criminal?

The day faded into night and we sat in here while the streets were calm out there. My boss had to drive right by the courthouse during the verdict and she sailed through smoothly. No riots, no major lashing out by people in the city. The Bell family stayed composed and spoke against violence causing violence. They want peace, and they are obviously stronger than I right now. I wish those cops were in jail for life or dead. It's a terrible feeling to be so disgusted by the men and women who are supposedly here to protect and to serve. On the sides of cop cars in the city is written "CPR". Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect. Yeah, tell me where I can find that Ray Kelly? You're just as vile as the rest of them.

I just hope that no retaliation doesn't mean that we the public have gotten too jaded. Because this action is allowed to happen doesn't mean we have to just sit idle and let it. It's depressing to think we allow these atrocities to happen and don't do more about it. I wonder with all seriousness, what can I do, aside from wear a political tee shirt? My love is taking us out for drinks and a good meal to try and get our minds off it for a minute. Damn, vodka never sounded so good.

On the turntable: Thee Headcoats, Headcoats Down
Thee Headcoats - Headcoats Down!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

the new Mobile Telephone

I love this piece of a Bell Systems ad from 1965. I still haven't figured out how to properly collage it. And if only they knew what would come from these new fangled Mobile Telephones! I now refer to this wonderfully ridiculous segment passed on by Juan entitled "Texting your way to love".


(Felis Femina in Amanda's backyard yesterday evening)

I do love this time of year. My surprise day off on Friday was genius. I visited the farmers market down in Union Square and was tempted to buy so many plants. Flowers for pop, herbs for fragrance and cooking, homemade jams and baked creations creating total sensation overload for my urbanized eyes. Zero budget allowed me a beautiful piece of cedar, a full slice from a tree, perhaps 30 years old or so. What my arborist friends and I call a "cookie". The dead wood in the center has aged to a rich reddish purple, the frangrance so full when you stick your nose to it. I'm going to use it in a tree care lecture I'm giving in a week and a half. There are nice cracks parallel to the medullary rays and I hope they help me get across the many parts of a tree's physiology. I have the feeling I might be trying to lecture on too much but we'll see. After the talk I was thinking about sawing the cookie into large strips and seeing if they might be nice in our closets and the bathroom. No need to spend $10 at Bed Bath and Beyond when you can achieve the same thing via a friendly local and a few singles burning a hole in your pocket.

Trees are leafing out left and right and I'm loving it. Magnolias and pears are doing their thing, and the cherries and crabapples aren't too far behind. Yesterday we had all the windows open all day, the breeze invigorating. The double daffodils in the container out front look great. The double tulips in the center are budding up well to play the second act. The gold rush orchid is still in bloom and now with some humidity back in the air it and the tropical seedlings are psyched. And that's just the plants. Birds chirping. Crazy creatures coming out of the woodwork, like this crazed garden kitty that had us in stitches:

Obviously all us humans are into it too. Jacob last night talking about the street tree out front of his new place turning out to be an amazing magnolia with huge flowers. People opening their gardens up to the public for others to view and enjoy. Tons of emails and calls at the office about what is in bloom where. The recent and delightful spike in cocktail parties and hangout sessions with outdoor undertones. The suits getting out of their office and their jackets for their lunch breaks. The fashionistas in the Garment District working their new spring looks oh so slammingly. I can't even imagine how packed Central Park must have been yesterday. Glad we stayed close to home and projectized our hangovers away in peace.

And then there is the one spring ritual not too many people notice that absolutely cracks me up. I am pretty sure it happens every year, just about this time. Not listed in the Urban Farmer's Almanac, if such a thing even exists, but certainly a sign of things to come. Condom sale at the local drug store chain throughout the city! Seriously. When I see the "Weekly Special" sign under "her pleasure" I just have to laugh. And I'll just leave it at that. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Last weekend we lounged under the night sky in Bushwick.

Last night we finally checked out Amanda's backyard and got to catch up with her and Carrington and the rest of the gang. Thank God for backyards and green space in this city. And such a shame I'm not insanely rich so I could just spend my days driving around and planting gardens for all of my friends. There was a BBQ at Juan's place, but we ran out of steam. Came home, retreated to the couch and comfy clothes, and fell in love with the movie Juno. That was such a well done movie. Had us both totally teary by the end of it. Reminded me how much I love my Felis Femina and our crazy little universe together.

Yup, it's a pretty powerful time of year. I hope it leads to others feeling rejuvenated (an adjective I've been using a lot recently), reconnected with nature and all of it's beauty, and excited to see what this growing season will bring. Off to the grocery in a bit and then maybe back to the collage table. I'm ready to begin the second layer of paint on a new canvas too, but I'm not sure how much of a production I'm ready for on this relaxing Sunday.

And someone said it's 4/20. I'm down.

On the stereo: Mink Lungs, The Better Button

Thursday, April 17, 2008

surprise day off

I've been meaning to take a serious walk through town and photograph everything in bloom. It's something I love to do in spring because everyone gets so curious about all the trees and shrubs that we see bursting out of dormancy and into flower. Trained and mentored by some pretty amazing arborists I'm not always speaking so highly about the pear trees, with their structural issues and tendency towards splitting into pieces when fully mature. However, on a visit to Brooklyn last weekend I found a well trained one with unbelievably even branching and covered with clusters of white flowers. I uploaded the picture above without resizing it so be sure to click on it and get the full impact.

Tomorrow I am going to treat myself to a day out of the office. Getting so short at the end of work today I realized that I have a lot of work ahead of me and I need a little inspiration, a little rejuvenation of the spirit. I was thinking about Central Park. I am definitely going to visit the farmers market in Union Square, maybe buy a plant or two for the front stoop. Jodie had a great suggestion too. "Take a walk in the park, but first make something", she said. "Collage, paint, then take a walk in your favorite garden; that will be good for you". She's right, I've been talking about needing that damned tube of titanium white for entirely too long.

Ah, a surprise day off, just what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I hate getting angry

I wish I knew more about copyrights and copyright laws.

With digital photography and all the image swapping and stealing that happens on the internet I wonder how someone can protect their photography. I will admit it, I am by no means perfect. I have done the infamous Google image search when putting together a last-minute powerpoint or blog post. But boy, do I have a different take on that now. I was talking to a friend after work about various greening initiatives here in the city and she tells me about a website she thinks I'll be interested in. Then she tells me that she saw my photograph on the website. Now even more curious I quickly enter the URL. It might be a good website and worth mentioning, but for now, no, not so much. Sure enough there is a little post about the green wall in Williamsburg at Oulu and photos from last summer. And low and behold one of them is my photograph, the same one that made the Hospitality Design Magazine cover. So I think, "cool, let me check this out". I skim through the text and get to the bottom of the post. "Photos by Gates" it reads. Whaa? Huh? Gates? Gates who? That's my goddamned image!

Yeah, I lost it. I didn't hear another word Marni said and thank God we agreed to touch base again in a few days. I was fuming. I wrote a nasty comment on the blog (or whatever that website is) and then found an email for the editor. Now, hours later, I of course feel badly that I was so mean in the email, but at the time, oh, I definitely thought it was validated. Geez, getting angry can be so exhausting. How terrible to be so angry I'm cursing at a perfect stranger via an email! Oh, yeah, that's healthy! Shit. Dare I say, not my finest hour.

But you know what, if you steal a photograph with intention to reuse it on the web, damnit, try to find a photo credit and add it. It usually only takes a minute. I have posted on various blogs and websites that I do not allow reproduction of my photographs without my consent, and honestly I know that is a pipe dream. But at least in all cases previous to today people gave me credit for my images so there was no reason to get angry. But today, I felt taken advantage of, and I don't tolerate that. Usually you can find an email to contact and people are so thankful that you actually took the time to do it right. Not to mention, really, it's what you should do. I know this might sound like a ridiculous request, to actually contact a person before you use their photography, but on behalf of those of us who are trying to make something substantial of our photography, please try, it really does make a difference. And again, I know I'm not perfect, but from now on, trust me, I will definitely think twice before I "save as...".

Monday, April 14, 2008

space photography

I was cleaning out the old inbox this evening and was reminded of a neat website a friend had passed on to me some months back. Who knows where LB found this, but the photos seem genuine, and some of them are really amazing. Of course, it doesn't hurt that NASA probably has the best cameras in the world.

When I lived on the west coast in 2000 I remember a show of NASA photography at the SF MOMA that blew my mind. Huge printed moonscapes spanned the walls. It was easy to stand there and get lost in the texture and craters, the alien landscape, the many shades of gray. And then you see the tiny American flag on the astronauts space suit and realize it is a color photograph! You stand back and your eyes get even bigger, which you didn't was possible. All of a sudden you can stare all over again. A pretty excellent combination of science and art I 'spose.

But c'mon, who isn't fascinated by space!?
Check out Texas Jim's pics

Sunday, April 13, 2008


When I was invited to an open garden today in Williamsburg I was not sure what to expect. My Sundays are very sacred to me, and if asked to share I can get a little snippy. However, what I would find would not only rejuvenate my senses, it would test me, it would lead me to new knowledge and new friends. Ricci's backyard was like a horticulturists dream come true. Found objects, reclaimed objects, plants, a love of bulbs and tubers, a love of winter and spring blooms, near obsession with pruning of woody species, I tell you this garden was rich with it all. I had always wanted to know how bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) might do in a backyard here in the city. I found clumps of them everywhere and Ricci was sure to point out the 'Multiplex' back by the Ailanthus.
Fritillaria meleagris brings me right back to horticulture school for some unknown reason. Part of a spring bulbs class I first saw this plant and couldn't get it out of my head. It was one of the first flowers to pop out at me when I entered the garden this afternoon and I kept going back on it. The detail of the petals, the shape of the large nodding lantern, the fact that they are enchanting little loners in the garden. I love Fritillaria...
...well, almost as much as I love Trillium. And so funny that I posted the Trillium blog not even a week ago. Guess I really have been missing the natives and the woodland gardens a lot recently. My mind was spinning as I was trying to remember the names of so many old friends. And at the same time so great to meet new friends and geek out with Ricci and Caroline talking about plant names and garden experiences and the genius edification that comes with life as a horticulturist or garden enthusiast.
For instance I don't think I had ever seen this plant before. Ricci called it a blue eye, a Cerulea of some kind, but I wasn't sure there was such a plant. I came home and did some research and found no Cerulea in my books. But I did find another plant which I think this guy might be. Tulipa humilis comes in many varieties now and I think this must be one of them. It only stood 4-6 inches tall, and as the skies clouded over and it got cooler the flower closed up. I couldn't get the clearest shot of the center, but the white petals and dark blue, almost black center made it such a striking little flower.

And then there were the plant combinations! Usually I am screaming about Vinca, the invasive introduced groundcover people fondly refer to as periwinkle. I see it everywhere and it makes me crazy. But here it was combined with a perennial Sedum, (perhaps 'Angelina'?), and the combination blew my mind. Apparently in tight troughs the Sedum is able to keep tabs on the Vinca and the look was one I will definitely remember for when we finally have more containers and space.
Another new one was this Iris. I am still trying to identify it. Ricci said the name and it went quickly in one ear and out the other. It was planted inter-mixed with the variegated Yucca below and the combination was once again very smart and logical. Of course add green and dark purple flowers with a favorite perennial and it's hard for me not to be in love. Yucca is a native that I love to try and incorporate into garden designs. It has year-round structure and can be combined with anything from hot tropicals to cool ephemerals. I was reminded of the Western Garden at Garden in the Woods up in Framingham, MA, and the combo of Yucca and California poppy that would stop people dead in their tracks. It is great to take the small, almost whimsical flowers with unique color or shape and scatter them in with these big spiky fellows. People think the Iris is the Yucca flower and then the Yucca blooms and people don't know what the hell that massive spiky blossom is and you have to explain that that is the Yucca. Oh geez, the confusion us simple gardeners get to create for the rest of the world, I think it's hysterical!

But either way, whether "in the know" or not, gardens and green does have an inherent healing property. Like I said, I wasn't sure what to expect today. But the gardens and the good company and the space full of shape, structure, and flower, it was very calming and centering.

A few months ago I was at work and got a call from a reporter in Poughkeepsie. She was asking about the healing properties of gardens and we got talking about the topic of horticultural therapy. The other night I found that Stephanie had written and posted her piece. For paraphrasing a very long conversation we had about the deep and detailed history of this idea of horticulture as therapy, I was happy with how she quoted me. If you would like to check out the article, check out this link to the Poughkeepsie Journal.

On to dinner making and bad TV for us. Hope you all had a good weekend. Cheers.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

good morning

I am so glad that today isn't as gray and rainy as they said it would be. I was pretty down last night and not looking forward to a weekend of shitty weather. I had gotten excited about a potential horticultural opportunity a few weeks back and was waiting to hear some news. Wednesday was two weeks, and by the end of the day there was no reply to my second email. I said, "I'll give him to Friday". Sure enough Friday came and the workday went and nothing in the inbox. I had planned to call John and see if he wanted to join us for dinner. I had meant to call Rory out east and catch up since we've been playing phone tag. I didn't really feel like answering the phone when Dad called me back. No longer was I in the mood to have a social evening. Knowing food still had to happen we opted to go to JJ's for sushi and as always had an amazing meal. The night was misty and cool and we walked rather silently through the neighborhood, holding hands and surveying the scene. Dad's voicemail said, "You'll never know, you might just hear later than you had expected. And if not, then maybe it just wasn't meant to be." My brother Tim saw my post about the magazine and wrote a sweet note saying, "everything you do you do well". I wish I had felt that same way. To sound perfectly spoiled, I can't remember the last time I wanted something so bad and didn't get it. I do work hard and put all that I have into what I do. My grandfather on my father's side was a great man named Edward, a doctor who worked hard and supplied his family with a world rich with knowledge and love. My middle name is Edward after my grandfather and I write that initial with pride. Dad reminded me what grandpa would say in a moment like this. "Que sera sera". Whatever will be will be. I welled up, missing my sweet grandfather in his mammoth Cadillac and chapeau, tipping his hat every time we passed a church or beautiful woman.

So, like I said, I was very happy when I woke today and it was sunny and bright. I looked outside at the pot of bulbs I planted last fall and got excited to see the first double daffodil bud beginning to unfurl. I tried to sleep in, but that wasn't happening. I made coffee and put on Judee Sill in the living room. If you do not know the music of Judee Sill and you appreciate the most beautiful folk music there is then it is simple, you need to go buy yourself her first album. An American singer and songwriter, her first album came out in 1971 and it is one of the best albums to wake and have a lazy morning to. The album has now finished and the coffee cup is dry. I guess I have moped enough. There's a day off ahead, and I am going to enjoy it, damnit!

Isn't it funny how journal entries, or, umm, blog entries, often tend towards the extremes of total bliss or utter sadness? I guess it's just who we are as passionate people.

On the stereo: Judee Sill, her debut album on Asylum, 1971

Thursday, April 10, 2008

first published photograph

It's true, a photograph of mine was used for the cover of the latest "Green Issue" of Hospitality Design Magazine. And I am thrilled. I'm pretty sure this is my first published photograph and that's pretty exciting. I was contacted by Evan Dennie based on a picture I had posted to flickr. We hit it off and I agreed to let her send around whatever photograph she liked best. When she emailed me that my photo not only made a magazine, but made the cover, I jumped all over the office like a lunatic. That was fun!

The copy showed up in the mail and I'm psyched to check it out. Honestly, I had never heard of this magazine before. It wasn't so easy to find in Midtown. We shall see.

Another one for the horticultural portfolio I'm starting to build. And it's starting to look good. Right on!

To see the original photo and other pics of the green wall check out my flickr account. Enjoy.

mmmmm, cereal!

Allow me to introduce another member of my crazy world. This is Janaya, my girlfriend's niece. She is just over two years old and at that genius age when its all about being a total Tazmanian devil, ripping through the house undoing everything in her path. I took this photo when we were down there in PA for Grandpa Good's 92 birthday at the end of February. We were being silly placing the headband on her and having a morning laugh over breakfast and coffee, trying to get some food in her before she raced off to her next adventure of blocks and indiscernible babble. I just loved the focused attention and the hand, almost clenched. I have sugary cereal running through my veins - hear me roar!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

a sensational night (for impromptu floral design)

I worked hard today. Hell, I've worked hard all year. But today I woke and thought, "today I'm having fun." And that is what I did. A friend and I were invited to create a few floral designs for The Horticultural Society of New York for their yearly Flowers and Design gala. With a theme of "Garden Party" Kate and I thought up two variations that came pretty naturally to us, namely games and the beach! The concept for the first table, basically the one we were most excited about, came as were talking about lawn games one might play at a garden party. Our favorite option ended up being croquet and we thought, "we can make this happen!" It only took a few hours for me to create after we got out of the Flower District and toy store.

For the other we didn't have such a definite idea but we knew we wanted to try and achieve more of a tropical seaside garden party kind of vibe. We didn't hesitate when it came to strong and bold foliage and accented the table with beach sand and shells from home and various travels.

It was my first real attempt at floral design and it was great fun. It was one hell of an event and donning the tuxedo felt pretty good. I do good work and damnit, I'm allowed to celebrate. I cropped and resized this pic of Maureen (the event coordinator) and I and didn't know what to name it. Then I thought of my cousin Max down in Fort Lauderdale and it came to me. "Ballers"! (lol)(maybe you can't see the black and white wing-tips, but I assure you, they are there! Cheers, aef)

Monday, April 7, 2008

utter nonsense

Apparently not my night at the Scrabble table. But then again, I rarely get the win.

..and then there's Puck. Weighing in at a cool 21 pounds, I wonder if this guy has ever had a rough day in his life. Oh, yeah, sure, look at how he suffers. No, seriously, he and his mom were practicing their tumbling routines during Cheerleader U. For such a big boy you would be surprised, he is very agile.

Time to fold laundry and go to bed. Tomorrow its going to be a long day. I'm going to be masquerading as a floral designer, teaming up with a good friend to create a couple of tables for a big gala event on the Upper East Side. Wing-tips are out of the closet, trying to remember how to tie a bow tie. Tables set by 3, Tux delivered by 4, set up at 5, cocktails at 7, dinner at 8:30. I guess when life throws you lemons, have a garden party.

Or, as I'll probably be saying tomorrow as I'm racing like a crazy person through midtown, "welcome to New York, now get the fuck out of my way!"

Sunday, April 6, 2008

"Early Sunday Morning"

This is a painting by Edward Hopper entitled "Early Sunday Morning". An American painter, Hopper created this oil on canvas in 1930. There is something about the timelessness and serenity of Hopper's artwork that forever speaks to me. When I first moved to the city before starting such regular work I would treat myself to museum visits as much as I could. The Whitney Museum has a great number of Hopper's paintings in its collections. I would also go to the Met to see the work of Modigliani. Born in Italy in 1884, Amedeo Modigliani (Amedeo, that's a great name isn't it?) eventually moved to France where he created both sculptures and paintings that have such a rich earthy sensuality to them. At least to me they do; art is so subjective really. I didn't know about Modigliani's early sculptures until an exhibit I saw only a few years ago here in the city. But I've always been a fan of his nudes. Again, talk about capturing a moment, an intimacy, a simple yet sensuous moment in time. This one I used to always search out at the Met when I had time, a reclining nude from 1917 (maybe?):
It's a pretty gray day in Astoria, Queens. Having worked in one of my clients' gardens all day in the sun yesterday, I woke up not entirely motivated to trek to the gym as I often try to do. Coffee and artwork and projectizing sound more my speed today than lifting more heavy objects. I have some blank canvases my love got me for Christmas that I have yet to taint with paint. I'm out of titanium white. I guess a little bike ride around the neighborhood would help.

Whatever you choose, gym or art or just another cup of coffee, enjoy the day. Create something if you can. You'll feel better after you do.

On the stereo: Talking Heads, 77

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Trillium gallery

When I interned as a horticulture student up at the New England Wild Flower Society in Framingham, Mass, I became very familiar with native plants of the northeastern United States. One genera of plants that I didn't know so well prior to spring of '06 were members of the genus Trillium. From spring into summer I fell in love with these native woodland flowers, perfect in their multiples of three. Above and below is Trillium cuneatum, one of the larger trilliums I remember from that season.

This a red wakerobin, Trillium erectum 'Red', that I found at a local nursery up near Sudbury, MA, for only a few dollars. I think eventually this one got chomped by deer once it was moved to Long Island.
Trillium grandiflorum are called showy trillium and I think this is the species people see most. The flowers are only a couple inches, fading to pink when pollinated, but they are great to discover walking in the woods.
Then there is the double trillium, Trillium grandiflorum f. 'Multiplex'. Before NEWFS I had seen trillium before, but never a double. I thought they were amazing.
Trillium grandiflorum 'Roseum' has a pink blossom the entire time.
Trillium sessile is commonly called toad shade and you might imagine why. "Sessile" can also be a botanical adjective meaning the flower blooms right on top of the foliage, and there is no flower stalk (technically called a pedicel) in between. Trillium sessile and T. cuneatum do look very much alike but have subtle differences to tell them apart. Both are really musky smelling.
Then there is Trillium simile. I loved to see how they would follow the sunlight as it shifted throughout the day.

(All pictures taken in Framingham, MA, at or near New England Wild Flower Society's Garden in the Woods. All photographs by Alex Feleppa, 2006)

comfortable silence

Last night my love and I decided to go out for dinner. After post-work errands around Queens we were heading home and still had not come up with any idea of what to do for dinner. At that point, and at the helm of our fun new wheels, I decided to make the executive decision to take us out for an impromptu "date night". Fatty's Cafe in Astoria is a fave of ours not only for the food but also the owners and staff (now our good friends) and general ambiance makes us feel very comfortable. Our first dinner date was at Fatty's years ago and we always say we should eat there more often; it's true. Zig sent out a message about the new menu and the ability to now accept credit cards and that was pretty much all the excuse I needed. Even though we typically make some serious grub here in our little house I was feeling pretty uninspired and definitely not in the mood to do dishes. I proposed the idea, my love said "sure", and I hit the gas. We feasted on steak and frites and chicken mole after a yum salad and some empenadas. The Jamesons went to my head after such a long day of obsessing about work and the potential for change, and the buzz was perfectly welcome...

...and then we sat in silence. We listened to the sounds and the people, sometimes the specifics, sometimes just the energy of the chatter. Of course, by this point a day later I don't remember any of it, other than the fact that we were very entertained. Other couples were on dates, quick to make conversation. A deuce to my right had called a third to join them and they were all gabbing away over plates of food and cocktails. We caught each other eavesdropping and gave each other guilty smiles. My love and I can sit in silence and enjoy the passing of the world around us for what seems like hours. We have always related so well to each other, and we are both very fortunate and thankful to have this love. I don't even remember much awkward silence during those first few dates way back when. Returning to the moment, my love hit the nail on the head. "It's so great" she said, "it's like inviting friends to dinner but you don't have to pay for them." We laughed out loud. I thought about another whiskey but remembered the drive home in the new car.

I forget that some people cannot or do not enjoy silence like we do. I am a huge fan of good comfortable silence. There is something about being able to be totally comfortable with someone to the point of not always needing to speak. I do, I love it. I come from a long line of great story tellers, but to sound perfectly cliched, you do have to be a good listener to be a good story teller. My folks are both great eavesdroppers and great story tellers and I hope I've adopted their gift. I think I'm getting there. Stories and lore are some of the best things ever in my opinion. They tell us about our society, our human nature, our relation to the world around us, and all that that can entail. You can listen to others and some times be able to relate better to yourself as a result.

I was leaving the office and in the elevator is a little digital screen that sucks everyones attention to it, thus killing conversation. The relatively useless factoid of the moment that came on-screen said that laughter is still one of the most unclear and mysterious of human behaviors. I was alone and chuckled to myself. Out of affirmation? Out of denial? I got on the subway. My headphones I had purposefully left at home today. I sat in silence, looking, listening, wondering if there might be an answer in the eyes or words of those around me.

On the stereo: U2, Boy