OK, if things seem a little different today, it is because I am typing this at a remote location. Yes, indeed, rather than sit at my somewhat uncomfortable desk chair (even with two pillows on it), I am typing this from the comfort of my bed, where I am propped up against the wall with, you guessed it, two pillows. I am a full two and a half feet from my laptop. This is what wireless keyboards were made for, although, I am sensing an unusual warmth in my nether regions. Can BlueTooth do that?
I am going to pick up where I left off yesterday which was with “Godspeed, Ed.” I felt like it should just end there, but of course, there is so much more to tell you. That whole thing didn’t even get me to 11:30am.
First though, a word from our sponsor, Alice Ochterski, who informed me that Godspeed has nothing to do with speed at all. See for yourself.
Now, back to our story. The reason I didn’t need a ride from Ed is that I was headed in the other direction (as I so often am). I was aimed downtown for an appointment. Actually, it went like this. I found a place that does men’s pedicures, and after a long couple of weeks where I have spent mucho quantities of time on my feet, I decided they need a little TLC. I called the place, and asked what kind of services they include with a pedicure, being a relative neophyte to this activity. The person on the other end of the line and I did not speak the same version of English. I asked my question. The response “Pedicure? You want an appointment?”. I had no idea who I was speaking to, but the closest I can come to his accent is Serge from Beverly Hills Cop.
I looked at my phone for the current time. 11:40. I knew the 1 train wasn’t running except below 13th (I was at 230th), but there was a free (yes, free) shuttle running down to the A train station at 207th. I had noticed it on Saturday, when I went for my bike ride. On Saturday, the traffic was extremely congested, and walking would’ve probably been the best option. On Sunday, though, the traffic was a lot lighter, so I thought I’d give it a try. I also wanted to go to a farmers market I hadn’t been to yet. Surprised? You shouldn’t be at this point in the summer.
I guessed that I could make it down to the salon in about an hour, but I added some time, just to be safe. “1:30?”
“No, he as an appointment at 1:30.”
“No, a mani pedi takes about an hour.”
“OK see you at 2:30 for a mani pedi.” *click*
Wait, what? Ok, the adventure begins.
That left me a lot of time before my appointment, so I decided to go to the farmers market first. The market was at Columbia University, which is around the 116th Street stop. I figured I’d hop on the A train, get off at the closest stop, and just walk over. After the market, I could hop the 1 train (which was running below 137th Street) and take it down to 23rd street station, about half a block from my destination.
I hopped on the A as planned, and we took off. There were the usual perfunctory stops uptown so I settled in for the ride. I perked up when we stopped at 125th, knowing that 116 would likely be next. The subway sped up and carried us on. I’m pretty sure it was going top speed as we passed through the 116th Street station, and 110th, and 103rd, until we got to 86th. Apparently, the A train is an express.
So, I formulated a new plan. Why is it that I always formulate new plans? I mean, what’s the likelihood that they’ll work out? Not very good by my experience. Still, I do it anyways. New plan: Go downtown first (I was already more than halfway there), hang out for a while, then head to my appointment. That is, of course, if the A train stopped anywhere near my destination.
It did, sort of. I got off at 14th street ( I was headed toward 22nd), and began to look for something to do. I had about an hour and fortyfive minutes before my appointment. I did what any true blooded tourist would do. I googled “museums near me”. And even before the results came up, decided to go to the closest museum that was open.
Fortunately, the closest open museum was the Rubin Museum of Art, which I had never been to before. It had 4.5 stars on Google, so that was promising. I went in, paid my admission fee, declined a map (naturally) and began to wander. Oh yeah, did I mention that I had to go to the bathroom this whole time? I forgot to go at the diner, so the first thing I found at the museum was the men’s room. (Hmmm, I bet mens room doesn’t need an apostrophe, just like farmers market doesn’t).(Penn State agrees.) I did briefly regret not taking a map, but soon found the bathroom on the lowest level, but not without first noticing the unusual sounds coming from the large spiral staircase in the center of the museum, and the concave mirrored bowl underneath it.
Having found myself (and the bathroom) on the lower level, I decide to begin my tour there.
There was exactly one exhibit down there. It looked like two large cloth covered rectangles. Brown. Well, really more of a burnt sienna. Who remembers that crayon? Still one of the best, because, what even is sienna?
I read the description beside it (having decided that I wanted to “do” this museum carefully, and get the full experience, at least for the time I was there. It’s like when I went to the zoo. I tried to get the full experience of each exhibit.)
I was doing it all wrong. The two rectangular blocks were sets of speakers, and the exhibit was a soundscape, which was “best experienced by approaching it”. So I did. It was OK, but I was really more interested in the weird, noisy stairs.
I climbed back up to the first floor, and learned that the sounds were another (this time three dimensional soundscape, and that the sounds changed as you moved through it (by climbing the stairs), so I did.
I’m going to pause here, and move away from the details a bit to my overall experience at the Rubin. I have never been to an art museum where the bulk of the time I spent with my eyes closed. Nearly every exhibit was integrated with sound, much of it (at least the top three floors) was from Buddhist and Tibetan monasteries. There were many explanations about different kinds of chants and what they are used for. Each was accompanied by one or several artworks from the same regions.
My favorite room, by far, was the “Collective Om” room. Past patrons (and maybe current ones as well) recorded themselves chanting Om, and they were put together into an hour and forty minute continuous overlapping Om chant.
One time, about two years ago, I did a sort of yoga triathlon, consisting of a bike ride, a run and 108 sun salutations at the end. I had done 108 sun salutations before, and though it is difficult, I felt prepared for this experience. Wrong. When I had done them previously, we had gone a moderate pace, even pausing in some positions to catch our breath. Not so at this 108. They went crazy fast. Body parts were flying all over.
The best part of that experience was right at the end. There were over 100 people in the room, and we all participated in a flowing Om. We were each asked to chant om three times at our own pace. We all started together, but since each person’s om is a different length, the room soon started to reverberate with the mixed collective oms.
The experience in the room at the museum was similar. You could, if you wished, join in with the recorded oms. I did not. Too chicken. Maybe on a subsequent visit.
Subsequent visit? Oh yes. I did not get to experience the whole museum. I turned my admission fee into part of my membership fee, I think I’ve found a new oasis away from home.