Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil


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How To Bring A Hound to New York

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I miss New York like crazy.

With the recent change of jobs and, well, being “in-between” opportunities right now, I’m kind of free to move wherever I want.

I say “kind of” because I’m not rich (yet!?).  It’s not easy to just get up and move back to New York from California to search for work back home – where things are expensive. But I’m making some plans and getting my home inventory together for selling off my life to do it.

But here’s the thing. My hound Baxter is coming with me, and it’s going to be quite a journey for the little guy.

He’s a California hound.

He knows of green grass and warm to cool temperatures.

He knows nothing of snow.

He’s okay with rain.

I’ve not a clue what he’ll do with ice.

Maybe he’ll eat it? Maybe he’ll grow found of the taste of snow?

He’ll have to  learn to poop on concrete if we can’t make it to the grass fast enough.

He’ll have lots of smells because New York is a cesspool of smells.

He’ll find new friends that will make his wag his tail.

And maybe I’ll find things to make my tail wag, too.

Unless a job comes up in Los Angeles. If one does get offered to me, then I guess if it’s a great one – I’ll stay a little longer.

But I’ll still miss New York, and I’ll long to see my hound romp in the snow for the first time.

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Writing Challenge: What Place Creeps You Out?

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Roosevelt Island on the East River between Manhattan and Queens, NY.

What place on earth really creeps you out? Is it a building somewhere in your hometown? Is it a ruin you walked through years ago while on vacation that felt heavy with history and past demons?

Why not write about it? I did. Here it goes:

For me, it’s Roosevelt Island. The cigar shaped strip of land along the east river that straddles the upper east side of Manhattan and Queens. Fully inhabited, it’s a living, breathing little sleepy nook of NYC, carved off from the mainland.

Back in the black and white dusty days of old timey NYC, it was used to quarantine the contagious from the main land. A small pox hospital (now crumbling and empty) existed. And the Octogon Building, now a luxury condo complex, was the sight of a former insane asylum.

Yup! This place is really cool. And weird. And creepy despite it being inhabited and beloved (or despised, depending on who you talk to) by those who live there.

This long, two mile strip of land wasn’t wasted or left to the elements like the REALLY REALLY creepy North and South Brother Islands – two abandoned small land masses off the coast of The Bronx steeped in sad, depressing history. (More to come in my next post). Roosevelt was developed into a residential, park-like community with no nightlife, a few grocery stores and restaurants. It still houses a working, educational hospital; yet, people come here to buy high end condos and live a peaceful life away from the bustle  across the river.

There is only a Main Street cutting through the island, with an east and west drive. You can get to Roosevelt Island by Tram or by the F train. Cars are not plentiful, so there’s no traffic. The tram ride there is gorgeous, and the biking on the island is nice and easy due to cars being somewhat scarce.

For me, it’s incredibly creepy. Eerie. Strange. Like a New York City parallel universe where you’ve been drugged and thrown in a van only to wake up in the middle of the in-between. Someone online mentioned that it reminded them of the old video game ‘Myst’ – where you’ve been ship wrecked on an island that looks familiar, but it’s vacant and strange and surreal.

They even made a thriller with Jennifer Connolly called ‘Dark Water’ on the premises, using its isolated, dystopic, empty strangeness as part of the atmosphere.

So bizarre is this strip of island  – that only this week during New York’s Fashion Week, Kanye West, now a fashion maven, staged a fashion show to reveal his latest line of shoe wear. Girls clad in nothing but underwear and body stockings stood along the grassy area of the park, staged as living dolls around the makeshift runways. They stood there, like brooding statues in the heat, to which they succumbed, one by one in fainting spells. Meanwhile, animated models strutted and stumbled over shoes that fell apart on the catwalk.

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As each model wobbled and held on to audience members for dear life, the ruins of the small pox hospital loomed in the distance.

A modern day disaster contrasting an older one. A strange land perfect for such a strange performance.

Perfect for a weird place like Roosevelt Island.

Yet, the skyline views were, and are always —  spectacular.

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Photo by: Mabry Campbell – http://www.mabrycampbell.com


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New York City: A Prayer

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If you could indulge me for a moment, I’m in prayer mode. Meditation is always so private. But I need to get these words out. Perhaps in my own selfish prayers, you may find a way to speak yours.

It’s a prayer about going back home.

So much has changed in New York since I moved away. Each time I go back, there is something adjusted or rearranged.The World Trade Center was finally built replacing that ominous space once occupied by two towers  downtown. In other areas, strange pencil buildings have been erected, sticking out like strange toothpicks where billionaires can buy real estate in the sky. The High Line has become an urban garden of nature, artwork and modern architecture, cutting a contrast between greens, wood, texture and the colorful steel of expensive “soon to open” condo’s waiting for the millennial elite to move in.

More bike lanes and sitting space. More traffic. More everything and not enough of what counts. Homes. Affordable homes.  For artists. For laborers. For white and blue collar. One can’t even afford to starve here.

Among the progress is a new element of regression: Sadly, the economy crash has its victims here. Homeless people are finding their way back on the street. And this time, they look like us. Some are sleeping on the outskirts of neighborhoods they may have lived in once. Evicted. Alone. Their entire apartment saved under tarp, their luggage and few boxes become their living space. I saw a young woman on the corner of Broadway and 84th street, tidying up her belongings after taking something out of a box. She was sniffing back tears. Mental Illness of personal demons may have lead her there, but I couldn’t help feel her fear.

The feelings come up now. My fear for her.  The prayers of Oh my God. Please protect her. Please keep her in your hand. Please keep her and everyone in her position safe. I am so lucky for what I have, but for the grace of you, please keep her close.

That is all I can do.

Some of us are a paycheck away from where that young lady is now.

The line between wealthy and desolate seems to be fading.  There is no middle class here it seems. There are only the poor, and those who are getting by on a reasonable wage – enough to pay that high rent, and the uber wealthy.

Los Angeles is becoming more of the same. Low wages and increasing rent. Plus, you need a car out here.

I look at the textures of street art on New York buildings. I marvel at the beautiful colors of fixtures in a store window, snapping iPhone pictures of romantic chandeliers against windows showing an iconic peek into New York’s neighborhood buildings. But I know the realities aren’t as beautiful.

In the year leading up to my move from the Upper East Side of Manhattan to Los Angeles back in 2010, I understood that there comes a time for some New Yorkers who fell in love with this city to move away to cleaner, roomier locations.We had our New York City moment. We ate at the local eateries and mulled over the most incredible Farmer’s Markets, danced at amazing clubs and knew the best restaurants.  But, maybe it would be nice to see trees outside our windows and maybe have our own garage.

But, here I am – six years in sunny SoCal. With all the beautiful friends and gorgeous moments spent here and forever grateful for. Yet,  I didn’t bargain on me wanting to come back to NYC. Just one more round of apartment living with a Basset Hound meant for outdoors, those icky nerves of moving into another old building and an apartment that smells like fresh paint and bug spray. Yes. One more time before I move back to the metropolitan suburbs – or the more reasonable neighborhoods of the Hamptons. (Sag Harbor…I will be your resident yet.)

So, New York City – I’m here, waiting for you to give me the word. I’m ready to come back and live in you once again – until the green grass of home beyond the Metro North Line calls us home.

I’m waiting with open heart and mind. Just say the word.

And keep me close. With abundance and positive light.

I hope the same for anyone reading this, who are in a murky state of transition. We are waiting. We are on the brink. We are waiting in suspension. Let us all get to where we want to be, financially well, creating, writing, painting, sculpting, helping others, well employed, building good things, tucked into a safe home in a neighborhood we love with loving people around us.

Let us all come home.

 

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Sharks Through the Insulin Glass

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I’ve just flown through my annual rough patch. Busy work stirring turbulence that had more to do with my employed work rather than my creative endeavors (which I am determined to turn into employment).

Working at a major film and television studio, I was immersed in an industry event known as LA Screenings.  Determined and content to be a studious employee in the middle of mild chaos, I kept my focus on the job, cleared the writing decks for a month and focused wholeheartedly on screenings and office work.

Yes. this meant placing my own writing projects and my build up of The Good Write aside until the responsibilities that cut me a payday slow back down into the day to day office life, where things are humming on autopilot.

It was alright, actually. I needed a little break from writing. As long as we fill the down time with mental stimulation, we all do.

My annual trip to New York City waited at the end of these travails. Exhausted from having flown in late last night, I’m back with street snapshots, a low bank account, leg fatigue, a few cute new summer dresses, and jet lag.  (You can see why I have aviation metaphors sprinkled within my first paragraph.).

Having taken the month off from writing, I feel the words coming back. The need to create once again. Around New York, my eyes feasted on many favorite visuals – street art, murals, photography. The colors of paintings on bulletin boards that are created over a period of days to devise a glorious build up of lines and color and shading to birth a gorgeous vision, like the steampunk dreamy delicacy of the mural above found on 22nd street and 10th Avenue, installed by PixelPoncho.

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Shark on 22nd St. & 7th Avenue. Chelsea, NYC.

Or the sharks infested walls of 22nd Street, where these charming little razor tooth creatures show up in tags sporadically around 22nd street (and perhaps beyond?), floating through medicine bottles, looking like they’ve just taken up home in dangerous cement and brick laid pharmaceutical waters.

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Shark Alert: 22nd Street and 10th Avenue, Chelsea, NYC

Whimsical creation of art. Art is everywhere. I have a whole camera role I’m too sleepy to unload here, but my Instagram account will attest to some wonderful frames of texture, color, inspiration from masters in fashion as seen at the Manus x Machina exhibit at the MET, where fashion is exposed and explored in the age of technology, or various moments of artistic expression found in a favorite cafe or flash of street work.

I’m getting back on the creative band wagon, folks. It’s always good to know that creation is always waiting for you to pick up where you left off to continue bringing forth more beauty into the world. Now, more than ever, we need to know this.

And here’s the reason why…

Lately, there has been a rash of articles about people who can’t find jobs. People who pretend to live affluently, but are at poverty’s door. Hard working people who’ve bought into the lie (as I have) that we must gain gameful employment in order to contribute in this world, when all we are doing is working for someone else’s goals, someone else’s dreams, and someone else’s wealth.

What happens when, after years of hard word, that employment ends? When you can’t get a job like you used to – or not even able to get your first one out of college? There are people who hope they will one day be hired back into that high paying position, and things will be right again, only to realize, after too long a wait, that it may never happen again.

There are friends in my sphere who are unemployed that keep getting back on the wheel of hope and job search, never realizing that they have the talent to create their own job position, their own employment by bringing their own highly lucrative gifts into the fold and be their own business.

Yet, they fret and go back to the very thing that chewed them up, spit them up and placed them in this torturous limbo to begin with.

I’m going to expound on this in my next blog post. There is an arsenal of experience I’ve gained and a high dose of being fed up about the illusion we’ve been given in this world I’d like to spill.

Like the eponymous artwork on the walls of New York City and around the world and the artists who’ve dreamed, divined and brought them to our vision – let’s inspire others with our work, be it writing, painting, sculpting, photography, acting, singing, composing or just listening to someone in need of help by your hand.

Let’s all be good people and live in our authenticity, because putting my creative work aside for a salaried paycheck rather than self employed accomplishments isn’t applying my energy into the work I’m meant to be doing. Writing and creating and inspiring others – is.

Know this in yourself. Take it and go forth.

 

 

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Postcards Back Home

DaddyLongLegsLast weekend, I attended an off-Broadway show called ‘Daddy Long Legs’. It’s a little charmer, now running at the Davenport – a small intimate theater with a big heart on the edge of the Great White Way.

The show is about an orphaned girl –  now a young woman on the verge of adulthood – and the young wealthy man who  anonymously pays for her education. Through letter writing, they fall in love.  Megan McGinnis (who plays Jerusha) and Will Reynolds (who played Jervis the day I was there) are so wonderful in bringing on the heart ache.

It’s a divine little play, and I highly recommend it! But there was something that really intrigued me – so much so, I was compelled to do something…odd.

The crew of ‘Daddy Long Legs’ has a little marketing plan that was equally has sweet, and indeed – charming.

Within the show program, there was a postcard promoting the show with a little note encouraging audience members to write to a loved one to tell them how much they loved it. They would pay for postage. The little mailbox was in the lobby for posting.

I didn’t know of any addresses off hand – despite my dying iPhone containing a bunch of contact info barely accessible since my battery kept going flat twice a day.

So, I thought of the one address that is forever ingrained in my head. The one address I used since the day I was born until the year I graduated college and my family moved somewhere else.

My childhood home.

It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do – to write to the inhabitants of the house where I grew up to say hello and to mention how it’s always been in my dreams.

The house was small, not entirely well kept, and could have been loved more than it was. There were so many things going on with my parents and there were times it wasn’t a very bright and wondrous place. Family issues, arguments, dark times and bleak corners.

But I loved the home. I loved the village that remains the center of town. No matter what – I always felt safe and loved in that house. I’ve longed for that feeling since. I’ve moved and moved and transferred across country — yet never found that same sense of home.

Our next door neighbors – the ones who lived there when my family was in the house – still reside there. I continue to be friends with their eldest son – one of my best friends during our young days.  Apparently the family who moved in after us are still there – having moved in when we moved out — 1986.

Which means – they have lived in my childhood home longer than we did. Yet, my memories and dreams still linger within it’s old walls. Walls that have now been expanded and updated as far as I can see via Google.

So, hopefully that strange little postcard I sent from this small little theater just off-Broadway was a little bright spot in their day. I simply wrote, “I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I used to live in your house and still love it today. Hope it still contains a little of that love.”

Strange! Theater inspires us in ways we least expect. Writing that anonymous postcard was congruent to Jarvis and Jerusha’s correspondence. Both were acts based on universal love.

If you’re in New York and want to see ‘Hamilton’. Forget it. That show is sold out forever. There are other wonderful opportunities to see great intimate and emotionally moving theater – like ‘Daddy Long Legs’ at the Davenport Theater.

Please check it out.  It just might inspire you to do something amazing.


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World Series of Weekends

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A few weeks ago, my uncle Charles – brother of my dad – called to say he was making the entire month of October his birthday celebration month. October 29th, 2015 would be his 83rd birthday. So, he spent the entire month traveling around New England and parts of Canada, finally landing in Brooklyn where he stayed with his friend Eleanor Kupencow in her glorious DUMBO apartment, and then off to spend another four or five days in Greenwich Village in another friend’s apartment (while they were off in Majorca building their dream home) where he and my aunt Cathryn would stay and apartment/dog sit.

I can’t remember if I invited myself or if they invited me. But there was a sofa with my name on it, and I grabbed the chance to get to NYC without having to pay for a hotel.

It turned out, the weekend of October 30th through November 1st was a perfect storm of New York City happenings. It was my uncle’s birthday. It was Halloween. It was the NYC Marathon. It was the end of Daylight Savings time. And then…my NY Mets were in the World Series and they were hosting the Royals at home.

Add the fact I have to see every off Broadway show I can in three days, and I had myself a jammed pack weekend of World Series proportions.

I can pontificate through literary prose how my weekend went, but I will list everything discovered and done:

Fell in LOVE with Maison Kayser on Bleecker and Christopher Street. It’s the Bakery from the fluffiest, wondrous part of heaven where the Brahma of baked goods smiles upon you. Croissants that are dense and gooey. Chocolate tarts are stacked with incredible chocolate surprises and a regular menu where you can eat breakfast lunch and dinner. We were only there for dessert, so please – go there – eat a meal and tell me what you had. I won’t be back until December.

Went to Morgan Library and viewed the Hemingway and Matisse exhibition.

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Ceiling at Morgan Library, Matisse and Hemingway exhibits. NYC.

Went to matinee of an adorable musical off-broadway at the small but big hearted Davenport Theater. “Daddy Long Legs”. So sweet, heartbreaking and the music is lovely and also available on iTunes.

Went to Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. Couldn’t see much, but what I saw was really cool. Crazy giant skeletons and a big old white spider hanging from the Six Avenue church. Wanted to see drag and basic lunacy, but really only saw suburban people dressed up like Heath Ledger’s joker.

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West 11th Street Halloween Association.

Went to Below 54 where I saw a Halloween Sondheim cabaret featuring the music of “Sweeney Todd” and “Into the Woods”. Lush. Spectacular. Food was yum, and they had this incredible Halloween drink that was tangy and had enough zoomph to make me forget the bitchy couple who sat next to me and gave me the stink eye because I had to share the high top bar with them. “Swing your razor high, Sweeney…” Oh, boo to you two.

Stopped by Circle in the Square on my way to 1 Train on 50th to bask in the happiness of the “Fun Home” marquis. Hello Bruce! Hello Alison! They keep welcoming me to their house on Maple Avenue and I can’t resist. They put the “Fun” in Dys-“fun”-ctional. See you again on my birthday in December.

Early Sunday. Can’t live without my spin class. 8:30am in the fucking morning, but wow it feels good to get it done early. Chelsea Flywheel on 17th. Took Zach’s class again! Had him over at Flatiron location in September. (Okay, that read like a girly diary entry.)

Tired of my iPhone5 battery dying every three hours, so I bit the bullet and bought a new iPhone6.

Matinee of my friend Diana’s show “Songbird: A Tennessee Story“. Great music! Story is based on Chekov’s “The Seagull”. The show is at 59E59 Theater

Walked through Marathon people covered in Marathon blankets before heading to the above.

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King Kitty, the royal cat of Greenwich Village. Adorable, regal and somewhat creepy on the side table where I slept.

Went to Citifield for game 5 of the World Series. Finishing off a championship weekend with my boys in the big show. The friend who offered them to me hates me because I accepted and then backed out because I didn’t want to spent $400 to watch the Mets possibly lose. Changed my mind again and went to the game. Walked around marathon people on Madison Avenue to get to Grand Central. Yes, I went to the game. Yes, I spent the $400 bucks. Yes, we lost the game. But I went home content – sad – but content. The Mets had a great season.

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I’ve walked through the closet door to Narnia. World Series. Mets Versus Royals. Game 5. The Royals won. My hat off to them. Worthy opponents. Mets 2016!

Early morning flight back to LAX, quivery at all the money I’m losing and trying to get the motivation and strength to start working for myself to earn self gratification in a job I love and is of my doing – plus make more money so I can finally move back to New York.

Throughout all of this, I saw my wonderful, crazy uncle and my aunt Cathryn. I spent time with my beautiful cousin Michele. And I am thoroughly exhausted. Plus, I spent lots of time falling in love with this lovely creature…

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Sasha, the abominable dog. White as snow. Black button eyes. Heart of gold. Gentle pup.

Time to get ready for another trip. Oh New York. I miss you so. Can I flip the table of the Joni Mitchell song “California”? New York…I’m coming home. Will you take me as I am?

As a true New Yorker (shut up Time Out. I’m a New Yorker)…I say….you fuckin’ better!