Better Late Than

In true Karen fashion, I’ve neglected to blog without much explanation. I could say I’ve been super busy, running to and fro, working nutty hours, forgoing sleep and rest. Oh wait, I used that excuse last time.

The only solace I can offer you, dear reader (note the lack of plural), is that when all else fails, I’m usually micro-blogging on Twitter. Need updates on my coffee habits? Read about the tragic loss of my Moleskine? Feel enraged over the unjust thievery of the Snuggie that was rightfully mine? All detailed in 140 characters on Twitter. Your excitement is palpable.

As to what I’ve been up to, well, let’s just say life. I’ve delved into a new project and have traveled here and there. Visitors are constantly coming and going. The free weekends I have I use to sleep or catch up with friends in the city (We really do have to – and I’m sorry for using this – pencil each other in). I was determined to update the blog over Thanksgiving break in Richmond (I had a week – a week!), but instead I caught up with friends and family. More Rock Band than actual writing was had, and I can’t say I regret it. To top it all off, I have to make time for visits by the hoodie-clad gentleman in this post.

Which brings me to now. Er, October. On a beautiful fall day, I took Lola and Phil to Central Park. Last fall I was a few weeks too late, and the trees were bare. This year, as soon as color returned to my neighborhood I grabbed my necessities – boy, dog, and camera – and headed out the door.

I’m notorious for my horrible sense of direction, and the only time it’s forgivable is when I’m in exploration mode. I pretend I mean to walk in circles, pass the same bush five times, and say, “Oh hey, that’s a neat bridge!” even after the fourth encounter.

Luckily, each Central Park visit is never like the last.

Though I love capturing passersby, Lola and Phil are my favorite photo subjects because they don’t mind when I trail them like a creeper. There’s also something about unapologetically invading someone’s space that’s so damn satisfying.

It’s so easy to lose all photo skills, at least in my case, after taking extended breaks. Some pictures were crooked or awkwardly cut off extremities, and I reluctantly banished them to the junk folder. This one survived, thanks to color.

To everyone else, Lola’s a hyper ball of fluff. When Phil’s around, she’s his shadow.

Setting up for her favorite pastime.


What’s that, girl? Timmy fell down the well?

Manhattan envy.

Central Park, un-blossomed

I leave for Toronto in a day and a half.

I haven’t packed. I don’t know where I’m staying (Well, my friends do, but I’ve neglected to ask. We’re also flying in on different days). Don’t ask me why I’m leaving New York’s somewhat chilly weather for Toronto’s somewhat chilly weather. But here and there, warm weather creeps in (At times it oddly feels like summer).

It never lasts.

Good news is, the warmth has dragged people out from their caves. Weekends are filling up. Work is picking up. Things are happening. Everyone is nicer, in a way New Yorkers are not supposed to be (For the record, I haven’t encountered a particularly mean New Yorker, born and bred or otherwise). They hold doors, let you sit on the train and even sing a jingle or two while skipping to the subway. Or maybe that’s just me.

I haven’t laid out an itinerary for Toronto, but I’ll be sure to document it here. For now, here’s Central Park, un-blossomed.

I did manage to take pictures of non-cherry blossom things that day.

I focused on color.

And people.

There was something funny about a Zamboni on an extremely warm day.

And a guy smirking while a strange girl took his picture.

Crowds gathered around the mystery bagpiper under the bridge.

There were buckets on heads.

Some peace and quiet, too.

People openly loved.

Finally, notice the sign. Notice the legs behind the sign.

The Cherry Blossom Hunt

“You’re sure enjoying that book.”

I looked to my left, and there he was. Sitting on a patch of grass not too far from my patch of grass, this unidentified stater of the obvious had been there for who knows how long, apparently watching me read.

“Yeah,” I said, almost directly into the book.

Normally, I don’t mind talking to strangers – it’s almost inevitable when I venture out solo – but it was getting dark. I’d spent the day wandering around Central Park, taking pictures, before sitting down to read in an area with significantly fewer people than the periphery of the park. Fully engrossed in my book, the sun had begun to set without me noticing.

Books are usually effective deterrents of uninvited conversation. Mine proved futile in this case.

“What are you reading?” he said.

“Oh, you know, a book of travel essays… by women.”

“Oh? That’s good,” he said. “It’s good to read about what you’re interested in.”

Though there were quite a few people around — families, couples, small groups of friends – we had enough space between us to not have to hear each other’s conversations. This stranger obviously had no intention to leave me in peace, all the while sending off major creepy vibes. As he talked about something or other, in my head his words were replaced with, “Don’t worry, I’m just really, really lonely… and sometimes I kill bunnies for fun.”

Maybe it was because he was wearing a beanie in 70-degree weather or maybe it was because he chose to sit dangerously close to me in a park of many patches of grass. Or maybe it was the essay I was reading, eerily depicting much of what I was experiencing at that exact moment. In the essay, the author writes about how as a woman traveling by herself, she often has to depend on strangers, which, as was the case with some creepy male attendants she’d met, can be unsettling. She eventually realized that by sitting alone on the platform at a train station in India, she had unintentionally sent a signal to creepy men everywhere that she was not one of the good girls.

He asked me a few more questions. I told him I was a writer, and he, in turn, said he was an artist. As for what kind of art he did, I’m not sure because I was too busy plotting how to exit the conversation. I wanted to be polite enough to seem casual, but not so polite to give off the impression that I wanted company or to exchange e-mail.

Just then, Lucas* appeared.

He’d somehow freed himself from his owner and, leash and collar in tow, circled the stranger and me in a euphoric gallop.

“I’m free! I’m free!” he seemed to say.

He ran to me, getting close enough for me to pet him. Just as my hand grazed his scalp, he tore off in full speed, his owner pleading for him to relax.

It was the perfect escape.

“Nice talking to you,” I said to the stranger as I gathered my stuff before walking away.

I didn’t bother to look behind me.

*Note: Lucas may or may not have been his real name. It was the first name that popped up in my head as I wrote this, so that mutt shall forever be Lucas, to me at least.

Last year’s trip to the Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. was ridiculously fun
, and I’d captured my trek with friends in photos. This year, with no plans to revisit the festival and still yearning for some blossoms, I spent a beautiful afternoon on a Cherry Blossom hunt in Central Park.

There were several scattered throughout the park and in the city. Though majestic, the trees themselves weren’t very interesting, so I aimed to capture the activity around them. I hope these images evoke the stark contrast between the serenity at the park and the constant movement of Manhattan. It’s as if once entering, people immediately disassociated themselves from the quick pace of the city, which, while visible through the trees, seemed worlds away.

I love the colors in this picture, especially compared to the people under tree,
all in dark colors and dressed much warmer than necessary.

Urban quiet.

I was tempted to do the same, but the hunt wasn’t over.

Loved the light that day.

It gets kind of treacherous when you cross without looking. Cyclists
and joggers are pretty serious about their space.

I’d wandered from 59th to the Met, and stumbled
upon cute elderly Asians touristing across from it.

Pink girl, pink trees.