Monday, March 19, 2007

Coffee Runs, Celebs & Carol

My cousin, Casey Colby, objected in an e-mail today to the fact that I had not yet done a blog post about my time in New York. So, to satisfy the person who may be my most international reader (Casey lives in Holzwickede, Germany), I hereby tender a few New York stories.

I arrived here late last week to start my new gig, which I can report is going pretty well. (Observant readers may have noticed that, on Friday morning, the job title in my Blogger profile changed from "Political & Media Consultant" to "Marketing & Communications Professional.") The folks at my new workplace have a standard a.m. coffee run to a deli across the street -- which is usually a pretty good sign.

Having already lived in NYC for four years during college, I know that one of the ways you can mark time is in the sightings of celebrities and quasi-celebrities. My first occurred on Saturday at the Barnes & Nobles on Union Square when I was standing next to Morgan Spurlock, the guy from the documentary "Supersize Me." It's not surprising Spurlock was the first -- I think he lives in Lower Manhattan and he's a fellow NYU grad.

And, not an actual sighting but close: Tonight, Chris Daughtry, last year's runner-up on American Idol, played at Irving Plaza, the club next to the little hotel where I am staying (also at Union Square). I didn't get to catch the sold-out show, though. A scalper tried to sell me a ticket but I balked at his $100 asking-price for the $20 ticket.

Another interesting story -- even if it will sound rather self-righteous: On Saturday afternoon, I bought a meal for a homeless person. I was inside St. Francis Xavier Church waiting for the 12:05 p.m. Mass to start when a homeless woman (maybe 45 or 50 years old with shoulder-length stringy blond hair) walked up to me in the pew and loudly asked, "Will you help me get some food?"

Being one of those flashing-neon-sign "WWJD" moments, I walked with her to the nearby deli on the corner of 5th Avenue and 16th Street. "Carol" got a ham and cheese sandwich on a hoagie bun with a bottle of Coca-Cola and two yellow apples. Walking back to church, Carol told me she was "a domestic violence case from Pennsylvania." Hearing this, I told her I was from Pittsburgh and she said she was as well. She exclaimed she was happy to meet another Pittsburgher.

When I got out of Mass, Carol was already gone. She said she was staying at a shelter on 96th Street with her 16-year-old son.

Tonight, just after the interaction with the above-mentioned scalper, another homeless person (this time a grumpy little man) also asked me to help him get some food. But, the New Yorker in me kicking in, I just responded, "Sorry, man" and kept on walking. Guess I'm not so holy after all.

To close, here's a prayer by Thomas Merton that I've been carrying around with me the last few days. The ending is very grim, but you'll get the point:

My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

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