Sunday, March 28, 2010

Enough about me

New blog! Less about me, more about us. That means you, Manhattan. Island of my dreams. Source of my nightmares. Island in the stream... jewel of the mighty Hudson... center of the known universe. More: Kitaliana

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Up

Since my privacy setting are generally set to "stalk me now," I thought I'd add my calendar to this blog. I figure I'll probably make 1 our of any 5 listed events so I should be okay. It's just an experiment anyhow. [Update: 10 years later, deleted]

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Highlights from solo Bahama trip: eating lunch at Skans on West Bay St. (ok food, great local atmosphere, surly waitresses) I heard, behind me, a sonorous and beautiful male voice singing Sinatra, softly. All through my meal (1/4 of a chicken club sandwich), he sang. When I left, I said hello and thank you. A handsome older man -- could've been 60 or 70s) who looked pretty much exactly like I thought he would -- or should -- sat with his friend. According to his friend, he had been tapped to sing for.. the movie Jaws! Okay, Jaws 4, but so what. Will also always remember Max (pictured), aged 9, selling his mother's homemade soap outside her shop on Bay Street. Max is a soccer player (but really should be in sales). He warned me not to eat the soap (which really did smell eatable) because it would "put chemistry into my body."

Treated myself to a meal at 5-star restaurant Graycliff, just up the hill. Lots and lots of old-world atmosphere, most deferential and friendly staff, and good food. Not good enough for what I paid, but hey. I paid for an experience. Which was great - but needed to be shared. Oh well.
Funniest conversation involved miscommunication with my friendly cabdriver. I asked about the zoo (a ticky tacky but still wondrous place). He told me it had burned down. I proceeded to express way too much horror and shock ("Oh my god, what about the animals?!") until he told me that he was talking about The Zoo, a popular nightclub.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bahamas Bound

Yes, it's been a while. Just remember, this is a log, not a blog. So. I flew alone today on JetBleu which I love to Nassau, Bahamas. Why? Because I was cold and lonely. I'm still lonely but not cold. So that's good. Actually I'm not lonely either. Back when I booked, I thought I was sooo smart to get on first flight out, to be able to be on the beach by 11 am.

Well. I plum forgot how hard it is to wake up at 4 am. Hard as in I couldn't do it. But I've done the trek to JFK so many times now (going to Maine) that I just thought I'd be fine. Totally forgot, also, that international flights require at LEAST one hour before boarding. Oops. I had to wheedle and plead and do my kewpie doll sad face to get them to let me even get a boarding pass. Phew! Then 2.5 hours, window-seated, next to I swear one of the Jersey Shore couples. We landed, got through customs, found a working ATM, found cab, got to hotel, sweating gently.

Then I hit the beach, swam for nearly 40 minutes and luxuriated. Then had to eat at the outside bar (great burger) and met a nice woman from Atlanta who had been to Maine! In her childhood! At a camp for underprivileged kids! Just like my dream Frog Pond Fund project.

We drank guava margaritas and chatted until the sun came back out. I told her there were many more black people there now, which is good. Damn, she said, pissed that she wouldn't be special there anymore.

Notes on hotel: still love it (British Colonial Hilton) with its rich history and great private beachfront. Did not like the concierge (hello, you've never been asked where a girl can get a pedicure? really?) and the hotel's messed up wireless system (2 out of 5 floors have it in-room. Huh?).

But that's okay. Tomorrow it's back to the beach and meditating and reading (Let the Great World Spin, which is oh so very good). Update: Watching Hope for Haiti program on the teevee. Amazing. I never watch this kind of thing but the twitterverse compelled me and I'm so glad. So moving, so well done. 50 hankies for this production. I hope everyone who watched has or will give to help Haiti. I've also fallen out of love with my netbook which is NOT all that light and too damn small and just today lost its magic ability to transmit my voice so goodbye Skype and for pete's sake. It's yours if you haul it away.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Wow, just when I thought I was done, done, done with Corfu. My neighbor (who I barely knew) moved out and left some crap in the hallway. I picked up some old foreign bills thinking what the heck. They sat, somewhat crumpled, on my desk for a while and I went to get rid of them, noticed the denominations (100, 500!) and hesitated. Then I stared at them for a bit and suddenly gasped -- seeing a perfect etching of of the stunning and unforgettable view of Corfu's Old Fort on one of them. example Wow. I don't normally attach meaning to this kind of coincidence. So... I won't. Yet.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Random Notes

So, another Sunday. Spent time at the Lighthouse yesterday going over use cases for software engineering: requirements gathering, UML (Unified Modeling Language), etc. It's moderately interesting, in that it can be applied to anything. (I've modeled a use case on my cat's eating behaviors... that's one complicated, ugly chart). Last week it was iterative and agile frameworks for software development - again, all very theoretical if you ask me. But kind of intriguing -- unless you are actually forced to use it, like, for work or something. Ew.

Google finally waved at me (thanks, B. Green) and I'm still trying to figure the thing out. Maybe I need more friends. Not sure it can help with that...

That's it for the tech front. I'll have more next week after Pop!Tech and trip to Maine (please let there be some foliage to ogle).

Happy Birthday, Monica McLeod* (Oct. 22), wherever you are.

Trip to Athens is back on. Yay.

* from Pilgrim Lodge summer camp, 1975.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Corfu Again

I guess the reason it took so long to post this is that much of my trip to Greece felt so quickly like a dream. A good dream, yes, but a dream. Hazy, not quite real and, in retrospect, really hard to capture.

Maybe it's the light, maybe it was the book I was reading*, maybe it was the too-good-to-be-true encounters... Who knows. I think what I'll do is just transcribe the notes I took from my little blue notebook bought in the only deli-type storefront mini-market I found in Old Town Corfu.

Lawrence Durrell's Prospero's Cell -- a "guide to the landscape and manners of the island of Corfu"

First, though, the romantic and true beginning. I'm not exaggerating and while it now feels really like a dream, this is what happened. After uneventful flights JFK to Paris to Athens to Corfu (phew) I dropped my bags at Hotel Astron (near the New Fort) and walked up through somewhat familiar windy streets to the cafe I thought G (from last trip, captured somewhere in this blog, nothing terribly important) might be. He was there, standing at the cafe where he works, back turned to me. Almost exactly like I had left him a year before.

I called his name and a little later we were zooming via scooter to Kanoni, arguably one of the more romantic places in Greece, a little island with a little church under the moonlight in a huge bay.

We canoodled for a bit and took off again through the streets of Corfu.

Because my friend worked a lot (mostly at night) the rest of the trip revolved around my obligatory solo site-seeing day trips (including to what --I was told -- is one of the most beautiful beach areas of Paleokastristas, which was ... nice.. pretty. Hills tumbling into the ocean. That kind of thing. Lovely.)

I'm not sure that the best part (worst? well, most real) for me wasn't trying to find the bus station (Blue. Or... Green. Can't remember but just that wonderfully simple) in the seedier, "realer" part of Corfu... downtown, perhaps? And then traveling with the locals, with stops to pick up and drop off piles of newspapers. The ticket man smelled quite ripe but won me over with his astonishingly impressive knowledge of NYC (he'd never been there but knew all the boroughs by name and racial makeup). All in all, a nice day trip (and for under 3 euros vs. 25+ for a cab. Yay me.)

There was also a super-long walk to what I was told was a very interesting historic place, the birthplace of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and father of Prince Charles, a mansion poised above the large harbor of Corfu). The place was nice but nothing rivaling the Spreckles (sp?) in SF or a million French chateaux... But the Corfiots do seem very proud that PP was born there... and good on them.

As a side note, I nearly died there. The sidewalk ended at one point past the long and beautiful curve of the harbor and walking up a curvy road at twilight meant cars came THISCLOSE to wiping me out, for nearly half a mile, so... not so fun.

The best night for me began with G and I and three of his friends (truly nice guys). I found myself with them zooming by car to god knows where (and yes, I had a moment of wtf am I doing?) but we ended up in a bar featuring the most amazing George Michael impersonator. So dancing, drinking... what more could an American girl possibly ask for on a warm, starry night in Corfu?

Solo meals were a delight and a trial (see notes below) and usually centered around La Spianada, the expansive esplanade that serves as the focal point of Corfu Town, with its Italianate architecture and French-inspired boulevard-ness). Moments of pure touristic wide-eyed wondering combined with inward-looking moments of vacation-tempered contemplation. How happy I was.

High points of my al fresco dining included dealing with stray cats (one actually jumped on my table as I tried to eat sardines). Pigeons were also a problem, as were wasps, and ubiquitous African peddlars of bootleg DVDs. No biggie though.


Breakfast - Greek salad (they contain no lettuce! and believe it or not, too much feta. Oh, but the olive oil... mmm)

Dinner: Resto Rex on Kapo St. Very good. Taramasalata! Finally! I thought there might be a shortage.

Changed hotels from Astron to Cavalieri (more stars, for whatever that's worth) as the former smelled bad. Sorry.

I try so hard not to be perceived as an Ugly American that I sometimes forget to have fun. Hey, look at my shoes, people! Not ugly. And NOT American...

Definitely hearing a few American voices (nice, actually). Wonder if I'd ever recognize a solo female U.S. traveler like myself. Sad that I'm not sure I would. Or that there ever are any...

Great mussels a la Grecque (tomato base with melty feta). Waiter spilled water on my iPhone. Insult to probably imagined injury.

What to do with myself tomorrow? Albania?

Had to ask for water again It's ok. I need to cultivate 3 new attitudes while dining alone. 1) I'm alone. I'm that cool and I know it. 2) I'm alone and I don't give a shit. 3) I'm simply superior to you because of either #1 or #2.

Serbian beeyotches at next table. Older man with stance and pants. Cream-colored jeans take some balls to wear at that age.

Americans ARE loud. Wine + jetlag = BAD

One night. Amaze (think that's the name of the place) on the water in the shadow of the Old Fort. Lights glimmering on rippling waves. A moon. Sitting on outdoor couch overlooking a small section of what is the Ionian sea. Idle talk, questioning glances.. filakias.. moments I'll never forget.

Neat to meet M. on Hotel Cavaliere balcony. 70-something man from DC (wife, Carol, inside getting ready for bed). He'd wisely purchased a small, plastic (4 euro!) chair for the tiny balcony he and C had enjoyed every year for the past 10. He apologized for his bare knees; he wasn't wearing pants. (!)

How much to tip. "Whatever you want" is NOT helpful. I settle on 10% or slightly more for waiters if they are nice. Cab drivers are NOT to be tipped. I hear. However, I tip Mario because he's nice. Though I thought maybe he'd pick me UP from the beach he dropped me off at (a sad beach, nice water but sad slightly dirty sand). It was a nice dream.

Met an ex-Air Force guy, 55, on the magical and deserted (that night) rooftop restaurant of hotel when I thought I was alone. A simple cough from the far corner of the roof and an amber glow alerted me to him. I called out hello and he invited me over to chat. He flies Gulf Stream planes now, for a very wealthy Lebanese fmaily.

He showed me cell-phone pics of his knee (he'd had a recent operation to repair it following a series of combat wounds. It was fixed up to the tune of a quarter million $ of government money with titanium rods and a ball and socket mechanism.) So I got to see the inside of a man's knee under operation (graphically) and after. Cool. Gross but cool. He's a walking modern medical miracle, actually. A mere 90 days after this amazing operation he had hiked up to the top of Corfu's Old Fort. Incredible.

Maybe the most interesting thing, to me, was the man's utter amazement at his own life. He was humbled, he said, by his own fortune and nearly overcome, every day, at his luck. He was quick to point out, however, that it didn't come overnight. He had worked hard for many years, had sacrificed family time and personal safety and .. was honored to be able to pass that experience and wisdom to his daughters.

I climbed up to the top of the Old Fort, too, alone on a clear blue day -- and with inappropriate high-heeled sandals. So there! Neat views, lots of tourists, quintessential Kerkyra experience.

Beware: it's much harder coming down.

More pictures here

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kerkyra: Part One, Preparations

This missive will serve as the first installment of my essay on my trip to Corfu. Sounds pretty boring already, right? Well, it's getting better. I booked the trip in my usual haphazard way, in a fit of feeling sorry for myself and thinking of G. in Corfu last September, the only man who has shown the fortitude to accept my wonderfulness with enthusiasm, waiting for me until the wee hours of the night outside my hotel even after I'd promised I wouldn't come out. Okay, I don't know if he really waited but who cares? I lost his number (he wrote it in my copy of Henry Miller's The Colossus at Maroussi, which I lost somewhere at the airport) but I expect him to still be there. Or not.

My last trip to Corfu was wonderful and convoluted and disappointing in many ways, documented here, somewhere, if you care to feel my pain. This time, I thought I'd go alone and check out the place again and maybe find some sunny sliver of happiness to carry me through another New York winter.


The Rough Guide to The Ionian Islands
"Dangling between the southern tip of Italy and the west coast of mainland Greece, at the point where the Adriatic meets the Ionian Sea, the lush green sickle of Corfu was one of the first Greek islands to attract mass tourists in the 1960s. Since then it has acquired the sleaziest reputation among the islands, although much of this is exaggerated and due more to snobbery than actual fact."

Okay, note to self: Read guide books BEFORE traveling. Eh, who cares.

My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell, brother of Lawrence. So far, an extremely amusing account of an Augustin Burroughs-meets-David Sedaris' family that leaves damp England for the sun-soaked climes of Corfu.

SayIt In Greek
Χάρηκα για τη γνωριμία Χάρηκα για τη γνωριμία

The Greek Islands, Laurence Durrell. No excerpt can do his writing justice but as he harkens back to Homer and winds back to present-day Greece, he provides a sensuous tone-poem to Corfu; one gets it: the place is an endless series of contradictions.

"Another thing becomes clear as you sit over your afternoon ouzo watching the sunlight decline among the green cones and vales of the Ten Saints Mountain. If the scenery has a certain plumpness, a Venetian rotundity (this is what the Athenians will always say about Corfu: but they are jealous because here is limitless shade and water)... On the light: "It has a queer x-ray impression, as if the sea were really a dark negative of itself against which the swimmers move..."

I leave for Corfu in 10 days. PS. I'm going to go to Albania too. If it's possible.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

More from Maine

Dang. Blogger blurred my photo. Oh well, you get the idea... One other thing from Maine trip. There was a mysterious occurrence of a multitude of small holes made in our lovely lawn. We speculated: moose! Gophers a la Caddyshack. P. the expert concluded skunks. I was like, yeah, right. Then one night I awoke to a most horrible smell, overwhelming powerful and putrid. The dog was sleeping in my room and the smell was coming from her, poor dear. I smelled her furry head and recoiled in horror. Skunk!!! I didn't sleep much that night and by the next day the smell had dissipated from both my room and the dog. A Have-a-Heart trap set by my dad has yet to yield a single skunk.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Plenitude. And more dogs.

I totally get this dog. You can't see but he was wagging his tail. Not at me, I'm sure, but happy to be in the air-conditioned entryway to the Food Emporium on Greenwich Street. More photos.

Had a great time in Maine with perfect weather and great food and kayaking off Boothbay Harbor, swimming in the pond. . I seem to have lost my "voice" and so ... more pics than words. I think it's the heat/humidity.

Had great fun with the splashy painting below (wherever it lands) which is on a wall near the Highline. It generally takes people 14 minutes to figure out what it actually is. It took me 13, but that was in person.

The ferris wheels (!) were in Bath, Maine. The surreal curve of the Bath Bridge courtesy my iPhone.

I don't watch much dance, though I like it and have danced myself a bit way back when. But I was blown away by the Mark Morris Group performing as part of Mostly Mozart series, with YoYo Ma. Fantastic and inspiring and really not apropos to any photos here but I needed to report.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Today's Dog! Worrywart Walter

I love this dog, man. I was so smitten I forgot to ask what his real name is or what the hell kind of dog he is.
The full dog run here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Today's dog! Learnings and Apologia

I'm not on hiatus but am taking the dog days of summer to its logical extreme. I'm going to focus on dogs I see and photograph in and around Manhattan's West Village. If I feel like writing about something else, I will. See you in September.

Well, shoot. The really interesting thing about this dog was how BIG he is (XXXL). I need to carry around some object that will serve to indicate the size of these creatures, as it's one attribute that would qualify a lucky canine to be part of this collection (others include odd heads, missing tails, exceedingly large ears, quirky, sad, gnarly, perplexed, bored, giddy or nonplussed expressions, big butts and funny feet). See, I'm not that picky. What will NOT qualify a given dog is "cuteness." That's what the interwebs are for. I'm all about interestingness.

Most people I accost for pictures are very, very nice. None of them so far have looked like their dogs (which is good). I try to project friendliness (easy) and dogged enthusiasm (easy) as well as a love of dogs (I like them okay). I never approach if a dog is doing his business -- and won't even wait for it to be over; I just move on and pretend that sort of thing just doesn't happen in a civilized society in the 21st century.

So far so good. The west side of Manhattan seems to have a preponderance of interesting dogs, which does reflect well on its renowned diversity.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

New Dog! And the Highline

Quick blog post here, as I'm off to the Lower East Side in the hot heat in search of a new dog. Not for me, but for here, of course. This one I found last weekend in Union Square Park. Again, NOT Photoshopped but certainly a ... mix.

Below (or wherever they land) are some photos from an early morning walk near and on the famed Highline, which is definitely a bit magical.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

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