Monday, December 15, 2008

'Leap Days' ...

I finished reading this book last Sunday and sat down to start a post and just didn't feel like I had a post in me at the time.

So, a week hence, the book is still sitting on my ottoman/coffee table hybrid as a reminder to finish this post and last night I watched "The Visitor" (if you haven't seen it, rent it right now; New York plays a fine supporting role) and I finally feel like I have some things to say.

I can't remember who recommended "Leap Days" to me (Elida, was it you?), but if I was planning a move to New York, it would be a good psycho-sociological guide book.

Mind you, I'm not planning a move to New York. I love New York, but only in small doses. My cousin Barry once asked me when I was going to move to New York. "You belong here," he said. Which was very sweet of him. And if he hadn't had several martinis in him at the time, I'd have been more inclined to believe him.

But then, native New Yorkers aside, who is ever really ready to dive into the mayhem that is Manhattan? Manhattan seems manageable for those with means. But at the moment, anyway, means elude me.

It's not that I feel out of place in New York. Quite the contrary. I feel entirely in my element walking those crowded streets, though I might never get past the curbside piles of trash. Chicagoans do love their alleys, a place to stash life's discards until they can be carted away.

When I was in New York in March, I made a quick trek from my hotel to the MoMA store across the street from Balthazar. On my way back to my hotel, I sped down the sidewalk, weaving around slow-going pedestrians. Who knew anyone in New York moved at that pace? The point is, I walk defensively, with authority, like I know where I'm going (and I usually do). I walk like I belong there, no typical touristy gawking from me. Then again, I've been to New York, well, um, a lot. I don't even know how many times. And for those hours or days, I feel very much a part of things.

But moving there would be another story, I'm sure. For Katherine Lanpher, our real-life heroine, her move from Minnesota to Manhattan made her a stranger in a strange land. There are ways, rules you are expected to know when you alight at LaGuardia or JFK. Reading Lanpher's book is like sitting down with a friend who has gone before you, assimilated, and now offers advice to the tired, poor, and huddled masses.

If I could change one thing about her book, I'd offer more of her New York experiences and less of her life before she took a bite out of the Apple. Then again, in order to know where you're going, it helps to know where you've been.

It's a fun read, to be sure. I regret now that I didn't bookmark the pages I was sure I'd remember. But I'll probably read it again some day and nod my head in agreement all over again.

I don't think I'll ever make the move to NYC. But if I ever do, I'm quite sure I'll want to try the trapeze.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was me who recommended the book. I went to college with Ms. Lanpher, then later worked alongside her in the Twin Cities journalism community. It was a breezy book ... a lot like her, in fact. I thought it was interesting because she was not some ingenue moving to New York, but an established woman of a certain age making the move. Refreshing.

11:29 AM  

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