Snapshot in an Uber Pool

Late yesterday afternoon, I made plans to visit a friend who I had just learned had lost her mother. A glitch between our texts (was it an iPhone v. Android issue?), lead me to miss details about the shiva. An actual phone call got to the bottom of crossed texts and I wanted to see her before she left for the holidays in the morning. I debated whether to drive or just subway it to Brooklyn. It was 6:30 pm on a Saturday night and a quick Google Maps consult yielded the same ETA for either. So I figured, take the subway and get back to that book that’s been sitting on my night table that I’m crawling through at a page per night.

I didn’t bother to change from what I was wearing all day which was super casual, nor did I put on make-up. Not that I am one of those people who doesn’t leave home without it. But as I walked the 10 blocks to the subway, I did feel slightly more self-conscious being out on a Saturday night with so many people around me way more festively attired.

After spending a few good hours with my friend and her family, I texted my husband that I was heading home, descended back down into the subway, swiped my MetroCard and boarded a train that was at the station, elated that I didn’t have any wait. Until I realized about 30 seconds later that the train wasn’t moving. After 10 minutes, I learned signal problems and no service in sight meant I was stuck in Brooklyn. I debated backtracking to the G to go all the way to another boro to get to mine, but that seemed like a major trek. Bye $2.75 and hello Uber. And another vote for driving myself next time.

Hallelujah, I had service. So I checked for a car. The fare quote was almost $40. Since I had already lost $2.75 to the MTA and I was not in heels, I decided to try Uber Pool, coming in at a more palatable $12.56. I had only used Pool once, and not by choice. For some reason when I was in SF for business some months ago, Uber Pool was the only option showing up in my app. I was with a colleague then and it was a tight squeeze into a Hyundai but we ended up chatting with a sweet couple in from Scotland and saving our clients a little money to boot.

I went outside to wait for my driver “arriving in 4 minutes” in a Toyota Camry. I stood amidst a throng of about 100 other fellow subway riders who had resorted to car sharing apps too, most very dressed up with somewhere to go at 11:15 on a Saturday night, phones aglow with their apps shining little car squares en route.

I walked a few feet and looked at the license plate info for my driver, locating my Camry at the corner.

As I got into my car, I fended off a girl in a black leather mini skirt screaming, “That’s my car.”

Did you call Uber Pool?” I asked. She ran off in a huff to look for another black Toyota Camry in a sea of them.

(While living in LA this summer, I sat in my car chatting with a friend for a few minutes after a night out. All of a sudden my back door opened and I, my friend, and what turned about to be a girl who had climbed into the backseat of my car shrieked at the top of our lungs. “What are you doing?” I yelped. “Isn’t this Uber!!?” the girl asked, confused. “NO!!!!” I retorted. I guess in LA, it was an easy mistake. Car description and license plate reallyis helpful.).

Driver and I waited for my other poolmate, Yulia.

A minute later, Yulia and friend piled in next to me and there I was with two chatty girls heading out for the night, the backseat very cozy for the three of us.

While back in SF with my colleague in that Hyundai, we could have talked amongst our selves, being alone in an Uber Pool with two friends is weird. I was literally arm to arm with the girl in the middle. If you know me, you know I talk to anyone. I am the person who inserts herself into almost any conversation. I’m social, curious, I like to meet people. On this particular occasion, I looked for a few opportunities to jump in but they were wrapped up in a banter and I decided to just be silent. It was hard. I surfed my social feeds — something most of us lean on, but, since it was impossible not to take in all that was going on right next to me, I did.

Middle girl took a Snapchat of herself in the car. It looked awful. I wondered why she bothered.

“I have sooo much work to do,” she said, thumb furiously scrolling Insta.

College students or grad students I think.

I could have butted in there with a “what are you studying?” But I remained silent, wondering if they thought it was creepy that I’m so quiet and thinking about how interesting it is to watch myself not jump in and chat away.

“Can you send me a color version of the picture you posted?”


“I want to cut my hair again.”

“I want to order Insomnia cookies again.”

“I’ve never had that.”


“Jo just liked my picture!”

Then talk about a sister’s boyfriend, a job, family drama and a fight over a ride not given and again the lament about “so much work to do.”

Totally mundane. Nothing really to write about it. I imagine drivers from car service to taxis to ride shares have heard far more interesting, stranger, wackier, racier conversations but this is just my snapshot of a moment in time and how awkward it is to sit so close to other people being social in total silence. Like a fly on the wall. Like an elephant in the room.

It is… just such a different experience of space that is beyond what we are used to, even in crowded cities, subways, buses, planes. Being stuck in a small car with strangers who know each other and having to listen to their conversation is a whole other plane of intimacy. It also brought up some high school thing about not being included.

35 minutes later, my driver drives close to my address but then turns left.

“Where are you going?”

The driver gives an address 15 blocks out of my way — my pool party companions’ destination. The app was taking us there first which made no sense, since we were literally passing my building. I asked the driver to stop the car, saying, “I’ll just walk the rest of the way.”

He pulled over, I got out, thanked the driver, and we all simultaneously said, “Bye!…finally breaking that wall of silence. ”…Have a good night!” I called, crossing the street.

Purple Rain

I wrote this in the aftermath of the news breaking about Prince and then lost confidence in posting it amidst the multitude of so many awesome odes, tributes, anecdotes. My old boss from my publicity days pulled Prince into a pitch black closet in an effort to escape some throngs and  I remember him saying how funny he was. I thought about how he would be sharing that story that week.  And there were so many, deservedly so. Besides those who lost of a friend and colleague, there were millions, perhaps billions, who were touched by his music.

So so many of us who have a song, or two, maybe even three or four or ten that bring us to a moment of joy, revelry.  I imagine there are few in this world who don’t love at least one.  They are infectiously good…

Kiss, Raspberry Beret, Do Me Baby, Pop Life, Nothing Compares 2 U, I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man, I Would Die 4 U, U Got the Look, I Feel For You (Chaka Khan), Jungle Love (The Time), I Wanna Be Your Lover, Take Me With You. The other top hits.  A lesser known song of the Batman soundtrack—The Arms of Orion—a duet with Sheena Easton. One of my besties and I would listen to this on a cassette, tediously rewinding over and over on our way into the city when we snuck out after bedtime to go clubbing.

Often, even earlier that week, I listen to Purple Rain and the Beautiful Ones on repeat.  Over and over.

Alone in my living room as a kid, his music was part of the key to hope and freedom I was seeking. Singing at the top of my lungs and dancing like crazy.   And then, with friends, dancing like crazy, singing at the top of our lungs. And now, still.

I felt very similarly about Bowie but this one is hitting a little harder – perhaps because we learned that Bowie at least knew the end was coming.

When I started writing songs and was working up the courage to put together a band, I studied liner notes (back when we had them readily available!) to look at the instrumentation of my favorite artists.  I remember being absolutely dumbfounded when I read Prince played most, if not all, of the instruments on his records.  Yes, he had an incredible group of musicians with him along the way and for his live shows, but the recordings were often done ALL by him.

I did a double take and then thought, wow, I need to do more and wondered if I should try to learn drums.
I decided no on the drums but was utterly utterly awestruck at that point by a whole other level of what Prince was: pure, astronomically fantastical genius.






Egg Salad

It’s been a while since I’ve been bloggin’.  But I write and so here I am.  Putting out what I’m thinkin’.

For today it’s about some stuff that’s been on my mind.

Like egg salad.

This morning I craved egg salad.  I had two brown eggs left, and had bought rye bread at TJ’s the other day. I really like egg salad but it’s not something I eat often.  As I waited for the toast to pop and added Kosher salt to my egg in a bowl, mashing it around with a fork because I was too lazy to find the egg slicer, I had a quick “therapy speak” moment, wondering: do I love egg salad because of nostalgia?

I have a memory that cannot be corroborated.  This is the problem with most of my memories from my childhood life with my mother.  She died when I was five.  Any interaction we had together that I recall, I must rely on my memory, which is remarkably good.  But it’s the memory of a child and harkening back to our toddler and post toddler days is a long way to go.   We know memory can be something else sometimes.  Notion, dream, delusion, or the facts are just not exact.  Like…the coat was really red, not purple. It is no longer real.  Memory is elusive, not concrete.

Mine though is photographic so there are, nonetheless, several images in my mind of my time with her that I do call memories.  Many of them are sad, because she was often sick, sleeping, dying.

Some are just a picture.  A slice of life scene from our day to day.

I remember an egg salad sandwich as my lunch on my first day of pre-school.  I remember being alarmed that I was being sent somewhere.  My mother said you are going to school.

I was mad, scared.  I remember the panic-filled morning when I was startled out of bed in the house to which we moved several months prior.  Mommy had decorated my room in a bright pink white and celadon floral wallpaper with a pale pink chandelier in the middle and we stood there next to the big double bed, in the pinkish glow of light fro the chandelier.  Mommy put me in white Osh Kosh overalls which I had never seen before.  They were stiff and awkward and very white.

“You are going to school today.”

“What is school?”

Why was she sending me away and not coming with me?

“All kids go to school.  You will learn and have fun.”

This was an utter break from our routine. I had never gone anywhere in the morning like this.

I don’t remember the act of going into the classroom. The teachers I would come to love, the playmates I would befriend, but hours later, I sat at a small table with a small wooden chair under fluorescent lights, and self consciously observed my egg salad sandwich in a plastic baggie in this curious packed lunch arrangement.

I do not think I liked egg salad. I did not particularly like eggs.  I recall—distinctly–that I threw up in an IHOP parking lot in that same era, after my mother insisted I get an omelet instead of my favorite smiley face pancake with a pineapple mouth and cherry nose.

“You need to learn to eat other things.”

I was livid, disgusted.  The omelet made me gag and I felt robbed.  I don’t remember eating it but I’m sure I did. Because I remember throwing up in the parking lot.

I doubt egg alad became a staple lunch for me. I don’t think it did. Because for some reason I remember the egg salad as something new — that and the white Osh Kosh overalls — on that first day of school.

I seldom ate egg salad growing up after she died.  I ate scrambled eggs and sunny side up eggs when my dad made them, and soft boiled eggs because my grandmother ate them daily because she had dentures and had to eat soft foods.  I sometimes tried to make an egg when I was a little older. But generally, I wasn’t much of an egg eater, until as more diet conscious teenager, ate egg white omelets at the diner with my girlfriends.

But egg salad.  Not much.  My dad probably liked it but nobody made it.  Trudy our housekeeper didn’t make it.  And Daddy was always warning me about mayo. It wasn’t something I’d pack for lunch since we didn’t refrigerate our lunches at school.  That wouldn’t be safe.

It is still not something I seek out.   It is seldom appealing, often disappointing or bland.  It has to have the right amount of salt. It can’t be the consistency of cottage cheese. But it is something I crave now and then and when that comes, I have to be the maker.

Like this morning.

And this morning, I remembered again that moment when I was three and a half or four and my mom was getting me ready for school.  Maybe I even asked what she packed for my lunch while she helped me dress.

Indeed, each time I remember that moment now as a grownup, I add questions.  This morning I wondered why she chose egg salad. Did she give it much thought?  Or just whip up what we had in the fridge? I don’t think I’d ever even eaten it before so it wasn’t like she was sending me to school on my first day with my favorite lunch.

As a Filipino who had only been in the U.S. for about 5 or 6 years, she packed me a very American lunch.  She could have been like other Asians who sent their kids to school with sharp smelling mystery dishes in fish sauce.  But Filipinos are very Americanized too.  They are very into mayo-based salad. I don’t remember anything about subsequent lunches. Or even about other details about that lunch.  Apple juice?  Desert?  I just remember the eggs—that one sandwich, that day, my first day of school, my first day of independence.

So Rock ‘n Roll

I shouldn’t support Pandora but with the way the apartment is currently set up, turning it on when I’m chasing baby around is what works.  I’ve been stuck on the ’60s singer/songwriter station for 2 months now. I think it has something to do with my mom who loved that music and it’s one of the few memories I have of her.   This particular station plays pretty much a lot of the same Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel and I’ve been exposed to a few songs I did not really know before and I’m totally into now–Positively 4th Street, Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right by Dylan and Bleecker Street by the duo.  Also, the Mama’s and the Papa’s version of Dream a Little Dream.

The other day, I decided to mix it up and picked T.Rex. It was a lot of T. Rex and Bowie and some band I hadn’t heard before but what really stood out that morning was T. Rex’ Buick Mackane. I was struck by it’s utter Rock-n-Rollness.  It to me was quintessential.  I know we think of Led Zep and The Who and The Stones as defining this thing called Rock-n-Roll and that is indeed true.  T. Rex falls more into the pantheon of glam rock but something just clicked.  That is going into heavy rotation because that is my mood this week. ROCK OUT!

PS-Am I spelling Rock-n-Roll right?

Parental Paternal

Wow.  I just looked at my last post and it’s almost a year to the date since I last posted.  My excuse: journey into motherhood.

I’ve really missed writing and music and writing to music.  Time management is more challenging than ever, and it’s always been a challenge.  Then, I freaked out about where to begin, how to begin after all this time, and then I said, just start somewhere.  So here I am. And I’m going to try to post more than once a year.  So, what to say today.  Well, it is Mother’s Day.  On Facebook there was so much about it and I wondered if I had just tuned it out in year’s past.  The best part was seeing throwback pictures of friends’ mothers.  And then, I posted my own.

I was very emotional yesterday and today.  Some Mother’s Days it happens. Some not so much.  But I was crying this morning.  Yesterday too. Yesterday was about my father.  I felt guilty about being a brat and missing him–because he was my mother too once my mother died.  And then this morning, I couldn’t put my figure on her per se but it was about her, him, us, that history, and I felt emotional.  Sad, happy, all at once.  That is the thing about that particular feeling.  It’s about loss but also about where I’m at today.

I also thought today about how goofy we are, Matt and I. Even before Baxter’s arrival.  That fun. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t something my parents had.

But they had something and what got me going yesterday was this memory that popped into my head.

Most Mother’s Days, my dad and I visited the cemetery.  It was one of a handful of days in the year we made such a trip–the others being around Christmas, on Easter, and maybe her birthday in February, or the anniversary of her death perhaps in January.

One time, perhaps in college or high school, I looked over at my Dad and saw tears.  It was so uncomfortable. I’d never seen him teary before.  I wish I had talked to him then. I wish we had said more. And I wish he was here now to know him more and for him to know his grandson.

To this day, I think about those tears.  What were they about? Yes, perhaps it was about missing her. But what else?

I was such a brat.  He was difficult.  But the bottom line was that he did everything for me possible. A man, in his fifties, with a hard history already behind him, left with a five-year-old daughter to raise solo.  And so he did.

So Mother’s Day is a little about him too–even though there is a holiday reserved for him coming up next month.

And she.  What love did she give me those 5 years?  If it’s as immense as I feel for Baxter, and I think it was, it makes me sad that she knew she had to leave it all behind.  What a terrible thing to know.  But on the bright side, I have to say, I’m glad she and I had time together at all.

There too was that thing that I know now a little something about what it means to be a mother.

And gratitude for all the women, mothers or not, who I call friends.