downtown, Soho


Whenever I need inspiration, a shot of creativity and energy, I go downtown. Ever since I first heard Petula Clark sing Downtown,

When you’re alone, and life is making you lonely
You can always go
When you’ve got worries, all the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know
Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?

… downtown seemed like a magical place to me, and still does. There’s style downtown, a style that says: this is me and I’m comfortable with me. It’s without a doubt youthful style and that’s what I appreciate.

I’m still wondering why it is that when women hit fifty, as far as style goes they seem to either copy each other, devolve, or simply give up.

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women working, the nannies


There are a lot of nannies in my neighborhood, most of them black or brown-skinned. They come from all over the place; I hear accents from the Caribbean, Africa, the Philippines, Central and South America and probably places I’ve never heard of. These women working invariably seem competent, loving, and firm. They wheel their charges around like they were their own.

If you have kids in this town, it probably takes two jobs to support them; you need a village, but you get a nanny. 


women working, road construction


On the rare occasion that I see a young woman doing this kind of work, I always wonder how she got there. It’s not that I don’t understand. This summer, I went back to a place where I once helped to lay concrete: the rubber boots, the heavy-duty rakes, the sweat in the eyes and the whole-body ache at night. I’ve known it and loved it; it made me strong in many ways.

This work—road construction—it’s not just physically hard, I’m sure it’s emotionally hard, as well. It’s a man’s world. I’m sure this young woman has both good male friends and also really irritating ones among her co-workers. In any case, I hope she earns a lot of money and uses it to go to school, travel, start her own business, or do whatever else she wants; after this, she’ll deserve it.

What’s the most physically demanding work you’ve ever done?


women working, the dog whisperer


First-time visitors to New York are often surprised by the number of dogs they see on the streets. New Yorkers love their dogs, and dogs must be walked; so we have a lot of dog walkers. There are services that walk one dog at a time, and then there are those that walk packs of dogs, like this woman does.

When we talked, she told me she’s been doing this for more than twenty years. Some people say that walking a pack like this isn’t good, but watching this woman working with hers, I didn’t see any problems. She obviously loved her dogs, and dogs are pack animals.