Tag: New York City

Magical Driving Tips

3 Comments

I live just outside of New York City, where driving is a ninja-skill.  Crazed commuters on the West Side Highway, distracted moms in mini-vans, stressed- out shoppers in mall parking lots; trust me, this is Driver’s Ed on steroids.

Welcome to my world...
Welcome to my world…

So I take certain steps to ensure that I’m not unneccesarily sideswiped by some idiot in a Hummer (yes, people around here still drive those annoying behemoths).

The first thing I do when I get in my car is to buckle my seat belt, turn on the iPod and then envision a big bubble of white light around the vehicle before I pull out of the garage. Its my own little force field.

I keep a piece of black obsidian in the glove box, as a way to ground the energies of the car and ward off any negative energies from other drivers.

Traditional New Jersey greeting.
Traditional New Jersey greeting.

I also have a little Celtic cross hanging from the rearview mirror, but I’ve seen other cars with small dreamcatchers to capture any bad juju wafting from the other guy flipping you off.

Driving isn’t the only challenge around these parts:  finding a parking spot has its own skill level requirements.  I have circled one particular ginormous mall for 40 minutes (I timed it), seeking a slot.  That’s 40 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

"This sucks. Suuuuucks!"
“This sucks. Suuuuucks!”

So now, I envision a helpful spirit running ahead of me to my destination and sitting his ass down in a great spot, right near the entrance.  Eight out of ten times, it works like a charm.  As for those other two times, guess he’s busy returning a pair of shoes at Nordstrom’s.

Here’s another spell to find a spot.  It involves invoking the name of “Squat,” the Parking Fairy.  Yes, there really is one. Anyway, touch your thumb to your ring finger, and say “Squat, Squat, find me a spot.”  Keep doing this until you find your spot, then thank her by saying, “Squat, Squat, thanks a lot.”  If there’s no parking meter involved, drop a penny as an offering.  This mini ritual is HUGE in New York City!

Essential driving/parking tool.
Essential driving/parking tool.

Speaking of pennies, there’s a tradition around here of tossing some loose change into a new car.  The first time someone did it to my little Honda Civic (RIP), I was all like “WTH?”  But it brings you luck and safety as you cruise around in your awesome new wheels.  Remember to leave the change where it lands.

Granted, these little rituals are no substitute for being a safe driver.  Don’t be a jackass (we have enough of those on the road already).  But personally, I find them a helpful addition to my AAA membership.

Happy driving.

What You Can Learn 23 Feet Up

No Comments

It was one of those Bucket List things that brought me to Trapeze School in New York City.  I figured it would be fun, not to mention a good cocktail party story (assuming that I didn’t end up in the orthopedic wing of the hospital). But I had no idea I’d experience so many  “a ha!” moments while flying through the air.

After the instructor tells us how to safely ascend the ladder and what to do when finally flying, its my turn.  You climb up a rickety ladder, and there’s no other way down but to jump.  So there I am, standing with toes over the edge of the platform, hands on the bar as another instructor grips the back of my safety harness.  First command from the ground:  “Get ready!”  Second command: ’Hep!” (trapeze-speak for “Jump already!”)  A nervous gulp and then I’m sailing through open space.  And trying not to scream.

It’s an adrenaline rush.  It’s terrifying and exciting.  After landing in the net and clambering back to the ground, my inner 6 year old wants to do it again; my inner tax-paying citizen needs a stiff drink.   The strongest thing they serve is bottled water, so I rally and take several more passes.  By the end of the afternoon, I’ve finally mastered the Knee Hang – and even been caught by another instructor, mid-air.

“I knew I shouldn’t have put the handcream on before I got up here…”

Aside from the incredible memory (and a desire to go out and buy a spangly unitard), I also took away some unexpected spiritual lessons from hanging your ass out in the air, 23 feet up.

LESSON 1:  Don’t try to do it all yourself.  When you’re hanging off the bar, you’re keenly aware of physics in a way you never experienced in school.  Gravity, Force, Momentum [G,F and M] become viscerally real.  You have a physical sensation of them as they swirl around your body.

Trapeze “tricks” are more about timing than anything else: the more I try to wrestle my legs over the bar ahead of the right time, the harder it becomes.  But when I trust in my invisible friends, G,F and M, the process is almost magical.   It’s a reminder that, like with spirit guides and angels, there are plenty of things we can’t see – but they’re there to help us if we just let go a little and allow them.

LESSON 2: Listen. Our instructor was insistent we listen for his cues.  He was almost cranky about it (guess he’d seen his share of Cirque du Soleil wannabes).  He watched our timing and would tell us what to do, and when.  Of course, I jumped the gun more than once and wound up flailing around like a fish on a hook.  Not pretty.  But when I turned off my own ego and actively listened to the Voice, the one who could see the big picture, it all just kind of happened.  Note to self:  listen to own Inner Voice more often to prevent unnecessary flailing.

LESSON 3: There’s always a net.  The staff of Trapeze School told me that a lot of folks try the trapeze to conquer fears or learn about surrender and trust.  Before I successfully got “caught” by my partner, I missed plenty of cues or catches and fell into the net. And I realized that no matter what happens in life, there’s always a net.  It might be in the form of friends, helpful strangers or Providence.  Screwing up isn’t the end of the world, so you may as well go for it.

At this height, you can’t see the look of terror on my face…

So next time you’re standing atop the metaphorical platform, staring out into space, remember that Life is like the trapeze:  even if you miss, you’ll bounce back.  Literally.

Next Bucket List item:  the Hot Dog eating contest at Coney Island.