RIP, Rizzoli

New York, I love you. But not today.

afterlight

I just learned that my favorite bookstore—Rizzoli on 57th Street—is shutting down. The 95-year-old townhouse will be demolished. In its stead will be some shiny, towering skyscraper. And I am pissed.

Here’s the thing: You, as a city, are incredibly irritating and maddening. You drive a girl to drink (overpriced margaritas, usually) with your millions of people and crowded blocks and subways and pollution. But your magic lies in the cozy, charming places that embrace us, that make us feel sheltered and safe and a little less alone.

Rizzoli was one of those places for me. As you know by now, I am a book girl. So when I was a New York newbie, with a boyfriend in grad school and friends far away in different cities, I would escape to Rizzoli’s third floor and peruse the books I couldn’t afford (because of your sky-high rent, of course). After a solo day at the movies and treating myself to lunch, Rizzoli is where I’d end up, flipping through biographies of women I aspired to be like. When I was heading to Paris for the first time, Rizzoli is where I went in search of travel guides. And in that bookstore, beneath its grand chandeliers, is where my Allende obsession continued and my Fitzgerald infatuation began.

Now, I walk by that store every day on my way to work, often with my nose pressed against the window admiring the latest displays. And never mind the fact that we’re losing a historic bookstore: We’re saying farewell to one of your city’s architectural landmarks, a century-old townhouse that got its start as a piano showroom. It literally pains me to imagine that little gem demolished and replaced by scaffolding and yet another West 57th Street glass building.

Tonight, I said goodbye, and tomorrow, I plan to join the rally that will, to put it nicely, give you and your businessmen the middle finger. I know that these things happen, and I never imagined I’d be so attached to a place, but here I am. And here’s hoping I’ll find another great escape just as perfect.

 

Hurry Up, Inner Peace!

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My version of meditating: Coffee, books, and ‘zines.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: Coincidentally, a few hours after I published the below post, a friend sent me a piece written on xoJane called “It Happened To Me: There Are No Black People In My Yoga Classes and I’m Suddenly Feeling Uncomfortable With It.” (I’m not going to dignify this with a link, but if you missed it, Google.) The writer had trouble focusing because there was a heavyset black woman in her class. Apparently, it was the black woman’s first time at yoga, and she spent most of the time staring at the writer with “hostility.” The writer felt the black woman was “judging and resenting her,” and the experience made the writer hyper-aware of her “skinny white girl body.”

By the time I finished reading, I had a knot in my stomach. As I touched on in my post below, exercising with a group of strangers—especially when it’s your first time—takes courage. But it never once occurred to me that my race, or anyone else’s, was a factor for my classmates. What disgusts me even more than the writer’s privileged, condescending essay is that xoJane even allowed this post to go up—clearly, a cry for page hits.

Newsflash to the writer: I’m black, I’m not skinny, and I have been to yoga, multiple times. But you can save your pity, because I am not a fan of the practice, and it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m black. However, if we ever find ourselves in the same class together, I apologize in advance for making you uncomfortable.

(Original post follows)

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Confession: I hate yoga.

This might not sound like a huge revelation, but in New York, there are two types of fitness freaks: Runners, and yogis. And I am neither, especially not a yogi. Yes, I have given it a try a few times, but I’m convinced it’s just not for me.

Don’t believe me? Ok, fine. Here’s a peek at what a typical yoga session is like in The World According to Arianna:

15 Minutes: Instructor is twisting my limbs into something resembling a basic pose. Ouch! Hey, lady: My leg doesn’t bend like that.

30 minutes: She’s returned, and now she’s spinning me backward. Apparently, I was the only person facing the wrong way.

45 minutes: Praying to the yoga Gods that the girl behind me doesn’t notice I just passed gas. Darn that downward facing dog.

60 minutes: Where am I? What’s happening? There are people rolling up mats…oh, right. We were supposed to be meditating, and I fell asleep. Oops.

I’ve had yoga enthusiasts tell me I just need to keep going back to learn the moves, I haven’t found the right guru, and I should focus on quieting my mind. Alas, it’s impossible, for I am the girl who’s too impatient for inner peace. I’d rather find it by losing myself in a good book, or getting my heart pumping through cardio or kickboxing. (And no, not running. It’s tedious, hurts my shins, and reminds me of being one of the slowest kids in PE. When my co-workers recently invited me to join them for the Brooklyn half marathon, my answer was a quick and polite HELL NO.)

Whatever the case, I’ve officially decided: A yogi I am not, even if that makes me the only one in New York City. Perhaps when I’m a bit older, calmer, and more peaceful, I’ll try again. Until then, I’ll be burning brain cells and calories while watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians on the elliptical.