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Aisle Seat: City Themes and Garden Dreams

Updated: Aug 3, 2022

By Naomi Serviss / New York City

When my Country Mouse girlfriend Dee worries about me living in this–let’s say “challenging”–city, I worry too.

I worry she’s been glued to scare radio.


Living in Manhattan is loads different than living in a swanky suburb, desert ranch home or Orlando townhouse.

All abodes I have known.

This girlfriend of nearly 50 years knows there are scads more people here than where she lives

in Pennsylvania’s Poconos.

She and her husband settled there after their storied teaching careers, when they retired.

They have a massive organic garden. Tending it is merely one of the myriad projects that sometimes come to her in dreams.

She’s the Energizer Bunny until she collapses in a graceful heap.

What does she know from danger, besides bears and killer mushrooms?

I kid, I kid!

She’s a smart one: a doctor AND a scientist! Who can fix ANYTHING!

The “Pokies,” as we affectionately call them, are not even close to suburbia.

It’s Country Lite.

An adage comes to mind, applying to us both:

“It’s a nice place to visit…”

Who would choose to live in a city where screaming tabloids produce serial mini-heart attacks, and are owned by an Australian “news” conglomerate?

A bottom-feeding empire whose mission and forte are the promotion of sensationalism, I might add.

Polluting cyberspace with the latest school shootings, deadly fires, climate horrors,

and vicious racism.

We know! We know! Knock off scaring readers!

An impossibility.

That’s another story: The dearth and death of American newspapers.

Which covertly brings us back to living in the nitty gritty city of no compare.

Any place, as my late father-in-law used to say, “has its good parts (long pause) and its bad parts.”

Marv Serviss, who died at age 101, was inscrutably taciturn.

Unless recounting his Battle of the Bulge days.

Or winding up to pitch a rib-tickler. It always landed.

When Marv imparted a morsel of his vast wisdom, everyone listened, like E.F. Hutton.

New York feels weirder now than usual. Not weird in a good way, how Portland, Oregon used to be.

Neighbors feel it and worry, too. Fellow dog parents gather and group-worry.

Some mask. Others don’t.

Like everywhere.

If I didn’t have the sanctuary of Central Park a half block away, New York would have been in my rear-view years ago.

It’s busy and overcrowded and summer’s garbage stench could make you hurl.

And apparently has on many occasions, as evidenced by sidewalk clues.

Tourists are cramming the sidewalks again, teetering on impossible wedge shoes and falling for the fake Buddha con.

That’s when the saffron-gowned guy wanders up and offers a card and “free” bracelet. For five bucks.

Dirty dungarees poke out from under the orange robe. Scruffy sneakers complete the scammy “look.”

You’re welcome.

Tourists don’t seem affected by New York City’s latest rise in Covid (BA.5) cases of the newest variant.

New York always been a nutso place to live, but this summer, it seems crazier than usual.

Senseless gun violence, anti-Asian

attacks and the ubiquitous homeless

wandering zombie-like in upscale neighborhoods.

I’m sympathetic to the plight of the beggars.

Up to a point.

I saw a bare-chested homeless guy brushing his teeth while perched cross-legged on a concrete slab in front of an empty store next to a church.

I can’t unsee that.

Thermometer-busting temperatures are evidenced by rippling heat waves above a newly tarred avenue.

Overflowing trash containers add to the humid late July odor.

An expected garbage bouquet scents the dusty, noisy air.

Don’t get me wrong!

I love New York.

Central Park!


Lincoln Center!

Restaurant Row!


The other reasons!

New York has more than its fair share of good and bad parts.

I get it.

We’re kind of stuck for awhile.

Maybe it’s time to

board the Pokie train for a spell.

It couldn’t hurt.


Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including

1 comment

1 Comment

Aug 03, 2022

Finding the best out of where you live is the answer and you manage to do that very well.

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