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New York, Unplugged (Title by Tony Hurst)

Some people know a great deal about many things. I know…one or two. Number one – don’t get so electronically “plugged in” that you forget to look around. I just learned how to text and as of today, own nothing that has “I” in front of it. When I walked into the Guiding Light studio with a Blackberry, one of our production coordinators laughed. With good reason… the Blackberry is in a drawer and I chat on my old flip phone, which my colleague Liz wryly refers to as “retro”. I do appreciate technology. I love e-mailing friends at five am, reading my nieces Facebook postings and even chatting on Twitter. But I’m glad I’m a latecomer to the technology game. Being too plugged in would’ve distracted me from my favorite hobbies – eavesdropping, talking to strangers, perusing restaurant menus and looking into apartment windows. It’s amazing what you can see and hear out there in the world when you’re paying attention. It’s particularly true in NY. So much life spills out onto the sidewalks… where to look first? Some days it’s hard to look. But more often than not I see something, hear something or meet someone who changes my life. Imagine if I’d been texting when I walked by the dog adoption group on First Avenue – I wouldn’t have seen Scout. If my husband Tony had been checking his e-mail in the elevator he wouldn’t have seen me when the door opened – hmm, I’ll have to ask him how he feels about that.

Here’s the second thing I know. Don’t be afraid to venture out on your own. If you can’t go to an event without a date you’ll miss some great events. Me, I’ve always loved going to the theater alone. On a Saturday afternoon in 2001 I bought myself a ticket to see “Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine” by Warren Leight. I’d loved “Side Man” and was looking forward to seeing John Spencer on stage. Halfway through Act One, I noticed the man next to me writing in a notebook. During intermission, Nosy Nelly (me) asked about the notebook. Turned out he was a critic who worked for a paper in New Jersey. We chatted about the play and John Spencer. End of show, Phil kindly mentioned that he generally gets two tickets to the plays he reviews and would be happy to take me as his guest if I’d be interested. I gave him my number at the studio and we said our goodbyes. I couldn’t go the first time Phil offered the extra ticket , but I was free the second time he called. My friend Danielle insisted on walking me to the theater. She wanted to make sure she could ID Phil in case I turned up missing the next day. I think they discussed this at my 50th birthday party. Well, one play led to another and another – good, bad, first runs, revivals, Broadway, off B’way and across the Hudson. I don’t get to the theater alone quite as often these days, but I can’t complain. Thanks to Phil I’ve seen so many wonderful plays. “Kimberly Akimbo”, “Curtains”, “God of Carnage” – and of course “Shining City”. We had to walk around the block after that one!

Tonight I’ll rush out of work, grab that M86 bus going west, then take the 8th Ave local to 42nd street. As I reminded my husband this morning, I have theater with Phil. This will be the 73rd show we’ve seen together, thanks to his generosity – and my nosiness. We’re friends. As the years have rolled along, we’ve added Jazz in July, Christmas Morning Coffee. If we never saw another show, we’d still have our traditions. As Phil says, “Good for us… are we lucky, or what?” I know I’m lucky. So…no ear buds just yet. Windows to peer into, people to meet. Try it. Maybe you’ll adopt a wonderful dog, meet your future partner…or just see someone who inspires a character in your next project, or even better becomes a character in the story of your life.

P.S. – the Technology Gods rapped me on the knuckles for this one. My phone and my internet were out for the first part of the day today!

12 Responses to “New York, Unplugged (Title by Tony Hurst)”

  • Alexis (@acarl1985):

    Jill, Loved the blog..and I have been so blessed to meet on several occasions over the last 2 yrs. You are definitely a character in my life story ;-D

  • Dale Hopson:

    Speaking of “Curtains” there’s a production coming up at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ, featuring “Reva & Josh” from “The Guiding Light”!

  • After the turmoil of the day, I finally got to your wonderful post. As a single person in NYC, I totally agree with your thoughts on getting out there even if you are solo. I’ve only been here 6 months, and I have a slew of friends already. I’m thrilled you have your Phil and all the others in your life.
    As to “So much life spills out onto the sidewalks” Monday night half the city was dining outside in that 81 degree delight. Can’t wait for summer with the outdoor events I have heard so about.
    Bettie

  • Daniel Hurst:

    Great points Jill! I know I am guilty of being too plugged in sometimes. Although technology does some great things, it’s just like the vast majority of everything else, too much isn’t a good thing.

    Daniel

  • Barbara Broumberg:

    Jill, I do the same thing with my old cell phone. It is so much more comfortable. Technology disconnects people.

  • Jill Lorie Hurst:

    Exactly, Barbara – you said in 3 words what it took me over 600 to say! Technology is a great tool, but the “disconnect” is kind of scary. I worry about young people who have spent so much of their lives glued to the phone, the computer etc…

  • alice mccracken hurst:

    I am teary with joy that you came into my life Jilly. Lucky Tony, lucky Scoutie, lucky Phil and lucky me. Very well written and making me hungry for more. One tomorrow? Please?

  • Jill Lorie Hurst:

    Thanks for the comments – I’m learning so much writing the blog, but the most interesting thing is reading the responses… Jill

    ps, yep, Dale – Kim and Robert are doing Curtains in NJ – Phil and I are going in May!

  • alice mccracken hurst:

    PS I’m glad it took you 600 words. 3 would not have satisfied me…

  • Ali:

    I love technology and do have things with i’s in front of them. But I know what you are saying. After one trip to somewhere I likely won’t get to again I realized I spent so much time looking through the lens of a camera that I hadn’t seen most of the things through my own eyes. I’ve learned to remember to put the camera down and really try to see and experience things.

    There is much good about technology such as how it can also connect us. Maybe not to the person sitting next to us in a theater but to the person sitting across the country or across the world. I’ve met my best friend via the internet. It can be an enhancement as long as you still raise your head up and look around you. Thanks for your blog Jill.

  • Jill Lorie Hurst:

    Ali, thanks for reminding me that it’s all about balance! Jill

  • Fifi:

    I love it Jill. All this past year or so I’ve just been existing. Maybe soon I will have the energy or gumption to just do it. Sooooo many times do I not go to a concert or something because I just can’t get it together or dont feel like going by myself or dont feel like contacting anyone.

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