Wednesday, August 31, 2011

walking while oblivious, or, the facilities guys & me

I've been walking around even more oblivious than usual lately, and that's saying a lot. (Once I got a phone call from my best friend, laughing uproariously, because her husband had just walked in the door concerned that somehow he'd pissed me off -- apparently I'd walked right by him on the street without acknowledgment despite his repeated hellos and it took her a long time to convince him that's just how I am.)

Anyway, I've been walking around lately happily staring up at the trees or something, I don't know what. And I keep running in to the same guy from Facilities.  Now, I like the Facilities guys and they like me, which means that when I call them at 4:50pm on a Friday because water is pouring down from the ceiling over one of the tables in the computer lab, they come running. And I like it like that.

But this one guy, a very nice guy, has begun to just chuckle when he sees me walking anywhere, and starts waving his arms around like a windmill from afar just to get my attention. I suppose at least it's become something of a running joke between us -- lord knows that's preferable to him thinking I'm ignoring him or mad or just being bitchy. Because next time the entrance doors to the library come slightly off their hinges, or it rains, or there is a strange padlock on the exit doors when I get to work in the morning, I want him to still come running when I call.

Monday, August 29, 2011

fuschia bike, one year later

Still there, if less upright.

sky & moving in day

I spent the commute to work this morning staring in awe out the window up at this amazing sky -- a deep rich, almost purplish blue, washed clear of everything -- and the air and the streets and the entire city felt clean.

And then I got off the bus and realized that particularly gorgeous deep blue was merely a construct of tinted windows. But still, the sky is beautiful today if not quite as brilliant as I thought for awhile. And there is a crispness in the air, a freshness, that reeks of the coming fall.

All the little incoming Barnard girls are lined up along Broadway this morning, surrounded by boxes and bins and bags and hovering relatives, waiting their turns for elevators and carts. It's a good day for being introduced to their next four years.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

august college walk


4th grade was an eventful year.

It was the year the Challenger blew up -- live on televisions dragged into classrooms all over the country, including mine. (I ran into my 4th grade teacher, the incomparable Mrs. Owens, years later at some school function and we were reminiscing about that year.  She mentioned that she'd applied to be the teacher on board and how disappointed she'd been to never hear back about it, only to get the official NASA rejection letter later that February, weeks after the explosion.)

It was my year of antibiotics. (Wasn't there some silly book called "My Year of Meats"? Maybe I've got my first book title.)

It was the last time I was in or near a hurricane. Gloria. Other than being sick that year, my most vivid memory is walking with my father in the wind and rain, water swirling over our boots and down the street, tugging us down the hill to the lake which of course had overflown its banks and was creeping up towards the road.

I remember feeling so brave and strong, standing there in the onslaught and looking out over all that water, holding my father's hand.  I haven't gone out much in this Irene storm, and I wonder a little bit where my sense of adventure went.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

bridge, 8.25.11

the price of happiness

Luckily I only had a ten dollar bill this morning and didn't try to hand over my usual dollar and a quarter, because as my dear deli guy gave me back my change there was an awkward pause, and then he said that the price of coffee had gone up by a quarter.

I must have looked somewhat stunned for a second because he actually began apologizing profusely, but my moment of feeling stunned was more embarrassment and wondering when had that happened, and how many mornings have I unwittingly been underpaying them, and them too embarrassed to demand another quarter.

Finally I laughed and said it's actually about time. I've been paying $1.25 for my morning coffee for probably ten years, after all, and it seems only fair that they get to raise their prices once a decade.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

not yet fall but longing for it

I've been knitting on my lunch breaks this week, which you may be surprised to learn is not something I often do. I'm working on a stole in a particularly soft and wonderful chunky wool, and it's such a pleasing change from all this thin and overly delicate lace stuff I've been knitting all summer. It's thick and soft and vibrant in cozy browns and warm beiges and pinkish burgundies and a pleasingly slubby white silk peeping out here and there. It's thick and warm and soft and makes me long for late October, early November, and having this thing wrapped around my shoulders or curled up against my neck.

I've been perching on benches overlooking Morningside Park and it's been cool enough to wish I had long sleeves, and a smattering of dried leaves have caught in my hair and swirled up against my feet.

Two nights ago -- Monday night I guess -- I woke up in the wee hours and couldn't figure out what was wrong. Eventually I realized I was cold, for the first time in three months, and went routing through the closet for a blanket to crawl under.

So many people seem to be sad at the waning of yet another summer, but I am ready for crisp afternoons and cold nights and hot cider and sweaters. That isn't really so weird, is it?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

one of those things

I went down to the park by the river after work today to meet up with a woman I hadn't seen in over ten years.  For all the weight she's carried all this time, it's odd to think that we were actually only a part of each others lives for a year or so, much of that intermittently.  We met over the summer of '98, I left New York in January of '99, and by the time I moved back to the city six months later we weren't really talking to each other much.

And now here we are (gifted or cursed with the ubiquitousness that is Facebook) getting together for a walk & talk down by the river, a decade after the fact.

I was feeling pretty anxious about the whole thing, to be honest, though I figured the worst that could happen was we'd look at each other funny and make awkward small talk until it was polite to go. The best, maybe, was that we'd remember why we liked each other so much in the first place, before all the drama kicked in. And that, which I'm hoping may have been the case, would be really nice.

Can it be this simple? The possibility of someone so long lost slipping back into your life, the possibility of being found?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

tall dave & the little door

that cat

The cat's been on a roll these last few days.

Sunday morning just before six o'clock, in the midst of our deluge, I woke up to her perched on the windowsill next to the bed caterwauling at the top of her lungs into the vent of the not-even-turned-on air conditioner, apparently undone by the noise of the rain on the metal outside.

Last night at half past one she had a run-in with a full glass of water on the night table, sending glass and water and ice cube remnants crashing to the floor and under the bed. I jumped out of bed, heart racing, and promptly stepped on broken glass and started shrieking as she tore around the room yowling like a crazy thing.  (I guess we both were yowling like crazy things by that point.)

So the next twenty minutes were spent looking for band aids and crawling around the floor, armed with paper towels and collecting dust bunnies and bruises from the underside of the bed, salvaging cardboard boxes full of nothing but crap from college anyway.

Needless to say, this all makes for a sore-footed and rather cranky Emma on what otherwise is a beautiful Wednesday morning.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

'i know some day you'll have a beautiful life...'

I had a quiet evening at home last night contemplating a new project, munching on CSA tomatoes and sweet corn accompanied by a glass of lovely New Zealand sauvignon blanc, and listening to random Itunes songs.  A song from the Into the Wild soundtrack came on and I found myself not moving, almost not breathing, for its duration. I'd forgotten how much I love Eddie Vedder, and how his voice has been moving me to tears ever since a nondescript 10th-grade night except that I heard Black for the first time, back when Pearl Jam was just making the scene and everyone was obsessed with (the kind of over-rated, in my opinion) Jeremy.

There's something about his voice that can still get to me: the same deep resonance that brought such comfort to my sixteen-year-old self.  And I love that he made such beautiful music with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (whose Longing  I listened to incessantly in 1996, and whose contributions to Peter Gabriel's Last Temptation of Christ helped make it such a lush, glorious album). And I love that Anacortes' very own Jacob Navarro (of Spoonshine fame) plays the mandolin on Vedder's Better Days. And I still love Smile -- there's just something about his plaintive, "I miss you already, I miss you always..." And Off He Goes, from that same album.  And I still love State of Love & Trust, even if not with quite the same passion as in 1993.

I don't know. I find it strangely comforting that Eddie Vedder grew up, grew out of that early '90s flannel shirt angsty thing, outlived Kurt Cobain and Andrew Wood and Layne Staley and is still around, recording eccentric ukelele albums with an Anacortes boy and writing gorgeous music that's been making some already pretty amazing movies that much more beautiful.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

the small things that make unexpectedly working on beautiful saturdays not so bad

Last Saturday was supposed to be my last working Saturday, at least for a few months, and I had plans to go check out the Museum of Arts & Design with friend Courtney today, followed by a late lunch and a bit of a wander. But a coworker's mother was hospitalized yesterday afternoon and I offered to take her shift today, and so here I am in the office staring at a computer screen instead of skipping around midtown. (Not that I'm really complaining at all -- as much as it sucks to work in a subterranean lair on nice days, it sucks way more to be in the hospital with one's mother.)

I don't often work on Saturdays, though I have been for the last month or so.  As always, I duck into Hamilton Deli for a cup of coffee before heading in to the library, but unlike on weekday mornings I rarely recognize the guys working there on Saturdays.

Today, though, my guy was there! He looked as surprised to see me come traipsing in as I looked to see him grinning behind the counter, and then he refused my money. Because anyone forced to work on a day like this, he said, deserves at the very least a coffee on the house.

And besides, who am I kidding? I hate being in the summer sunshine.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

best fortunes

Back in my Philly days I once got a fortune cookie that saw fit to tell me, "Your next romantic night out is going to be a disaster."  Apparently that particular fortune had an expiration date, and the key to avoiding said disaster was just to not have a romantic night out for a very, very, very long time.

One of my other favorite fortunes ever was this: "It's going to get even weirder."  (No expiration date on this one, at least so far.)

And then there was the one Nick pulled out of his cookie after our last-minute lunch this afternoon.  The one over which he chuckled and then promptly handed over to me: "One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory."

I can't tell you what our conversation up to that point had been about, but I can tell you that the fortune was apt, and that I found myself chuckling too.

Friday, August 05, 2011

washingon square park, 7.30.11

public seating

This chair has been locked to this sign post for at least the last year. I go by it every morning on my way to work. Often there is someone sitting in it. Older men usually, with a cigarette or a pipe dangling in one hand and one of the free morning papers in the other.

Monday, August 01, 2011

snark as defense mechanism

I went to a party the other night -- a dear friend's birthday / dissertation / farewell party all rolled into one. It was a lovely evening full of good people and delicious Puerto Rican food and not nearly enough air conditioning and a frighteningly tasty apparently much-loved chilled concoction of rum and lemon-flavored Crystal Light.

There was also in attendance a boy with whom I was once very good friends, and with whom I no longer really speak.  To say that I am bitter over the ending of our nearly decades-long friendship, going back to September of 1989, doesn't really get to the gist of the matter despite its being a couple years since we were close.

He was there with his new boyfriend and, despite my studious if admittedly juvenile attempts at non-interaction (avoiding eye contact, engaging in overly animated conversation with those closest to me as he walked by), he went out of his way to come over and introduce the new boy to me.  (It's hard, even for me, even after two glasses of the aforementioned rum/Crystal Light concoction, to ignore someone literally waving his hands in front of my face and shouting above the din, "This is Brian!")

Friends Nick, Sarah, and Fu were under strict instruction to give me a quick kick to the shins if I started getting too snarky. (Nick of course said what was the fun in that, let the snark fly! But I was so good.)

Why is it so much easier to be cavalierly snarky than to admit how much something hurt, even after several years?  I didn't want a kick to the shins in retaliation for being inappropriately belligerent. I wanted reconnection, impossible and silly and unrealistic as that is (as I always do, and as it always is, it seems).

This boy (man? it's surprisingly difficult to think of someone you've known since childhood as a man) and I have been through a lot together, have held each others fears and sorrows and, yes, even exuberant joys more times than I can count.

It's funny how it's not just a cliche: history really does repeat itself.  Over a year ago I was writing about how heartbreaking it was that our interactions had been reduced to awkward air-kisses at social events, and here I am almost a year and a half later waxing nostalgic for him all over again.

At least, I suppose, I'm not the one going out of my way to introduce people to him at random birthday parties.  (Oh dear, was that snarky?)