Thursday, October 27, 2011

student workers, or, a moment in the life of a library supervisor

One of our favorite former student workers stopped by this afternoon for a quick hello, in town on a business trip from sunny California.  We joked about how far he's come since his first job here in the library, and how much he likes San Francisco, and how Oakland across the bay is where he goes to party and, these days, to practice not getting arrested. He said, though, that he misses this city, its un-Bay Area urban grittiness, and is keeping his fingers crossed for a transfer to the New York offices.

Karen turned to me, grinning, after he left and said, "Doesn't that just make you feel a little bit like a proud mother?"

Strangely enough, it does.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

occupy new york (general assembly, people's library), 10.21.11

One of the things that struck me last night, as we wandered through and around Zuccotti Park, was how peaceful it felt, and how strong in its simplicity. The few minutes of the nightly General Assembly that we listened to, shouted in stilted phrases from one round of voices to the next because the NYPD has forbidden the use of megaphones and speakers, was about how to deal with the laundry. A woman was frosting cupcakes with chocolate frosting for a group of children in the designated children's area. Two men, one with an accordion, wandered the square like minstrels of old, singing The Occupy Wall Street Song. The ground was swept clean, and people's belongings were safely tucked away under tarps and roped off from pedestrian traffic. Most of the milling, massing people -- scruffy teenagers, seemingly homeless folks, mothers and fathers and toddlers, well-dressed elderly Upper West Side dames, and everything in between -- were polite and friendly and smiled back whenever I smiled at them.

I wished, in those moments of grinning with pride for these people, for this city, that my father were here to see this, to wander Liberty Square with me, to perhaps lend his oh so powerful voice to the goings-on of the General Assemblies. It might have assuaged some of his anger, calmed his percolating dissatisfaction with his government, with his country.

bridge, 10.22.11

sneakers, one pair

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

the antithesis of agreement

EM: You are the antithesis of agreement.
ES: What?!? On this one topic, maybe, but generally you're the antithesis of agreement.
EM: Fuck that!

And so it goes...
(too late at night, 10/17/11)

Monday, October 17, 2011

inner monologues

A friend of mine was talking on our drive up to the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival this past Saturday about different modes of talking. Now mother to two young daughters, she's had to learn to navigate between adult-speech and kid-speech. While she's gotten better at curbing her occasionally curse-prone tongue, she explained, she now finds herself letting loose sometimes with a wrathful "Oh heck!" even when the kiddies are well out of range.

"But," she made sure to point out, "in my head, every other word is fuck."*

This just did me in for the rest of the drive north and in my head her voice, usually so reserved, kept up a running commentary:  Fucking stoplight. Fuck those pedestrians. Fucking traffic. Oh fuck! A horse!

At which point I burst out laughing, prompting an imagined, "Fucking crazy Emma," which just made me laugh all the more. Luckily the other women in the car seemed to find this amusing too, and "Fucking horses!" became a bit of a thing for the rest of the afternoon.

I've had good fortune lately with things making me laugh intermittently for hours, or even days, on end -- sometimes at inopportune moments (while brushing my teeth, just for example, or riding the train, or, you know, other things). Or maybe I'm just in a laughing kind of mood. Either way, it's been nice. Even now the thought of eyeglasses is enough to send me into gales of laughter. And now, "Fuck this, and fuck that!" has been added to the laughing lexicon, much to Evan's amusement and, quite possibly, dismay.

*Just for the record, I love the word "fuck."

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Nick and I were walking back to work this afternoon after our weekly lunch (our usual Chinese again after last week's Bombay Frankie takeout and impromptu picnic in the park next to St. John the Divine due to a water-main break at Columbia Cottage) and I was regaling him with a silly story about yesterday's evening out. It involved one of those ubiquitous moments when you're trying to be calm and collected and cool in a perhaps misguided desire to impress someone, and inevitably end up making an ass of yourself.

This particular moment involved a misty evening walk up and down the High Line abruptly interrupted (and this is where I started gesturing wildly on our post-lunch walk) by a gust of wind blowing hair in my mouth, more hair somehow getting caught in the hinge of my glasses, a moment of gagging on said hair in the mouth, and the aforementioned glasses nearly flying off into the air but for my hair, still caught in them.

It was not, to put it mildly, one of my finer moments. (So much for being impressive.)

But Nick, in the midst of my maniacal gesturing, turned to me and said, straightfaced, "And then did you swallow your glasses?"

My momentary stunned silence eventually became a very eloquent "Huh?," to which he replied, "I'm really hoping this story ends in you swallowing your glasses."

Somehow I completely forgot about this exchange until I got off the train and was walking home.  And then somehow it jumped back into my head as I walked up Fort Washington Avenue in a light October drizzle, and found myself giggling, and giggled the rest of the way home (probably much to my fellow commuters' consternation).

I walked in the door and my boy came over to give me a kiss and I just stood there, straightfaced, until I couldn't hold it anymore, and burst out with a laughingly hysterical, "And then did you swallow your glasses???"

Luckily my boy's patience knows no bounds, and luckily he finds humor (can it possibly be contagious?) in the things I find humorous, and laughed uproariously with me until I was able to calm myself.

cochecton, 10.7.11

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

walking the high line

One of the funny and wonderful things about walking the High Line is the abrupt way you come to its edges.  No fanciful rock walls or discreet borders to this decidedly urban park, but rather a walking and a walking and then a chainlink fence. No pretensions, no fuss and no muss. Just that: the end.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

going home, 10.10.11

'we're fasting and think you should too...'


We left home last Friday morning (such a gorgeous and sun-lit morning) a little past eleven to walk down to 178th Street and then over the bridge to pick up our cheap New Jersey rental car.

It wasn't until we got to the entrance to the pedestrian walkway and started seeing these signs -- some old and faded; some, like this one, new and I imagine a result of last fall's bridge tragedy -- that the thought of walking across the Hudson suddenly made me want to cry.

Fourteen years ago last Friday a particularly lovely and loving boy jumped from the Bear Mountain Bridge into this same river.  There's not much more to say, really. (Is there ever much more to say?)

We walked across the bridge and over the river, and looked south to the Manhattan skyline and the sea, and it was beautiful. We picked up our car and headed north and spent a couple idyllic days meandering along back roads and through small towns with funny names and looking at beautiful flame-red trees and squawking at the chickens roaming the lawn of our bed & breakfast. Then yesterday we drove south and dropped off the car and walked back across the bridge and over the river and home again.

Today, fourteen years since first hearing about Matt Narad, I've been a little pre-occupied with thoughts of him. I have it in my head to make a habit of walking across the Hudson and back every October. It felt good to do it, and to remember him this way, even if at first unintentionally:  to stand in the middle of that great vast expanse with the sun in my face and the wind in my hair and my arms held wide and goosebumped with sadness and light.

our animal friends

(at the Golden Guernsey Bed & Breakfast)

Sunday, October 02, 2011


I feel, much of the time, like I'm still a kid, or at least certainly not an adult, not a grown-up. This morning we were brunching (because this is something grown-ups do) with neighborhood friends at our favorite neighborhood spot.  We hadn't seen each other in a month or more, and there were lots of things to catch up about.  But there was a moment about halfway through the meal when I realized the topic had been health insurance, or doctors, or medical issues, for nearly half an hour. And I sat back in shock and just started laughing, much to everyone's consternation and eventual amusement.

When exactly did we get this old?