Sunday, February 27, 2011

'i was central, i had control, i lost my head, i need this...'

I've clearly been on an REM kick this weekend. Not sure of the why of it, but I'm happy to let it flow.  It's been awhile since I've listened to them.

I was a late bloomer when it came to those boys from Atlanta. I knew a song here and there. StandRadio Free Europe. It's The End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine). Pop Song 89Get Up. Loved The One I Love. But I didn't get into them for real until falling hard for Losing My Religion, off the phenomenal Out of Time*,at the tender age of fourteen. This is still, as far as I'm concerned, one of the greatest songs of all time.  I mean, what fourteen year old can't relate to those lyrics? That empty room?  Michael Stipe with hair?  And those dance moves?? (Not to mention my friend Ben's rendition of this song at one of our annual high school cabarets...)

But of this whole phenomenal album it was Country Feedback, that slow, strangely staggering song, that made my adolescent heart feel like it was ice-cold, shattering slowly, and that I couldn't stop listening to. (Also it had the word "fuck" in it, which still shocked my mother back in 1991, which was a great pleasure at the time but  which is no longer the case.)

(Also this gorgeous live performance)

REM has had some good stuff since then.  Leave. Nightswimming & Drive. E-bow the LetterLet Me In is quite possibly one of the most haunting songs ever sung.  How the West Was Won and Where it Got Us is quite possibly one of the best song titles ever.  And that's about as far as I got in the ongoing saga that is REM.

I think there were a few songs off Up that weren't bad.  I have a soft spot for Leaving New York, though I don't really like it all that much.  But there was something magical about their earlier work.  I don't mean to sound like one of those pretentious music snobs -- I'm well aware that it was at least partly my age, those under-20 years, that made those old songs so magical.  But it's nice to realize that a bit of that magic is still there, despite being almost 7/8ths of the way to the over-40 set.

*This was also the album that introduced me to Kate Pierson via Shiny Happy People, and opened up the world of the B-52s: Roam, Topaz, and most especially Deadbeat Club ("I was good, I could talk a mile a minute on this caffeine buzz I was on..."), which I think indirectly got me drinking coffee, late nights at the diner. Black. Of course.

Friday, February 25, 2011

'I went to write this, 4:00 a.m, this letter...'

"I wear my own crown of sadness and sorrow
And who'd have thought tomorrow could be so strange?
My loss, and here we go again..."
(REM with Patti Smith, E-bow the Letter)

Thinking this evening of a man I never met, and the family and friends he left behind a year ago today.

just another friday night apocalypse

Watched the series premier of Survivors tonight.  Was thrilled to see Freema Agyeman (of Martha Jones fame), and then equally glad she was killed off in the first half hour -- Martha always did get on my nerves a bit.  Was thrilled to hear Radiohead's Talk Show Host, one of my favorite songs ever since seeing Baz Luhrman's Romeo & Juliet* at the old Worldwide Plaza $2 movie house in midtown.

And of course there's the unstoppable flu pandemic post-apocalypse aspect to it: that wholly irresistible end of the world thing that I just can't seem to get enough of.  (As if it isn't enough I'm reading this during moments of downtime in the midst of jury duty this week.)

Even so, it wasn't very good and I couldn't recommend it, despite my end of the world obsession.

P.S. Once upon a time I could sing (badly) every word to this song.  Now I cannot.  But it still has one of my favorite lines of all time: "Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives, and I decline..."  Always was a stubborn one.

*Also Whatever and #1 Crush, both of which I adored (and years later was wonderfully amused to watch Shirley Manson in an ongoing role on The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which, yeah, I kind of loved.  I mean seriously, who ever imagined Brian Austin Green would grow up to be so damned hot?)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

to the courthouse

I've got jury duty tomorrow.  Have to leave practically at the crack of dawn (that might be a slight exaggeration) to be at the courthouse by 8:30 and then sit all day waiting with baited breath for my name to be pulled out of a big lottery-type machine thing.

I've actually been looking forward to jury duty.  I've only been summoned once before and the judge kicked me off the jury because I was dating another judge's son. Seriously! Now I'm not, so here's to hoping I'll be deemed worthy of partaking in our wonderful justice system.

I was working myself up into a tizzy of self-righteous rage today, though.  (Shocking, right?)  I was mad because my cell phone has a camera, and cell phones with cameras aren't allowed in the courthouse*, and I never wanted the damned camera, and when I had to buy a new phone in August of 2009 after nearly drowning in a torrential downpour while walking down Fort Washington Avenue from a rain-drenched brunch at New Leaf Cafe, I tried to buy a phone without a camera.  And I failed. Apparently they don't even make them anymore.

Tomorrow after I'm set free from the courthouse I have to make a mad dash all the way back uptown to meet up with a friend who just got back from over two years abroad in Sydney. And I was worried I'd either have to check my cell phone and then be delayed in leaving the courthouse to get the damned thing back, or I just wouldn't bring it at all and then have no easy way of getting in touch with said newly-returned friend.

So I found myself raging at the stupidity of being trusted to weigh in on the outcome of a trial, to possibly hold someone's fate in my hands, and yet not be trusted to not take pictures in the courthouse.  (Co-worker Manley suggested I demand an explanation for this stupidity from the judge tomorrow, thus guaranteeing immediate release.  Little does he know I'd actually like to be on a jury.)

At any rate I got home this evening and dutifully called the number indicated on my summons, and lo and behold the very nice automated telephone lady said that cellphones with cameras are now allowed in the courthouses!**

Stress abated. Problem solved. Phone fully charged.  Ipod charging. Alarm set for 6:30. Knitting project packed.  Book (okay two) packed. Now, please God, just let me get an interesting case.

*I know camera phones aren't allowed in the courthouse because NYJuror told me so (who knew there was a jury duty website, given how old-school those summonses that appear in our mailboxes look?).  It took me fifteen freaking minutes to find anything pertaining to cellphones in the courthouse, though,which seems ridiculously ill-designed. Try looking up ANYTHING in their little search engine, and there are no results, or just no useful results.

**NYJuror might want to update its information. You'd think a website dedicated to justice and whatnot would be, you know, accurate.

'it may come back republican...'

Monday, February 21, 2011

smashmortion & television, or, yet another reason i love friday night lights

Show me a woman who has never endured a moment of panic at the thought that she might be pregnant and I'll show you a virgin or a liar.

I've been thinking a lot this week about abortion.  My own.  Others'.  All those millions who have had one, or who have chosen not to. I've been thinking about the beauty of choice, and how that single word carries within it all the myriad decisions women make.  How sometimes it carries within it motherhood. How sometimes it carries within it death. How sometimes it carries within it an inarguable sense of freedom tempered perhaps with grief. How always it carries within it responsibility: for ourselves, for all that comes from us, and for all that does not.

Planned Parenthood is in danger of losing its federal funding, and this, I can tell you, is a travesty.*  Planned Parenthood was the place I turned to when I found myself trapped in that moment of panic, but it was also the place that made sure, afterward, that I went back for check-ups, for better birth control, for counseling, for a clean bill of health.

Planned Parenthood has been and will continue to be a voice of reason in the face of ongoing attempts, both culturally and legislatively, to control women's sexuality and reproductive freedom.  Bombastic? Perhaps.  But also true.

In Georgia there is legislation pending that would require that every single miscarriage in that state be fully investigated to see if it was actually (as they ever so delicately put it) "prenatal murder." The language of this bill is horrifying, and worth the reading.  It lays out an argument that Supreme Court decisions don't apply to Georgia in this case. It lays out what is to be done if the fetal death takes place in a hospital, in a home, in a moving vehicle, across state lines.  It explains that prenatal murder "does not include a naturally occurring expulsion of a fetus known medically as a 'spontaneous abortion' and popularly as a 'miscarriage' so long as there is no human involvement whatsoever in the causation of such event."**  Which of course does nothing to allay my perhaps overblown fears that any behavior a woman commits could potentially be construed as human involvement in her miscarriage.  A fender bender.  A fall down the stairs or trip on the sidewalk. Not eating enough vegetables during her pregnancy. Smoking. Exercising too much.  Exercising not enough. Having a glass of champagne before (or after) knowing she was pregnant. And so on and so forth.

In Kansas, George Tiller, a longtime abortion provider, was assassinated in the foyer of his church in the morning of May 31st, 2009.

In Ohio in 2007 legislation was proposed that would require that any woman seeking an abortion first get permission from the father of the fetus.  No matter the circumstances.  No matter that the Supreme Court already found in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that a woman doesn't even need her husband's consent, let alone anyone else's consent, to obtain an abortion.

Legislators in South Dakota recently attempted to pass a bill that could be interpreted as allowing for the murder of abortion providers.  (It has since been shelved, at least for now.)

And then there was Justice Kennedy's disturbing justification for banning some types of abortion procedures in Gonzalez v. Carhart also back in 2007: that women are sometimes so traumatized by choosing to have an abortion that we need to be protected from our own poor decision-making skills.

And then there's abortion in popular culture.  Party of Five almost got us there, but our heroine conveniently miscarried on her way to the abortion clinic.  Felicity did get us there, but the girl in question turned out to have cheated on her boyfriend so it was okay that she decided to abort her pregnancy: she was bad already anyway.  Judd Apatow's Knocked Up, while coming from a self-proclaimed pro-choice liberal, avoided the word itself like the plague.

Which brings me, in my ever roundabout way, to Friday Night Lights.  I don't get football but I freaking love Friday Night Lights.  It's got not only great characters but also wonderful character development.  It's got some fun songs. And it's dealt, over the course of its five seasons, with lots of prickly issues from serious football injuries to drug-addled parents to teen sex.  Becky, one of our small town high schools girls, finds herself in dire straits after a romantic night with one of our intrepid football players.  Miraculously, the show not only lets her have an abortion, but also lets her continue to be a decent and normal teenager after the fact.

And made a big splash in the process.

I just started the no-longer-quite-new fifth season this evening and it's looking good for our Dillon, Texas friends so far.  And oh how I still adore those opening credits.

Oh, also, please please please take a moment to write to your congresspeople and tell them not to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood and all the much-needed services they provide.  Abortions, STD testing, contraception, cancer screening, and information on everything from pregnancy to quitting smoking to getting the flu vaccine.

*To put this loss of funding in perspective: Planned Parenthood is already committed to not spending federal funds on abortion services, but rather uses this money for its many, many other services.  And while abortion makes up a sizable portion of what Planned Parenthood does, this is largely because abortion services have been segregated from all other health care services and organizations such as Planned Parenthood have had to pick up the slack.  So all the conservatives hellbent on punishing Planned Parenthood aren't stopping abortions, they're cutting funds to services that help to prevent more abortions and more unwanted pregnancies.

**Italics mine.  Creepily enough this section contains the only mention of the word "woman", except where the bill states that it repeals the Woman's Right To Know Act which provides that all women seeking an abortion must be offered the chance to see their sonogram and listen to their baby's heartbeat.  Now that all abortions and possibly miscarriages are to be criminalized, the Woman's Right To Know Act is, of course, no longer necessary.

'everything is death...'

Sometimes I wish the way I hear the world was actually the way it is: it just seems so much more interesting.

Nick and I took the 1 down to 14th street the other night to meet up with Evan and Jill for drinks after work (and then on to Tanuki Tavern for dinner, which was delicious). We could hear a man yelling as we climbed the stairs up from the depths of the subway station, and as we surfaced his words came abruptly into focus: "Everything is death! Everything is pussy! Everything is death! Everything is pussy!"

I found this fascinating, and creepier and darker and more true than your run of the mill crazy person ranting. Except that then Nick pointed out that it wasn't death our man was shouting about, but dick.

Which made the whole thing much less interesting.

Friday, February 18, 2011


I woke up at 3am absolutely convinced that I was in the old attic bedroom up in Lake Mohegan.  The room with the rotting wooden floorboards painted a gorgeous dark burgundy.  The room with the unbelievably steep stairs built into a narrow underused coat closet.  The room with the window seat surrounded by bookshelves, the little reading nook where I'd spend hours just staring out through the brilliant red leaves of the Japanese maple.  The room that got so cold in the winter that I would have to migrate down to the itty bitty guest room (aka the maid's room, in the inherited parlance of that wonderful house's previous owners: summer people who lived in the big city fifty miles south) for several months out of the year or risk burning down the house with electric heaters.

I woke up with a start, convinced I was home again, and it took a moment of tossing and turning, sniffing and scrunching up my nose, to finally figure out what it was that had awoken me.

I turned to Evan, elbowed him in the gut (sometimes I am not an easy bedmate), demanded to know if he smelled it too.  That unmistakable odor of skunk, wafting six stories up in our concrete jungle and through the wide open windows in the middle of an unseasonably warm February night.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

'i just have to ask...'

Elderly man entering the library walked past me, stopped, came back, peered at me, and said, "I just have to ask. That tattoo on your left shoulder.  Is it a reminder of something? Or a celebration of something?"

Monday, February 14, 2011

valentines days

When I was a young woman of twenty-five I learned to drink bourbon with a boy who drank only the best.  For years I bought him one of those bottles of Maker's Mark that come out around Christmas time: you know, the ones with a bit of green wax cascading down over the usual red. We would pull it out on special occasions and nurse it along through the following year.

He fell in love with another woman one December a few years back, took her home to his grad school pad after a night out on the town just after the New Year, broke up with me not long after that.

Two weeks later he came back to the home we'd shared for five years to collect his passport, some clothes, those books and CDs he just couldn't live without.

I, still in denial, had already bought his Valentines Day present: Neko Case's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood and the Shins' Wincing the Night Away. He ate Indian takeout from around the corner and admonished me for not being able to eat.  We drank the expensive Oregon Pinot Noir my mother had given him for Christmas just weeks before.  And then he left to go pick up his new woman at the airport.  I guess he liked the new CDs too because he made sure to take them with him.

I cried for a month after that.  On trains, on buses, on the phone, in my office, on couches (my own and other people's couches), in my sleep when it came.  I took to drinking a bit and then a bit more of that cheerful Christmas-y bottle of Maker's Mark after work most evenings, followed later, as sleep refused to come, by a nip of Nyquil.

I got through that Valentine's Day with the help of another boy central to my life, my Nater, and each has gotten progressively easier, progressively nicer. Last year it was a walk around Fort Tryon Park and a dinner of sushi and plum wine.

Last Friday I met a dear old friend for drinks before dinner at Nice Matin.  We talked about men (both the presence of and the lack thereof), jobs, politics, haircuts, the usual things women talk about.  She went from one kind of drink to another but I -- I fell in love a bit with their bourbon cocktail: Woodford reserve, honey, a bit of lemon and a touch of thyme on the rocks.There was something particularly lovely about that hour perched on stools at the bar, sipping my bourbon drink and chatting with Jill and waiting for my boy to arrive. Something particularly lovely and also a long, long time coming.

Four years it's taken to get to this morning and the quiet pleasure of looking forward to a surprise dinner I know my Evan will love.  (There is a grilled squid on the menu, I believe, and marinated olives, and as long as there's that, I know he will not go hungry tonight.)

Yesterday morning I ran downstairs to Frank's Market to grab a few last items for a brunch with Erica.  A double handful of oyster mushrooms. Butter.  A big sweet onion.  I was lucky enough to get Sally at the checkout and we chatted about her daughters, her grandchildren, and their impending arrival from Florida.  She asked what I was making with these particular groceries and I explained that my boyfriend was attempting vegetarian biscuits & gravy for brunch.  She paused and looked me up and down  and said, "You're looking very happy these days.  Very content.  And I hope you have a really wonderful Valentine's Day tomorrow."

She is right, and I will.

Friday, February 11, 2011

this & that (reading & knitting, quelle surprise)

1.  I have been a little bit obsessed with The Hunger Games these last few weeks, and was tickled pink last night to finally have dinner with Nick & Sarah.  Mostly this was because the last time I saw Sarah she was half way through the second book so we couldn't discuss it, but this time she'd finished the last of them and was as anxious to discuss them as I was.  Nick pulled out his book and politely ignored our carryings on about beautiful Peeta and self-righteous Gale and gruesome deaths and jabbering jays and how much we adored Haymitch the Drunk.  Evan, that lucky boy, didn't arrive at the bar until we'd talked ourselves out, at least in so as far as Suzanne Collins was concerned.

But I still can't stop reading about these damned books, or get them out of my head.

2.  Now I am reading Speak, yet another young adult novel but of an entirely different kind.  It is the story of Melinda, a 9th grader who loses her ability to speak in the wake of being raped at a party the previous summer.  I saw the movie last year, starring Kristen Stewart, and sort of hated it: Kristen Stewart captures that inexplicable blankness that I hated about Twilight's Bella, her best-known role, and I couldn't get past that image.  But the book is moving in ways that I hadn't expected.  Melinda's inner monologue is surprisingly witty and dark and quirky, and there are a few odd similarities between us.  She, too, has a nasty habit of chewing and picking and biting at her lips until they bleed (a habit I am in the midst of trying to break), and she too, had to take one of those tests to determine a career path and was told she should be a forest ranger or a mortician, just like I was! (It turns out friend Nick was also told he should be a forest ranger -- perhaps this is a catch-all career?)

3.  I was reading a Slate article yesterday that referred to a New Yorker article, so I went to the New Yorker website and printed out the article.  All forty-eight pages of the article.  All of which quickly got caught up in the gale-force wind that has been gusting in the front doors of the library these past three days and went flying all around the circulation desk.  Later, during my tale of woe about chasing down vagrant pages, Evan said, "You printed out a 48-page New Yorker article? Single-sided?  You know you're still getting the New Yorker, right?" At which point I just stopped talking.

4.  A friend of mine is shopping around my knitting skills to her recently-engaged and now wedding-planning friends, and asked me to write up a little something for her to include with her email.  I went a little overboard, but it was kind of fun.  And I really am on the prowl for new commissions, so please feel free to spread the word:

I first learned how to knit in May of 2005. It was actually during the last trip I made to my grandmother's house in eastern Washington State before she had to move into an assisted living home outside of Seattle. She'd been trying to get me to knit for literally two decades before that, but I'd always stubbornly refused. Oh, I'd crochet a couple granny squares now and then, but something involving two needles? Forget it. I'm not sure what finally clicked that last time at her house, but I'm so glad it did!

There's something about working with yarn that I adore. I've always loved colors, and when I was a kid I loved hanging out in art & office supply stores, entranced by the walls of paints and pens and pencils and papers but sorely lacking in artistic talent. Now I spend time in yarn stores, dazzled -- both by the yarn itself and by the fact that I've finally learned to make something beautiful from it.

I like solitary knitting, but I've also begun to take pleasure in it as a sometimes collaborative process. A coworker commissioned a shawl last fall and we spent a lovely half hour looking through possible patterns, yarns, beads. We hit on the perfect combination, and a month later she gifted the shawl to her mother.

More recently a cousin mentioned that she was looking for a cream-colored wrap or shawl and had liked a previous piece I had made and so I made her this.

Prices will vary depending on the yarn, beads, pattern, etc., but the range for commissioned shawls will run from about $120 - $200.

Please contact me at if you are interested in discussing a project for your wedding or any other occasion.

Monday, February 07, 2011

going home, explained

I took a picture yesterday morning at the Metro North Marble Hill station while we were waiting for a north-bound train to Cold Spring.  Evan, knowing me & my quirks pretty well, laughed and said, "That's the wrong direction for your 'going home' pictures!"

My going home pictures started back in 2007, and most (though by no means all) have been taken on Metro North platforms waiting for trains heading south back to the city.

So he was right, in the practical sense that most of my going home pictures are about returning to my city, my beloved New York.  But I was right in the less practical way I think of my going home pictures: going towards (or being in) places that help me feel one with where I've been, where I am, who I have become.

Marble Hill is a quirky place: one of those rare instances where no matter which direction I'm heading, I'm somehow going home.  I love that station, perched there between the Marble Hill cliffs and the seemingly always sparkling Spuyten Duyvil Creek.

Heading south there is the Broadway Bridge and Broadway itself and all the places along its trajectory that I have lived, and those few beautiful Brooklyn months and that one frigid January week in Queens and, further still, that strange handful of months in Philadelphia.

Heading north there is so much of what I was before I was eighteen but also so many of the people I am lucky enough to still carry with me.  There is my Ari-love.  There is my Ben.  There are reunions and reminiscences and losses and the lake.

And there is Cindy, my Cyn, my rabid child, girl of my girlhood somehow letting me grow with her into a shared adulthood.

It wasn't until yesterday afternoon, as I stood on the southbound platform in Cold Spring taking this picture and listening to Evan say over my shoulder, "How many of your pictures have been from here?" that I realized how often I am going and coming from Cindy's home.

Not long after we arrived in Cold Spring yesterday I fell in love with her second child, her wee Junebug, just as I fell in love with her first child almost three and a half years ago.  (Helen and I have matching orange hats.  Yesterday, as we were leaving, I put on my hat and smiled over at Helen who promptly shouted across the room, "Emma! You look like a pumpkin head!" And that -- let me tell you, that made me smile.)

Not long after that she and her John started plying me with stuff:  small things they have somehow accrued between visits and know that I will love.  This time it was Burt's Bees Citrus & Ginger Root Body Wash, ginger-infused maple syrup and red wine maple vinegar from their friends at 3-Chicks Sugar Shack.  Other times it has been sparkly nail polishes and avocado body washes and orange-cranberry scented lotions.

For days after a visit to Cold Spring I spend my time listening to music I've heard at their house.  This time so far it's been Mumford & Sons, though this is only the beginning of what they sent home with me yesterday.  A few years ago it was Bon Iver's For Emma, For Ever Ago (from which I am listening to The Wolves as I type, and which remains one of my favorite songs of all time, and yet one I associate somehow with Februaries, and with ice, and with great sadness and loss).

Years ago, one Friday night in January of 2007, I went home with Cindy to Brooklyn where she and John were living at the time, and I cried on their couch in the wake of what I thought was the love of my live leaving me.  It was freezing that winter, so cold I couldn't breathe, or so it seemed.  I remember sitting next to John on their couch, and I remember bursting into tears, and I remember that he got up so that Cindy could come wrap her arms around me, and I remember that they gave me a set of their keys that night so that I could always go to their home if the thought of being at my own home was ever too horrible.

Things have gotten less dramatic since then, but not long after they moved to Cold Spring they insisted on giving me a set of keys to their new home.  I've never had to use them, have never even taken them with me on my numerous trips to visit them these past few years, but it's a comfort to know I have them here somewhere.

And Evan was right, of course, in that way he has of so often being.  Nearly half of my going home pictures are coming home from Cold Spring, from my Cindy's home.

I guess that's the thing about going home.  It can mean so many things, be so many places.  I guess I'm lucky that I have so many places to go home to, and also that I have so many places to come home from.


I went to the food cart on the northwest corner of 116th & Broadway today for my morning coffee.  The man working there grinned at me, wished me a good morning, and said, smiling cheerfully, "You are one of my oldest customers!"

He went on to explain that he began working at the cart four years ago and just recently bought it from his employer and thanked me for being such a nice customer.  He asked how long I've been buying coffee from them, and if he was correct that it was nearly as long as he'd been working there.  I laughed and said that I've been buying coffee from one person or another on that corner, minus a few weeks or months here and there, for nearly seventeen years now.

I think this number shocked us both a bit.

I congratulated him on his recent acquisition of the food cart and scurried off towards campus and the quiet of work.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

waterlilies shawl

Briar Rose Fibers Wistful, 50% alpaca, 30% merino, 20% silk; size 9 needles; now available on Etsy.

Friday, February 04, 2011

cars, my boys, sad tree, dirty snow

I adore winter even when it seems everyone else is already sick of it.  Granted, after-the-fact city snow is not particularly attractive, but it has a certain gnarly appeal I can't quite explain.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


coffee & ice & television & clothes

We've been watching The Big Bang Theory these past few weeks and I'm a little bit embarrassed to admit how much I'm enjoying it.  Laughing out loud enjoying it.  Gales of uncontrollable laughter enjoying it. And then a self-conscious glance sideways at my boy to gauge his response.  I've generally been relieved to find him smiling too, though it's entirely possible he's merely suppressing laughter at me, his girl.  Have I mentioned what a great boyfriend he is?

I've also finally been watching the rest of the West Wing DVDs friend Marti was kind enough to loan me last January.  The other morning, as I was finishing the last few rows of this shawl, I watched the episode where Leo McGarry, whom I adore, has a heart attack in the woods of Camp David.  I sat there on the couch in the just barely dawn light (I was trying to finish the shawl as early as possible so I could wash it and block it and leave for the UN before noon), tears streaming down my face.  The thought of him being so alone, and in such pain, was too much to bear.  My father, in the same pain, at least was surrounded by people.  Of course, I was the only one there who loved him, and I couldn't bring myself to go to him. Or maybe they wouldn't let me, it's hard to remember now.  This was all the more heartbreaking because the actor who played Leo McGarry died of a heart attack not long after that episode.

This morning is weather like I haven't seen in a long, long time.  It's raining, or mostly raining, with some slushing sleeting icy stuff mixed in.  The intersections are flooded, the drains are clogged, and there's a thin hard layer of ice covering almost everything.  The corner outside my building where I wait for the M4 and the little kids wait for the school bus was a veritable skating rink.  They slid, I slid, their parents slid almost off the sidewalk and into oncoming traffic.  I finally waded across Broadway at 116th Street, skidded across College Walk and down the stairs to Hamilton Deli, where I stood dripping slush and ice and rain onto their cardboard-covered floor.  I looked up to find my coffee men (and woman) staring at me, and we all burst out laughing and smiled sympathetically and wished each other a safe morning.  Then I made my way to work, coffee clutched in hand, and found a Ghirardelli Square (dark chocolate with raspberry filling) on my desk.  I am eating it now and thinking this is not the worst day.

Yesterday I emailed friend Erik this link, showing off of course, and was so tickled by his one-line response that I smiled for much of the rest of the afternoon:  "You have a red dress?"

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

interloping, or, thoughts on revolution and not having a place in it

Evan and I went down and over to the United Nations area on Saturday to see what we could see in the context of the Egyptian protests (dare one say revolution? probably not -- at least not yet).

I don't wander to the far east side very often, and was reminded again as we walked towards the East River along grandiose 42nd Street (oh how I love Grand Central Station, nestled there all gorgeous and ornate and low amongst the ugly, big and tall of the modern era) of that odd feeling of being a foreigner in my own hometown.

There were probably close to a thousand people gathered across the street from the UN, fenced into a holding area, armed with signs and megaphones and more headdresses than I've seen gathered in one place.

I felt out of place.  Too pale, to red-headed, too mono-linguistic, too (let's face it) ignorant to fully understand the proceedings.  I was anxious abut the people with microphones wandering the crowd looking for a quick sound byte.  I was ready to confess that I was there only to be another body; a body to be counted but a body without a voice in all of this.

It made me feel detached from history (my own and the world's) in a way that was new.

I've been to protests before, have marched on Washington in support of women's reproductive freedom, have marched up 8th Avenue past Madison Square Garden in protest of the Republican National Convention, have stood in the winter cold on the eve of our Iraq invasion, shouting for peace.

But this, this felt different. The people gathered there, wrapped in the colors of Egypt, holding aloft between them the Egyptian flag, carrying drawings of Nefertiti and Cleopatra and signs of Mubarak crossed out in decisive unwavering red, belonged to a history I could only dream of as a child, obsessed as I was with both Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Egypt Game and Lloyd Alexander's tales of violent revolution in Westmark, The Kestrel, and The Beggar Queen.

What struck me now, as a grown woman with no ethnicity to speak of, no heritage but that of this infant country of ours, no real connection to another land or another people, was a certain wonderment at what it must be like to have such a vested interest in somewhere else.

It made me feel unanchored in ways I had not expected, but also a little bit grateful to not have to absorb this complicated and probably at times heart-wrenching duality.