Thursday, March 29, 2012

'the stars will come out over and over...'

"The stars will come out over and over
the hyacinths rise like flames
from the windswept turf down the middle of upper Broadway
where the desolate take the sun
the days will run together and stream into years
as the rivers freeze and burn
and I ask myself and you, which of our visions will claim us
which will we claim
how will we go on living
how will we touch, what will we know
what will we say to each other."
-Adrienne Rich, from Nights and Days (1976)

(And more Adrienne)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

attention all employees

sleep, and the things one thinks about when one loses it

I woke up just after 5am to garbage trucks caught in their daily cacophonous ballet and tried for nearly an hour to go back to sleep after staying up late watching too much Dexter (because this is how we roll here in the big city on a beautiful Friday night). I lay in bed in the dark whispering to the cat (who came for a snuggle, pleased to have someone awake in the midst of her nocturnal prowls) and thinking about some gorgeous silk I bought recently and all its myriad possibilities for becoming something even more beautiful.

Two mornings ago it was a foghorn at half past four booming its way up the Hudson -- an unusual noise despite many recent foggy mornings (thick enough to disappear New Jersey, the river, the buildings across the street), and enough to startle us from sleep and keep us awake until it was far enough north, twenty minutes later, to become just a diminishing echo of itself.

This morning, after sleep ran off with the garbage trucks and refused to come back, I lay in bed cuddling with the cat (who purred and curled her fluffy sweet self into my side, hoarding my warmth in the pre-dawn chill) and thinking about ivory-colored silk and springtime brides and that damnable foghorn. I thought about how odd it was that we had never heard that sound before, booming out again and again, echoing across the river, ricocheting off the cliffs of New York and New Jersey, our windows and dreams and nightmares quaking in its path. It seems like such irresistible power: blowing that horn and single-handedly dragging hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of sweetly or not so sweetly sleeping citizens from their beds.

I wondered how it is they manage to stop themselves from sounding that horn all the time.

Thursday, March 08, 2012


I sold a shawl yesterday to a lovely Brooklyn woman who made the trek all the way up to Morningside Heights to take a look at my work. We parted ways thrilled: she heading south to go home, pleased as punch to have the perfect shawl to complete her Easter outfit; me heading north to meet my boys, tickled pink to have enough cash in hand to treat us all to drinks and have plenty left over for a little self-indulgence.

We had a few drinks and a delicious dinner and then headed east on 125th toward our respective trains. At some point during this walk it was made clear that Nick had his drum sticks stashed in his bag. Evan demanded he fork one over, and promptly began running it along a metal fence and a brick wall and whatever else we passed.

I demanded one too and found the ensuing noise most satisfying. Apparently I found it so satisfying, in fact, and proceeded to make a clackety clack clacking ruckus with such relish, that Nick turned to me and said, "Clearly, Em, you should have been born with a Y chromosome."

For some reason this made me smile all the way to the train station.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012


I was dreaming Sunday morning, in that cold gray light just before dawn, about the end of the world again. Remnants of the previous night's movie* had sent tendrils, slithery nightmare tentacles, twining through restless sleep. (It doesn't necessarily take a lot to set me down this path. Sometimes it feels like a much too regular thing.)

Later that day we went to see a friend sing with the Renaissance Street Singers in a vast and gorgeous Chelsea loft, resonant with hardwood floors and enormous wood pillars and ceilings so high there was room enough for voices to mingle and intertwine and soar.

I'd forgotten, until that afternoon, until sitting there in that overheated and crowded loft, how much I'd once loved this kind of music. I'd forgotten how my parents and brother and I, early one autumn Sunday morning in Paris, had traipsed over to visit the Musee de Cluny, only to find that we had forgotten that Daylight Savings Time had ended the previous night and the museum was closed for another hour.  We wandered across the river to Notre Dame to kill a little time, and as soon as we went inside we could hear the singing, and it was the most beautiful thing my thirteen-year-old self had ever heard.

Almost every Sunday morning after that I would wake up early and head out before eight, either alone or with my father or with one of the many visitors we had throughout that strange and beautiful year. I would walk up our street to Rue Dante and then follow Lagrange to the Pont au Double and over the Seine.  And I would stand there for a moment facing the entrance to the Cathedrale, gathering myself, before walking in as quietly as possible to find a seat in the back and just sit there and listen until the music ended.

This is what I have been wrapping around myself these last few days, in the wake of yet another irresistible bout of apocalypse.  It was the closest I've ever come, I think, to believing in God.

*On the Beach