Thursday, August 30, 2012

it's all relative

I'm not sure which is goofier: the fact that I am reading Kathy Reichs' Monday Mourning, or the fact that I am reading it using an OECD bookmark.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

girls in high places

It happens too many years.

September grows close and the quiet of a university in summer abruptly ends, and there's a certain excitement and dread in the air. Thousands of students descend on the campus to begin or resume this part of their lives. Classes begin, the year begins to move towards its end.  And then someone plummets to her death.

My last semester at Barnard, in the fall of 1998, it was a girl taking a swan dive off East Campus. I had a crush on another girl entirely that semester, a dark-haired girl whose simple presence and quirky grin made me blush and and want to giggle. A mutual friend told me this crush girl was jealous of the East Campus girl, and I don't know that I've ever felt quite that same ache again.

A couple years later it was a girl jumping from the top of a spiral stairwell in one of the dorms. One of my favorite student employees lived in that same dorm, woke to hear the girl screaming all the way down, came to work early the next morning and spent hours helping me measure shelves in the stacks, dry-eyed and stony-faced in a way that only she could bear.

Two nights ago it was a freshman leaping from her dorm (the same dorm my brother lived in his freshman year), apparently having made it through the first day of orientation only to crash just before midnight to the sidewalk on 114th Street.

She was eighteen and intelligent and loved, but of course that can't always be enough.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

'i think it's absurd that you think i am the derelict daughter...'

I woke up the other morning with my father's chicken scrawl in my head and these words in my ears.  It was a strange, jagged dream about a spiral-bound notebook in which we took turns writing to each other, berating each other for not being what we expected, what we had hoped for.

And that's pretty much it.

I woke up jagged and angry and lost, and went to work and lost myself instead in the semi-controlled chaos that is a university on the precipice of a new academic year, one of the places he thought of as home.


I walked into my usual deli this morning for my usual cup of coffee, only to find the three guys behind the counter standing shoulder to shoulder and staring, gape-jawed, at the television mounted opposite the counter near the ceiling. I turned around, rain sluicing off my umbrella and glasses running water, to see what it was that had them so entranced.

It was otters.  Specifically, footage of two otters holding hands and being all snuggly-wuggly. And I'm still not sure what was more adorable -- the otters themselves, or my deli guys practically cooing over them (and looking embarrassed to be caught at such things).

Friday, August 24, 2012


There's a moment every year--a clear, crystalline moment--when you are reminded that summer will not linger forever, that fall is on its way.

Sometimes it hits you over the head, comes storming in (or at least threatening to storm in) like God's own thunder, and sends an entire city into lockdown.

Sometimes it is meditative, or vegetative, or sad.

This year it was more subtle than that. After a seemingly endless string of broiling hot city summer days, we forgot to turn on the bedroom fan one night earlier this week before going to bed. I woke up hours later, 2am and filled with strange dreams, drenched in sweat. I got up and turned on the fan, drank a glass of cold water, returned to bed and eventually to sleep.

Just as it began to grow light, in those moments before true dawn, I woke up cold, and I pulled the sheet up tight around myself and curled towards Evan, whose broad back and tangled hair felt comfortably, wonderfully warm.

I am leaving town this year for Labor Day Weekend, for the first time in ages and ages, and last night got it into my head to settle on a knitting project for the trip.  Apparently I am done with my summer silks and pale, bridal colors.  I pulled out from deep in my closet a gorgeous over-sized hank of merino wool in rich dark burgundies, jewel reds, almost browns: the perfect transition piece into the coming autumn.

That moment, that cusp, came early this year and even if it gets up to a hundred degrees next week there isn't really any going back.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

turns of phrase

I love Ta-Nehisi Coates.  I don't know or care overly much about half the shit he writes about, but I'll read him on pretty much anything.  And sometimes he writes something so obvious, yet so beautiful, in its clarity that I want to shout it from the rooftops.

"Via The Atlantic Wire, Steve King claims he's never heard of anyone getting pregnant from statutory rape. Specifically he said that it isn't "a circumstance that's been brought to me in any personal way." 

Again the thing about power is that it makes opening your eyes optional."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

that momentary kind of love

Some current loves of mine.

Underground New York Public Library: This woman wanders around the subway taking pictures of people reading books, and sometimes ebooks, and that's pretty much it. It's great. There's a lovely interview with her this month on Vanishing New York (which is also a wonderful, wonderful thing). Follow her Facebook page for daily updates.

Jeremiah's Vanishing New York: the subtitle of his blog pretty much says it all, but he's got some great stuff here.

Humans of New York: wonderful, quirky, gorgeous photographs of people walking and talking and living in the streets and parks and plazas of this beloved city of mine.

Scouting New York: a movie location scout's take on the big apple.

"It is a funny question. Do you know what I mean? That kind of momentary falling in love that happens when you see a person on the train with a book."
(Jeremiah, Vanishing New York)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


For years, coworker Manley would visit his mother every summer and lug a suitcase of her garden-grown tomatoes on the train back to New York City.  The next morning he would bring us each a paper lunch bag filled with these perfect, beautiful, delectable fruits.

His mother's tomatoes haven't been doing so well these last few years, and she herself is getting too old for much gardening. But it's tomato season again and our CSA is practically overrun with the darned things (cheerful elongated yellows and bright round reds and deep purples and gorgeous jewel-like zebra-striped greens), and I need to remember to return this much-loved waning-days-of-summer favor.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

'hey my love do you believe that we might last a thousand years or more if not for this...'

I have a friend who adores Dave Matthews Band. I, as I am sure you are not overly surprised to learn, do not adore Dave Matthews Band, but they do have one song that I have loved ever since first hearing it in 1996.

But the thing is, I don't think I've heard it much since then, and apparently my connection to it doesn't have much to do with reality.  I was explaining to her, over a couple of beers the other night, that Dave Matthews always seemed kind of facile to me, and frat-boyish, and easy. Except this one song that I loved, and that always felt dark and drugged and tinged with tragedy and danger. She asked me what song it was, and I told her, and she just looked at me funny and laughed and started reciting lyrics.

Celebrate we will
'Cause life is short but sweet for certain

We're climbing two by two
To be sure these days continue

No doubt she has a point, but I still stand by mine too. I don't know that I know many songs as sad, as beautifully desperate, as this, and even after nearly fifteen years, despite all its lovely pretty lyrics, it still brings me to tears.

Friday, August 17, 2012

new york city (friday night)

Had dinner this evening with an old friend, a magnificent woman, a practically sister known and held dear since time immemorial.

She is roughing it these days. Dark circles and sharp tones betray the exhaustion she is too depleted, too proud, to own.

We ate expensive pizza and drank cheap wine on this comfortably warm August night, and made our way to a nearby Chelsea bar patronized mostly by warring girls throwing political views (Sandra Fluke: virgin or whore? Of course I dove right in) and cute Irish bartenders asking our names.

We talked about work woes and family woes and the trials and tribulations of being young or not so young and alone in this city, in the greater world, in this life.

I found myself wanting to give her Sarah, gift wrapped and glowing in white tissue paper, welcoming and life-saving and warm, but instead I struggled to even really advocate therapy from this place of constant imperfection, and so I hugged her goodnight and came home.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

bridal shawl, beaded

Knitted bridal shawl, natural bamboo/merino/silk fingering-weight yarn, with gold-lined clear glass beads, now available here.