November 30, 2017
Plan: Mercè will meet me, we'll catch the high-speed train to Madrid, then another half-hour train to Toledo, where we'll be for a couple of days, mostly to see as much El Greco as possible. (We're even staying at the Hotel Pintor El Greco.) He's been my (more…)
November 29, 2017
I'm looking forward to (more…)
November 28, 2017
* My mother, after living in the States for 70 years, finally became an American citizen last fall. I always thought of it as a technicality: she has lived here since she was 20, she was American in all but the papers. The way people who've lived together for 30 years are—but aren't!—married. But a meaningful distinction.
* I remember a joke-but-not-really about a Jew in Nazi Europe staring at a globe for somewhere to emigrate to, after being told there was nowhere that would issue a visa to a Jew. At last he said, (more…)
November 27, 2017
November 26, 2017
November 24, 2017
November 23, 2017
Thanksgiving Almost Found Poem
Many years we go to my grandmother's in Virginia.
My mother, father, aunts and at least two of my brothers are there.
My son has a football game that morning.
My daughter is home, but needs to get back to school this weekend.
My wife doesn't want to ride for nine hours and turn right back.
Sometimes I have gone alone, but not often.
A couple of neighbors were vying for our company.
One of those my daughter’s boyfriend’s family,
Which we did last year and had fun.
But this year it will be another family,
One we have visited on two or three other Thanksgivings.
I have a turkey freezing in the garage.
Nothing to do with it.
November 22, 2017
I ran home ducking my head, waiting for the sky to fall.
Would my mother's best friend have killed herself if it had happened a day earlier?
In the Midwest, we liked how he talked: his vigah.
My mother almost crashed into another car when her hands flew off the steering wheel at hearing the news. The other driver gave her a dirty look but at some point that day understood. I imagine it was part of that woman's story of the day for the rest of her life. It's part of Annie's story, now. How often we are bit players.
November 21, 2017
Not that there was much more to the day than that.
Does every day have to be the best EVER?
November 20, 2017
For example, last week Tesla showed the prototype for its battery-powered, nearly self-driving semi that they say can go up to 500 miles on a charge—not good enough for long-distance trucking but terrific for many routes, especially as the truck is exhaust-free and cheaper to run than diesels. (more…)
November 19, 2017
It would be fine if I could curl up with a spy novel, but my eyes itch & I feel restless.
Woe is me! Alas!
November 17, 2017
I remember less well why the photo was taken.
Not true, I remember perfectly well but am embarrassed that, almost 50 years later, I know it was for being a National Merit Scholar.
Embarrassed because I was so proud of my superior knack for taking standardized tests. I didn't even know I wasn't smart, because I was officially smart.
November 16, 2017
Not only that, Steve Willis, my friend of nearly 50 years, loves snow as much as I do, if not more, & we are putting together a dos-à-dos, or more properly, as I just learned, a tête-bêche book, where you'll flip his to read mine & vice versa. Nothing fancy, just a fun way to collaborate & get our work into a few hands.
November 15, 2017
I wish I could remember the Catalan I was learning before I went there a couple years ago, but I've moved on to Hiragana, which is so frigging hard; at best I'll be able to say a few polite phrases in Japanese & identify the characters.
November 14, 2017
He was the guest of honor at a Sons of Norway lutefisk dinner, held in the basement of the Nordic Hall, a small building where my dad had his office for as long as I remember. I was probably 10 and very shy about asking—probably someone asked on my behalf. (more…)
November 13, 2017
November 12, 2017
The Times for example:
You might think you’ve seen this all before. You probably have, but never quite like this. What Ms. Gerwig has done — and it’s by no means a small accomplishment — is to infuse one of the most convention-bound, rose-colored genres in American cinema with freshness and surprise. The characters can look like familiar figures: the sad dad and the disapproving mom; the sullen brother and his goth girlfriend; the mean girls and the cool teachers; the too-perfect boyfriend and the dirtbag boyfriend. None of them are caricatures, though, and while everyone is mocked, nobody is treated with cruelty or contempt, at least by Ms. Gerwig. (Lady Bird is not always so kind.) (more…)
November 10, 2017
November 8, 2017
for & with Ginevra Kirkland
I’ve lived so many places I don’t know where I’m from. Everywhere seems like the town I could have lived & died in, & maybe I did.
I was there in the POW camp with the German soldier who only wanted to get back to his herring, beer, & fraulein. I was in Otis, Colorado, a town so peaceful the only bar was on the second floor of an old hotel. I was a Mainer, or Mainiac, & lived 3 years in its white, bright, unmoving postcard. (more…)
November 7, 2017
November 6, 2017
November 5, 2017
November 3, 2017
Gravity and Grace
I've always loved this. Such a good correction to that immature longing for the "bad" that so many of us fall for when young, & I guess usually outgrow.
November 2, 2017
He leaves, promising to come back the next day.
Verizon (jeer) also tells me to fuck off: the next available appointment is actually more than a week away. They act like they are my friend.
I go up the block, & an hour later my office number has been converted to a cell, & I am the owner of an iPhone. I guess that means putting my little workhorse 10-year-old flip phone to rest, eh?
Welcome to the future! I mean the past! I have a smartphone! Call me!
November 1, 2017
My favorite of his books remains Autobiography but his new book, Noir, is pretty darn good. Unfortunately, I can't lay my hands on either one but here's the beginning of "Lines for the New Year":
The first day of January is the first day
of the New Year. In the north
there is snow and ice and the forest rings
with the sound of the ax.
So this is really a game of tag. Run across it
as if it were a cake, and you were a knife
cutting it right through the middle. At other times
the clouds seem to be pillows. My target
is a cool, tax-free million. I am very calm about it.
I could end up making a good deal more.