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Where we're at

I skedaddled, didn't meander or dwaddle at all, from the store where I saw this sign, the pet store Whiskers on 9th Street. 


What happens when there's no one to grow / process / package / ship / sell the food? 

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And yet

Nature's left hand doesn't know what the other is doing.

On my walk today, I saw daffodils, forsythia (yellow bells, they're called in South Carolina), tulip tree & this. Spring comes as does greater trouble. The State Department has issued a Level 4 Do Not Travel warning. My brother-in-law is on a cruise (as a lecturer) somewhere near South Africa. 

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My day

I went to the 99¢ store on Ludlow Street for shampoo, kleenex, & dish soap, & found—back in stock after many months—my favorite notebooks! They even had colors (green, red) they hadn't had before. I'm using the last one at the moment (I go through a lot of notebooks). Katz's was open for takeout & thought about ordering a pastrami sandwich for my brother but he's in California & who knows where he'll be in a few days' time. It was a crisp sunny day. I did some work, checked in on or was checked in upon by lots of people, watched black belt class, went for another walk. I thought about the Black Plague & how it killed half the people in Europe, leading to enormous & permanent political upheaval. C-19 is not going to kill half the people in the world! We are home with plenty to do, books to read, movies to stream, electricity to see & cook with. It's tough for plenty of folks, I am not minimizing the risk to jobs & healthcare workers, for example, but for many of us, it's an inconvenience & we're not likely to have our entire families wiped out. The stretches of time when I can suppress my anxiety are actually very pleasant. 

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Monday Quote

Good sense travels on the well-worn paths; genius, never.

~ Cesare Lombroso


I guess it was genius to go to Scotland, eh? I'm still a little mid-Atlantic brainpower-speaking: tell me, how does this quote apply to my ill-fated trip, or does it? I'd like it to come out that I'm a genius, but it certainly didn't turn out that way. 

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And back I am

Definitely guessed wrong on the impact of the virus, & had to grab a very expensive last-minute ticket, with the worry that I wouldn't get back for a very long time if I waited. One needs to be home when something big is going on, & it was distressing to be so far away. Things are closing or closed here but I don't think it's really struck that this might or will go on for a long time. Of course I hope people don't get sick of social distancing & self-isolation & all the things we are learning just when it's most important to stay the course. This article in The Washington Post was reassuring. And Scotland was great, even if the trip was too short & marred by worry. 

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Off I go

Is it a terrible idea to travel internationally? Hard to say, so I'm going to go to Scotland tonight, & hope that I get back on the 20th as planned. 


I mean, it's a fantastic idea to go to Scotland! I will see my beloved namesake & her mom, a quasi-cousin & a lifelong friend, do a reading, & see a city I've only been to once, ages ago. Despite the weather app predicting nonstop rain, it will be intermittent. I don't need wellies, she said, but bring a warm jumper. I'll also take the train to Liverpool for a couple of days to see other cousins. 


In the middle of a pandemic (has COVID-19 been declared such?) & a pretty big stock market tank, this may be my last chance to take this sort of trip. 


I remember reading about a young man who came to the States, maybe as an exchange student, and while he was away, there was a revolution & his country ceased to exist. It took him many years to get home. Little worries circle me but then I think: it's the (post-Brexit!) UK. What can happen?


We shall see. 

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Monday Quote

And what is a barbarian, you ask? A man dressed in skins? Not in this century, friend. He's the type who likes to destroy. That's all. He wants to be boss-man, whether it's with a hatchet or a gun or a bomb, or with nice cold-eyed justifications such as "You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs." As if we were only something laid by a clucking hen for breakfast.

~ Helen Macinnes


It's so miserable having one's illusions of civility torn apart. 


I don't need to say more, do I? 

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In the neighborhood

Setting: 8 a.m., Second Ave & 4th St.

Her (middle-aged lady with rollie suitcase): How do I get to West 4th?

I point her towards the nearby F but she doesn't want to do stairs. I point her towards the bus.

Her: And I can get the 2 train there? 

Me: No. Where are you going? 

Her: Columbus Circle. 

Me: The 2 doesn't go there either. 

Then she tells me she's actually going farther uptown. 

I don't know how people expect to get directions if they won't tell you where they're going! 

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Photo by Monica Claire Antonie. 

Everyone I've showed this photo to thinks I'm a teenager in it. Or younger! People have guessed anywhere from age 11 all the way up to 19. Including my husband who knew me & was at the event where the picture was taken. I was 31. I look at it & am no longer surprised or indignant that cops thought I was a 15-year-old runaway when I was 25. 


The boys were 20 years younger than me at the time of the photo but are now my age, in that odd way age has of flattening out in adulthood. 

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Pet peeve #4,171

Did you ever notice that if there's a bad connection, the person you're talking to ALWAYS blames you & your phone? I suppose if I can hear perfectly & you can't, I might assume it's your phone, but that doesn't even make sense: It's not the phone, it's between us & sometimes it just happens. They are always very judgmental: You're moving around - hold still! Something's wrong with your phone! Not only is it your fault, they know what you are doing to cause or exacerbate it. 


How about: "We seem to have a bad connection. Let me try calling you right back." 


I remember many, many years ago, when Maggie & Rachel lived on 9th St, we were on the phone & we could hear another conversation, faint but clear. We started butting in, giving girlfriend advice, until they realized what we were doing. They lived nearby & somehow we ended up meeting up at the Grassroots. Nelson & Rene were Puerto Rican revolutionaries & eventually moved to Boston, but we hung out for a few months. 

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What, me worry?

My cool as a cucumber cat, Lefty. 

My nephew was supposed to go on a senior trip to Germany in a few days. His school just canceled it out of concern for COVID-19. Not surprisingly, my sister (& several other people) asked if I was thinking of not going to Scotland next week. As long as I'm allowed to go, I'm planning to. That is, unless the U.S., UK or Delta pulls the plug, I'm getting on that plan in exactly seven days. 


Should I worry? No more than I ever worry about the unknown, I suppose. I'll take some precautions, like trying not to touch my face & washing my hands more than I do, but for now I don't feel at risk. Things can change! I notice there are a few more empty seats on my flight back than there were a week ago. 


People are on the subways as ever & everywhere else. New Yorkers don't scare easy! Some of my friends have been stocking up on things like rice & lentils. I can always use a few more rolls of toilet paper. 

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Monday Quote

If you don't like politicians, you should try living in a country where they don't have any. 

~ Tony Benn, British politician


I have been unable to find confirmation of the quote or its source, but it's a good one. I remember a book by Paul Gallico, one in a series about Ada Harris, a cockney charlady who also goes to Paris & Moscow. In Mrs. Harris Goes to Parliament, she gets elected quite by accident & ends up quitting right away. She says it's a job that like any others needs qualified people & it devalues the job if people like her do it. Yes, politics does demand knowledge & skill. You can see that some people, like Lyndon Johnson & Abraham Lincoln, are really good at it. And some people fell into it, like Jim Hightower said about George Bush: he was born on third base & thinks he hit a triple. (A quote originally from football coach Barry Switzer but not about Bush: he said "some people.") Getting elected is only part of the job, & it's what you do afterwards that counts. I guess I would say I'm for unity. I hate to see Democrats fighting Democrats when there are so many Republicans who should be sent packing. I look at it as a moral issue, & I'm not sure I would support Lincoln if he was running against a decent incumbent. 

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One time Maggie & I went into a tiny shop in Chinatown for something to drink. In the case were cans of jellied grass drink. How is it? we asked the lady. Quenching! she declared. We bought a can. IT TASTED LIKE JELLIED GRASS. It was the most horrible thing I ever drank. We spewed it out into the street. To this day "quenching" is our adjective for GAAACK.


And now this. Has anyone called it divine? 

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Snow snow snow snow snow snow

I've been bummed out ever since my birthday turned out to be warm & gray. I want snow! We haven't had any this whole winter, except for a 10-minute flurry. A couple days ago I checked out a bunch of books from the library with "snow" or "winter" in their titles. One turned out to be (I think) a romance novel, so now I've read a romance novel (I think). At least it had impossibly attractive people with unlikely talents, but it also quoted Christina Rossetti: "Snow had fallen, snow on snow on snow." I just found a book of British mystery short stories set in winter called Crimson Blood. That's the one! I want to be cold & look up & see quiet white outside my window. 

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Monday Quote

It is hard to be finite on an infinite subject, and all subjects are infinite.

~ Herman Melville


And what else do you want or need to know about Melville? One great thing about him is that Moby-Dick is kind of like the I Ching or the Bible—you can open it anywhere & find a great line, one that speaks to what you need right that minute. How does he do that? And why is his prose so much more poetic than his poetry? 

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Not quite the neighborhood

I sometimes forget how interesting it is to wander around New York, especially way downtown where history snaps at you on every block. I had a lunch meeting & she chose the Fraunces Tavern, where I'd somehow never been. We soaked up the breath of the founders & tried to feel hopeful, the way they did, fighting a king & starting something remarkable. 


I tried the Impossible Burger, which not only did not taste like meat at all, was both salty & bland. 

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I said it's my

Really fresh & delicious!


Yeah, & Dot bought me banana cream pie at Veselka. 

But it didn't snow

So it wasn't the best birthday ever. 

But I'm still here

& that's OK.

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Monday Quote

It's really hard to take pictures of black cats! Here you can see how lithe he is, but not how little or his face. Imma keep trying.

Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact. 

~ William James


This isn't an exhortation I need, or have ever needed, but it seemed like something I would like to hear the day before my birthday. (Let me know if you need further reminders.) (Happy to oblige.) 

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Holman & Matisse & Boog

Holman singing Matisse (Cutouts) at the BPC. 

Totally great to see Bob Holman open yet another Boog extravaganza with his singing dancing music machine. He has made such a welcoming space at the Bowery Poetry Club. So happy to support it. Then a bunch of poets & musicians & plays. Fun afternoon! 

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In the neighborhood

The Marble Cemetery from the outside, very early one recent morning. Abandoned? Forgotten? A purposeful display? Yet another New York mystery. 

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Meet Lefty

Meet Lefty, the newest member of the Stanton-Nauen household. He was found in front of a church in Brooklyn a month or two ago & taken in by the wonderful organization Loving Touch. They rescue lost & abandoned cats & dogs with love & kindness. Since he got here, Lefty's been purring, exploring, talking... biting. He slept with us the first night. I still miss Buster, intensely, but we are so full of love & wanted to share our home with a cat again. It's like how they say your sweat glands are established in the first few months of life—our love glands have been permanently opened. He's not a replacement for Buster—not in the least!—but he is a chance to love more, love again. Which we will, as we get to know each other. 


He's tiny, young, & a yakker. Very different from Buster. I'm trying not to compare. 

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Monday Quote

One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by thir intentions rather than their results.

~ Milton Friedman


Oh it's so hard to decide. My instinct and preference is towards the center: I think the president should be the president for one & all, whether or not they voted for that person. And definitely the grander the plans, the more I distrust the promulgator. Those who support the so-called visionaries of course disagree, and for sure it's hard to present an inspiring vision of the ordinary, the pragmatic, when you could roll with idealism. I distrust revolutions—it gets worse for many & only better for the same few who always come out on top. Friedman is saying the road to hell... unintended consequences... but hindsight is 20/20, isn't it? 

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In the neighborhood

That creamy golden light of dawn, gone in seconds. I love being out & about when almost no one else is. 

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In the neighborhood

This was on a wall on Avenue B and 3rd Street. Did it go up before the demeaning-to-them vote? Did whoever do this poster make ones for the 51 other spineless Republican senators? The 12-year-old I was with asked who he is. 

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Buster cute as pie

What makes pie cute? 


The day Buster died Johnny said, We have to get another cat! There's something about loving one that makes you want to love another. The sorrow is so hard & painful but the day-to-day pleasures & delights are worth it. All my sorrows have been for love & I accept that, with gratitude. We are going to meet Griffin this weekend, if all goes well, but I still love & look for Buster around the house. It's hard to believe that every day he's not here. My mother always spoke well of my father's first wife, who died before my parents met—she didn't put him off marriage, she concluded. Buster has opened my heart to all the possibilities of loving cats.


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