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A day later

... & I'm back to feeling hopeful. Because I believe that people will feel such revulsion for the cruelty of the SC's anti-life decisions that they will ignore/revolt/protest/create successful, life-affirming alternatives. Because the rain mostly stopped when I was biking home instead of picking up & though I skidded close, I didn't fall or hit the car that stopped short as it turned in front of me. Because later, a friendly guy on a bike said he would start wearing a helmet, after I said I didn't want to come upon his mangled body. Because possibly he was flirting with me, such an old phenomenon that I'm not sure I recognized it. Because Johnny left me the most hilarious voicemail that I fell in love with him again, for approximately the 14,000th time. Because I love the Cool Lime body butter I got at the African festival. And because I know (of) so many thoughtful, committed, loving activists who refuse to give in to despair, so I'm not going to either.

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In the category of delightful nonessentials, I love only my birthday more than fireworks. I've written here & there about them: like clouds, if you look up, you get as much as anyone; there's no hierarchy of comprehension. Like birthdays, they're democratic - you can't get an extra birthday due to wealth or beauty, & you can't hog fireworks for yourself.


So yesterday it was very sad to feel unmoved by the city's show. Recently deprived of the right to life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness in the way I decide, I couldn't put that aside to simply enjoy the lights. And with SCOTUS having tossed NY's gun law protections, the fireworks sounded all too much like guns. 


It's never been difficult for me to love this country. I always was sure most people felt similarly about its beauty, potential & backbone. Now ~ I'm not so sure. I'm almost never grateful that my dad isn't alive but this is one of those rare times. My dad was unwaveringly loyal to the country that saved his life but I don't know that he would be so proud right now. 


I know there's so many wonders & wonderful people. I am pretty sure I'll get my love & admiration back. But today, it's tough. 

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What I'm reading

You know how you go past some book or other, maybe for years, & all of a sudden that's the one you have to read? Lark Rise to Candleford, by Flora Thompson (1876-1947), was like that for me. I'm sorry my mother's not around to ask not just about the book but about the times, as she heard them from her mother's (Alice Woodland Phillips 1885-1982) generation. She describes, beautifully & quietly, the end of a rural English community, before anyone realized it was coming to an end. Even though I'm only a quarter of the way through, I feel like I'm going to be calling it one of my favorite books for the rest of my life. 

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Africa in Brooklyn

Georgette considering a top & Pauline to her left giving sisterly advice. A minuscule sense of the riot of fabrics, clothing, hats, jewelry in dozens of booths. 

My lifelong friend Pauline & her sister Georgette go every year to the International African Arts Festival in Fort Greene. They took me along today & it was fantastic. I was tripping on all the bright colors & patterns. I bought a T-shirt (the most subdued one in the place ~ you can take the girl out of South Dakota but you can't get her to go bold) & some skin cream. (The lady threw in a bar of soap ~ you have to use it, she said, looking me straight in the eye, because it's a gift. I will! I told her, & I will.) 

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A Norwegian library

This is the greatest thing I've seen in weeks. It's a library of the future where manuscripts will be added for a hundred years, then published using paper made from trees that are just now being planted. Please read the whole article & marvel. 

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From the vault

Just found this. 

Steve Carey (1945-1989) was a wonderful poet & loving friend. We would hang on the phone every day for an hour, sometimes chatting, often doing our own thing together. I still can hear the boom in his voice when he called: NorNau! I was thinking the other day of how terrific he was in Bob Rosenthal & Johnny's play Our Version of Heaven, especially reading Ted's poems.

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Had tickets to the Yankees game but woke up woozy & didn't go. My first game in THREE years & I couldn't make it. What a disappointment! Yanks beat the As 5-3. I've almost forgotten how to watch a game, how to be at the ballpark. This summer it WILL happen. It's still only June. It's on the list of 22 things I intend to do in 2022. Still got about 19 to go. 

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A hard time

Ukraine... the gutting of reproductive rights... guns... climate change... covid... estrangement... death... fatigue... deadlines... the rogue Supreme Court. It's tough for everybody right now. Let's be hopeful, as much as we can. I voted today & galvanized someone else too: hopeful. I had intelligent reminiscence: hopeful. I will go in a little while to teach karate to adults with learning disabilities: they kick ass! Hopeful. 


As the daughter of an immigrant & a refugee, I love this country without taking any bit of it for granted. I was a little embarrassed in the 70s not to be ashamed of the United States ~ I felt like I was the only one of my friends who relished the gorgeousness of our people & geography, who preferred to hitchhike through the 50 states to taking a bus through Afghanistan to India. That feels a bit nostalgic right now rather than passionate & determined. I hope hopeful will stick around.

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What I'm reading

I can't be the only one who got Greene's Travels with My Aunt mixed up with Patrick Dennis's Auntie Mame, can I? I'd seen the movie of the latter & was expecting a madcap social butterfly. Nope. Greene's book is funny but quite dark & satiric too. 

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Eggrolls & Carlina

I didn't actually see any eggrolls or egg creams at the Eldridge Street Festival this afternoon, or Carlina either, though I did get cards handed off to me from her husband. And then I handed them to as many people as would let me put it in their hand. She's running for Congress in a new, redrawn Congressional District. She's the real deal. Knows the neighborhood, works hard, listens hard, learns. I disagree about making the dining sheds permanent but other than that, I'm down with Carlina. Given everything that's going on in the country, it certainly behooves me to get as active as I can. 

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From the vault

Who sent me this? I don't recognize the handwriting! And the list of people who knew to pay homage to my birthday was as long in 1986 as it is now. It was fun to find, I will say that. Even if they were off by 2 days. 

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Out & about

With a few exceptions, many even most of the people I know have locked themselves down following the lockdown. I know I have. I got so used to saying I can't that I almost forgot to say yes. But yes is the word of the week, & I've had so much fun going to dinner, a grade school graduation, with more dinners, galas, walks & even a ballgame (first in 3 years) coming up in the next few days. I'm seeing my friends again, relearning how to have conversations & a good time, & finding that my schedule & sleep accommodates all this nicely. Just say yes! 

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Pet Peeve #331

This is a complicated one, maybe. Here's an example: A guy didn't show up for a small task. I said I don't mind him not making it but did mind that he never explained later. He proceeded to explain why he hadn't made it. That's fine, that's how it goes sometimes ~ & not what I'm talking about. He then gave further extenuating circumstances with an offhand not-quite-apology for never being in touch again. 


The pet peeve is both not listening to or acknowledging what I clearly explained & defensively excusing himself (I was sick!) while subtly blaming me (I didn't think you would want me to show up & give everyone the flu!). 

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Peonies II

Just as gorgeous old as new. Like a lot of us! 

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What I'm reading

Child is Judy Goldman's memoir about her lifelong relationship with Mattie Culp, the Black woman who worked for her family as a live-in maid in Jim Crow South Carolina of the 1940s and 50s. It's about a world I knew nothing about, & it's about love, secrets, & family. Recommended!

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Poem of the Week

Carlton Fisk er mitt ideal

Han har på seg en vakker halssmykke
ved siden av den vakre nakken hans
i motsetning til Worthington-slakteren
Bradford T. Fisk (slaktere 
er alltid i forelsket til meg), som ikke engang kan bestille kalvekjøtt
bortsett fra i hele ben av den.
Å, beina til en catcher!
De setter seg på huk i en holdning 
det er selvfølgelig en indre, fornektende orgasme
men Carlton Fisk, jeg kunne
modellere en hel holdning til våren
på ham. Og han er en hopper!
Som Walt Frazier, eller bedre,
som den eneste hvite hopperen,

jeg glemmer navnet hans, i ABA-enes 
Slam dunk-konkurranse for All-Star-kamper ved pause
i år. Jeg tenker på Carlton Fisk i hans 
beskjedent hus i New Hampshire 
hele tiden, elsker jeg lyden av navnet hans 
nekte orgasme. Carlton og jeg
ser ut vinduet på vårens første
nordøst. Han bærer en stør helt
over verandaen til huset hans til meg.
(Han har ikke helårsjuletre
som Clifford Ray som behandler ballen
som en banan). Vi spiser og ser på stormen
slå knoppene some forsinker på trærne
og dekker det grønne på gressets 
som min søster tror er nytt gress.
Det er fortsatt fjorårets gress!
Og fortsatt er det ingen vårtrening 
mens jeg skriver dette, 16 mars 1976,
året for snøstormen som beseglet vår kjærlighet 
opp i en stor haug med orgasmisk jord.
Kasterhaugen er en lynhaug.
Pudge vi se raskeballer i vinden
meskalinarmen hans strekker seg til banen
Han har på seg en halssmykke
Han tar ballen i tenner hans!
Baller faller med et pent slag
inn i skinnhansken han tar på seg
å kjærtegne meg, som fortalt til, i lavsesongen.
Plutselig hopper han fra sofaen, 

en ekte ball har kommet gjennom vinduet
og er på vei mot pingvinene på genseren hans,
en av dem har mistet ballongen sin
som svever opp i himmelen!


~ Bernadette Mayer

translated into Norwegian by Elinor Nauen

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Paul McCartney

Zoomed to the max, but it IS Paul McCartney & the Boss. June 16, 2022, MetLife Stadium, the Meadowlands, NJ. 

Lucky me! My friend's wife was too sick to go so I got to see Paul McCartney at MetLife in NJ. (And get a ride from my corner, no less.) I was never the Beatles' hugest fan but wow! That was in the top 2 of all-time concerts. Not a nostalgia act at all. McCartney seemed so un-arrogant, when he's the most untouchable person on the planet: iconic, famous, rich. He acted as if he had something to prove, when he could have phoned it in & people would have loved him just as much. At one point he said, We know you just want to hear Beatles songs but we don't care, we're playing what we want. He said that with integrity ~ we'll give you what you want but we are doing it our way. He turns 80 tomorrow & he played for 3 hours without a break.


Is his voice all there? No, not quite, but he is such a great performer that that didn't matter.


He did a duet with John Lennon - not creepy, but sad. I noticed his Liverpool accent got thick when he talked about John. He's from the same part of Liverpool — Walton — as me mum.


The list of great songs he didn't play - Yesterday, Here Comes the Sun, Penny Lane, When I'm 64, & more - is almost as long as the list of what he did.


For me, it peaked when he brought out Bruce Springsteen for two songs ("Glory Days," "I Wanna Be Your Man"). I love the Boss (He's the other top 2 concert.)


There were even fireworks. 

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I suppose it was this exact date, a hundred years ago, that saw the publication of Ulysses. Yes? Shouldn't someone be reading it out loud from start to finish right about now? Call me up ~ I'll read ya a page or 2. 

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A friend of mine asked why people are so bothered that Lauren Boebert has a GED and no further education. "Level of formal education isn't necessarily an indicator of intelligence (even though it does seem to be in her case)," my friend wrote. Why aren't people more bothered that much bigger eejits than her have Ivy League degrees? I suppose if you're an autodidact, you have to prove that you learned something along the way, but if you have a degree people assume some larnin' must have stuck, even when it's clear that it hasn't. Would Boebert be less stupid if she were more educated?


According to the Congressional Research Service (2020), more than a third of the House and more than half the Senate have law degrees. Roughly a fifth of senators and representatives have masters. Four senators and 21 House members have M.D.s, and an identical number in each body (four, 21) have some kind of doctoral degree; 95 percent of House members and 100 percent of the Senate's have a bachelor's degree or higher. Only a third of Americans do. Is that important?


Is there any connection between educational level and morality? Between education & effectiveness as a legislator? Between having a degree & having a broad-minded interest in the world around you?


I'm not saying I'm not all for education. I am! I only have a high school diploma myself, but had a very good secondary education & I value learning. I had to convince people over the years that I could do the job, given that I didn't have the obvious credentials to point at. That sharpened my game. 


I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Just asking questions, I suppose. 

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My ex

About 20 years ago, when I and 6 million teenage girls were in love with (& in my case married to) Derek Jeter, someone gave me a box of Derek Jeter cornflakes. I never saw them for sale. One is advised to discard mementos of one's ex, so in the trash went the empty box. 

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Monday Quote

We take almost all the decisive steps in our life as a result of slight inner adjustments of which we are barely conscious. 

~ W. G. Sebald, Austerlitz


Or slight outer impulses that don't seem all that important? It does seem that surprising or small things turn out to have been decisive. Is that what he means?

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O Peonies!

No other flower puts me on a relational footing. Is it your inconsistent, wavelike personality, which I see as my equal... see is my equal. Did I never bring you indoors from the ant-draped bushes along childhood driveway? is it your not-perfume, not-merely-fresh scent? These are the last of the year, the sign at the market said. When else do announce that?

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Ancient days

Mask representing a maenad, a female follower of Bacchus, the god of wine and revelry, amid bunches of grapes and vines, 1st century CE, fresco, House of V. Popidius or House of Mosaic Doves.

Went to a beautiful small show, Pompeii in Color, at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, a department of NYU up on East 84th Street. I vividly remember going to the actual Pompeii with my late friend Bonnie, who was fearless & could charm her way into anywhere. Somehow we got a private tour of areas not open to the public. You really do feel in media res there. It was, it wasn't. Time hasn't passed but stopped.

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I’m baaaaaack!

Yay for the wonderful Authors Guild & in particular a shoutout to the unflappable Hector (formerly of Hector & Abigail, who is still connected to the AG but not in the same capacity), who has responded with good humor, patience & skill to my various disasters over the years. They got this blog up & running again.


I could have been writing posts while I was off but I didn't so I'll start up again for real tomorrow. Today's is in the nature of a test, but it seems to be for real. 

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Monday Quote

Newly framed & hanging on the last bit of wall space in our apartment.

Probably the only thing one can really learn is the capacity to be able to change.

~ Philip Guston 

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Another pleasant Sunday

A whole lotta Schneemans. I wish I could take a picture of how nice it is in here. 

My house may never be as clean & tidy as it is right this minute. I feel like we should be in a magazine. Johnny got two pieces of art framed (a poster of a Philip Guston cover of The World from 1974 & George Schneeman's silver cover for his son Elio's book Walking into the Mad Space) & we picked them up today, so there's that fun thing of new art to both look at & catch your eye, & it makes me look at the familiar all over again. There's snapdragons in a Schneeman pitcher, we've thrown out so much stuff I don't even have to drape a sheet over the kitchen table to hide the clutter underneath. Wow, it's a pleasure to live here companionably with my old man on a pleasant, hot Sunday afternoon in the spring of this infernal year. 


Johnny Stantonstan story: He was 24 or 25 when he took his son to school. Sean said, that's my old man. "I never felt young again," Johnny said. 

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The rules are simple ~ it's scrabble except you make up the words, which have to be legit English words, & we all thrash out the definitions. So much more fun than the regular game. 


Most useful word of yesterday's game: Devent. Still working out a definition: the opposite of invent? taking it down a notch in a dissatisfied rant?


Loveliest word: Oridenja, an aromatic Asian tea? A girl's name?


A word made with great delight by the 11-year-old in the game: Zitsmore (i.e., zit/smore)

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From the vault / Poem of the week

Domestic Triumphs


Coffee detox ... Fricasse fowl (39¢/lb) soup. My theory is the bird was hot, cuz there was all this stubble where they HADN'T HAD TIME TO PLUCK IT. But the soup was a success & fed several people and is still feeding me, along with health-store bread that tastes like turkey stuffing ... I'm growing a sweet potato vine. ... Knitting. Though bogging down on a baby sweater because I'm mad at my friend who's pregnant. Maggie says write him a domestic letter & maybe he'll marry you. I says but I'm engaged to his best friend, don't that mean nothing? She says stop the clock if you can't make up your mind... New sheets ... My hands between my legs, for warmth, solace, fun, continuity ... My hands faintly numb at the tips, which makes them smooth, cold lifting off the fingerprints. ... I clean under a fingernail with my bottom middle two teeth ... Something smells bad in my purse. Put looking for it on my "to do today" list ... Coffee retox.



I wrote this in 1990, have no idea if it was ever published. Back when I cooked! 

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I'm not going to drop the link in, I'm not even going to say the writer's name. The editor of a Catholic journal opined in the NYT that he "can live with" the disruption that overturning Roe will cause. I can't even begin to say how infuriating this is. Of course he can live with it ~ he won't be forced to bear his rapist's baby, he won't risk dying from a dead fetus that he has to carry to term or a back-alley abortion, he won't lose jobs because he has too many kids. I have never seen an op-ed that had not a single comment in agreement. And the comments were heartbreaking & furious: from children who'd been unwanted saying they don't wish that on anyone. Many pointing out the economic consequences. Those who see that it will make it harder on victims of domestic violence. But that cretin will have his "joyful" hundreds of thousands of additional babies. 


And all of a sudden people like him ~ Tish Warren Harrison is another ~ are down with support for families. Yeah, you've had 50 years to support paid family leave, child benefits, income subsidies, and better health care. You weren't interested. You opposed it. Now you're dropping a little crumb of compassion into your gloating? No, thank you. 

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I'm a birdwatcher

I'm not, not really, but I liked going to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge & seeing some moving things. Doves & seagulls, which I see around here. And sleeping swans that looked like piles of white intestines. It was peaceful & full of sea air & right here in New York City. 

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