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Maine memory

March—Mud Month—was a good time to bail out of Maine. Every car I had got stuck constantly. You could park on rock, go to sleep, and in the morning it would be mired in mud. March was when my penchant for mechanics came in handy. Pretty soon Schoodic Sam the Sunoco Man, among others, quit waiting for me to call for help, and would just come over with a truck and winch of a morning. It was sad for both of us that I didn't want to get married and have his many babies.  Read More 
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Oh look, here's me as a young fighter around the turn of the last century.

Possibly the last time I wore a dress.

I still like to put on the gloves but now I injure my shoulder whenever I do.

But c'mon, I'm 129 years old.

I was a southpaw in my youth.

There's so much I didn't know about me. Read More 
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Not New York

Stonington, Connecticut.
Every once in a while I think how nice it would be to be somewhere else. Sea breeze... charming houses... really good tomatoes, hot off the vine. A couple of years ago I took the ferry & train to Tottenville, Staten Island, which is the farthest point you can go from Times Square and still be in New York City. I had read a book called Last Train to Tottenville, although I half-think  Read More 
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Why a horse?
* What's the deal with recurring dreams? Why does mine involve the Detroit airport? I drive a big circuit from Texas to Cleveland and back in another one.

* Accents: Why do some seem coarse or low-class? I often think that I would never have gone out with Johnny if he had a dese-dem-dose Bronx accent. Will my Norwegian get good enough that I can pick out the thugs from the wrong side of the Oslo tracks?

* How come I remember—frequently—random unimportant things from a million years ago? I remember  Read More 
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Dolls, part II (hanging out with little girls)

Classic: cutting doll hair.
I love to be reminded that people have full personalities even when they are barely begun. These kids certainly do, as do my karate peewees. I just follow their lead. They have their concerns & thoughts, and I only have to ask a follow-up question. I like seeing timelessness kid behavior: Little girls almost always cut their dolls' hair. I don't remember doing that (didn't have dolls): I cut my own hair when I was 5 (& still do). My mother was so appalled (& still is) that I blamed the little girl next door (Kathy Koons, I apologize!). To this day, my mother thinks of her as a sneak & terrible person (even though I long since 'fessed up). Read More 
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Dolls, part I

Karen showed me & her daughters (ages 7 and 4) a short video of an Australian woman who wiped the makeup off a line of dolls called Bratz, then painted normal child faces on the dolls. It really made you wonder why little children would want to play with stripper dolls.

Then she asked her girls if they wanted to try doing the same thing to their Barbies. It was remarkably easy to get the makeup off with nailpolish remover. (The final face looks less crazy because Karen gave her an eyelid.)  Read More 
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Testament of Youth

Women did a lot of knitting when their men went off to war.
Pleased that Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth, a book I have read & recommended many times, is now an excellent, devastating, film. Most of the people I have pressed it on probably never read it but maybe they'll see the movie.

WHEN I WAS A GIRL at St. Monica's and in Buxton, I imagined that life was individual, one's one affair; that the events happening in the world outside were important enough in their own way, but were personally quite irrelevant. Now, like the rest of my generation,  Read More 
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Not grateful, after all

I'm not grateful for sore throat (most of all), sore shoulder, sore thumb, sore hip, sore knees.

I'm not grateful for losing my sunglasses, my pen, my mind.

Nope, not grateful. (However, I do really like the bracelet Vee gave me.)
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Small confession

The quicker I get this written, the faster I can go hang out with my sister Varda, who's in town for just a couple of days. Naturally, thinking about running over there—she stays at the Comfort Inn on Ludlow Street, the best hotel bargain in NYC, with a lovely staff—makes it harder  Read More 
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What I'm reading

It's really too hot to read but I try to get a page in here & there:
* Elly Griffith's mystery series about an English forensic archaeologist, Ruth Galloway, who is in her 40s, has a baby, is overweight (she remarks upon it frequently) & yet all the men are hot for her. Because they appreciate smart, funny, &  Read More 
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Flashback: 1969

Today is the most significant date in the history of mankind—man landed and walked on the moon. My God! Right now I’m watching them! At 4:17:42 EDT, Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin became a part of history. I’m seeing history. Of all the thousands of years man has existed, it was right now that this happened. Men have been dreaming of the moon all those years, & it’s now, when I’m 17 years old, I Elinor Nauen am alive Read More 
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Steaming Sunday

This seems to be my weekend for a variety of religious experience.

On Friday, I led the evening service for the first time ever at my synagogue. It's the shortest & most beautiful service of the week, with psalms that lead us to the peace of the Sabbath. It was a  Read More 
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Rooftops of New York

I love where I live but gosh, it sure would be nice to have a pool on the roof and see the city from near & far. I look out over a tree & a bit of courtyard from my 4th-floor walkup. I was visiting a friend the other day who lives on the 34th floor & had a moment of jealousy. But I suppose walking up will keep me spry and the Ezra Pound is an excellent home. I don't think about this often, just when I remember that people do have views.  Read More 
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Thinking about gender

Facebook here in the States offers more than 50 ways for users to identify their gender and in England 70. (The UK also accepts the gender-neutral title of Mx.)

Binary is finished, apparently. With gender a "social construct," we can be gender neutral, gender fluid, agender, androgyne, trans female, trans male, trans person, cisgender, two-spirit, intersex man, intersex woman, asexual, genderqueer, pangender, transfeminine, demisexual, heteroflexible, homoflexible, pansexual, sapiosexual—and dozens more.

What does it mean to identify as other than male or female or a few of the other longstanding choices?  Read More 
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Watermelon & watercolor (by Sally Mara Sturman).
Much as I love winter...
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I am not Ed McMahon

& it is not my birthday
      & it won’t—alas!—be my birthday
         for another 340 days
& I’m not a blinding meteor
      crashing into your life
         or maybe I am
& I’m not following a yellow truck
      down highway 29
         though I often have
& I’m not hungry or tired or contagious
      or 6 feet tall
         recognize me now?
& I didn’t paint Michelangelo’s masterpiece
      though he begged me to
& I don’t curse my maker or my car or my car’s maker
& I am not wearing the same socks
I wore when I was Ed McMahon Read More 
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Frederico's excellent form.
It's pretty great to see them start as kittens who can't stand still for 5 seconds & watch them learn so much: focus, good form, Japanese vocabulary, all the karate protocols. The peewees are 4 & 5, the older kids 8 to 15.

Did I know as much at 4, 5 or 15 as they do? They seem to be aware of what's around them in a way I don't think I was till I was much older. And they're so darn cute!  Read More 
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My Normality: A work of logic

Johnny Stanton, although he is a man, is not a man, because he is not Pliny. A head no man has, but no man lacks a head. How did Henry Ford get ahead? Henry Ford is whiter than Pliny begins to be white. Pliny will as quickly have been destroyed as he will have been generated. No man lies. All men lie. Some man does not exist. What Henry Ford says is false. What Pliny says. What—Johnny Stanton? Pliny wants to eat.  Read More 
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Grateful I am:

That Johnny always remembers to get milk (because I never do), that Paul & Gary are making such good progress at YAI karate & have such good attitudes, that I live in a house full of books & art, for the union (SEIU), for the young people in my life, that I like my husband as well as love him, that I'm not broke or sick, for uni-ball vision pens, for coffee, for karate, that Maggie's home. Read More 
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2 singers

I got to see two of my favorite singers this week, Amy Winehouse in a fascinating and disturbing documentary that showcased her amazing voice & the extreme disfunction around her: a mother who said from the time Amy was 5 she couldn't control her, as though she had no obligation to try, and a father who said at one point that Amy couldn't go into rehab because she had to write her new record. And the horrible junkie husband who as far as I could tell had nothing whatsoever going for him.

Tony Bennett was lovely, tender & encouraging. He called her the greatest jazz singer of her generation and said she should be considered in the same category as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn.

But her voice. I remember  Read More 
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My day (Wednesday)

Poor despairing Buster
I went to class (karate), hung out with a friend, & in an hour Johnny & I are going to see Hayes Carll. Our favorite singer & he's a block away, at the Mercury Lounge.

I have to get catfood. My piggish Buster, who will eat anything, is wasting away because he hates the Whole Foods kibble so much. And here I am, writing instead of feeding him!

I also have to get watermelon because the last one was so good.

Got good news about  Read More 
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Private jokes

My sister Varda sent me this birthday card. We find & send cards all year round, unconnected to our actual birthdate, whenever we find one that fits our theme, which is a (loose) variant of "you're so great because you're related to me."

When I called to laugh about it, she got unexpectedly poignant—when we're dead, she said, no one will know about this.

No one knows now, that's what makes it special. That only 2 people find something funny (or meaningful) is part of how it connects them. If all those connections were visible, the world would be full of, y'know, fireworks & rainbows & unicorns. And it's still just between the 2 of us even if we tell everyone.  Read More 
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Why don't the poor rise up?

That question was recently addressed by Thomas B. Edsall in the Times. He suggests that the priorities of movements associated with individualization—the feminist, lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender, the black power, and disability rights movements— "do not lend themselves to broad economic demands on behalf of the less well off."

Us against them, me against you: "Instead of boosting prospects for the poor and working class, the agenda associated with individualization  Read More 
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Encounter on First Avenue

Teenage Boy: Can you help our basketball team?

Me: Wow, I can't jump, I can't shoot, so I don't think I'd be much help, but I'm flattered you asked!
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My day (Friday + a little leftover from before)

Riding downtown, stopped in thick traffic near the Midtown Tunnel, a guy in a van inches from me asked where I was going. We're going to the East Village too, he said, he (gesturing to the back seat) has never had an egg cream. The traffic broke then.

Chatted with a lady on a Citibike about the bike  Read More 
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Nicholas Winton

Several years ago I saw a documentary called The Power of Good, about Nicholas Winton, a man who saved hundreds of Czechoslovakian children right before World War II, and never said anything about it till his wife found a scrapbook in the attic 50 years later.

As I recall, he didn't talk about it because felt like he had failed—the last train out was stopped, on September 1, 1939, when the war started, and all of the 250 children aboard were never heard of again.

In the documentary, they showed him on a "this is your life"–type show on English TV, where the rest of the guests were the children he'd saved  Read More 
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Frida Kahlo in the Bronx

Characteristic Sandy Berrigan: getting a close look.
For all the Frida Kahlo immersion I've done, including a visit to her home in Coyoacan, Mexico City, I never noticed her plants. A show at the Bronx Botanical Gardens leads you wonderfully into her intentions to showcase indigenous plants and in fact all things Mexican: a cactus fence, the cobalt blue building reimagined from her parents' staid French-style home. Her father was German & I empathize with the 1st-generation daughter's desire to be more native than the natives.  Read More 
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