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The lure of the exotic

It's something that immigrants & nonwhites face, but I think of it in terms of being from South Dakota, which gets its fair share of being exoticized. I know this because I have so many times heard "I've never met anyone from South Dakota before!" followed by questions like "Did you grow up on a trading post?" "Did you have electricity?" "Are you Native American?" And that followed by huge disappointment to find out that Sioux Falls is just a (very nice!) town & my dad was just an accountant.

I'm fascinated that when Bob Dylan tried to enhance his early biography, he chose Sioux Falls to pretend to be from. How is it that Sioux Falls was more glamorous, more exotic, than Hibbing?

I recently read a story called "Sioux Falls," in which the narrator traveled to the apartment where his brother had died. I couldn't help but think that if the (true) story had taken place in Cleveland, Sacramento, or Montclair, NJ, the author would have called it "Brother" or "Belongings." I felt he had gotten an unearned thrill as though real people don't live in my hometown.

A new friend and I were doing the where-ya-froms, and her eyes got huge when I said Sioux Falls. Turns out her dad had been stationed there during the war, fell in love with a local girl, and had always spoken of Sioux Falls as the most wonderful place, so much so that it had never even occurred to her that it was real.

Maybe I do it too. I think it's a little glamorous to have connections in South Carolina, which so many people here in New York seem to view as a scary place with someone in a white sheet on every corner. Maybe there's not a huge line between exoticizing the other and fearing him.

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The Beatles

As everyone knows, the Beatles' first visit to America was in 1964, when they were on the Ed Sullivan show. My mother poked her head into the den, said they all had bad teeth, & lost interest in them entirely.

I tried to boost my cachet in grade school by saying my mother (also from Liverpool) had babysat the Beatles. An actual fact is that my uncle went to the same high school as Paul McCartney.  Read More 
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My doppelganger II?

I cut this picture out of the Times way back when because she looked so much like me (to me). I long since lost the photo but I just found the rest of the obituary as I was going through files (my continuing & permanent project!). I had remembered only that she was a Russian ballerina, & now I know she was Felia Doubrovska, who died in 1981 at age 85. At first I couldn't find this photo online, & wondered why I ever saw a resemblance in other pictures of her. But the TimesMachine took me to the exact page, and there she (I) was.

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Moishe's delicious rugelach.
Making a shiva call yesterday reminded me of sitting shiva for my sister in 2002. At one point I remarked to a (non-Jewish) friend that this was the only shiva I'd ever been to where no one brought rugelach. The next day he returned, bearing a giant bag of arugula and an expression of "I love you, El, but I will never understand the Jews."  Read More 
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On 5th Street

How does someone lose a shoe like this?

Failed Insults

if trouble comes looking for me
I’ll be hard to find

death is a dream & love is forever
soon night closes round & we are lost forever

this too shall pass.
it already has.

you have everything I have
only you’ve had it a lot longer

you used to come at 10 o’clock
& now you come at noon

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Buffalo for the Broken Heart

I first knew of Dan O'Brien from reading his excellent short stories. Then I discovered he owned a ranch in South Dakota & got more interested yet. He's a naturalist, environmentalist, & endangered-species biologist who almost 20 years ago switched from raising cattle to buffalo, acting on his belief that returning buffalo to the northern plains would help restore the land to "an American Serengeti, complete with migrating herds of many species of large herbivores, predators, birds, and scavengers," Read More 
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Clockwise from top left: Lucky, Bobby, Lucky, Bobby & Lucky as I remember them best, playing cards.
I've been thinking about my old neighbor, Homer "Lucky" Tessier. He & his friend/boyfriend Bobby McLaughlin had adjacent apartments on the top floor. They would sit in their doorways in their undershirts, playing cribbage, smoking & kibitzing. After Bobby died, in 1983, Lucky was at loose ends. He was too deaf to be able to talk on the phone until Maggie & I convinced (forced) him to get hearing aids. Then he became part of the world again for the next 5 years, until he died, of emphysema, on New Year's Day 1989 at age 62.

I asked him once how he got the nickname Lucky. He said,  Read More 
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A little poem from the past III

In the early 1980s I had a job with a private office & lots of free time, & this is some of what I was writing. I'm not peeking ahead; I'm not putting up everything.

March 29

We grew up playing badminton
in her backyard

Now she reads
Monique Wittig

with joy

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Tiny little post-birthday thing

Google gave me my very own page!
I was also thinking having a birthday is like having to eat all your Halloween candy at once. If you don't do it on the day, there's nothing left over.
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I said it's my birthday

Yes, it's that day of the year again, when I put on the birthday hat. This year, someone got the idea that my birthday was earlier this week, & said something on Facebook, so that special excitement started pouring in early. Which was a little embarrassing, even for me, who loves my birthday beyond reason.

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A little poem from the past II

March 18

Emily was third-generation
office. I wanted
to seduce her & send her
on the road

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A little poem from the past

March 13

The only other E. Nauen
I know of is my
siter Edie
who drives a red Mustan
wears red caftans, paints her toes
red & once
stayed up all night playing
gin rummy on the porch
with my brother

For some reason this is a
famous family anecdote:
waking up to a summer's morning
of card-playing

Charlie still owes her $1 million

—[1983?] Read More 
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How sad that the best anyone can say after you die is condolences to the family, and then rip into everything you ever did, thought, said, and wrote.

What will his shadow, Clarence Thomas, do now?

Scalia went to Johnny's high school, more glory to him!
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Weather mystery

Johnny's iPhone side by side with my iPod.
How could the two devices report different temperatures at the same moment?
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English cooking

Maybe it's because I've been reading a lot of Dorothy Sayers, maybe because I've been studying Welsh, maybe because I'm trying to get to the UK in the next month or two, but I've been jonesing for crumpets, dense, chewy, slightly sour crumpets with lots of butter. I thought I remembered my mother making them, but she said  Read More 
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Mardi Gras

Nonetheless, the snow pictures still seem lovelier.
I can't believe I live in a place where no one pays attention to Mardi Gras. I know it's already 2 days ago but I'm listening to Cajun music now & doesn't that make you want to drink a hurricane & reel down a French Quarter street? The first time I was in New Orleans, my boyfriend & I hitchhiked down. What I remember most is that it was 10 below when we set out from Michigan and it was Read More 
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Yet another snow post

See the bike?
It's still dark so I don't know if it snowed last night. If it did, there's none on the windowsill so I don't have high hopes.

Here's a piece that was published many years ago in Organic Style:

It always snowed on Halloween. White trees leapt out like fists at shivering witches and ballerinas, who stumbled through the neighborhood trick-or-treating, faces up to lick flakes out of the sky. I grew up on the Great Plains  Read More 
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Jacques Rivette

My sister, then in her teens, and I were in London, & for some reason decided to go to a movie, with our elderly Tante Ilse, & for some reason chose Celine and Julie Go Boating, which I liked more than I expected, given that I mostly only like movies with a car chase, & which infuriated Varda & Ilse.  Read More 
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Lost 'n' Found

Lost: Scissors
Found: Thrown away & put outside, but retrieved.

Lost: Little yellow notebook
Found: Not yet

Lost: Winter gloves
Found: In a pocket of a jacket I rarely wear

Lost: Subscription card for The Week (6 free issues!)
Found: Not yet
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Super what?

Buster is excited about the Super Bowl, too.
Johnny works as a super (& all-round building helper) so he seemed like the right person to ask: Did they already have the Super Bowl?

It's this afternoon.

Who's in it?

Denver & Carolina.

One of them has that guy Payne Whitney?

He gave me a big hug so I knew this was incorrect. (He kind of likes when I'm wrong in a girl sort of way.) (Because it doesn't happen very often.)

Memo to self: Get out of the East Village once in a while.  Read More 
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Sleepy Friday afternoon

This is Washington Square Park, not my backyard.
When I woke up this morning I looked outside & said, Hmm, how odd that I never realized that the tree in our courtyard (which I've looked at for almost 40 years) is a birch. Then I woke up a little more & said, It's snowing!

A good long lunch (pasta with lemon & parmesan—just maybe I'll order something else at Morandi, some day), good talk (Alex!), & a good walk there & back (7th Avenue & 10th St). And now it's nap time, except that I'm going to kabbalat Shabbat services with Alisa.  Read More 
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The Farnsworths

Eileen Farnsworth (1909–2011)
Our next-door neighbors on Summit Avenue in Sioux Falls were the Farnsworths, we at 1503, they at 1501. A few years ago I was at my high-school reunion and went to an event celebrating the oldest graduates, because I'd heard my old journalism teacher, Miss Norman, was going to be there. She wasn't, but Mrs. Farnsworth (adults didn't have first names then) was.

I went over to introduce myself, & she remembered not just me ("the one in New York") but lots more about my family. She was so alive and so gorgeously beautiful, and I am grateful to have spent a little time with her, especially as she passed away not much later (at the age of 102). I've since  Read More 
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Random photo, random observation

Not seasonal & not a message I have any thoughts about. However, I like the photo.
I took this picture across from Macy's in December, ran across it again on this sleepy, rainy afternoon when my feet are too chilly to be able to think & I have to dash uptown as soon as I'm summoned. Hoping ... hoping... hoping... the call won't come.

Is there any couple sexier than Peter Wimsey & Harriet Vane? So smart, so literate and Donne-filled, so Nick-and-Nora in their banter. Have any of the Lord Peter Wimsey books been filmed? Read More 
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Local Knowledge

Thanks to editors Sanjay Agnihotri & Anna Marrian for pulling together the 3rd issue of the magazine Local Knowledge, with good writing, a fun reading, a swell community. They are among the many tireless workers in the literary kitchens, along with the poets, novelists, essayists, thinkers, philosophers (etc) who throw together flour, butter, &  Read More 
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On Sixth Street (IV)

This is the most puzzling thing I saw on Sixth Street.

I guess I don't love purple snow as much as I love regular snow or the fabulous blog post by Sarena Neyman (click the caption—that's the link to her post). She only posts once a week & is always worth reading for the way she combines the personal with larger concerns.  Read More 
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