Man, I'm sure glad to be back in my ugly chilly dusty little space in the basement. They're not even done (but close) so there's been a fair amount of banging today. But I have no urge to lie down or stand in front of the fridge. Look, my books! Look, my calendar with the reminder that persimmon season is about to begin! Look, my neighbor Louis! Was it only coincidence that today, here, I was able to finish the bank stuff on all my accounts? Look, my printer!
I brought home a wheelbarrow full of books from my office when I was shut out 2 weeks ago... they went straight into the closet & I lay down & napped. I don't go out unless forced. Why would I when there's bed, a cat, & a refrigerator? I went to my office every day during the pandemic & now I retroactively appreciate & empathize with the millions of people who were stuck in their house. Tomorrow it's back to 5th St plus we are having the bracing pre-snow bite in the air that makes me happy.
I've been reading so many good articles & people have been sharing links to articles, podcasts, videos. I made a Google Doc in order to keep it all in one place. I invite you to take a look & add comments or links, if you see fit.
The cats must have bonded yesterday when they were avoiding the hubbub of cooking, cleaning & socializing at Wanda's. This is the first time they've sat so closely & matey, at least that I can remember. Harry (the ginger) even let Johnny pet him. Another Thanksgiving miracle!
As a kid, it was all about the Puritans & the Indians. It was a four-day holiday & Mrs Hosen's mother came up from Mississippi with pecans for her pies. I don't remember even really noticing the words thanks & giving.
Now I am so full of gratitude I barely have room for pie (joke!). I am grateful my dad made it out of Germany against all his German burgher instincts to stay put. I'm grateful my mother married on a whim and also made it to South Dakota. I'm grateful to be sane & not estranged from any close friends about contemporary politics. I'm grateful to have the time & inclination to try and figure out what's going on. I'm grateful not to be conspiracy-minded. I'm grateful for friends & I'm grateful for PIE.
My mother was driving when she heard the news. Her hands flew off the steering wheel in shock & she almost swerved into another car, whose driver gave her a dirty look. Later, that woman must have realized what had happened earlier that day & my mother had to have been an anonymous part of her story of the day, which I picture her telling for the rest of her life.
I never thought the date would be other than searing but 60 years later, there are many more people who weren't even born on that dark Friday. November 22, 1963, is further from my grandchildren than World War I was from my birth.
The guy working there said this is original pipe; the building is probably 100 years old. He said another week till the job is done. The guy at the managing company said Friday. How do people work at home? I nap & nap & nap & wake up querulous & confused.
Those who know don't talk and those who talk don't know.
~ Elie Wiesel, The Hostage (A horribly timely book)
The best lack all conviction and the worse are full of passionate intensity.
Same thing, right? I'm sick of being scolded & consdescended to by people I believe to be morally corrupt.
Man, what a week. I've been shut out of my office since the emergency sewer pipe repair began, & now I discover that somehow someone got access to my checking account & spent something like $4,500 in 4 fraudulent charges for T-mobile, Verizon & a rental service. Nervewracking, although I think it will be very easy to prove that it wasn't me. Or should be! How DO you prove a negative? There's someone else's name on one of the charges: a clue! Aiyii. I'm exhausted.
Current events have both been antimagnetizing me away from some old friends & pulling me together with others. Had a great long lunch this afternoon with someone I used to work with, a poet; we've stayed in touch but not closely but have been talking a lot lately over text & got together to continue our conversation. It's clarifying to know where people stand. Who to cut loose when they've crossed a line that can never be repaired. Who to draw closer.
Came in to my basement office space on Tuesday & there was a little water around the base of the toilet. Called the landlord. They dug around & looked with a camera & snaked out the pipe, & next thing I knew, I'm booted for a week while they replace the sewer pipe the whole length of the hallway. I'm working at home & hoping I don't need anything essential. Maybe I'll go away for a couple of days.
I like Ruth Osawa because she's making things, seeing what will happen if she tries this or this or that. If there's a theory it comes afterwards. And because she makes me realize how much I don't have the desire to take infinite pains over a piece of artwork, no matter how great it might come out (not that it would if I were making it). Like all the little boxes in the chairs piece. It's like cooking. I just have no stamina for chopping & stirring. Commas, that's a different story.
First there was Ritz Mock Apple Pie, which wasn't invented by Ritz but that's all we ever knew. To my surprise, it has an interesting story, going back to the mid-1800s, when apples weren't always easy to come by, & was especially popular during the Depression, when bread scraps were cheaper. For my 30th birthday, Maggie & Rachel made mock apple pie, rice krispie treats & maybe a couple of other childhood treats. Not that I had eaten mock apple pie before, but there it was on the back of the Ritz box my entire life.
Maggie has extended the concept with Mock Leek Soup, that has broccoli, potato & a few other things, no leeks, which are too hard to clean. No wonder the Welsh wear them in their hats instead. You can ask her for the recipie.
Death made death casual: she had always known. Neither the vanquished in their flight nor the victors returning to pick over rubble seemed half so vindictive as a tragic girl who had disliked her governess.
~ Mavis Gallant, "The Moslem Wife" (1976)
So brutally & casually honest. So good.
November is hell on
earth there is too
muchery the weather
nothing the news
is as old as the Iliad
and yet something there is
that urges us to happiness
something pulls us
through conversation & lunch
a muchery of
All the memorials! All the many memorials over the years. Yvonne was such a great artist & person. Last night lots of people met at Judson Church to honor her. Friends & relatives talked, Yoshiko Chuma & Douglas Dunn danced, some films were shown, including one about creating the mural for the federal building in Bangor that I went to see when I was in Maine in May. (See my blog for May 16, 2023). Some hugs. It wasn't entirely sad but it wasn't joyous either. We're all getting closer.
Such a fantastic reading last night. Mike's work is great & he is a terrific reader & last night might have been his best-ever reading. Just when you think he's given you the whole story, all the juice, a little extra bomb goes off & there's more. June is the perfect character as well as a perfect person. Why aren't his books best-sellers?
Much to say but I'm exhausted. You (many yous) care about the "soft bodies" of all babies except Jewish babies. That's what it feels like & you refuse to consider how horrifying it is to Jews, who have been the victims of so much persecution, to see depravity lauded. Of course I don't want to see anyone killed but what is a country to do when a terrorist group's raison d'etre is to exterminate you? An old friend recently said Israel had killed 2 million Palestinians. In fact, since 1860, 120,000 Jews & Muslims, Israelis & local Arabs have died in the area. Contrast that to half a million Syrians killed in 12 years. Why can't I get through on facts or feelings?
Today is not just Election Day.
I'm happy to report that DTB (AKA Downtown Bakery) has reopened after 8 months of bureaucratic despair. I wasn't sure I would ever get to eat one of their ranchero burritos again. Which they knew to make without me having to order it.
But it is also Election Day & I hope all my friends vote.
"Great art is clear thinking about mixed feelings," said John Baldessari, and before him, W.H. Auden wrote, "Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings." The great artist has what Auden called "the gift of double focus," and what Keats called "negative capability" — an ability to see things through different lenses, to not only deal with uncertainty, but to use it as the fuel for one's work.
~ Austin Kleon
Kleon is the author of Steal Like an Artist & several other books on creativity. I'm a subscriber to his blog for its many kind, thoughtful insights & suggestions.
Remember that it's my wonderful stairdaughter's birthday... Remember "a penny for the Guy" ... Remember to turn your clock back (dang, I like to save that extra hour for when I really need it but this morning I used it TWICE before I remembered I wasn't ready to use it.... Remember to vote on Tuesday!
There has been a lot of very insightful writing over the last few weeks. I've been trying to keep track & am making a start here. I welcome links to other material. This is very much just the start.
The Decolonization narrative is dangerous & false
It does not accurately describe either the foundation of Israel or the tragedy of the Palestinians.
By Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Atlantic
Why I am a Zionist
By Gil Troy, JNF blog
Israel must grapple first with its enemies, and then with the failures of its own government.
By Yossi Klein Halevi
Carly Pildis in The Forward
I'm one of the instructors of karate to adults with learning disabilities. For Halloween yesterday, we wrote lots of activities on cards, & the students got to "trick or treat" a card then do the kicks or punches or situps written on it. It was so much fun that I'm not sure they realized how hard they were working. Even Nidaime got in on the fun. He pulled the card that told him to "count from 1 to 10 in Japanese." When he made a(n intentional, of course) mistake halfway through, the students yelled. I said, Help him! & they all counted the rest of the way together. I appreciated him playing along.