Bring it on! I would like to believe that 2024 will be an improvement on 2023 but there's many awful possibilities that it won't be. I will do what I can to make things better & that's all that I can promise. If we all do what we can, surely something good will come of it. Fly away, 2023.
Thanks to a friend being out of town, I got to go to Rachelle's traditional year-end salute to artists who died this year. She put her own spin on songs of Tina Turner, Rodriguez, Sinéad O'Connor, Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Shane MacGowen, and many more. One highlight (they were all highlights ~ she's an incredible performer with an incredible voice) was a duet with Carol Lipnik of David Crosby's "Wooden Ships." Hearts stopped. Gasps were heard. It was totally worth ~ well, I was going to say worth Pangea's wildly overpriced and mediocre food, but it was too good a night to mind even that. She's doing another show on the 4th. Go if you can!
People who hate religion are numerous, outspoken, self-righteous, & very sure that there's no legitimate reason to participate in organized religion. They often haven't been near a house of worship in decades (they announce proudly) & have no idea that things may have changed, or that their understanding & education, which stopped when they were a child, can mature. I very mildly said something to this effect as a comment to an advice column, & that many religions and churches have taken the lead in important causes. I myself go, I added, for the community, the community organizing, the quiet, and the music, not the "sky daddy" (a phrase they love to throw around).
Wow. Here are two of the replies:
* That's you. That's not the people trying hard to drag us back to the dark ages, where only white men had the power and ability to do anything-which they turned to abuse. Religion is absolutely dangerous and idiotic.
* So you're going to church and pretending to believe in their god, just to have some friends and listen to music? And you think that's virtuous. Most communities have plenty of non-religious opportunities for community involvement. Join a service club. Join a community chorus. Join a yoga class. You don't have to be pretend-religious. (This commenter, by the way, had already had an earlier reply, where she called me a hypocrite, killed by the moderator for not meeting community standards.)
I could say that throughout history, the most brilliant & thoughtful people have largely been religious. I could say that perhaps the people they look down on for being churchgoers would be worse off without it. I could certainly argue against many people's claims in this thread that they came up with ethical behavior entirely on their own. Sure, people can commit to many causes greater than themselves but why so hostile to those who choose this particular way of being in the world?
32 years of marriage. Feels like a handful. Not a few of my peers are coming up on 50. I certainly enjoy spending time with Johnny, even when he infuriates me. Not "even" ~ driving each other crazy is part of the fun. Tomorrow we'll have our usual relationship evaluation. I usually start.
Me: how's everything between us?
Johnny: Good. You agree?
Then we kiss & start another year/lifetime.
To be exact, tonight is the moment of solstice, & my hope for snow gets stronger as the days get longer. I always remember a guy I knew 50 years ago saying "summer solstice and the long slide to Christmas." Now we start back. All the things I like most will happen soon: snow, more snow, blizzard, and lovely cold weather.
I fall in love with New York whenever we have company. Right now it's a niece & her teenage daughter, seeing the German & Ukrainian underpinnings of the East Village for the first time. Next month one of my oldest friends (we were in the orchestra in high school) will be here for the first time. I can't wait to show her my New York & once again live here as when it was new. Which somehow it always is. I will have to live here a lot longer than 40-odd years to get jaded about it, I'm pretty sure.
I can't bring myself to follow my thoughts these days. I have to stay superficial. I don't know why it's so exhausting to think, of late, maybe because I'm questioning some core beliefs. That's why I'm boring. I'm holding my brain together by being elsewhere, thanks to what I'm reading. It's kind of great & kind of shaky.
How lucky to love to read & have a zillion books & know that there's a hundred times as many as I can ever read. To connect through books. To crack open a book & step into a world. Not a quote today or even a list of what books I'm immersed in at the moment but simply the joy of reading.
My love for Hank Snow has nothing to do with my love for snow or because he had the same birthday as my dad.
It's his supple, amused, kind & rich voice, & how many great songs he wrote and/or covered, among them "I'm Moving On," "The Golden Rocket," "I Don't Hurt Anymore," "I've Been Everywhere," "Ninety Miles an Hour on a Dead End Street."
Of course there's a museum dedicated to Snow, but who knew it was in Nova Scotia. Or that he was born in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia. Or that his son is Jimmie Rodgers Snow.
I crossed that border into the Upper East Side. Had a bread pudding muffin & expensive mediocre coffee & saw a friend & fancy holiday wreaths & tiny scooters lined up in front of a school & some churches (Saint Thomas More) I've never noticed. It's where Johnny grew up, he knows this neighborhood. But surely this is not the working-class Yorkville of his childhood? It's not my city any more than Sioux Falls would be his even if we moved there for the next 50 years. The border is between theh present & the past. That's a lot farther away than East 83rd Street.
It's still so totally great to go to the store & do laundry & answer mail & not be swamped with annoyances & stress. This has been the roughest year in more than a decade & I don't have the stamina I once did to let it all sail past, or so it seems. Also the things that have happened have been more outside the usual run of troubles & I had to develop new strategies. As Johnny would say, Ya bragging or complaining? Neither. Just reflecting. Just glad the year is almost over.
Such a simple day, full of necessary, brief & inexpensive errands. What could be better? I did the things I needed to do without whuffing or falling asleep. No traumas, not even annoyances. When I bought the wrong charging cable, it turned out to be the one we actually needed. All the errands ~ the drugstore, the library the Mac store, the gym ~ took place in an efficient loop around the neighborhood. It feels like the first day in a long time that was not unsettled. Maybe we will make it through December & the rest of the year won't be so bad.
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ...
~ Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)
When I was a kid, every year or so my dad would check out The Complete Father Brown short stories by Chesterton, and he & I (possibly others in the family) would reread the stories that featured a colorless priest as the detective who solved crimes by looking deep into the human heart. I still like them & I still don't know why they're so fascinating. Maybe because he is a clear & funny & thought-provoking writer. I own that book now & have lately been dipping in.
He was 6'4" & weighed close to 300 pounds. He once remarked to his friend George Bernard Shaw, "To look at you, anyone would think a famine had struck England." Shaw retorted, "To look at you, anyone would think you had caused it."
A quieter Santa-Con than usual, although I've never seen light-up red cowboy hats before. My favorite moment was a sign taped to a bar in the West Village:No Santa-Con Santas.
We were on our way back from celebrating Maggie's birthday at a terrific French vegan restaurant called Délice & Sarrasin, on Bedford Street almost back to back with VillageCare, where Johnny spent months recovering from hitting by a truck 11 years ago. Haven't been over there much since but this was great. Quiet & grown-up & we both really liked our vegan versions of coq au vin & beef bourguignon.
I got a letter from Target that the debit card I'd applied for was denied because I had another application pending. Oy. Called them. The good news is they ONLY had my bank account # & not my SSN, drivers license, phone, or email. And that bank account was closed before they even applied. My credit bureaus say there've been no inquiries but if they applied for these two why not lots? Surely some small concern doesn't check as closely as Target or others. The funny thing is, the letter from Target was addressed to a similar, nearby address but still managed to get to me. Yay, USPS? I don't know how to prevent further trouble. I don't actually know if the other shoe has dropped.
For a project, I need bad or lame poetry. Luckily, I've written plenty, & lots of it was conveniently at hand in a folder called DUDS. It's not easy to get the exactly right bad poem, however. It needs a certain sincerity & eagerness, along with a bad ear & conventional conclusions. Lame is easier than out & out bad somehow. Here's a sample:
if I had a match
I would light this joint
if I were stoned
I would write a fantastic poem
if I were full of colored words
depression would pale into the greyest spectrum
Last night we had a Salted Plum Doughnut at a bar-with-food called Superbueno, luckily right on our corner, where several places have been- Boca Chica (13 years), Golden Cadillac (1 year), Boilermaker (7 years). I no longer remember what was there before these 4. This fantastic treat consisted of a brioche donut, lemon curd, mascarpone cream, and plum & tamarind compote. So many light and bright flavors but they weren't fighting. Our new plan is to go there early (they open at 4) & gorge, until we get tired of it, I suppose.
If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.
~ Thomas Watson
Victory fades so quickly that is scarcely apparent and it is always the face of defeat that we are able to see.
~ Jane Bowles
Nothing wilts faster than laurels that have been rested upon.
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley
I don't often think about failure & success so I don't know why I had these lying around. Getting out of bed is all the success I need.
10 Things I Saw Today
First Avenue through rain-dripped glasses
A ranchero breakfast burrito from DTB (nee Downtown Bakery)
3 cats getting along
Republican hypocrisy (cf Christian & Bridget Ziegler)
Anselm on Houston Street & on Zoom
An apology & a hope
A man with a cane
A lavender hoodie
3 cats squabbling & hissing
A light bulb over my head