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NauenThen

Monday Quote

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

~ W. G. Sebald

 

For want of a nail.... the small things are the large things... 

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In the neighborhood

I sat in this park way on the Lower East Side (Grand Street between Jackson & Madison) waiting for my appointment in the mammogram truck. My city council member Carlina Rivera had arranged it. It took a while because the truck was in a bus stop waiting for a spot on Jackson, which turned out to be too skinny for the city bus to get by, so the truck ended up back where it began, 2 hours later. But Carlina & her husband, Jamie, came by with their dog Toshi, Carlina as warm as ever. The people who want her gone think she wants to destroy the East River Park. Is her plan the best one? The people who understand the engineering of this narrow, threatened strip of land disagree. And who "wants" to destroy a park? I didn't ask her about that. She hugged me hard when I told her about my mom. A beautiful early fall day. 

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Williams x Williams

Like me, Lefty appreciates one of the greatest lines in English literature:

 

The silence of a falling star lights up a purple sky

 

Happy birthday, Hank Williams. 

And happy birthday, William Carlos Williams. And as I wonder where you are, I'm so lonesome I could cry. 

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The holidays

Tonight starts Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews. I've gotten used to not being or feeling prepared. By which I usually mean switching slowly to decaf so I don't get a caffeine detox headache while I fast & pray. That's a little flip, as what we're really doing is making an honest accounting of our lives over the course of 27 hours. The fasting is so we don't distract ourselves from that work. 

 

No blog tomorrow. An easy fast to those who indulge. 

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Heavy

It's the weirdest feeling, as if I was picked up & put back down on Jupiter & now I weigh 400 pounds (how can a planet that's all gas weigh so much? well, how can clouds hold up all that precipitation?). I can't quite think & I can't quite feel, & where does that leave me? 

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Monday Quote

Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things. 

~ Russell Baker

 

Randomly chosen, not pointing at any in particular of the many terrible things being done. I'm too sleepy to think. Hey, folks, any comments? Anyone wanna do the thinking for me?

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In the neighborhood

My front door with festive graffitti. I hope they don't paint over it.

It's confusing to have so much to think about. And yet, I have the leisure to grapple with my mother's passing on my own schedule. There are many compensations in the midst of grief, such as seeing her laid to rest next to my dad—that is, knowing where she is. The terrible anniversary of September 11 reminds me that many, many people don't have parents who live as long as mine, or the embracing closure my family did. I avoided the commemorations until someone sent this intense piece by the daughter of a member of my synagogue who worked on the tower for one of the TV stations and died on that day. 

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A not-so-merry-go-round

My dad died more than half my life ago. I was young, impetuous, & missing the fences that come with age, karate, religious observance, marriage, & who knows what else. I went to the bad. It's only been two weeks but I've managed to so far counter that feeling of desperation with all of the fences I didn't have then, along with Angela Thirkell, my favorite middlebrow writer of English country manners in the mode of Trollope. I just reread Wild Strawberries, my first Thirkell & still one of my favorites.

 

I can kind of see that all my posts are going to be incomplete for a while. 

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Return

Maroon calla lilies & decorative cabbage (?) from work friends. 

Woke up this morning feeling more like myself. Feeling like I have begun to return to myself. Tuesday & Wednesday were Rosh HaShanah, which also has a theme of teshuvah, which literally means return. In this case, it implies repentance and the desire/struggle to return to better ways. 

 

Many struggles this stretch of time. 

 

Grief is exhausting. 

 

Little by little, we find a way. 

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Monday Quote

Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they are not familiar.

~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

 

That was poetry's usefulness to me this week, making the familiar unfamiliar, but better, making the unfamiliar part of a world that I recognized, when so much seems to have changed. The only time I could focus was reading Basil Bunting, Whitman & others, randomly, whatever my hand landed on. Each time I was centered. 

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Monday Quote

To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness. 

~ Oscar Wilde

 

I've been careless, damnit.

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A little break

In 8 years I haven't taken a week off from this blog, but I think that's what I'm going to do. On Tuesday my mother will be laid to rest, as they say, next to my dad, in Arizona. There's a memorial service in St Paul on Thursday & then I'll be back in New York. So there's a lot of flying & a lot of crying coming up this week & I think I'll clear my head for that. We'll see. 

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Joyce

Here's her obituary. 

 

Joyce Nauen

January 15, 1924 - August 26, 2021

 

Alice Joyce Phillips was born in Liverpool, England, the third child (of four) and only daughter of Charles John "Jack" and Alice Woodland Phillips. As a girl and young woman, she lived through the Depression and World War II (including the Blitz) and soon after the war married, briefly, an American GI and emigrated to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In 1949 she married Hans Nauen, a German Jewish refugee and the love of her life. She embraced his daughter, Edie, and his religion, becoming a lifelong, active Jew. Her survivors include their four children: Lindsay (Richard Weil, Noah and Ben Weil), Elinor (Johnny Stanton, Tara Lannen-Stanton), Charlie (PJ Pofahl, Rachel and Hannah Nauen), and Varda (Jeffrey Burton, Zoe and Henry Burton), Edie's daughter Ilona Mettala (Marty Hindsley), uncountable cousins and other family members, great-grandchildren, friends, admirers, and "adopted" children.

 

Her accomplishments were many and varied. She was a bronze life master in bridge, only 14 points shy of silver. She was president of the NAACP in Sioux Falls and a Weight Watchers regional director, and she recorded books for the blind (they loved her English accent and perfect diction). A trained musician, she starred as Golde in a Sioux Valley Auxiliary production of Fiddler on the Roof, sang at many weddings, and played organ and sang for Mt. Zion, her home synagogue in Sioux Falls, for 30 years. Visiting London in 1980, Joyce was impressed by the work of the Memorial Scrolls Trust in repairing Torah scrolls saved from the Nazis, and was the prime mover in bringing one of those scrolls to Mt. Zion. The fact that she wasn't an American citizen didn't stop her from taking a passionate and knowledgeable interest in politics, but in 2016, at age 92, she became a citizen in order to vote for a woman for president.

 

In 1984, after several years as snowbirds, she and Hans moved permanently to Sun City West, Arizona, where he died in 1986. She lived there into her 90s, when she moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, to be closer to family. She survived Covid last year, and died peacefully and unexpectedly in her sleep in the early hours of August 26, 2021.

 

Her family invites you to honor her life by, most of all, embracing open-mindedly and with good humor everyone you meet, and by donating to causes that support justice, Judaism, art, and music. They only wish they could convey the extent of their gratitude to Sholom Home and Joyce's loving, skilled caretakers there.

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My mom

Joyce Phillips Nauen

January 15, 1924- August 26, 2021 (18 Elul)

 

That's her brother, my beloved Uncle Earl (1926-2004), on the left. 

 

I will say more as I am able.

 

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Poem of the Week

Body, Recovered

                          with W.B.

 

 

I heard a thump

& my cat was dead

 

I have 3 urns

of my cat

 

her name was Venus, Vivi

I called her

 

a Maine coon cat

she attacked me

 

I fed her

from a spoon

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"No... Sinatra has bad memories for me."

I found this polaroid on the street, I think Second Avenue, but so long ago that I don't really remember. Were there more or just this one? If there are more, where are they? How did this one float into view after being in a drawer somewhere for years? It's like rocks in a field. You plow & next year more turn up. 

 

Jeg fant dette bildet på gaten, jeg tror 2 Avenue, men så lenge siden husker jeg ikke helt. Var det flere eller bare denne? Hvis det er mer, hvor er de? Hvordan fløt denne til syne etter å ha ligget i en skuff i mange år? Det er som steiner i et åker. Du pløyer og neste år dukker det opp flere.

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Monday Quote

All you can learn from Southern planters is bad temper, bad manners, poker, and treason. And how power works when held by inadequate hands.

~ Henry Adams, 1860

 

Henry, still timely in his own supercilious New England way.

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Weather

Here's a new one to me: Tropical Depression. It's a category of storm, apparently, & yes I could look it up but I can't quite get my mind off Haiti. Even with all that's convulsing Afghanistan right now, Haiti is down there in any depression you can name. Assassination, earthquake, hurricane, what hasn't hit that poor country this year? How to help a country noted for the misuse of aid money? The Jewish attitude is that it's better to risk some money going to the wrong place than not getting it to someone who needs it. The word Tzedakah, often translated as charity, really means justice. We're obliged to help, to be partners in lifting all boats in whatever storm is trashing the world.  

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Sedition Hunters

I was aware that citizens were examining photos & videos of the January 6 coup attempt to try to identify and bring to justice the traitors who attacked the Capitol, police & democracy. Here's who they are: Sedition Hunters, "a global community of open-source intelligence investigators (OSINT) working together to assist the U.S. FBI and Washington D.C. Capitol Police in finding people who allegedly committed crimes in the January 6 riots." I'm relieved not to recognize anyone in their extensive rogues' gallery although I would relish turning in anyone I did. As someone said in a Washington Post comment, they're doing the lord's work. (Discussion ensued about the heinousness of religion; nope, it's an expression.)

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Village Voices

I especially dug No Land, who read a great quote from Dylan about starting out in the Village & sang "Going Going Gone."

I enjoyed being part of a group of writers & musicians, among them No Land, Penny Arcade, Shelley Marlow, & Lannyl Stephens (a dynamic excerpt from Larry Kramer's Normal Heart) who "highlighted and celebrated the literary life and legacies of Village writers and musicians," including James Baldwin, W.H. Auden, Lorraine Hansberry, e.e. cummings, Oliver Sacks, Patti Smith, and Margaret Wise Brown. The event was co-hosted by Village Preservation, Merchant's House Museum, the Poetry Brothel, the Poetry Project, Hudson Park Library, Jefferson Market Library, and Tompkins Square Library.

 

The whole evening made me proud to be part of this community, with its long tradition of awareness, activism, & art. 

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**GUEST** Poem of the Week

Out of the blue, Peter Campbell-Kelly, a terrific poet & musician in England, wrote that he had found my name in the Poets & Writers directory & was sending a little film of himself playing violin. "It is a sort of musical prayer, intended somehow for the well-being of all of us, in this desperately difficult pandemic." I think it's beautiful & so is his poem: 

 

Passacaglia

 

Our songs of sadness touch
The dry-deep scars of earth

 

And on this peaty path
a lichened branch
Cuts clean through the heart

 

And people lie dying
And people die weeping

 

And the waters ripple slow
And the sun lasts down and down

 

And the curlew throws free
Her liturgy of fiery love

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A flower

I meant to know the names of things themselves & not just through art. 

I meant to be so charismatically convincing that no one would resist. 

I meant to find rhymes for "silver" and "orange." 

I meant to say it slant & say it straight & say it from the heart. 

I meant to always live in the world you live in & you would always—

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Monday Quote

Intelligence is like four-wheel drive. It only allows you to get stuck in more remote places. 

~ Garrison Keillor

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In the neighborhood

I love vacant lots. Even when they're construction sites.

I meant to talk about how great it was to get out for a walk in the cool 7 a.m. unpeopled streets. I can't figure out if it's possible to post more than one photo per post so you don't get to see trucks with trash up to the windows, giant morning glories, dawn light on the luscious bricks of the Lower East Side.

 

But I can't stop thinking about several people I know, nice liberals who I thought cared about others. But who won't get vaccinated. "I'm healthy," they mostly say. "I'll be fine." Someone isn't fine or going to be fine — maybe your aging mother, maybe your pure, pure husband, maybe you. Are you the only person in this equation? Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. Ever hear that one? I'm grateful to be a citizen of the United States. I've said it many times, but if it weren't for this country taking in my refugee dad, I would never have been born. If my country asks me to do something for the protection of others, let alone myself, & it costs nothing & is virtually risk- and pain-free, you better believe I'm waving my hand more wildly than anyone. I can't think of a similar example, where I would refuse to do something simple & beneficial because my own beliefs are too precious to exist alongside anyone else's. I'm disappointed in these (former?) friends. Is that what it's come to? Nothing matters but I, me, mine?

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Oh, and this

This is the place I want to buy in Norway. Only $350,000 & comes with a guest house, a garden seating area, a guesthouse, & a henhouse. Only an hour & a half from Oslo. Anyone want to go in with me? 

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