Off I go, on my first trip out of the country in 2 and 1/2 years, & pretty much my first vacation in that long. I'll probably keep up with my blog just fine but I may miss a day or 2, here & there. Where am I going? I was going to keep that a secret but the name Fintan O'Toole is a clue big enough to drive a truck through, innit?
It turns out that where we're staying in County Clare, Ballyvaughan, is the home of many cousins of the great poet & musician Terence Winch. His brother will be there at the same time as us, as will Michael Lally's son (or somewhere in the area). Small world!
I'm all set with places to eat & things to do & in passing Terence mentioned a new book by the Irish Times journalist Fintan O'Toole, who is also, Terence tells me, "an amazingly eloquent & perceptive analyst of American politics." I started reading We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland right away & can recommend the hell out it! An Irish novel with facts & footnotes.
I went online to see what else O'Toole had written & found (along with several titles I'll pick up) no fewer than SIX summaries/study guides to We Don't Know Ourselves. I've never seen the like. Is that because it's over 600 pages?
Steve arrives in a couple of hours & then our trip will begin to feel like it's really happening. We got these tickets I think 5 months ago so it was in the future for longer than usual.
I continue to feel so restless that I spontaneously bought tickets for a long weekend in Pittsburgh. Johnny agreed to go & I didn't so much as hesitate long enough to check my work calendar. Which turned out to be a non-tragic mistake & I'm going to assume I can reschedule the appointments & plans I'll be skipping. I spent half the morning trying to find a hotel in Pittsburgh without having a clue about getting around in the city. There are two funiculars! It will be great.
Hello, what year is this? I finally got the Whitney to send emails to me as well as Johnny as part of our dual membership. Today we were addressed as "Dear Mr. and Ms. Stanton." What the fuck. My name is all over my email. My name is my name. Where the fuck did they come up with this "Mr. & Ms." business. Oh, am I supposed to be happy that they didn't call me Mrs. Stanton? Did they program their computer in 1950? Unbelievable! We pay hundreds of dollars & they can't get my name straight? For that matter, the name on my card is Glinor.
Twice this week I overheard conversations ~ not merely snippets ~ & had no idea what language I was hearing. Not even close. I couldn't make a guess at any of the speakers' ethnicities either. If I had to say, one may have been Farsi or something from that part of the world, it had a faintly Middle Eastern tang. The other I have no idea. I'm always listening, in the (so far vain) hope I'll pick up some Norwegian. It made me happy not to know. That New York is still full of mysteries.
Three of my karate pals decided to have lunch together. Turned out that three other karate pals had made plans to eat at the same place. So we became a table of six. Great to catch up with folks I've known & respected for years without being in each other's inner circle. Breezy conversation, a really good meal, & a day when I didn't have to be somewhere anytime soon. Yay for them, yay for the pandemic letting up enough that this was normal, yay for a life full of people I like.
Yeah there's a photo but I got wide-angled into looking like the table so no one is gonna see it.
A short online event last night, "Radical Enchantment: The Politics of Transcendental American Art, 1900-2022." The teacher, Jason Vartikar, a graduate student, talked about "enchantment" as a response to oppression, "life force" versus "oppressed force," the disfigurements of war, negotiation by an artist between the living & the dead, & more. These are a few bits I caught when his singsongy voice wasn't soothing me to sleep. I did like seeing the many Burchfields & it was a reminder that I only have a few more days to catch the Biennial.
We all have our time machines, don't we. Those that take us back are memories…And those that carry us forward, are dreams.
~ H. G. Wells
I'm beginning to understand how i could have forgotten Scott & Jane & Patty & others, all of who wrote me long explanatory in media res letters, ages ago, & all of who I now have no idea who they are. Baseball is drifting away & I can't seem to catch even a glimpse of it. Soon it will be too distant to even try a rapprochement, I fear, & one day I may even stop talking about my ex-husband Derek Jeter.
The beautiful white building on the left, 330 Bowery, was home to the Jean Cocteau Rep for many years. We were subscribers and saw a lot of terrific plays on its tiny stage, Shakespeare, Greek dramas, Restoration comedies. We loved seeing the company regularly, getting to know the range of the main actors, Craig Smith & Elise Stone, who we used to see around the neighborhood with their kids, but not for years. Earlier, in the '60s, Frank Langella was in the first show at the Cocteau & Bernadette Peters became a star there.
Now that landmarked cast iron building built in the 1870s is condos with some fancy store on the first floor.
I bought a table yesterday. My mom came to visit and I paid half her ticket so she said she'd buy a table. I threw mine out one day & never replaced it. So there was nowhere for her to make dinner for Johnny & me. It's a great table, what they call at Conran's a gateleg; it folds to 8" but seats six when it's open. Since Johnny wasn't due till late, I put 2 frozen Old El Paso chimichangas in the oven & a plate on the new table. Johnny came early & we sat on the bed as usual, while he ate my dinner as usual, & now I've put Eileen's Olivetti on the new table. I have Eileen's Olivetti because she bought a word processor. I borrowed hers because the "l" and "u" stick on my Smith-Corona portable. JK found the exact same model on the street but for some reason brought it here instead of home so it's under my bedside table. He has Maggie's electric because she got a Macintosh computer. Before that she had Yuki Hartman's typewriter because hers was stolen when they lived on 9th Street, she & Rachel, not she & Yuki. John Yau explained how to reink ribbons then we realized they only cost $2 & even at the place in the West Village $2.50. Tim has that typewriter of Yuki's now. My previous typewriter was a very light & small portable in a red leatherette case, my brother's, as was this one after mine was robbed. At a Goodwill in Florida I bought a typewriter for $15. Janet & I were stunned at how classy it was to type our postcards. Johnny has that one because his was an antique & really horrible to use. I almost took a typewriter to Mexico so I wouldn't have to write by hand for 4 months. I went around looking for a toy typewriter that actually worked, light but with all the letters. Poems for dinner, I guess.
A snapshot of East Village life circa 1987.....
Despite the overturning of Roe, women & women's issues come after "more important" concerns. To some extent, yes, Dems have been running on repro rights but not when anything else seemed likely to work. So the man who won in my new Congressional district is shaky (at best) on reproductive rights. But who cares? He's a white man! He helped impeach tRump (like that did any good)!
The paternalism all around me, in politics & in my personal life, has been infuriating me. Suddenly the men around me are telling me what I must be feeling & planning & thinking, what I should do about things I'm in charge of that have nothing to do with them. All these gratuitous assumptions! All this mansplaining! Is it new or did I glide past it? I think it's ageism to go with the sexism, actually. I have gray (white?) hair so obviously I am incompetent.
Primary day, election day ~ I relish any & every chance to vote. My father lost his citizenship in a fascist regime, & every time I vote, I feel that I'm standing up for democracy. This election I've been canvassing for a candidate, & whether that person wins or loses, I'm proud to participate. To take action to support my wishes for my city.
This morning I wanted to grab the people who spurned my cards: Vote while you still have the chance! I wanted to say. Vote so you know you matter & our neighborhood matters. Vote for the people that need our help & protection. Vote so you believe that our country matters. Vote against cynicism. Vote like your life & future depend on it.
Which they do.
The LinkNYC quotes have been really great lately & it's nice stand outside my building & watch them roll. Quotes, art, factoids.
For some reason I got all weepy today missing Buster, the best cat of all time. Sweetest, mellowest, enlightenedest Buster. I wasn't in the least missing him because Lefty is such a drittsek. Really, Lefty is just young & bossy, "somebody's darling" in that way that makes cocky young men find it impossible to imagine that their uppance could ever come. Although since he's a cat, he isn't going to take that attitude to the Supreme Court. If I believed in an afterlife, I would want to spend it with Buster.
Few people know this about me, but I am a four-time Gold Medalist at the Sleep Olympics. So it's crushing to have lost that impressive skill, exactly the way that so many other professional athletes first lose a step on the field & eventually let themselves go entirely. Unlike them, however, I would very much like to make a comeback, but it's not happening. It's not entirely modest to say this, perhaps, but I was a natural. I remember one summer at Camp Teepetonka at Big Stone Lake when the boys threw giant metal milkcans onto the cement floor of our cabin in the middle of the night. Who slept through it? Yep. I was known as the Sultan of Sleep ... the Queen of Dreams ... the Nap Princess... Ah, glory days. Gone, gone, gone. Do I need a coach? What?
The East Village, while never notably wealthy, has always been mixed, in fact, diverse in income as well as in the more usual marks of diversity. Many people think it's been taken over by the young because the NYU presence is so prounounced, in the dorms they've built and buildings repurposed. But every residential building has at least 1 or 2 or more long-term residents. We aren't out at 2 in the morning & the students aren't out a few hours later. I've been handing out literature for my candidate (VOTE!) at the subway stop on my corner the last few weeks & I can tell you, it's older people getting on & off at 7 a.m. and 30-somethings in business gear an hour later.
Update: I forgot to mention that the late, beloved Roland Legiardi-Laura, poet, filmmaker, citizen of the neighborhood & the world, lived in this building. The day after I posted this I met someone who brought up his name. Roland, still here.
I've been listening to Guy Clark lately, which I do fairly often. He reminds me of when I was footloose, out in Colorado, living nowhere in particular, supporting myself however; there were bursts of light, time to examine a weed growing next to a railroad tie, mysteries & mysterious lovers. That's the effect of his songs, to take you back somewhere that maybe you were or maybe you only remember in a dream. His people are getting by, his skies are big and dark & white, his Texas is everyone's past. These lines are in "Randall Knife":
My father died when I was 40
And I couldn't find a way to cry
Not because I didn't love him
Not because he didn't try
Well, I'd cried for every lesser thing
Whiskey, pain and beauty
But he deserved a better tear
And I was not quite ready.
Whenever I'm sleepy or rushed, I think, throw up a picture of Lefty & that's good enough. Who doesn't want to see my cat every minute? Now, however, I'm going to include the bouquet of the week as a possibility. I've been getting my flowers from the Sunday Greenmarket at Tompkins Square Park. The flower people have a large variety of very fresh flowers & sell them in generous bunches. In the last few weeks I've filled my house with marigolds, globe amaranth, coxcomb, dahlias, peonies, & maybe some that I'm forgetting. I went a long time without fresh flowers (no place for a vase!) & it's a pleasure to have them around me again.
The first play I was in, when I was living in Maine, so I was maybe 21 or 22, was The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. I still remember my first line, the first line of the play: He told me to look at my hand. He said a piece of it came from a star that exploded a million years ago.... I just looked it up to see if I really did remember it. Not bad for a million years ago: He told me to look at my hand, for a part of it came from a star that exploded too long ago to imagine. My activity in the play consisted of moving around flats of marigolds. I would have said marigolds are one of the flowers I could identify with certainty. Last week I picked these out & thought were zinnias.
How'd I miss (the other) Elizabeth Taylor all my life? I knew her name, because obviously, but never happened to run across her writing. She's like a really bitchy Barbara Pym, vicious & genteel. The book I'm halfway through is called In a Summer Season, & I have no idea if it's one of her best or one of her worst or if all her books are about the same quality. I'm excited to find out.
Phil & I met in 1971 at the last big anti-Vietnam War demonstration in Washington, D.C. When I asked, he said he didn't like to tell people what he did because they got the wrong impression. I was therefore determined not to get the wrong idea. So when he said he was in the Air Force, I didn't sneer, Oh you like bayoneting babies, & merely said, hmmm. Lucky me, I learned at 19 that there was more going on with people than the obvious. We've been friends ever since, but hadn't seen each other for so long that we stopped trying to figure it out. But it was great. HE is great. I didn't even think to wonder if we would be on the same wavelength & there wasn't even a second's lag in laughing & getting each other's vibe.
This is in Tompkins Square Park, our main local park, though we sit in several. TSP is the site of an early, violent demonstrations ~ in 1874 ~ a clash between police and thousands of unemployed. (You can read about it in the terrific Philip Dray's There Is Power in a Union.) Now it's dogs & hustlers & punk bands & benches, & one less tree.
According to The Washington Post, the nighttime temperatures in July were the hottest ever recorded in the United States, since 1880 when record-keeping began. It's yet more proof of human-caused climate change (as if that's needed) & has quite a few really terrible effects: Along with the increased risk of heat stroke or exhaustion, "Warm temperatures reduce the body's ability to progress through important states of sleep, the news magazine Wired reported. An absence of deep sleep can fuel poor decision-making, impaired performance and emotional outbursts." And of course the need for air conditioning where cool nights previously did the trick adds pressure to the power grid plus contributes to climate change.
Today in New York City, it's somewhat cooler, with better to come, says WillisWeather, which is great but I still don't feel recovered. Reading poems about snow, Norway & the Northern Lights helps.
For years I filled my apartment with found furniture, dishes, books, & even clothing, for example some fine-wool undershirts I found on lower Fifth Ave & always claimed were Patti Smith's. People throw out amazing things. You can easily find out when the rich people put out their trash but even without trying, there's terrific finds everywhere.
Interestingly, the only Schooner Island I can find in Massachusetts is a nature preserve in Rhode Island.
The Sleeping Gypsy
O lion of the moon, what moon
has such a desert
to stripe a sleeper?
What would he say
to you if you
were not his dream?
dated 1989 & I remember the series it's from but not whether I ever published it
One of my favorites of my dojo's annual events. We leave at 4 to meet at 5 at Beach 120 Street in Far Rockaway. For the last two years I've been fortunate enough to get a ride with someone who lives across the street, but i've taken the subway & met drivers all over the place other times. Dozens of karatekas meditate till the sun comes up, with a focus on those we've lost this year. For me that's quite a few & I felt them lifting away & everything continuing sanely.* Then there's a workout, watermelon & catching up with folks.
* The heart stops briefly when someone dies,
a quick pain as you hear the news, & someone passes
from your outside life to inside. Slowly the heart adjusts
to its new weight, & slowly everything continues, sanely.
—Ted Berrigan from "Things to do in Providence"
I do work for a lot of groups, often just a few hours a month (if that). I was involcing one of them this week & added three sessions of 3/4 hour, 1 hour & 1.25 hours.... & let them know that they owed me for 2 hours work. They let me know that I'd underbilled by an hour. And I an accountant's daughter! I'm blaming the heat but sheesh!
Looks like it was just as hot a hundred years ago as it is today. No, not quite, because today, I think they said, might break a record.
When I think of it, I like to give a shoutout & plug to Raygun, the greatest store in the universe. They sell Midwest-themed clothing and paraphernalia, often with timely political humor or messages. Today they already have a couple of shirts praising yesterday's vote in Kansas ("Yes, We Kansas!" "Every Once in a While Kansas Kicks Ass!") & they've been extremely funny about Josh Hawley. I have some South Dakota shirts ("London: the Sioux Falls of Europe"), magnets, postcards, stickers. High-quality, union-made goods & a large chunk of profits (as well as merchandise, expertise, in-store events, and volunteer hours) goes to causes they support.