Thursday, August 08, 2002

Okay, here’s something weird. Nice days make me nervous. I have noticed this on several occasions this year, when a sudden burst of California weather made me uneasy before I got round to being cheerful about it. When it’s sunny and cool it doesn’t bother me so much. But when it’s sunny and clear and about 80 degrees, as it is today, I get the heebie jeebies and call my mate and leave messages that say: "Hi. It’s me. Um, I have a sore throat today, and I’m worried because Monday I was on a subway car full of white powder. What should I do?"

There’s a reason for this, of course. Sept. 11 was a very sunny, pristine, 80-degree day in new york, which I spent half-walking, half-running eight miles in a business suit, trying to keep up with my shell-shocked boyfriend who had been three blocks away from the Towers when they went down, and rode out on a bicycle covered with pulverized building debris (and perhaps human remains) through a dust cloud that blotted out that strong sun for half a mile in every direction.

White powder is a mysterious thing to sprinkle on the subway floor and chairs, and I still can’t figure out why someone or ones did it.

But then, it’s hard to imagine the rationale behind a lot of things people do.

Today there is a guy riding around on his bicycle attaching eight-inch wide swaths of living lawn turf to lightpoles with a bit of wire. He was working on his second piece on a single pole when I saw him, and had a third laid over his bicycle seat.

This is probably a piece of inspired performance art—the grass was quite long, really, longer than a typical piece of sod. I liked it. It seemed an attempt to return the city to its greener roots, and reminded me of that saucy Talking Heads song lamenting the loss of parking lots and malls in favor of redwood forests and fields of flowers.

I bought plums, and giggled anew at the sign in a dry cleaners’ on Waverly: We make custom dog clothes.

But it still wasn’t okay.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Lovely weather today. I know, I know, a singularly dull topic for blogversation, but haven’t you noticed what a big difference a nice day makes in your internal moodometer?

Today the wind is whooshing along trying to snatch my hat, but I—clever soul that I am—happened to wear the hat with chin ties, so I am in no danger of losing it and can just set my jaw at the wind. "Ha-ha! Wind—do your mighty stuff! I am prepared."

I generally like a windy day. There’s something mad and free and exciting about a (non-lethal) gale. Today I had slight troubles from a little blowing debris threatening to get behind the sunglasses and take up residence in my eyeball, but I managed okay with the blinking strategy.

Didn’t do much of note—a little errands, a call to Dad (yes, yakking on the cell just like those people I skewered a few days ago. But I was talking to DAD, an important family member, about important things, so that makes it better. Also, this is my blog, so I can skewer and then turn around three days later and do the thing I skewered with impunity).

Had to avoid three more male bums—one of whom was gesturing wildly, turning this way and that, blocking foot traffic on the narrow west sidewalk of Broadway. The usual.

But I don’t care, because it is a sunny cool day and I have a hat with chin ties on.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Had one of those weekends that feel more like work than work does. Not fully recovered yet. Noticed a lot of creepy old men out today, all of them muttering under their breath, some of them apparently addressing me, others not.

This city is starting to get really weird. I don’t mean to suggest that it’s been bland vanilla all these long years, but to my admittedly weary annoyed eyes, it seems to be sliding backwards into the land of many bums, more trash and vomit in the streets (as if there weren’t enough already), and several frightening experiences a day.

This morning’s W car was halted so that an extensive cleanup crew could do something about the unbelievable amounts of litter piled into it. Way beyond the usual crumpled 40-sized brown bags and half-eaten hamburgers one finds. This car (and the one behind it, too, judging from the announcement by the dispatcher summoning all available cleanup personnel for cars 1 and 2) had magazine and newspaper pages covering fully one fourth of the seats, with curved impressions left by sweaty bottoms, and quantities of white powder sprinkled on many of the seats, as well as under them, with clear evidence of having been trod on by dirty feet. There were also plenty of empty bottles, bits of food, and so on, covering whole sections of floor like an unsavory carpet.

A strange combination of debris, to be sure. I sat in one of the few clean seats, trying not to think about anthrax (really, it looked like baby powder), wondering what sort of travelers would have left behind such a strange combination of things. A tired yet rowdy football team wearing very short shorts? Dousing themselves in baby powder and arranging magazine pages to sit on so their legs wouldn’t stick to the plastic seats? Of course, the magazine pages would then adhere to their legs when they got up.

I dunno. Whoever the perpetrators, the folks who had to clean up their mess wore orange safety vests and MTA baseball caps—and bewildered expressions as they surveyed the damage.

I transferred to a departing N and fought the urge to scream at the women standing so closely over me that their clothes were trying to annex my own. Yes, I live in Hell.