Friday, September 27, 2002

Valencia go boom! That is the sound of my nose hitting the desk. The third time. Must get caffeine. How hard is it to find plain coca-cola in Soho? It takes me three tries.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

A walk through the city, any walk through the city, is a journey through different worlds. On a rainy day like today, there is first of all the hunt for the $3 Umbrella Lady, which takes one from Prince to Broadway and then across to the east side of the street where we spy her, just visible behind a row of curved wooden handles. Those, we speculate, are $10. But it’s uncertain how much they really cost, as no one we know has ever bought anything other than the cheapie disposable $3 variety. Today the smiling Chinese woman in a purple coat and black hat says the small ones are two for $5. The Upper East Side blonde next to me protests that she only wants one. I, too, only need one. So the lady splits the price for us, oddly to less than half the 2-for deal, and I get a $3 umbrella for $2.

Which is nice for me, because I only had two singles and a $20.

But then, the tour really begins. Into Ricky’s, where the dragonfly hairclip fad has certainly died out and all they have on offer in the way of barrettes are plain clips in bubblegum colors. Striped. With glitter. None for me, thanks.

A few blocks down, at Pearl Paint, it is the land of the freshman art student. Ahead of me in line, a pair of cute Japanese American girls are buying one another little gifts (paint pots, apparently) and discussing plans to "turn the basement into my studio." Their earnestness sends me back in time for a moment, and then unpleasantly into a realization of how far from that place I’ve come, and in a direction nearly opposite from where I wanted to be.

Then it’s my turn at the register. The young man, in dreadlocks framing a smiling face, asks if I have a student card, then after a slight pause, or a teacher card? It’s the first time I’ve been asked the second, though I often get asked the first.

The walk back up Mercer St., across the paths of cabs whose drivers seem astonished that no one wants them in the rain, is populated by a series of types. Chauffeurs holding giant golf umbrellas just outside the doorways of furniture stores selling nothing but white slipcovered items and white painted items. Middle-aged women in well-worn chunky boots and long skirts, their long hair artfully permed and highlighted to resemble teenage curls. Younger women in thick purple plastic glasses with their long tresses (so similar to the middle-aged women’s) carelessly piled into clips atop their heads. British tourists discernable by their pale long faces, thin paisley scarves, and undefinable air of tailoring, even when sporting something as inelegant as a red velour track suit.

European hotel guests sitting at either end of a thick oak bench looking in opposite directions with studied indifference to passersby who wonder if they’re famous or just wealthy.

And me, dragging a large bucket of paintbrush cleaner ($14.95, on sale) in a red and white Pearl bag back to the office. I am trying to extend the life of the housepainting brushes I bought at Home Depot. They are rather expensive, and we have a lot of painting to do. It occurs to me, reading this over, that the onset of middle age is of the creeping variety rather than a discernable step forward.
"Seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space." Italo Calvino

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Group of brightly colored children bouncing about a wire-enclosed playground like dancing (and screaming) birthday candles. Could they have influenced my choice at the bookshop—Harry Potter?
This morning on the way to catch my public transport, I see a field of fireflies, except they can’t be fireflies, it’s 6:23 am. Ah, they are not, indeed, fireflies; they are cars, racing along a bigger road than ours. I am viewing them across a field layered with mist, and the lights of the cars are dancing along the top of it like flowers on a cake, or the aforementioned fireflies.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Alas poor blog, I knew it, Horatio, a place of infinite babble and musing. Well, it has been sorely wounded by the onslaught of brain-boggling deadlines (only boggling because I wasted too much time writing blogs) at work, and now it limps back into existence, grayed and bleak as a day in some month other than September.

Yes, yes, the weather’s good, but who cares? I am indoors writing tomes on the history of women’s employment in the U.S. for a surprisingly non-historically-minded audience and wondering where to go next. Nepal? Japan? Bed, perhaps, perhaps to dream.

Today I saw two little flowers that looked like claws, and I thought "Even flowers can have claws." And that sounded like some kind of warning for the folks who underestimate sweet-seeming girls.

Or a gentle reminder to the girls who waste too much energy Getting Along With Everyone that it’s okay to be a lion sometimes.

Or maybe it was just a disturbed image like that dream I had last night about a giant green viper that kept springing out of the corners of my house. We have a lot of weird bugs. Not used to them yet. Scary.

On the way to work I squashed yet another furry denizen of the forest under my increasingly bloodied car tires. I have lived in remote locations before but never had I run over an animal until last week. And now it’s two. A groundhog and a weasel. My significant other warned me I ought to practice my swerves in case the next one is a deer. Gulp!