Sunday, October 31, 2021


On the afternoon of Halloween, we attended a birthday party in Riverside Park, a surprise celebration in Dinosaur Playground for a magical ten year old, daughter of the author whose book is now making the rounds at publishing houses, and pray with me, please, that it gets picked up, because her narrative is magnificent. That's mother and daughter above, as we all sang "Happy Birthday," with the birthday girl's two uncles in the background, one in leopard print the other in sartorial red, who took their niece on a shopping extravaganza, after doing her makeup, painting her nails lavender, and adorning her hair in gold filigree and rings. This was the ruse to keep her occupied while her parents set up the party in the park. I was meeting my brilliant writer friend's village for the first time, a mix of Armenians (which she is) and Jamaicans (which her husband is), with a few other lovely variations of humanity thrown in, authors and opera singers, musicians and costume designers, artists and teachers, a computer whiz and an ichthyologist, plus a beautiful teen and preteen gang of aspiring performers and filmmakers, all with light around them, all of them sparked by art. Maryam, Chris, Daniel, Imani, the afternoon was wonderful. Thank you for sharing your village. This time, we took pictures. 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Happy birthday to my love

It’s always been you, young’un. 


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Little Island and other delights


Just taking a work break to post a pretty picture of the new waterfront park in Manhattan that opened last year. I haven't gone exploring there yet, but I will definitely go with my cousin Nicky next week after she arrives from Trinidad to spend the month of November with us! Nicky is like my little sister. When she was in college at Howard University in D.C., and I was a newly employed twenty something reporter for the reincarnated LIFE magazine, she caught the bus to New York City to hang with me almost every weekend. The two of us sat in sidewalk cafes happily chatting and people watching, and my friends all thought that Nicky went to college in New York, because they saw her all the time. Maybe we will do a lot al fresco dining on this visit, too. It will be nice to have a ready companion to go all the places in the city I've been meaning to go for more than a year now—especially on weekdays, when most folks are working. I plan to take a few days off while Nicky is here. I have a running list of things for us to do, like visit Little Island early in the day before the crowds hit, and catch the Night Market, a gourmet smorgasbord staged outdoors by the city's top restaurants, a kind of traveling food festival with music and crafts that pops up at different locations around  the city, until the weather turns cold. But first, we will do what Nicky always wants to do on the first morning after she lands in New York—order pancakes at our favorite Greek diner. For Nicky, nothing says I'm in New York City like sitting in a diner over a stack of pancakes swimming in maple syrup. Ooooo, I'm getting excited to see her. Packages for her are already arriving at our door, so you know the time is near.

Okay, back to work. I'm closing in on thirty thousand words.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Absence is a house so vast

This week, on October 22, my father would have turned ninety-eight, had he not left this physical plane at the tender age of seventy two. In my father, a man as flawed as the rest of us, I witnessed goodness, devotion, and integrity up close. This is an unvarnished truth. I am not romanticizing it from a distance of years. 
Here's a quote from Pablo Neruda: "Absence is a house so vast that inside you will pass through its walls and hang pictures on the air.” And here's another one, this one from Toni Morrison, possibly an antidote: "If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it." 
Happy birthday in the unseen, Daddy. Twenty-five without you feels like an eternity, yet it seems you were here just yesterday. Sometimes I imagine you are with me still, I just can't see you with these human eyes, and isn't it pretty to think so?

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Sunday scaries

When you’re a freelancer working from home, Sunday is just another workday. I’m using work to keep brooding at bay today, to banish the self-flagellating thoughts that hijacked my pain body as I lay awake for the hour or so before daybreak. I am unable to make things happen that I wish I could achieve. I am unable to make my cousin who is an addict stay at the assisted living home where she has been recovering from injuries inflicted by her partner, who for 30 years now has been abusive. We found her a place to live where he wouldn’t be able to get to her, a place with green lawns and trees, but she wants to go back him and denies he’s ever hit her, as if we are not to believe the evidence of our eyes and the ER doctors’ reports. I feel powerless to make her stay where she is safe, where she is getting nourishing meals and medical care. I imagine my Aunt Winnie looking down and weeping that we still have not managed to secure her child. 

In more trivial news, I kind of love this chair. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The daily

That photo of a Clinton Hill cafe was taken by my niece, also my goddaughter, who lived with us for her first year and a half out of college, riding out the pandemic lock down with her old aunt and uncle. She has a wonderful eye, and is crushing it as the digital editorial coordinator and social media manager of a travel and lifestyle website. Her job, but for the first two months, has been entirely conducted during the time of Covid, most of it remotely, but her bosses have seen enough of her creativity and diligence to have promoted her not once, but twice in that time. That's our former roomie in her no longer new Brooklyn apartment. I swiped the pics from her Insta. She doesn't mind.

In other news, our daughter flew in for a quick turnaround for a work event yesterday. She arrived just before midnight on Monday evening and left to catch her flight back to Boston at five thirty this morning. She went into her office in midtown after her client meeting yesterday, and was pleasantly surprised by how much she enjoyed seeing her co-workers in person, including a couple of new ones with whom she's so far only interacted remotely. How the world of work has changed. Our girl has been back home for hours already, putting in a regular workday.  

She and I had fun last night, ordering in dinner and catching up on Survivor and then binge watching Squid Game on Netflix while my husband read on his Kindle. My girl and I finished the whole series, the two of us going to bed at 2 AM. The story is brutal and horrifying, but also compelling and thought provoking, and once we made it to the second episode, we couldn't turn away. There were definitely characters to root for, social hierarchy questions to engage, and villains you were happy to see get their comeuppance. One scene in particular, between Lee Yoo-Mi and HoYeon Jung, the two young actresses pictured below, was the standout of the entire eight episodes, and moved me to tears.

Do I recommend the series, which in three weeks has become the most-watched show on Netflix ever? Yes, I do. It mostly stands up to the hype, especially if you go into it blind, as I did. I didn't love the final episode, however, and wished for a different outcome, though the ending they gave us is probably setting up a second season. And now it's back to work for me. I have written 24K words of a manuscript that is contracted to be 85K words in length. I still have a long way to go, and many more interviews to do, but I think the channel through which the story will flow is finally open.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

I still love

“The desire to go home is a desire to be whole ... to be the point of intersection of all the lines drawn through all the stars, to be the constellation maker and the center of the world, that center called love. To awaken from sleep, to rest from awakening, to tame the animal, to let the soul go wild, to shelter in darkness and blaze with light, to cease to speak and be perfectly understood.” ―Rebecca Solnit, Storming the Gates of Paradise

I listen to commentators on the news making dire predictions about where we are headed as a nation, the coming civil war, which they mean in a literal sense, nothing metaphorical about the racial animus provoking violence, and I contemplate the question, where is home? Why did I plant my children in a country that does not love them, that cannot see beyond their beautiful skin? What does it mean that the "you" in that neon installation photographed above, is locked in a cage? Maybe that is the metaphor, the gates that must be stormed if we are, any of us, to awaken from sleep, to find "the center of the world, that center called love."

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Life refresh

My husband and I met up with friends in Harlem for dinner. Two of the women, married to each other for decades, had met my husband once before, but the third, the actress daughter of one of the older women, was meeting both of us for the first time. The next day, the actress's mother called me to say. "Don't feel bad because we love you, too, but oh we all three of us fell in love with your husband!" I said, "I don't feel bad! I fell in love with him, too!" When he came home from work, I teased him that he'd completely charmed two older lesbians and a movie star. "As long as I charmed you, too," he said, and this is reason number twenty trillion why I love him.

Now that the man is back in the office three days a week, I've moved back to the desk in the bedroom for work, which means I shall soon have to clear those towers of books and mail to give myself a neat, serene space to think. (I couldn't decide whether I liked the black and white or the color image better, so this post gets both.)

I will order our new living room couches today. I'm doing the thing, ma! I will even get a twenty percent business-owner's discount because of that publishing company my cousin and I started. The benefits of having a lawyer in the family—she officially registered us and now we are a legitimately licensed LLC (as in "little little company"). Because of pandemic related supply chain issues, the furniture won't be delivered until late January. I'm okay with that. Perhaps I will get to decluttering in the meantime.

My plan is to swap out the red curtains with ivory ones that are washed and folded in my linen closet, or maybe get new curtains altogether, in a lighter shade. The whole object is to make the room brighter and airier. I've also been on the hunt for a new area rug, but haven't happened on any I absolutely love. I did this week run across an inexpensive one that I did not mind. On impulse I bought it. I'd intended to wait till the new couches arrived to get a new rug, but our current one, having served twenty years of hard use, needs to be retired in the worst way. The new rug, which arrives tomorrow, is a loose commitment, enough to feel as if I have begun the upgrade endeavor. If I end up not liking this rug with the new couches, it was cheap enough that I can move it to another room or give it someone who will love it, and get something else. How privileged I am to be able to think this way. I do not take it for granted. 

Monday, October 4, 2021

30 years ago today he made us a family


Happy birthday, darling boy. We are so proud of the man you have become, protective and loving, marching to your own call, reaching back to bring us along. May you be surrounded by that same courageous love and protection as you walk your chosen path. We are so humbled and grateful to be your parents. We love you more than mere words can express. Bless you, our cherished boy, always.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Gathering again

The man and I are having our most social period since pandemic protocols began. I remember a morning last year when my husband and I were sitting at the dining table working, and he looked up and said, in effect, that the thing he missed most about Covid shutdowns was spontaneous gatherings  with our kids and their loves, and also their friends, with talk and laughter flying around the room. This past week felt like a return to exactly that kind of socializing, with many of our favorite young people once again under our roof. We all assembled on Friday night to celebrate my son turning 30, which won't actually happen until tomorrow, but since everyone was in town, we seized the moment, ate cake, did tequila shots, sang happy birthday, enjoyed just being together again.

We have so much fun just sitting around the living room telling stories, allowing the talk to flow wherever it goes. It's easy and effortless once everybody arrives, though I sometimes have social anxiety beforehand if new people are in the mix. It always turns out okay, better than okay. This weekend, I was hosting a new friend of my daughter's for the first time. She was absolutely lovely, and I hugged her and told her she's welcome to return anytime. I should know by now that my children gravitate to warm, nonjudgmental people, and I don't need to worry so much about, oh, my broken-down house, and whether the new-to-me person will be comfortable.

The young folks went out and had their New York City experiences: brunch in Harlem, music on the steps of the Met, walks in Central Park, exploring Little Island, and a bachelorette party last night. It was great fun being part of the commotion as they got ready for the evening out, and highly amusing when they returned home after midnight, boisterously rhapsodizing over leftover pizza, which no one bothered to reheat. 

They've all now left to return to their various locales—my son and his fiancee back to their apartment in Astoria; my daughter and her friend on the train headed back to Boston; and my niece and her husband on a plane back to Dallas, until November, when they'll be back for Thanksgiving. And now my husband and I will begin a period of watchfulness, because even though everyone masked up as they left the house and faithfully washed hands as soon as they returned, still, there were meals consumed in public places, and a Brooklyn night out with pre-wedding party goers (all vaccinated, but still), and a lot of talking and laughing and breathing the same air in our apartment. So now we wait and trust that our vaccines hold. Here are some more pictures: