Sometime in the 1970s, when cosmetic surgery was first being discussed on the nightly news as an elective procedure for those who could afford its extravagant price tag, my sisters who were gathered around the black-and-white TV in the kitchen dismissed the idea completely.
“I’d never do that,” they scoffed, extolling the ’70s all-natural look, “when I grow old, I want to do it gracefully—like Lauren Bacall.” They always referenced someone like Lauren Bacall (who only would have been in her fifties at the time), never Aunt Bea or Granny from the Beverley Hillbillies or any of the other women that most of the population ages into resembling.
At that point in the conversation, my mother turned from the kitchen sink with a wistful smile. “I don’t know,” she interrupted, “look at this.” Continue reading “face lifting”
is history research,
an archeological dig,
each layer revealing
moments from the past
—what mattered at the time.
While cleaning out the garage
I found a wad of bread
some creature had stashed
between summer cushions
with dust, leaves, twigs
—an abandoned nest
built upon the boxes
we brought with us
intending to repair
an even more
I woke completely confused, an hour before the alarm this morning. Although I’m already a week into my new job, I startled from my sleep unsure of what day my new employers were expecting me to start working.
This came after two busy days in Rhode Island helping Bob get the house closer to ready for sale, bookended by two three-and-a-half-hour train rides (which explain why we didn’t visit New York as often as we had intended when we moved to Providence), plus the added hour subways between Penn Station and Bed-Sty.
I was discombobulated much of the weekend in Providence. As I was falling asleep on Saturday night, back in my own bed with Bob and our dog Marcello by my side, I had been scrolling through Manhattan apartment listings on my phone. For a few seconds I wondered if I could make an open house or two before I met my train the next day. I had to remind myself that I was in Providence currently, and wouldn’t be back in New York until after my train.
Continue reading “discombobulated”
“How is that phone even working?” The fourteen-year-old son of our friend in Paris asked, staring across the bistro table at my iPhone with the kind of casual disdain that French teenagers have perfected.
He was right, of course (as all those French teenagers usually are). My iPhone’s battery had overheated and expanded, pushing up against the screen, which had detached around the edges along the top. It being a work phone, I could have turned it in for a replacement, but knowing I would be leaving the university in six weeks, I didn’t want to go through the hassle, despite risking the loss of all service and connection while on vacation in Europe.
Continue reading “missed connections: losing my iphone as i leave new york”
As a person who cares deeply about ending poverty and its systemic causes, as well as reversing the disastrous consequences of climate change, I know I should remain silent.
I should tuck my personal feelings into my vest pocket, keep a low-profile, and roundly support the lovefest that has been unfolding here in the United States for Pope Francis during his visit.
But I’m conflicted.
And I’m tired.
Continue reading “quiet sadness on the pope’s visit”
Our 12-year-old 52″ Fujitsu plasma TV would still be displaying beautifully and brightly had our movers not killed it.
After a decade of walking into Best Buy’s home theater departments and backing right out again, horrified by how bad the LED HD displays looked compared to our plasma, Bob and I are now forced against our will to consider the new generation of TVs—and to deal with a generation of salespeople who don’t know that film wasn’t “analog” and that movies on movie theater screens before 1990 didn’t look like old VHS tapes or a low def cable broadcast.
One young salesman actually tried to tell me my eyes just “didn’t know any better back then” enough to recognize that movie images were all jagged digits and blurry bits like the lower resolution broadcast of Peter Weir “Witness” that we were watching on the 75-inch 4K TV display in front of us.
Continue reading “this is what you get: life after plasma tv”
know better now
to guard against
the dangerous sun,
but our skin
tells cavalier stories
can be badges
like the stars,
We arrived in France for the first time on Bastille Day.
After three weeks in Italy, where I had been in charge of the map and the language, Bob emerged from the overnight train to Nice suddenly totally responsible for our well being.
As he spoke first to the cab driver and then to the hotel clerk, he held is head as if it was painful to produce the sounds he was making. And the locals stared at him as though he were a giant misérable wearing a bloody head bandage.
Continue reading “où est la guerre?”
Dear Jim, Hello from 2015.
I’ll bet that sounds downright Jetsonian to you as a 17-year-old in 1975.
So I’ll settle one big question at the outset: we do not have flying cars.
There is, come to think of it, something called a personal computer that I know you’ll appreciate for at least a couple of its features in particular: it will check your spelling for you. Hold your tears. I know you’ll love that.
And then there’s the Internet, which is also hard to describe, but it will eliminate the need for the family’s old Encyclopedia Britannica. And there’s a whole lot of, well, anything you might ever want (publicly or secretly) on the Internet, such as movies and music and travel guides. And, umm, well, let me just say, kids your age today aren’t even thinking about agonizing over how to convince the sales clerk at the 7-Eleven to sell them a copy of Playgirl.
Yeah, I know about your secret Playgirl stash.
See, I’m you, grown old. I’m you 40 years from now.
Continue reading “time capsule to my teenaged self”
Since yesterday’s explosion on Second Avenue at Seventh Street in the East Village, I’ve been thinking about this photograph.
I took it about a month ago while sitting at a window table in San Marzano restaurant, looking up Second, during one of our February snow storms.
The building on the left, the former home of the quintessential East Village vintage clothing and novelty shop Love Saves The Day, is one of the buildings that collapsed. The woman with the white umbrella is passing in front of the restaurant that was the source of the explosion.
I’ve also been thinking about the staff at Pomme Frites, Sushi Park, Paul’s Burger, San Marzano and the other shops along this avenue. And especially about the residents who lost their homes. We’re anxious to check on acquaintances who work at the restaurants.
Continue reading “love saves the day”