Pouring in NYC this afternoon, so I ducked into one of those specialty coffee places. I waited behind two other wet people ordering from a barista so sprightly I could only assume he’d been hitting the product. When it was my turn I asked for a cup of tea. He pirouetted, grabbed a teabag, pulled the hot water, and said, “I can tell you how tea started. I mean, if you have time.”
“It’s raining, go ahead.”
“Well, a couple of thousand years ago the emperor of China used to drink hot water three times a day and then one day he was sitting in the garden and a leaf fell into his water and when his servants tried to take it away and give him another he said no because it was fate so he’d drink it and see what happened so they all watched and they were scared but afterwards he felt so great he wanted more of those leaves in his water the next day. And that’s how tea started.”
He grinned, gave me my tea, looked past me at the wet young man behind me and said, “What can I get you?”
I love New York.
My mom, about twenty years ago at a family reunion. Miss you, Ma. (Don’t call me Ma!)
Is your Congressperson among those lily-livered sellouts (is being lily-livered a pre-existing condition?) who voted for this bill? Would you like to give her/him a piece of your mind but you find yourself just sputtering? At the request of a friend in a district represented by one of those hypocritical cowards (if this bill was going to be so great, why did they exempt themselves AND THEIR STAFFS from its provisions?) I’ve put together the following letter anyone is welcome, indeed encouraged, to use.
I am one of your constituents. I’ve read this so-called health-care bill — which, I suspect, is more than you did — and whatever nonsense you spout about coverage for pre-existing conditions, I can tell you this: if this bill becomes law, within two years I will be dead. However, you are up for re-election in less time than that. I promise you, whether the Senate passes this travesty of a bill or not, I’m going to spend the next 18 months fighting your re-election and making sure your career is dead, too.
Flatbush, Brooklyn, yesterday. No, I have no idea.
ANATOMY OF INNOCENCE came out this week. The brainchild of Laura Caldwell and Leslie Klinger, the book pairs crime writers with exonerees — wrongfully convicted, that is, innocent, women and men who spent years, decades, in prison for crimes they hadn’t committed. Each writer was asked to work with an exoneree to tell a portion of the story, from initial involvement in the case through trial, prison, release, and beyond. I was given the double privilege of working with Gloria Killian, and telling the part of the exoneree story that opens the book. (“Hey, Gloria, they want us to do Chapter One!” “Oh, good, no pressure.”) If you’re thinking criminal justice reform is an abstract issue, this book gives you the opportunity to look at things differently.
Went out twice today, to keep appointments. After the first time, came home and wrote; after the second, toddled back to take a nap. But the sun’s out for the first time since Sunday and I feel better, though my cough sounds worse. Skipping basketball tonight but tomorrow I think I’ll launch myself back into action. Writing in the morning, a light gym workout (and some time in the steam room, for therapeutic purposes, of course), then a class I’m teaching, then one I’m taking.
Meanwhile, finished my taxes! Wrote, read, sorted through books to keep or gently move on, and as I started this post I realized this may be the first time since I began blogging that I’ve done four posts in four days. Will try to keep the surprising lessons of this staycation in mind, because think how even much more satisfying it will be if I can do it feeling well!
Since you were all so generous on the subject of my photos (thank you!) I’m going to close today with one of my personal favorites, of the west wall of the NYPL, Bryant Park, reflecting a September sunset.
Yesterday, after basketball — which, contrary to my theory, did not sweat out this cold — I took a hot bath, did some reading, worked on the effing taxes, and cleared out some files. Here’s the thing on the files: for those of your who don’t know how publishing works, a publisher sends a royalty statement a couple of times a year. For each book. Including foreign editions. When I was a baby published writer I kept them all. A few years ago I started chucking them, after I glanced over them, because I realized they were useless, really. But I never cleaned out the files. I have fifteen published books and I’ve been published since 1994, in fourteen languages. I ditched eight inches of paper! Since the size of my tiny domicile can just about be measured in inches, this is major. Then I watched the Baylor/Mississippi State Women’s Elite Eight game and went to bed. This morning over my tea I looked through a gorgeous book on the work of Serizawa Keisuke (see below) which I’ve been telling myself for ages I was going to spend some time with. I may have to try this staycation thing for a few days every couple of months when I’m NOT sick.
I have a cold. My colds go chest to throat to nose, and this one is still in the chest stage. Coughing, wheezing. Went to a dance concert last night, played basketball this morning — I’m of the firm opinion that sweating it out is the best thing, though I didn’t have a lot of oomph and played rather badly — and came home exhausted. But the good part is this: checking my book last night to see whether I could cancel anything I had coming up for the next day or so I saw that I have nothing! From now until Tuesday night, when I teach, my schedule is blank. This never happens, and it especially never happens when I’m sick.
So I finished playing basketball, did a little shopping on the way home, took a hot bath, and will be burrowed in here for the next three days. Today I’m not even going to write. I’m going to clean out some files, finish my taxes (I warn you, say nothing), nap, and make chicken soup. And catch up on some reading, and watch the women’s NCAA Final Four while I eat the chicken soup. I’ll write tomorrow and Tuesday, but nothing more ambitious because more files and more napping. Tuesday evening I’ll emerge, all better (or, with a cold in the nose, which is more likely) but somewhat, I hope, de-stressed.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
My staycation partner:
Quiet gray river
Two ferries too far to hear
Raise frothy white wakes
Brant geese flock swims by
Stops to breakfast at seawall
Gull swoops down to watch
Joggers’ bright shirts glow
Red, blue, yellow, acid green
In foggy morning
Windy, heavy snow and sleet when I was out this morning, but blizzard? Nah. Still, almost no one down by the river but me. One other photographer, two joggers, and one dogwalker: the big tattooed guy with the four little dachsunds. This is their foot/paw prints in the snow.
And this is the dogwalker with the dogs and the jogger. These are all 8:00 a.m. photos, by the way.
Water taxi dock.
Pier 46 pilaster.
Blue light with snow hat.