Sunday, May 23, 2010

Notes from my journal (with embellishments)

8:40 a.m. Good morning, my darling love. I'm on the 8:25 Amtrak train to NY. The mountains are in the clouds, or the clouds are in the mountains, a beautiful effect across the pewter river.

10:20 a.m. Fogbound Palisades. Like a Rothko. Long horizontal bands, dark wooded cliffside covered with cloud. Atmospheric abstract.

10:50 a.m. Train scheduled to arrive at Penn at 10:35. Emergency brake blows at roughly 10:30. We screech to a halt and the lights go out. Sit in darkness. Conductor says tests have been run and we're good to go. We proceed. We had broken down perhaps 2 minutes from the station platform. I'm here. Somehow I manage to find my way to the city streets. Not easy from Penn. (I hate Penn. So glad my return will be via GCT.)

11:05 a.m. Anderson Cooper crosses 6th Avenue at 38th Street, headed west. In ballcap but his face is unmistakable. He is small-framed, fit, like a dancer. Not bad, a celebrity sighting within a few minutes of arriving in the city.

11:15 - around 2. At MOMA. See the Marina Abromavic show, on both the 2nd floor and 6th. More on this tomorrow, perhaps. Interesting experience.

1:30. Look around MOMA's 3rd floor for Rothkos. Were the Palisades like a Rothko or was I thinking of another painter? Yes - Rothko! Snap pictures (surprised am allowed, but they don't come out). Reflect that glimpsing the Palisades as I passed by on the train in the fog, and seeing the Rothkos - these, especially paired, have been the exquisite moments of my day.

1:45. Leave MOMA and begin to walk down Fifth Avenue. Big parade of youth going on, which I find obnoxious (groupthink) and ironic given article I had begun to read this very morning in the current NYRB. Manage to escape creepy parade, which seems thankfully to be headed up Fifth Avenue.

1:50. I stop at Saks Fifth Avenue and spritz on a bit of Miss Dior. I ask one of the ladies at the counter if by chance there might be a sample. Oh no, she replies kindly, they never give us any. I thank her, leave the emporium, lift my wrist to inhale - and get a big noseful of grilled souvlaki from the truck I've just passed by. A block or two further down, though, I recapture the fragrance, which I haven't experienced since Christmas week...

2 - 3 p.m. I have an hour to kill before the 3:52 to PKPSE so stop at the New York Public Library at 42nd Street, whose venerable facade is encased & obscured by boarded scaffolding. Back in the day I used to do some research here quite often so still have a library card and vaguely remember the drill. Look up Emily Dickinson on their system and remember about a wonderful essay of Ted Hughes' an excerpt of which I'd read (back in Xmas week, in a footnote to an Adrienne Rich essay on Emily Dickinson), that the Mid-Hudson Library System doesn't possess. Here's my chance to read it. I go through the ritual of filling out the slip, handing it in, waiting... I receive the volume, and read the essay. It is so great! (More on this another time perhaps.) It seems so odd to have come all the way down to the city just to sit in a public library and read, but I have a very great sense, in my atmospheric mist of Miss Dior, of Rothkoesque peace & contentment.

3:10 p.m. Head to Grand Central, feeling so pleased & happy with my daytrip. Splurge on a bar of wonderful verbena soap at L'Occitane. The clerk wishes dearly to anoint me with verbena handcream but I say no, he musn't, because I'm savoring the romantic associations of a perfume I've put on and it has to last. He asks, what perfume? Miss Dior, I say, a trip down memory lane.

3:20 p.m. At pricey but great & worth it Grand Central Market, purchase a crusty baguette and a ripe French camembert.

3:52 p.m. Train pulls out of station, and I have been trying to be good and not snack on the bread & cheese til I'm in view of the river, but I'm starving, and the camembert is so ripe that its odor is palpable in the air around me (fragrance mixed with Miss Dior). Break off end of baguette and use as rough handtool to scoop runny cheese. Dear God. This is one of the best camemberts I have ever had and I am near swooning as the train lurches through the dark subterranean caverns before emerging to the light at Park Avenue and what? we're at one-two-five already? That is how unbelievably great that perfect cheese was... I am not a binger at all, never have been, but honestly, thoughts along those lines were coming to me as I regarded the shrinking length of thin baguette, and the small runny wheel of cheese. I finally sealed the remaining cheese in a clear plastic bag that contained a sliced sourdough loaf. Like Proust, at that point I needed protection, a layer between me and that cheese, plus, I didn't want to annoy my fellow passengers on the sunny afternoon train....

That's it for now, my dearest. In lieu of an apt Rothko image at the moment - kisses. I hope all is well with you.

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