Sunday, February 27, 2011

My dearest, putting my arms around you to kiss you hello. I hope all is well with you this evening. I'm back from a jaunt downriver, to Rhinebeck, where I purchased sumptuous loaves of fresh organic bread with a discount certificate, and with the savings stepped into a high-end shop with the express purpose of finding lovely soap for B'klyn, which I did, two small pure, fragrant lemongrass bars milled in France, one for the sink, one for the tub. The main purpose of my excursion was to catch Biutiful, starring Javier Bardem and nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar.
Have you noticed that I enjoy going to the cinema? I really do. I love film, but find that with most I need to be committed to sitting in a darkened theatre, with others, in order to become wholly absorbed. Biutiful was wonderful, but I could never have watched it on the small TV at the kitchen table, or even on my home computer now that I know how to work the DVD. It was a very good movie, Bardem of course excellent, and it dealt in a very palpable, realistic way, in an interwoven dramatic narrative, of mass immigration, involuntary diasporas, forced or slave labor, and their harsh impacts on individual families and lives.

Snow and ice still cover the landscape but when I left the theatre the sun was shining, everything was melting, there was a feeling of spring in the air, and I had a spring in my step as I thought of you. Somewhere near church carillons pealed, light traffic moved through the village intersection, and I put on dark glasses against the sun. I jumped over enormous puddles in low heels and made my way to the car where first thing I did (after turning on the radio) was to open up one of the breads - "organic country peasant" - and eat an end along with a bit of cheddar I had tucked in my purse. Then I drove along country roads back home, only I took a wrong turn at first and wound up in Rhinecliff, which is right on the river, and has an Amtrak station and a really lovely looking inn that advertises on my favorite radio station, that (as I could tell looking up at its cheerful yellow clapboard edifice that faces the still-ice-covered river) has beautiful individual balconies with river views, like a river steamer or cruise ship, and I thought, oh my dear Dmitri, you and I would enjoy spending a night or weekend in this place, we really would, it looked utterly romantic, and there's a restaurant and bar downstairs - I should have stopped the car and peeped in the windows - plus, I should think, room service. Ah, anyway, that was just the most delightful fantasy I had of you and me, my darling, as I maneuvered the car from the tight riverfront, and made my way back north.

The whole time in the cinema I thought of you too, as I sat in the darkened theatre, watching the images, becoming absorbed in the story. But I'm not very Zen at all, I always have an alternate scenario going in my mind, or wishes, and my wish or constant abiding comforting fantasy was to hold you in my mind, to never let you go, I mean - well, really, I never let you go, you're always on my mind, we're always holding hands. Are we angels? Maybe. Another thought I have is how over a year ago I had drinks with some people at (p.m.) bar and one of the fellows in our little peripatetic company (we went up and down Warren Street that cold, snowy evening during Winter Walk) was at the bar and at the end of the evening gave us a ride "home" in his mini-Cooper. What a vivid memory that is, three of us piling after midnight into his tiny car parked on the street (amazing that we all fit but it was surprisingly roomy). And he was perfectly sober and whizzed up not the main gridded streets towards North Fifth, but rather - and he could because his car was so tiny - flew along the narrow back alleys behind the streets, whisking us to safety. It felt enchanted. I had encountered him a couple of times in the course of that evening, once at a party at a gallery where earlier that day had transpired a huge collectibles auction. He was seated at a table talking to another woman and I stood with my glass of wine nearby and overheard him saying something about the Cate Blanchett production of Hedda Gabler, which I'd actually seen. Or maybe he was saying that he works in theatre production, at BAM. Then there he was again a few hours later, at (p.m.), a Slavic, really handsome guy.

Where I'm going with this is that even at the time (or near to it) I haphazardly blogged about how this guy reminded me of you, the same types of looks, something about him that I felt so --- I hesitate to put words to it now. Recognition, just a feeling of recognition - is how I described it at the time. And then I went glancing off into something else.

And that's it, so that night, very very late he deposited us in safety via his mini-Cooper, and here I was today flying north along snowbanked country roads thinking of you, you by my side as far as I was concerned or could possibly wish. Only had you been with me then I suppose you would have been doing the driving, or perhaps one day we can take the train up or down river and either way you can have the scenic river view seat and maybe we'll stop in Rhinecliff, and into the Rhinecliff (inn that is) for a drink, a meal, a night, and the next day, after a walk along the river, a snap -

very many kisses darling

Saturday, February 26, 2011

My dearest, how do I come back with another post after the libation I just launched? I'm thinking it's like the Oscars, someone does something over the top, and then someone else in a tux or gown has to come on, having to be the straight-faced act to follow. Darling, can you tell that I would so much rather not be typing this evening? I would like to do just about anything but - with you. And that includes simply hanging out with you, making salad dressing in a fluorescent-lit kitchen if need be.

I don't have all that much tonight. I have, in fact, put in a pan of marinading ginger-cilantro Indian-spice chicken in the oven. I have a wonderful book out from the library of Indian cooking, and I have made this one dish now three times since I checked the book out, and I've only renewed it once. I have a little recipe journal/notebook, and I like the recipe so much that I actually went through the effort of sitting down and copying down the recipe. Or recipes. Because part of it actually involves making a ground spice mixture, called garam masala, from scratch, and I actually did just that, stood at the kitchen counter cracking open cardamom pods and spilling the seeds into a pestle (or is it a mortar), along with cumin, peppercorns, nutmeg and cinammon stick. Anyway, on top of that - the chicken that is - I finely grated a peeled knob of fresh ginger, and clipped fresh cilantro that I've been growing in a tiny pot in the window over the kitchen sink.

Darling, the heaters are just now sonically, lubriciously, audibly filling with swelling hot water up here in the aerie. It's just me in a few lamplights up here, fingers tapping, thinking of you, kissing you just now. Will have to run down in a moment and check on the basmati rice, that's set on a very very low simmer - to go with the chicken.

My darling. I think that's it for me for now, but as always, I think of you as the night goes by. And I will. Very many kisses. XOXO
Oh my darling, thank you for your page hits from Russia, Lebanon (dear God I hope it's not that bad), and Iran, not to mention Woodbury, NY and Schenectady. Maybe I had the date of your flight wrong. That's what I get for not wearing a watch. Oh my dearest, I am cracking myself up just now. I am sipping from an ice-filled glass, but of course, though I haven't had very much. I have a confession to make - in the last few days I have become addicted to Victorian semi-literary (certainly literate and colorful) porn. Here is Chapter 37 of Walter's insanely mad adventures which I am quite enjoying and using in behavioral-conditioning fashion as little rewards to get me to do other things such as abdominal crunches, going for walks, and cooking up ginger-cilantro chicken. Darling, I'm kidding, of course, to a point, but I do picture you and me, a bit, at least having fun. That Walter was one debauched guy with a seeming unending stream of shillings and everything else. And I marvel at his courtesans, they're in it for the money, and yet they seem (most of them) to take a great deal of pleasure too. The thought has crossed my mind - was I a courtesan in a past life? If so, that's a twig from the family tree that's been suppressed.

My dearest, I am spent just now - though not, alas, in the way Walter means. Oh I do look forward to throwing my arms around you and you having your wicked way with me and then we'll have a good laugh and maybe order some take-out.

Oh let me launch this little post for now, and go feed the cats - Gwynnie is driving me crazy with Subtle Hints. Back later perhaps, my dearest - oh you -

Friday, February 25, 2011

My darling, how are you this evening? Thinking of you very much, as always, and particularly now as I sit here at my desk by lamplight, sipping rosé from an ice-filled glass, rubbing verbena-scented lotion onto my dry hands, feeling the ache of my muscles from a home-pilates workout I did this afternoon. I realized that maybe I don't need a new DVD player, that maybe I could play my exercise discs on my computer. Sure enough. I knew I had a DVD drive, of course, but I've never played anything off it, and D found the right app on the desktop (one I'd never even noticed before), and before long I was watching Charlie Rose while strenuously working out on a mat right up here. I really enjoyed getting back to the old routines (two separate discs) which leave no muscle unworked or unpolished. But now I'm feeling it a bit, no matter, I'll be back in the groove in no time. I enjoy the graceful balletic moves that the routines incorporate too. They make my limbs and muscles feel very elongated, I become conscious of my carriage and posture, and - as the lithe instructor admonishes - of trying to make the transitions smooth and graceful. (Kisses, my darling Vitruvian man, from your loving female counterpart.) Anyway - I feel recommitted to these regimens. And the timing today couldn't have been more perfect since it was dark and gloomy and snowed on and off most of the day so I never made it out for a walk. I had no wish to share the slushy road with behemoth snow plows, anyway. Much nicer to be up in the cozy aerie in my underwear, going through all sorts of motions.

My darling, I wish when you come back tomorrow we could be together, but I can wait. I'll be thinking of you, of course, on your journey. I checked it out online - wow, that's a long flight, I hadn't realized. I picture myself sitting next to you, we page through magazines, chat, nap, look out the window at clouds, the sea, the sky, vast Greenland or Canadian ice sheets below, enjoying being in each other's company. But I can wait. Or maybe I can't. I'm sitting next to you and I've just touched your hand and kissed you on the cheek causing you to smile and look at me and our eyes meet and we look at each other and smile and you lean in to me and for a brief exquisite moment we nuzzle and your sweet lips find mine. It's broad daylight in the cabin and there's all sorts of restless bustling, so there's no privacy. It's okay. We readjust in our seats, a pair of horses you and I, silently and eloquently content in each other's company.

Darling, I managed to not get cabin fever at all today even though I didn't do more than step out onto the snowcovered windswept porch once or twice. And I hope very much that in your own way you won't get cabin fever either. I'll be there thinking of you, so if you get restless then think of me. Sweet dreams in the meantime. Loving you, always. XOXO

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My darling, this post will just be in the way of a hello, nothing too writerly, just wishing to touch your hand. It's very cold and dark and bleak out, and it's only 5:15, it should be lighter. The sun came out briefly an hour or so ago, then took its exit in a platinum streak in one corner of gray sky. I feel achey and utterly uninspired. Perhaps I was a little too housebound today. Yesterday I went to the conservation area but gave up after a short slippery walk - the place is a skating rink. Today I walked around here but had no bread for waterfowl and so found myself changing my route, shortening it, in order to avoid ducks and geese. Which is a bit constraining - including on the psyche. I'm feeling frustrated at the moment because I used to do this DVD pilates workout up here in the aerie, which I quite enjoyed (as much as routine workouts can be enjoyed) and that gave great results, and I feel that I could use that kind of concerted, APB workout again - but I stopped that particular regime when the DVD player went all cockeyed, which was quite a while ago, many months. But now I'd like to work out in that systematic fashion again - and no DVD player. I understand they're not expensive. D works hard, and he does try to arrange to buy anything I request, he does, and I appreciate it. This morning, for example, I read about a Nat'l Theatre (U.K.) production of Frankenstein, which is getting rave reviews, and which will be simulcast here in town in March. I asked D to pounce on the tickets, because they're bound to be sold out - and he did - I mean, he wants to see it too, but he did right away get on the case. He also told me this morning that we're officially in the CSA for this summer, a subscription to local farm produce - exquisite stuff - that I'll pick up Friday afternoons starting in June, and well into fall. So he does try, and I'm grateful. And yet. And yet I get frustrated because, I don't think I'm a control freak (eye of the beholder), but I do like for things to be more ordered, more predictable, more seamless, not running out of things. So we have Frankenstein tickets and a CSA subscription - but we'd run out of kerosene for hotwater so I didn't take a shower this morning. (D's since filled the furnace.) I don't know, I find that exhausting. And yet - who am I to complain? Here I am living a life of leisure. It's really not how I foresaw or planned things, but here I am. And what lifts my mood and keeps my head on straight is physical exercise, of the workout variety since all other has been out of bounds for years.

What I need is for the ice to all melt, to see some green on the landscape again, to be able to go to the conservation area and properly march around doing my landscape figure eights, to be properly shagged and shag in return or whatever the smutty terminology is, with a man I love. I like to think that I would feel less achey, less enervated, if I just had a proper once-over, again and again, as we like, in some capacious space and time. I feel like Sleeping Beauty - kiss me and I'll wake up, I'll feel better. Physical therapy. I have no interest in a spa massage. What I wish for very much is loving touch.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Golden light up in the aerie now and my mind is aswirl with a flickr show, one thought, image, followed by another unrelated, in rapid succession. So many sensations all at once, not simultaneous, sequential, but in no particular order. At the museum the other day, as I stepped around one of the galleries with my audioset, perusing portraits in the lightfilled space, feeling a bit renegade because though admission to the museum was free one still had to divulge one's zip code and also to fasten a colored tab somewhere on one's person, which I did, on my coat, until I decided I'd be too warm and so in the dimness of the long self-serve open coat check I hung my coat and the tab with it. So upstairs in the galleries I was tab-less, which seemed to make some guards nervous, as though I'd snuck in. One found one on the floor near where I stood and politely asked, ma'am is this your tab, and I said, no I'm sorry I left mine on my coat downstairs. And another woman stepped forward and said, that must be my tab I think I just dropped it. Perhaps I should have been more vigilant about keeping the tab on my person, it seems more dire when one has dropped $10 or $20 at, say, the Met, and must wear the badge to prove it.

Anyway, this wasn't where I was going really, I was just floating through the gallery, regarding portrait after portrait, occasionally listening to the audiotour, which I'd rented, actually, for the Dürer exhibit, because faced with an apocryphal, apocalyptic biblical scene, I don't know the Bible and visual references well enough to be able to fully (or on any level) engage in one of his prints, I needed someone - a curator's voice in my ear - to explain about what Saint John witnessed, and his martyrdom. And also to point out what I would surely have missed - such as, in another print, a naturalistic swan and its reflection, the tiniest pomegranate seed of a detail in the midst of a myriad panoply of extremely dense, complex, narrative detail, whole realms rendered in a highly layered, dramatically dimensional space. (And all this miraculously incised in fine scratches onto copper or wood, reverse image secularly pressed onto a flat sheet, bound once, perhaps, in a book, and set now behind glass within a modest-size frame hung - thousands of miles from Dürer's Nuremberg, whole oceans and five hundred years away - on a Massachusetts museum wall where I regarded it one Sunday afternoon.)

Still not where I was going. As I stepped through the galleries, without my coat, wearing a nice outfit - wellfitting jeans and a thin pink turtleneck beneath a thin gray cotton shawl-collared buttoned sweater, I met the eyes of a guy who was really looking at me. He stood in the middle of the room, there were various people milling about and I think he himself was with others, but there he was looking into my eyes. I noticed this and thought (perhaps) well it happens, sometimes people's eyes meet, and I turned away. But then in the next elegant portrait-hung salon there he was again regarding me intently, not as though he recognized me - I certainly didn't know him - but that he had noticed me in some way. (For a moment I had a sense that we were a pair of vivid portraits come to life, having stepped from our ornate frames into the center of the room.) I can't say that I had noticed him, I can hardly remember what he looks like now really, except for his deliberate sober gaze straight at me. I didn't smile back. Should I have? Perhaps. I am so frozen sometimes, in my exterior, however flirtatious I obviously can be on my blog, and very passionate in the right circumstances, in the not-quite-right circumstances I'm extremely circumspect. Which probably accounts for a lot of missed opportunities - I simply don't know how to signal back "available." Not that I am, anyway. I sometimes fantasize that something of the sort might happen, and - I am in the midst of Season 4 of Big Love right now - I feel as though I'm spoken for - in my own mind - two times over, neither of whom, though I'm married, is my husband. Sometimes I imagine actually saying that to someone who might come on to me.

I felt flattered that this guy seemed to be telegraphing that he found me attractive or interesting in some way. And then, in another gallery space, a young, good-looking uniformed guard seemed quite struck by me too (I swear!) and smiled and seemed to blush and even made a slight bow. It was he and I alone, as I recall, in this particular dimly lit gallery, he standing against a wall as I made my way around the paintings. I felt really flattered by his acknowledgment (which clearly and refreshingly had zero to do with whether I was wearing the museum tab or not) ... and I stumbled slightly because I suddenly felt self-conscious. I finished regarding the masterworks and exited into a different lightfilled space.

So my heart is a multi-chambered place, sort of like that museum. I fantasize to no end about what, less than a week from now, I'll be able to think of as "next month" in Brooklyn. And last night I had very vivid dreams about Darling 1.0, of whom I still think of very much, every day. I always just wanted to see you. Perhaps then I could have gotten over you, just like that. Is that a reason why you haven't ever wanted for us to meet? I really don't know.

In other pomegranate seeds (bless me Father for I have sinned) I've been regarding, in the book I'm reading, Bonnard's extraordinary series of paintings he did of Marthe - they're actually referred to as the "bathroom" or "bathtub" series, many nudes of her, not very erotic I don't think, of her at her bath. They're very ambiguous paintings; Bonnard himself is involved, not as a voyeur, but almost merging Bergman-Persona-like, into the ostensible subject.

By sheer coincidence, prompted by a recent posting on Salon about kinky sex in the Victorian age, I've been reading, chapter by chapter, the sexual diary of a Victorian gentleman. It's pretty entertaining, but after a while, pretty empty, he collects c**ts the way any collector might collect anything else. This "Walter" is completely obsessed and focused on pretty much solely that aspect of a woman's anatomy - and in true scientific fashion has examined so many that he actually systematically classifies them...

Anyway, it's just strange to consider the intimate Bonnard paintings; to sort of get off (hard not to with porn) on the Victorian gentleman's ceaseless proddings; and to be in love with two men; and to be cognizant, in a museumspace, of a complete stranger, and a few minutes later, of another, each regarding me intently.

And that's a snapshot of my frame of mind today, I think, pretty fairly.

I love you.

XOXO

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My heart is full of love for you too, darling, let's go live on islands. Mellow hour, light fading fast, songs on the radio, my salvation lies in your love, a young man sings. Now a young woman is singing. The aroma of roasting chicken wafts up the stairs. My hair is pinned up. I'm wearing my readers. I feel physically tired, took a long walk today, perhaps a little too long, I've done it before, but it's quite a number of miles, including up the busy highway here. A guy whose house is on the road was checking his mail and stuck around as I approached. Do I need a ride someplace? Oh no, I'm just out for a walk, I said, but thanks. Finished editing a Finnish fairy tale and finally emailed it off to its author. I have really enjoyed the editing process, but I think I might enjoy it better if it operated within formal professional constraints. What on earth do I mean by that, I wonder? (Please forgive me, I am very tired.) Well, for one, I wish that his stories were actually in the hands of a publisher, and that if I'm editing them, then that I'm doing so just as it ought to be done, with an eye towards their ultimate publication.

Darling, I wonder how you are doing, it's late where you are, midnight. When do you work, when do you sleep, I wonder. But I sense you all the time, I do, and I've come to a realization about a lot of page hits that used to seem random to me. You mean a lot to me, you really do.

***


I did other reading besides today, more of the fascinating Bonnard study, which led me to look up poems by William Butler Yeats, and by Gerard Manley Hopkins ('Pied Beauty'). The author of the Bonnard study, Timothy Hyman, writes,
I would like to place beside such Bonnard interiors as Dining Room in the Country, some lines from Yeats's 'Vacillation', published in 1932:
My fiftieth year had come and gone,
I sat a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop,
An open book and empty cup
On the marble table top.

While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessèd and could bless.
***
When I read those lines, darling, I think of you.

***
In the Bonnard study I'm reading is a ravishing, haunting, beautiful 1908 photograph of one of Bonnard's greatest subjects, his eventual wife, Marthe (whom he encountered in her youth and married many, many years later). I can't find the photo online to include it here. But the image, of the lithe Marthe preoccupied in her ablutions (perhaps not unlike your peeling the clementine) includes, somehow, seemingly, Bonnard's own hands (perhaps?) framing the image, as if it's a photo of him taking the photo of her. Yet how is that possible? I think there are surreal aspects to the photo. I am sorry to be so cryptic even mentioning it here, without the image. And yet from what I'm reading in the study - and can see for myself - Bonnard's subject was the perspective of the viewer, the lover, in apprehending his love. She's not a separate "object," he's included, in all the peripheral vision and associations and allusions - they combine.

Once years ago, I saw an exhibition at the Met of David Hockney images, and I was especially struck by his beatiful photomontages (is that the word?) where, in trying to render how we really view things, he, wielding a camera, would take a snapshot starting with his sneakered feet, then capture glimpse after glimpse of the scene before him, all in scattered shots, because that's how we perceive...

Oh this post is such a mess, my love, but I guess I'm just trying to throw down a few crumbs so that I don't have some Overwhelming Story to try to tell from scratch another day.

I have a beautiful, beautiful snapshot of you, peeling a clementine. Such a sideways, offhand image to have of you. I completely cherish it.

Too tired to copy-edit to perfection. Publication with kisses on your beautiful lips is all I desire.

XOXO

Monday, February 21, 2011

I hope I remember tomorrow morning that the breakfast toast is in the pocket of my red coat, the one I wore for my walk this afternoon armed with bread for snow geese or mallards, whichever might hit me up first, but I didn't run into either, though I did run into the nice neighbors and as I greeted and passed them I reached in my pocket and held a slice of pecan-raisin up in the air and they laughed and said, oh yeah, they're down there all right, only when I went down there, marched down the hill doing my arm exercises with weights, turning left onto the embankment that runs along the creek that's half-frozen, half running in an icy celadon hue, there were no waterbirds of any kind that I could see, except on the other side, strange ice formations, a cluster of them, the size of geese, and I thought maybe they were the snow geese, but they weren't, only clumps of ice, and then I crossed the road and went up a hill and down another and then came back the same way and still no geese or mallards, which is why tomorrow's breakfast toast is in my pocket. It's the last of that good bread too, so tomorrow if I go by there, sans bread, I'm almost bound to run into both gaggle and flock waiting to hit me up. I'm going to have to pick another route. Maybe a drive to the conservation area - it's been a while.

***

Start with where you are. Thank you darling for your page hits just now. My spirits were flagging a bit, waking from a nap feeling low-energy, a little achey, in a reflective mood. Very cold and gray out. Start with where you are. The phrase reminds me of the Catholic confessional, entering the mysterious dark little booth... Bless me father for I have sinned. That was the "once upon a time" to start one's little list, but really, there is so much potential there for launching on a narrative, and perhaps many a parish priest the world over, and over time, if inclined to and of the presence of mind to be attuned to one, might have heard a remarkable story, not just decontextualized misdeeds - the ones fit - in my schoolgirl's judgment - for the priest's ears. I'd be sent off to kneel at the altar to recite a few Hail Mary's and Acts of Contrition, nothing too major, and I'd clutch my rosary beads, which I had no idea really what to do with but which I liked, and I'd fervently as I could recite the prayers - not unlike being punished (on extremely rare occasion) in school by having to write some phrase over and over again on a blackboard until it became - what, ingrained - or meaningless? And then, not really feeling absolved, but then again perhaps not strongly feeling that I had sinned either (though guilt often gnawed at me), I'd leave the incense-heavy gloom of the still, dark chapel, row after row of empty pews like reproachful parishioners, and make my way to the back of the church, beneath the handsome stained glass rose window, high up right in front of which was an enticing wood-raftered treehouse-like rose-window backdropped secret, 'members-only' space from which some Sundays at the ten o'clock mass, or maybe the 11:15, a clutch of elderly sopranos exuberantly caterwauled from on high, their voices trickling down through shimmering dustmoted air onto the congregation below. Anyway - after Saturday afternoon confession I'd just about run through the dimly lit church and burst open the massive oak doors and stand at the top of the hill in golden sun, because confessions were scheduled at four, close to the verge of the most beautiful light of the day, which I knew beforehand, and was perhaps an enticement, the reward, for me to come and say my piece.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Presence

Route 2, 2 p.m.,
Williamstown, MA

***
Hello darling, back from my jaunt across state lines. Wish the photo had come out better, I was coming over a hill when the pretty steepled church and behind it the handsome stone bell tower swung into view, and as I drove I frantically patted the passenger seat next to me fishing for my camera which I managed to find and took the picture with one hand while still driving. Well - at least I wasn't on a cell phone.

I enjoyed the drive, about an hour and ten minutes each way, flying along back country roads alongside and through the Berkshire mountains. It was great quality time mentally communing with you, and a lipreader in any vehicle behind me might have thought that I have Tourettes for all the obscene scenarios I imagined freely aloud, in the privacy of the sealed car, of you and me together. My utterances were punctuated with Anglo-Saxon monosyllables that - as I traveled the front and then, flipping you over, the backside of you, covering both sides of you, every inch - get right down to it. Ah, nice release for me, in a fashion, it really was. Not even close to being with you, or to the next best thing (maybe I can drive and snap a picture, but that's the extent of my ambidextrousness while operating heavy machinery), but it was balm to imagine you, the sensation of you, and to keep using, with guttural relish, dirty words over and over again, hard.

Oh, and in between I stopped at an art museum. I just wrote a note to My Friend in Finland about it, so since I'm tired after all that driving and what-not, I'll just include it here.
I'm back from a trip to an art museum this afternoon, in Williamstown, MA, where I saw an exhibit entitled, 'The Strange World of Albrecht Dürer'. Actually, that seems like a silly title for an exhibit, but the exhibit itself was fascinating, about 75 of his engravings, woodcuts, and an etching or two (he only made 6 in all, didn't like the form for some reason) from the museum's collection. Of course I was aware of Dürer in a cursory 'Art 101' kind of way, but had never taken time to look at a number of his works in person. My God! He reminds me of Blake, his visionary scenes, woodcuts of scenes, as he re-imagines them, from Revelations, for example. And the level of extremely fine-grained detail was truly astounding. I mean, whole tiny villages in a distant landscape rendered in perfect perspective, and in fine detail - in a space of size no larger than my little finger. Or an image of, say, a swan in a pond - and the reflection of the swan beneath it! - as just the tiniest naturalistic detail - rendered tinier I think than an infant's tiny fingernail! It really was quite astounding. There was also an informative short film showing how woodcuts, engravings, and etchings are made. Which made me marvel at his work all the more - it would be hard enough to create such images with the finest pen-and-ink, let alone carving it out of a block of wood or copper plate. Anyway, I think you would have enjoyed the exhibit too. He even had a number of abstract designs of "knots," complex, ornate, labyrinthine, intertwining lines, merging into hexagonal stars - kaleidescopic.
***
Also, in a separate exhibit entitled Eye to Eye, there was a beautiful collection of about thirty portraits, mostly paintings, of distinct individual characters, each one at whom we could gaze, and who, depending on the work, gazed back with various attitudes.

Along with this was a nice quote on the wall, by Frida Kahlo:


And there was a Bonnard.


And there was this lovely portrait too, which caught my fancy.


***
And so darling, I leave you this post so that you might have my presence.

Very many kisses.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

My dearest Branwell, missing you very much, wish I could kidnap you and erase that pillar - it's painted over you, you're hidden behind it - so that I could see your beautiful shining face and hear your voice. My list of demands? Words and kisses, yours and yours. And I'll give kisses in return.

Such a fierce wind since yesterday evening, all day long and now too. The porch chimes violently clang and do a wild tarantelle. Things are cozy up in the aerie and I'm feeling on top of things. I did a big food shopping and there were various marked down items, such as chicken drumsticks and kirby cucumbers. So I made a big pan of chicken paprikash, and after it was all stewed I took the meat off the bone so that the sauce - onion, paprika, stock, carrot, yogurt - is easier to eat once it's spooned onto noodles, which I've already cooked. And I made - of all things - pickles, slicing the cucumbers, salting and letting them sit for a couple of hours, rinsing and draining them, and pouring a boiled vinegar & water concoction with garlic cloves and dill seed over the top. They're in the fridge now, and will take a couple of days to taste like pickles, but it's a great easy recipe - the chips once ready are crisp, flavorful, and delicious. Plus I baked cookies (chocolate chip) and made a big pot of penne pasta with a turkey sausage, tomato, and broccoli-rabe sauce to pack for lunches, D's and - for tomorrow - mine too. I'm planning to drive to Williamstown to the art museum there, to catch an exhibit on Dürer before it ends in March, plus whatever other exhibits are going on there. I've been feeling a little intellectually starved, and I feel that my blogging may be suffering for it, a bit (ah, but always the kisses, there, everything's okay). I am reading, still, a fascinating study of the painter Pierre Bonnard, but I don't have much to say about it at the moment, just that I had never thought about painting from the creative-process standpoint - he viewed sketching as intuitive, and the color added later as more a function of reason. Which apparently was contrary to the "formal school." But I get it. Blogging, or writing for me is like that - just try to set it down as quickly as possible first, without sweating it too much. Then go back over it, edit, add shadings as, or if, they occur to me. I'm enjoying the study, it's very well-written and astute, and Bonnard and his circle and his world - well, he comes off as a man, a human being with a drive to create in the way he did - in other words, he isn't deified and mythologized and Made To Be an Untouchable Genius. No - he's a man of his time, of his world, of his place, with that special gift to be able to set it down, in the way he did. These days ("these days" being my wise middle age) I greatly appreciate demystifications of artists, such as with so much that I have learned from various sources over the last couple of years of Emily Dickinson, who has become for me (perhaps for you too) a vibrant, complex, multi-faceted personage - not an untouchable weird muse, on the contrary - very, very human.

It is very freeing to simply think of one's self as alive on this planet at this moment in time, and see - best as one can, according to one's abilities - to make the most of it, to perhaps record it, to perhaps capture a fleeting instant. The here and now are important.

It's funny when I was in T'town the wife and I talked in the van while she drove me to the train station for my return home. And I did like her, she strikes me as quite conflicted herself. And she expressed horror about today's "culture," insalubrious influences on her children, and the impulse is to try to cut it all off - but one can't, and one shouldn't. I don't think I succeeded but I tried to tell her that there's more to Today's Culture than is on Clear Channel. I told her (as we stood on the windswept concrete station platform anxiously regarding LED signs about train arrivals) that I am very glad now - now, in my, not exactly dotage, but you know what I mean - to have an appreciation for the Rolling Stones, and Neil Young, and - well, I could go on and on with a list. And she looked a little shocked that I was naming these groups and artists.

So one wants to protect one's children from "bad" influences - but - I don't know - don't throw out the baby with the bathwater? Because there are so many important voices, musical and other these days, creating, emoting, expressing - just of this very moment. I personally - for myself that is - don't believe that it's a good thing to cut one's self off from the ever-evolving flow of creation of art, as the march of time on this planet goes forth.

Which is why I also verily believe that surely, in a suburban Catholic parish, something way more dynamic, passionate, life and God-affirming than an almost unbelievably stale "folk" mass - those horrible musicless intonations - needs to happen. Where is the J.S. Bach of T'town? My God, I was standing right next to the girls' choir, and all I could hear was the guitar wielding nun belting her way through utterly uninspiring lyrics. The choir Was Not Into It.

God Intended for Creativity. I am quite sure of it. Otherwise he wouldn't have bestowed these gifts.

***

Darling, where was I?

And always more kisses for you, my dearest Branwell.

XOXO your Emily

Friday, February 18, 2011

Afternoon darling. Beautiful light, there's a pan of pork and cabbage braising in the oven, I'm pretty tired at the moment, brisk walk, no nap, and some clothes shopping, hitting the winter sales, which involved trying on a bunch of things - exhausting. But I did great - a pair of well-fitting jeans and four tailored, almost tissue-weight cotton blouses, Martha Stewartish style I'd say - all for $44. So I'll have some nice fresh spring things to wear in Brooklyn, not that I expect to need them all the time.

It's incredibly beautiful out just now. Snow's still on the ground but melting fast, it feels as though it's in the sixties maybe - springlike. But it's supposed to be in the 30s again tomorrow, so today's just a tease.

***

Darling, my energy's just draining out of me like water out of a tub. I think of you all the time and am so happy when I receive your page hits. In bed I think of you and can relieve myself. It's Friday evening, oh the weekend, how nice. Is it a weekend off for you? I don't even know, maybe not. Even if it were, when I used to work, I was usually much too tired on Friday evenings to go out. But I like the idea of going out somewhere with you. There was a wonderful restaurant in the old neighborhood, it's gone now, there's a new iteration in its place, but pricier now. But you would have liked the old one, very European in feel, terraced windows open to the street on warm evenings, so one could sit with a glass of wine, perusing the menu over a plate of delectable bits of Italian bread dipped in pale green, flavorful, fruity olive oil, and watch people coming home from work, all sorts, passing by, some with briefcases, some with a bouquet of flowers purchased from the Koreans a couple of doors down, tiny children on scooters, vastly pregnant women billowing past, exhausted Geithner-like men tersely whispering into their cellphones as they march. But you and I would just sit there in dim candlelight, surveying the street. It was a very comfortable place, not cheap, but not overpriced, it felt very comfortable and fair and unpretentious in every respect. Anyway, it's gone now, as so many of the places I grew to love when I lived there are gone. But don't worry! (as Creslyn might brightly say). There are new ones to take their place, new ones that we can discover, which perhaps actually, now that I think of it, is just as well, maybe all the better, we can make the experiences, and the memories, our very own. Afterward, in darkness, we'd walk back to the apartment, hand in hand maybe, passing by the cinema across the street, queues forming, seeing what's playing (I wouldn't be surprised if we catch a film there), and maybe we'll stop in at Sweet Melissa's for the following morning's coffee, because I don't know how to figure out that conundrum. Actually, my friends have a coffeemaker, but I have no idea how to work it, and it seems tiny - oh, I don't know. Plus, I'm spoiled - D usually is up before me and makes the coffee so I hate waiting around for it when I'm in B'klyn. So I'm happy to buy the coffee the night before, refrigerate it, drink it iced with milk in warm weather, or quickly heat it up in a small pot when it's not. I once read that Alexander Haig viewed food as strictly fuel, which intrigued me. There are aspects of me that view it as such, certainly - it's not an aesthetic experience every time. Or maybe it is, maybe just not an ecstatic experience every time. Well, I don't make a fetish out of food. But I do need my morning cup or two, without fuss.

My darling, my darling. We'll figure it out. For all I know - you prefer tea. With milk? Or with honey, or lemon, or sugar? Or straight? I wonder.

Very many kisses, my dearest. Hope all is well with you this weekend eve. Sleep tight. Love you.

XOXO

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dearest, I wonder how you are doing, what you do for meals. Do you cook for yourself, I wonder. A zillion years ago when I was still single and living by myself in a studio apartment in Boerum Hill, I worked a lot of long hours, into late evenings, and didn't cook for myself much at all, subsisted on cigarettes, popcorn, and diet coke. (I really hope that epidemiologically insalubrious period doesn't come back to haunt me.) I have since very much amended my ways, quit smoking, eat proper meals. The upside of the bad diet? A nice thin figure. Proper meals? Weight gain, over the years. I think I have things in pretty good balance these days though, home-cooked meals with fresh ingredients, vigorous walks every day.

So tonight's dinner is a quartered chicken browned and stewed in a melange of last summer's farmstand vegetables from the freezer - plum tomato puree, mixed peppers - along with homemade chicken stock.

Started out for a walk at the conservation area this morning but it was still unpleasantly slippery so I bagged it and drove around thinking, where should I go. I wound up a few miles from home, at an international arts colony surrounded by sculpture park and miles and miles of pastoral countryside. I parked the car in the lot and set off for a walk, venturing up their driveway to see where the artists, writers, dancers, translators, et al, live when like bees they're in their hive. The place seemed deserted, I guess it's offseason, and I didn't venture very close to the handsome porched farmhouse presiding at the height of a slope, put off by the "Caution - plover nesting area" - no, scratch that, that's at the beach, summers, at Riis Park - but rather - "Beyond this point, residents and guests only." I was definitely a trespasser. But a writer, a blogger, curious to meet perhaps other writers or artists of any kind. But I have no interest in a co-ed arts colony residency. Darling, I'm sure you can imagine how that would go for me. No, much better I sequester myself up in my aerie.


Dearest, I don't have much tonight. Just holding your hand, really, being with you, in your arms, on the couch, your place maybe. Wonder what you're making - oh, surprise me. Either that, or hand me the phone and the box of take-out menus...

C. and usciski,
your Girl from Ypsilanti

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dearest love, in a watery mood this evening, unfocused, not really living in the moment, a little too projected into the future. So I'm trying to refocus myself. Why do I like to blog? To touch your hand, when I can't. So I'm touching your hand. A letter to you.

I wrote the other day that I'd wish to dab perfume, and it's been gnawing at me a bit, because I don't actually own any. And so I thought about Miss Dior, and I googled it, and it's obtainable, but how can I ask D for $78 (no tax, free shipping) for perfume for god's sake. It's untenable. Plus, perhaps the perfume is too connected with an ancient past, though on Amazon a customer review cited how she's worn it for some forty years, since age 16. I don't know. Problematic. So dabbing perfume while, or before, you nap? No, maybe not. I will try to score some really nice clean lemon-verbena scented soap though - though honestly, I can't even promise that. This is the frame of mind I'm in - not stressing exactly, but worrying about - perfume, of all things. A Joni Mitchell song played on the radio yesterday - of course I know it - something about fancy French cologne and I could drink a case of you. And clean white linens. You see, this is in the nature of thinking already ridiculously too-detail-oriented-much into the future, and so to relieve my mind's going there, to simply get it down on paper to free my mind, I've started a little list already, of what to pack, what to bring. Clean white linens, a case of... rosé... though I don't know your preferred libation but there's a wonderful little wine shop just around the corner... and - fancy French cologne? We'll see. The first evening when you inhale me - well, I guess it'll just be me, plus my freshly shampooed hair...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The light is turning the syrupy gold of honeyed baklava, huge trays of which, filo-encased nutfilled pastries sliced in plump triangles, are on perpetually fresh display behind the counter of a storefront Middle Eastern bakery on Atlantic Avenue. In the fifteen years that I lived around there - no, more like twenty in all - how many times did I buy a slice? Almost never. C'est dommage! Still, those luscious confections always enticed. But whenever I stopped in there I was always springing for a savory - pocketsize spinach-feta pie, lahambourgin (a slice of spicy ground lamb flatbread pizza), or from the cart out on the sidewalk when it was in operation, a fat pita sandwich stuffed with fried chickpea falafel, made healthy and green with mixed salad, tangy yogurt, and dashes of hot sauce.

Darling, my intuition - in combination with interpreting page hits as one might scattered tea leaves - is that you've managed it. I certainly hope so, I'm going with it. The thought elates me.

I'm amused by some of the page hits, which resonate with me but which I regard as statistical outliers (because not, I think, from you) that I toss out. In the last day two separate searches landed on my blog: involuntary celibacy serenely accepted and emma bovary is admirable. Ha! And ha! Serenely accepted? Serene like Alan Ginsberg (Howl) and the poem Do Not Go Gently into This Old Night are serene. But then again, if that is how I am however improbably perceived, then perhaps I have a future on the lecture circuit. Maybe I can debate Sarah Jessica Parker or somebody. Sex, Town, or Country: Pick One.

Darling, dreaming of you all the time. I've just taken a peach crostata out of the oven. The light has faded, it's squarely the blue gloaming now. Gwynnie's asleep on the rug near me. A young man croons beautifully on the radio now. I imagine the first time you and I kiss. I go over the sensation, how it goes down (is it as soon as the door shuts behind us? no it can't be - but when? so what brings you here), again and again in my mind.

It's not easy to feed snow geese. The last two days I've made a point to walk on the road whose high bank follows the creek. The three geese are there, along with ducks, in the audibly tumultuous creek, all rushing rapids in the middle, and pristine sheets of ice on the sides. I don't have an endless supply in the house, and D and I have rather refined tastes in bread, so I took a couple of slices of very good pecan-raisin levain from the freezer, thawed it in the toaster, bundled up in my red coat and scarf, and tucked the warm bread in my pocket. I set out for my walk, in semi-private moments - that is, out of eyeshot of houses and cars - going through my routine of arm exercises, all in sets of eight. I made my way down a deserted hill towards the creek, where at the bottom of the bluff the swanlike (long-necked, white) geese swam in the rapids. They look okay, maybe a bit thin, but they seem energetic. I tried to get their attention, which I did, they honked agreeably, and I tried flinging torn off bits down the bank, but I never was good at throwing, so the bread didn't make it down to them - and from their previous futile experience they had no interest in trying to make their way on webbed feet up an icy hill. The hurled morsels ended up scattered every which way. I suppose I made a few squirrels happy.

Today I set out with bread again, and there were the geese, they didn't even acknowledge me, didn't waste calories on the tease I now evidently represented to them, because I had seemed to promise bread but couldn't deliver. I thought about tossing bits from the main road that crosses over the creek, but then thought of casting bread upon the waters, a phrase whose meaning, honestly, I don't know, but it didn't seem like a good idea, yet another waste of perfectly good, not cheap bread, for geese that were a hundred yards away and unlikely to ferret it out before flying mallards could quack their way to it.

I hope so much that you are doing well, darling, and are simultaneously as exquisitely unhappy and happy as I am, my dearest gnat. We'll get a good balance going, for a spell. Always the l'heure exquisée, every moment I have with you. Love you.

XOXO

Monday, February 14, 2011

unplugged

My darling, my valentine to you is where my psyche took me this evening, perhaps in response to listening to/half-watching last night's as-to-be-expected overproduced lalapalooza Grammys this morning on tape while I moved about the kitchen, cleaned up, made chocolate chip cookies, peeled potatoes for mash, & the like.  Don't get me wrong - really enjoyed it...

Ah, sweetheart, my love, running a bath, turning the lights down low, dreaming of you, always.

Here is some lovely lute music, by Francesco Canova da Milano (1497-1543), to give you a sense of what the maiden might be playing - what I might be playing, if I knew how to play the lute, ah but I know other musical instruments, and love to improvise to see what produces, precisely, the most euphonious and delightful effect, whatever you like


Orazio Gentileschi (1563-1639), The Lute Player, c.1610/1620, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

About Francesco Canova da Milano, also known as Il divino

Sunday, February 13, 2011

If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear? -- Bruce Cockburn
Dearest Branwell, I hear you, your messages are coming through loud & clear. Many kisses. Thinking of you, with very much love.
It won't be long. -- Paul McCartney
***
Cold, overcast day, with occasional breaks of sun. Conditions still treacherously icy in the driveway and (presumably) at the conservation area, so I walked around here. Ran into neighbors who were making a concerted effort, climbing over a snow bank, to feed the three remaining handsome white snow geese and a few ducks. I stopped and chatted with them, and they said they're worried about the geese, that they might be starving. I was very sorry to hear this. I had assumed that they were someone's well-cared for pets, and now and then I remember to tuck some bread in my pocket for them when I'm going that way, but not always, and in fact when I have given them little torn off pieces that they clamor and honk and seem very grateful for, I was half-afraid that whoever their owner is might come out and say, hey, what are you feeding them. Which one woman once did, come out and say just that, but she wasn't the owner, she was just curious that I was feeding them, and told me that she's afraid of the geese. Anyway, it was a little distressing to have my convenient illusion burst, to think that they're actually fending for themselves in the frozen hardscape. I will never set out for walk in that direction without bread in my pocket again. I hope they're okay. My neighbors - this set - are very nice. I'm glad we had a moment to chat, and from a simpatico point of view on the subject of the lovely creatures.

Dearest, holding your hand now, as I was at the movies. I drove about a half-hour south to catch a matinee of The Fighter, which got a bunch of Oscar nominations, but that I didn't get around to seeing when it was at the multiplex here. Very good flick. I didn't care about the boxing motif, but it was a great study in monstrous and warping family dynamics, starkly reminiscent of Greek tragedies - two brothers locked in complex psychological competition, monstrous harpie mother, and a half-dozen adult sisters physically deformed, it seemed, by impoverishment of spirit - a family portrait of hardscrabble grotesquerie, set in Lowell, MA, which was interesting too, a realist-style portrait of a believable, recognizable family, snapshot of the underbelly of American life, set in a once vibrant town where manufacturing left but - opposite of a neutron bomb - the people remained. That's played out all over America, including here in Hudson, certainly.

I managed to have just enough time before the movie to get a quick cheap meal at a wonderful little hole-in-the-wall Central American storefront, where I had two small delicious two-dollar tacos made of spicy beef on little warm corn tortilla rounds, washed down with a Mexican orange soda. That was just delightful, and reminded me of one of the few things I enjoyed about working at Fordham Plaza in the Bronx for the couple of years I did, a wonderful portable taco stand in the plaza that had the most amazing, delicious, fresh, satisfying, cheap tacos one could wish for. I often lunched on that.

Sweetheart, wish I could say it with salad dressing or hot sauce or something - no, forget all that, just hugs, kisses, touch. Sometimes I wonder if I'm making things up, dreaming, but I don't think so. I'm going with it. We'll see what happens. Touching your hand. All my love. Thinking of you always. XOXO


Saturday, February 12, 2011


***
Wow, what's the "B" side to the orchestral opening bars of Also sprach Zarathustra? Believe it or not, a woman's fastbeat yodel for her cowboy - Wanda Jackson, Cowboy Yodel.

KZE, I love you.

***
Nice sense of well-being at the moment. Up in the aerie, after puttering for an hour in the kitchen. Arranged fresh roses in vases - nice apricot sprays, and what I could salvage of last week's flowers, I clipped and placed in tiny vessels on the kitchen window sash. I rubbed half a defrosted turkey with dried sage, pepper, and salt, and it's in the oven. Last fall's farmstand butternut squash is melting on the pellet stove. I received a message from the friends for whose cat I'll be taking care of in April, nailing down dates & flight times. The place is at my disposal from the Tuesday morning (I'll arrive in the afternoon) until late afternoon the following Wednesday. I figured I'd take my time that last day tidying, doing a wash maybe, cleaning the bath certainly, purchasing and arranging the "thank-you" bouquet of flowers in a vase on the mantel, and it's nice that I'll have all day to do so, no rush.

Walked around here today, have all but given up on the conservation area for the time being. It's so slick there that I wasn't getting enough of a workout and I almost instantly start to put on weight if I don't vigorously exercise. Around here roads are clear and so I've been off on my usual marches. I can't say there are signs of spring, I don't even wish to jump that gun - but I did notice in front of one house that I've passed numerous times in the past, from whose tall shrubbery in May I've surreptitiously stolen a lilac bloom or three - that the shrub has formed buds - lilac buds.

Ah, lilac buds, the very phrase makes me think of your beautiful lips. I have an image of you peeling a clementine, and I look at those lips of yours now and again, your downcast eyes, your thinking - I don't know what - but not, I don't think, of that clementine. (File under: Clementine, oh my darling.)

What else today? Have been happily reading & copy-editing another of My Friend in Finland's delightful and exquisite fairy tales, and had a lovely email exchange with him, which made me so appreciate having the privilege of this little editorial role with him. It's pretty amazing to me that this little epistolary connection between us has transpired. I get so much from his communications. He's decades younger than me, so it's totally not about that, but honestly, I think he and I each mutually offer each other something the other's lacking. I have an antic side, which shows I think in my emails to him, and he's very serious, to the point almost of monastic, well - very scholarly and knowledgeable in his ecumenical religious studies - I'm blown away, and cherish the little "sideways" glimpses into ancient texts that I would never otherwise obtain, and to obtain them in such a direct, personal way - really, it's a gift, and well, there it is. I'm glad I have that connection with him, it's offbeat, really fun, and I think we both derive something from it. I guess we both groove on just what the other has to offer - how nice is that?

Oh my love, oh my love, my darling, I hunger for your touch - on the radio a cappella female singers croon imploringly just now.

Usually precisely my frame of mind, you should see me when I'm lying in bed by myself in darkness, my thoughts of you and their instant abiding effects - oh, but I believe that the same goes on for you, as we think of each other, sometimes at precisely the same moment...

What other impressions of the day? A cardinal flitted in the shrubbery, and there were crows at the side of the road.

So very many many kisses, accompanied by - what style of music do you call that? Trombone, whistling, clarinet, big-band chacha...

Oh let's go out in the warm moonlight darling as we flee the party and the big band belting within and run down the terraced steps in the mild night and slip down to the beach and the lapping waters and in starlit darkness you slip the straps off my shoulders and my gown falls and you kiss me and we kiss

Friday, February 11, 2011

Darlings, my mind's a bit melancholic this moment, turning unanswerable quandaries over and over. Don't even know what to say. Have been reading a couple of extremely well-written and intriguing online advice columns, and ensuing letters, over the last couple of days, one on the wherefores of blogging, the other on an age-old relationship problem.

I wish I had a mother, a protective family, anyone, I could turn to for advice. I wonder how any couple can really seriously emotionally faithfully last through a marriage of 50 years. I don't see how that's possible if one is "alive" as opposed to sleepwalking. My parents made no pretense of having an edifice. That was a damaging thing. But propping up a false edifice - that doesn't seem right either. I respect boundaries truly - but was that incredibly sexy, vibrant, desirable, flirtatious woman truly monogamous for 50-plus years, including the last ten when her husband's been incapacitated? Did she really check everything at the door? Does she truly live so completely vicariously through her children, et al? I find it confusing. I don't know.

I think this is one of those conversations that I wish I could have while lying in your arms. There really are questions that I have, not so much personal ones, about specifics of your marriage, or mine, or anything like that. More, broader existential ones. I found myself thinking this afternoon (as I noted in my journal) "I can completely forgive you for being married to someone else, because you met her before you met me, years and years before." (It's harder for me, with the other one.)

Marriages, these long-lived ones, when we've been in them for so very long, decades. Each one that I think of is so different.

***
This post is not a polished set piece. It's more like, when I was a girl, going to the ice skating rink set up in the the parking lot at the back of the stone-edificed elementary school, pulling on borrowed or nominally rented skates and making my way, grasping the edge, trying to figure out how to skate. I liked going there, it was cheerful and merry, loads of children were there, and I could be in a crowd and at the same time by myself, making my way around the perimeter. Sometimes I'd let go of the side and glide for a bit, but then there was the side to grab hold of again if I needed to. Sometimes I fell down. I dreamed of figure eights, small ones and large ones. The rink was a circle, not a perfect one, but I thought of perfect circles, their infinite properties (cirumference, diameter, 360 degrees - a line in half - 180). The school building had already turned into a "community center" - because, stone edificed or not, one night when I was fast asleep, in first grade, the school - which even at the time (c. 1965) was very old, 75 years or more - caught fire and blazed and burned. It was utterly destroyed, the interior that is. The stone edifice remained, and over the years got remade into a community center. I had attended first grade there, though, and the night the school burned down I had left stuff in my little cubbyhole that went with the blaze. Stuff being Christmas presents - books - that I had stashed away to tell at show-and-tell the following week, an illustrated Heidi, and a large illustrated volume of verse.

Anyway! Darling darlings. I used to go skating by myself. I'd encounter a little girl friend or two there, and supervising adults from a makeshift stand poured hot chocolate from thermoses, or maybe a pot. So I'd make my way around, burn calories, work out problems as I went round and round, and I'd drink some cocoa, do up and then undo the skates, I'd make my way upright for a while and occasionally fall, and then I'd return the skates and make my way past the community center that was no longer my beloved old elementary school. After it burned down its students, me included, were bused in makeshift ways to various schools all over town, my huge town - who ever knew there was a school attached to the Greek Church of the Archangels? And yet there in the afternoon shift, I spent the remainder of first grade, and part of second - not sure now, honestly, where in town that was!

Darlings, will let you go. But if you have it all better figured out than I do... well - oh, I don't know that you do. Maybe.

Love you.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

***
Oh Brooklyn, Brooklyn take me in, are you aware the shape I'm in...
I see your candle in the window just now - thank you, darling. I think of you, smile, remember your beautiful smile, think about what to write to you, and as I muse, a line from a lovely Avett Brothers song from the radio comes to mind.

I think of the John Koch paintings I've posted the last couple of days. You know, those particular images are remarkable - the furnishings in the apartment are configured quite like that, and you and I don't look so different from the depicted figures.

I really like that painter. I was never aware of him, but one weekend afternoon in the weeks following 9/11 D and I visited the New-York Historical Society on Central Park West. I don't recall now why we were there. In my work on a maritime history of a tiny Bronx island I had recently spent, here and there, several extremely enjoyable hours in the Society's wood-paneled (as I recall) research room, following little clues of arcana as I pieced together a history. I recall opening a jumbled file that contained, in passing, an original slip of paper with A. Burr's signature in tiny inked cursive. And I examined, laid atop a burnished library table, a rare, early, pastel-colored and copperplate-lettered map of lower Westchester that included a depiction of the diminutive fish-shaped island that was the object of my study, from the time it was part of that county.

But that's not why D and I were there that day. As it happened, in one gallery a video of one of the hijacked planes crashing into a tower was on infinite loop and when a bench became vacated I sat down, girded myself and watched. There was a city planning commissioner there too, a fulsome obnoxious self-important man seemingly presiding over the exhibit, I don't know what he was doing there. Unfortunately in the aftermath of 9/11 a strange opportunistic streak came out on the part of some municipal officials - or so I felt. I just remember him patronizingly beaming at the crowd milling past the video installation - as if he was responsible somehow for gauging our reactions? I don't know what.

I'm certain that video is not the reason D and I had made a special trip. Perhaps we had simply wandered in there in passing from somewhere else, on a beautiful autumn afternoon.

But what I do remember to this day was a ravishing exhibition, room after room, of paintings of an artist I had never heard of, John Koch, and who really, I haven't heard of since, though of course I don't travel in art circles so much. Anytime I wish to think of him I've forgotten his name and have to do awkward google searches to recollect it.

The exhibit was called John Koch: Painting a New York Life, and indeed it was canvas after exquisite, colorful, realistic canvas of scenes of his fully and richly lived life in a capacious, lightfilled Manhattan apartment, with his wife, and soaring views from their windows, and lovely furnishings, and a grand piano - so beautiful. The paintings were fairly large, as I recall - say, window size - so it was like peeping (invited) into their windows and vicariously luxuriating in sublime afforded glimpses within. I've always been drawn to scenes like that, and indeed (maybe especially in Brooklyn, because the apartment we lived in was gorgeous and in excellent repair) have tried to emulate in whatever fashion I can that way of being. Flowers on a table, happy cats, music on the stereo, the cast of golden light on the surroundings at the end of a day, a nice drink, a kiss right now for you, my darling...

Those resplendent paintings, with their quietly elegant, peaceful, beautiful subject matter, were a welcome balm at any time whatsoever, but perhaps especially in the wake of the recent destruction, ruin, wreckage, and devastation, a clear blue sky filled sunny day turned horrible. No, here was permission again to enjoy the quiet moments, the slant of light, a loved one, a harmonious domestic space, one's carefully chosen and cared for belongings...

Anyway.

Stella the Artist just came on and I caught it - oh, yeah!

Many kisses, my love.

***

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This evening finds me wondering where have all the page hits gone, nearly 40 yesterday (an unusually high number, my average is more like 15-25/day), down to zero all day, none since around one a.m. yesterday evening. Where's the European Union, plus other nations on the continent that I'm not quite sure are in the Union or not? If I ever had to go on Jeopardy or Millionaire I would have to bone up on on the list, who's in it and who's not. Anyway, I find myself worrying (I realize how absurd that is). Perhaps you're sleeping. Or working. Or - and this is the worry part - did you fly home for some reason? Is everything all right? I have to have faith. Keep the faith. That's always been a struggle for me. Because people change their minds.

Besides that, the house is very quiet, I've been trying to gauge my mood and figure out what to write. The baseboard heats and a floorboard creaks. The air is deliciously fragrant with spices. I made the Indian chicken dish again. We've had it the last two nights in a row and polished it off, and this morning I asked, could you go for that again? And D said, absolutely, so I marinaded a package of chicken thighs with fresh ginger, cilantro, cayenne and black peppers, sea salt, and a ground mixture of clove, cinnamon stick, cardamom seed (popped out of the pods), cumin, and grated nutmeg, smooshed in a baking pan with spoonfuls of plain yogurt. It must be the spices, but that dish is unusually warming and satisfying on such a frigid day.

I don't mean to bum out but this is the kind of day it's been: I just missed Stella the Artist because I needed to turn down the radio in order to think & write; D and I had about the bazillionth repeated fight over birdseed. We're out of it. Oh. Well I have no cash. Well maybe I have some. I did - $13. It's one of my pet peeves, running out of things. So then he mocks me, like a petulant child. Oh excuse me one of your pet peeves, and he does some mincing mocking gesture. Yes, it is, and I feel entitled. Then Mr. Marxist says to me that I'm entitled to some of my pet peeves and not others. Whatever, I reply. He did go get the birdseed, and filled the feeders too. (I just hate the sight of little birds struggling at empty feeders - they'd be elsewhere if we hadn't led them on.)

My husband despises me and shut off all the love because I grew older and weaker and whatever happened to my head and now I don't earn an income. So he's feeling all resentful that Ms. Seven-Sister graduate, whom he had assumed would be his lifelong ambitious career-woman paycheck lifting him out of poverty, isn't the one earning a living. I could go on. But I won't. But this is the state of our marriage. I have reverted to the useless European bourgeois-bred artiste and now D - who'd fancied himself an artist too but never did a single thing about it - resents that he's supporting me.

It's very upsetting, and I feel as stuck as any Ibsen character, Nora or whoever. It seems that I just wasn't meant to be here. I deeply resent that I loved D for a very long time, and thought we had a happy marriage. We never had children. And now - not now - but for the last several years, when his heart in a tantrum left the building, and mine too finally took flight, he resents supporting me. I resent that he's supporting me too. I don't even have the excuse of children. It's all very warped and confusing and it makes me angry. I do not even recognize the man I had originally married. I don't think he has Alzheimer's - a basis for not recognizing someone's changed personality. I think that he was very comfortable with me for a while, didn't have any serious responsibilities, and now that he does, he's extremely resentful and aspects of his self rear themselves all the time.

In his Marxian view, I guess everyone - me - is supposed to be slogging in the coal mines all the time. And so he resents that he's working for a living. Why isn't he more efficient? Isn't he charging enough for his services? He works every single day, not a day off. True, he gets out of the house late and is usually home for lunch - isn't that nice? It's not as though he's up before the crack of dawn sitting on some commuter rail slogging his way to a pitiless job in the city. Or away from home for weeks on end, etc., etc.

Yes, so that was the kind of day I had. No Stella, Penelope barfed twice, copious dripping quantities, not - mind you - on a hard surface that I could easily wipe, but rather on the runnered stairs, and on a pretty hooked rug.

I can't think of anything else that went wrong. I'm here, I read more of the study of Bonnard (am intrigued by the lives of artists, I think, something that clearly our culture pays only lip service to, except for the certified, flank-branded Great Ones), there is wine in my glass, kerosene in the furnace, fragrant dishes on the stove with the promise of a hot delicious meal to come. My heart is full of love as always, even if p-o'd in a few other aspects, and I just got a page hit - the first all day - from Slovenia, landing squarely on - appropriately enough - my Mais non, Emma Bovary, c'est moi post from a while back.

Ah, darlings, I truly truly hope all is well with you, each of you. I love you very much. And so there it is.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

painting a (NY) life

To the southwest a volcanic sunset blazes in a mess of purple and orange. Savage clouds fervently smoke and smolder like a five-alarm fire, while elsewhere in the clear blue casually backlit shapes saunter by, and to the north a stark fan of black trees stands out against pale apricot sky.

Man, I wish I could paint. Surely it's easier - if one can paint.

Darling, I look forward to kisses because I'm sure they'll be less tortuous than some of my prose. Honestly some of those poetic tweeters make it look easy, not to mention haiku artists.

At any rate, enjoying the changing light, what's left of it - actually now it's dark, and savoring thoughts of you, and listening to radio, and basking in the warmth of baseboard heat because it's turned awfully cold out. I went for a walk at the conservation area in early afternoon and was shocked to get out of my car in the parking area to be blasted with a strong frigid headwind off the mountains that totally messed up my freshly washed hair as I came back along the easterly trail to the point that my hair was so in my eyes that I could hardly see to avoid the treacherous potholes in the snow.

Darling, I have no big finish or anything. Still dreaming and fantasizing about your beautiful shoulders (strong build, smooth skin), musing about how to more efficiently arrange for coffee in the mornings, and realizing that I won't have to purchase flowers or that amazing camembert at GCT - I can get them right around the corner from a posh, convenient market. Ah, only 69 days to go. But who's counting? I won't - I promise you, it'll be back to dailiness for me, my darling - but I am relishing that sense of spring coming, something to look forward to, no month in Costa Rica just this moment, but instead a paradisaical image of a Bonnard or Vuillard colorful interior domestic scene, or a John Koch, the two of us bathing...











image:
John Koch (1909-1978)
The Bath (1973)

world enough, and time

in late April the sun
sets around 7:40
so there's plenty of afternoon
with time for siestas
if you could possibly manage it nothing would delight me more
my dearest Dmitri
I'll put flowers around the room
dab on intoxicating perfume
and afterward keep very quiet
while you sleep


image:
John Koch (1909-1978)
Siesta (1962) (detail)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dearest, Kitty here, interpreting page hits. Are you saying that maybe you could relate to my childhood, maybe yours had not dissimilar difficulties? (All unhappy families are just alike - to my mind.) Yes, sometime Before Sunset would be nice - that is a fantasy I've had - have you seen the film? I understand, Dmitri, the whole double life thing. I mean, not the particulars, but in broad terms. Double life, in the sense of important edifices to protect, I understand. But Jekyll/Hyde, or Dorian Gray? That's not how I see you. Though it's funny, the time we met a couple of years ago, I didn't know you at all (of course) but sensed that there was more going on than you were letting on, than you wanted or could let on. I don't mean to me - hardly that presumption, we didn't know each other at all - but in general. That the image you took pains to project was too good to be true, more than I could believe. I even mentioned it after you left. I didn't know what to make of it. I mean, I was familiar with the syndrome (if that's the word). Had gotten to know, sort of, someone who had let me know he led his life like that. And I too found myself bifurcating. So I was primed to recognize it, and there you were. I don't know that it made you more interesting to me, I can't say that. More, it puzzled me, surprised me, because I had always seen you as so thoroughly and comfortably in "their" camp (sorry my prose is awkward, I mean, you just seemed to fit in with them so entirely well). Anyway. Or perhaps I'm off the mark - perhaps it's all separate, utterly unrelated page hits, from Cook County, from Rhode Island, from New York City, Milan, the Russian Federation, and the like. But I don't know - I don't think so. I'll put it together, let my intuition guide me. (@ Copenhagen - you really landed on my blog by googling "a spanking"? LOL!)

On the radio now Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock play Court and Spark. The sun never came out today. Easier going at the conservation area this morning because the snow was frozen. On the other hand, there were so many deep holes that twisting my ankle was a serious possibility so I had to be careful. Finished editing a Finnish fairy tale. I'm thinking more and more about fairy tales, and in terms of them, than I ever have in my adult life, between My Friend in Finland, and the Coen Brothers yesterday. Looking forward to dinner tonight, a recipe made from a library book of Indian cookery (the author - the very book in fact - whose book signing I didn't go to a few weeks ago). Chicken thighs baked with fragrant seasonings and spices: fresh ginger & cilantro, plain yogurt, cayenne, black pepper, and a mortar-and-pestled mixture of cardamom & cumin seeds, cinammon stick, cloves, black pepper, and nutmeg. Which we'll have with the sauce spooned onto a bed of perfumed basmati rice. (Here's a spoonful for you darling - taste - what do you think? Delightful, isn't it? My love - kiss.)

Read the introduction to a book about Pierre Bonnard, who once (lundi, 17 janvier 1944) noted, "Celui qui chante n'est pas toujours heureux" -- one does not always sing out of happiness, as the author of the book translates. [In my inadequate French I venture -- the one who sings isn't always happy?]


Then again, the one who doesn't sing isn't always happy either.

Happy families are all alike.

Darling, sweet dreams. XOXO

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dearest loves, back from an enjoyable afternoon on the town. I used a discount certificate to take myself out for an elegant little lunch, an appetizer portion of mushroom risotto and a glass of very dry French white bordeaux. I savored every morsel and sip, and polished off three slices of warm baguette, each slathered with a third of a triangle of cold butter. Normally I wouldn't - that's a pretty carb-intensive meal, between the rice and bread - but I felt entitled after a long walk in deep snow at the conservation area this morning. What a workout, I could feel the calories burn and muscles strengthen as I sank into snow and hauled myself out one bootstep at a time. I enjoyed the meal, but was glad I had a discount, because that little bit came to $27, plus tip (so - $32). If I had ordered with abandon from the menu (as a table near mine was doing), the lunch could easily have risen to $75-90. Crazy prices. But whatever. I enjoyed it.
So, how was it?
Good, overpriced, but good. And I learned that tarragon goes nicely with mushrooms.
That doesn't sound like such a great revelation.
No, I guess not!
We're having mushroom fettucine for dinner tonight, as it happens. Guess how I'll season it?

Afterward I went to a matinée of True Grit, with Jeff Bridges and a wonderful very young spunky, spritely actress who stole the movie. I didn't care that the character she played was only 14, I wanted her to run off with the Matt Damon character. Didn't happen, she was no Lolita, and though she got a spanking, it never did turn out to be that kind of spanking, though I was hoping. Oh, when's my birthday? I could use one.

The late afternoon light's just turned bright and clear, timeless Vermeer sun piercing the glass, illuminating unfortunately not my lovely visage but casting rather uselessly aglow the back of an empty brown rattan chair, burnishing it chestnut. Lusting after you madly as always, but will sublimate like a good girl and go vacuum the solarium while Women of Note comes on, or maybe go shoot some cornbread out of the sky. Or set up a lovely mushroom pasta seasoned with tarragon. In town, it'd be $15.95/$25.95 (depending on portion size). But here in mythic golden country, for you it's free, served with an additional sprinkling of kisses showering down on you like parmesan. Or is it a sprinkling of parmesan showering down on you like kisses? Showers of both, rain on a June afternoon, lashing the wild rose border of your love, darling, each bloom kissed, savored, sipped, sucked, ravaged, adored.

All my love, darling. Taking refuge under an umbrella of kisses. XOXO

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Once when I was a young girl my mother punished me by sending me up to "my" room for hours and hours, in solitary. It wasn't really my room. I never had my own room in that house. Not one of us did, there, ever - not my brothers, or my sister. Even my parents didn't have their own space. My father's room was the living room, and by extension after a certain hour in the evening the entire downstairs became his undefileable domain. He slept on the sofa, and for a time my mother's room was the adjoining 'verandah' (seventies-weird-fake-wood paneled, inadequately winterized sunporch), on the other side of whose sheer-curtained French doors from the living room, wedged in a corner, was a narrow divan.

I don't recall how old I was the afternoon my mother exiled me to the pumpkin-colored upstairs bedroom. The wall color had been my idea, some years past. Inspired by an enticing photo spread from the likes of Seventeen (read when I was - say, nine) I had clamored for an orange room with a wood latticed wall on which I could - could what? don't recall now - pin stuff? Anyway, the lattice I'm sure might have mitigated the strong, palpitation-inducing orange. Why on earth - besides my champion nagging - did my mother ever consent to letting my younger brothers (a) paint the room (read, splotches, rough patching, etc.), (b) let alone in such a loud unforgiving shade? I don't remember the original wall color, perhaps it had been a fusty, decades-old wallpaper of the previous homeowners. But the orange paint remained for years, a complete fingers-on-the-blackboard attack on the psyche in a room in a very cramped house, a room in which one wished perhaps to retire for some peace, some privacy, some soothing quiet. I shared that room for a long time with my mother and my sister, three twin beds at odd angles positioned around the room. (So, so hard, silent fumbling executions in the night of an utterly passionate heart.) Years earlier, my sister's crib had been against one of the walls.

Anyway, I just remember my mother punishing me - who knows my transgression - by sending me up to solitary. And I thought I would go mad, for that one afternoon. I mean, we were already in solitary enough, did I need to be in solitary more? That was the cruel joke of it, we were always stuck in that house together somehow, with nowhere to go. For a long time my mother couldn't, didn't drive, refused, it seemed, to get lessons. So we really were stuck there. Couldn't even go to the supermarket without it involving a long walk. I knew all the shortcuts, going up the steps to the church on the hill, crossing the lot, going back down the hill on the other side.

I thought I would go mad when as a girl she ordered me to the room, closed the door, no contact. And I was very angry about it. Eventually there was some sort of glasnost, for some reason I'm thinking a bowl of popcorn, perhaps smuggled up by one of my siblings.

I thought I would go mad then, and now here I am having spent so many years on my own in a room. A Room of One's Own, as Virginia Woolf observed. A room of my own. I do like having a room of my own. But I also like company. I don't like the house arrest part. But I like the retreat. A room of one's own - that's a positive, affirmative thing. I didn't have a "room of my own" the day my mother exiled me to that hapless orange semi-public space at the top of the stairs. It is no wonder to me at all that most of the relationships in that family have been severed. Growing up in that house was a cruel experience for me. I marvel at the house I live in now. It's not a big house, and yet it's probably half again larger than the one I grew up in, with two warring parents, and my younger siblings, my two brothers and my sister. In my current house, upstairs there are two bedrooms, roughly the size of the bedrooms of my parents' house. Here, there's an aerie, sunfilled by day, a semi-public office/sitting space, that I think would make a lovely play area for children. My parents' house, when I was growing up, didn't have that kind of buffer zone. At the top of the stairs were two bedrooms, a cramped bath - no working shower!!!! (which is why I have never taken a bath, or desired to, in my adult life) - a window overlooking the church at the top of the hill, and that's it. No bumped out expansive aerie space.

Changing the subject, sort of. Went to the cinema today, saw a very well-received film that showed a lot of sexual grappling between people in love, and then not in love (same couple, over the years). It was a fine movie, beautifully acted, but bleak. I wanted to feel something, watching the lovemaking scenes, which mostly didn't go so beautifully. I suppose they were beautiful to watch, if I could just get past the nervous tittering of seniors at the multiplex.

It used to be for me that lovemaking was if not sustainable, then attainable. For some reason I thought of dildos today (how? why am I associating it with the Chekhov story I'm reading?). I could probably use one. But I can't imagine ever procuring one. I can't imagine the circumstances, either as a person in a shop, or online. I suppose I'm my own worst jailer then.

I keep dreaming - waking dreams mind you - of your shoulders - I'm sure they must be incredibly beautiful. Like a woman's breasts. One can imagine them, through the clothes, but it's just such a completely different thing to behold them, to hold them, to kiss them.

So here I am, up in the aerie, on my own, in a house bigger than the one I grew up in, dreaming of making love, dreaming of you, wondering why disconnects have to be quite as severe as they are, thankful at the same time that the walls aren't pumpkin-orange and that if I can't be with you, that I'm with myself.

Loving you. Sleep tight. XOXO