Thursday, April 28, 2011

My dearest, how are you? I sense that you're back across the pond, I get a sixth sense about it, or maybe it's just the pattern of pagehits or lack thereof. Or maybe I'm imagining things again. At any rate, I hope all is well with you, and that if you did have a long flight, that it was tolerable, and that you're now safely landed, and happy, and comfortable, and looking forward to the prospect of a delicious snack maybe, and comfortable bed.

I spent the day re-entering my life here, quite pleasantly. When I left, about ten days ago, I wouldn't say that there was still a foot in winter, but the landscape hadn't quite popped yet. Now we're squarely in spring, with bulbs all up, and with them too, perennials in the border, mounds of green growing up against last year's as-yet untrimmed spent brown detritus. On my walk today was a lilac hedge, not about to bloom, not quite yet (we're definitely at least a week behind Brooklyn, 125 miles north from there) but tight colorless panicles have formed, so -- soon.

I did a mountain of laundry today, and lightened the bedding, removing the heavy winter duvet layer, laundering the cover. I turned on the ceiling fan and opened the door to the juliet balcony, and again that sensation of being near the sea, though I'm not, but there is such a sense of fresh open air here, and quiet, and this house has always reminded me (in warm weather anyway, when it's more open to the elements) of an old wooden ship.

So I did my workout this morning, and later took a long walk, so I'm feeling back to my good healthful routines. Now I have chicken roasting in the oven, seasoned with lemon, garlic, and herbes de provence from the little spice shop.

My workout spilled over into the ten o'clock hour, L&O SVU over, so I turned the channel to the Nate Berkus show. He's an immensely warm, charming, gifted designer (mostly interior design) - I like him very much, he seems so (I sense) - unspoiled somehow. His guest today (or whenever the program was taped) was Newark Mayor Cory Booker, whom over the years I've read a lot about, but have never seen in an interview or otherwise speak. The Mayor is also, by all accounts and by the spirit he exudes, warm, genuine, impassioned, committed, devoted to his adopted city of Newark. Nate and the Mayor conversed about Newark's historic heyday, its downturn, its coming back because of little things - as little as windowboxes and fresh coats of paint, or simply picking up, as one strolls, pieces of litter on the sidewalk. (Sorry, darling, I am feeling tired today, so perhaps not my most eloquent self.)

It just reminded me - and honestly, I'd forgotten that feeling, it's been a while - of what, about fifteen years ago inspired and drove me to pursue a graduate degree in urban planning, that incredible sense of hope that little actions could make a big difference, in an urban setting which can be so harsh, sterile, unforgiving - through modest interventions can be made to be delightful places to dwell, to stroll, to spend time in.

I had worked at a municipal planning agency after receiving my masters, and honestly, felt very very worn down and beat by the experience. The agency - I much too late realized - was not about "making places," it was not about creating joy and delight, warm, hospitable, lovely places. Oh, I don't mean to dwell on this, but I left that agency feeling so bruised - I just did not have the temperament at all for that place - that I'd inadvertently in myself, I guess, thrown out the baby with the bathwater.

I tried lightly to get myself involved with a planning project up here, a waterfront plan, but somehow I could never get traction with the cast of characters - I don't know, I guess intellectually & spiritually, urban planning on some level was my field (I had felt a professional excitement about it that I was rarely if ever able to muster in any other job/field I had) but I wasn't really cut out for it. I don't know. I don't know what to say about it at this point.

Anyway, it was just a great pleasure and delight to see Nate and the Mayor so excited about transforming Newark, one house at a time, and now - given a commitment by Mr. Berkus - to adopt an entire historic block together with its accompanying adjacent park - wow - I just felt really happy & excited & overjoyed and recollected that excitement that I had felt at one time.

I'm really grateful to the Nate Berkus show for showcasing this, giving us this glimpse & glimmer. Because I (for one) have been so turned off by extreme politicization & polarization - egregiously fanned by media - that I tune out because it makes me feel so powerless and agitated. And I really, really, like our President, Barack Obama, I voted for him, and maybe he's a Cory Booker-type at heart, I sense that he is, I'm not sure, with an incredibly powerful, positive vision. Well, they are two different people, of course.

Maybe the difference was that so unexpectedly in a mainstream media way a non-treacly message of hope and practical can-do was delivered - it wasn't politicized, it was just incredibly positive.

Sweetheart, I will let you go now with a kiss, I know I should polish this post, but I'll just let it go as is.


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