Monday, October 31, 2011


This summer I spent a night with a group of about 500 people in the main branch of the New York Library as part of a game that ended with all of us collaboratively writing and publishing a book by the end of the night. I went in there hoping that it would be like Book Church, which it sort of was, but in the end all the relics and the cavernous spaces and the hallowed halls feel to the place really left me sad and cold, more like spending the night in a museum, or a mausoleum.

Across the street from the vast, intimidating marble facade sits the more humble lending library, with its irregular shelves filled with plain, ordinary books that have been read and loved and abused and opened and closed hundreds of times. It is unoffensively bland and shabby and not at all grand, and it is here, not in the grand, palatial monument across the street, that I feel at home.


We walk down the center of Ocean Parkway, a street designed by Olmstead and Vaux, in Gravesend. I'm doing research for the book I'm writing, part of which takes place right nearby here.

Katie and I try to process the monstrous houses that line the street, all of them fairly new, and wonder if the walking tour this book has sent us on is maybe a little too sanitized for my purposes. After yet another McMansion looms over our pathway, we agree they're a bit boring, and content ourselves with the glorious, perfect blue sky fall day we've been given in the wake of yesterday's bizarre snow.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

10/29/11 In October?

We lie in bed and watch the news while the blond anchor with the bad hair smiles and tells us about the snow coming our way. It's almost eleven, and we have no real motivation to get up.

I only half-believe the blond anchor until I'm sitting down in the front of the house to do yoga, and it starts to come down. Katie runs up to the window in her PJ's and yells at the descending snow, "What the hell, nature?"

Friday, October 28, 2011

10/28/11 - What's the worst that could happen?

The bus driver dropped me off right by the subway stop with the friendly suggestion that I enjoy my weekend, and I stepped off the bus with a little spring in my step.

I patted my left front pocket with my habitual gesture, checking to make sure I had my usual implements, phone, wallet, and felt a sudden shock of cold panic as I realized I did not have my phone. The bus still stood at the curb, waiting for the light to change, and I briefly considered running back to search where I had been sitting, only to remember I'd been checking the weather right before I left home this morning to go to work, and that it was probably sitting lonely on the coffee table, offering up time and temperature to an empty room.

"Well," I thought, "I probably don't need a phone today anyway," wondering as I walked to the train if I had inadvertently doomed New York to a day filled with disasters, train delays, missed connections, and terrorist attacks.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

10-27-11 safe

I come up the stairs from the subway, mashed in the commuter crowd as we slowly trundle up from the platform. At the top, to each side of the corridor leading out to Grand Central Terminal, stand two cops in full military regalia: bullet-proof vests, helmets, automatic weapons, gloves, a whole Batman utility belt thing with all kinds of implements and gadgets I don't recognize and would need explained to me by an adult.

As I walk past, one of them breaks my stride as he crosses in front of me to speak to a woman who is leaning against the opposite wall, texting away. "Everything okay?" he asks her, as she looks up guiltily.