Friday, March 31, 2017

SOLSC 31: Moving, Part 2


            I've lived in my current apartment for more than 46 years, and I sincerely hope to stay here for the rest of my life. But in the 10 years between leaving home and settling in on Riverside Drive, in New York City, I lived at
• Antioch College, in Yellow Springs, Ohio (Sept. 1960-March 1961)
• a shared apartment on West 87th Street, between Columbus & Central Park West, in Manhattan (April-June 1961) (Antioch College had a co-op work-study curriculum, in which we studied on campus for half the year and worked at jobs anywhere in the U.S. the other half)
• back to Yellow Springs (July-Sept. 1961)
• a very brief stay in Los Angeles (a couple of weeks; too long a story for this slice)
• so a few months at home in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania (Oct.-Dec.1961)
• back to Yellow Springs (Jan.-March 1962)
• living at NIH (it was a co-op job; I wasn't a patient) (April-June. 1962)
• Irving Place, N.W., in Washington, D.C. (July-Aug. 1962) (I used to remember this address)
• 1612 19th Street, N.W. (Sept.1962-Aug.1963) (here's when I dropped out of Antioch the first time)
• 1835 19th Street, N.W. (a couple of weeks)
• 1833 19th Street, N.W. (Sept. 1963-March 1964)
• back to Yellow Springs (April-Sept. 1964) (here's when I went back to college)
• 70 West 82nd Street (Oct.1965-Dec. 1965) (here's when I got married, and dropped out of Antioch the second time)
• 134 West 82nd Street (Jan.1966-Sept. 1967) (here's when I started back to college, at City College, at night...)
• 101 West 85th Street (Sept.1967-Nov. 1970) (and here’s when I went to City College full-time; rent here was almost half what it was at the previous place)
            After I graduated from City College and got a real job, I started agitating for a real apartment. The kitchen on 85th Street had no counter space, and its sink was half the size of a normal one and just attached to a pipe under the window, with a piece of wood nailed to the wall for the drainboard.
            When we found the apartment on Riverside Drive, it seemed huge. Two good-sized bedrooms. A kitchen with counters and still big enough for a dining table.
           And a childhood dream come true. When we lived in West Haven, we would drive into New York a few times a year to visit my grandparents in Brooklyn. Riding down the West Side Highway, I saw these impressive apartment buildings towering above the hillsides of Riverside Park and thought, I want to live there some day. This apartment was in one of those buildings. It missed the river view, but otherwise... I feel happy every time I leave my building: the park, when I look left, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine when I look right. No other street in New York has this view.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

SOLSC 30: Moving, Part 1


            I got this idea for a slice from Girl Griot, who wrote about all the places she’d lived since leaving home. Since I’ve moved a lot since I was born, I’ll do this in two parts, before I left home, and after.
            My first eight months were spent in Newport News, Virginia. My father had been hired at Langley Field by the National American Committee on Aeronautics (what later became NASA and was featured in the movie, and book, Hidden Figures) as an engineer right out of college in 1939. By 1943, he was transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground, in Maryland. My brother was born while we lived in war housing until World War II was over. In the summer of 1945 we move to Silver Spring, Maryland, while my father works at the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins, until he’s fired as a security risk a year later. After my sister is born in Washington, D.C., we move into that city to live with my father’s parents.
            In the spring of 1947, we move up to Brooklyn to live with my mother’s parents, on Avenue P. (Yes, Avenue P, just like the song on the Really Rosie album, lyrics by Maurice Sendak, music by Carole King.) My father is still unable to get a job in his field because of McCarthyism. A month after I start school in 1947, we move, along with my grandparents, to another apartment in Brooklyn, in Bensonhoist, excuse me, Bensonhurst (my mother constantly corrected any trace of Brooklyn accent creeping into my childish speech).
            Leases in New York always ran out in October (why? did landlords not have any children? did they not realize how hard it is for kids to change schools a month after school starts?). In October 1950, my nuclear family moved out of the city, leaving my grandparents in another apartment in Brooklyn. My father always said he hated cities, so he moved us to the country in West Haven, Connecticut.
            The longest I lived anywhere growing up was in West Haven, five and a half years. In the spring of 1956, my father got a job at a pharmaceutical company in Philadelphia, and in May, six weeks before I would have graduated from eighth grade into high school, we moved again, to Levittown, Pennsylvania. (I did manage to persuade my parents to let me take the train, alone, back to West Haven so I could attend my class’s graduation.)
            And at the end of my junior year in high school, my parents were perverse once again and moved me around the Philly suburbs, from north to west, to Gladwyne, forcing me to change schools once again at an awkward moment.
To be continued.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

SOLSC 29: Yet Another Political Protest, This One Local


            Today I stood among 25 others in front of Governor Cuomo’s New York office. We were urging the governor to support an abortion bill called the Reproductive Health Act. The bill would repeal the current law (part of the criminal code that permits abortion only up to 24 weeks or when the woman’s life is in danger), and create a new section of the Public Health Law permitting abortion up to 24 weeks, if the fetus is not viable, or the woman’s health or life is endangered.
            This now gets very complicated. The RHA has been passed by the state Assembly three times, but the state Senate, controlled by the Republicans, hasn’t yet allowed it to come to a vote. One complicating factor is that Democrats actually have a one-vote majority in the state Senate, but a group of Democratic state senators have formed something called the Independent Democratic Conference, and it voted with the Republicans to give the Republicans control.
            There’s so much more to this story, but enough politics from me. Instead, what was exciting for me about this protest was that my daughter, CM, was there with me. And she not only led became one of the leaders of our chants (in a call and response: “What do we want? The RHA. When do we want it? Now!”), but she came up with a fresh chant as well (“Ho, ho, hey, hey, Cuomo, sign the RHA.”)
            After almost an hour, the protest disbanded, vowing to return in a week if the bill hasn’t been enacted and signed. I expect we’ll be back next Wednesday. 
That's CM, second from right

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

SOLSC 28: “The Sense of an Ending”: First Movie, then Book


            I saw the movie  The Sense of an Ending this afternoon. It’s drawn from a book by Julian Barnes, which I became interested in reading after seeing the movie. But after reading a review of the book, my  interest is even more piqued because the details in the book review are so different from comparable details in the movie.
            The movie (and apparently the book) centers on Tony Webster, a man in his 60s, suddenly brought back to his youth by receiving a letter notifying him that he’s been left a legacy by an old girlfriend’s mother. (The contents of the legacy is one of the details that differs, so I must read the book to see whether the book review left out the movie detail, or the movie detail is wholly made up by the screenwriter.)
             Switching back and forth from the present to memory, the film shows Tony as a young man in which he remembers pivotal relationships, with that girlfriend, and a new boy in school, then relating his memories to his divorced wife, stories he’d never told her before, while in the present their daughter is about to have a baby, on her own, with her parents as birth coaches. But perhaps he is an unreliable narrator, as we see him think he’s realized what really happened 40 years earlier, and then learn that he’s quite wrong
            The movie is quite well done, captivating, and in its quiet way suspenseful. But because the focus is so much on Tony, as though the movie has a first-person narrator, we see the women, both the old girlfriend and the divorced wife, only as Tony sees them. Movies give you the illusion that you are an omniscient viewer, so the lack of detail for the women – why they liked or loved Tony within the context of their own lives – is for me quite frustrating. I wonder whether the book will reinforce that first-person viewpoint, or give the women somewhat more depth. (And Jack would have loved this movie.  Domestic dramas were his favorite.)

Monday, March 27, 2017

SOLSC 27: Envious Relief? or Relieved Envy?

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            My husband died about 15 months ago. When I see couples around my age or older on the street, I feel pangs of envy; why do they still have each other and I don’t have Jack?
            But when I see older couples and the man is disabled, using a cane or walker, or in a wheelchair, my feelings are more mixed. There is still envy, but also relief. Jack had become disabled enough before he was hospitalized that we both had a sense of what that meant. And it was very difficult. Were either of us ready for, or able to deal with, those difficulties? Jack definitely was not, and he said so.
            Today, as I was leaving my bank’s ATM center, a couple who might have been Jack and me in a possible future were entering. She was pushing him in a wheelchair. He was wrapped up in blankets, head covered with a beret. She was short, maybe about five foot two; he did not seem so short. Someone was holding the door for her. I heard him speaking to her, so it sounded like he was coherent.
            How long had she been caring for him? How did they manage personal aspects like getting him into and out of the wheelchair? Surely she needed home health aides to help with his care; I know how expensive that can be. Maybe he lived at the nursing home a block away, and they were just on an outing. But that too is very expensive. And either scenario is emotionally wearing for both caregiver and care receiver.
            What was I feeling? Envy? Relief? Both? The impossible?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

SOLSC26: The Other Book Group


            I’m in two book groups. Today’s is the first one I joined, almost five years ago, because I was reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63; a friend in my writers’ group was also reading it with her book group, so I asked if I could join them so I could talk about the book.
            We alternate fiction one month, nonfiction the next. Today’s book was nonfiction, Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath. It generated way more discussion than any book we’ve read in a long time. While our thoughts were initially very positive, as we went on, criticisms came up. Most of the women in the group are in education, secondary school, literacy  programs, and administrators, so there were heated comments about  Gladwell’s chapter on colleges. One woman who’d read other books by Gladwell thought this was one of his weaker one; another thought it was a New Yorker article that was padded into book length.  
            Despite our reservations, after almost three hours we hadn’t exhausted our thoughts on the book. Will discussion continue the next time we meet?
            Oh, and the potluck? Everyone always brings food, and my contribution was rum cake, from my Hawaiian friend’s recipe and my Cuban rum. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

SOLSC 25: Baseball Season Coming Up


            Opening day is just over a week away. So today I took the train to Connecticut to meet a group of New York Mets fans that has been meeting just before the season starts for almost 35 years. The group started as part of a Bill James initiative called Project Scoresheet.* The Project organized groups of fans for each major league team to score games with its computer database, and those groups met just before the season started to divvy up who would score which games. I joined the group in 1990, shortly before Project Scoresheet disbanded. But our group captain was a sociable organizer, and the group continued to meet every March, to discuss baseball and the fate of the Mets, and play baseball trivia.
            I’m not great at baseball trivia. I don’t remember who pitched, or even won, the first game I ever saw. I can’t tell you the lineups, positions, or numbers of every player on the New York Mets since their creation. But I know enough to guess that it was Tom Seaver who made 11 opening day starts for the Mets. I know that Terry Pendleton of the Cardinals hit a home run that dashed the Mets hopes for winning the NL East for a second year in a row (I was there). I know just enough not to make a fool of myself in a friendly baseball trivia game.
            Today we met at the Cask Republic, a bar/restaurant serving a multitude of craft beers. Everyone but me lives in Connecticut, so South Norwalk is a central location. These occasions are the only time I drink beer, but today I went for a very exotic sangria mix (it included coconut rum). In between eating, entering the Mets 2017 wins pool, and playing trivia (I came in last), we watched the UConn women beat UCLA.
            I donated Jack’s two Mets hooded sweatshirts – too big to fit me – as prizes, and showed around the rookie baseball card for Darryl Strawberry that I was given while in California, by a friend of a friend’s husband who happened to have been Strawberry’s high school Government teacher. When he learned I was a big Mets fan, he gave me the laminated card.
            There was still hulking piles of dirty snow here and there in Norwalk.

But the train station had some very interesting historic artwork, characteristic figures of many eras, from a Civil War soldier (right) to civil rights marchers (left).

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*Bill James is a baseball historian and statistician, and Project Scoresheet was a method of scoring games for computer input and collecting the information to sell to fans and teams. It was supplanted by Stats Inc. and the Elias Sports Bureau. I love this scoring method because it counts balls and strikes.)

Friday, March 24, 2017

SOLSC 24: Mammogram Time!

            Women, you all know what this is like. Men, if you read this, try to empathize with your wives or girlfriends.
            When my daughter was going for her first mammogram, I had to tell her it wouldn’t feel pleasant. Your breast is treated as a hunk of meat. Mine are relatively small, so I hesitate to think of what it must be like for women with large breasts.
            You probably have to wait, first in the waiting room. Then you are called and shown a changing room with a locker, or maybe the lockers are full, so you’re offered a large plastic bag for your belongings. Undress down to the waist. If you’re lucky, the radiology center will have cloth gowns, not those paper ones. Then you wait some more, in the inside waiting room.
            Then your technician calls your name and leads you to the exam room. She will most likely be from an East European country. I’ve had technicians from Russia, from Azerbaijan, from Ukraine.
            The room will be cold. Very cold. That’s for the health of the scanning machine. Cloth gowns will be marginally warmer than paper. You lower the gown to your waist so the technician can attach labels, first to cover your nipples, then to indicate any brown spots aka liver spots or keratoses.
            Finally, the scan machine. The right breast is placed flat, squeezed down by a plastic frame just to the point of pain. One arm is placed under the main structure, the other up and onto a hand-rest. You feel like a stage set in a piece of choreography. You are instructed not to move, not to breathe.
            Same for the left breast. The machine is moved at an angle, breast positioned. This time your arm is held over your head with your chin turned away, your other arm down and around the edge of the machine. Don’t move, don’t breathe. Other breast, don’t move, don’t breathe.
            Finally, the technician checks the scans to see if she has to take any more pictures.
            When it’s a routine annual exam, which mine was today, I don’t even think about results. I don’t think about my sister’s experience more than 20 years ago, when she had her first diagnosis, or five years later for her second diagnosis, or eight years after that with her third, and final, diagnosis.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

SOLSC 23: Agitating in the Cold

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            It was about 34 degrees just before noon today when I set out for a little politicking. Our local state senator was elected as a Democrat, but she is part of something called the Independent Democratic Conference, eight state senators who vote with the Republicans to give them the majority in our state Senate, even though elected Democrats are the majority.
            (Why do they do it? The Republicans promise them committee chairmanships, staff, and funds, which they didn’t think they’d get from their Democratic compatriots. One result is that a single-payer health system, which the state Assembly has passed, is blocked in the state Senate.)
            With IL, a neighbor, we set up a table near the farmers’ market. I handed out leaflets explaining what we were for, and my IL asked people to sign a petition asking this state senator to either come back to the Democrats or resign.
            But it was cold. Really cold. And breezy on the corner where we stood. Most people walking by had their hands in the pockets and didn’t want to take them out. The pen for signing the petition seemed to be freezing. IL managed to get at least a dozen people to sign, and she had some good conversations. I’m not so good at conversing, but I know how to hold leaflets so passers-by can see what it’s about before they ignore it, or take one. 
            When my fingers began to feel frostbit, after about 45 minutes, we decided we’d done enough good work for the day. Packed up our gear and headed home for a warm lunch.
 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

SOLSC 22: Prepping


            This evening is one of my book groups. We’ve read Hidden Figures, on which the movie was based. I’d say that this is one case when seeing the movie first is better than reading the book first, since the movie covers only about the last quarter of the book. But both are excellent and highly recommended.
            The book also has a tiny bit of personal connection for me. The human computers worked at Langley Field, and the book starts during World War II. My father worked at Langley, first as a lab assistant in 1939, and soon as an engineer. I was born down the road in Newport News, and we moved away, to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, in 1943, just as the first of the women highlighted, Dorothy Vaughan, applied for a job at Langley. Alas, my father died four years ago, so I can’t ask him which computers he knew or worked with. He would have loved this book.
            To prepare for the book group, I usually write a book summary, so I can make sure I make all the points about the book I want to. That needs to be done this afternoon. I also have to bring a dish for our potluck dinner. My contribution today will be a beet salad, with a mustardy vinaigrette, scallions, and pine nuts, and surrounded by sauteed beet greens, the best part. So the beets are cooked, and now it’s time for cutting up and mixing together.
            Looking forward to tonight.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

SOLSC 21: More Political Action


            My cross-the-hall neighbor invited me to join her today at a protest against the Medicaid block grants part of the “repeal and replace Obamacare” bill. I met her downtown at the Federal Office Building, where we joined around 150 people with some of the following signs.
 















            It was a pleasant day, sunny, not too cold – it’s the second day of spring, after all. After about  40 minutes, the demonstration was over. My neighbor and I met a friend of hers for lunch at a quite nice Italian restaurant with this peculiar sign on the door.

“[G]ently... pull... hard”? We did have to pull very hard on the door to get it open, but “gently”? Don’t know how to do that.
            On the way home, I couldn’t resist this shot of the snow still piled along the curb on Broadway.

The snow is slowly shrinking, but we’re getting a cold snap in the next few days, so what remains is going to freeze hard. O Spring, when will you arrive to stay?

Monday, March 20, 2017

SOLSC 20: Yesterday’s Events


            Here’s what I did yesterday. I walked across 110th Street aka Central Park North to a book reading by a friend, Robert Roth. Alas, I was too late for Robert’s reading from his latest, Book of Pieces, containing poems, stories, essays. But another writer, Frank Murphy, was reading from A Great Disorder when I arrived, and his poems were quite amusing. “The Good Man Is Shaped Like a Banana Peel” suggests all the bad things that could happen as a result of one good deed. “Crossing Over” is about Manhattanites’ reluctance to go to Brooklyn. And “The Art of Losing It” relates many meanings of “lost”: the ways we can lose things or people or be lost or lose a train of thought. (You can find both books through Google Books.)
            Next I walked back across 110th Street to a Cookies and Postcards party. Our hostess made cookies and provided a list of addresses of Cabinet secretaries, legislators, and the president and his staff, as well as ideas for who to write to about whatever issue was most important to us. I wrote to the president; Scott Pruitt at the EPA; a thank you to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and also a thank you to James Mattis, secretary of defense, because he thinks climate change is real and is a national security issue, and maybe he can persuade Scott Pruitt of that fact. The only people I knew were the hostess and her mother, but I met a couple of people I may get to know better. It was energizing to feel that I was doing something positive. I know the people the postcards are addressed to will never read them, but someone on their staffs will, and perhaps it will make some of them think differently.
            And I may organize such a party myself soon. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

SOLSC 18: Boring Day, but Interesting Evening


            A lot of catching up today, cleaning up the to-do list. That’s the boring part.
            Tonight I’m going to an Orpheus Chamber Orchestra concert. If you don’t know about Orpheus, check them out. They are a leaderless ensemble; a small group of musicians work together to develop the orchestra’s arrangement for each piece, and have been playing and touring for more than 45 years. You can read about their process here and see their calendar here. They play mostly in New York, but will be in Winona, Minnesota, in July, for the Minnesota Beethoven Festival.
            Tonight, their soloist is a cellist, Alisa Weilerstein, and the program includes a Schumann Concerto for cello, as well as a Mendelssohn, a Schubert, and a Webern (they always include a modern piece).
            Jack and I had a three-concert series with them for years, and I’ve kept it, now including my daughter, good friend GirlGriot, and adding another writing friend next season. It will be peaceful.

Friday, March 17, 2017

SOLSC 17: Random Conversation Not Pursued


           I was at the gym today, on the stationary bike. Each cardio machine has a TV attached, and if there weren’t one, I could never force myself to keep going. The time, pace, and speed numbers are helpful, but not alone. I need something that will take my mind away from my legs pumping away.
            Usually I watch the Food Network. Ina Garten, Giada De Laurentiis, Rachael Ray are my favorites. Then I remembered that the Mets are playing a spring training game, and there they were, leading 4-1, and while I watched, they scored 6 more runs. Yay!
            Next to me two men were talking, and when I glanced at what was on their screens, it was the joint news conference with Trump and Angela Merkel. The two men were discussing Trump, his words, how Merkel was responding to him, and what to believe.
            I was strongly tempted to join in. I wanted to ask whether they’d seen the Gail Collins column in the New York Times a week ago, in which she talked about the three versions of Trump.
Reasonable Chatting Trump is pleasant but useless. Unscripted Trump is pretty close to nuts. And then there’s the Somewhat Normal Republican Trump, who we enjoy calling SNORT.”
            The trouble was, I could only remember “Reasonable Chatting Trump,” and I thought it would sound lame if I couldn’t bring up all three. I tuned my screen to the channel covering the news conference, thinking I might hear something I could use to enter this conversation. Since my husband died, I’ve missed the casual comments that come up when there is another person around. I’d seen these two men at the gym many times, though I’d never spoken to them. Another woman would have joined in, I thought, but how do I become that woman? Maybe I will be that woman another day. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

SOLSC 15: Frustration, Then Accomplishment


            What a day! It began with almost no sleep, who knows why. Maybe delayed, extreme jet lag?
            Visit to my doctor for annual checkup, and I am pronounced healthy. Good news, after spending a week and a half with a couple recovering from pneumonia, and returning home to a cold. Lungs clear, blood pressure normal, pulse normal.
            Outside it is COLD. I choose not to go to the rally in support of the Reproductive Health Act, designed to keep the Roe v. Wade framework as New York State law. There will be a rally at Governor Cuomo’s New York City office every Wednesday until this bill passes, and given how slowly our Republican-led state senate moves, I know there will be more, and not so cold, Wednesdays to demonstrate.
            After lunch with homemade chicken soup, I call the public library to find out why the e-book I borrowed three days ago will not download on my iPad. After my phone hangs up in the middle of my tech support for the third time, I move to another chair in my living room. The woman on the phone suggests I uninstall, then reinstall the e-book reading app. Which I do. Which works. Of course, it’s the old “plug-unplug” that seems to work for all electronic devices.
            Now I am off to the gym and to start reading my next book group book, Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. Maybe there will be some tips for future political protests.
            And I’m getting my Slice in before late evening. Another accomplishment.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

SOLSC 14: Snow Storm Stella


            Yes, even snow storms get names these days, though where were the storms with names beginning with A-R?
            I only went outside my apartment today to take photos of my street, looking west and east. (And technical difficulties are preventing me from uploading the view looking west. Very frustrating.)

We got less snow than forecast, 4 inches in Manhattan instead of 8-12 inches. North of the city, there were 18 inches in Highland Falls, 55 miles up the Hudson, but no measurable amount in Sea Bright, New Jersey, to the south.
            But it was quite windy, and on my street, it’s always more windy because it comes off the Hudson River. So since my cold is taking hold on my lungs and I didn’t need to go out, it was better to stay indoors.
            My lobby does offer flowers to cheer our mood. They change every few weeks – a professional flower-arranger lives in the building.
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Monday, March 13, 2017

SOLSC 13: Prep Work


            I had an errand that took me all the way downtown this afternoon and then the Post Office. When I came home, I intended to immediately go back out and restock my refrigerator, which I’d emptied out before my travels.
            Once I sat down, though, fatigue took over, and I lay down for a nap. An hour later, I got up, made a shopping list, and went to the store. Where, at the entrance, I was directed to the “very short wait, short line.”
            There is a blizzard forecast, with snow starting around midnight and continuing all day. So maybe people are panicking just a bit? The line was not so short. I waited 10 minutes. Some people passing by said, “This is crazy!” A woman who said she lived above the store and shopped sometimes twice a day: “This is hysterical,” she said.
            Once I got in, there was no problem. The store was still well-stocked. I didn’t have long to wait to pay, and since I was paying cash, I wasn’t affected by the computers processing credit and debit cards going down briefly.
            Bring on the blizzard.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

SOLSC 12: Getting Sick?


            This will be brief, because it’s late, and I think writing on the computer after 9 p.m. is disturbing my melatonin.
            In California, my hosts were recovering from very bad colds, as well as pneumonia. We thought they were no longer contagious, and maybe they weren’t and I got this budding cold from the flight home, always a possibility. In any case, I couldn’t sleep last night, and today I’ve have all my usual cold symptoms.
            I’m going to bed soon, and hope I can beat this. Ginger and honey tea sounds like a good idea. And lots of vitamin  C.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

SOLSC 11: What Is the Meaning of Life, and Death?

            Can you imagine a medieval morality play adapted as a 21st century performance? Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has, and I saw his work, Everybody, at the Signature Theatre this afternoon. It was very cleverly done, and it would be useful for our current president and vice-president to see it as well, though that’s not likely. It’s only playing through March 19.
            It’s based loosely on the 15th century English play Everyman, which may have been based on an earlier Dutch play, we’re informed by the usher, who shortly is possessed by God, who is rather angry at what his creation humans are doing to the rest of his creation on Earth. God orders Death to bring Everybody to Him to give an account of themselves.
            Death is an elderly white woman (God was, temporarily at least, an African-American woman), who picks several people out of the audience – at first we’re not sure whether they are ordinary spectators or plants, real actors. They are needless to say not very happy to be summoned by Death, and they are not even sure it’s happening. Maybe it’s a dream. Death concedes that Everybody can bring someone with them, but can’t tell them how to give that account of themselves.
            One actor (and a different one at each performance, chosen by lot, as so much happens to us all by chance) takes on the role of Everybody and tries, successively, to get Friendship, Kinship, and even his Stuff to die with him, but each one demurs. Friendship’s speech is a perfect amalgam of all the generic ways we think friendship exists (“Remember that time...?” “We had the best night...” “You know that joke...” without any specifics). Everybody’s encounter with his Stuff hit particularly close for me, as Everybody described all the ways that I use my stuff to remember my life and reveal its meaning to me.
            Love is the only character who finally agrees to go with Everybody, not a Love that a Hallmark card would recognize, forcing Everybody to humiliate himself. But once Everybody can surrender to this Love, the strobe lights and disco music come on, and two larger than life skeletons come out to dance, a perfect 21st century recreation of medieval visions of death.
            This play deserves more than its brief run, and there’s so much more that could be said about it. It made me think not only about everyone’s inevitable death, but about my husband’s so recent one. I found myself wishing I could tell his dead self about the play and ask whether he identified with any of Everybody’s thoughts or feelings
-->  as he was about to die. An eerie, thoughtful experience.

Friday, March 10, 2017

SOLSC 10: Getting Organized


            After opening all the mail accumulated while I was away, I simply put it into piles. Today I sorted through the piles, and gave in to my propensity to make list
Magazines
1. 2 New York Review of Books
2. 3 New Yorkers. The anniversary issue at the end of February has always been a reproduction of the original cover in 1925, showing a dandy named Eustace Tilley.

That issue this year is a satire of that cover.
 

3. 4 The Nation
4. Poets & Writers
5. Milk Street (a new cooking magazine by the founder of Cook’s Illustrated)
6. 6 newsletters, including the Hightower Lowdown, Church & State, Healthy Aging, and Mind, Mood & Memory
Money
            Then there were my pension checks, bank statements, and donation receipts for tax reporting. Also a bill from a doctor who saw my husband briefly in his last days in the hospital, 15 months ago. Can it really take Medicare that long to process bills?
            Finally, solicitations for donations from the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Humanist Association, Planned Parenthood of New York City, the Hospice Support Fund, and the ACLU. I’ll give money to some of these organizations after I check out the ones I don’t known on Charity Navigator.