Aug 31, 2007

I just got back from a lovely lunch with my new editor, Lindsey, who obviously has exceptionally good taste and is the most awesome girl ever and puts on cool off off Broadway theater in her spare time. We went to this Italian place uptown a bit and I ordered the special mixed green salad with baby octopus and the special fish of the day, which was swordfish with red sauce, olives and capers. I was, however, shocked and appalled when the salad arrived, as I hadn't expected an ENTIRE OCTOPUS to be lying charred atop a pile of greens. It was like a crime scene! That little round head and the dangling legs! It looked like a balloon that I should release into air! The weird eyeless bare head made it look deranged and untoward, like perhaps not a crime scene victim but an evil murderer, the kind that would populate a Greek myth. But then, after fainting delicately onto the ground and reviving myself naturally, and after realizing it might be rood to cry out "ewww" and gag with disgust when out on a lunch date for which you are not paying, I bravely steeled myself and proceeded to lop off the head and pop it in my mouth. And it was good! I then demurely sliced into a limb and ate that, and then, well. I went on to consume the entire thing, and all the greens, too. My fish, as I'm sure you were wondering, was also delectable, as was the slice of grape pie we split for dessert. And the wine, which our waiter grudgingly served me in the hue of red.

Speaking of octopi, as one does, the most manly, virile thing I've ever witnessed involved yours truly, a studly non-English-speaking gold-chain-and-bikini-wearing-bazouki-playing-weight-lifting Greek fisherman named Billis, and said fisherman diving into the water off a speedboat in the Aegean Sea and emerging with an octopus in his BARE HANDS. Which we then cooked up over a fire and ate for dinner.

So the gorgeous medieval apartment right in the center of Florence is booked for 15 days in late October/early November. I think the first week I will be alone and then Joi will come for the second, and then Joi's beau Eric is coming and the three of us are probably going to Venice for a couple of days, and now these family friends, these father-son turfgrass professors who live in a villa in Palermo and have one on the beach, too, have offered to put us up when/if we go to Sicily... The son, Mauro, came to NYC a few years ago and my mother, sister and I spent a few days taking him everywhere he wanted to go; I even accompanied him to my least favorite place Macys and helped him pick out Polo shirts, so that boy owes me!

I also just got an Italian grammar book in the mail as well as a set of language CDs, since even though I studied Italian literature in college and graduate school--read Italian texts, listened to lectures in Italian, wrote papers in Italian--I've barely looked at that language in 9 years and now I'm convinced I've forgotten every word.

I would also like to see my family in Calabria but I don't think that is happening. I do fly in and out of Rome so I will hang out a day there. Or possibly just stay forever.
Speaking of friendship...

I had a lovely evening writing with Joi and Massie in a hipster mall in Williamsburg, despite the strange and not unsuspicious sounds emanating from the cafe next door, in which I believe things were being sacrificed, not least of which were our eardrums. I also bought a large leather purse that does magical things and has many complicated, mysterious pockets as a way of cheering myself up from some Garbo-esque feelings of melancholia. And a sparkly pale blue bracelet that is having a love affair with my wrist even now. Speaking of love, I'd like to point out that female friendship can be as complicated and mysterious as my new (very glamorous, oh and it has a very nice smell too) handbag, rife with unspoken jealousies and suspicions and passions and many many other unseemly emotiones.

Take for example the hidden dimensions revealed in these four innocent portraits of Massie, me and Joi from just last week.

What happens in the unconscious mind and just below the surface is truly terrifying. I would comment more on this profound subject but then I might find it difficult to sleep.

Aug 30, 2007

Oh, I forgot: this morning when I was looking through my 5000 pages of discarded material for the Godmother book, I found this old opening, which is long gone from the book but I think is pretty:

I will not ever forget. No matter how much time passes, no matter how withered and old I become, I close my eyes and I am there. My glass heels clicking against the silver steps, the silk dress in my palms, the doors opening above me. The music and voices inside, like beating wings. Everyone’s inside. Here, on the stairs, it is silent. Even the valets have abandoned their posts.

It’s nearly midnight, but you’d think it was high noon with the candles flickering from the moat, the stars shining down like jewels, so bright I almost wince, the light of the full moon hitting the steps and turning them to flame. Roses and orchids twist around the staircase, perfuming the air.

In my dreams I stop. Close my eyes. It is always those moments just before that are the most full. I know what happens next. I take it all inside me, the skin and silk and flowers, the shining silver. The feel of the silk gown sliding over me and the warm night air fluttering against my skin. I breathe in perfume. I think about him inside, waiting.

I step forward, lifting my dress, raising it on either side like a heart, and my foot sinks into earth. I look around and I am in a field of poppies now. Blackbirds flap and squawk overhead, pressing in. Panic comes over me and I reach down, grab a handful of flowers, crush them in my palms. I stuff them into my mouth. I can’t get enough of them inside me, and then suddenly I am underwater. My mouth full of petals, the water streaming in. The steps rising above me and she at the top of them, the slippers like hunks of ice on her feet.

I have a bunch of interviews to do for work today, and I have to finish proofreading this drug court book we did, and since it is such home-doable work I have once again remained in the glorious confines of Glendale, Queens. This morning Tink and I went to the mall and had tea and worked on our books for a couple of hours. Now that I have a list of scenes to do for this revision it is all going very smoothly; I have a bunch of stuff to add to the fairytale part of the book and it is shocking to me how easily I can write that stuff, which may speak to my level of sanity as well as my general and enviable state of glamourous enchantment. Anyway, I cooked lunch again for Tink and me and today I made wheat penne with broccoli/portabello mushroom/tomato/pork loin/garlic in basil tomato sauce, with a side salad of greens, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, avocado, and balsamic viniagrette. As I am already on the topic of my excessively amazing culinary skills I thought I should also mention how last week for the very first time I asked the man at the fish counter at the Food Emporium on 49th Street what fish was lovely and fresh that day. He stepped out from behind the counter and lovingly picked up a gleaming piece of turbot fillet, and said it had just come in that day and was beautiful and delicate and mild. I said, Is that what you recommend? And he looked at me like he was a priest about to bless me, and said, "Yes." And then he wrapped it for me as if it were a gift and then that night I cooked half of it for dinner along with some vegetables and I must say it was delectable, melt in your mouth kinda good. I don't know why I didn't befriend the fishman long ago. Now I am going to interview the man who is spearheading New York's prison reentry initiative. The end.

Aug 29, 2007

Today I am working from home as I have a book to proofread, and I have done two things thus far that make me feel quite domestic and hands on:

1. I made a bath scrub out of coconut oil, sugar in the raw, and cinnamon leaf and clove bud essential oils, and then took a long luxurious exfoliating aromatic bath.
2. I have been cooking a lot lately and just made a lunch for Tink and me of basil polenta, a pile of spinach and tofu cooked in garlic, a bit of pork, and some cherry tomatoes, all covered with some organic tomato basil sauce, dried basil, and some shredded parmesan cheese, with a few blueberries on the side.

Yesterday I watched this gorgeous, very erotic and strange, blue-lit rain-pounding-down-in-the-background Japanese movie called A Snake of June.

Later I am taking myself on a date to the mall.

The end.

Aug 28, 2007

Aug 23, 2007

Oooooo, the cover for Fucking Daphne, in which yours truly has a story. Which features a scene of yours truly and Daphne in the backseat of a cab going over the Brooklyn Bridge. Ha!
I just had a meeting at work for the needs assessment report I'm putting together for the proposed Community Justice Center in San Francisco, which the mayor and DA wrote an op ed about in May. The court will be located in the Tenderloin and focus on quality-of-life crimes and getting help and services for offenders, etc., using the Midtown Community Court in Manhattan as a model, etc etc. (Midtown is one of the demonstration projects for the think tank where I work. All these courts are really about intervening with low-level criminals and getting them into treatment and job programs rather than tossing them into jail for a night or doing nothing until they move onto harder crimes and/or help create conditions in which harder crimes flourish.)

Anywayyyyyyy, it was sort of weird and funny for me since I'm 36 and it was when I was 18 that I took a bus cross country and hung out with all these street kids in San Francisco and slept in Civic Center park and in some squat with a guy who was obsessed with Christian Death, and I had this little apartment in the Tenderloin with all these skinheads and I panhandled and hung out at the Larkin Street Youth Center and got meal tickets there to get these big burritos down the street. Of course I was just having adventures unlike a bunch of the kids I knew, one of whom had set his stepfather on fire. But it is weird to sort of circle back to it now, 18 years later, and be (peripherally) part of this effort to move in and take care of things in this new way.

In other news, this wonderful painter I met at Eric's wedding linked me to a good friend of his in Florence, who has just offered Joi and me, for a very good, very slashed price, a very very amazing spacious apartment in some medieval tower right in the center of town for the two weeks we'll be in Florence in November. He has been helping his friend, who doesn't speak English, to rent it out. IT IS PERFECT!

Aug 22, 2007

Mark just sent me photos of ANNA modelling the exceedingly fashionable outfit I sent her.

Eric and Shorty are true friends.

So a few minutes ago I stopped by this shoe repair place on 37th Street to pick up a purse I had repaired, and the two men inside kept staring at me, and then one, the shoe shiner, asked me if I spoke Russian. I said no, and the other one said "You have Russian face!"

This reminded me of this funny girl in TJ Maxx a couple of months ago, in Pennsylvania. I turned down this one aisle and this huge pile of a family was standing there and they all just stared at me, so I quickly stepped out of that aisle, and then a few minutes later I was sitting on a bench trying on this one pair of LEOPARD PRINT STILETTO HEELS when the little girl of the group, dressed in bright purple velvet, walked over and just stood in front of me staring. I stared back at her. Then she said, with a strong accent, "Are you Russian?" I said, "No." We stared at each other for a while longer and then she asked, very seriously, "Why do you have pink hair?" I said, "I like pink hair. Don't you?" She stared at me a while longer and then she said, "Lots of people have pink hair." I said, "Yes, they do." And then we stared at each other some more, never cracking a smile, until her family came and whisked her away, smiling at me apologetically and staring wonderingly at me all the while. One of them even brought me over a pair of shoes. I am not sure why.

Aug 21, 2007

I think I am going to steal Shameless from Tink.

So my sister just forwarded me a long email (in Italian) from the beautiful guy from Naples that she met in Hoi an and asked me to translate it. I told her I'd give her a line by line translation later but that, basically, he was saying that he was maddddly in love with her. She wrote back:

"Hmmmm. Apparently the whole withholding sex thing really works."

Aug 20, 2007

I asked my sister how she liked snorkelling in Vietnam and she said, "Snorkelling is for pussies. I scuba dived and it was cool."

Yesterday I took Shameless on a two-hour walk in Forest Park. There was a concert in the bandshell, some traditional Indian music. Shameless and I sat on the steps and watched. Women whirled around and around while this man in shiny, wondrous robes sang and all these drums pounded behind him. I think Shameless was very moved.

I am obsessed with the band Beirut.

I found out that when I go to Omaha in a few weeks, I will be on three panels in one day--one on writing about fashion, one on women writing on the edge, and one on reinventing fairytales--and will either be staying with "a gay couple who live in a really great Prairie-style home close to downtown, or with the curator of the big art museum."

Tonight I am meeting my friend Wendy, the professor of ancient Chinese poetry at Columbia, and we are having fancy Mexican food.

I am so happy that it's chilly outside, with leaves blowing around, and that I have every product from this line to scent my autumnal baths.

The end.

Aug 19, 2007

Yesterday Tink, Lisa and I drove down to New Jersey for the lovely, luminous  's bridal shower. Orly will of course be marrying the infamous Anton Strout in October.

I thought it was very important that she have a glamorous oilcloth apron and flower-shaped scrub brush for her new life (not to mention rubber gloves lined in leopard print). She thought they would all suit Anton perfectly and I can't really disagree.

Here are some more photos of the demure and delicate, ladylike happenings:

The end.

Aug 17, 2007

Why I Hate Wild Grouper

So yesterday morning I sauteed some wild grouper, put it in a Glad tupperware thing with a pile of spinach, SEALED IT, put it in my large bag, and took it to work. I had it for lunch, and it was good.


I was hoping it was my imagination, until last night Joi asked what that weird fish smell was, thus causing me to burst into tears and become a vegetarian. I was working on my manuscript but kept wanting to sprinkle lemon on it and serve it with rice. This morning I used a different bag and I trashed the manuscript and printed a new one and threw out the notebook I had and replaced everything that isn't a lovely bird journal or a bejewelled address book, but I just opened this new bag...


I hate wild grouper. Wild grouper is the devil.
Last night Joi and I had dinner and then wrote outside at a cafe in Williamsburg for a few hours. It is really a very ideal way to work.

In contrast, Joi's cat Ellie is opposed to work of any kind. Unless, of course, channeling Jean Harlow can be considered work.

The end.

Aug 16, 2007

I had an extremely intellectual evening with Massie, and we contemplated many deep things.

Aug 15, 2007

This morning my sister called me from Hoi an. Yesterday she met this beautiful guy from Naples and they spent the day riding around on a motorbike and lying on the beach. She had a bunch of clothes made by some clothesmaker and was about to go for a fitting. Tomorrow she goes to this little island and will spend the next few days snorkeling before heading to Saigon to meet my dad.

Aug 14, 2007

Mark just sent me this:

She's probably composing a love song set in the future about a girl
who's really a robot but somehow her metal heart pines for the
scientist who built her. She is playing an E minor chord - the most
heart-breaking chord of all minor chords.
Oh, I should have realized that all Shameless wanted was to sit on my couch in a boa.

I feel like Shameless, who is visiting my apartment, is trying to communicate something to me, but I am not sure.

With my whole heart I agree with the sentiment expressed here by Lord Whimsy:

"Twee". What a popular word this has become among those lazy minds seeking an epithet to stifle any conversation concerning things finer than themselves. It is particularly odious, since it also allows said people to congratulate themselves for being so "sophisticated" and "insightful". The more it is used, the less tolerant of outmoded things like beauty and elegance we seem to be. It kills wider appreciation of such tender, delicate things, eventually killing the very things themselves, choking them like so many weeds around a rare flower. Invariably, it is the calling card of the callow, the cynical, the coarse and the ignorant. This word must die, but first it must be made to suffer before its public execution.

And so, this coming week we shall post the most "twee" things we can find: the cloying, the saccharine, the frilly, and the downright prissy. Welcome to Twee Week.

Aug 13, 2007

I just read The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a memoir written by the ex editor in chief of the French Elle after his whole body except for his left eyelid was paralyzed by a massive stroke. He wrote the book letter by letter, by blinking his eye. It's very short, very spare, but it's like travelling to space or something. Or, I guess, going underwater in a diving bell. It's extraordinary. What could be worse than that? But he's so funny, and wry, and not only angry and sad but joyous, too.


A domestic event as commonplace as washing can trigger the most varied emotions.
One day, for example, I can find it amusing, in my forty-fifth year, to be cleaned up and turned over, to have my bottom wiped and swaddled like a newborn's. I even derive a guilty pleasure from this total lapse into infancy. But the next day, the same procedure seems to me unbearably sad, and a tear rolls down through the lather a nurse's aide spreads over my cheeks. And my weekly bath plunges me simultaneously into distress and happiness. The delectable moment when I sink into the tub is quickly followed by nostalgia for the protacted immersions that were the joy of my previous life. Armed with a cup of tea or a Scotch, a good book or a pile of newspapers, I would soak for hours, maneuvering the tap with my toes. Rarely do I feel my condition so cruelly as when I am recalling such pleasures. Luckily I have no time for gloomy thoughts. Already they are wheeling me back, shivering, to my room, on a gurney as comfortable as a bed of nails. I must be fully dressed by ten-thirty and ready to go to the rehabilitation center. Having turned down the hideous jogging suit provided by the hospital, I am now attired as I was in my student days. Like the bath, my old clothes could easily bring back poignant, painful memories. But I see in the clothing a symbol of continuing life. And proof that I still want to be myself. If I must drool, I may as well drool on cashmere.
So I went to my friend Jason's wedding in Tarrytown today, and it was so lovely and there were all these women in these bright, elaborate Middle Eastern dresses with gold dangling everywhere, and at dinner I sat next to this guy getting his PhD in history at Harvard, and he told me all these wonderful stories about people like Aaron Burr and John Hutchinson and that secret society Washington was in and the romantic life of Benjamin Franklin and when we turned to talk to the rest of the table I felt like I'd just been transported to another century, and how strange it would be to live partly in this century but mostly in another one all the time, oh and Jason, who is crazily, scarily brilliant, stood up and read this gorgeous thing he wrote about his bride, and I was so amazed by him, and then just look at her:

And she's a neuroscientist!

In other news, my friend Rob looked really cool grilling yak yesterday.

Aug 11, 2007

Oh my god. Tink and Aoife just came to visit me so I could see the gorgeouso bloomers I ordered for Aoife.


I am now off to a YAK FEST. In which many kinds of yak will be served. As well as yak cheese. The end.
Last night I met Eric and Shax for Afghan food and the play Eurydice. The food was very delectable and also interestingly described.

I loved hearing about their honeymoon in Santorini which they just returned from, as well as Shax's experiences just before that in England, where he was part of some prestigious program where you go around and visit all these old estates and castles. He got to meet all these eccentric characters and eat things like pheasant mousse and sit at long tables with fireplaces and candles flickering, and it all sounded to me like when you were a kid going out on Halloweeen and got to walk up to all the exotic lit-up houses to get candy but this would be like the BEST HALLOWEEN EVER where everyone lives in a castle and gives you cookies and tea and shows you all their paintings and silverware. So I was very jealous.

And then Eurydice was very very lovely and strange and sad. Full of weird beautiful images, like when Eurydice arrives in the underworld in an elevator with water falling down around her:

And in the underworld she meets her father, who has written her so many letters that they cover the back of the stage, trying to reach her. And then Orpheus comes to find her but she is in the underworld in a room her father has made for her out of string, and the whole thing is just about loss and memory and love, and I was very affected and cried QUITE A MANY tears in a very glamorous manner.

Youse should all see it immediately.

Aug 10, 2007

So I've been trying to get to Philly for weeks now to see my friends Mark and Jen's baby ANNA. I was going to go next weekend but I am going to my friend Orly's bridal shower. Mark and I were emailing to figure out when I can come instead but I am going away so many weekends and so is he and it looks like there is one weekend in October when I could go and, after that, not until December.

Mark just sent me this email:

Hey Car- I don't want you to feel bad about postponing your visit-
obviously you're very busy. You shouldn't feel guilty. I can keep
sending you pictures and that way we'll still feel like you're
staying connected with Anna Rae this picture I

Ooolalala I just went downtown to my agent's and signed my BOOK CONTRACT and got many free books including ones by James Prosek, who writes all about trout and paints them too--one of the books I got includes a FREE POSTER OF MANY KINDS OF TROUT--and I got a book about Mary Bell and Alice Hoffman's latest book and Grace Paley's.. I feel rich even tho I might possibly have ruined my shoes.
Massie is a true friend

Aug 9, 2007

So I had lunch here today with my friend Valerie, and we sat in a shady corner and leaves dropped on the table and I had wine and a plate full of pasta and every kind of seafood and it was just an enchanted, gorgeous place, like something out of a storybook. My new favorite place in New York. And I'd even been to Barbetta before, a couple of years ago for Thanksgiving or Christmas with my family, I forget, but I hadn't realized this magical garden was there.
I feel that true friends will proclaim their love for you as publicly as possible, like my one friend Rob and unlike the rest of you posers:

Shameless is also a true friend:

I got to work this morning and my friend Christine and also Kathy Patrick had forwarded today's Shelf Awareness to me, which includes this bit:

When my column appeared early Wednesday morning, Kathy L. Patrick, owner of Beauty and the Book<>, Jefferson, Tex., responded quickly with her own indie pick: "I would like to recommend to you Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon (Unbridled Books, $24.95, 9781932961249/1932961240). Her story is of a small town Kansas girl who runs away from her abusive father and family to be rescued by a librarian who used to be a trapeze artist. The librarian teaches the young girl everything she knows and the girl eventually runs away with the circus. Magical and I can hardly wait for her next release, Godmother, which promises to be an even better read. This is a writer to watch and Unbridled Books to me is discovering authors of extreme merit. I just could not wait to tell you about this small press book!"

Kathy Patrick is so awesome, really joyous and loving and huge hearted. She's already made Godmother a pick for her book club and next time I go to Texas I'm going to stay at her house and see steamboats.
Here are some things I love:

From Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon:

Now he knew why he loved her so. Without ever leaving the ground, she could fly. "There must be another one like you," he whispered to her. "There's got to be at least one more woman like you."

From Swinburne's "Triumph of Time":

And grief shall endure not for ever, I know.
As things that are not shall these things be ;
We shall live through seasons of sun and of snow,
And none be as grevious as this to me.
We shall hear, as one in a trance that hears,
The sound of time, the rhyme of years ;
Wrecked hope and passionate pain will grow
As tender things of a spring-tide sea.

Sea-fruit that swings in the waves that hiss,
Drowned gold and purple and royal rings.
And all times past, was it all for this?
Times unforgotten, and treasures of things?
Swift years of liking and sweet long laughter,
That wist not well of the years thereafter
Till love woke, smitten at heart by a kiss,
With lips that trembled and trailing wings?

Lorca, "Gacela of Unexpected Love"

No one understood the perfume
of the shadow magnolia of your belly.
No one knew you crushed completely
a human bird of love between your teeth.

There slept a thousand little persian horses
in the moonlight plaza of your forehead,
while, for four nights, I embraced there
your waist, the enemy of snowfall.

Between the plaster and the jasmines,
your gaze was a pale branch, seeding.
I tried to give you, in my breastbone,
the ivory letters that say ever.

Ever, ever: garden of my torture,
your body, flies from me forever,
the blood of your veins is in my mouth now,
already light-free for my death.

From Italo Calvino's "Distance from the Moon":

My return was sweet, my home refound, but my thoughts were filled only with grief at having lost her, and my eyes gazed at the Moon, forever beyond my reach as I sought her. And I saw her. She was there where I had left her, lying on a beach directly over our heads, and she said nothing. She was the color of the Moon; she held the harp at her side and moved one hand now and then in slow arepggios. I could distinguish the shape of her bosom, her arms, her thighs, just as I remember them now, just as now, when the moon has become that flat, remote circle, I still look for her as soon as that first sliver appears in the sky, and the more it waxes, the more clearly I imagine I can see her, her or something of her, but only her, in a hundred, a thousand different vistas, she who makes the Moon the Moon and, whenever she is full, sets the dogs to howling all night long, and me with them.

Aug 8, 2007

This morning I had a long talk with my sister, who is at the Four Seasons in Shanghai. Tomorrow she flies to Vietnam for a couple of weeks, then she's going into Cambodia and Malaysia before meeting my dad in southern Vietnam for a week and flying out of Singapore after. Last year she took a long trip to Thailand and Hong Kong. Not to mention CUBA. It is quite untoward of her, all of it.

This is how she describes Shanghai: "It's like New York but with cooler shaped skyscrapers, and everyone's speaking Chinese and shit."

While I am on the subject, I thought I should also share this obnoxious email she sent last week :

What is your mailing address lamo? How is humdrum life going? I climbed the great wall (that is a historical thing in china that you wouldn't understand) really fast because I am so fit now.

Aug 6, 2007

So late Friday night, after I drank pink cocktails and saw some gypsy bands and the extremely great Zydepunks at the Pussycat Lounge, my friend Rob and I drove to Massachusetts for the Joseph Cornell exhibit at Salem's Peabody Essex Museum.

Which was MINDBLOWING. I have loved Cornell for a while but had only seen a few of his boxes in person and anything else only online. And with him there is a huge difference between what you can capture in photograph and what you see in person, his art is so alive and breathtaking. This exhibit was five whole rooms just chock full of not only his assembled boxes and collages but also films and toys and these collections of papers and ephemera mean to constitute biographies and this completely hilarious deadpan fake gossip rag about birds... and just a ton of other things. And a lot of snippets of writing, even a whole description of a film in which a pheasant jumps into a pile of fresh laundry and disrupts a photographer's shot.. and he was a lovely, lovely writer.. It reminded me of the Diane Arbus exhibit, seeing not only her photos but all these other things she did, including her feverish, poetic writing..

Anyway, you walk in and the first thing you see is a huge projection of a word poem he wrote in the shape of a tower, just strings of words like rain snails crows castles moon coins star-lit fields roosters calliopes trumpets salamanders snow constellations coral lighthouses winding staircases soap bubbles mirrors stalagmites.. and you're already dizzy with these words and then behind it are just.. so many unbelievable things. Cornell was in love with so many things that he gathers together and you have ballerinas inside clamshells and Medici children alongside slot machines from penny arcades and you have Garbo and Dante and birds and fairytales and costume jewelry and twigs and ice cubes... and... basically everything I love and think is beautiful just running up against each other. There's even an homage to Lauren Bacall he made after seeing To Have and Have Not.

You leave that first room completely full and overwhelmed and then you enter a hall with photos of his studio and the house he lived in for over 40 years in Queens and the shelves of shoeboxes with names scribbled on the side like watch parts, coins, cordials, balls, plastic shells, etc etc, and a display case filled with tools and books.. and you think it's over and it's more than enough, and then you walk into what will be four more rooms.

By the second room I felt so saturated I was afraid I wouldn't remember anything else, so after--and we only had three hours there since we got into Salem at 2pm after staying the night in Worcester--I bought every book on Cornell, and some cards, one with a photo of my favorite thing in the exhibit, this box with a pink palace inside with tiny mirrors for windows and these thin twigs jutting up behind and sparkle everywhere... but in the photo it looks like nothing special and in person it's alive and magical and shifting. One of the books I bought collects Cornell's recordings of his dreams and one was: "March 3, 1944. Dream of going back to Nyack seeing school as the palace I made of mirrors it was like the Plaza only seen as a front facade resplendent in the sunlight."

In the exhibit I wrote down a few things that I will just add in here..

In one display case there was a little box called Little Memories of the Ballet, with tiny bits of ephemera inside--some pearls, bits of barrettes, etc--and a fragment of Cornell's writing describing it: "Into a souvenier case guarding its sealed treasure of costume fragments from 'La Spectre de la Rose'--how explain the intrusion of bejewelled and faded tokens of a ballerina of an earlier day, scented with a renegade blonde hairpin loosened from the chevelure of some Cinderella in her midnight haste... Reward'"

Here is part of the description for one box: "A jewelry box adds preciousness to Cornell's interpretation of the legend that Romantic ballerina Marie Taglioni kept an imitation ice cube with her jewels to commemorate dancing in the snow for a Russian highwayman.." It went on to talk about Cornell watching the trains at Grand Central Station, seeing men unloading ice at night and everything transforming into what seemed like a fairy world, with the lights and ice.

Also: "In the late 30's a chance encounter with cages tropical birds displayed against a pet shop's stark white walls made such a 'dazzling' impression that Cornell believed it changed his way of seeing the 'simplicity of magic' in the everyday."

So I bought six books on Cornell and read three of the very short ones yesterday morning, one of which was Charles Simic's reflections on the artist. Here's just one bit I liked:

As the curtain goes up we see a forest with tall, fantastic trees. It is night. There's a moon half hidden by the clouds. Blue mist drifts through the trees. The forest is a place in which everything your heart desires and fears lives.
"Blue is the color of your hair," said Schwitters. He walked into a forest near Hanover and found there half of a toy train engine, which he then used in one of his collages.
Beauty is about the improbable coming true suddenly. The great ballerina, Emma Livry, a protegee of Taglioni, for instance, died in flames while dancing the role of a night butterfly.

Anyway, so after seeing the Cornell, we walked around Salem and drank lemonade and went to the House of the Seven Gables and down by the water to see the ships, and we ate clams and oysters and scallops and shrimp and then we drove up this little windy road that goes by the ocean, through Beverly and Manchester-by-the-Sea, where we stopped in this musty old bookstore and I found Dante Rossetti's translations of Dante and his circle's lyric poems, and up to Gloucester, where we turned into this little park and looked out at lighthouses. Then we drove back to NYC and got in around 2 or 3am Saturday night, I forget. But it was a very jam-packed and wondrous just-over-24-hour-long trip. Oh and on the way to Salem we tried to stop at Walden Pond but it was rudely CLOSED.

Yesterday I read about Cornell and almost finished Out and watched the gorgeous, devastating (very devastating) Gloomy Sunday, which Joi raved about weeks ago but I hadn't had time to watch. I also watched an episode of Giada's Weekend Getaways since suddenly I can only stand cooking shows. I don't like cooking but I like the words they use and just the way that someone like Giada smacks her lips and says "this is the perrrrfect way to start a Saturday, with a Nutella crepe!!" Oh and I had a new book idea for which I would have to travel all through the Midwest.

Tonight I am meeting my ex boyfriend Jim, with whom I was madly in love in college and who is visiting from Los Angeles--and who just spent the last several days in New Jersey for the U.S. Chess Open, that nerd--for dinner. We have remained close friends for over a decade now but I haven't seen him in person since 1995. So it is slightly nervewracking.

I shall end this new novel I have just composed with this photo of Eric's dad sporting the extremely fashionable t-shirt I had made for his birthday:

And here is Mark's baby Anna modelling the sweetly feminine hat I generously sent to her by mail:

The end.