Archive | City Matters

Lady-Made Nature

I had another bad writing day–can I write a book? is this something that should even happen?–so I put on my raincoat and sailed into this stormy day to look at paintings. Fine arts is a relatively new fascination for me. My mom has a BFA from Massachusetts College of Arts so I always focused more on film and literature (and fashion, who am I kidding?). Recently, though, I’ve really fallen in love with the rainbow time capsule offered by painting and, to a lesser degree, sculpture; I’ve even written critical essays about a few key shows this year.

I went to the Rachel Uffner gallery to ogle “Same Space, Different Day,” an exhibition featuring the paintings of Shara Hughes, who captures the glee of childhood with an old soul scope and a punkrock fairytale palette. Man o man, do I love her work. I first noticed it a year ago–she doesn’t live far from me in the Williamsburg-Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn–and today was lucky enough to talk to Ullner herself about what makes Hughes unique to people far savvier than me. Continue Reading →

Zoo York Is Not Enough

I had such a lovely break from the city–sunrises by the sea, swanning on tree-laced hammocks, cartwheeling in big fields–and such a bumpy reentry. On the drive back a glass-encased candle–an uncrossing candle, no less–exploded in my car, my phone abruptly went dead and still is not fixed as I type this, and so many serious accidents took place on the highways that the normally 3.5-hour trip took 7 hours. It’s not just that my nerves were shot; it’s that I could feel everyone else’s were shot, too. Finally somewhere in Connecticut I broke down in tears–the messy kind, not the pretty kind– and had to pull to the side of the road. Aloud I said: “Okay, higher spirit. You’ve secured my attention. What do you want me to know?” In response I could not just hear but see the Rilke quote: You must change your life. And here I’d thought I already had, though I guess thus far said change has been inflicted rather than invited.

I know some of what I need to do but if the rest were obvious or easy, I’d have done it long ago. This is, after all, the human experience: We learn by expanding our horizons, by stepping out of our comfort zones, in this case literally. Living so isolated from nature drains me to a degree I only acknowledge on the rare occasions I’m by the ocean or beneath a tree by myself. Yet the craving for unadulterated fields, for the noisiness of birds and wind and crickets, pulses beneath all the decoration of my New York life no matter how I try to drown it out. It grows even stronger in the shadow of dystopia. As I zoomed back to the city I no longer love monogamously I still could the heartsong I breathed in that big air; how to return to All That now looms as my biggest question though others should take precedence. Being middle-aged, it turns out, teaches us to heed older rhythms and wiser notes than what our tiny brains can measure.

Grace is glad I’m back, anyway. My friend takes my absence so seriously that I could hear her weeping as I climbed the stairs to my apartment. Witches and their familiars should never be parted.

The Nightmare Is Also a Dream

Last night’s dream:

A big corporation asks me to do a live performance since the one I gave in real life went well. This time I do not feel engaged enough to do a good job. I’ve brought along some index cards but can’t find them in my purse and every time I stop to dig for them I lose my thread and audience so I plod on. Everything and everybody is twitching. The crowd and I are standing in a big drafty old factory floor that’s not quite been transformed into something else. It’s the kind of building that used to abound in the West 30s and 40s when I first moved to New York. I am rambling while worrying idly that I’m not worrying when the roof begins to crumble and then bursts into flames. Again, I think, since the roof of Chelsea Market burst into flames earlier this month as I was getting fired. Everyone runs out but me and a tall woman with beautiful arms and copper skin and eyes. She and I are detached, watching the drama unfold. Then we turn to each other and Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy