Archive | City Matters

Of Cold Snaps and Chicken Soup With Rice

We’re in the middle of a real cold snap here in New York City, and I’m not happy about it. Though I labor mightily to extract the glamour from all situations this weather leaves me in the lurch. First we had a snowstorm so severe that it forced me to resurrect the Pepto-Bismol pink floor-length parka that is so warm and indestructible that the New Englander in me can never rationalize chucking it. Then the temperature dropped below 10 degrees and I had to make chicken soup with rice. I’ve written of my great affection for soup in the past but chicken soup with rice is no joking matter. Not to be confused with chicken soup with noodles or cockaleekie or even the always-cheering matzoh ball soup, chicken soup with rice is a dish I reserve for the bowels of an ugly winter. I make it with such earnest ingredients as brown rice and organic kale and carrots and garlic and ginger because it is intended as an armor powerful enough to protect the extremities and immune system and, cliché be damned, soul from all those elements raging right outside my windows. Windows that are now steamed up from the stalwart soup simmering on my stove. It is a soup sure to put hair on your chest. Continue Reading →

Love for Sale (Craigslist Haikus)

Ever since I became Home-Rehab Harriet, I’ve been obsessed with Craigslist. Not the personals—that glimpse into modern mating rituals is beyond me—but the “for sale” category, which already has coughed up an armoire and French dresser that I’ve made lovely for a song. Every morning I read the listings, and  they never fail to fascinate me. The guy in Howard Beach selling a white polar bear rug for $35,000. The Upper East Side denizen charging $1,100 for her broken lamp. The Bay Ridge lady selling used soap, deodorant, and razors. Such an opportunity to practice compassion for humanity in all its spiky forms, this Craigslist.

The engagement rings in particular break my heart. I’d love to follow up on each ad but, having burned through at least eight lives, content myself with merely imagining the stories behind them. In haiku form, no less.

Enjoy this diamond/ My predilection for cads/ Is your happy gain Continue Reading →

No New Tricks Here

In the house where I grew up, the sports radio was always blaring, the TV too, and everyone talked over each other and through everything else at the top of their lungs. I learned to read and do my homework in that racket but promised myself I’d be a silence worshipper if I managed to grow up. And in fact these days I do insist on living alone and uphold quiet as more glamorous than champagne sipped upon a velvet divan. But the truth of the truth is that whenever I want to get any big writing done I have to work in the noisiest environment I can find: a house full of screaming kids, a bustling coffee shop, my noisy stoop. If I ever want to finish my book I probably will have to set up a desk in the middle of Times Square. Old habits don’t die hard; they don’t die at all. We just find a rhinestone-studded collar with which we may tame them.

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