I’m not pissed at my brother, for some reason—probably because he’s cool and I always liked him a hell of a lot more than my sister, who is of the mealymouthed persuasion—so it is my pleasure to wish him and the Mrs. all the best.
For al be that I knowe nat love in dede,
Ne wot how that he quyteth folk hir hyre,
Yet happeth me ful ofte in bokes rede
Of his miracles, and his cruel yre [...]
For out of olde feldes, as men seith,
Cometh al this newe corn fro yeer to yere;
And out of olde bokes, in good feith,
Cometh al this newe science that men lere.
—Chaucer, “Parlement of Fowles,” ll. 8-11, 22-25
One of my dear friends is going through a particularly nasty bout of unrequited love. The man has genuine feelings for her, it’s clear even in an outsider’s view, but he has legitimate reasons for not starting a real relationship.
On most aspects of love I am no expert. But on unfulfilled longing for crazy people, I perch on a rocky eminence of insight, atop a gnarly mountain of grim situations grimly past. The men in whom I was seriously interested were (and presumably remain) so odd that I have been spared the sight of them with someone(s) else. “Aha! She chose inaccessible men because she wasn’t prepared for a relationship,” They say. No; I chose weird people because I like weird people.
Hairy is a nice bonus. More than a decade later, I still remember how, even from across the room as his elbows rested genteelly on the shabbos table, the black hair on his arms made me hurt inside. If we had gone to bed together, I might just have expired, in the permanent, not (merely) Elizabethan, sense. “Willing, I warmed to his physical charms/ To his bedhead coiffure and his scholar’s arms,” was the best I could do. Happily, scholar’s arms are what I got eventually. I’m still alive, too.
Before K.O., I loved two men, two friends, deeply and incompletely. Two others, not quite friends, I longed for and would have loved, given the chance. (I couldn’t get too near his arms; had he worn long sleeves…) The second not-quite-friend, the last before K.O., had good reasons for not starting something with me. I suggested that it was perhaps because he didn’t want me. “If you think you’re not attractive physically,” he told me, “it’s just not true, like it’s not true that Kant is an Aristotelian.” Hearing this at twenty-seven was worth a lot of pain. It carried weight, coming from a towering conflagration of hotness such as himself. A broken late-Platonist heart in every port, I’m sure he’s got.
But when I ask what longing taught me, I am not asking about individual lessons learned in one encounter or another. Those are obvious, years after. I mean instead, what did I gain from the experience of love unreturned? Is there anything about that emotional state that prepared me for another, happier, way of thinking, of loving?
Two tentative (and not particularly original) answers. 1. Part of longing, for me, is immovable, irrevocable, more like a rock in the mind than a dispositional state. Maybe, like the bowling ball on the trampoline in all the kids’ relativity books, it creates a disposition like the bowling ball curves the skin of the trampoline. But for me the object of attention is the bowling ball (or boulder!), not the curve. It does things to you, but you don’t do things to it. It is just there and there’s nothing to be done about it. This is a good feature of requited love, even though it’s often just as frustrating to have this new boulder there as it was before, when one loved without hope.
2. Love really is “like a cloud that holds a lot of rain,” as the Everly Brothers inform us. But in the unrequited kind, the rain is the whole focus; the cloud is a trick, just a carrier for the rain. In actual love as I know it, the miracle is that the cloud actually succeeds in holding the rain, when necessary. All that water doesn’t come out of the cloud; it holds together. It holds all sorts of things, even happiness. “We’ll build in sonnets pretty roomes/ As well the well-wrought urn becomes/ The greatest ashes.” Ki azah ka-mavet ahavah.
Q: How did I ignore Leonard Cohen all these years?
A: Judy Collins’ cover of “Suzanne,” which I sadly happened upon at age 12 or so. Hear it and you’ll sympathize. I thought that was all there was to him.
I was reintroduced, oddly enough, by the Eishes No, who drug me to an open mike where a woman from Monsey (!) did a great “Hallelujah.” Where would we be without baalei teshuvah?
He seems to be into being tied to pieces of furniture. See “kitchen chair” in “Hallelujah” and an unspecified table in “Tower of Song.” Yow.
Here’s a very good cup of coffee right behind the (old) new store, on, I kid you not, San Antonio’s very own Avenue B: http://www.thelittleaussiebakery.com.
The coffee was excellent, the salad quite good, and the sandwich O.K.. (Yeah, Shaya, I said “sandwich.”;-) No word yet on the baked goods, but I’ve still got a couple of days in town. The Aussies in attendance didn’t seem particularly little—everyone was over 21, I think—but they were very friendly.
The “Little” Aussie is right near where Madhatters used to be. Got to keep diligent track of cafes here, or you’ll lose ‘em. Madhatters has moved to where the Beauregard was. Although I am sure that the neighbors aren’t sorry to see it go, I miss the Beauregard. In high school they let us come in to take in the band because it was technically a restaurant (that’s the “grill” part of bar & grill). They knew we weren’t after anything stronger than iced tea, but we could take up a booth, even when it was crowded. And the “bouncer” never charged us cover.
Be that as it may, Madhatters is nice & mellow. A very, very large converted house, so there’s lots of privacy. With just o.k. (but unlimited) coffee. I don’t wish ‘em any ill, but the iced coffee in particular is not good. http://www.madhatterstea.com.
Mazel tov to my honored sister, Annie Beck (a.k.a. Anna Elise Beck, Anna Beck, Anna E. Beck, Beck, Annie, Beck, Anna E., Anna Shuler, Annie Shuler, email@example.com), her husband-to-be, and her parents, Gus Beck (a.k.a. August Henry Beck, III, firstname.lastname@example.org) and Julie Beck, all of San Antonio, TX, on her upcoming wedding. To which I did NOT receive an invitation. The bride is a student at the medical school at the University of Texas Health Science Center. The bride’s father is the president (C.E.O.?) of A.H. Beck Foundation Company, Inc., http://www.ahbeck.com.
I had a long and vitriolic post up on this topic. I’ve distilled it to a mere 8 pithy observations:
0. The worst part of it is that I wasn’t even P.O.’d at Dad until this latest simcha.
1. “But, SKBW, it isn’t my wedding. It’s Annie and Gus’s wedding.”—Julie (Hint: the fiance isn’t named Gus.)
2. “If she’s old enough to get married, she’s old enough to get you an invitation.”—Aunt Fay
3. If you’re not going to invite me to your (and/or your daughter’s) wedding, then stay out of my way at family gatherings. Don’t talk to me like everything’s OK. Say Merry Christmas and back away, like Julie had the decency to do.
4. It makes me irate that I didn’t get invited to this wedding, but it’ll hurt me not to get invited to my brother’s. Because my brother and I were close. “The way you hold your [fake Lightsaber]/ The way we [watched TNG and American Gladiators] till three…”
5. It was a real delight, Dad, to learn about the wedding from Grandma’s home health aide, not only because I got a pleasant surprise, but also because Grandma got to see, bigger than Dallas, as you’d say, that I didn’t know about it and hadn’t been invited.
6. K.O. and I weren’t even going to HAVE a wedding, but I’m going to be sure to invite each one of you to every damn event that the Jewish rulebook can spew out, plus every one that my mother can come up with. It won’t be pretty.
7. When I would spend the night with my cousins as a little kid, four or five, I’d get homesick and weepy at bedtime. Uncle Jim would say, “Don’t worry, honey. Uncle Jim will take care of you. Uncle Jim takes care of all his little girls.” At your house, Dad, you’d say “Quit your crying. You’re not homesick. You’re just spoiled.” After many, many years, I’ll come to your funeral, Dad, but I’ll cry at Uncle Jim’s.
If anyone wants to help out on Google, click here for “Annie Beck.” I can’t get a link directly to my blog, but who knew that onlysimchas feeds to the Jerusalem Post?
“Anna Elise Beck”—already on the first page of results.
To appropriate a local radio show’s slogan, “Con La Mega No Se Juega.”
Well worth going out of your way if you have an unlimited MetroCard.
The Strand is giving away a full-sized canvas tote bag (mine was green and brown striped, v. cool) with the purchase of any two books, including dollar books. Not bad for $2.17.
The only problem is that you need to present a promo postcard with purchase. I found mine at the D’Agostino’s on University Place btw. 10th and 11th. Make a hard left as soon as you go in and you’ll see them on the windowsill. Cute graphic of someone browsing the dollar racks.
I believe the offer ends around Jan. 15th, but I don’t know about finding a postcard, so start looking now.
My mother found a 512K at one of her estate sales—it can keep the SE (turned out not to be an SE/30) company. LocalTalk rides again!
Tomorrow we are going to Greenpoint to see what is there. We went to Williamsburg, first hipster and then Satmar, a couple of weeks ago. I went into Satmar Bazaar, a store on Lee Ave. I had passed, in another lifetime, when I went down to Gestetner to look at invitations. The lady was actually very nice because she saw that I was not from the neighborhood and that I was in the mood to buy. When I rang up, she said, gesturing vaguely at KO, “So, do you need anything for the man?”
There has been a lot of entertaining here. With my new policy of entertaining only people who reciprocate, with the exception of bachelors who don’t invite anyone at all, things have become much easier. First I made rumaki for the Men and Rebecca. Then I made Thanksgiving dinner for KO himself, YK, MK, Jr., our mechutan, and Lammpost, who is a great guest and must come back soon.
For the 0.5 people that still have me on their aggregators, I AM still around—but I’ve been devoured by school this semester. Because of a scheduling evil, I have to take the spring off and resume in June. So maybe I’ll be writing more.
I have inherited a guinea pig, and she prefers a diet of Israeli salad exclusively (read: our leftovers, but without dressing). Perhaps I will try a new brand of hay or pellets.
...on the obsession thing. But check it out: this woman who was totally obsessed with KO, calling him 2x per week for months, showing up at friends’ houses, has her wedding picture, bigger than Dallas, on the old promotional calendar for an Orthodox feminist organization. I am much better looking than her, fortunately.
Everyone knows that the Jefferson Market Library has a clock, but I had never heard it strike! It hit seven just as we were waiting for the M5 tonight.
I just found an SE/30 to buy off of my neighbor! ohoho.
Attention, New Yorkers with stabilized leases who are scheduled to renew before Oct. 1st, 2006:
Take advantage of this year’s low rent increase (2.75%) on a one-year lease. The two-year rate is 5.5%. In order to BREAK EVEN on a two-year at 5.5% vs. a one-year at 2.75% plus a one-year at unknown, the unknown increase would have to be 5.35% for a one-year renewal starting NEXT year. I just don’t see it being that high. It makes more sense with just the numbers. Plug your present rent in for x and see for yourself.
(24)(1.055)x = (12)(1.0275)x + (12)(1.0275)(1.0535)x
If you don’t understand rent stabilization, see http://www.housingnyc.com or http://www.tenant.net.
Still I cannot sleep. This is really doing me in. I fall asleep, but wake up at ungodly hours.
Miraculously, I have gotten KO to go somewhere for dinner tonight. Nice people, too. I will be the one sleeping on the couch.
My colleague is definitely from the planet X. She called in sick at 3:30 yesterday (I don’t mean a.m., baby) AND said that she was not going to court today. I’m not an attorney, but I thought that only dead ppl. don’t go to court. Supervisor had to call around frantically for someone else to go in for her.
Now I am taking a class at City College. This is def. one of the great New York institutions, and I am glad to experience it firsthand. One of the reasons I am only lukewarmly in favor of affirmative action for undergrads (against it for professional schools, as 4 years of undergrad should have sufficiently leveled the playing field) is that there will never be true diversity w/o economic diversity. Economic diversity isn’t possible w/o very low tuition. The new no-loan financial aid at some of the Ivies is a good step. But that’s only a handful of schools. (3?) Nor do I know how this so-called no loan stuff works in practice. (I mean, how much a person is REALLY out of pocket in the end.) But the CUNY schools, obviously, offer a solid education (more than solid, in many cases) for very little. So this class is actually diverse as opposed to fake diverse.
Not being able to sleep is the worst curse. At least today is interesting—we are taking an 82-year-old woman to Family Court vs. her 90-YEAR-OLD husband. I only say “interesting” because I think it’ll have a happy ending, not because I mean to be cavalier.
Us: So how long would you like an order of protection for?
Her: Well, I don’t know how long he’s going to live.
Java’s Brewin’, on 140th and Amsterdam, unfortunately makes a terrible cup of coffee. Maybe I got the dregs. I will try it again later.
Names you can’t make up.
But you can read about it here.
The latest incarnation of my evil plan involves applying as a transfer to an undergrad program. No, no, I haven’t lost my mind—it’s just the way the program is structured. The app. contains such quaint questions as “What is your father’s occupation?” and “What SAT subject tests did you take?” I was answering everything deadpan, gave them the name of my college counselor, all that (!), but at the SAT IIs I drew the line. It does not sound like a freaky experience in the recounting, but if you tried it, believe me…
My avocado just sprouted—a mere 4 months after its first root. The other ones did NOTHING. One for eleven ain’t—well, no, it is pretty bad.
We are now host to 2 African clawed frogs, one of whom is a tadpole. Remember Grow-a-Frog? KO had never heard of them (generational problem, just perhaps?), so I decided to bring them around. I had initially thought that a frog would make a world-class yichud room present, but then what do you do with him/her thereafter?
The tadpole has its back legs already, and his front legs are little lines on his stomach. The little lines move around when he kicks his back legs. Very neat.
What we have here is a marketing problem. The Great Muslim Adventure Day is a perfectly normal idea with a bad moniker. I don’t know what they call the Jewish version…afraid to ask.
Better not to ask Six Flags what precisely makes for a great Muslim adventure. “This year, Six Flags is introducing an 11-acre expansion, The Golden Kingdom. [...] The cornerstone of this new, mythical jungle kingdom is Kingda Ka, a roller coaster shattering all existing world records for speed and height at 128 mph and 456 feet.”
Listen, people! “A’dam” is not a contraction of Amsterdam (Ave.). It is short for “Adam, some idiot with an LJ account.” I don’t care about the Kurfürstendamm, “Ku-” or “K-Damm,” because anyone who would use “A-dam,” even in the privacy of their own homes, deserves to be pinned under (multiple) stately linden trees (pl.). (And I bet they’d like it, too.)
This is even worse than “nabe.” I can’t decide whether to direct my max. ire toward “nabe” or “’hood.” You either sound like you’re trying too hard to be down with the struggle, or trying too hard not to be down with the struggle. Unclear which is worse.
Perhaps I will start referring to the “H-bor,” which is, of course, short for hashakah bor. The one I’m installing in the basement.
In (some weird version) of Yiddish, pets are hoiz chayes, “live things in the house.” Live things, that is, other than lebedige schmutz, which surely does NOT mean “lively dirt” or “frolicsome filth,” my first guesses.
In Spanish, however, pets are mascotas.
Both approaches are disturbing in different ways.
To add to my list of Greek names from the D.R.: Danae.
...but the camera was ABSOLUTELY FREE!
Well, after days of heavy denial, I called up the (temporary) office (in Baton Rouge) of my old, old, friend, as in, from preschool on up, and the receptionist reports that he is alive and well and on business in California. Geez, I don’t have anything to say to him after all of this time—we haven’t spoken since either 1997 or 1998, I can’t recall—but I am extremely relieved to hear that he is all right.
Item: Charmingly restored Victorian home perched on a hillside 1 block from Main Street, 1 block from Mountain Road. 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, front and back porches, private garden, LR, DR, fully equipped kosher kitchen, fireplace, washer/dryer, 3 min walk to famed (!) recreation (!) path, 1 mile walk to new synagogue, 10 min drive to “best skiing in N.E..” Great vacation spot for hikers, bikers, bladers, skiers, and boarders. Local theater, music, and delicious dining. Delightful N.E. scenery every season of the year. For the official Stowe website, go to http://www.gostowe.com.
Available for daily, weekendly, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly rentals.
$275/day (12/19-1/4 or 2/13-2/22)
$130/day rest of year.
Contact me (skbw) if you are interested and I will put you in touch with the owner.
Item 2: There is a house for sale somewhere in greater Boston, perhaps in Newton, probably by owner. This is not the same person as above, and I do not know the seller. It is a friend of a friend. I post it here because it is always good to be down with real estate (see title of post). Again, contact me.
I must leave the field of human services immediately. It is a loathsome sector in which to be employed. I am extremely bored. “Extremely” does not properly evoke the extremity.
One solution, I have been thinking, is to become a therapist. Stop laughing! In almost every case with which I have dealt, the fundamental problem is not with the client’s material situation, but with some mental block that is preventing her from taking steps. “If she only had the presence of mind to do X, Y, and Z,” we say, and trail off. Of course the material obstacles are real. But for every two clients I have who are floundering, there’s one who gets up, goes to the factory or the bodega or the old person’s house, rents a room, and does whatever she has to do. This is the one with presence of mind! The problem is how to encourage presence of mind.
(Moment of non-PC sentiment. The standard of living for new immigrants without English in NYC has, sadly, not changed much since the Jews’ (original) stint on the Lower East Side. The factory job at $6/hr. will get you a room in a shared apt. for about $400 a month. A good way to live? No, of course not. But workable? Yes. Every conceivable social service, free education, food, childcare subsidies, all that, is there for the taking, even, in many cases, for undocumented ppl., and any settlement house can give you names and phone numbers and advice. Other people have worked their way up, and there’s no reason why any given person can’t, but one has to be together enough to go to appointments.)
“But you hate people,” comes the reply. Well, no. I hate being taken advantage of. If someone wants to pay me for my time, then that seems fair to me. “But you hate hearing about people’s lame logistical problems,” you say. YES, I do. But—stay with me here—a GOOD therapist is not SUPPOSED to LET the patient focus on his/her lame logistical problems.
So now I have to find a credential that is not extremely flaky. This would rule out an M.S.W.. Must find a dept. where they have heard of this dude, you know, William James. There are M.A. counseling programs at NYU and TC, and the one at TC is even taught in the same dept. as the clinical psych Ph.D., for historical reasons unclear to me.
How bad could it be? I ask. Could it be more boring than practicing law? Probably not.
I visited Columbia-Presbyterian this shabbat—just a social call, not to worry—and these are the things that grabbed me:
First, is it a surprise to Human Resources that the emergency room is located in Washington Heights? Were they expecting to locate the hospital in the Heights and find the ER in, say, Mobile, AL? There is no regularly stationed Spanish speaker on the ward. When someone wants to, say, ask a patient how s/he is doing, the announcement comes on the PA: “Spanish translator to Area B! Spanish translator to Area B!”
Second, if there was an eruv, one could perhaps take some food along, or an insurance card, or some nonsense like that, without fear of being struck down by God, or, worse, by one’s neighbor.
Third, in all seriousness, I wish there was a good way to embed some patient advocates in there. Because without an advocate, my friends, forget about it. It would have to be some third-party outfit like the Guardian Angels (nice scrubs, man, very nice red hue there), because naturally any “advocates” in the hospital’s employ would be rather less than tenacious in their grip. The advocates would sit in a corner of the waiting room, in a group of four or five, so that anyone in need, coming in alone, could just walk over and introduce him/herself. An advocate would then accompany the patient (keep the Guardian Angels, not to say Hell’s Angels, in the mind’s eye!) through the various stages of the stay. (The people too sick to communicate with an advocate will probably (hopefully) be treated quickly enough. Then they get better and need a helping hand again.) On one hand, an ideal advocate, an informed friend or relative, knows the patient’s medical history, but, then, to push for things like painkillers, IV bags, bedpans, and glasses of water doesn’t require a long acquaintance with the patient. Columbia has social workers and paraprofessional volunteers on hand to counsel crime victims. It would require much less training to prepare a low-level helper like this.
There are a large number of Greek and Roman names floating around the D.R.. These include, among my clients alone, not only Hector, Julia, and Socrates (duh), but also Leonidas, Agrippina, Diogenes, Euridice, Orfeo, Deianeira, Eridania (former name of the River Po), and (!) Jocasta. More doubtless to follow.
See also the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature, oh, baby.