Dear Manhattan Mommies,

I know that, one day, your little boys will be distinguished grey-haired gentlemen. I know their names will be known to monarchs and presidents, and their initials monogrammed on cufflinks and linen hankies. But for now, they are half-naked toddlers splashing about in a birdbath at the playground. So when you shout "Atticus! Atticus, stop hitting your sister!" or "August, get off there!" it's really a little ridiculous.

Oh, yes, there was a little girl there too. About 2 or so. Unidentified. I've mentally named her Clytemnestra. My beloved (who was with me at the time) thought her name might be Chlamydia. More likely, it's something like Mghaddyseiann or something equally likely to a) become an expensive designer brand in ~30 years and b) get her ass kicked if she goes to a school where she hasn't been enrolled yet.

Someday, I, too, shall spawn (though, I bet, in a far more inglorious borough) and I shall name my progeny Morglat, Xonculum and Anthropomorphia. And Oopsie, the youngest. Ah, Oopsie. My little miracle. My one-in-a-million. (According to the condom people, anyway.)



When I was about six years old, I tried to quantify infinity.

I said to my grandmother, "Do you see the dots I make with a pen on paper? If you cover the entire world with dots like this, count them up and then multiply that number by itself - that is how much I love you."

I know love can't be measured like that.

But I will love you for as long as it would take me to count up all those dots.



Updates in my Moleskine world -

1. I have finally connu the loss of a Moleskine. At some point on my recent trip - I suspect during the frazzled, harried boarding of our train between Paris and London - I managed to lose one of my notebooks. It was not, thank God, a journal; it was one of my "auxiliary" notebooks (where I keep vague, quick notes written on the run, as well as packing lists and telephone numbers/addresses/directions that are only to be used once), but realizing I'd lost it knocked me into the dumps for a full day. I felt a little better when I realized that just about every poem I'd drafted in that notebook had been either finished and posted or copied into the primary notebook, but still. I had to remind myself of Papa Hemingway's stoicism in the face of lost writings (in A Moveable Feast) just to get through that day.

2. Prior to the loss of that notebook, I made a rather thrilling acquisition. For a while now, I'd been quietly coveting the Van Gogh special edition Moleskines, but, considering that they were always priced above the already un-cheap regular Moleskines (and that, every time I saw one, I was already mid-journal), I could never quite justify the splurge. Well, after visiting the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam (an amazing and moving experience that I would really like to blog about, except my notes are embarrassingly fractured/rapturous - fracturapturous? - so I must work on putting it into saner terms), I popped into the giftshop. And what should I see but a small stack of these jewel-toned silky wonders, serendipitously on sale, including a plain (not ruled!) notebook in a brilliant shade of green. (Green is one of my favorite colors, second only to red.) Of course I bought it. My only reservations about it are: it's silk-covered, so no way for me to personalize the cover, really; it's actually a sketchbook, so the pages are thicker than what I am used to; and it's just so damn nice. I am currently considering using it as a makeshift scrapbook or photo album.

3. The day I discovered the loss of my volant, I stopped in a Waterstone's in London (for coffee, actually) and, to my utter shrieking, hopping-up-and-down delight, found a red-covered plain Moleskine. Now, Barnes & Noble has long been stocking red-covered Molies, but their were all ruled. And ruled Moleskines are narrow-ruled, which I can't stand; besides, after years of journaling in plain notebooks, lined ones just annoy me and feel like I'm taking notes at a meeting. Anyway, so I very quickly bought the red notebook (which made me feel a little better about losing the volant, too). Good thing too, because . . .

4. I finished notebook #6 (next: scanning it), so it's on to what I shall term Le Moleskine Rouge. Currently, I am mentally exploring decorating options. (Leaving it plain red is NOT an option; personalizing that deeply decoupageable blank oilskin is one of the great joys of journaling in a Moleskine as opposed to a pre-fab Paperblank or suchlike.)

5. In my glancing over the web for inspiration, I found this, which was of no help to me whatsoever, but I really liked it anyway. They are buff-colored Moleskine Cahiers, which are decorated with simple and very charming (IMO) colored drawings. I could never do anything like this, but I very much enjoyed looking at the pictures.

6. Almost forgot. En route from Amsterdam to Paris, the free magazine given out on the Thalys train had a great article about the Moleskine. In 4 languages! I may try and scan it in.


the idiots' book of wit & wisdom

Alex: Why are you all pissy? Did you get some sand up your vagina?
Me: Yeah. I'm about to start dropping pearls outta there.
Alex: Hey, when life puts sand in your vagina, make pearls out of it.

(the evolution of this exchange has been greatly glossed over; you should thank me for that)


I recently returned from a 3-week trip through Europe. Figured, I might as well put up a couple of the madly jotted notes from my notebook. In no particular order. This comes from the last (or nearly) couple entries.

It had been more than a dozen years since I had last seen Stonehenge, and the impression it made on me then - 15 years old, shivering in the bitterly cold winter wind that ripped across the high plain - had stayed.

It is still magnificent. The stones are jammed into the earth as firmly as if they'd sprouted roots, as though they are the lynchpins of the world, holding it all together atop that fresh green hill. The silently eloquent rough-hewn monoliths stand staggered in their uneven circle like grey-robed, grey-faced giant warlocks gathering to summon forth a beast that will take millennia to come - but surely will, when the time comes.

Crows fly over the stones with an easy familiarity that seems to mock the dutiful orderliness of the tourists who make their way around the English Heritage Site in an unsteady but obedient circle, very like the sheep who graze lazily only a couple dozen yards away, casting bored and smirklike glances at the crowd. Cameras snap, visitors pose with their photo-ready grins incongruous against the stark backdrop - these are, after all, just a bunch of rocks, and who cares how long they have stood here, who cares who willed their presence and why, and how - they are, in the end, just a ring of porous grey rocks, cordoned off from the crowd of nylon-jacketed sight-seekers.

But not even the throngs could detract from the immensity of this spectacle. Not even the clicking of shutters nor the multi-lingual chatter could muddle the powerful aura here.

And, in truth, the crowd was not as noisy as it could have been. For moments, here and there, a hush seemed to come over us, driving us to lower our voices or silence them altogether. For a few moments, we tourists became something like pilgrims, humbled and awed by the indefinable, undeniable greatness of that which we beheld. Our lives, all our experiences, all that we were, all that we had managed to become, to attain - all dwindled into utter insignificance in the face of what these stones had witnessed from their improbable perch. But it never made us feel small, not at all - perhaps that is what we came up there for - to lay the tiny offering of the sum total of ourselves as the foot of History's rocky avatars, to take our place in the flow, as water joins to water, as a tear might fall into an ocean, disappearing but never vanishing - at least, not to the eye that matters.

In the wind that hummed and roared in my ears, I thought I could hear human and animal voices. Whispers, cries, howls, footfalls. There were bones beneath our feet - metaphorically and very literally, for the too-subtle rounded earth mounds here and there around the site are ancient graves.

Who knows what sort of men and women had once moved between these stones? My arms had prickled, hairs standing up as though I were a spooked cat; I suppose this is part of being a "base creature" - retaining that which is animal about us humans.

I wish very much that I could return, someday, on my own, to find time to spend more than a quick half-hour there. It has the strong feeling of being a sacred place. Magic rises off the earth like a heavy fragrance.

From where I sit now, I can see the sun setting, white-gold behind the trees, silhouetting the children against the pale sky. And I wonder, I imagine how the light would stream between the stones, painting them a soft sandy gold before turning them to black, glorifying and sheltering them in this nightly consecration of light, this godliest ritual of repetition.

Perhaps I really am meant to be a pagan of some sort. Is there a ritual that follows the varied, different-paced rhythms of the earth? In the end, it is the only one that would make sense - the only one than would never depend on middle men - the only one that would yield its miracles both generously and reliably.


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