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February 4, 2013

Walk with AJ to the farmer’s market for milk, eggs, yogurt, cider, apples, bread, jam,cheese and a doughnut for AJ. Vegetables that the masculine members of the Spy household will eat are few and far between at this time of year, but I admire the piles of parsnips and the mountain of kale. On the way home we stop to say goodbye to Cranky and J and Nana Cranky, who are headed someplace warm. J is watching a show about an earthquake and is desperate to tell me about it. “The earthquake goes like this!” she says, and starts doing an impressive and aggressive twist.

Bus to the music studio. We catch the early bus by mistake and have time to stop at the ice cream shop named for a Walt Whitman poem about Brooklyn. AJ has cookies and cream and I have a tasting cup of salted caramel, which is pretty much the best thing ever. It’s the same thing I had last week, which is what I tell the man behind the counter (who is a dead ringer for Mike White) as he rings us up. “That’s why we call it ‘salted caramel CRACK.’” Next door at the studio, the bands behind closed doors were not as good as last week, except for AJ’s of course. This is generally helpful and I get a lot more work done than expected. AJ comes out excited that they are writing their own song. “What are the lyrics?” I ask, but they haven’t got that far. They are writing riffs and chord changes. “What did the singer do?” “She just hummed along.” The bus home seems longer, but the day is sunny and we don’t mind walking the last couple of blocks, despite the chill wind.

Back home, I take apart the air conditioner in my bedroom window. The fan has stopped working, probably because we’ve been running it overtime. In January. When it’s 20 degrees out. The curse of the top floor (damn physics!). I surprise myself by actually fixing it. I feel like a superhero for five whole minutes.

AJ and Mr. Spy leave for baseball camp and I cook and cook. I saute chicken for a salad with black beans and avocados and red peppers and corn and cheese with lime-cumin dressing. I cook a vat of soba noodles and toss with my favorite dressing of soy sauce, rice vinegar and almond butter with garlic and ginger. In the end, though, I really just want a bowl of the split pea soup I made on Friday. I eat it with a piece of crusty farmer’s market bread.

Sunday, I awake with a start to a loud noise. Something is wrong with the heat. I’m pretty sure it’s because I fixed the air conditioner. A couple of hours later it shuts off, but we are still warm. It comes on again in the afternoon, just as the apartment is beginning to cool.

At Mass, a priest tells as about the village in which he grew up in Nigeria and how he’s trying to build a school. We open our pockets as he has opened his heart.

AJ plays basketball and loses yet another game. They have not won one yet and they are feeling defeated. But the season is almost over and baseball is just around the corner. Afterwards we trudge home until we stop for a drink and then the shoulders uncurl for the walk up the long slope toward home.

In the evening, the boys watch football and I watch the Puppy Bowl while trying to finish up some work from the office so I’m not starting Monday any more behind than I have to. I suspect the effort is futile, but I do it anyway.

Monday morning we wake to an ice cold apartment. The heat is off again, but I don’t care, because I slept better than I’ve slept in a week.

On the way to the office, the subway is so crowded that it’s hard to exhale. I’m squished between a tall woman in an elegant grey and ivory suit and a man who knocked me off balance trying to stand next to his girlfriend. To his defense, he picked me up again (insofar as it was possible to fall in a sardine-packed train) and held me gingerly by the elbow until he was sure I was not going to tip over, like he was balancing a porcelain vase on the mantel. The woman across from me has it worse. The man who just got on has his leather-clad armpit resting on her right ear. She grimaces and sighs. Because what can you do?

The day flies by so quickly that I forget to have lunch and am grateful for the bagels left in the kitchen from a meeting of unhungry people. I feel like I’ve accomplished some things, but there is still much to do, and I’m wondering if I will ever feel like I’m on top of things.

On the way home, I finish A Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin and am very sad to see it go, although the ending is a bit of a disappointment in its tidiness and over-earnestness. Fortunately I pick up Reinventing Bach, which looks to be my kind of book. I have trouble following fiction with fiction. I need to cleanse my palette before moving on. Last Friday, I found a copy of Michael Chabon’s The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay on the stoop of my building and I picked it up. It’s my next novel, I think. I his writing, especially Mysteries of Pittsburgh, and haven’t read this one. It is much dog-eared, which is always a good sign for a book, I think.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 5, 2013 8:21 am

    It sounds like a kind of wonderland–a place where you’re not cold and they keep a farmer’s market going in winter, and where you find serendipitious books.

  2. February 5, 2013 8:55 am

    New York lies on a razor thin line between magical wonderland and the 9th circle of Hell.

  3. February 5, 2013 1:07 pm

    Kavalier and Clay is in my top five favorite books of all time, Harriet. Enjoy!

  4. February 5, 2013 7:24 pm

    ” . . . I’m wondering if I will ever feel like I’m on top of things.”

    Amen, sister, amen.

  5. February 7, 2013 11:20 am

    I’m glad you liked A Winter’s Tale. I think the first few chapters were the best. I also liked Hardesty’s journey across the country in the middle of the book, though.

    When I lived in my fourth-floor walkup I was always too warm. I kept the windows cracked open for most of the winter, since apparently the radiator heat was not sensitive enough to fine-tune below 75 degrees.

  6. February 7, 2013 11:13 pm

    I really did like it. Thanks so much for recommending it. I doubt I would have picked it up otherwise. I’m enjoying Kavalier and Clay as well. Our building has a very precise looking thermostat, but as it is located in the drafty stairwell not far from the front door, it doesn’t help us much, even when, as now, it is set to 65.

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