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April 4, 2012

When I go to the laundry up the street, the television is always blaring music in Chinese. The tall blond in the silk shift in front of me is carrying her load in Marc Jacobs bags. She speaks very slowly, as if to a small child or an idiot. The man between us carries his shirts over one arm and hands over the rest in a Barney’s bag. He says nothing, only nods and ducks his head to get out through the low door to the street. I hand over my dirty sheets and towels in a plastic bag that says I (HEART) NY, which once housed a pack of toilet paper from the bodega on the corner. The proprietress smiles at me, throws my bag on the scale, counts it out on her fingers and says “Seven dollar!” even as she is still typing the numbers into the register, the kind with a satisfying ringthunk when the drawer shoots open.

* * * * *

Under the scaffolding outside the subway station on Park Avenue, there is a tree that is completely boxed in. I’ve felt sorry for it for months. But now, miraculously, it is covered in fragrant white blossoms. You see all but the most hardened commuters raise their noses in the air for a whiff. I nearly walk into a pole while watching the scene.

* * * * *

The cheese is talking to me:

* * * * *

Good news from the Toy Factory — they are trying to get me more help. One worker for another half a day will let us do more and will also prevent a worker from having two bosses. Everybody wins.

* * * * *

Madison Square park is a festival of hellebores and grape hyacinth and crabapples. One falun gong die-hard is still there, bundled in the parka and wool socks she’s been wearing all winter, sitting crosslegged, eyes closed, on the gravel plot next to the Shake Shack as we all rush bumptiously by.

* * * * *

The sun is flooding my desk all morning now. It makes me want to put down the contracts I’m studying and curl up, like a cat, on the heating register that fills the space between my desk and the glass. The man across the street sits on his terrace in his bathrobe, now full of blooming trees in pots, puffing on a pipe or possibly a cigar and reading the paper. He scratches his head behind the trees, making me laugh because suddenly, he looks like a monkey.

* * * * *

I take a supervisee out to lunch to celebrate her promotion. She leads me to a tiny Italian sandwich shop that I’d walked by a million times without noticing. The walls are papered in Italian newspapers and the line stretches out the door. By the time we collect our egg sandwiches — pesto for her, truffle for me — there is a table. We talk about work and actually enjoy it. It is windy when we leave, but the sun is shining as we head back to the office.

* * * * *

I walk home through Chelsea, my headphones in. I see a man coming toward me look down, then up at my face and smile. I look down and realize I’ve figured out the guitar part with my fingers, fluttering like birds. open, second fret, slide to 5 then 7. Over and over the riff. I wonder if the smiling man knew what I was doing or was placating me in the way you do with unpredictable dogs and the insane. I decide I don’t really care. And then the song changes.

* * * * *

I stay up late listening to music and working on the taxes. This morning, I drink an entire pot of coffee before I realize it is time to take a shower. Which is to say, right now.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 4, 2012 11:25 am

    Ah, Harriet, I love your descriptions of New York.

  2. April 4, 2012 12:12 pm

    The names on the bag suggest a certain high tone, although I’m not familiar with the names Marc Jacobs or Barneys. Are they the kind of stores where you have to be buzzed in, or did that go out with the 80s?

  3. April 4, 2012 1:09 pm

    I love it that your ad encourages me to work my brain – which is what you’ve done to my imagination. 🙂

  4. April 4, 2012 9:24 pm

    Marc Jacobs makes really beautiful handbags and also clothes, none of which I can afford. Barney’s is a very upscale department store. V, what ad?

  5. magpiemusing permalink
    April 5, 2012 11:25 am

    This whole post makes me smile. Especially the cheese.

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