Wednesday Evening, January 17

1) Today I started Robert K. Massie's biography of Catherine the Great, and I keep having flashbacks to the few scenes I've seen of Marlene Dietrich in The Scarlet Empress.

2) Big about face in the evening. No, I did not work late or go swim, or even go to the supermarket. I got a call on the bus, and my friend Chris, who is moving to San Francisco next week, had dinner with me at Doyle's. Really, really good to catch up.

3) Look what I got in the mail tonight! From my friend Danny's Do Better Box.

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Tuesday Evening, January 16

1) Today was a day for two good ideas: a) a way to create a nice experience for two of my volunteers, and b) a speaker suggestion for a program a colleague runs.

2) At an after-work gathering, I got information that did, and didn't, surprise me. #vaguebooking

3) I'm going to have to learn some more about whataboutism.

BONUS: I actually posted something directly on ye Fycebykke at midday, and it highlighted what I miss by personal blogging: likes and comments. That might be the only thing I really miss about ye Fycebykke.

Tuesday Morning, January 16

1) Yesterday evening I had all the neighbors in for a glass of Champagne to celebrate the completion of the construction phase of the third-floor kitchen and bathroom renovation. It might have been the first time that 75% of the building's children were in my home, and I got to see live the routine that goes on over my head most mornings. With all the doors open, the traditional layout of a tripledecker does lend itself to the idea of an oval racetrack, so there was some racing about. But the children were also fascinated (I choose the word carefully) with sitting on the cedar chest in the dining room and with my head-popping Marie Antoinette action figure.

1a) Mercy no, of course I didn't give the children Champagne! :-)

2) Gluttonous leads to glutinous, not gluteus.

3) This morning I was up at 5:15 AM. Candlelight coffee and devotional, breakfast, social media - and now at 7 AM I'm ready to go back to bed! Energy up, buddy - you have a full day today.

Thursday Morning, January 11

1) This is the second morning running when I've awakened at ~4:30 AM after five solid hours of sleep and pushed the alarm clock to 7:00 AM when 6:00 AM clearly was not going to be possible.

2) Remember this video? I want you to watch it again, and remember a time when ye Fycebykke was fun. Wow, this was created in 2009!

3) Gotta hop to it!

Wednesday Night, January 10

1) Quote of the Night: "Last week was so cold and depressing I had to translate everything into Kelvin." - one of my volunteers in tonight's committee meeting

2) Quote of the Night II: "Compelling brevity." Me, responding to the (humorously) suggested email text of "See complete schedule posted here."

3) I am now going to force myself to go swim.

Wednesday, January 10

1) Instead of funding a campaign to make English the official language of the nation, why not fund free English lessons so more people acquire the knowledge to speak it on a daily basis? Seems like a more positive way to achieve the same goal.

2) Designing a website that encourages everyone to "browse and explore" is bull. People want what they want, and they want to find it easily. Period. Keep it simple!

3) I promise I'm actually finding some positive aspects of the day; it's not all Get Off My Lawn Guy here in my (overheated) cubicle. After a sleepy commute, some wonderful email interactions with volunteers indicate progress on an important issue. So yay for that!

 

Tuesday, January 9

1) Two odd similarities between yesterday's morning commute and this: a) on the train I was standing in front of a seated man playing a Tetris-like game on his smartphone; and b) the CT2 was late (depending on who you ask), but which caused me not to miss it.

2) This afternoon I got notice of three deaths, all very different personalities, two old, one quite young. One distinguished, one irascible, one quite young. I wasn't close to any of them (no need to offer condolences), but it does make one think about the impact one has in one's life.

3) Issues, sharing, feelings. Or, to coin a phrase, "You know my resistance is low."

Monday, January 8 - Back to Work

1) Yesterday I wore a thin dark gray pullover sweater to the office, and so did two other male colleagues. While hardly the time to start singing "My Irresistible Paris Original," it does rather indicate that some color is needed at the office this winter. #thinkpink

1a) Actually, I wore with it a large bow tie covered with pink flowers, a birthday gift last year from Original Boss. Hard to think that the end of this month is the 28th anniversary of my starting to work for him.

2) After essentially three weeks away, it's great to have a staff luncheon to welcome a new colleague. It's a little less great to have a volunteer committee meeting, but at least it's one of my favorite committees.

3) January is always busy, so I'm really going to have to focus on shifting gears back into work mode from life mode. December 19 and my extra-long layover at DFW on the way home for Christmas feel so very long ago right now. That means a lot happened to think about, to "ponder in one's heart."

New Year's Resolutions for 2018/Sunday Night, January 7

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS

Some years I decide to New Year's resolutions, and sometimes I don't, but this year a couple of them appeared spontaneously - and I think that's a good thing:

  1. Substitute podcasts for familiar (and unfamiliar) old movies. When I'm cooking dinner or washing dishes or puttering around the house, I'll often put on an old movie as a/v wallpaper. (Prominent newly-discovered old films of 2017 include Island in the Sun, The Opposite Sex, Blanche Fury, and Pursuit to Algiers.) And that's great, but it's ploughing a deep furrow even deeper. Podcasting is something I need to explore for a few different reasons, so I'm going to make the commitment to tune in actively during my domestic time. And how awesome that I can start with Christina Wallace's The Limit Does Not Exist! I welcome your recommendations.
  2. A. Respect my time. Wow, that sounds vague! What could that possibly mean? It means dedicating time for creativity and honoring that time by being present for it. Present how? By not cancelling or rescheduling it for a better offer, and by approaching that time with a clear head, ready to go.
  3. B. Respect my time. Having a daily schedule sounds so great in theory, until a) the alarm clocks goes off, or b) I realize I'm still not asleep and it's two hours before I have to get up. I keep saying I want to begin the day with a devotional (and quite possibly with sit-ups and pushups), but I don't do it consistently. Let's see how a dedicated start time each morning works for the next month.

Yeah, that's it. The rest - losing weight, eating right, returning to yoga or something, actually going to swim, switching back to red wine from bourbon - feel less like resolutions than obligations.

SUNDAY NIGHT

1) One result of my New York trip: I've used 165 texts over my plan, so I'll be billed extra.

2) I feel pretty good about the column I wrote today, and getting some presents wrapped and thank-you notes written, and things like that - but not about all those dishes left in the sink.

2a) How odd, I got an unsubscribe request after I sent out my email update, and I have no record of that email address ever subscribing. And the list is in my own inbox. I do not understand!

3) Travis had referred me to the podcast You Must Remember This (I think other friends have mentioned it, too), and this evening I listened to an episode about Jane Fonda which I thought would be focused exclusively on Barbarella. Instead, it focused on the entire period of her life with Roger Vadim, including audio footage from a scene in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? And I was able to find the scene on the Yewtybbe, and I can promise you that I will never, ever, see that movie.

BONUS: If it's not my Fycebykke ad settings, it's deleting cookies. How concerned should I be about a cookie with an .ru suffix?

Sunday, January 7

1) Up before 7 AM, chicory coffee and devotional in the parlor, two loads of laundry, and dining room breakfast of a small cheese omelette.

2) Worked (still working) on a column through the morning - in bed due to the cold. Successfuly put of plans to go into town. Listening to the motets of Heinrich Schutz (a gift from a friend 20 years ago), the score of La Fille Mal Gardée, and an album of Cuban music.

3) Skimming my beloved Ellen Maury Slayden's Washington Wife for a remembered story to use in the column, and found today's Quote of the Day: "I see no occasion to love a President. It is quite enough to respect him - if he's respectable [emphasis mine]. To love a new man every four years is not seemly, and to say that you do is hypocrisy and cant."

New York New Year's Vacation, Day Two: The Met

1) Lordy, I was a slugabed Thursday, after so little sleep the night before. I don't think I got going until after 8 AM.

2) I'll say this for the Algonquin, their provision of Beekman 1802 bath products is fantastic. Especially their goat's milk soap.

3) I thought I'd get some writing done at the Red Flame Diner (almost next door to the hotel), but I'd barely written one sentence before Mademoiselle returned with my bacon and cheddar omelette. Fastest breakfast ever!

4) After a quick stop in my room, it was off to the Met, prepared for the day's bombogenesis by wearing long underwear, layers, and hiking books. I toted along with me my journal, a notebook, a Barcelona bar from V*****, and my loafers. It had been suggested to me that tromping through museums in hiking boots might be rather wearing.

5) Now comes one of my New York traditions: going the wrong direction to get to the Met. Exiting the 86th Street Station at 86th and Lexington, I forgot - I always forget - the correct way to turn. I trudged down one block - surely Park Avenue couldn't be right? I reversed, two blocks back - well, Third Avenue was definitely the wrong direction! So say it with me people: Third, Lexington, Park, Madison, Fifth! Don't let me forget.

5a) En route I saw a steam shovel spin its wheels into a construction site (reminded me of Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel) and a taxi spin its wheels near fruitlessly in an attempt to get out of the soupy snow piling up everywhere; it almost didn't happen. Several of the doormen at those ritzy Upper East Side towers were meticulously taking care of their sidewalks. I heard one say "You welcome!" after a group of pedestrians went by without thanking him.

5b) I was wearing my new raincoat, purchased yesterday, without a lining. Even so, I'd worked up quite a glow by the time I got inside.

6) Finalmente, the Met! And three cheers for their staff sweeping off the enormous stairs in front of the museum. Sooooooo cold, and wanting nothing but to get inside, but the entrance was clogged with supplicants while the guards checked everyone's bags. After that it was ten minutes in the coat check line. Alas, I had to keep my boots on! Too late did I learn one must go directly to the bathroom to change shoes before checking anything.

7) Grateful the place was open, I paid full fare at a kiosk. Turns out that was the day that it was announced that the Met would make $25 admission mandatory for out-of-state residents.

8) I approached the grand staircase to the second floor. In hiking boots, it seems impossible to interact with a grand staircase in the grand manner. Posture is less a matter of elegance than survival. Rather than the Queen of Roumania*, I felt like a knock-kneed old nag headed for the Great Glue Factory in the Sky.

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9) Saw this and immediately thought of a friend who looks a bit like him. "OK, beheading's done. What's next, b******?!"

David with the Head of Goliath, bu Guido Cagnacci, c. 1655

David with the Head of Goliath, bu Guido Cagnacci, c. 1655

10) Then, unexpectedly, a Rodin exhibition! Let's face it, Rodin has become the Monet of sculptors. And I had the wonderful privilege this year of seeing Stanford's impressive collection of Rodins, including The Gates of Hell. Lovely works in this show, many of which I'd seen before, but the first work to excite me wasn't even by Rodin! I first became familiar with Gustave Moreau's Oedipus and the Sphinx in college (I forget which class - human sexuality? Psych 101? It surely couldn't have been Sociology Through Film!) and the tension between the two captivated me. Not only that, it was the first time a saw a sphinx that wasn't Egyptian. So it was an unexpected meeting with an old friend.

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11) But here's a Rodin I hadn't seen before, just to prove I was paying attention to the headliner: Orpheus and Eurydice.

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12) Then another wonderful surprise. (Museums tend to be full of them.) In two small nearby galleries were photographs by the Baron de Meyer . . . including one of my beloved Rita de Acosta Lydig, "the fabulous Mrs. Lydig!" She was one of the profligate ladies of style who died bankrupt that Cecil Beaton lauded in his book The Glass of Fashion, which someone gave me for my 30th birthday. Turns out she popularized the backless evening gown in 1913 (first it was a scandal, then everyone was wearing them), so how wonderful to see her wearing one in this photograph.

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13) Then the Michaelangelo exhibition, one of the things that motivated me to come to New York this winter. Well, it was great. And sweet mercy goodness, the range of collections from which this was assembled! Even HMTQ sent a few sketches. Wonderful for me to see the range of his work beyond the Sistine Chapel. My photos didn't come out very well for the most part, but this one (of his sketch of two men on horseback) didn't come out too badly.

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14) Once I'd gotten through Michaelangelo, it was about time to think about lunch. So of course that meant heading to the gift shop to find something to read. A diligent search led me to Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, by Mason Currey. It sets forth the routines of creatives from B.F. Skinner to Louis Armstrong to many many others. Perfect for me right now.

15) I treated myself to a three-course luncheon at Petrie Court in the museum, and didn't have to wait more than five minutes to get the last table for two with a seat facing outside. This was my view.

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15) And a delicious luncheon it was. Baby kale salad with nutmeats and very thin slices of red apple, some sort of salmon business over lentils with a gesture of greenery, and then chocolate blackout cake. Heavenly.

16) Leaving the restaurant I noticed how very long the line was (#smug) but not so much that I missed this hanging by the host's stand.

Cain and Abel

Cain and Abel

17) I passed then through the Wrightsman Galleries, magnificent French interiors lit as though by candles, and with impressively convincing fake candle flame bulbs in the chandeliers and sconces.

I want this chair!

I want this chair!

18) Time to go clod-hopping back up the staircase for more art (As Ruth Draper noted in her monologue A Church in Italy, "Well, they have Art over here, and that's what we come for.") And the first stop on this trip to the second floor was an exhibition of World War I art.

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20) Then I wandered through galleries of paintings looking for my beloved Consuelo, Duchess of Marlborough, as painted by Boldini, but she had flitted away. Instead, I saw works both familiar and unfamiliar.

21) A David Hockney exhibition was also going on, and I learned more about him and his work. (Truly, I hadn't gotten far beyond some portraits, his Polaroid collages, and Sister Wendy's "David Hockney loves the male buttocks.") Some really astonishing (to me) compositions of buildings, of people (particularly Don Bachardy and Christopher Isherwood), and of some bold colors.

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21a) I often "trivialize modern art" by using it as a background for myself.

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22) Beautiful European paintings of the 19th century, a display of horn instruments, brass and wood, centered around a conch shell, paintings from Centuries Earlier Than the 19th, and the utter weariness that can settle on you when you're overwhelmed by Art, hiking boots, and chocolate cake.

23) Eventually, inexplicably, this led me to the Lehman Collection, which I hadn't yet seen. Full of delights, but I was wearing down.

At least I'm not about to succumb to the Stendhal Effect.

At least I'm not about to succumb to the Stendhal Effect.

24) All I can say is, that Lehman had a good eye.

25) Arrived coat check line 3:01 PM. Emerged coat check line with coat and bag 3:20 PM.

26) Trudging up the sidewalk to 86th Street, a woman asked me "And was the museum open today?" "Yes indeed, and jam packed!" She seemed surprised!

27) I'll have to continue with the evening another time.

* "Head up, chin out, tummy in. Tonight, Agnes, you are Queen of Roumania!"

New Year's Eve Launch

1) All this glamor doesn't just happen so much that sometimes it just doesn't happen!

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1a) I think I must've taken half a dose of Screwitol, 'cause if it doesn't all get done, Life will just have to go on. Still, I'll do my best not to botch some necessary cosmetic surgery before New Year's Eve dinner - my favorite night of the year.

2) But this is really my New Year's message for you, as seen yesterday at Haymarket:

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2a) Thank you, dahlings, for being part of his - how shall I say this? - this interesting year with me. I couldn't have managed nearly so well without you.

3) And now, one of my favorite arrangements of "Auld Lang Syne" (though I really prefer it in E-flat major):

3a) Joe: "Happy New Year, Norma." Norma: (gasping) "Happy New Year, dahling."

3b) Me: [bursts into tears]

Fifteen Random FACTS

I do love these odd surveys that pop up every now and then! And today it's a nice break between cleaning the bathroom and putting away the laundry. Fifteen random FACTS about yourself that may surprise people:

1. Do you make your bed everyday? Oh no, but I really should, since it feels so much more comfortable at the end of the day getting into a smoothly made bed.

2. What's your favorite number? 7

3. What is your dream job? If I could figure out how to make being charming a paying job without it involving fund-raising, that'd be it. White House social aide?

4. If you could, would you go back to school? No, but that doesn't mean I don't want to continue to learn.

5. Can you parallel park? Alas, my parallel parking skills are unenviable.

6. What's a job you had which people would be shocked to know you had? For three months in college I was a D***** Donuts counterman.

7. Do you think aliens are real? I don't spend much time contemplating this issue, but I see no reason to reject the notion that there are other life forms in the universe.

8. Can you drive a stick shift? No

9. Guilty pleasure? Last summer it was B** and J****'s Urban Bourbon.

10. Favorite childhood game? What I remember is Parcheesi and a board game called Trouble. My Granny Dimmick also taught me canasta (though I can't remember it now).

11. Do you talk to yourself? Yes, including in public.

12. Do you like doing puzzles? Less than I enjoy playing Scrabble.

13. Favorite music? At this moment, it's Postmodern Jukebox.

14. Coffee or tea? Up to 1993 I was a confirmed tea drinker. After 1993, an over-enthusiastic coffee drinker.

15. First thing you remember you wanted to be growing up? An actor.

December 31 - the Morning of New Year's Eve

1) Up just before 6 AM after having gone to bed after midnight. Candlelight coffee in the parlor, devotional, and the Boston Globe. I predict a NAP early in the evening.

2) There is simply too much to do - and I do feel like I'm putting the zzzzzzzzzzzzz in laissez-faire this morning - and I'm going to have to become comfortable with some things just not getting done.

3) I do love the last day of the year! The taking stock, the speculation and planning of what's to come, the anticipation of the joy I always find in New Year's Eve, even the bitter cold - though that last is strictly from a sense of tradition and the knowledge that I have clean long underwear.