COVID-CHANGED US


IN THESE TIMES OF DISTANCE, DEATH, DISCOURSE, AND ISOLATION what can I write of value? All month this puzzle chased my thoughts; nudged me like a pesky fly. At different intervals during the solemnness, my journal returned parched sketchy paragraphs, and books did not deliver the inspiration I craved. Listening to Beethoven as I gaze out the window at the blowing branches on a spring gray and white day, I feel a singleness I’ve never known. Maybe you feel the same, and it is you I am writing to because I know you are there. Singleness in quarantine is more incarcerating than it is for married, partnered, family people. Though they have to acclimatize to spacial hardship as everyone at home is at the same intersection without privacy, and that slogan I remember from college, ‘I need my space man,” resonates. One friend said to me on the phone, “I yelled at my kids today, I’ve never done that before. We’re bumping into each other. I think I’m losing my mind.”

US SINGLES  are accustomed to solitude, especially if you are an artist. How we howl for isolation to create, and now we have it. The time is here, to skip down the most bizarre roads and create COVID-Art. A few weeks ago, Governor Cuomo delivered his press conference and said, “I have something to show you.” A sliding door opened and a collage that appeared twelve feet in height displayed a tapestry of masks. He told us they came from all over the world. He was so touched by the gesture. Imagine a new solo dance performing an abstraction of the virus, or a poem, a song, and for sure a dozen or more writers and screenwriters are tapping at the speed of light to capture the pandemic in art form.

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/analysis/art-pandemic

I’M GOING DOWNTOWN now to pick up a cobb salad from Sunset Grill, my stable for drinks and great food. The sky is in turmoil, as the clouds interchange across the sun, and she appears to be breaking through at one moment and the next she has revealed her radiance. I dress for the weather with a hat and coat and begin my three-block walk to downtown. When it begins to rain, I am smiling as I’ve always loved walking in the rain. As masked villagers pass, I’m struck by the absence of smiles, or good afternoon which you get a lot in a village of five-thousand. Some younger couples cross the street when they see me, and heads are mostly lowered to the ground. A new silence emerges as cell phones are tucked into pockets and passing voices are inaudible.
I HAVEN’T HAD FACE TO FACE  conversation for several days and I feel a sprinting joy in anticipation of a conversation with Eric or Brian who own the café. They’ve installed a take out window, and as I approach I see Brian, and he ducks down to greet me.
Hey Loulou, how are you?
“ At this moment I am so happy to see you!
He swings down a bit lower to pop his head through the window
“ So am I. We miss you.”
“ I feel the same. How are you doing with all this.” He is smiling, and he’s always a bit jumpy like he needs to go for a jog or a bike ride.
“We had to let the staff go,” now his smile turns to a gripping inner pain. My kid is washing dishes and we’re still here, but you’re the first customer today.”
“Will you reopen when we’re off the pause button?
“ With twenty-five percent capacity, I don’t know. The numbers don’t work out so well. I mean we’ll still do curbside.”
Suddenly he turns about-face and joins me on the sidewalk touting my cobb salad. Brian must need a conversation as much I do. We chatted about the virus, our change of behavior, and this pent-up craving for closeness.
“ I can’t even go on a date anymore with someone! How can you meet anyone today?” He gestures with his arms to emphasize his frustration.
“Yeah, you’ll have to take their temperature before you sit six feet away.” We laughed, maybe for the first time in days.

AS I WALK BACK HOME  my thoughts are traveling along the pathway of restaurants, I frequented in San Diego, Los Angeles, Taos, Santa Fe, and now here. I see the owners and waiters’ faces, remember the food and a visual kaleidoscope of the festive times we shared. You know that saying, the good ol’ days, now I am on the other side of that at least for the foreseeable future.
For me the adaptation is more than frustration. Last year I did not take advantage of the racetrack, or the concerts at SPAC, or the exhilarating nightlife along Broadway on a Saturday night in Saratoga Springs. I trembled in silence abashed by the consequences of my mistakes. If we un-pause this summer I promise you I will not be clasping the remote waiting for the next film.

AS I APPROACH  my house, I notice the neighbor in her driveway. We clashed in the most vicious ways the summer Rudy and I moved into the house. One time I think the police were brought in to settle the argument. It was because she placed a close circuit camera on her roof to track our renovation. She was retired and her husband was always fiddling in the shed. We gave her a purpose. She looked my way timidly. I smiled at her. This is the first time we’ve been this close since I moved here two years ago. She smiled back.
“Are you happy to be back?” she said in a quiet sort of empathetic tone.
“It’s taking time to adjust. I haven’t lived here in so long.”
“I know. Well, not much has changed except for a few new restaurants. Do you plan on staying?”
“I don’t know the answer yet. We had the house up for sale…”
“ I noticed the sign.” She said expectant of more information
“ I can’t maintain a hundred and twenty-seven-year-old house on my own. You know, Rudy’s gone.” She nodded her head.
“Well, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be here either. I’m eighty years old now.” She dropped her head to the ground.
“Lorraine you don’t look like it at all.”
We continued on about my new tenants, her dog, and how much work it takes to maintain a painted lady historic home. I couldn’t believe how sweet her voice was, I’d actually never heard her speak except one time shouting at me. Give up grievances and trivia because the person you once disliked may be very different now.

 

SELF PORTRAIT

WEST LOS ANGELES TO EAST SARATOGA SPRINGS NY


A metallic sky is blowing the cotton ball clouds with the force of a lawn blower, a collage of sunflower leaves brush beauty in the windows of my home, and the act of observation becomes my pastime, here in the Northeast.


The Village of Ballston Spa.

When I used to sit on the stoop in front of my Westwood studio, it was the dogwalkers and gardeners, visitors and residents that my eyes laid on, with a backdrop of high rise two million dollar condominiums, with concrete terraces, usually vacant, that formed the view and from that, thoughts randomly trapped, wish I owned that, wish I had that car, wish I had that man. It is amusing, how one’s view can determine one’s thoughts.
West Los Angeles.

On the street where I live now, homes are two hundred years old, or newly built to imitate the Victorian era. The automobile is sturdy, practical, and unwaxed. The way of this wonderment brings simplicity into my life. No need to dress up and fit in, it’s the opposite here, dress down to fit in, or like me, a combination. You are not watched, observed, questioned or complimented, because, well I don’t know the answer, not yet. This is the day after a storm. Half of a tree collapsed in my front yard.

 

The Polar Freeze had to arrive with me, and the test was not so much about the snow outdoors, it was how to stay warm indoors without running up my gas bill to five hundred a month. Luckily, I found my Irish wool sweater in the basement, that is so large I can wear three sweaters under it, then the leggings, knee-high woolen socks, hats, and gloves even indoors. My activity was limited to bringing the furniture from the attic, basement and unloading the UBox from Los Angeles. Boxes of books and china, photographs, records, and bric a brack from so much antiquing. Three months later the house was staged. I was left with a fractured elbow, but the scenery indoors plays a critical part in your emotional health, because it is too cold to play outdoors.

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Most of my conversations came in Nomads, where I’d have a Cortado and some eggs, and talk with the owners who were also my tenants. I begged myself to interview them properly with a recorder, but I never did. They astounded my fictional idea of a millennial, not being general but based on what I observed in Los Angeles. In LA they don’t talk to adults unless you have a common bond; a tattoo or a protest sign. Nick and Alex have the play stations, all the tech knowledge of a Microsoft department, but, instead, they talked about literature, foreign films, and psychology. These are my subjects so if we began the conversation at eleven am, we finished at noon, minus the interruption of a customer. Many times, I’d ask for an explanation, and they’d answer without snickering or amusement. I recall one time I asked, ” Don’t you get tired of hearing adults say, you’ll understand when you get older (they are both nineteen years old) and Nick answered within a second, ‘No, because I know a lot they don’t. ‘Don’t forget I used the internet when I was five years old.’

The customers, mostly local residents, come solo or in large groups, families with toddlers, mothers and daughters, uncles, and nephews, everyone here that I met has a huge amount of family, which caused me some hesitation when asked, ‘you have family here, don’t you?’ After that question dozens of times, I thought maybe I should make one up. I’m not and never have been a believable liar.

The volume of their voices is another adjustment, not in a bad way, just a curiosity, they do not contain their vocal strength. Maybe it is a part of the heritage, just the New York way of conversing, but it is self-effacing genuine. I never detected a play on pretense or arrogance. Imagine how refreshing, like a gulp of spring water from a waterfall, after the playacting that overrides conversation in Los Angeles. To be continued.

Saratoga Spa Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAKE A PASS ON THE PAST


 

AWAKENING TO AN UNFAMILIAR REALITY.  Ten years and two months I’ve nested in one place. Where once the red white and blue lights twinkled on the house and along the spruce tree, music circulated a crowd of friends and neighbors on the porch, and we danced in the street. It’s   all wrapped up in a journal, words that I can read if I wish to remember. I don’t. The past crawls up my spine like a spider trying to weave me into its web.  dsc01740.jpg

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS 2012

Clarity, comfort, security, ambition and love are broken wings. I have to redesign how I think, calculate a direction that will return me to adventures in livingness.

 

THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER IS…


 

SEASONAL AND SENSUAL OVERTURE TO REVERIE.

SUMMER is not a memory yet; my skin too sensitive, and my heart still attached to the moments.  I’ve misplaced my journals and so I have to read my to-do list to recall the events.  Let’s go back to June; well my head was bent like a candle wick in this memoir. By then I was into the first rewrite, the worst of the next ten. That first one is deceivingly promising, the chapters line up, the suspense tickled, and it was five-hundred pages.  The first draft was actually two books, as I dared to try and run the 100 meter in two different directions.

I must have had some standout memories, but I don’ recall June being amusing.  Writing about my deceased parents was not summer reading.  A year had already passed since I began, and I was now at the last stretch.  My sense of completion was annoying.  I began to hate the word focus. My body ached for water, in any form, a pool, a river, and the ocean.  June was also the month when rejection letters arrived.  For a moment, I’d forgotten. Whoa! Stay away from LouLou, her nerves are visible! On the flip, it was also acceptance of those letters.  I had to prove to myself that I could take it, and continue writing.

Outside my window, Palace Avenue raised to motorcycles, skateboarders, conversational bicycle riders, and families out for a walk. My concentration was beguiled.  So I turned on the fan, the loud kind that screens the room in a hum.  I tried to imagine as waves just after they have capitulated into bubbles.

Memorial weekend was gemstone sunlit of color and clarity.  I’d decided to break and go to a party at La Posada.  Yes, that was my first grasp of summer, the sudden appearance of flowers, greenness of the landscape, flowers, and light. I think it was warm enough to sit outdoors all night.  We were not yet ready to kick and scream, it was more of a real memorial kind of party.  For our troops who finally are reaching us through the news, the films, and the books.

Most every evening I’d walk across the street to La Posada, have a glass of wine while listening to the chattering guests, age-out themselves by immobilizing a very liberated and young spirit. It’s a beautiful sight. Most people in my experience, come to Santa Fe and strip fullsizerenderdown to vulnerable. They invite conversation and are genuinely interested. I am asked, ‘What’s it like living in Santa Fe?’  To be continued.

IT’S UNLIKE ANY OTHER CITY I’VE EXPERIENCE.D  It’s called the city different, it is also the city difficult.  She ( I see Santa Fe in the feminine gender)  has to be treated gently. Her  weather patterns resemble a menopausal woman,her stature demands respect, and she can be congenial and patient.

You can walk this city as if it were a neighborhood. If you do that consistently you’ll meet people, and get to know them. Unless you’re like me, a standoffish fast walker dazed by the outdoors.

If you’re dazed and illusional you can master this city very well, as the drowsy pace and cordiality allow freakish  freedom.  I ‘ve seen the liberating soul of Santa Fe,  teenagers racing down the middle of a commercial street one foot on the skateboard, bad-ass bikers talking with bad-ass cops, women with parrots on their shoulder, dogs in baby carriages, cats in a bag, and women on horseback galloping up Palace Avenue.

At night you’ll see raging midnight ramblers dancing on the sidewalk, and all of this is appealing to an LA transplant.  I have driven in my robe, danced in the street and broken the heels on most of my shoes because of the pot-holes. They are always working on a street, but never the sidewalks. I ‘ve been bounced out of the locals night-howl El Farol for accidently pushing  a dancer, who knew the manager, who came running after me and took down my license plate.

So many of us are loners, the serious kind, that have to be rigged out of our nests.  Luckily I live on a commercial street and have no choice but to be commercially friendly. After nine years, my seasonal behavior is obvious: sprite in summer, blissful in fall, giddy in spring, and withdrawan in winter. I’ve learned patience, understanding, and adopted a mixture of cultural traditions. I’m close to fifty percent certain I’ll miss Santa Fe terribly when I do leave.

Has living in Santa Fe  given me more than I’ve given back?  Yes, it has and that’s why when I’m asked what’s it like living in Santa Fe, I try to reveal the blessings here and not the bullshit. 025

RELOCATION


 

When I look beyond the quarry of my chains and rowing towards a redefined life my soul is nourished.

Santa Fe has star power and can shower your life with photographic moments on the half-hour. You are accepted and expected to be liberal, intelligent, and artistic.  Like any city, village, or town you have some culture to conform to, or else you won’t be taken seriously.  In Los Angeles, I learned you have to be able to put on cinematic charisma to get a conversation going with a stranger.  Here in Ballston Spa, invitations arrive with New York common sense, and some realistic hesitancy. It’s about pre-screening, they need to know you won’t mess up their life.

 My direction is following Lawrence Durrell, “Spirit of the Place,” and living where I would never expect to live.  I wish I could control my impractical, impulsive, and annoying spirit of adventure. I think about architecture, Jewish deli’s, Italian restaurants, at least five movie theaters built in the 1930s, and neighborhoods of unfamiliar lighting, expressions, and conversations. Gambling on yourself is how much you can adapt, change, influence, and accept the days of your life.

In my syndicate, there must be a dozen pals with the same unsolved equation. Is it age that blocks me and maybe you from relocation, or is it the trauma and stress? What liberation to just pack a suitcase and board a plane like in the movies. Separation from the familiar. Ask any soldier what it’s like to come home.

imagine


IMAGINE the USA was your city. Go a step further and imagine it was your community. One  more step, your neighborhood. What do you think? Are you safe? Are you prospering: emotionally, professionally, financially? Are  your circle of friends, family, associates dancing jubilee? Is it my age? I don’t know. If I wake up adding hope,  commitment, and love to my coffee, then it is a JUBILEE images