Monday, July 31, 2006


tuna looking up

Yesterday Y and I went to Jones Beach early. It was beautiful, though hot, and the sandflies were obnoxious. The water felt great. I left shortly after noon, as the sun got too hot and the beach was getting mobbed. When we got back, Tuna started having a very bad coughing attack. I sat with him and helped him sit up and petted him until he started to relax. His breathing was very bad and even when it settled it was still labored, much more than I have ever seen it before. So this morning I took him the vet. Dr N gave him a shot for a possible asthma situation; she said that if he does not respond he must come back but that I should prepare for the worst, as breathing problems like this in an old cat are very worrisome. He can't have an xray or tests to check his heart because of his age and condition. So today we will have a nice day in the cool of the air-conditioning (it is very hot again). I feel numb right now but I am hoping for the best. But he does not look well and he is breathing with some difficulty still.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

bouncing off the walls, falling down and getting up

The last few days I am bouncing off the walls; I am energetic and tired at the same time; I work a lot but I waste a lot of time too. I am home too much, working, because I work at home. I wish I had a separate place to work, somewhere I would go to and leave, shutting the door behind me. So today I felt so restless, and was irritable, and it was very hot, and I wandered the streets, was bitchy with Y and felt bad about it, and hope I will go to the beach tomorrow if I wake up early enough.

folds 1

here we go

It was only a matter of time before this shit starts up, although it never has really stopped.

Friday, July 28, 2006

clarification, part deux

While I came out on the side of Israel when this war started, and I still support Israel in general, there must be some other way to address the eternal problems that provoked this conflict. The response of Israel, which seems essentially to be to demolish Lebanon, is overwrought. They should take the upper hand and appear reasonable, although I fear the damage has gone too far and may now be irreparable.

a wink and a nod?

I think that Bush et. al. are too blind, and many too stupid, to know when a wink and a nod are really a "wink and a nod" or else a trick.
American officials say that while the Arab leaders need to take a harder line publicly for domestic political reasons, what matters more is what they tell the United States in private, which the Americans still see as a wink and a nod.

(from THE NEW YORK TIMES today)
Israel has got to stop pounding Lebanon. There has to be another way. What does fighting accomplish? I am sad these days because of what is happening in the world. When did things start to go so wrong? I don't think it was 9/11. Bush took 9/11 and used it as an excuse to set in motion what might very well turn out to be the war to end all wars. I hope he suffers into eternity. Him and all his cohorts, fools.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

dog daze

We are truly in the "dog days" of summer. The humidity makes the air feel like a damp blanket. Still I gamely go about my business. In the morning I had to run to the vet's to get Mabel her heartworm medicine. While there the vet tried to convince me to take home a kitten, this adorable little seven-week-old male who looks very much like Tuna did as a baby. But I resisted, although I did play with him for a while, tempted. Then I walked down into DUMBO to meet my brother for lunch. He was looking at apartments down there. It's a strange walk because one must traverse the on-ramp to the BQE, so it always feels a little bit dangerous. Damn, it was hot. Even with the breeze from the river people looked wilted. I spent the rest of the morning feeling insecure and intimidated by the brilliance and fame of my collaborators on OEDIPUS. I have to stop thinking this way or I will be paralyzed and won't be able to write a thing.

folds 2

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I hope this is just the beginning...

Approaching fairness, finally?


This afternoon I drove to Fairway in Red Hook to buy groceries. I was almost out of coffee and Fairway has the best, cheapest coffee of anywhere in NYC (as far as I know anyway). Driving back I noticed a scooter dealer on a side street. Dozens of shiny Vespas were parked out front. I wondered, then, if B had gotten his learners' permit yet. And then, just a little while ago, I checked my blogs and sure enough, he got it this morning. I toy with the idea of getting a Vespa, but everyone who knows me just laughs when I tell them my idea. I don't think that my visual handicap lends itself to motorcycle driving.


The first few years that I lived here in New York I was lucky to be able to spend the summers elsewhere. Vermont and New Hampshire and upstate NY were my havens. The past number of years I have been here for most of the summer, but I always had at least a week or so away. This summer was to be the first that I spent entirely in the city. I did not want to leave Pomona and Tuna, especially Pomona, as she grew more and more frail. But of course now that has all changed, and I have been rescued. A wonderful act of generosity will allow me to escape. I will house-sit upstate for a few weeks, in the Hudson Valley, a beautiful part of the world. I will take Mabel. Y will stay here and watch after Tuna and Patsy. I feel very lucky.

It is hardly that there is a lack of things to do here in the city, but I am disinclined to go out much because I really suffer in the heat. I am not, as I have written before, constitutionally fit for it, never have been.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

call it sleep

Yesterday I seemed incapable of doing much but sleeping. I slept so much I felt sick. This is really a way that I have of avoiding work. I simply sleep instead.

I slept so much that I was wide awake at 2:30 am. So I didn't fight it, just got up and read OEDIPUS AT COLONUS and played backgammon on the computer.

early morning

Monday, July 24, 2006


This weekend seemed strange. It felt like some extended period of waiting. I am going a bit stir crazy, too, feeling cooped up. But it is solely my fault. It's just that in summer I am not so inclined to be out and about.

I joined Netflix. I have been viewing lots of films. Yesterday I watched THE HOURS. Meryl Streep was wonderful, as always. Her character, also, was deep, so she had a lot to work with. I wish that I could make the same claim for Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf. Her portrayal of the depressed Woolf consisted mostly of squinting at some vague point a few feet in front of her pinched face. I had fun imitating her later. She also liked to hold her head at a strange stiff angle. I think that Ed Harris was supposed to be unbearable to watch, but he was unbearable more for his overacting. When Julianne Moore appears as the elderly mother of Ed Harris's character, the makeup job is so bad that she looks far more like a burn victim than an aged version of the woman we saw earlier. I kept studying her, trying to find it a convincing transformation. Couple that with Nicole Kidman's prosthetic nose, and what do you have? And then there was Philip Glass's maudlin score that just intruded all over the place. How on earth did Nicole Kidman win an academy award for this? Yikes.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


I think that Pomona is here. Several times over the last few days I have seen her flash by, felt her brush against my leg like she so often used to do, and heard her cry. Since neither Patsy nor Tuna behaves like Pomona did, either it is my over-active imagination, or she really is here somehow.

Finally the weather is decent. I was going stir-crazy the last few days, staying in, working at home, but dreading extended outdoor excursions because the stifling mugginess makes me crazy. This morning, though, it is quite cool, although still humid.

sideways pomona

Friday, July 21, 2006



First, please don't think I wrote that letter to the editor in yesterday's TIMES that I posted.

Yesterday I was a whirlwind of activity. I made some real progress on the music for OEDIPUS and, in addition, I thoroughly cleaned the kitchen, rearranging things to get more of my counterspace (which is limited, to say the least). I was energetic but wore myself out and could hardly wake up this morning. So I missed my swim which I had scheduled for 8 am. Damn.

The best thing is that finally I am getting a clearer vision of how the music will sound (pardon the mixed metaphor if that is what it is) and also how it will fit into the concepts of the play. Being able to think clearly helps.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

letter to the editor

From today's NEW YORK TIMES opinion page:

Questioning the “proportionality” of the Israeli response to attacks on its citizens mimics the absurd notion echoing in European capitals.

Would it satisfy the Europeans if more Jews were killed or wounded, thus making the casualty count more quantitatively symmetrical?

Have military victories historically been achieved when a country responds to aggression with only the exact measure of force leveled at it and no more?

Finally, if missiles and rockets were landing in your living room, just exactly how much force would you like to see directed at the bad guys to make them stop?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


I listen to WNYC often. This morning, listening to the Brian Lehrer show, I heard him interview Wallace Shawn, the actor and playwright, son of William Shawn, the long-time revered editor of THE NEW YORKER. Wallace Shawn read from a dramatic monologue he wrote, "The Fever." Well, frankly, it sucked. Trite, inelegantly written, full of platitudes, it made me think that if he were not the son of such an eminent literary figure he would be just another guy of mediocre talent trying to make it in theater. He was not a particularly articulate speaker either. Sigh.

Years ago I taught the son of a very famous composer. The kid had no time whatsoever. He was utterly ordinary, even defective, musically speaking. Yet his father seemed clueless; he was actually delusional about his son's talent. Or maybe it was just parental excitement and support. Maybe I read too much into such things. Yet his son ended up a musician, a pop musician. Connections are everything, especially when talent is negligible.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006



The heat suffocates me. My head aches. I try to work, but I can't concentrate. I am going stir-crazy from being inside, but it is too hot to stay out for long. This morning I had to move the car. The guy in front of me sat in his car for an hour with the engine running and his AC on, polluting the air and making things hotter. My head aches. I try to work, but I can't concentrate. I am going stir-crazy. I sleep, but fitfully. My head aches.

Even with the air-conditioners thrumming their constant thrum I can feel the heat pressing against the walls, trying to creep in past the tightly-shut windows, under the door. Even though it is slightly past their dinner time, Tuna, Patsy and Mabel sleep, stupefied.

Monday, July 17, 2006


When I was a young child we would go to visit my mother's aunts, uncles and cousins in Perth Amboy, a New Jersey town that was, at that time, home to a very large population of Hungarian Jews, refugees from the Nazis. I knew little about the Nazis or WWII, but I remember wondering why all my aunts and uncles had those tattoos on their forearms? I remember how much they loved dancing, laughing, and celebrating life. When I was a little older my mother told me the real stories: how my cousin N saw his mother and his brother and sister killed before his eyes as they lined up to be imprisoned; how my grandfather's entire family--parents, brother and five sisters--were imprisoned and only one sister survived. My grandfather and one of his sisters already were in the US before the war. How my grandfather owned a large farm and his business employed so many in the town where they lived in Hungary, and how his family was beloved in that town (my cousins, visiting that town a few years ago, were told stories by two very old ladies; they told my cousins about my great-grandparents). But the family home had been turned into a factory. I have a picture of my great-grandparents and great aunts and uncles. They look so dapper, the men with their walking sticks and suits, the women elegantly dressed.

I grew up with the weight of this tragedy hanging in the air, rarely spoken of but always present. Their is a sadness in many of my cousins, who are first-generation Americans, children of holocaust survivors. There are horror stories which no one wants to recall. My family lived in a different kind of place; there were almost no Jews and no one's aunts and uncles had tattoos, numbers inked on their forearms. So I was different from my extended family, and different from the people at home.

My feeling about Israel is so complex. Why shouldn't the Jews have a place to be safe, after the majority of them were exterminated while so many did nothing? Why shouldn't they fight for their lives now? The world must never forget, even if those idiots who claim that the Holocaust is fiction, that six million Jews were not killed? Did they just disappear?


This war between Israel and Hezbollah is scary. Things could easily spiral out of control. I know many people claim that Israel is overreacting, what do you expect a country to do when missiles are raining down upon it? And Hezbollah is a group that has had little compunction to save the lives of its own countrymen while carrying out its acts of aggression. The same is true of Hamas. They protest the killing of innocent Arabs, while they themselves kill innocent Arabs all the time. Why on earth would they fire missiles from civilian areas? Obviously Israel will fire back at the same locations, which means that unless Hezbollah evacuates all civilians before it attacks--which it did not--then civilians will die. That does not seem to concern them. And the leader of Iran has said publicly that Israel should be "wiped off the map." And yet people think they are too aggressive in fighting their enemies, which surround them on all sides. There will never be peace in the Middle East until Israel's presence is accepted.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Today is my mom's birthday. She would have been 70.

Yesterday I was going to go to the beach. But it was cloudy. Instead I saw "The Devil Wears Prada." Meryl Streep is amazing.

It was hot today. Tomorrow will be hotter. It will be one of those days where I would rather stay indoors, although I do go stir crazy. And the air-conditioner is making me feel sick.

Friday, July 14, 2006


I had planned to get work done today but the situation with Israel is distracting me and upsetting me. I sympathize with Israel because I am a Jew and Jews have been persecuted for ages, but I can't condone the level of violence that Israel is inflicting on civilians in Lebanon. The world is spiraling into insanity.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

a bientôt

Last night Thierry came for dinner. On Saturday he will return to France. I hate to say goodbye to people, which is why I am so bad at it. When my students graduate I usually avoid the formal goodbye that is probably expected of me. I have some kind of superstition or unspoken fear, that by saying "goodbye" to someone it means I won't see them again. I am sure I will see Thierry again. Maybe he will visit New York. Maybe I will be lucky to go to Europe again (it's been almost twenty years). Anything can happen. While we were talking Mabel jumped onto the sofa and licked Thierry's arm persistently, the way she often does with me but rarely with anyone else. Maybe she knew that he was going back to France too. We will miss him. But then I was thinking this morning: it's not the same as it used to be. Twenty years ago, when I said goodbye to someone who was moving across the ocean it felt so definite. But now, with email and the internet and god knows what will come next, physical distance is not really an impediment.

So Thierry, I am lucky that we met and I am lucky that we have become friends. And Mabel said goodbye for me, even if I did not do it so well.

Brooklyn Bridge at Night

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

the weather

How mundane, to write about the weather. So I will keep this short. I have only one word: humidity. For the past two weeks at least we have had almost constant soporific humidity. The air is like a damp blanket. When one sweats, the moisture does not dry, thus the sweat does not cool, and all is wasted effort. The heat thrown off by thousands of car engines does not dissipate. The sun, when it is shining, has a sickly yellow-gray glow. I hate this weather. I have to force myself to go outside.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Money Can't Buy You Class

It was time to move the car. Earlier I had driven to Red Hook to the new Fairway to buy groceries. Early Tuesday morning is a perfect time to go. The store is empty.

I parked my car and began the long wait, Mabel by my side, with the TIMES to read. I felt a bump as a Jeep hit my back bumper while parking in the smallish space behind me. Such things are typical, and I paid it no mind. Suddenly I heard a car door slam and an enraged voice yelling "you hit my f-cking car, you motherf-cker. You hit my f-cking car. You f-cking piece of shit." And so on. If you didn't listen carefully, all you heard was "f-cking f-ck f-cking f-ck." I looked out my window and saw that the Jeep was occupied by an older Latino guy, the super of a building nearby. He is a calm quiet guy with whom I have a nodding acquaintance since we often park near each other. The yelling was from the guy behind him in a huge ugly Escalade with blacked-out windows. The guy had gotten out of his car. He was what we call a "Guido." Black hair slicked back, sweating forehead, deep suntan, Gucci loafers, an expensive watch. He was screaming that his car was a "sixty-five thousand dollar car" and so on. I got out, mostly to be a witness in case he started a fight. I got between him and the super. I told him to chill out. I said that the bump was harmless, that the jeep had bumped my car too and that he should park in a garage. He said to me "I have two garages. This is a $65,000 car. I hate this f-cking shit" and so I walked away. I decided to move to another block. I noticed, later, that the Jeep had moved also. The Escalade was still there.

What would he say if he got back to his car and someone had let the air out of his tires?

dirty car

one down

I finished my first composing project of the summer. I am pleased with how it turned out. I can't say much about it at this time but this: I was dubious at first, but have been pleasantly surprised. Now on to the next.

Monday, July 10, 2006

La Nouvelle Patsy

Patsy Posing

Patsy has taken on a new air of dignity. Just two weeks ago she was a wild and impetuous one, rampaging around and behaving like a kitten. On July 2 she became one year old (although I invented the birthday, because her actual birthday is unknown, at least to me). I think she is following in Pomona's footsteps as a lady of elegance, grace and regal bearing. She also loves to be photographed, and poses quite nicely for the camera.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

the beach

Today I did go to the beach. We got a late start, though. Jones Beach was crowded. Driving there we almost ran out of gas. I got off the Northern Parkway and we had to drove around Freeport for a while to find a gas station. Freeport is a tattered suburb. It looks blighted. Apparently street gang violence is escalating in the suburbs as it dissipates in the city. Back on the highway we hit a traffic jam which challenged my patience. Happily the beach was great, the water cold but not too cold. The lifeguards yelled at me (or rather whistled and waved their arms) because I swam out too far (at least by their estimation). I got sunburned, though, having missed a few spots on my back and shoulders with my sunblock. Now it hurts.

Going home the traffic sucked. We would have made it home far faster by train. And I had a splitting headache, I was starving (I had not eaten yet and it was 3:30 pm) and I had to piss so badly I thought I'd explode.


Friday, July 07, 2006


Lately I have been paranoid. I forgot to mention, in reference to the squirrel, that I realized I should try to help it find its way home, but then I thought that maybe, just maybe, it was a rabid squirrel and that was why it was in my building. Then I thought "what if the squirrel gets into the apartment and bites Tuna or Mabel or Patsy?" So I didn't go out into the hallway again for several hours, and when I finally did there was no sign of the squirrel. I hope it's ok.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Brooklyn Promenade at Night

Tuna has spent most of his time the last few days lying next to the door to the apartment. He is waiting for Pomona to return.

When I got in just a short while ago a squirrel was darting around the hallway.

Saturday I had a panic attack waiting for the Staten Island ferry. Y and I were going to take a ride, for some diversion. The crowded waiting area freaked me out.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


hall and chair
Originally uploaded by madabandon.
Living here I have never had the experience of dreading going home, until today when, after walking Mabel, I realized I did not want to go inside. There would be no greeting from Pomona. Pomona was my talking cat. She would initiate conversation, or always reply when I spoke to her. I just came in and said her name, out of habit I guess. Perhaps I am being overly dramatic or self-indulgent, but when you've lived with a cat for seventeen years and suddenly they are gone...

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson has died. She was 52. She had one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard. She was an artist of preternatural brilliance. Maybe she and Pomona sing together.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


As much as I know she was very old and that she was ill, I still wish so badly that I had more time with Pomona. The week happened so fast. I wish she were here. I could sit with her and pet her while she slept.

I grew up with a vast assortment of pets. My family was notorious. My cousin once told me that she always thought of us as living on a farm. Dogs, cats, horses, snakes, a guinea pig, hamsters, gerbils, on and on. I truly loved them all, but there are certain ones I bonded with in a unique way. In a lifetime (so far) of pets, Pomona is one who seemed to get inside my head. She was always at my side. When I played piano she sat in sphinx position next to me on the piano seat. After Mabel arrived, Pomona, ever the lady, was more dignified and let Mabel have a lot of my attention. But Pomona was always sitting discreetly nearby, and she would look me in the eyes and mouth a meow, a silent one.

Monday, July 03, 2006


Oh, how I miss Pomona. I have that tight feeling in my chest, like I swallowed a brick, and it won't go away.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


During sleep we forget things. When I woke at 5:30 this morning to feed the cats I walked into the dining room expecting Pomona to greet me with a chirp from her spot on the table. That's where she waited every day for me to come and give her some Fancy Feast. Tuna is depressed and is lying still in odd places, not his usual ones. He has never been away from Pomona; I got her first, and so she was already here when I adopted Tuna. He must be confused.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

My vet called several times yesterday in the afternoon and evening to get updates. This morning, for a brief time, I thought Pomona seemed a bit better; she sat up and she meowed to me, and she ate in the morning. But then once again she lay on her side, her breathing shallow and labored. She would not drink any water. The vet called again early because she had gotten the results of the blood tests. Her suspicion was that, in addition the thyroid and kidney issues, Pomona might have cancer somewhere, which would explain how she was wasting away. And also she felt that her heart and lungs were being taxed, and there could be no real improvement. But still every time I touched her she purred, and I lay awhile with my head next to her, petting her and listening to her little noises. I made my decision in a state of disbelief. Then Y and I took her, walking just a few blocks, and I held her at the end so she would not be scared.

I have had Pomona virtually my entire time here in New York. She was a sweet and elegant beauty, always dignified. Right now it is almost impossible for me to believe that she is no longer here, that she won't greet me when I come home with one of her beautiful chirping trills.
pomona green eye

Pomona April 2, 1989-July 1, 2006