1. After 9 million hours of media coverage, NYC survived its brush with Hurricane Irene. By the time she came ashore here, she’d been downgraded to a tropical storm. That didn’t stop my mom from calling every hour to update me on the progress of the impending Armageddon.
Despite the storm’s weakening it was important to be prepared. Last Friday I found myself at the grocery store with hundreds of other folks to stock up. (Note to the lady in line behind me: ice cream is not a non-perishable item.) Then I ran into a friend on the avenue who was desperately looking for a flashlight. Store shelves had been cleared of them since early Thursday. My neighbor in the basement apartment spent a lot of time shoring up her doorway with sandbags. In short, most people seemed to take the situation seriously. But once you’ve gassed up, stocked up and closed up, there’s really nothing more you can do. Why spend it in panic mode?
Watching all that news coverage only serves to raise your blood pressure and anxiety level. It certainly didn’t help those in upstate NY and Vermont who are now suffering though terrible flooding.What I mean is, being glued to The Weather Channel isn’t going to change the outcome. Finally I had to tell my mom to turn off the television and I think she felt better for doing so.
Were you affected by Irene? How did you prepare?
2. If there’s one thing I love, it’s guacamole. I could eat a bucketful in one sitting. Even as I’m licking the plate clean, I can’t stop myself. It’s sort of embarrassing. So, like an alcoholic might avoid bars to put temptation out of arm’s reach, I try to steer clear of Mexican restaurants. But this week I broke down and went to Dos Caminos for lunch with work pals. The specialty at Dos Caminos is…wait for it…guacamole. It took an incredible amount of willpower not to snarf the whole platter the instant the waitress set it on the table. Look at this modest portion. (Just between you and me, I ate 16 modest portions just like this one, but who’s counting?)
3. Reggie has two rituals upon entering the building. The following happens without fail:
First, he checks out the stroller. Our fourth floor neighbors have an 18-month-old girl. They leave her stroller in the lobby and just carry the essentials upstairs. (Can you imagine having to bring the stroller up and down every time?) Reggie may be attracted to the baby smells, but more likely he’s looking for the Cheerios the kid drops in the seat.
Second, he looks out the window in the back door. About three years ago (no exaggeration), my neighbor’s cat, Bella, popped up on the other side of the door. That one glimpse was all it took. He was in love. So he always lingers, waiting for her to reappear. You would think that after all that time, he would give up or forget that he’d seen her at that particular spot. Nope. In fact, I have to encourage him to move along.
This week, his persistence and loyalty paid off. Suddenly, there she was and it was like no time at all had passed. He was so happy. His tail was wagging and he rushed to the door to get a closer look. She lingered for a moment, meowing and rubbing along the railing. I swear they touched noses through the glass like prison inmates. And then she vanished in that stealth-like way that cats have. So Reggie is back to watching and waiting. Little vixen.
Here we have the story of three twenty-somethings — boardinghouse roommates Katey Kontent and Eve Ross, and wealthy banker Tinker Grey, who they meet on New Year’s Eve 1937. That chance meeting and subsequent turn of events spotlight the theme of the novel: how most of us “have a few brief periods when we are offered a handful of discrete options” which will determine the course of the rest of our lives. The story spans the whole of the next year as they each reinvent themselves. The setting, New York in the late `30s, is so rich and evocative it is like another character. I wanted to pour myself a gin and tonic just to keep up. I’m not throwing these names around lightly when I say The Rules of Civility evokes Fitzgerald and Capote and Wharton all rolled into one.
5. While we’re on the subject of authors and books,September is Roald Dahl month. You may not know his name, but I’m sure you know some of his books: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach to name two. It was a coincidence that I came across a letter written to him by a young fan in 1989. The seven-year-old girl said that she’d drawn a picture of one of her dreams and put it into a bottle for him. Imagine how excited she must have been to get a response. He thanked her for the lovely gift of her dream and wrote, “Tonight I shall go down to the village and blow it through the bedroom window of some sleeping child and see if it works.”
The big successes in this field all succeeded because they wrote and they wrote and they drew and they drew. They studied what they’d drawn and they studied what they’d written each time asking themselves one question: How can I do it better, next time?
To develop an individual style of writing and drawing, always go to yourself for criticsm. If you ask advice from too many other people, then you no longer are yourself.
The thing to do, and I am sure you will do it, is to keep up your enthusiasm! Every job is a lot of fun, no matter how much work it takes. If you’ll plug away and do exactly what you are doing, making it better and better every month and every year…then you CAN be successful.
The very best of luck to you!
(Signed, ‘Dr. Seuss’)