Saturday, September 22, 2012

Autumn in New York

So yesterday was spent traversing the doggie hot spots in Manhattan, looking for the little girl who can never replace, but might warm the spot formerly camped on by Mimi, whose loss, you may remember, sent me heartsick to a welcoming recuperation at a kind friend's home in Bali.  That of course resulted in two books, the first, one that was fun but didn't matter, SCANDAL, the second the task gnawing at my gut and heart since 2004, when a truly beloved friend died in a mysterious and improbable "accident" in Bali, never investigated, even though she herself was arguably one of the great woman journalists of our time-- certainly mine.  That book being finished, although orbiting into a world bereft of Barnes and Noble and publishers filled with purpose-- oh ghost of Maxwell Perkins, have you found anyplace to rest?-- felt like a true achievement, if not for my career, for my soul.
    Returning to what is essentially the supercharged, driven, but empty place that is New York New York if you are not on top of the heap or self-appointedly so (see Donald Trump) my apartment felt particularly vacant without Mimi.  So the lovely and kind Susan Dady, who worked with my magnificent mentor(character-wise, I could not hope to stand even a long way behind her, academically) Pat McPherson after she left her post as president of Bryn Mawr and went to the Mellon Foundation.  Pat had once again sent me looking for a dog, and knowing how susceptible I am, counseled me to take Susan along to give me ballast.  Our appointed meeting place was the pet store on Lexington where I had found Mimi, an aberration for a pet store, angel dog that she seemed and now is in fact, where I had the sense not to be taken in by the doggies in the window, advertised outside at $699 and being once you inquired, $2500 but they would come down a little. Really.  I mean even the wonderfully ugly dog who looked a bit like MuMu, the Dachshund/chihuahua that was one of the litter of three totally different mixed breeds all from the same mother(and three different fathers, apparently dogs can do that) that I had come to love in Bali, was over the top in price, $ 3300 but they would come down a little.
     We taxied up to the neighborhood where the adoptive pets were, had a tasty lunch on First Avenue and 110th Street at Wing Ho, vegetables and Lo Mein, then made our way to the place advertised where my new dog wasn't.  But they suggested we go to the ASPCA and the Humane Society further downtown.  So we did.  On the way, having saved $3300 but they would come down, I bought my first pair of heels since my recent realignment, checking if I could actually maneuver in them, which I believe I could if I had an arm, so that might become my second Manhattan quest after Whoever She Is.  At the Humane Society I made a human connection, with a wonderful, seemingly hard-bitten interviewer who morphed instantly into a sensationally accessible woman, we became friendly, and I am sanguine that if the dog exists, she will find her for me.  
      Then I hobbled home, this having been more on-the-ground running than I have done since returning to this city of cement sidewalks and hard countenances, everyone on their way to something, nobody being exactly where they are.  But all that will be put into clear perspective next weekend when my beloved teacher and friend, Jack Kornfeld, whom Don called my Jewru, comes to town, a gift from the universe during these troubled and confusing times, to teach at Omega, quartered while he's here at the Ethical Culture Society, just across the park from me.  
      Sometimes the blessings are so elusive, but in others, they are held out like welcoming hands.  With very soft skin, and no callouses. 
      That night I went to the opening of the antiques show at the New York Armory, loaded with flashy and over-the-top jewels,  beautiful furniture, and a cast of hundreds mooching free eats. Dinner on the sidewalk with my old friend Isobel, and then another long walk home.   So the next morning I went to the chiropodist, and then stopped in to see a friend with whom I shared a vet whose name I couldn't remember, and her receptionist told me she doesn't have the vet anymore, because her dog died. 
      I don't know. Maybe it's better if I don't get a pet.  When you love, in one way or another, you lose. 
      Then today, as I walked back through the park after catching up with the gorgeous Tarp children, Viktoria 3and 1/2 and Winston, a giant six months, and their beautiful parents, both of them making the world a better place (working for the UN in spots that need them)  I chanced upon a party on the grass behind a bench.  Two friendly Hispanics were sitting there drinking from silver chalices, having been invited, they told me, to share in the happiness.  The man whose half-happiness it was-- he and his partner were celebrating the partner's birthday, and the bench itself, he told me.  The birthday man said they had bought the bench so that their children and friends, when they were gone-- dead, I imagine, he meant-- instead of going to a cemetery friends and family could come to the park, sit there and remember them.  It seemed quite a beautiful idea, as the day itself was mild and beautiful, and the un-birthday boy invited me to come to the other side and share the happiness.
    There were two or three tables laid with wine and gorgeous cakes and pies, and although I took only a glass of water, I was impressed with the beauty and generosity of spirit.
     Not so fast.  This is, after all, New York.  The daughter Jennifer, a second grade school teacher, already knew we had the same name, both of them derived from Guinevere.  "It's my name, after all," she said.
     So basking in the benevolence, I just looked, and smiled, and then, it being my-- as they say in Italy, only in Italian(I don't want to show off)-- greatest virtue and worst fault that I am very, maybe completely open-- I tried to be friendly and asked the lovely Jennifer which of the cakes she had baked.  At that point she threw me out of the party.
     New York Hos, is what I dub that, fair Guinevere descendant.  Hos for hospitality, until a moment later when it becomes hostility.  So I left, at which point I encountered two women, one of them a healer/medium, and they both agreed that that was VERY  New York.  Open-hearted, with a knife in it.
     At that point the conversation turned to Mitt, the only one I imagine who has perhaps had a more tumultuous and upsetting few days than I have had, and the healer expressed the opinion that he was a sociopath, more extreme than the idea I had, which was that he is quite simply a moron, in an empty suit.  She said that what characterizes a sociopath is that they have no empathy, which young Mitt demonstrated at an early age when he cut the hair of the young gay guy.  They pointed out that this week he even turned on his poor, falsely smiling wife.  
     By then we had reached Columbus Circle and the two women went on to heal. intuit;whatever their plan was for the rest of the day, while I crossed the street to Fedex to pick up the print-out of my ticket to Mystic, Connecticut, where I go tomorrow morning on my way to Stonington, for the funeral, alas, of Ash Green, Ashbel in full, one of the great editors of my time, though I never had the good luck to be edited by him, though he did have a great suggestion for my new book which he really liked and may or may not ever see the light, what with Barnes and Noble becoming a Century 21, and there being not that many publishers hungry for product, as nobody knows what's going to happen with books as we knew them.  Ash, who was married to one of the great ladies,( she really is)-- Betsy Osha, whom I love-- was for much of his life with Knopf, probably the best publisher there is, though I never pirouetted that well or that high.
     Maybe he knows now where publishing is going, or If.  Or maybe when I get back to New York from this sad but inevitable occasion, I can ask the healer/medium.  I hope I didn't lose her card.