Category: Memory

Based in Batignolles 4: Love Locked Down

Posted May 19th, 2017
Based in Batignolles 4: Love Locked Down

The novelist Federico Mocci (b. 1963) published a story in 2006 called Ho Voglia di Te (“I want you”), some variation on the star-crossed lovers theme, in which a doomed pair affix a lock to the Milvian Bridge in the northern suburbs of Rome as a symbol of their eternal devotion, and toss the key…

Based in Batignolles 2: One Thing After Another

Posted May 10th, 2017
Based in Batignolles 2: One Thing After Another

Gounod’s Faust was the first opera I ever saw, and I saw it at Palais Charles Garnier in Paris in March 1970. As we ascended the massive stair forty-eight years later, studied Marc Chagall’s rainbow of a ceiling and gazed out over the loggia outside the ornate Grand Foyer, it all came back. I was…

Texas Break 1: The River Runs Through It

Posted March 20th, 2017
Texas Break 1: The River Runs Through It

San Antonio is famed for two things: The Alamo and the Riverwalk. Decades ago My Dear One paused at San Antonio, while on route to California, to see them. He was disappointed. Apparently, the Alamo site was barely a building or two, including the chapel, and primarily intrusive hawkers of cheesy souvenirs. The Riverwalk was a short…

Christmas Letter 2016

Posted December 13th, 2016
Christmas Letter 2016

Dearest all, I made the pilgrimage on my own, from our moorage on the Danube in Passau, Germany, up the Wallfahrtsstiege, the 321 steps to the Mariahilf.  I counted off the Stations of the Cross and contemplated the gifts people had left, pleas for help and expressions of gratitude. No one else was there, no…

I-35: Des Moines

Posted October 12th, 2016
I-35: Des Moines

There were dropped jaws and more polite phrasings like, “What has persuaded you to make this move?” when I told people that I was moving to Iowa, in 1985 for a job as curator of education at the Des Moines Art Center. “Big careers are made in smaller museums,” I often answered. But the truth…

Copper Pots and Dad

Posted July 17th, 2016
Copper Pots and Dad

Dinner time in Cleveland Heights was always a well-orchestrated event. Ma had dinner well in process by the time Dad arrived. My sister and I set the table. After dinner, while my mother wrangled my brother into bath and bed, my father washed the dishes, which is to say he washed and P and I…

The Mouth That Would Be President, Take 2

Posted March 7th, 2016
The Mouth That Would Be President, Take 2

It was August 13, 2015, exactly six months and twenty-one days ago as I write this, that I published my anxiety about the campaign of Donald J. Trump for the Republican nomination for President of the United States of America. I was told not to worry, that he was a farce, that his campaign would…

La Jolla 2: In the Flight Path Above the City

Posted January 12th, 2016
La Jolla 2: In the Flight Path Above the City

Planes roar down from the west, above Balboa Park and I-5, to the runways at Lindbergh Field about every minute or so during the day. The first plane seemed loud but in a familiar way—I did, after all, live here in the 1980s. We woke to a pearly Monday sunrise and the promise of a…

La Jolla 1: Sea Lions and Pelicans

Posted January 10th, 2016
La Jolla 1: Sea Lions and Pelicans

Ranks of palm trees, beyond the baggage carousels at the San Diego airport, slender trunks curved like a scoliotic spine, confirmed that we were back in southern California. We expected rain, floods even, and landslides. We arrived to blue skies, temperatures in the high fifties and a hopeful forecast. I chose the white Camry in…

Christmas Letter 2015

Posted December 29th, 2015
Christmas Letter 2015

Dearest all, whoever and wherever you may be: Newscasts from Paris in November would cut to Brussels and all we could think was, “We were just there in April.” We recognized streets, buildings, monuments. We thought about our little apartment on rue Potagère (Warmoesstraat) in Saint-Josse not far from the Botanical Garden, our Halal butcher…