Book publishing. And everything else.

Closer to Fine

I’m nearer a routine. It depends on what kind of day I have – there are those when I go to bed at 10 and wake up at 9; there are those when I go to bed at 11 and wake up before 7.

“Oscillation on the pavement always means there’s a love affair,” says Sherlock Holmes. Perhaps oscillation in sleep cycles means something similar – having a (very tentative) love affair with your own life and self.

The move is, essentially, complete. I expect my couch on Friday. I have a few more art items to fetch from the house (I just don’t know QUITE where I put them). I have several more things to order – ottomans and the like – but I have everything I need to function as A Person Living Alone.

I continue to go to this very intensive therapy. It’s a tough place – the song from “Little Mermaid”, “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, just rattles around in my brain as I pass people on the way in and wait with others in the waiting room. These are half-spirits, coming back into their own fullness (some of them – others of them, apparently, not so much). Being with them, even for 20 minutes a week (I usually arrive early and have to wait), tethers me to our humanity. We can insulate ourselves as much as we want – from lack of privilege, from poverty, from mental illness, from racial inequality – but none of us are immune. We live in the world. We have rights and some of us have privileges – and we have responsibilities toward one another. The greater the privilege, the greater the responsibility towards other people who don’t have those privileges.

(Yes, I am working myself up for some volunteer work.)

In the meantime, I am back at work. I am waiting for the Y to finish its renovations so I can go back to yoga again. I am winding down a Miss Fisher marathon so I can pine for Season 3. My life is my own and I need to figure out what happens next in it.

Cleanliness Is Next to…Asthma

For much of my adult life, I’ve had a cleaning person. My theory has always been: (a) leave it to the professionals (b) it eliminates a source of argument between couples. Even when I lived on my own in Brooklyn, I had a lovely person coming to make off with my dirt. Because it wasn’t just my dirt – I had two kids and a demanding job, and I needed help.

My job is still demanding. But my kids no longer live with me. And I have a massive dust allergy.

Bernardo has a cleaning person as well. When I moved out, the room where I spent most of my time was…largely made of dust, apparently. Once all my things were moved, there were several enormous mounds of dust behind and under things. She is great, but obviously I need to take matters into my own hands.

So I resolved to clean every week, and tonight was when it started. I Swiffer-dusted every horizontal surface from doorjambs to venetian blinds; vacuumed windowsills, upholstery, and my mattress in addition to the floors; wiped down everything wipe-able in the kitchen and bathroom; Swiffer-mopped the wood and tile floors; Windexed all glass surfaces that I could reach (outside panes of windows not so much). I showed this space no mercy. And it took approximately 90 minutes. I learned from the best: this guy. He cleans deep and he cleans fast. (No, I don’t wear the apron. And, as an asthmatic, I swear by Swiffer rather than cloth rags. But thanks to following him for five years back when my big girl was tiny and my little girl was not even a notion, I know my way around an apartment as far as cleaning goes.)

And I love my Dyson. It’s a stick vacuum, with about 20 minutes worth of vacuuming life per charge, but with this tiny place, I only need about 15 minutes for it to do everything I need it to do. It gets EVERYTHING off the ground, the furniture, the windowsills.

As of this evening, I institute a No Shoes Allowed rule. I’m probably the only one coming here except for Bernardo and the UPS guy. But that’s okay. My home, my lungs, my rules.


The art went up on the walls today. Not all of it – I still have some in the basement of the house – but about 2/3 of it. It’s lovely to see the photographs of my family on the walls. My mom took a selfie at age 14, and it turned out really well! It’s a photo I love, along with those of my dad at age 9, his mom, my maternal grandparents – it means so much.

And then there are the prints I bought when I moved in 2001. A Munch – not The Scream, but The Storm. When I was a kid, summer storms were an occasion of joy. The clouds would gather, my father would watch the sky, my mother would make us ice cream cones, and we would sit on the porch and watch the lightning. If there was no lightning, we would put on our swimsuits and dance around on the front lawn. I have a photo of my kids doing that while visiting my mom – it’s such a joyous feeling. So while The Storm means awful harbingers to most viewers, to me it is a symbol of happiness and ice cream.

I also hung up Matisse’s Red Studio, which is an homage to workspace. Because I work at home, it means a lot to me.

And then, in the bedroom, Starry Night. It used to hang in my kids’ room; I wanted them to have a Van Gogh to look at. My bedroom is done up in blue colors, so it goes – but more than that, it’s sort of sinister and yet comforting. We see more stars on Staten Island than the rest of New York City, but it’s still a bit challenging. It’s nice to have them where you sleep.

It’s so important to have a bit of yourself on your walls. I’m not finished, but this is a very good start.

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley

I had all kinds of intentions this morning. And nearly none of them happened.

Instead, I was hit with a bout of reflux. I recovered in time for yoga, but came home to make some soothing polenta, followed by a dish of watermelon. I got no pictures hung. I got no floors vacuumed. When I had energy again, I hiked to the strip mall with TJ Maxx and Michael’s, and picked up some Stuff On My List.

Then I went to the house, and met up with Joanna (B’s ex, Gina’s mom, and my friend). We wound up having a lovely conversation that wove in and out of everybody else’s needs. I drove her to the ferry, and then came back for a dinner of barbecued chicken and a corn salad, and then Bernardo drove me to my apartment. I’m wiped from this day; not sure why. But I know I’m going to curl up with Miss Fisher and go to sleep early, and we’ll see where we are tomorrow with those intentions.

I’m Always Blo – Breaking Down Boxes

Yeah, no bubbles were blown today.

I’ve unpacked the last of the boxes from the house. I have some pictures to put into storage, others to hang on walls, and I’ll bind up those boxes tomorrow. All my appliances and tools are here. The light bulbs are in all the lamps. All the yarn is gathered in. (What remains is Kid Yarn, which I’ll eventually retrieve and store.) I bought the produce I want to stock my kitchen with – tomatoes, avocados, peaches, etc. I took a delivery from FreshDirect which included flowers that DIED IMMEDIATELY NEVER DO THAT.

Tomorrow is the first day of my first full week in the apartment. I’m going for a mani-pedi in the morning, after all this boxing-in and boxing-out and schlepping and dragging. Then it’s yoga class. Then a stop by the Italian specialty store for some of their amazing mozzarella. And then home to put up pictures, vacuum with my Dyson – and take a lovely walk in Clove Lakes Park, where I am told there is a heron. REALLY want a photo of that heron.

And then Monday it’s back to work. I await a couch. I will soon order side tables, and a coffee table in the form of a storage ottoman with trays, once the couch arrives and I figure out how everything works together. My theory on furniture is, move in with what you’ve got, see how it wants to arrange itself, and order accordingly. All the pieces have to live happily alongside each other. My bedroom is really harmonious. It’s all these different pieces, gathered over the course of my adult life, and they’ve all decided to get along. But I had to get a new nightstand because the old nightstand quarreled with the new bed. You have to listen to your furnishings, or you get a bad environment.

Bernardo helped me return extra boxes to U-Haul, and took away the AC I’m not going to use. I have a dehumidifier coming; in a basement apartment, it’s already cool – it’s the humidity you have to worry about. A busy day – but Saturdays are like that. I’ll have a soak in a bit, after I configure the Apple TV, and then continue my marathon of Miss Fisher.

Man Plans, God Laughs

Well, instead of creating more peace today…

I puttered around the apartment in the morning, continuing to put things right. Then, in the afternoon, I emptied out the house of the remainder of what I need to live here – as well as providing a backstop for Bernardo so he could go to the gym; I got Gina off her van and gave her a snack as I was reconnoitering. So I arrived back at the apartment in Bernardo’s car (which is a Rav4, so big hauling capacity) with a zillion boxes (mostly of yarn), dumped them, returned the car, went for a swim and had a beer, and came back to the apartment kinda pretty tired.

Peace will have to come tomorrow. Tonight I made my first solo dinner in a long time – tagliatelle, with a tomato sauce made from garden tomatoes and cream, with pecorino. It wasn’t much, but I haven’t been eating much, and I ate it all while watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. There will be more deliberate cooking. Soups (I love making bean soups), sauces, curries (once my reflux is better). I bought a load of containers for freezing, and have a store of Ziplock freezer bags as well.

So it was busy. But good. Progress continues apace. I’m not used to this – I’m not used to a positive move-out. But it’s going well, all things considered. It continues to go well.

All Manner of Thing

I keep going back to Julian of Norwich‘s revelation, which was popularized by T.S. Eliot in his Four Quartets. Or, as my mother says, “Everything will be okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

Today was very okay.

I purchased housewares. I love housewares. I love setting up a place with a combination of new things and old things I love. I’m really following Marie Kondo‘s principles: if I don’t love it, OUT IT GOES. That’s a great place to start when setting up a new household.

I’m also not investing that much in “pieces” right now. I suspect I’ll be moving again in several months, just because this is not necessarily a fit place for wintering. (I mean, it could be – but I might rather not find out. We shall see.) So no photos for now. I’m not doing window treatments or anything else till I know I’m in a more permanent spot.

But it’s beautiful and I love it. And after all that work, I went over to the house and Bernardo made an amazing dinner of balsamic-encrusted London broil with a lovely salad, and a brown rice that he’d cooked with chicken broth and sautéed green pepper.

Tomorrow I receive a grocery delivery, and go back to the house to retrieve some things. And then I focus on setting up the audio system with the TV and the Apple TV, tying up boxes, and continuing to make my environment peaceful.

And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
By the purification of the motive
In the ground of our beseeching


I bruise like an overripe peach. Thanks to this move, I am covered with them – little ones on my legs and the inside of my arms, a HUGE one on my upper left arm near my shoulder. I wear these like badges. Full-contact moving, as Brian O’Leary says. I seem to do everything full-contact.

I’m nearly done. I think I’ll finish most of it tomorrow. And then Bernardo and I will have to figure out our new routine – when I’ll be over for dinner; when we’ll have nights to ourselves. But we did this in Brooklyn for many years. I think we’ll be okay.

So onward. Bernardo came over tonight to do some emergency repairs on my windows. Things are all open now, and I can breathe better. Me and my bruises will be going to yoga soon. And I can’t wait.

My Own Bed

I thought I was too tired to blog tonight. But I was wrong.

We moved the heavy stuff today. Bernardo “hired” the son of one of our friends, who then refused payment. I was so touched at all his efforts; he’d helped his step-grandmother move the day before. And he’s the sort of kid who doesn’t distinguish step- vs. blood. It’s all family. It’s all ohana. His parents are both like that, which is why we are all so close.

I spent the afternoon and evening putting a bed together. I’ve never had a proper bed of my own before. I had futons before I married, and when I got divorced I returned to futons because I was conserving space; my kids got the beds. (When they were with their dad, I slept in the beds, but that’s not the same as having your Own Bed.) Then I moved in with Bernardo and shared his, and bunked off to the spare bedroom when my asthma and menopause came on and turned me into a midnight rotisserie.

Now I have a proper bed. Soon I will have a proper bath to soak my back and knee. It’s cool and dry here, and I’ve made sure it’s as dust-free as possible (thank you, James Dyson); it’s only a couple of degrees higher than it would be if I had AC, and of course we’re coming into nighttime. Tomorrow we’ll continue to continue – Bernardo will install the AC, the Bose systems, the TV, the AppleTV. I’ll put the kitchen, bath, and closet together. I am very bruised; I look like an apple that’s been kicked around. I kind of don’t want to go to yoga until some of these clear up.

But it’s all good. All is well. All manner of things will be well. And I think Bernardo and I love each other more than ever. Love is so very precious. It is the best thing we humans have going for us.


On days like today, my lungs slowly turn into wet cement bags and my trachea swells up so much that it pushes against my esophagus and I develop a gaggy cough. It is 90-something and New York City humid, and has been for the last three days. I finally capitulated to my need for oxygen and turned on the air conditioning.

My new place is cool and dry. It’s a sunken first-floor apartment – up to its eyeball-windows in cool, cool dirt. While I am getting an air conditioner for days like today, I scarcely need one, so the bill will be low. And it’s dry. An oscillating fan should do most of the heavy lifting.

The predictable things are happening – I had to run to Ikea to exchange a bed (the picker had given me full- instead of queen-size), and the air conditioner I DID order turned out to be the wrong sort. I regret to say I am relying on Amazon for much of this move (I know, I know, I’m sorry) – part of its devilishness is that it makes things SO DAMN EASY for its customers. Yes, I read the New York Times article. I read the articles in response to the New York Times article. I have previously read Hamilton Nolan’s articles on Gawker about warehouse workers.

And yet. I fall onto the path of least resistance and compromise my conscience because I am In A Hurry. Tomorrow is moving day.

Bernardo has lined up the 22-year-old son of our friend Kim, and I’ve hired the van (again). Tomorrow all my books, clothing, and furniture will zip around the corner. Smaller things will come in dribs and drabs as time goes on.

Bernardo explained to John, Kim’s husband and Bernardo’s best friend, that we weren’t breaking up, but that I really needed “space”. That’s true enough – but in terms of square feet I’m trading a three bedroom house with a finished attic and basement for a two room apartment – with a kitchen the size of an iPhone, and a bathroom. It’s less about physical space and more about emotional and psychological space…and autonomy. When you live with someone who has tremendous needs like Gina does, you don’t get much autonomy. (Bernardo’s not taken a proper, Gina-free vacation since 2008. In ten years, he’s spent one night away, while I stayed with Gina. But Gina is also a massive source of anxiety for me, in ways that – because he’s her father – Bernardo doesn’t feel so much.

I consider us all a family. I still feel strongly that I am Gina’s stepmother. But the notion of “family” is a fluid thing. In the eternal words of Lilo, “Ohana means family. And family means nobody gets left behind.” Including me.

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