Friday, July 7, 2006
Sunny and pleasant
Yesterday was a fun day.
Got some business-related writing done in the morning. Grabbed the train in to the city – which, as usual, was LATE and awful. Shot down Park Avenue to Park Avenue South to meet my friend Lori, a freelance writer from Pennsylvania (her blogs “Risk Factor” and “Words on the Page” are linked to the right). We’ve known each other through a freelance writing group for nearly three years now, but never met.
And boy, did we have fun! We went to the recently reopened Pierpont Morgan Library. The café looks stark and sterile, but the food is exquisite, and the service is excellent.
And then we wandered the museum. The library where one could read (and don’t think we weren’t tempted to lock the doors, pull the early volumes of Dickens out of the cases, take the ropes off the red velvet settees and READ), was lovely – filled with glass-fronted bookcases, Renaissance paintings, a few too many cherub figures for my taste, an enormous fireplace, a desk I want as my writing desk, and lovely, squishy, turn-of-the-century sofas and chairs in which one can curl up and read.
The main library room had three tiers of library shelves, and hidden staircases to go into the stacks. I didn’t realize that this is still a working library – you can get credentials to use the reading room for research projects, and the librarian will go into the stacks and get you the books.
We met a docent who told us about his favorite experience, as a new employee of the museum. The workers get a tour, and he was allowed to hold one of Mozart’s manuscripts! Of course, Lori and I understood the thrill, and how being around such amazing books can never get old.
Much of the renovation had to do with the vaults. Only (only!) 15,000 books can be stored upstairs, and 90,000 are stored below!
I’m starting to think I need to get a job at one of these types of libraries.
We went upstairs to the manuscript room. Can you imagine? Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, Thoreau’s journal, some of the tiny books (with even tinier writing) written by Charlotte and Emily Bronte in their teenage years, a scroll manuscript of Edgar Allen Poe’s, letters from Hemingway and Toni Morrison, one of Beethoven’s violin sonatas!
We were in heaven!
And it’s always great to meet in person someone you’ve got along so well with on paper and find out she's even more terrific in person!
Lori headed back to Penn station and Pennsylvania. I intended to look for some silk I need in the garment district, but I was thinking, and walked right past the entire district!
I ended up at the main branch of the NY Public Library, where I checked something, and then wandered across the street to Coliseum Books, where I sat with coffee and wrote four pages of a short story. The protagonist is a strong-willed sarcastic person, and would not shut up until I’d gotten the first scene down.
Then, I wandered back up to the theatre for the show. A Japanese camera crew was there, filming their equivalent of David Letterman’s show, since there’s a 30 minute version of the show being done in some Japanese theme park (yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me, either).
We were all tired and giggly (which is better than being tired and bitter), except for one person who’s pretty much always bitter, so the show was fine. I’m glad I’m almost done with my week there, because I just don’t have the stamina, or, frankly the interest, to have the bulk of my focus on flipping people in and out of heavy clothes.
The Possessed Ball Gown threatened us again, and one of the big dresses in another number literally knocked me over chair onto the floor (Barbara had to rescue me), but, other than that, it was fine.
I started reading Alice Hoffman’s Blackbird House, a collection of linked stories. While I love her writing, several of her characters in this anger me. They are wounded characters and they turn around and wound others. I understand that to a point, but I also strongly believe that you don’t have a right to perpetuate such a cycle, and the more a character perpetuates it, the more my sympathy and/or empathy for the character drains away. I think disturbed people who strike out are being glorified too often in literature (and everywhere else). This behavior is NOT okay. One character in particular, for whom I knew I was supposed to care, made me hate her when she killed a cardinal after her own husband died, just to see whether or not its mate would die of a broken heart. You know what, bitch? You’re the one who should die. You don’t do that to a bird or any other little living creature who’s done nothing to you. I was disappointed when she was rewarded with a fresh start. She hadn’t earned it.
However, the writing is powerful and beautiful, and I’m an enormous fan of Hoffman’s work. I just don’t many of the characters in this collection.
I think the consequences of intentional cruelty need to be a lot higher. And it needs to start in literature, theatre, television, and film before it will take root in daily life. Too many abusers are excused for their abuses. It’s not okay to abuse someone because you were abused, and it’s not okay to abuse someone because your interpretation of your “religion” says you have the right to do so to anyone who believes differently.
I’m also reading Susan Wittig Albert’s new series, where Beatrix Potter is the main character. What an unusual, unique magical realism mystery series! She’s really done a wonderfully clever job with it. I’m intrigued to learn how she pulls it all together.
Back into the city early today. I’ve got city-based errands, and then I’m going to a museum, and then work the show.
Tomorrow, I hope to take a day trip – I can’t wait. Although I’m so tired, I can barely think straight. This getting home at 1 AM (which means not getting to bed until 2 or 3) is not for me. I don’t mind being up all night – I mind traveling late at night when I’m already exhausted.
I got a very interesting job offer from a company for which I’m wild to work. However, the money’s not enough, and some of the requirements are not something I’d agree to. I’m delighted they thought of me, but the position that’s open is not suited to my strengths, entirely. So I’m going to counter propose something that is.