My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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Noo Yawk Noo Yawk

This is the city where I was born – in mid-century, in mid-summer, in midtown Manhattan – and lived for only the first six weeks of my life.  Coming in from Philadelphia on the Chinese Mafia bus, suddenly as we charged down the New Jersey Turnpike, there was that glorious skyline in the distance – tragically minus two distinctive rectangles, of course.  The Empire State instead is restored to its former eminence.  I felt like I was coming home – a home I am happy to visit and happy to leave behind, after a week at most.

I’m lucky that cousin Ted Kaplan, who lives at 77th and 3rd, goes to his country home every weekend, generously leaving his apartment available for visiting Canadian relatives and many others.  I always visit, too, my father’s cousin Lola, who though 85 and recovering from cancer, is still a ferocious force of nature.  She took me to a free string quartet concert at Rockefeller University Friday lunchtime, and on Friday night I took her to the theatre.  She told me about the famous people she has gone up to in public places and thanked: Jessica Tandy, Dudley Moore, Martha Graham whom she watched dance in her youth.  My father, who was exactly her age, took Lola to one of her school dances in the late Thirties; she remembers him as charming, funny and devilish, and so do I.
My friend Bruce has flown in from Vancouver, so we met to tour the exquisite Frick Museum together – we are both in love with Vermeer, and also the entire Frick Museum – and today we walked all over Chelsea, talking, eating, admiring.  I saw the quintessential New York scene: a couple with a baby in an expensive stroller and a very small boy by the hand, both bending anxiously down to him as he stood bewildered.  “So what do you want to eat?” they were asking.  “Italian?  Do you want Italian?”  Yesterday on Madison Avenue I saw another small boy, maybe five years old, dressed like a Ralph Lauren model in preppie perfection with loafers and a little jacket, holding his African-American nanny with one hand and talking on his cell phone with the other.  That, combined with my little tour through Sak’s Fifth Avenue today, where the main floor has been taken over by handbag madness – the cheapest about twelve hundred dollars – and I’m beginning to see the end of civilisation here, the Decline and Fall. Lola saw a Sak’s ad for a pair of Hermes boots – $24,000.  It’s beyond absurd. 
And yet … last night we saw “August: Osage County,” a family drama that came in from Chicago with the Steppenwolf Company, and a first class bunch of actors they are too.  It’s like “Long Day’s Journey” with a laugh track, it’s more than three hours long, and it’s exhilirating.  The Calder String Quartet that we saw Friday, four young American lads, superb.  The energy of this city, vitality, the surprising friendliness and courtesy alongside the mad honking, impatience, homelessness, and nauseating consumption – it’s a rich rich stew, and I’m feasting.  
Tonight’s plan, perhaps the greatest luxury of all in New York – doing nothing with nobody, in silence.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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