Outside the local middle eastern restaurant (Sukette) I sat down and wept

During this dense, wrenching moment in time, the title of long-suffering Canadian writer, Elizabeth Smart’s book “By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept” (published in 1945) comes to mind. The image of simply plopping down and weeping describes my  condition these days and weeks, hours and minutes. It’s all just to much!

Israel and Hamas. Pro-Israeli rhetoric. Pro-Palestinian rhetoric. Threats against Jews ‘above Cayuga’s waters’ . Threats against Rashida Harbi Tlaib. Creepy Mike Johnson. Ambulances and fire trucks roaring through my neighborhood. Jack-hammers on 25th Street. Construction site thunderous poundings on 8th avenue. Leaf blowers harassing fallen leaves in the small park below both living room and bedroom.

No resistance against being sucked into a whirlpool of shrill hate: MAGA fascism in the name of Christianity. Quivering anti-Israeli bleats. So much human coldness that every part of my being is chilled. It seems impossible to imagine anything that might warm me. Shall I wrap myself in blankets? Take strong drugs? Hide in a monastery? Bury myself in silky sand? Drink undiluted Vivaldi, Mozart, Corelli?

Galway Kinnel wrote in a poem: “The lord turned away, washing his hands without soap or water. Like a common house fly.”

Alice Walker commented in “The Color Purple”: “People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it [God) always trying to please us back.”

Could have fooled me.

Yeah, we wept, when we remembered ZionBy the rivers of Babylon, there we sat downYeah, we wept, when we remembered Zion
There the wickedCarried us away in captivityRequired from us a songNow how shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
There the wickedCarried us away in captivityRequiring of us a songNow how shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heartBe acceptable in thy sight here tonightLet the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heartsBe acceptable in thy sight here tonight
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat downYeah, we wept, when we remembered ZionBy the rivers of Babylon, there we sat downYeah, we wept, when we remembered Zion
By the rivers of Babylon (dark tears of Babylon)There we sat down (you got to sing a song)Yeah, we wept (sing a song of love)When we remembered Zion (yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)
By the rivers of Babylon (rough bits of Babylon)There we sat down (you hear the people cry)Yeah, we wept (they need their God)When we remembered Zion (ooh, have the power)
By the rivers of Babylon (oh yeah yeah), there we sat down (yeah, yeah)
[Songwriters: Brent Gayford Dowe / Frank Farian / George Reyam / James Agustus Mcnaughton
Rivers of Babylon lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC,
Universal Music Publishing Group]


Not so new addiction – XXVI

Harold by Steven Wright

The Covenant of Water by Abraham  Verghese (Kerala, South India)

The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf

Light Action in the Caribbean (short stories) by Barry Lopez

Short Stories by Saki by H.H. Munro

The Traveler and Other Stories (short stories) by Stuart Neville

What it Means When a Man Falls from the Sky (short stories) by (Nigerian-American) Lesley Nneka Arimah

Marigold and Rose (fiction) by Louise Glück

Marina Tsvetaeva Poems (in Russian) read by Vera Pavlova

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Admiring Silence by Abdulrazak Gurnah (Zanzibar)

Pilgrim’s Way by  Abdulrazak Gurnah

Norma by Sofi Oksanen (translated from Finnish by Owen F Witesman)

Patrimony, A True Story (memoir) by Philip Roth

Goodbye Columbus and other Stories (short Stories) by Philip Roth

Leaving a Doll’s House (memoir) by Claire Bloom

The Outlaw Album (short stories) by Daniel Woodrell

Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurhal (Zanzibar born British)

Admiring Silence by Abdulrazak Gurhal

After Lives by Abdulrazak Gurhal

Not so new addiction – XXV

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones

The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders by Stuart Kells

The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond by Stephen O’Shea

No One Writes the Colonel Anymore and Other Stories (short stories) by Gabriel  Garcia Marquez

Demon Copperfield by Barbara Kingsolver

The New Life by Tom Crewe

The Jerusalem Syndrome by Marc Macron

The Ally by Iván Repila (translation from Spanish by Mara Faye Lethem)

I’d Like to Say Sorry, But There’s No One to Say Sorry To short stories by Mikolaj Grynberg (translated from Polish by Sean Gasper Bye)

When We Were Sisters by Fatimah Asghar

Embassy Wife by Katie Crouch (set in Namibia)

Alibis (essays) by André Aciman

Blood Feast (short stories) by Makika Moustadraf (translated by Alice Guthrie –French-Moroccan-Arabic )

The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa (translated from Japanese by Philip Gabriel)

Collected Stories (short stories) by Shirley Hazzard

The Novelist by Jordan Castro

Spare by Prince Harry

Seven Empty Houses (short stories) by Samanta Schweblin (translated from Spanish by Megan Mc Dowell

A Guest at the Feast (essays) by Colm Toibin



Not so new addiction – XXIV

A Permanent Member of the Family (short stories) by Russell Banks

The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories (short stories) by  Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Cruelty Special to Our Species (poems) by Emily Jungmin Yoon

If Men, Then (poems) by Eliza Griswold

Miss Aluminum (memoir) by Susanna Moore

Trying to Float: Coming of Age at the Chelsea Hotel (memoir) by Nicolaia Rips

God’s Children are Little Broken Things (short stories about Nigeria) by Arinze Ifeakandu

Manderley Forever: A biography of Daphne du Maurier by Tatiana de Rosney

Some Girls (a memoir) by Jillian Lauren

Night and Day by Virginia Woolf

The Black Wedding by Isaac Bashevis Singer

Little Labors (short pieces on babies) by Rivka Galchen

Sudden Traveler (short stories) by Sarah Hall

The Interior Silence (essays) by Sarah Sands

Zeno’s Conscience by Italio Svevo (translated by William Weaver)

The Half Known Life (essays by) Pico Iyer

Objects of Desire: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and other Inscrutable Geographies (short stories) by Clare Sestanovich

Unruly Places (essays) by Alastair Bonnett

The Art of Stillness; Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer

Black Shack Alley by Joseph Zobel


Not so new addiction – XXIII

I Used to Live Here Once, the haunted life of Jean Rhys by Miranda Seymour

My Phantoms by Gwendoline Riley

The Marches: A borderline journey between England and Scotland by Rory Stewart

Just Kids from the Bronx: An Oral History by Arlene Alda

The New York Times Book Review: 125 years of literary history, reviews and essays edited by Tina Jordan and Noor Qasim

The Aye-Aye and I  by Gerald Durrell



Revenge by Yoko Ogawa (translated from the Japanese) by Stephen Snyder)

The White Road by Edmund De Waal

The Collected Stories of Diane Williams (short short stories) by Diane Williams

Prayer for the Living (short stories) by Ben Okri

Love Like That (short stories) by Emma Duffy-Comparone

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

(translate from Swedish by Rod Bradbury)

The Prussian Officer and Other Stories (short stories) by D.H. Lawrence

Lawrence Loves (short stories) by D. H. Lawrence

Happiness is a Chemical in the Brain (short stories) by Lucia Perillo

A Zoo in My Luggage by Gerald Durrell

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (short short stories) by Lydia Davis

The Greatest Russian Stories of Crime and Suspense (short stories) edited by Otto Penzler

Walking on Cowrie Shells (short stories) by Nana Nkweti

Down Home Meals for Difficult Times (short stories) by Meron Hadero


Not so new addiction – XXII

The Accomplished Guest (short stories) by Ann Beattie

The State We’re In (short stories) by Ann Beattie

The Island Dwellers (short stories) by Jen Silverman

Confidence Man, The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America by Maggie Haberman

The Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Titlevsen

Five Tuesdays in Winter (short stories) by Lily King

Fen, Bog and Swamp by Annie Proulx

Memorial by Bryan Washington

Jerusalem Beach (short stories) by Iddo Gefen

Sing to It (short stories) by Amy Hempel

Exiles (three short novels) by Philip Caputo

Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami

Are We There Yet A Celebration of the Short Story by James Thurber, Annie Proulx, Martha Gelhorn, Eudora Welty, etc.

Everything Inside (short stories) by Edwidge Dantivat

The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith

The Trouble with Happiness (short stories) by Tove Ditlevsen

The Mystic Masseur by V. S. Naipaul

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (short stories) by Haruki Murakami

Miguil Street by V. S. Naipaul

The Radetsky March by Joseph Roth (translated by Joachim Neugroschel)

The Cloven Viscount by Italo Calvini (translated by Archibald Colquhoun)

Marcovaldo or The Seasons in the City by Italo Calvini (translated by William Weaver)


Long haul, heave haul – Long Covid continues

More than a year later:

Still can’t smell or taste properly

Rash on knuckle of middle finger

Rash above wrist on both arms

Shortness of breath

Exhaustion after going to my accountant – two flights of steps, two short subway trips – spent the rest of the day and night in bed.

New names for Covid-19-long-haulers: 1) post-acute Covid syndrome, 2) post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Support groups are springing up. Some are unable to work any longer …,.

Craving meat – beef or pork

Weak ankles; one weak knee

Ankles swollen

Calves hurting

Pores on nose widening

Out of breath


Some food taste strange, unfamiliar

Tender soles of feet – no fat

3/10/21 – went for 2nd vaccination – used a walking stick/cane for the first time in my life

Problems with right knee

pain in hands and feet

pain in ankles

strange swatch of (what looks like) dead skin on the side of my nose

strange swatch of sandpaper-like skin on right and left wrists



can, occasionally, smell things

Almost two years later:

rendered collapsed when it’s hot

rendered almost paralytic  when it’s humid which it’s been — lots

tingling in left ear



black moods

need for isolation from others

easily distracted

thinning hair on head

sudden-onset diarrhea (can’t smell own poo)

brain fog

much gas

terrible taste in mouth

Is  this a case of…?

“…. for whatever man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

….a woman read one of my blogs … the one about being a girl scout camper. She contacted me and told me she’d  been to the same camp as I had – Camp Laughing Water in Bear Mr. NY.  We exchanged phone numbers …. had a chat on the phone.  A month later she wrote to ask if I’d like to zoom with her daughter and herself and …. sing camp songs together? I’m ashamed of the fact that I declined …. I thought she had guts …

Do spiders sleep, the boy asked me.

More than two years later:

vertigo, bouncing off walls on and off through the day

tickle in both ears

have been advised that my birthday falls between the birthday of Modigliani (12 July) and Klimpt (14 July). Might this signify something …. anything ?

covid-induced asthma symptoms  have awakened now that the thermal cold has faded and humidity and rain have replaced it.

can occasionally smell things: garbage, garlic, fresh, cool air




A quote and two images

[image by Yosha Bunko]

[image by Johanne Randen]

‘The persistence of the past is one of those tragic/comic blessings which each new age denies coming cock-sure onto its stage to mouth its claim to a perfect novelty. But no age is so new as that.”

from The Man of Property by John Galsworthy

Not so new addiction – XXI

The Dogs of Tithwal (stories) by  Saadat Hasan Manto

The Short Stories of Rabindranath Tagore by Rabindranath Tagore

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Can’t and Won’t (short short stories) by Lydia Davis

Signs and Wonders (short stories) by Alix Ohlin

We Want What We Want (short stories) by Alix Ohlin

The Years by Annie Ernaux (translated by Alison T. Strayer)

Autoportrait by Jesse Ball

The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli (translated by Erica Segue and Simon Connell)

Modern World by Edward D. Melillo

The Visiting Privilege (short stories) by Joy Williams

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

False Bingo (short stories) by Jac Jemc

That Old Country Music (short stories) by Kevin Barry

Learning to Talk (short stories) by Hillary Mantel

The River of Doubt, Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard

Barbara the Slut and Other People (short stories) by Lauren Holmes

The Dinner Party and Other Stories (short stories) by Joshua Ferris

A Very Short History of Life on Earth, 4.6 Billion Years in Twelve Pithy Chapters by Henry Gee [second reading]

The Tree by Colin Tudge

Not so new addiction XX

The World in a Grain, The story of sand by Vince Beiser

Half Gods (short stories) by Akil Kumarasamy

The Boiling River Adventure and discovery in the Amazon by Andrés Ruzo

Where the Water Goes, Life and death along the Colorado River by David Owen

Disappointment River, Finding and losing the Northwest Passage by Brian Castner

Rabbit Ears Bible Stories; Moses in Egypt

The Hurting Kind (poems) by Ida Limón

The Hurly Burly and other stories (short stories) by A. E. Coppard

The Mountain (short stories) by Paul Yoon

Miriam at the River by Jane Yolan

Water, A Biography by Giulio Boccaletti

Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner

Shoko’s Smile (short stories) by Choi Eunyoung

Life on the Mississippi, An epic American Adventure by Rinker Buck

Girlhood (essays by Melissa Febos

The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger

The Hurting Kind (poems) by Ada Lomón

The Edge of the Sea by Rachel Carse

The Mountain (short stories) by Paul Yoon

The Book of Eels (translate from Swedish) by Patrik Svensson

Swim Back to Me (short stories) by Ann Packer