Status report: Today, I worked on the introduction. It’s going all right. By the time I get to sleep tonight, I should have about ten pages written, which is theoretically half its length. Theoretically. And then I’ll take a break for four days, while I’m in New York. I won’t be able to concentrate on academic writing there, and I won’t have the sources I need with me anyway. So instead, I’ll work on the YA novel chapters I need to get to Nathan and Alexa by Sunday, and then on my Folkroots column. I’ll also take some books to read: Stephen King’s On Writing and Michael Chabon’s Reading and Writing, which is a collection of essays that I’m really enjoying.
I grew up around Washington, D.C., and we used to go to New York almost every year, usually for the opera. I still remember my mother taking us to see Madam Butterfly, which has to be the most boring opera in the world. My brother slept through most of it. If you want to take children to see opera, take them to Carmen. In fact, take anyone who has never seen an opera before to Carmen. It’s the one opera everyone can learn opera on, partly because it’s so easy to follow. It’s all plot. I still love the Placido Domingo version.
As you read the rest of this blog post, you can listen to “Près des Remparts de Séville.” This is where Carmen first meets Don José. I love how defiant and seductive Carmen is in this version. Poor Don José is a gonner from the first note.
It was difficult, going to the New York of those days, for a hypersensitive child. I experienced the city as overwhelming. When I moved there after law school, I went into the city to work, but I lived outside the city in Larchmont, and often on the weekends I went out to the countryside, to farms or apple orchards, or small towns with antiques stores. I still don’t think I could live in New York. But now, I love to visit. The city feels much more familiar, more like a home, the way cities like Budapest and Paris have always felt to me. I love to go into the little grocery stores, or wander around the streets and see the small shops, or walk through Central Park. And I love the museums.
Tomorrow, I’m taking the bus down. It will cost me $35 round trip, which is one of the advantages of living in Boston. And then on Friday, I’ll go to the MET and see the Alexander McQueen exhibit. While there, I’ll stay with friends, and meet friends for coffee or dinner. And I’ll have time to work on writing. It will be a quiet, cozy sort of visit, for New York. I started this summer knowing I would have a lot of work to do, but also wanting to visit three places: San Francisco for the Isabelle de Borchgrave exhibit, New York for the Alexander McQueen exhibit, and Asheville for the antiques stores. The only one of those trips I wasn’t able to make was the trip to San Francisco: the exhibit was too close to the school year, and I had too much to do then. But I think I’m doing pretty well. I also wanted to go to the seashore, and I didn’t get to do that. But next summer I will definitely go down to Nag’s Head, North Carolina for a writing week or two. I have my cottage all picked out.
I still have to pack, but that’s easy, for New York: jeans and black shirts. Maybe a black skirt in case I go somewhere fancy.
I grew up traveling to all sorts of interesting places. I hope I can do that more in the future. That’s one of the things I’m working for, this summer. Which is why after I finish this blog post, I will go back to that introduction, and keep working at it until it’s in proper shape.