Category Archives: books

Fall Break NYC: Circus Day

[Headline photo: one lone leaf on a book in a vendor’s stall by Central Park.]
Thursday was Circus Day in Manhattan.

I started the day with a matinee performance of Big Apple Circus, in an audience filled mostly with children.  Loud children.  Shrill children.  And I loved it.

This poor guy in a circus uniform just wasn’t having it….

Lunch followed at Rustic Table, with Jessica the Circus Lady and her posse of friends, plus her son Keaton and his girlfriend.  My lunch of shredded chicken, harissa tahini, and such was a huge delight.

I bussed my way over to 60th and Madison Avenue, and took in the latest exhibition at the Grolier Club, one of my favorite out-of-the-way nerdy places in NYC.

And then I spent some time in Central Park.

On the way to the evening circus performance, I stopped by the Jo Malone shop (my wallet is groaning) at Columbus Circle, then headed on across 59th toward the Hudson River to see Keaton Hentoff performing in Australia’s contemporary Circa ensemble as part of the White Light Festival.  The show, En Masse, was simply stunning.

11, 922 steps on Thursday.  That’s my best day this week.

And thus . . .

And thus begins a few weeks of reduced pace.  I return to full-time work at the office on August 1.

Meanwhile, there are miles to go — to Lincoln, to NYC, to Washington, D.C., to my hometown, to Meramec Caverns, to Ste. Genevieve.

And there is food to prepare and share, and shows to see — in NYC, at the Muny, at Ozark Actors Theatre, at the circus.

And gardens to tend.  And books to read.  And hours to sleep.

And a senior recital to present.  And always voice lessons to teach.

May summer commence!!  (To be exact, at 10.54 a.m. CDT today!!!)

Cufflinks & books

Many of my daylight hours on Tuesday were spent with cufflinks and books.

The Missing Link is a local store in Chelsea.  I’ve written about them before.

And I spent too much  . . . ahem, time . . . there on Tuesday, leaving with eleven new-to-me pairs of cufflinks.  A sampling:

I went through these trays to find eleven pairs that cried out for me:

I could have done some real damage, with $300-500 cufflinks available:

But I left happy!

After lunch of chicken and a biscuit . . .

I headed to the Grolier Club for two extraordinary exhibits. One was written up in the New York Times last week:

From the miniature book exhibit:

Monday in NYC

A full day!  11,415 steps, according to the iPhone.  That’s 3.6 miles of walking. I believe it, based on how my feet feel Monday evening.

Looking west from my hotel room window, morning and late afternoon:

And looking north on 8th Avenue:

Notice how the tall buildings do not cast a shadow north of Columbus Circle. That’s Central Park territory.
Happy Socks = happy man.

Yufei and I had drinks at The Aviary at the Mandarin Hotel on Columbus Circle.  And we had some incredibly good Iberico ham.

From my walk back to the hotel tonight:

I took Jennifer Johnson Cano to lunch on Monday, and also spent a couple of glorious hours at the New York City Public Library performing arts branch at Lincoln Center.  Walking across Lincoln Center plaza with Jennifer felt like something out of a movie. And I had drinks and a nosh with my former student Jordan Parente Monday evening.

From the Library today, Jerome Robbins‘ Lincoln Center Honors award:

Yufei reminded me of why I love NYC so much:

The Song of Achilles

On Facebook a few days ago, a former student, posting about a book: “It’s been a while since a book made me cry so hard.”

In the mood for a good novel to read whilst on sabbatical, I asked the Webster library to find the book for me.

And so it was that on Friday I began reading The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

From the Daily Mail: “Extraordinary. . . . Beautifully descriptive and heartachingly lyrical, this is a love story as sensitive and intuitive as any you will find.”

The prose is clean, spare, achingly beautiful, if not a trifle over-written at times.  Some of the sentences left me breathless.  This is tour-de-force writing, and an astounding first novel.

I wrote Yufei tonight, saying “I knew the legend before the I started reading.  I knew the ending.  And yet when the inevitable came, and the voice changed and stilled, I found myself weeping.”  The novel’s last two pages were gut-crunching in their ache and their beauty.

I agree with Christian: it’s been a long time since a book made me cry this hard.  I had an ugly cry Sunday evening as I put the book down, my breath heaving in sorrow . . . my heart wishing the story to be true . . . my soul longing to talk to the man who makes it complete, but who is in China right now.  Patroclus’ gentle, persistent loneliness spoke deeply to me in that moment.