My Brain During an Earthquake

Things that went through my mind when my chair first began to shake.

– What the hell?
– Oh, God. It’s a ghost. And it’s mad at me.
– Maybe it’s psychokinesis. (I just wrote a book about the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory so I have these things on the brain.)

It gets worse and I run to the back of the apartment to where the woman who comes once a month to clean my apartment is (it’s my one indulgence, don’t hate me). The building is swaying and shaking now and I’m terrified. We think they must be doing some construction work next door. I yell out the windows, “STOP IT,” three times. Those neighbors now think of me as the crazy lady next door.

– Should I grab the cats and leave?
– Maybe we should go to the roof and jump over to the building next door. (My building is an old tenement, which tilts as it is and is in bad shape.)

I pick up the phone to dial 911 to complain about my neighbors when my cleaning woman says “earthquake,” and I realize she’s right. Her husband calls and he says he felt it in Queens. I see tweets are flying by and they’re feeling it in Maryland. I finally turn on the news.

VERY freaking scary. I was just thinking the other night about 9/11 and what those people felt in the last moments, when the floor gave way beneath them and there was nothing they could do to save themselves. I swear my building is tilting more. Or maybe my tilt-detector is out of wack.

A beautiful bird I saw yesterday when I looked out the window for my pigeon. Something I do all the time now. The Wild Bird Fund called to follow up about my pigeon release, to make sure it went okay. They are great people and run a great organization.

White pigeon

The Ramp at St. Paul’s Chapel

At a certain point the City built a ramp running along the cemetery in the back of St. Paul’s Chapel so people would be able to look into the pit at ground zero. I absolutely understood the need to look, so I’m not judging, but it was very weird for those of us working at St. Paul’s, and it must have been even weirder for the people working in the pit itself, to see this parade of spectators looking down at you.

A lot of people hated it, but I knew if I wasn’t working at the site I would have been one of the people on that ramp. I took this shot from the back door at St. Paul’s. (I didn’t own a decent camera at the time.) I just remembered, people would smile and pose for pictures when they got the end. Okay, that was a little messed up. But people are so oblivious (myself included).

St. Paul's Ramp to look into Ground Zero

Happy Ending for Rescued Pigeon

I got a call yesterday from the Wild Bird Fund to come get the pigeon I rescued. His leg and wing had healed and he was ready to be released in the wild. The wild in this case being New York City. The wildest. “But, but, didn’t you say professional bird handlers were going to do this??” “You’ll be fine.” They told me what to do and said to let him go in the same place I found him.

As per their instructions, I set him down in front of my building in the carrier (a cat carrier) and spread bird seed around. The idea was to let him just sit there for a few minutes before opening the carrier to allow him to get used to the idea, to hear familiar sounds, smell familiar smells. They also hoped other pigeons would gather and eat the seed, which wasn’t happening. I found two pigeons a half a block away and slowly lured them down using a trail of seed.

Then the moment of truth came. I opened the carrier. It took him about a minute before he ventured out and headed straight for the middle of the street. Right at that precise moment a guy in a motorcycle came gunning down the street, not slowing down a single bit, and I got ready to jump out but my pigeon immediately flew to the top of the door across the street …

Pigeon Release

… then it started pouring rain. Thankfully, the doorway he chose was one that had an awning so he was safe. For the next twenty minutes I stood on the other side of street watching him. I didn’t want to let go. Of course it rained all night. Of all days to release him, it was such bad timing. He was cold and alone. The Wild Bird Fund said his parents would have nothing to do with him at this point, but he had been part of a flock so hopefully he’d hook back up with them again. That was why they wanted me to release him in the same spot.

Eventually I had to go upstairs. I’d done what I could for him. I put out a couple of piles of seed by the doorway and went up to my apartment. Bye little guy. Girl, actually. They told me she was a girl. Bye little girl. (Sniff.) I hope you have a wonderful pigeon life. But I miss you.

Pigeon Release

Getting Excited about the Return of Dr. Who

Six more days until the new season!! There have been a couple of compilation-type specials on BBC America and I was reminded of how much I loved the Van Gogh episode last year. So much heart.

If you’ve never watched Dr. Who before, start with the Eleventh and most recent Doctor, Series 5, which began in 2010. It’s not a lot to catch up on and the investment of time will be a pleasure. This really is a wonderful show, it’s not what you think. I thought it was just some dated, cheesy scifi thing. But it’s this magnificent mish-mosh of heart, humor, intelligence—every show is a great, great ride. And I absolutely adore each character. I was slowest to warm up to Rory, but now if anything happened to him I would swim across the Atlantic, kidnap Steven Moffat with a fake gun, (they don’t know the difference over there, right?) swim back, park him next to the litterbox, feed him boring food, give him a bad case of poison ivy, and make him listen to chipmunks singing Bach’s B Minor Mass until he brought Rory back.

This wedding party (it looked like a wedding party) was walking down Fifth Avenue towards Washington Square Park, taking up the whole street. When the cars behind them honked they held up a bunch of bouquets and took their time getting out of the way. I thought it was rude and self-centered actually and I was on the cars’ side. They made a nice picture and I was happy for their happy day, but still.

Wedding Walk Down Fifth Avenue

New York Diaries: 1609 to 2009

I’ll be posting more about this book when it gets closer to the pub-date (January), but I’ve been helping to fact-check a friend’s book, New York Diaries: 1609 to 2009, and it’s just so fabulous I had to say something now, even though you can’t buy it yet. Teresa Carpenter has researched 400 years of diaries about New York and pulled out a selection of entries. I haven’t even seen the whole thing yet, but in the pieces I have three things happen that make it un-put-downable for me: you get all these different points of view of a city as it evolves over time, coming from an interesting collection of people both famous and not famous, picking up information about them, the city, history, it’s just gripping.

I’ve been passing by this vacant lot over the years as it has become more and more overgrown, and it was just cleared out, except a few plants here and there, like this monster thing. Does anyone know what this is? I’m so sad. I liked its wild, Secret Garden-like ways.

Day of the Triffids-like Plant