Category: Zine

downsizing; latvian style

So, we’re going from a two room apartment in Manhattan, to a five room apartment in Rīga, and I don’t think this is what I actually had invisioned when I talked about “downsizing.” I’m downsizing Latvian style.

I’m apprehensively ecstatic, tilting from giddy to disbelieving and back to giddy as quickly as the weather here changes. I’m wondering if I can manage, or if, like a friend said, “you’ve got this.” Do I? all I know is, I’m facing down the glory of the unmanageable.

This past year, especially since Covid, many of us have felt the need to act on some long held “ideas” about quality vs. quantity, things vs. experiences, and what it is we want vs. what we really need. And so we read posts about throwing stuff away, cutting ties to people whom it no longer make sense to be tied, and organizing closets… 

When in doubt, clean a closet. 

It always works. While your depression might not be magically erradicated, the mere fact that you can see what you own, seems to make life more manageable. And just having things be manageable, has been a standard for years now. But could unmanageable be better? 

Unmanageable is the place we go when we bite of more than we can chew, when we didn’t do our homework, and when the world just overwhelms us with its infinite capacity to fuck things up. It’s also that “edge” everyone’s always talking about, the pushing the boundaries place where we’re in doubt about our abilities, again.

Then too it’s the place we go to dig deep within ourselves, and when we don’t come up with anything, to ask for help. Not really a bad place to be.

Photo: Sabine

Done, moved, above one of the five rooms. A week ago, nothing here was known to me. Today, I’m sitting at a kitchen table, in an “eat-in” kitchen, looking out on this. It all seems strangely familiar, or am I just a chameleon, able to “blend in,” to become part of the scenery? Yes, and no.



quarantine, part two

Upon arrival in Latvia, we had to quarantine for 14 days. This is the 11th day of what feels to us like quarantine, part two. Honestly, I’m dying to take my face mask off. I’ve acquired a sort of acne on my chin from five months of wearing a face mask in New York.

I’m getting “smile lines” around my eyes from trying to “smize” all the time. 

I do not whine though, K. and I are lucky, and Latvia has been lucky, and wise. The government did a good job from the start, the infection and death rates from COVID-19, have been very low. We have come to a place where, for the time being at least, a reasonable, hands-on, let’s all do the right thing kind of sanity prevails. 

We moved from our first abode, a large sort of James Bond themed hotel room, with wonderful light fixtures and wallpaper that looked like a wall of dark, milk, and white chocolate streaming down the walls.

It had good, but fake Dupioni silk curtains at the immensely tall windows. (more…)


existential crisis on aisle 9

I wouldn’t have thought that laundry detergent was going to be the thing that would take me down; create in me that moment of panic that says, “uh oh, now you’ve gone and done it.” How could something so banal cause me to doubt the wisdom of a decision such a long time coming. Nevertheless, there’s an existential crisis on aisle 9.

I’ve been here before, and I don’t mean the crisis, although that too is true.

I know this place, Rīga, Latvia. I know the streets, I know the ways of its citizens, both Latvian and Russian. I know the weather can change in an instant, an absolute instant I tell you. I even spent 3 months here 15 years ago, teaching yoga and getting very sick. But this time it’s different, it’s not just a visit. I’ve committed to staying. I have relocated…

K. and I packed it all up on the Upper West Side.

We made piles of books that we stacked and restacked, we pushed them around trying to figure out if that “doorstop,” the short stories of Guy de Maupassant, really made sense, and would anyone ever appreciate being loaned the Dylan biography?

Dishes, dishes are really hard. Do you keep the “one offs,” the curious things you bought at the thrift store? Do you hold on to the chipped but beloved casserole dishes? The idea that you are going to ship a Le Creuset pot, (more…)


the “sacred grail of youth”

Prue Stent

sacred grailletter to my friend

“Aging as if you haven’t aged at all doesn’t simply expose us to a standardized idea of beauty. It is a narrative that actively prevents us from understanding beauty in forms that do not correspond to the youthful canon. Consequently, the more we chase the Sacred Grail of youth, the more we blackout aging bodies, the less we see them, the less we can appreciate them.”

different forms 

So says, Abigail T. Brooks, who Stefania Medetti interviewed for her wonderful blog, The Age Buster. See more here.

The interview is so dense with ideas, that I got one of my “buzzes” from it. It’s that buzz you get when you find almost too many things you want to follow-up on. But I’ve picked out a couple of ideas here, ideas I’ve been thinking about, and probably you have to.

Appreciating different forms of beauty is something I believe in, in almost a religious way.

I actually think that being able to appreciate different forms of beauty is a part of what might save the world. 

I don’t know when it was that I first realized my fixation on the beauty of an espresso machine and how, to most people, that was a bit odd. It was then that I became aware that there was something to this sensibility, this skill, this “eye” I possess. But it was a quick ego check when I found others who had the same skill. 

And then it was a hallelujah, I’m not alone!

getting it

So there were those people who “got it,” but then there were those who seemed absolutely incapable of getting it. You know some of those people, they’re the people who wrinkle up their noses when you point out the beauty of a rusted old building, hanging in the twilight of the cityscape.

They just can’t understand what anyone would see in the round, “lady bumps” of a