I woke up completely wet in soaked sheets early yesterday morning. The heat and humidity had become increasingly unbearable and it was not cooling down much during the night. After shaking out and turning around my sheet I fell asleep again however and slept through a great deal of the morning. I start thinking I am sleeping away too much of my precious time in New York!
Five blocks from where I am staying the Harlem Book Fair was taking place at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. So of course I went there. They had conversations and discussions inside and readings and music at an outdoor stage on the street. I knew none of the authors, but listened to a reading for a while. The authors had tables and stalls along the street where they were selling their books. Of course other things were sold as well, like ethnic jewelry, hats, colorful shirts and clothes – and food of course. A young boy addressed me at one of the book tables. He told me he had seen a little bit of interest in my face and thus wanted to tell me a bit about the author – Gloria Mallette – and her books, bestsellers apparently. He asked me what I like to read, I said “Murder mysteries” and he grabbed a book and gave me an introduction. He was pretty good at marketing but not successful with me. Instead I bought oxtail from a food stall and went home to eat it.
It had become too late by then to go to a discussion I would have been interested in: Fifty years later – Blacks and the 21st century city.
On my evening schedule was the Polish and Hispanic poetry reading in the Greenpoint Library. It plays a role in my Greenpoint story, so going there was kind of research. A sudden inspiration made me double check it on their website before I left – luckily. While the library magazine had shown July 20, the event calendar on their website said July 24. So my journey all the way back to Greenpoint would have been in vain.
I decided to start writing my story instead and went to the Wild Olive Market to get me something for dinner. Then Ettice came home and asked me if I had plans for the night. She was going to a get together on a rooftop and invited me to come along. Just meet some people, have drinks and talk. I accepted.
On our way to the place on 125th street we made a stop at the liquor store to get some wine and rum. I expected to meet black people, but the group on the rooftop was white and pretty European. A guy from England and his French wife, a girl from Madrid, another one from Brooklyn and her boyfriend from New Orleans. He and Ettice were the only blacks. We had wine and salty popcorn and watched a thunderstorm going over Downtown. We discussed my selection of neighborhoods and they all said I should skip the Upper West Side because it is more and more merging with Harlem and would not give me so many new impressions. The Spanish girl suggested the Lower East Side instead. I will think it over.
Somebody ordered fish from somewhere, Ettice’s sister Amina joined us and finally they decided to go dancing. The girls dolled up. I felt tipsy. Should have omitted the rum and ginger cocktail. Not being a dancer anyway I staggered home and fell into my bed.
My alarm clock woke me up at 8 am. I didn’t feel really fit but there was this Article Writing class at Housing Works Bookstore I wanted to go to. I was fighting my idleness successfully and took the Lexington Avenue train all the way down to SoHo. I was there half an hour too early, bought a coffee to fight the drowsiness and browsed through the shelves. “Motherless Brooklyn” was gone. How can it be that other people buy my books? The workshop organizer recognized me from the other class I had been to and told me so. Feels good!
The class however did not meet my expectations. It was more about selling an article than about writing one. I had thought I could catch some useful advice for this blog.
Not having made plans for the rest of the day – except finishing my homework – I strolled into NoHo then and walked over to the East Village to see if I could find something to eat for lunch. I checked Veselka, a well-known Ukrainian restaurant, but there was a line outside already. I ended up in an Asian place and had some spicy noodles.
As I had finished my book yesterday I thought it would be ok to get a new one now. A visit to the Strand, where I hadn’t been for quite a while anyway, was justified and it was close by. Paul Auster’s “New York Trilogy” had moved from the shelf to the modern classics table. The move had increased the price drastically. Last time it had been about half the price. I had forgotten to refill my wallet and taken out my credit cards before going out last night, so I could not even afford it right now. I checked for the other books on my reading list. No “Motherless Brooklyn”, no Lily Brett. “Manhattan Transfer” was standing on an upper shelf and I did not feel able to climb up on a ladder. So strange enough I left the Strand without a purchase although I had allowed one.
The Lexington Avenue Express took my home quickly. A had a chat with Ettice about last night, had a glass of Aloe on lots of ice and tried to sleep for an hour. It didn’t work out however. So I started reading “97 Orchard” until I finally felt fit enough for homework.
What I learned today:
Buy books when you see them! They might be bought away or move.