I have a little notebook that Nana had in her purse for a while in the 90s with some of her notes, ideas, and also observations about the things happening around her. I love how she’s looks at the world. Where most people would be tuning it out, playing on their smartphone, or focused on the next thing on the to-do list, she’s truly seeing the people around her. Their interactions. Imagining their stories. She writes “normal life” with such a flair that it makes you wish each were starting out a novel! I thought others who love her (and her writing) might also appreciate these.
2/10/1997, Huntington Park. She’s walking through a park on her way back from the courthouse, and must have stopped to write down some observations…
“…Sometimes you see a couple with grocery bags full of food. They are cooking chicken on the party barbecue. A lot of chicken. When it’s cooked, they put it in a plastic ice box. I think they live in someone’s garage. They have no stove. They are cooking for their family. Maybe for more than one family. It disturbs me to think of people living like this—but in a way—I admire their resourcefulness.
Next to the park there is a huge school. A middle school, I think. The ize of a city block. It is named after a man whose last name is Gage. The school is very ugly, all concrete and chain link. You can walk “into” (not “onto”) the school grounds from the park and the parking lot of the courthouse, but once you’re in, it’s like a prison.
…What is the reason for the fence? To keep the students in? Or to keep intruders, vandals, drug dealers, and gangsters out? Probably both.
I thought to myself, “Can any meaningful learning go on in this place?”
But when I went to SIA in New York, the buildings were in terrible shape. Dark and dingy. Run down. Deplapidated. Both the Annex on 51st Street and the main building in the seventies (was it 77th street?) and a great deal of wonderful learning went on there. It was a wonderful school. It wasn’t the surroundings. It was the teachers, or the students, or the times.”
On the Royal Carribean Cruise, Feb 22nd
“A beautiful day—sitting in the sun on the deck.
Near us, a young couple. Maybe of the 19 honeymooners on the ship. They are sun-bathing. Both very good-looking, but the girl is beautiful. So much so that she doesn’t look real. Tall and tan and young and lovely. Red hair. A wonderfully voluptuous figure. Not too thin but not heavy, just full and shapely. The guy grabs her hand and whispers to her, but she just keeps looking in the direction of the sun. Soaking up some rays. Getting more and more beautiful.
There are Cuban cigars for sale in Ensenada. You can buy them, but you can’t bring them into the States. They crumble them in front of you in/at the U.S. Customs when you return. But they can be smoked on the ship before returning. So you see some people, men and women, walking on the rear decks smoking long, neat cigars. Not fat, not skinny, but long and tightly rolled.”