Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Now is the winter of my discontent

Snow Worker
Originally uploaded by kirby10011.
Indoor sunlight is a very big deal to me. My boyfriend BG tends to be a blinds drawn kind of guy, while I love to "let the sunshine in." So when I'm at my place downtown with my ex-boyfriend L, I love the fact that there's so many windows and the apartment gets an abundance of light from dawn to dusk.

Today the pale morning sun streaming through my downtown abode brought to mind the kind of unparalelled elation I once felt upon waking up the morning after with someone I'd just fallen in love with. There's that feeling that life is starting anew, and is truly worth living to the full.

But just the other day the skies were steel grey. We were having what may be the last snowfall of the season in New York after a very unseasonably warm winter. It's made for a peculiar--even bizarre--few months. Though mild weather is pleasant, of course, still and all I felt a bit gypped, because I'm one of those folks who thoroughly enjoys the changing seasons. I believe, literally and figuratively, that sunlight loses some of its significance without the cloudiness and darkness which sets it off, and the full joys of spring require, for me, enduring the ardors of the winter which precedes it.

So on this day I watched the snowfall, and observed the downtown skyline from one of the bedroom windows. The tops of the buildings were cut off by fog rather ominously , which brought to mind the melancholy fact that I would never again see the tip of the antennae from one of the towers of the World Trade Center from this window again.

Looking down, I could see the row of ancient four story tenements across the street, most of which are old synagoges. There are still a community of Orthodox Jews here, though many of the older members have died off. I imagine that some of the smaller shuls I see struggle mightily each day to get the quorum of twelve together that they need to conduct their morning and evening prayers, especially when the winter months make it hard for the old timers to climb up the steep steps leading up to the shul.

Despite it all, I daresay if I lived in Southern California I would be one unhappy camper. The unrelenting blue skys and bright sunshine would be as oppressive to me as the overabundance of rain in Seattle. I like snow, but not all winter long, as in Wisconsin. In short, I like to mix it up.

If New York had Southern California weather, I think it would lose some of its essential character and tough 'tude. For example, while watching Law and Order, whose outdoor scenes (if not the whole show) are filmed in NYC, seeing detectives in their overcoats huddled over a corpse dumped by the East River somehow seems more authentic to me than a similar scene on CSI: Miami. It just seems more like a vacation than a life or death vocation when you can sport a short sleeve shirt, with no need to turn up your collar to block out the cruel wind, while surveying mangled remains.

There's also something bizarre about living in a climate where a white Christmas is as rare as plague of locusts. Is there anything quite as comforting as coming in from the freezing cold into a nice warm house with gifts around the tree and a warm fireplace, or waking on a frighteningly cold weekend morning with the steam pipes whistling gently, keeping you cozy and warm while you smugly glance out your apartment window to see those poor sods battling the cruel weather outside? By the same token, Thanksgiving just doesn't seem right without that forboding purple-grey sky threatening snow or sleet, and Halloween doesn't sit well with me unless there's a distinct chill in the air.

The reason for my melancholy these past few winter days has to do with the fact that before long, I will no longer be able to see the winter in quite this way, from these windows, for we are, as I've mentioned many times, getting ready to sell our coop.

At times like this I recall the first winter we spent here. We'd moved from the glitzy Upper East Side down to the humble Lower East Side. Even as the surrounding neighborhood gradually became more hip, this little enclave of coops is still a little world unto itself, with a decidedly non-hip gestalt.

When we moved, our financial situation had become as austere as the bare-treed winter. Our credit cards were maxed out from all our fancy Upper East Side high living days, and we had to watch every penny. But this was both a valuable lesson to me as well as a rather enjoyable exercise, for I soon came to enjoy traveling from supermarket to supermarket following the weekly sales. Many's the weekend I spent shlepping groceries home on the bus because I loved the large (for Manhattan) Key Food on Avenue A--too far to walk back with heavy packages. There was a Pathmark not far from there, and a largish local supermarket two blocks down as well.

Rather than our old routine of eating out, I brought my treasures home and utilized my new eat-in kitchen to cook all sorts of dinners from scratch. I went from being an abysmal cook to a halfway decent one, and there was nothing quite like the smell of chicken or roast beef cooking in the oven to make me feel like a true homemaker at last.

On our first Christmas at our new apartment, my now ex-boyfriend L hung blinking Christmas lights in the living room windows and beautiful little globe lights around the perimeter of the bedroom windows. We kept the latter on all night long, and it was immensely comforting to sleep by the glow of these gently colorful orbs.

On the first night we hung the new lights up, we went out into the winter night and stood in front of our apartment building. Looking up, we could see our lights up there in our windows, and it was a humble epiphany that I will remember forever.

I can't honestly say that I don't look forward to the warm breezes of spring. For one thing, so many of my hypomanic episodes, large and small, seemed to coincide with this time of year that I have another set of cherished memories and ephiphanies to match the season. But it still saddens me that soon I will no longer be able to watch the seasons pass in my cherished downtown abode. Without these windows which have given me such an abundance of light and a unique perspective to the outside world, my view of the seasons will never be the same.


At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your story, but I'm so sorry that you have to move. Thank you for using my photo.

Joan (a.k.a. kirby10011)

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Joel said...

Don't worry about Southern California. The blue skies are anything but unrelenting. Right now we have white and grey clouds scrubbing the lower atmosphere and tomorrow we're supposed to have rain.

Snow in the mountains where I was raised to believe it belongs.

At 8:31 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


Thank you--I loved your photo and thought it fit in perfectly with the post!

At 8:32 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


From what I hear, I gather they could use some rain in S. Cal. Must be nice to have a mountain skyline!

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Walker said...

Now as I see it, you are morning the loss of your view from the co-op.
I think that you should be forcusing on the new place you will be buying with a view you have never seen before.
Just imagine how the sun will bounce around your new walls reflecting light and creating shadows you have yet to see.

Living in a cold climate zone I can understand how you feel about the snow coming down and the way the city looks when there is fresh powerdered snow covering the trees and the eves.
Enough of that said I want to go to Hawaii in the winter and look at the snow storm on the news LOL

At 2:19 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


As always, you put it all so perfectly. You're right--I have to stop looking back and start to look ahead. I've already become quite fond of BG's neighborhood, so I don't think I'll have much problem adjusting to my future new Bronx home. Thanks so much, my friend, for helping to put things in the right perspective.

At 2:48 AM, Blogger WDKY said...

Hi Elvira. I've never commented before, but just enjoyed the strange coincidence of discovering your blog on one day, and stumbling across the whole comment-protocol hoo-ha thing the next. An omen? Perhaps, so I've added you to my blogroll and will stop by regularly to become better acquainted.

Now, please don't feel any obligation to respond ;-) (and I do have music on my own blog, but it's always something pretty cool...)

At 4:28 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Wow, is it a small blogworld after all or what?

Cool blog you've got there, and oy vey, so many comments! Nice! And I adore the profile photo. I've linked to you too btw...thanks so much for visiting!

At 4:44 AM, Blogger WDKY said...

Oy vey indeed, and thanks back. Looking forward to becoming better acquainted!

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Brink Craven said...

hi E

I have learned to enjoy the subtle seasonal changes of a southern climate--not as dramatic but pretty cool all the same..when I first moved here, I thought it was complete hogwash--wha? no "real" winters? But I have come to appreciate thier humble grandeur. But the unrelenting, suffocating heat...thats another story. My ex was telling me not to fear it and so that is what Im concentrating on now that summer is fast approaching.

(they say there are 3 seasons in Texas...Summer, late summer and torndado watch) hahahahaha. Thats one of my favorite jokes..

It sounds as though I feel a simialr kind of meloncholy when I go back to the house that my ex and I shared together for many years. He is buying me out and it is very hard to go there and know that I'll never live there again. So many happy (and hard) memories but I did love living there. In fact I picked out the house when we were shopping. But yeah Walker is right. Its a good idea not to dwell on what I have lost but on what I have and will gain since moving out. In a way, its been a blessing, so I guess I cant complain.

At 11:48 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Wow, I do think I'd have a problem with Texas weather--sounds a bit like Louisiana where one of BG's brothers lives. He got hit with a tornado several years ago and at the time he was living in a trailer and lost just about everything and got badly injured to boot. Even Southern California has those kinds of seasonal hazards in terms of the brushfires from drought, mudslides, earthquakes, etc. NYC gets a teentsy tornado out in the burbs every once in a blue moon, but nothing like what goes on elsewhere.

It makes me feel better to know that you know what I'm going through. I feel like all I do is kvetch about this, and everyone I know wonders what the hell is taking me so long to get outta here already and get on with my life. I guess it's hard to really believe I actually will see an end in sight since L has so much junk it would be hard for anyone to comprehend without seeing for themselves. Plus neither of us has the get up and go to really tear through it quickly, but we've made amazing progress and I think it will come together soon.

I am really looking foward to getting a new place, so I guess I have to focus my thoughts on that and stop looking back so much, even if I'm standing in the "ruins" of the apt I love so much--lol. Thanks so much, B!

At 7:08 PM, Blogger artdetective said...

Change is hard, especially when a new season underlines it. But spring is coming and that should bring promise. You can feel the first hints of it in the air.

At 11:07 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


Thank you! Yes, I actually got out today (had to see my shrink anyway, lol...) and the sunshine and mild-ish temp did me good.

At 1:13 AM, Blogger Maggs said...

when e and i drive in to work in the morning i hang my head up to the window to catch the sun on my face. yeah, i probably resemble a dog

At 4:09 PM, Blogger dan said...

Seasons make life worth living.

Or at least help us keep track of progressing.

My favorite weather is Thunder Snow. It's very rare, but one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

At 9:43 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

LOL--hey, whatever works...

Thundersnow--ah yes! I also love "weather porn"--watching those programs that show those crazy tornado chasers. Part of me would love to see those babies up close and personal, but the sane part of me is glad I can just view them from the comfort of my living room.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger jessie said...

i love a house with a view. i have a need to have lots of windows, natural light makes me feel better and the house doesnt feel like a dungeon or cave. my dream home would be overlooking water, bay or beach, as long as it was water. i am not a mountains sorta person although i do admire the beauty. i can understand your aspect of a view of the city, especially at night when it's lit up. i have been to new york before, as i have probably said before, and the hotel we stayed in once we had the room near the top of the building, and to see the city lit up in all it's glory was a beautiful thing.

yet as another blogger said before, don't focus on your loss, focus on what you have now and enjoy it.

At 12:09 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Thanks for the great comment! I'm hoping and crossing my fingers that I will get another river view when I move, since the place I have my eye on does feature those on the higher floors...sigh...

At 10:33 AM, Blogger Webmiztris said...

we've been able to open our windows and let the fresh air in over the past few's great! and the kitties are in heaven!

At 10:52 AM, Blogger NewYorkMoments said...

This was a fantastic post. I, too, love the changing seasons. My sister lives in LA...I would hate it! We grew up in Wisconsin and I used to enjoy it when I was a child that the snow stayed on the ground all year long. It doesn't do that anymore.

At 5:50 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


BG finally let his cat venture into the bathroom (usually off limits because he keeps his plants in there) to take in the spring air. That's the room with the best sunshine and view--all we need to do is put a lounge chair in the tub and we're set.

If your kitties are indoor-outdoor, I daresay they must be having the time of their lives right about now.

At 5:55 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Thanks! I visited BG's folks in Wisconsin twice, but it was during the spring mosquito swarm season (ugh). His parents just moved, in part because a few years ago BG's dad was outside getting the mail and he fell on the ice and was stranded there for several hours---I think he broke his hip--they're getting too old to face those kind of harsh winters out there. It's nice to see a snowstorm or two within reason, but I don't think I'd enjoy being snowbound for months.


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