12.4.2021 – if lives dominated

if lives dominated
by a search for happiness
travel reveals much

Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest—in all its ardour and paradoxes—than our travels. They express, however inarticulately, an understanding of what life might be about, outside of the constraints of work and of the struggle for survival. Yet rarely are they considered to present philosophical problems—that is, issues requiring thought beyond the practical. We are inundated with advice on whereto travel to, but we hear little of why and how we should go, even though the art of travel seems naturally to sustain a number of questions neither so simple nor so trivial, and whose study might in modest ways contribute to an understanding of what the Greek philosophers beautifully termed eudaimonia, or ‘human flourishing’.

Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

12.3.2021 – did not buy the boat

did not buy the boat
so where is the million bucks
that I did not spend?

The sign in the grocery store says BUY 2 and SAVE.

But if I don’t buy any, do I save even more?

Of is it if I buy more I save even more?

*shirt from a thrift store – I bought the shirt – someone else paid for label

I did not buy this boat.

Why doesn’t the money I didn’t have to buy the boat show up in my bank since I didn’t spend it?

I like to look at the boats in the marinas on the island.

The idea that they are holes in the water that you throw money into appeals greatly to my sense of wellbeing.

Big toys for big boys also makes me smile.

It was when he was asked about the cost of his yacht that famous rich-guy JP Morgan famously said, “If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it.

When he died with only $55 Million in the bank, another famous rich-guy, Andrew Carnegie, famously said, “I thought he was rich.

That was a 1913 $55 Million.

I like to look at the boats in the marinas on the island.

Henry Ford is reported to have asked William Randolph Hearst if he had any money.

Mr. Hearst is supposed to have said, “No, Mr. Ford, I never seem to have any.”

Ford replied, “That’s too bad. You should get 2 or 3 hundred million and put it away for a rainy day.”

As F. Scott Fitzgerald said. “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.

Yep,” said buddy Ernest Hemingway, “they have more money.”

I like to look at the boats in the marinas on the island.

One day, I figure these folks will figure out a way to make me pay for the privilege of looking at their boat.

I think of the Japanese fable of the poor student who lived over a restaurant and claimed his meager rice wasn’t so bad as he could smell the food in the restaurant.

The restaurant owner heard this and had the student arrested for stealing the smell of his food.

In court, the Judge had the student drop his few coins from one hand to the other.

The cost of the smell of the food, said the judge, will be the sound of the money.

I like to look at the boats in the marinas on the island.

I like to look and think to myself, those things sink.

What might be the charge for looking?

12.2.2021 – tireless pointillist

tireless pointillist
people often say show me
picture with the dots

I opened up my computer this morning and my mind went back in time.

This was weird because I went back to a time before everyone had a computer.

I had opened the Google and the google logo was all in dots.

Small points of color.

I knew it had to have something to do with Georges Seurat and when I hovered over the logo the embedded alt information for the graphic displayed the text, “Georges Seurat’s 162nd Birthday.”

If you grew up in the midwest at some time in your life you visited Chicago.

If you visited Chicago at some time in your life you had a good chance of going to the Art Institue.

If you went to the Art Institute of Chicago, you most likely saw La Grande Jatte or A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat.

Sometimes known as Sunday Afternoon in the Park and maybe the inspiration for the song, “Saturday in the Park” by the band, Chicago.

Sometime known as the painting with the dots.

I hear two general reactions from folks who see this painting.

One is HOW BRIGHT IT IS.

Colors just cannot be captured in any form of reproduction.

I remember walking down the main hall of the National Gallery of Art in Washington and through an open entry way, I was faced, unexpectedly, with A Girl with a Watering Can by Renoir.

The color flared out from the painting so bright that I tripped.

No, I am not kidding, fell flat out on the marble floor.

Guard looked at me and shrugged like this happened a lot.

The second thing I hear from folks is HOW BIG IT IS.

Neither, here nor there, but look at this photgraph.

I feel it could have been painted by any one the great impressionists and entitled, ‘A visit to Chicago’.

This is what took me back in time when I thought of Seurat.

For me, I cannot think of this painting without thinking of a documentary on the City of Chicago by Studs Terkel.

Mr. Terkel was the American version of Alistair Cooke.

Where Mr. Cooke wrote and later, read, a weekly column, ‘Letter from America’ for the Manchester Guardian and later the BBC, tried to explain America to Brits, Studs Terkel tried to explain America to Americans.

In my mind was a quote of Mr. Terkel from that documentary on La Grande Jatte and I plugged Studs Terkel Suerat into the Google to try and find it.

To my surprise and pleasure not only did I find the quote, I found the entire documentary and you can watch it all right here.

It is in this documentary that Mr. Terkel talks about La Grande Jatte and says, “people often say, show me the picture with the dots.

The bit about La Grande Jatte is at 30:00 into the but go to about 28:00 into the video to catch Mr. Terkel’s comments about Night Hawks as well.

Or, if you have the time, watch the whole show.

Overwhelming in nostalgia for a city and a place that no longer exists.

This is the Chicago I grew up with.

Still a city close to the city of Carl Sandburg.

Still the city of Daley.

You remember the old story.

Richard Daley and two guys are in boat that is sinking and there are only two life jackets.

Daley says they should vote on who got a life jacket and Daley won 9 to 2.

This is the Chicago I loved to visit.

One memorable visit, I had talked my Friend Doug into an overnight trip to the city.

The plan was to drive to Comiskey Park and see the Thursday night baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers.

Then drive to my sister’s apartment on the northside and stay overnight.

Spend the next day in the Chicago museums, back to the ball park for another baseball game and drive home after the game finished out the plan.

I was going through a period of being a Chicago White Sox fan when I was really following their owner, Bill Veeck.

How many people today will say they were fans of an owner?

The deal got a little sweeter when it was announced that the first game was going to be a double header due to an earlier rained out game.

Doug and I knew something was up when we drove up to Comiskey Park on 34th St., and everyone in the crowd seemed to be carrying 45rpm records or singles as they called.

We didn’t know.

Maybe that’s what you did in Chicago.

What it was was a promotion by the White Sox.

You got into the game for 99 cents if you brought a record to the game.

A DISCO record.

All the records where then going to be put into a big box and blown up between games.

This was the famous DISCO DEMOLITON PROMOTION and we had box seats.

The first game was played okay more or less.

Records starting be thrown out of the upper deck late in the game.

Both the left and right fielders were wearing batting helmets IN THE FIELD.

Between games the big box was trucked in and as planned, blown up.

Then, as wasn’t planned, all the fans ran out and took over the field.

In fairness, what else was going to happen when you get 57,000 people in a stadium designed to hold 47,000.

I mean they had to go somewhere.

So Doug and I had box seats for a riot.

In a goofy way, it was kinda cool.

Disco Demolition has gone down in baseball history as the worst thought out promotional stunt in history since the dedication fireworks of the New York City Hall set the new city hall on fire and burned it down back in 1852.

But, as the organizers say, how can it be a promotional failure if we are still talking about it?

But I digress.

In the video, Studs Terkel quotes french filmaker, René Clair as saying, “Everytime I go to America I must stop off at your city to see La Grande Jatte. It refreshes me. I need it.”

Mr. Terkel ends the little bit on with the words, “Hurrah Seurat.”

And, Happy Birthday.

Will you help him change the world?
Can you dig it? (Yes, I can)
And I’ve been waiting such a long time
For today

*The first American Letter was broadcast on 24 March 1946 (Cooke said this was at the request of Lindsey Wellington, the BBC’s New York Controller); the series was initially commissioned for only 13 instalments. The series came to an end 58 years later in March 2004, after 2,869 instalments and less than a month before Cooke’s death. (wikipedia)

**His well-known radio program, titled The Studs Terkel Program, aired on 98.7 WFMT Chicago between 1952 and 1997. The one-hour program was broadcast each weekday during those forty-five years. (wikipedia)

12.1.2021 – never a point where

never a point where
you know what you are doing
that’s the pain, the joy

I hate celebrity interviews and I love celebrity interviews.

My life, my rules.

I am intrigued when some celebrity … and lets get our terms down … I am using the word celebrity and not fame …

Queen Elizabeth II is famous …

Lady Gaga is a celebrity.

Celebrity can wane and wear out causing the celebrity to realize that their celebrity needs to be rekindled and they have to get divorced or remarried or do something to get their celebrity back on a level with the other celebrity flavors of the day.

The Queen has a sore back and creates several weeks worth of world wide headlines.

BUT I DIGRESS.

As I was saying, I am intrigued when some celebrity who has been off the scene for a but suddenly pops up in a new interview.

I do enjoy seeing the odd interview with these celebrities of the past and near past.

Past is a week some days.

Near past CAN BE yesterday.

Just the other day I read “What Ever Happened to Denard Robinson?” and it answered some un-answered questions in the back of my mind about one of the most popular football player at Michigan.

Mr. Robinson wrote the article because of ” . . . all these articles and tweets started popping up online asking what happened to me.

Most of the time there is another reason that the celebrity in question has suddenly turned up again.

Most of the time I will see an interview or read an interview with someone I haven’t heard from in a forever and I say, where have they been?

And then the next week there is a review of that celebrities new movie, tv show, book or weightloss routine.

I was in the business for 20 years, you would think I would know by now how the system feeds itself.

Still I read these interviews.

And once in awhile there is something to them.

Today I read an interview with Edie Falco, famous for playing the role of Mrs. Tony Soprano.

I liked the Soprano’s okay, but I sure found it depressing.

It was like Mayberry gone bad, really bad.

I could not watch without thinking what an awful way to live.

It was all the bullies from A Christmas Story who had grown up.

And I don’t mean Scut Farkus but Grover Dill.

I guess if you are Grover Dill you don’t have a lot of career paths but still what a crummy way to live.

I liked Carmela or at the least her role and I like the way Edie Falco played the part.

If this was Mayberry gone bad, Carmela would be Helen Crump.

And Tony Soprano’s Mom would be Aunt Bea.

This rabbit hole is getting slippery fast.

Of course, Ms. Falco is in the newspaper today giving the interview because she in playing Hilary Clinton in Impeachment: American Crime Story which I guess was on FX back in September.

I was reading a Brit paper and this hasn’t been released over there yet.

On the two roles, the article states, “… Falco is a Hillary supporter, so she takes care to emphasise that the former secretary of state is not EXACTLY like a mob wife.”

Not sure if I will ever see this show but for me, it would have been interesting had Ms. Clinton gone all Mob-Wife-Bat-Shit-John-Bobbitt-Crazy on Bill.

But that’s me and that’s why I don’t get to write these shows.

The article was more interesting in the comments Ms. Falco made about herself and growing up and her path forward.

I was struck by two things she said.

At least I hope she said it that way but the writer did string the words together nicely.

Ms. Falco said, ” I’ve been in therapy since time began, so I can look on my childhood now with such love. It was a bunch of people really, really trying.”

I like that.

I like that a lot.

Me and my big happy family have been in therapy since time began.

Okay not really but well gee almost.

We have read the books and talked to the people and what we came up with is all you can do is offer unconditional love.

Love them best you can and throw all the books in the trash.

I don’t know, maybe adopting all those kids was nuts.

But we really, really tried.

I watch my kids now with there kids, my grandkids.

They are really, really trying.

Not sure much more can be asked.

The other thing in the article that caught my eye was at the very end.

The writer writes:

At this point, we go off record, to talk about kids and parenting during lockdown. By now, it really does feel as if I’m talking to a friend. I ask if there is ever a point – in parenting, in work – where you feel like you do know what you’re doing.

“No never!” she hoots. “That’s the pain, but it’s also the joy.”

11.30.2021 – sensitivity

sensitivity
on entering a new space
actively aware

Even before coffee, when I wake up, I go to the window and open the blinds to look at the sky.

A new day, a new sky.

Maybe not coffee awake, but awake enough to be actively aware of the new space.

Depending on my mood I may mumble the rhyme, Red sky at night, sailor’s delight – Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning.

I was asked recently where did that saying come from and I was happy to report that, for me, the most important recorded early use is from Jesus.

In the Bible, Matthew 16:2-3, Jesus says, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red, and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” (NIV)

There is an essay and discussion on this saying and its Biblical roots at the United States Library of Congress.

In the Question and Answer section of the LOC website, in an essay with the attribution, “Author: Science Reference Section, Library of Congress”, the author states:

The colors we see in the sky are due to the rays of sunlight being split into colors of the spectrum as they pass through the atmosphere and ricochet off the water vapor and particles in the atmosphere. The amounts of water vapor and dust particles in the atmosphere are good indicators of weather conditions. They also determine which colors we will see in the sky.

During sunrise and sunset the sun is low in the sky, and it transmits light through the thickest part of the atmosphere. A red sky suggests an atmosphere loaded with dust and moisture particles. We see the red, because red wavelengths (the longest in the color spectrum) are breaking through the atmosphere. The shorter wavelengths, such as blue, are scattered and broken up.

Even before I have coffee, I check the sky.

Here in coastal South Carolina, the sky seems to be most often a lighter shade of sky blue than I am used to seeing.

When I was in college, my what-was-then-called-a-minor, was the field of History of Art.

Really I took History of Art classes because the college I went to was blessed with a bunch of professors in the field who loved to sit back and tell wonderful stories about art and artists.

I was happy to sit back and listen.

I can replay those lectures in my mind.

They weren’t so much lectures, they were single person plays.

I can feel the passion as this one Professor told the story of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, on the run from the law, desperately painting paintings to sell for the money to live on until he dies from the anguish of being a fugitive just as his pardon is at hand.

This same Professor told a story about the The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne, a fresco ceiling painted by Annibale Carracci, that is in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome.

He told how the Palazzo Farnese had become the French Embassy in Rome and was only open to art scholars on Sunday Mornings so if you wanted to see The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne, you had to show up on Sunday Morning.

The Professor related that if you got there early enough, you could watch the Piazza Farnese outside the Palazzo slowly fill up with a WHO’s WHO in the art world of who was in Rome that weekend.

The lecture was continued about the fresco, when the Professor paused, he looked out at us and smiled and said, “Good ice cream in the Piazza Farnese.”

But I digress.

When I started this I was thinking about another Professor in the History of Art department.

This Professor loved light and talking about light.

This was the feller who told us we had to visit an Art Gallery three times – In the morning for white light, in the afternoon for warm light and at night for electric light.

He was also the feller who advised us that to see paintings in the proper perspective of the painter, we had to sit on the floor.

I rarely have opportunity to visit any Art Gallery three times but I do sit on the floor (or at least drop to a knee).

He felt that the bright blues of Tuscan Renaissance Art was caused by the bright blues of the Italian sky.

He felt that the bright blues of the Italian sky was due to Italy being so narrow and having the sea on either side.

I grew up in the State of Michigan with Lake Michigan and Lake Huron on either side of me.

Sorry to say that along with being the Great Lake State, my meteorological friends also tell me that Michigan is one of the most overcast locations in the 48 states.

Maybe second only to the Seattle area.

If the lakes had any impact on the colors we saw in the sky, we most likely were not able to see the sky to know it.

Even before I have coffee, I check the sky.

Much like that the coffee will be ready because of the timer on the coffee maker, I expect to see the sky.

There have been some mornings of gray clouds but for the most part, when before I have coffee. I check the sky, I WILL see the sky.

A few miles from the coast, influenced by the sea, its a blue sky that is new to my sensitivity.

Hard to explain in the words that I have, but after a lifetime of overcast, you just feel better seeing it.

Feeling better, then I have coffee.

*I based this haiku and several others like it from the writing in the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

On entering a new space, our sensitivity is directed towards a number of elements, which we gradually reduce in line with the function we find for the space. Of the four thousand things there might be to see and reflect on in a street, we end up being actively aware of only a few: the number of humans in our path, perhaps, the amount of traffic and the likelihood of rain. A bus that we might at first have viewed aesthetically or mechanically—or even used as a springboard to thoughts about communities within cities—becomes simply a box to move us as rapidly as possible across an area that might as well not exist, so unconnected is it to our primary goal, outside of which all is darkness, all is invisible.

*Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

To also quote myself, I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

And to reemphasize, neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

11.29.2021 – setting off to find

setting off to find
pleasures that will cost neither
money nor effort

Road Trip along Port Royal Sound to Edisto Beach

Life in the low country of South Carolina is slow.

We live in a town of less than 30,000 people.

Last week we visited another town of 2,000.

It is a tourist area with lots of things to do that cost money.

There are also lots of things to do that don’t cost money.

There are lots of things to do that take a lot of effort.

There are lots of things to do that don’t take a lot of effort.

Make some sandwiches and fill a water thermos.

Pack some folding chairs.

Drive off to the beach.

Sit on the Atlantic coast of the United States of America and watch the ocean for free.

Free but priceless.

A fee to see anything else seems a sham.

I know the beach isn’t for everyone and everyone has their special place.

I remember that feller, Andy Rooney and his bits on the show Sixty Minutes.

Mr. Rooney once made a TV Special about view America from the Air.

It was a cluster of helicopter shots of famous American sights, Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls, etc., with Mr. Rooney’s narration about the spot explaining why folks wanted to go there and see the spot.

Right in the middle of the film, there was a helicopter shot of a water front cottage.

Mr. Rooney said that this was a view of HIS favorite spot.

But, NO, he was not going to identify it as then other folks might go there.

Mr. Rooney was willing to share the view of his favorite spot but he didn’t want to share the spot.

The funny thing for me was that I knew where his favorite spot was because it was where one of my cousins lived off in the Hudson River Valley and it was a local secret that everyone knew Mr. Rooney lived there in the summer.

For me, I have said it before, I am lucky.

For me, a trip to the coast costs me neither money nor effort.

It is my favorite spot.

I don’t care who knows it.

I don’t care who knows where it is.

To find it, face north and turn right real sudden like.

It is for everyone.

It is free.

I wonder what the rich people are doing?

This haiku and several others like it, are adapted from the writing in the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and Mr. de Botton’s comments on the book, Journey around My Bedroom written in 1790 by Xavier de Maistre.

de Maistre, de Botton writes in de book, “living in a modest room at the top of an apartment building in Turin, de Maistre pioneered a mode of travel that was to make his name: room travel”.

Millions of people who, until now, have never dared to travel, others who have not been able to travel and still more who have not even thought of travelling will be able to follow my example,’ explained Xavier as he prepared for his journey ‘The most indolent beings will no longer have any reason to hesitate before setting off to find pleasures that will cost them neither money nor effort.’ He particularly recommended room travel to the poor and to those afraid of storms, robbers and high cliffs.

Unfortunately de Maistre’s own pioneering journey rather like his flying machine, did not get very far.

The story begins well: de Maistre locks his door and changes into his pink-and-blue pyjamas. With no need of luggage, he travels to the sofa, the largest piece of furniture in the room. His journey having shaken him from his usual lethargy, he looks at it through fresh eyes and rediscovers some of its qualities. He admires the elegance of its feet and remembers the pleasant hours he has spent cradled in its cushions, dreaming of love and advancement in his career. From his sofa, de Maistre spies his bed. Once again, from a traveller’s vantage point, he learns to appreciate this complex piece of furniture. He feels grateful for the nights he has spent in it and takes pride in the fact that his sheets almost match his pyjamas. ‘I advise any man who can do so to get himself pink and white bedlinen,’ he writes, for these are colours to induce calm and pleasant reveries in the fragile sleeper.

*Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

To also quote myself, I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

And to reemphasize, neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

11.28.2021 – such a factual

such a factual
description seemed little
help pinning down why

Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

I began word-painting.

Descriptive passages came most readily: the offices were tall; the top of one tower was like a pyramid; it had ruby-red lights on its side; the sky was not black but an orangey-yellow.

But because such a factual description seemed of little help to me in pinning down why I found the scene so impressive, I attempted to analyse its beauty in more psychological terms.

The power of the scene appeared to be located in the effect of the night and of the fog on the towers.

Night drew attention to facets of the offices that were submerged in the day.

Lit by the sun, the offices could seem normal, repelling questions as effectively as their windows repelled glances.

But night upset this claim to normality, it allowed one to see inside and wonder at how strange, frightening and admirable they were.

The offices embodied order and cooperation among thousands, and at the same time regimentation and tedium.

A bureaucratic vision of seriousness was undermined, or at least questioned, by the night.

One wondered in the darkness what the flipcharts and office terminals were for: not that they were redundant, just that they might be stranger and more dubitable than daylight had allowed us to think.

Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

11.26.2021 – being programmed by

being programmed by
all the songs had ever heard
sung but never sang

Loosely adapted from the essay, “Goodbye To All That” by Joan Didion as it appeared in her book, Slouching Towards Bethlehem (Farrar, Straus and Giroux – 1968, New York) and the passage in that essay that reads:

It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends. I can remember now, with a clarity that makes the nerves in the back of my neck constrict, when New York began for me, but I cannot lay my finger upon the moment it ended, can never cut through the ambiguities and second starts and broken resolves to the exact place on the page where the heroine is no longer as optimistic as she once was. When I first saw New York I was twenty, and it was summertime, and I got off a DC-7 at the old Idlewild temporary terminal in a new dress which had seemed very smart in Sacramento but seemed less smart already, even in the old Idlewild temporary terminal, and the warm air smelled of mildew and some instinct, programmed by all the movies I had ever seen and all the songs I had ever heard sung and all the stories I had ever read about New York, informed me that it would never be quite the same again. In fact it never was. Sometime later there was a song on all the jukeboxes on the upper East Side that went “but where is the schoolgirl who used to be me,” and if it was late enough at night I used to wonder that. I know now that almost everyone wonders something like that, sooner or later and no matter what he or she is doing, but one of the mixed blessings of being twenty and twenty-one and even twenty-three is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened to anyone before.

11.25.2021 – conviction that

conviction that
nothing ever happened to
anyone before

Adapted from the essay, “Goodbye To All That” by Joan Didion as it appeared in her book, Slouching Towards Bethlehem (Farrar, Straus and Giroux – 1968, New York) and the passage in that essay that reads:

It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends.

I can remember now, with a clarity that makes the nerves in the back of my neck constrict, when New York began for me, but I cannot lay my finger upon the moment it ended, can never cut through the ambiguities and second starts and broken resolves to the exact place on the page where the heroine is no longer as optimistic as she once was.

When I first saw New York I was twenty, and it was summertime, and I got off a DC-7 at the old Idlewild temporary terminal in a new dress which had seemed very smart in Sacramento but seemed less smart already, even in the old Idlewild temporary terminal, and the warm air smelled of mildew and some instinct, programmed by all the movies I had ever seen and all the songs I had ever heard sung and all the stories I had ever read about New York, informed me that it would never be quite the same again.

In fact it never was.

Sometime later there was a song on all the jukeboxes on the upper East Side that went “but where is the schoolgirl who used to be me,” and if it was late enough at night I used to wonder that.

I know now that almost everyone wonders something like that, sooner or later and no matter what he or she is doing, but one of the mixed blessings of being twenty and twenty-one and even twenty-three is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened to anyone before.