[Martha] Gellhorn told [John Simpson, the BBC's world-affairs editor] about attending John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration ball. Gellhorn was alone and feeling out of place when she sensed the President and his entourage moving in her direction. “There was Kennedy himself coming towards her with all the hangers-on and the freaks and the creeps,” Simpson said. “And, as he walks up to her, and she said, ‘Oh, fuck. He’s gonna make me Secretary of State.’ ” It wasn’t that. Kennedy had heard that Gellhorn used to live in the White House and might know of a way to sneak out from time to time. “ ‘Darling’—she called him ‘Darling’—‘That’s easy,’ ” Simpson continued, in a broad American accent. Gellhorn told the President about a small gate at the back of the property. “There’s only one guy in charge of it,” she said. “Roosevelt used to just give him money all the time.”

(sam knight, "a memorial for the remarkable martha gellhorn")


i run into M, a retired firefighter who worked as a personal trainer in our building's fitness room in the before times. he used to give me shit about not seeing me in there every day, and i would tell him about the international work trips that took me away from our treadmills and tv news (i pitched my friend the fitness magazine editor-in-chief a piece about angry running a couple of years ago, but i think it seemed too unhealthy, and that was right about when another publisher was acquiring her title, anyway). now he gives me shit about the days we don't run into him on the promenade, and i tell him that most of my workout is up at the track at 10th street. as always, he tells me that he gets terribly bored when he runs in a circle. M and i differ in a number of ways, but that, somehow, is the gulf of note: running in a circle is the 2020 version of afternoons at skateway in the late eighties when i'd get so excited about janet jackson that i'd slam into the carpeted wall on tight turns. the boys-only-on-the-rink songs were no problem, i'd just take my big earrings off and stick them in my pocket. a guy brought an amp to the bleachers this sunday and cranked "let's dance," which faded into "billie jean." i've always loved watching people succumb to sets, but watching runners try to play it cool through a shitload of, like, billy ocean and hall and oates was especially delightful.

two nearly-identical dogs on st. mark's this evening were both named lucy; pro jazz ensembles are playing for tips in tompkins square park. i have gotten over the fact that i forgot "sectional" as i filed yet another piece on living rooms a few weeks ago ("OH GOD JOE WHAT DO YOU CALL A LONG COUCH IN PIECES") and have learned the difference between a sideboard and a credenza; if i don't keep the world up to date on the latest in open-concept living spaces, internets, my god, who will. i thought about instagramming a wax print fabric i bought from a ghanaian woman in st. croix a few months ago and have been working into my huge, ongoing quilting project and worried that i couldn't talk about how a chinese company produced it. i might email the social worker who hooked me up with my neighbors to let her know that i need to stop doing their shopping, maybe, perhaps at the end of the month. i keep thinking of this man's posture.


we had two rounds of banging pots and pans and rattling cow bells at the neighbors and the street tonight, the one between 7:00 and 7:03 and another for either two or 20 minutes just after nine, who can say? joe went to the window when he first heard voices on cherry street come around to the service road in front of our building, and the march began (that was part of the march, right? i mean, they were?) with guys on bikes going north on the southbound lanes of the FDR. by the time i was on the balcony the street was full, no signs, just marchers. no one cheered, cheering is for 7:00 to 7:03.

we took our daily walk up the east river promenade just after when we figured joe's office business was probably done for the day (my office business is always and never done for the day) and headed west into the city around stuyvesant cove, then down first avenue and back east on st. mark's. how stupid am i for actually thinking the same bars that were selling cocktails to go on friday would be on the sidewalk this afternoon? we didn't walk that way because i wanted to buy anything—i don't really know what i wanted, to be honest, i just wanted people—but oh, how stupid. by the time we turned south again every storefront on both sides of every street was boarded up or in the process of being boarded up. there are thick bolts of shame all through the grief i've felt this spring, and they're wider and more tensile now, how dare i mourn the little threads of normalcy we were just starting to follow in this city when so many people who are also in this city experience grief as normalcy.

i'm writing a print piece on insomnia that was originally going to be due a month from today; a month or so ago my editor told me it was bumped to a 2021 issue at the earliest and she would understand if i wanted to pitch it somewhere else in the interim. she asked me last week if i could write it for this year's september issue and send that draft over a week from today, and then this morning she bumped it back to the beginning of july, and a week sooner than that an hour later. i am tempted to draft this feature about stephen king's insomnia and the robin williams / al pacino alaska thriller of the same name as a secret art project for myself, but my editor is a lovely person and who among us couldn't use a few expert takes on insomnia right about now, half a dozen, actually, i am supposed to do six interviews.