October 8th, 2005


Clinton's memoirs

I am well into the second volume of Clinton's extensive memoirs. The books are full of details - a historian's dream. Clinton had help tracking down details, and he had a White House Diarist, on whom I expect he also relied. For the earlier years he had to dig out what he could, consulting others. Nobody could remember all these details.

Clinton writes clearly, with no drama and no particular beauty. He constructs good sentences and simply offers us a chronological account of his life. Although it is always clear how he feels about certain issues, he doesn't dramatize and he doesn't embroider. It is only now, well into the second half of the second volume, where he speaks of the impeachment proceedings, that he spends time reiterating the "facts of the case". Facts I already know rather well, from other accounts. I sense in this part of the book an anger that he has been unable to shake, in spite of his best efforts.

I have been surprised, lately, at his calmness and generosity in speaking of the Right Wing zealots who are in the White House now. I thought he would take the opportunity to attack, but he didn't. And I have to give him credit for that. He was a so much better president than Bush could ever hope to be, because his motives were improve the country and to work toward peace in the world, not enrich small groups of friends.

I am so glad he wrote this huge piece of work. It will be a treasure for years to come, will help others sort through those years. And it gives me renewed appreciation for what he did in office, so much that was obscured by the insanity of Kenneth Starr and his friends.

You might think that it was a lesson learned by the media, but it wasn't. In spite of the press' constant attention to Monica and Whitewater, we the citizens were never persuaded that it was a meaningful effort. It was only after the House voted to impeach that the media started to step back and take a look at who was really pulling those strings and what weapons they were using to coerce votes. You might think that the national media would think again before behaving so mindlessly, yet they locked right in step with Bush and the Iraq war arguments. No memory? I sometimes think that's the major flaw in the character of this country.


At noon today I got a call from Dwain. He was at the PAC and asked if I were planning on going to the symphony rehearsal there today. I said I hadn't realized it was today. He invited me to join him, and I did in about twenty minutes.

Because he had gotten there so early we were able to get the best seats, the ones on the side "balcony" - this level is barely above ground level but has the wonderful swivel seats and great close views. The Sat afternoon rehearsal is free to anyone, and is called "No Ties Allowed". It is a comfortable, relaxed event. People come and go throughout, and children are more than welcome, noise and all. The director speaks to the audience, and in this case so did the soloist.

The first two pieces were warm, enjoyable pieces by William Walton and Rimsky Korsakov. Then, after a break, the wonder: Rachmaninov's third piano concerto. No cadenza this aft, because the soloist needed to save his energy for tonight.  The soloist, 35 years old, winner of the Tchaikovsky piano competition in 1995 (only the second American to do so - Van Cliburn was the other), was warm and funny and immensely likeable. Rehearsals like this really give people a sense of the fun musicians often have together.

And the concerto was wonderful, wonderful. I took a few pix of the audience and symphony and a few short videos of the performances, and of course I didn't use flash. I listened to the videos after. It's amazing that I could take a little camera with me and record sound like that! Even though they are short.  There was a little baby in the second row, six months old, bald-headed, facing backwards, held by his mommy. He was looking at a woman a couple of rows back, who was making little gestures at him. He was so delighted, would light up and smile the smile only a baby can offer and get so excited, without making a sound! I have no idea how that happened! But it was wonderful to watch that baby as the piano and orchestra notes floated over and surrounded us all.

Oldness and goodness and delight

Tonight I joined eight other women for a "bachelorette" party for one of us, Elaine, a 30-something mother who is getting married for the second time. Partway through the evening, Elsa referred to this as Elaine's third marriage, and Michelle corrected her: it is only the second marriage, the second affair was "only a baby". That is, only responsible for a baby. Most of the gang was from the second floor of city hall. I was the oldest of the group, twenty years older than most of the rest. The youngest was Sarah, our intern, who in some ways seems barely out of her teens.

Ah youth. Sarah walked to the restaurant from her home, a few blocks away, wearing severely pointed severely high heels. I don't think she gave her feet a second thought.

When our dinner was over, Elsa suggested moving on for drinks and dancing somewhere else. They settled on The Cliffs, I believe, and both Carolyn and I bowed out at that time. As we walked away, Carolyn said "sometimes I feel SO OLD." Carolyn is more than ten years younger than I, and has a five-year-old child. We both felt very out of place, though, by then.

I know age is a relative thing, of course. When I arrived for this party I waited quite a while. The restaurant was full and the guy at the front desk didn't seem to know from reservation. I watched the people at the tables and the other people waiting to be seated. Everyone was in such a good mood. The restaurant is Moroccan and features belly dancers. Soon after I arrived, three of them danced out to sing and dance happy birthday to two different people at different tables. At each table they got the person up to dance with them and they danced willingly and happily. One of the dancers came toward the door and gave her stick to a man waiting there. He was an older guy wearing a hat, who looked very Irish. He was smiling the whole time he was there and he gladly took the stick and took part in the dance. Everyone seemed to be a part of it, just loving being there.

We realized that nobody wanted to leave. They would get their checks and just sit there, laughing, drinking, enjoying themselves. So it was forever before we got seated. The food was terrific; everyone liked what they got. I had a Moroccan beer, which I also liked, and a spicy veggie curry, so good that I took the rest home with me. A couple of us gave gifts to Elaine, nothing risque, and there were no male strippers.

I thought, as I listened to Bach on my way home, that there isn't really a place where I fit in socially. Odd. I hang around the fringes and am invited to the ones where I might overlap. It may be that it isn't possible to be part of a group, not for me, because I just want to watch, observe, see others. I saw things tonight that were wonderful. The man with the hat. The woman on the sidewalk who stopped and danced briefly for us - was she drunk? The look of the lovely young women who were with me - they had such a womanliness to them, a lush beauty, and they glowed. The belly dancers!! Comfortable in their ample skins, graceful and perfect in their movements and their smiles. It's hard for me to be part of things but I get such joy from seeing and hearing.