Monday, April 17, 2006

a walk in the city

Today was a gorgeous spring day -- sunny, warm enough to be comfortable in a button-down shirt most of the time, but cool enough to want a sweater in the shade. And I got to spend it in one of my favorite ways: walking, talking and eating.

1. Had coffee at an independent cafe I'd been eyeing for a while. The coffee was great, but the decor is a little too hothouse for my taste: red plush everywhere and slinky music. Unfortunately not a place to study or work.

2. Met a friend at a museum. To say too much about this museum would involve relinquishing my modicum of locational anonymity, but let's just call it the Museum of Anatomical Grossness (if you've been there before, you'll immediately know what I'm referring to). It was fascinating, in parts: I'm reading Neal Stephenson's Baroque trilogy at the moment, and so exhibits about bladder stones, gout, cupping, syphilis, smallpox, etc. felt familiar! But after a while, seeing row after row of medical anomalies and brains in jars became less stimulating and more tiring, as it became clear just how much can go wrong with the human body. Upstairs, there was a temporary exhibit of self-portraits by an artist who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and continued to draw and paint for several years. There was a certain amount of deterioration in the portraits, but they remained evocative, and sad: one of the the last ones, chronologically, had been smudged or erased until it was unrecognizable as a face.

3. To recover, we walked a fair distance to a diner, ate frittatas, compared our brief experiences of religious education as children, and talked academic plans.

4. Our walk back across the city involved gazing at plants and flowers coming into bloom, taking some time to notice quirky buildings and interesting window displays, stopping for coffee at one shop and cookies at another: mine, one coffee and one chocolate macaroon; his, a madeleine. We sat in a park to eat our cookies, talked about family trips to Asia, and finally parted when I went into a grocery store and he went home. This is a person who I've been friends-ish with for a while, but mostly in the context of larger groups, so it was nice to have a whole afternoon to walk and talk.

Now, I'm back home, preparing to work this evening, and so happy to have spent the day outdoors and wandering, when I've been inside working for much of this weekend. [And I have a whole list of blog topics percolating:
-- my Catholic Easter (in two ways!)
-- more on Alzheimer's
-- a "teachable moment" gone wrong]

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