Sunday, February 26, 2006


Minus fourteen Celsius and my windows are cracked open. I’m considering wearing a denim skirt and jacket to work tomorrow – with 14 layers of sweaters under the jacket. It will reach the dizzying heights of minus seven, after all. I imagine I will look like a cowgirl version of the Goodyear blimp. It’s reached the time of year when, if the sun shines, I become utterly convinced that spring is here. My inner clock says so.

In reality, I should put on my winter coat, high boots and mittens because even February is followed by a month Weedy has named, “Farch,” and my inner seasonal clock is utterly unreliable.

I am using as today’s entry a piece I wrote when I first moved into this building. It’s a “tale of the neighborhood,” like “The Spandex Cop,” and reminds me why high school kids have referred to this place as “The Sprylight Zone.”

And the last line is inspired by the film China Town: “Forget it, Jake. It’s China Town.”

Here goes, from March 9th, 2002.


I doubt the wisdom of getting up as soon as I open the blinds. The sky is white, the color of used wash water. It is almost indistinguishable in shade from the rock hard, ice-encrusted remains of snow banks clotted with black exhaust. The wind howls and moans around my windows like a gothic movie soundtrack. The temperature has elevated just enough to permit pouring rain.

"Farch" is what Wendy calls this part of the year. Not February. Not a March that you can conceivably accept. April is happening in Brigadoon or Oz and you know in your bones that it's staying there. Here on the coast, Winter will hang on like a corpse clutching the land in rigor mortis.

And to this homey scene we add the solitary figure of a young man.

I hear him before I see him. He’s ten feet from my ground-floor window, shouting up to someone on the third floor. These ground to balcony conversations happen. They are annoying, but usually I ignore them. Only he doesn’t leave, and his words are loud enough to be audible even over the wind and with my windows closed.

“I cleaned for two hours. Jesus. I spent two hours on the place because you were coming over. And now you can’t come because of a fourteen year old? How old are you? Forty? What’s the matter with you? Is he drunk?

I peek out. He’s just a boy. His dark curly hair is plastered to his head. He is standing in a puddle. He’s wearing black dress pants and an expensive-looking black and white leather jacket. He got dressed up, I thought.

He stands with his fists clenched, face red, resolute and too angry to go away. Too angry and hurt to believe that she – and I assume it’s a “she” – isn’t coming. I hear a female voice from the balcony, but not what’s said. Whatever it was, it enrages him further. He rails at her from his puddle.

He looks like he’s all of sixteen, seventeen.

I stay away from the windows. He’s too close. I consider calling Alice, my Super. But I don’t. In this neighborhood, minding your own business is the best defense.

Later, going to the store for milk, I see him. He’s sitting on the stoop of the neighboring building, in a wet dejected heap. He’s looking at that third floor window like it’s all that’s real, all that’s left in the whole wide world. And no one will let him in.

Farch, I think. It’s just Farch.