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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Embedded


1/27
Carlos and Palomo are in front of me. He’s Peruvian, she Brazilian. They want to get married. In September. In Queens. It’s good to talk with them, think about weddings for a minute. 
It’s Saturday, should be a day off, but....
Chris, one of Rafael’s security team comes in. Thin, long hair, goatee, he could have been one of the folks back in my off campus house, back in the day. From Portland, Maine. Where Andrea’s father Mel was from. Where his sister Molly and Jack still live. A place I think I could be with the ocean, the lobsters, the jazz, the little funky  downtwon. Maine. He’s open about his bipolarity. His three children. Issues with Maine DHS. Easy going and gentle. One more face of Occupy. With his wife Runi.
The  Session arrives, Hugo, Marsha, Samantha, Lilly. Another crisis with Presbytery breaking into the middle of an already overstuffed time. Stayed up until 3 am writing a draft response to a report about West-Park that just doesn’t present who we are. Well crafted, church legalese. It’s hard to keep coming back against that kin dof thing.
But for our Session, it’s about dignity, respect. We have many significant issues to deal with. We’re fragile. The whole future is on the edge. Our resources are few, monetary and human.  BUT, we have sought to be faithful, what happens here everyday is church. And we want that to be known.
Hugo is right. My first draft, though passionate, is defensive. We just need to tell our story in the positive way. Which means I’ll have to go back tonight and write another draft, another 2-3 hour job, another sleepless night.
The chef for the night, Danielle’s (occupier) husband, keeps walking in and out, buying groceries, bringing them back. An older African-American woman shows up with her suitcase, heard this was a place to stay. Asked her if she’s been downtown, talked to housing, got her name on the list. She shakes her head no. I tell her she’ll have to go do that. And she leaves, dragging her suitcase behind her. 
While we’re meeting in the sanctuary, a woman walks in, looking around. She looks familiar. It’s Christine, a singer. Hasn’t seen the doors open in years. Remembering when she sang here in one of Bernardo’s concerts years ago.  How great the sound was. A Brazilian song. Bernardo said he’s never heard it sung like that before. And how the guitar player, a good guitar player, hit on her. We say we’re trying to set those concerts  up again. She should sing here again. 
Meeting’s over. Ready to go. But I get a call from Teddy. Kelly from finance is bringing me money. So I’ll wait. Marc comes in to drop off some equipment he’s been using. We talk about the character of symphonies in the 60’s/70’s. How I could tell in a few bars which one  they were. The august, autumnal sound of Boston. Ormandy’s sweet and smooth Philadephia.The looser, brasher, edgy New York Phil of Bernstein.  And my hometown team, the brooding middle Europe sound of Steinberg’s Pittsburgh Sympnony and how he was in residence at Yale while I was there. As was Bernstein, who brought his Mass. Marc remembers a Bernstein party he once got into.
While we’re talking, Steve, the old school union guy who hangs with the occupiers arrives. Stocky, short hair, leather jacket, knowing bearing. Kelly’s on her way, be here soon, he says. 
Bobby, Capital Hall, brilliant, albino, toothless, walks in looking for Jane. His latest list of celebrity sightings: Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Wynton Marsalis(You need to get him to play here), Brad Pitts’ attorney...all in the same place? No, no, and he recites a litany of intersections. He asks me to take down a  number. I take out a pen, write it down. Satisfied, he leaves.
Kelly arrives. Round, deep black, Bronx, openly trans and solid stand up. A real mind for finance. And a straight dealer. She’s brought the rent. Wants to settle the laptop and art issues too. We talk about the service tomorrow. I’m church people, she says, Baptist. I know, Pastor, I know. Ravi has come, too. Haven't seen her in awhile. Wonder how she's dealing wiht the Jeff situation.
While we’re  counting bills, David of the Spectrum Symphony walks in. With his soprano soloist for Monday, Bethany. Wants to check on details for his Sunday rehearsal. 
Two detectives, male and female come in. Plain clothes, but definitely not occupier type. Amiable, friendly. Check the photos of the font. The font itself. The written list of agreements from Occupy. They want to toss, search, the place. Every room. Will need to come back tomorrow when I know where the keys are. Seem like good partners, easy with each other. 
Finally, home. For awhile.
Back on the street. Hours later. I sat on the couch. Woke up. The clock said 9:42. Morning? Night? It was dark. Must be night. Back to the church. Occupiers arriving. Two have returned from thier new jobs as security people at big box stores in the Bronx. I think of the irony.  Elizabeth has set up shop in the Session room. Created a studio. Shooting people one by one. Having them write in her book. Shooting upstairs felt too intrusive to her. Now people are lining up, one by one. I watch her shoot Noel, the Rastaman, his smile lighting up the room. 


Elizabeth at work

Elizabeth

She’s done everything but sleep here, winning people’s trust, getting to know them. I can’t sleep here, she says. Don’t want to be embedded, huh? I ask. And she laughs. It’s after midnight. I’ve got hours of work ahead of me. Time to go.


A sign on the wall says Mass tonorrow, 11 am, be there. 
On the way up Amsterdam, I see Rudolfo in a bodega. 

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