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July 22nd, 2008

That Old Nabe of Mine

I'm in Boston for the next few days, working on the last chapters of The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen. I'm staying in a rented room in a sprawling concatination of small apartments, with doors and windows and outside staircases pretty much everywhere. It's right across the street from the Porter Square Exchange, which is about a 2 minute walk from our old house, near my former health club, the Porter Square sushiteria, Bob Slate stationers, Porter Square Books, and only a 10 minute walk from the Best Cafe Evar: The Diesel.

It's extremely odd.

Yesterday was like one of those dreams where you find yourself in the apartment you had right out of college shelving books with your ex, wondering why you're still living with her when even your dreaming self knows you broke up 20 years ago. Well, you may not have those dreams, but I do. They're strange. On the one hand, it's a perfectly pleasant dream. On the other, I keep thinking "But I left that relationship. I wasn't happy in it. I'm in a better place now. So what am I doing here?" And all the while, I'm shelving books (or whatever) in an apartment I recognize, but is subtly different in the way dream-apartments are different from real ones.

Davis Square is like that. Macintyre and Moore, the wonderful second-hand bookshop that moved there from Harvard Square when Harvard Square turned into a mall, has moved to Mass Ave, where the Book Cellar used to be. In its place is Second Time Around, a consignment/vintage clothing shop that would like to be Love Finds A Way, but doesn't have the inventory. The funky Family Dollar Store has closed, and signs in the papered-over windows promise that Bowl and Board, a fine old Cambridge institution, will be moving there from near Harvard Square soon. The Tibetan hole-in-the wall has expanded into what I think was the dry-cleaners next door.

The Diesel has had a makeover.

It's not a huge one, and, on the whole, it's an improvement. They've reconfigured the counter so it works better and brought in benches and more plugs for computers and built more booths in the back to curl up in long-term. There are new chairs and tables (square instead of round) and new blackboards for the menu. I think the pool tables have been re-felted, too, and everything's been repainted. It's lovely and comfortable, but it's a little disorienting.

Nonetheless, I worked there steadily from the time Ellen left Boston at about 2 until an old friend came to pick me up for dinner at 7:30, and I got lots done, especially for a first day back to work. At one point, I looked up, and there was a guy I had chatted with over the years, grinning at me. For a moment, I didn't know when I was. 1997? 2000? 2004? And then my lizard brain caught up with the little incongruities (like, he was actually sitting down to talk to me, which he never did in The Old Days, when we only chatted standing in line for our coffee), and we exchanged catch-up stories. But it was extremely odd.

I'm going to the gym now. I expect that'll be odd, too.

Errata + Progress Report

The Family Dollar store is still there. Bowl and Board is coming into the space where MacIntyre & Moore used to be. The second hand shop is called "Poor Little Rich Girl."
The Tibetan Restaurant is Maritsa on Elm, and I had a wonderful dinner with Sarah Smith there tonight. She had a tofu/mushroom/onion/tomato thing I'm so ordering next time, and I had sliced beef in a very tasty brown sauce, with bok choy. Yum.

Chapters 1-6 are done, done, done. Since Sarah kindly printed out the final chapters for me, and I'm going to spend tomorrow rewriting scenes longhand. This will keep me from having to find a table near an electrical outlet. Also, I write better dialogue longhand, and much of what I have to write is dialogue.

I bet you all are going to be glad when I'm home again, and can bother Ellen with all this trivia instead of you.

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