In honor of the 70th anniversary of Mass-Observation, I wrote this up for a friend who is in a class putting together a collection of these things.
1. Name: Matthew. I live in a one-bedroom apartment on the first floor of a rowhouse in Cobble Hill Brooklyn, New York. I am a 44 year old male bachelor, of European mostly descent. My politics are avowedly leftist, equivalent to non-doctrine European Green and socialist; I subscribe to no religion and am not “spiritual.”
2) This is a Saturday, but since I’m largely unemployed it isn’t all that different a day from my current weekdays.
3) The state of my health is very good.
4) Warm enough to have my windows open all night. Forecast of partly sunny/cloudy, temp in low 70s F proved true, although rain came earlier than expected.
5) [Describe any local events-- sport, crime, political, or other
meetings, etc.-- what films were showing; and send relevant cuttings
from local press, stating what paper they come from, what page they
appeared on, and whether they were prominently displayed.]
6) I woke up at quarter to 8 after about 7 hours in bed, six of them asleep. Left my bed unmade. Rebooted computer, urinated, washed last night’s dishes. Turned on WNYC NPR to hear headlines: main item continued trouble in Pakistan over judiciary. Checked e-mail: no personal mail. Ate leftover pasta and a piece of chocolate babka for breakfast. Tom’s toothpaste and Glide floss. Showered, shaved, shit. Dressed in shorts, hiking boots, socks, tee-shirt and short-sleeved shirt. Wore sun block even though it expired this month. Took F train to R train to Green-Wood Cemetery for tour I was giving for my discussion group.
H. was on the same train I was on. I caught up with her at the top of the stairs of the 25th Street station. As we crossed 4th Avenue together, she asked if the neighborhood was called Sunset Park. I said that was further south and that the realtors were calling this area Greenwood Heights, a name that had some validity according to my map. A man pushing a handcart said it was Park Slope. R. was the next to arrive. B. came, and by 1120 the other two people who had said they would be there were so I gave a brief introduction to the history of the place and we started walking. Round and about in the cemetery, pausing for birds, interesting graves, monuments, plant and animal life. Cherry trees littered the ground with fallen petals and most everything was in bloom or leaf. I found an interesting piece of heartwood that looked a little driftwood like.
The cemetery was busy: open for business, as well as an official tour, and some middle schoolers performer stories about the residents of the place. The only other people to talk to us were a middle aged man and woman. She asked: Have you seen any Quakers? I said, well, there must be some in here. B. said, isn’t there a Quaker cemetery in Prospect Park. No, I mean the parrots, the woman said. I had never heard that word used for them them; it’s from the sound they make, although B. said he thought it was “qwack.”
We got to Battle Hill around 3pm, where we sat for a while, ending up talking about narrative, and bird song. Leaving the cemetery, R. rode away on her bicycle as H, B and I continued on to Red Hook via subway for a later lunch at the ball fields. I had a horchata and a huararche: $8. This was closer to 4 pm. Walked up Court Street with H & B, left them at the corner of Bergen. Got home about 5:45. Phone messages from bookstore, from ex-girlfriend, & from M. Returned M’s call and we made plans to meet in an hour for dinner. I showered and dressed for dinner; tired, dozed while waiting.
We walked down Columbia towards Red Hook, pausing in the Firebird used bookstore. Passed three very nice community gardens I’d never gone by before. We passed a red buckeye in a yard on Van Brunt. Ate dinner at The Good Fork, sitting outside, even though it was a little chilly. The place was very busy and seemed understaffed. Long wait for my main course. It started to rain so we moved to a larger table under canvas, another couple joining us at the opposite end. Dinner cost about $75, although M didn’t have a main course. She asked me if I was seeing anybody and I asked her back; she was breaking up with someone after a seven-year thing. Pouring by the time we left, we walked under my umbrella. She was cold and I held her around the waist as I escorted her home. Crossing Hoyt St. I said it smelled like skunk and she said it was the corner sewers in the rain. Her phone was ringing as we came in the door, I made a beeline to the bathroom, she answered in Italian. Kissing her goodnight, I aimed for the lips and she turned her neck slightly to catch it on the cheek. I got home just after 11pm.
This narration was written that night and the following day.
7) It was a very nice day.