Vacation Note:
Comme ci, comme ça

Just to have something on hand that I don’t have to read if I don’t want to, I’ve downloaded Emma onto the iPad. Also Cynthia Ozick’s Foreign Bodies, a new book that the Times compares to The Ambassadors but that sounds to me, on the basis of three pages, like something that Elaine Dundy’s sterner, better-schooled older sister might have made of The Dud Avocado. As for Emma, I almost packed a slim leatherette Collins edition, printed on onion skin in tiny print; but I forgot. The next time I read Emma, whenever that happens, will be the eighth. Much as I adore it, I notice that I’m fonder and fonder of Persuasion. And I really ought to re-read Northanger Abbey, which I haven’t read since my teens.

Dinner was a bit raucous. There was a contingent of Air Force servicemen — we think that some were officers, and we overheard at least one man remark that he had been a medic in the same unit for seventeen years — and we realized that we don’t know much about the Air Force, except that it turns out airline pilots. We know that the hotel bivouacs the occasional airline crew, but a crowd of men and women in uniform — somewhere between twelve and twenty — was a bit of a surprise. As we worked our way through a bottle of cabernet, the new arrivals filtered back into the bar in shorts and polo shirts that would have made them look like everyone else if they hadn’t — the men, anyway — been tonsured (too much hair to be stylish; too little to be civilian). The youngest person in the party had to be thirty, and a few of the seniors had clearly seen fifty. They were a genial crowd, even if they were much louder than the Buccaneer’s regulars (and I’m referring only to speaking voices here). But it took a moment, as we walked in, to realize that these people in uniform were not armed, and not about to frisk us or take away our water bottles.

We meant to take a walk on the beach this afternoon, but neither of us was up to it: we could do no more than sit outside on our little patio and read. I glanced over about fourteen hundred feeds during the course of the day. After the nth sighting of the same headline, I had to tell Kathleen about Professor Bilal of NYU, the filmmaker (?) who has “implanted” a camera in the back of his head. Aghast, Kathleen simply repeated what I’d said in the interrogative mood. It’s so NYU: the students are worried about their privacy, but nobody questions Dr Bilal’s right to mutilate himself in the name of art.

Kathleen got a call from a partner this afternoon, and it’s now definite that she’ll be working on Monday and Tuesday. She expected as much, but still. Assuming that the connection problems really do straighten themselves out, Kathleen’s working may shame me into producing a Daily Office or two. Meanwhile, I am reading Jennifer Egan’s stories, and taking lots of notes. But, d’you know what? I’m on vacation, it seems, and not at all in the mood to work. (In the alternative, I’m so old that two days of travel rubbled my ways and means.) Ethan Mordden’s Guest List was almost demoralizingly agreeable — why can’t every book be like that? My guess is that Foreign Bodies won’t be. But I’m looking forward to it just the same, and, come to think of it, now I know why God invented bed time.