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Month: September 2016

Should I stay or should I go now?

incontri amici bologna

Evening world!

First a warning – this post contains self-indulgent and slightly miserable musings. I want you (meaning me as STILL no one is reading this, except probably Auntie Monica – Hey Mon!) to know that I’m in no way a danger to myself or others. I’m fine, I’m just wobbling. Probably just tired and a bit crashy thanks to an insane decision to quit refined sugar at the weekend. I know…

I’m thinking it’s time to go home. I don’t really know what I’m doing here, living in a dead man’s house. I could sell this pile and make a pile. Work would be a thing of the past. I mean, it’s certainly not a thing of the present. I haven’t made many friends since I got here. I just haven’t felt the connections. Unless you count Mr Park, but I see our relationship as purely transactional. And besides, since I gave up the sugar I’m seeing him less as the need for cupcakes dwindles.

I’ve been in this place for over two months now in this state of limbo. Most normal people would have a wide circle of friends and be out drinking or grabbing “a bite” most nights. Not me. Nooooooo I’m all lonely and mysterious. How did I get to be lonely and mysterious? I’m just not that much of a connector, except on here. I’d like to connect on here. Helloooooooo???? Connection anyone?

So shall I head home? Sell up, move on. I could head to Dublin instead of London. I could see what Dave is up… no! We’re not going back there. I don’t know. But it’s leaning that way. It would be delicious to throw a little brownstone money around in front of him. That’s the kind of mysterious I’m alright with. Sudden moneyed heiress. I don’t know. Maybe I should join a gym? I’d make friends there – fit friends. Friends who would make me stick to my no-sugar regime. Nah…

Oh and in other devastating affairs, I can’t find dad’s pocket watch. I thought I might’ve dropped it when I fell. I went back but it wasn’t there. I traced my steps back to a few bookstores, called a couple of others. No one found it.

Is it a sign? Time to go? (hurrr) I don’t know why, but I loved that thing. I imagined my dad carrying it in his pocket all those years, maybe my grandfather before him. One more disconnection. I feel even more lost without my New York totem. I hope it turns up. I’d hate to leave without it.

So that’s where I am. I don’t plan on making a(nother) rash moving decision right now. I’ll give myself a week or two to think it over. But my compass seems to be pointing “home”, which isn’t here.


UPDATE: The Wolf and The Wild arrived today! Feeling pretty proud of myself, actually. One down, three to go. I’m looking for insight everywhere, maybe I’ll find it in a good read. It came with this note from the person who sent it (LT?) I’m guessing it’s a quote from the novel.

Off to bed and book.


Miss Havisham Takes A Tumble

Miss Havisham Takes A Tumble

So right now I’m fine. I just need you to know that I’m okay, I’m fine, I’m calm. I wasn’t. I wasn’t fine until about an hour ago. I was the furthest away from fine I think I’ve ever been. I was shaking, I was terrified. The city is on edge, as you’d expect with the week we’ve had, but this was something else. This was… I should explain.

I’d spent yesterday doing what I’ve pretty much been doing every day for the last two weeks, searching for the other Ackerly Green books. The Wolf and The Wild is on its way from Hong Kong but I’ve searched sites, been to libraries, and pretty much scoured every rare bookstore in lower Manhattan to find the rest. Nothing so far. Yesterday evening I was over in the East Village trying not to get too depressed by the fact that I was getting nowhere (when you only have one task to fill your time it can be quite discouraging when that task is all but impossible.) So I’d walked along East 4th and stopped into Lafayette’s as I had a hankering for something sweet and French. They do amazing pastry and breads, but my greed settled on a tarte au citron.

I then made my way across Broadway towards Washington Square Park when I had this odd sense that I was being watched. Maybe it was the fact that it’s starting to get dark early, but I felt spooked. Something made me look back across to the other side of the street and I saw this guy. The guy. I think. I could hardly make him out, but he seemed to be keeping pace with me. As a test I decided to switch from my usual direct route home and instead began to weave through the streets, making unnecessary turns. By the time I’d made it to 6th Ave he was still with me. Still keeping pace.

I panicked. I completely lost it. I ran. I could feel him running too. I heard the footsteps almost keeping time with mine. I didn’t dare look behind me to see if it was actually him, but I just knew it. I felt it. I could feel him there. I thought I could hear his breath. I was sure he’d crossed over to my side of the street and was now right behind me. He was running after me.

And then I stumbled. I fell. Hard, onto the sidewalk. I was on my hands and knees, looking at the tarte au citron which had been smeared across the sidewalk.

He was behind me. Standing over me. For a brief moment I thought I felt his hand on me. I thought I was going to die. But all I could think was how embarrassed I was about the tart. I actually wondered what he’d think about this sad girl crouched on the sidewalk, skinned knees, tears in her eyes, her pathetic little dessert for one on the ground. He’d pity me. The thought sent a rush of rage through me. I don’t know why, but I whipped around to look at him. See his face. Stare down his pity. But he was gone. No one was there.

I got up and started walking home. Faster and faster until I was running again, as fast as I could, not stopping until I was safely back inside the brownstone. I had been absolutely sure he was there. I was shaken. I was physically shaking. I sat on the edge of my mattress and the whole foolishness of the situation just hit me square in the face. I began to sob. Deep, shuddering (and deeply unflattering) sobs. It just all came out. Being here. Feeling alone. Unsure and overwhelmed about this whole summer and my dad and this house and… well, just about everything really.

There was only one person that could make it better. I picked up the phone and called Auntie Monica. I didn’t even think or care that it was midnight back home, but of course she’d been working late at the bar, so was wide awake. She had her sensible head on and talked me down. It was so comforting to hear her voice and talk like we used to about nothing. I miss her so much. I miss home so much. This situation is playing havoc with my head. I shouldn’t be here, alone in the stupid old house. I’m going to end up like Miss Havisham at this rate, rattling about. A ghost or “the witch of the place.”

Maybe I should be calling it quits. I’ve had my adventure, it’s time to put away childish things and get my life back on track. Isn’t it?


The Elusive Mr Wallace.

The Elusive Mr Wallace.

Finally, finally, finally! I managed to sit down with the elusive Mr Wallace (“call me Orvin, dear.”) He and I had almost two hours together. It was in the most ridiculous restaurant. Proper old school steakhouse glamour! I think he thought I wasn’t taking him seriously as I did start off giggling a lot about the people in the venue. Honestly though, I was surprised we got through the service without a number of ambulances being called. Half of them looked like it was their last meal!

We made small talk at first. I told him about the old book I saw at the bookstore and the new AG book I found online and bought. That seemed to pique his interest for some reason. He said he would send me all the files he has for Ackerly Green. They’re mostly founding documents, he just has to go digging for them. But he thought I should have them.

Eventually I did manage to get some answers from him about my dad and the state of his affairs – property, money etc. (I ended up having to take notes so I could remember it all!) So here’s what I now know:

  • Orvin (who is at least eighty years old as it turns out) had actually worked with Warner Green (my grandfather!) and Grey Ackerly. He was around in the early days of Ackerly Green Publishing, working for Grey Ackerly’s attorney.
  • He became the Green family attorney and eventually helped my dad transition into taking control of A&L Printing in 1978. Apparently this was the original Ackerly family company where Grey and my grandfather first met, not a renamed Ackerly Green Publishing, which is what I read online a couple of weeks ago (never trust the Internet!)
  • Orvin helped manage Warner’s small fortune and helped my dad make decisions for the printing house, but he told me that he felt my dad’s heart was never really in it.
  • There was a fire in 1979 that destroyed the building and after that my dad disappeared.
  • Dad travelled the world, but he lived meagrely. Orvin kept track of a bank account that dad used. He would keep it topped up as needed. The only extravagant things he bought were books and strange pieces of art. Orvin doesn’t know what happened to all those things. 🙁
  • Eventually dad’s charges indicated he’d come back to New York, but then they stopped altogether. Orvin didn’t hear anything from or about dad for a decade, until some people in the 90s came asking about him. They were fans of books that Ackerly Green had published. Orvin said he didn’t know those people existed. I assumed this was a joke about the lack of sales? Not sure – I didn’t pursue it. Orvin started working with this group to find my dad. And they did.

We ate for a while. Well, I ate and he pushed his food around and sipped dessert wine. He seemed lost in thought. He was staring out the window just talking, not really to me. Also, I can’t say for sure when it started but I noticed he’d started calling my dad Sully instead of Sullivan.

He told me dad was arrested in 1997 for vagrancy in Central Park. He’d been living there for months. Orvin secretly took my dad in, hiding him. (From what??? Why?) He said that dad was completely changed. He didn’t speak much. He just kept on saying he needed to go back to the park. “He had to go back.”Orvin had the best doctors and therapists try and reach dad and for a while it seemed like it worked. He said he tried to reintroduce him to the world… But then Orvin got cagey, “It didn’t work. He left. He went back… to the park. And that’s where he stayed.”

And then he sat there staring into his half eaten plate of steak and potatoes (no sauce. No sauce!) He just sat there. I didn’t know what to do or say. He wasn’t crying, but it was clear that he’d been avoiding having this conversation with me. It was as if he felt guilty for not being able to ‘save’ my dad. Like a father feeling he’s lost his son to something (illness? Drugs? A cult?)

I tried to engage with him by telling him what I can remember about my dad. I told him about the dream and that I’m pretty sure it’s a memory. The long hallway. I told him about a story dad always read to me. The tale of the ant and the caterpillar. (I remember I used to think he was saying “caterpillow.”) This seemed to snap him out of his catatonic state. He couldn’t believe I remembered that book. It must seem like that when you’re in your eighties, but my childhood wasn’t THAT long ago and my memory works fine Mr W!

He said he would spend “holidays” (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc ) and dad’s birthday in the park, looking for him. He called him his “ward” as well as his friend. Every few years he’d find him. He’d see him from a distance… but then dad would walk away, not wanting to be found.

When dad died in July, the police found a letter on him. It was addressed to Orvin explaining all about me. And that’s when Orvin contacted me. It was also then that he found documents that led him to the brownstone. Dad owned it, but hadn’t lived in for years, if ever. I asked him if he knew my mother. He said he didn’t. He said, and this made me feel a little freaked out, “all I know is that your father was a sad and troubled man.” He said he must’ve loved me very much to protect me from the same madness that consumed him and his mother before him.

I’m kicking myself now, because I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t pick up on the last part. I didn’t ask him about my grandmother. Idiot!

It was obvious in his tone that he was finished talking about all this. He moved on to the business end of things. He pulled out a bunch of documents. He advised me that he had settled dad’s debts with the money he had protected and invested for him, and that now there’s still a little left. Not a mind-shattering amount, but a really nice chunk and it’s mine. As is the brownstone! Just barely, but it’s mine. If I want it. I’ll have to come up with a way to pay for its upkeep, taxes, utilities, etc. but it’s mine to keep, or sell. Insane.

With that, he collected himself and made his excuses to leave. Just before he left the table he reached over for my hand. The gesture sort of took me by surprise. He opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out. His eyes looked full. He just smiled. A painful smile, so full of sadness. And then he left.

It’s a lot to process really…


Books! Books! Books!

Books! Books! Books!

So I’m feeling more sane this week. I think I’m finding my rhythm here. It’s either that or the fact that I’ve been keeping myself busier than usual. I finished Through the Night. I was impressed. It was kind of dark, just my cup of tea. I won’t spoil the ending for you (you being the non-existent person that’s reading this!) what I will share is that at the back of the book there was a further reading list. More Ackerly Green books. Here are some of the titles:

  • The Animus Complex
  • Seven Cradle Songs
  • The Wolf and The Wild
  • Leadfoot Devil

I did an Amazon search for them all, but nothing came up. There’s another Through the Night, but it’s not the same book. Similar plot though. As Amazon was a bit of a bust I started Googling the titles. I was about to give up as it’s no fun rifling through pages of unhelpful search engine results (has any good ever come of looking past the first page of results? That section of the Internet is reserved for inebriated stalking of your ex, which I assure you I have NOT been doing, mostly.) Glad I looked! Amazingly The Wolf and The Wild got a hit. The link led me to a copy of the book for sale by a collector in Hong Kong. I decided to be bold and have ordered it. Not cheap, but I think it’ll be worth it – heritage and that 😉

But this got me thinking, if these books are all out of print, most likely they’re not on Amazon. So I decided to make visits to a couple of local booksellers. I didn’t find anything (yet) but I ended up having the most AMAZING experience. I was browsing through the shelves of Cumberland Books when I overheard this guy come in to get a box of books appraised. This book in particular got the attention of the seller:

Seriously! It was a thing of beauty. And 450 years old! I couldn’t stop myself. The Irish charm went into full swing. I worked my way into the conversation and before long the owner of the book was telling how he found it and showing me every page…

A few years ago he was looking to buy an old truck and found this in the barn the truck was stored in. He bought the book instead! He said it’s full of stories from some kind of pre-freemason society and their search for religious artifacts.

Beautiful right? The best was this:

Stuck between the pages are scraps of other documents that they tore up and used to bind the book. Those scraps are from writings much older than the book, maybe a hundred years older. Who knows what stories they told, just lost to time…

The buyer excused himself and the book owner. They disappeared into a back room and left me out front. Mystery abounds! I posted another photo to my instagram account. Just gorgeous.

Did I mention that I love books? I love books.

No silly sightings of strange men or shadowy encounters of any kind for that matter. AND I finally have Mr Wallace pinned down to a lunch date next week with a solid promise he will not ditch me this time.

I’m feeling on the up and up!


PS – note the G, I’m feeling the G this week 🙂

A question of family

A question of family

Ugh, no one likes a solo drunk. I don’t want to end up all washed up and wasted, wandering the streets of New York alone. In an attempt to do something with myself and get some answers I’ve started looking into my dad’s company, Ackerly Green Publishing. I visited the library to see what I could dig up.

So here’s what I know:

  • Ackerly Green opened in 1954 – although there is an Ackerly Printing Company that predates it
  • Founded by M. Grey Ackerly and Warner Green (my grandfather!)
  • Ackerly family were really wealthy, made money from oil and railroad
  • Company never really did that well
  • Main content seems to be literary fiction like Through The Night
  • Sullivan Green (dad) took over the business in 1978
  • There was a fire that destroyed the printing site in 1979 – no address given

It’s not much I know, but it’s a start I guess. But, as usual, I feel like I have more questions than answers. There’s nothing here about my mother. I’m not sure how the Ackerly Printing Company becomes Ackerly Green, or how my father seems to have been the one to inherit. What about the Ackerly family? I was hoping to ask Mr Wallace more about it after he finally invited me to lunch. But then he had to cancel at the last minute. I’d walked all the way to the restaurant!

It wasn’t a complete loss though.  I wandered around Christopher Street, bought a bunch of gorgeous little things I didn’t need from the Greenwich Letterpress, and saw this really cool seahorse carved into stone above a doorway. I’ve always been fascinated by them. Maybe it’s a whole ‘Ariel/Under-the-Sea’ type thing? I popped it up on Instagram. I should post more really. I guess it still feels a bit weird using any kind of camera. Thanks Dave!

I’m a bit all over the place. But feeling driven. Motivated. I’m going to Nancy Drew the hell out of this!

I don’t know why I didn’t want to say before, but I’ve been carrying my dad’s pocket watch around with me the past couple weeks. Not sure why. It’s been my totem when I’m feeling lost. It knows the city. It belongs here. It’s from here. I’m losing my mind.

Oh, and I think something’s up with this blog. It says I have comments, but there’s nothing there…