We have a balcony. I keep calling it the porch, and maybe a balcony is a kind of porch in the way that an apartment is a kind of house.
When I lived in Nashville in a rented room in a big purple Victorian house while I working on my film (2003?), every afternoon all summer there'd be a thunderstorm of Biblical proportions -- you wonder why they're so Bible-obsessed in the South? It's the weather -- and I'd take a break from logging footage of my life falling apart and watch the deluge from a big wicker chair on the wrap-around porch. The thunder could make me actually jump -- one time the lightning struck so close it split a tree right across the street.
When I lived in Austin on East 15th St. with J, there was usually no place I wanted to be more than the porch. In the afternoon when the 100-degree heat felt sexy as long as you stayed in the shade with a cold beer and didn't move a muscle. In the evening when it cooled slightly and the air was thick and swampy like a ghost story.
Here, our balcony overlooks the grounds of the co-op complex and a small playground. In the afternoons, there are dozens of children playing, their parents and grandparents sitting on benches watching them. They are mostly Jewish as far as I can tell, and I assume conservative (in the general sense, not the theological sense) from the way they are dressed and from the way that the playground clears out at about 5:30 because they all, I'm guessing, go inside to eat dinner as a family. There's something, at least from a distance, very appealing about such an old-fashioned way of life.
I read 25 pages today, which is a personal triumph. I haven't been able to read lately, now that I'm not commuting every day. I miss that 2 1/2 hours of built-in reading time, but that's not the only thing preventing me. I just can't stay awake. I never sleep well, have never slept well, but for the first few days here, I did sleep through the night and thought things had changed. I think it was just fatigue from moving. Now I'm back to the usual waking up every 30 minutes or so, lying awake for long stretches in the middle of the night, and usually waking up completely an hour or so before the alarm goes off.
After several days of not being able to read more than 3 or 4 pages without falling asleep, I decided to try napping. The last 2 days I've taken an hour nap after lunch. It's magic. Now I can read without falling asleep. I'm reading The Power Broker, a biography of Robert Moses -- which, despite the fact that it's like 8,000 pages long is kind of a page-turner, and when I can keep my eyes open it's quite entertaining and fast-paced.