Monday, July 21, 2014

Boyhood

We are so insanely lucky to have Richard Linklater. He is such an amazing filmmaker and really gets at the heart of what it is to be alive, what it is to be human. There is no other director right now that even comes close. Some of Woody Allen's older films definitely got it, definitely got close to the matter of what it is to be alive. Some of Eric Rohmer movies also hit the mark.

But these days, there are no other films coming out that leave me floating after I see them, so aware of what a precious thing this is, this time here on Earth.

I am still processing Boyhood, still under its spell from this past weekend. I want to go see it again as soon as possible. I want to again experience that joy in cinema that I had in the theater watching the film, that joy that I had in encountering a work of art that was really asking the big questions, asking what it all means, asking what it means to have these crazy ups and crazy downs and to be here for the shortest amount of time, about what the point of it all is.

And the point, which he shows us through his humanist style of filmmaking (because it'd be so easy to pose these same questions and have bleak, flippant answers that didn't acknowledge the seriousness of the inquiry as some method of deflecting having to grapple with the answers to these difficult questions), the point he shows us in all of this is just that - it is to have these ups and these downs and this string of slightly miserable events that will be the memories of our life - that that is the purpose. It is to take these moments for what they are, to treasure this thing because of its briefness, because of its pointlessness, to love every single moment of it, to see the crazy beauty in it all.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Everybody rise

Elaine Stritch died yesterday. As did a lot of other people.

A plane full of people, something close to 300 people, was shot down over Ukraine. A lot of prominent AIDS researchers were among the passengers, the now dead.

With the world’s attention shifted to this, Israel sent ground troops into Gaza, and yet more Palestinians were killed.

There is so much bad news lately, so much disregard for human life - people actually protesting buses of migrant children, yelling at them; insane and unpunished police brutality; planes shot from the sky; rockets fired into Israeli and Palestinian civilian areas.

There is always this stuff, but the convergence of so much of it yesterday proved particularly dispiriting. I am not sure what can be done, where to even direct my outrage to, that there are so many things to be outraged about, so many things not even mentioned here, that it leaves one feeling quite powerless against the seemingly unstoppable forces of stupidity and hate in our world.

And so I did what could be done last night. I went out for drinks with a friend last night at Marie’s Crisis. Elaine Stritch had died, this firecracker of a woman, and I wanted to hear people with joy singing some of the songs she made famous.

I don’t know what the solution is other than to approach life with as much joy and playfulness as Elaine Stritch did. There is a lot beyond my control. I can go out though and have fun and celebrate life and be surrounded by a crowd of musical theater folks all singing along to “Ladies Who Lunch,” raising their glasses again and again at the line “I’ll drink to that” throughout the song.

And I can take the song’s ending lines as an incantation, a call to arms, Elaine from the grave telling us something: “Everybody rise! Everybody rise! Everybody rise!”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Belle and Sebastian - "Tigermilk"

A couple nights ago, I cuddled with this person I was attracted to. We spent the night spooning each other and rubbing boners against each other. It didn't mean much because it was in a room with other people asleep in it and he had a boyfriend. And yet, it made so happy. I slept so good despite not getting much sleep. My body had forgotten that feeling, forgotten how happy the act of cuddling with someone made it. It's been a really long time since I have spent the night with anyone - the last time was probably in January. I think it was in a snowstorm while I was staying in the hotel I worked at. I invited this boy over who I soon became disinterested in later because that evening I realized really how young in some sense other than his actual age he was, how different we were, how there were things I could not bridge, did not want to. Anyways, we cuddled in a fancy hotel bed with nice sheets while a snowstorm raged outside. It was a beautiful moment. That was seven months ago. I think that was the last time I spent the night asleep next to someone until a couple nights ago.

My body felt this joy again, felt what a great feeling it was to cuddle with someone, to sleep against someone's body that you are attracted to. My body had simply forgotten, or done its best to. That warm press of another body in the night brought it all back though.

And so it was probably not surprising that I found myself messaging Jose as soon as I got back on Sunday from Fire Island. I wanted to experience certain feelings, certain pleasures, joys. I asked him if he wanted to see Boyhood with me this week. He said he did. And then when I suggested Tuesday, he didn't respond. And then today, Tuesday, when I messaged him again, he didn't respond again.

I already had the feeling that he wasn't into me, however today still made me sad to realize that what I thought might be the case was definitely the case, that this cute guy I liked wasn't interested. I mean, I just want to cuddle with someone and to talk to them as we drift off to sleep. And so then, despite me being in my thirties now, what one might consider an adult, someone that should be above such lines of thinking, I thought to myself (because I am human) "Why doesn't he like me?" I would say this in my head in a comical Valley Girl voice to mock the question, to mock my asking it. Still, though, I was asking it.

I am not sure what the answer is, but I thought about it a lot. And it really has nothing to do with him because he's just some guy I barely even knew, just some really cute guy that I had a big crush on. Which surely is one of the main problems, if not the only one here, the cause of any others - that I liked him too much, that I was thirsty. It shows. I am too hungry, too desperate - too thirsty for love. It's been a long time and I want things too badly now. I walked in the rain tonight because the streets were more empty than they otherwise would have been and everyone was hurrying to escape the rain. The air was impossibly thick. It was warm and the rain just slightly less so. I walked slowly to take in this physical sensation of the air and the rain, to indulge in it. When it rains hard and I am sheltered by my umbrella from other people, I like to sing out loud. And so I did so to the Prince songs I was listening to on my headphones. Buildings, the tall ones further downtown, were blurred out slightly by the rain, their lights though still giving some hint of not only their own shape, but also that of the rain and the air it passed through.

"I Contain Multitudes"

Sun, sand, booze, drugs, flesh. It was a full moon also. This past weekend, Fire Island swirled together into some hazy vision of what fun looks like.

I wandered from party to party, from Cherry Grove to the Pines, and back again, crossing through the Meat Rack seemingly countless times, that gorgeous walk, made all the more beautiful by the light being cast by the moon on the dunes.

A party was happening in the middle of the Meat Rack. Someone had hauled out speakers and DJ equipment there. Some pagan rite I seemingly stumbled upon. Inebriated naked men under a full moon dancing and having sex with one another all over the place. A fundamentalist's nightmare; my vision of what heaven might look like. Everyone was insanely beautiful and sexy. Needless to say, I stayed at this party until the sun rose, enjoying the festivities, enjoying these men.

I stumbled back to the hotel room I was crashing in with five other people and cuddled against the guy next to me. A few hours later, I was on the beach again, under the hot sun, diving under waves, and taking in all of these men around me, flirting with a few of them. There was such a current of sexuality pulsing through Fire Island - I felt electrified by it - this intense desire circulating around, felt in each passing person's glance.

I fell asleep in a station wagon on the way home. I remember stopping at a gas station somewhere on Long Island, somewhere that looked like anywhere, and I got a thing of Combos, the Pepperoni Pizza flavor. I then remember waking up at the White Castle by my house. I was let out of the car and stumbled to the burrito place by my house.

Yesterday though was when the memories of all of that fun became tempered with reality, with what it is to be a sexually active gay man in 2014, that it may be fun, insanely fun, to engage freely in some orgy rave party happening under a full moon in the middle of the woods, but that I can't do so, not to the extent I did, that even though what I did was on the lower risk end of the spectrum of unsafe sex it was still unsafe and still possibly risky. I have been meaning to go on PrEP for the past couple months but wanted to wait until I settled into a new job and got my insurance situation settled - I didn't want to start it and a month or two later figure out how I was going to pay for it. Anyways, the point is that time old tale: would have, should have, could have.

So I found myself early yesterday morning at Callen-Lorde trying to get PEP treatment. After waiting for about an hour there, they then made an appointment for me two hours later and said I might actually get seen even later. I told them that I really couldn't spend all day there since I was supposed to be at work and they directed me instead to CityMD since I had insurance.

It's really unfortunate how difficult it is to get PEP. Yes, I made a mistake, but it seems crazy to me how annoying these barriers to receiving this drug are that can prevent HIV, that for a lot of people, that commitment of time required at Callen-Lorde is probably a prohibitive barrier. Anyways, CityMD was quick but frighteningly clueless - I don't think the doctor knew anything about this treatment and she tried to dissuade me from it since I didn't have any symptoms (um, not how it works Doctor). I finally got the prescription but then had a whole other series of annoyances to deal with - namely that of my insurance company as well as my COBRA administrator. Even though I wrote a massive check to continue paying for my health insurance from my last job through COBRA, Aetna did not have me enrolled anymore, and so it was literally hours and hours while at work that I spent on the phone with various parties trying to get this fixed, which was hours and hours that I couldn't pick up this prescription for since I don't have several thousand dollars to pay the out of pocket price that pharmaceutical companies gauge the healthcare system for for HIV medication, which meant hours and hours of a delay in starting a time-sensitive treatment where each passing hour makes it less effective. 

I finally got the drug though, Atripla, and felt nauseous and slightly dizzy for most of the evening once I took it. Hopefully that side effect will wear off, won't occur when I take it again today.

There is the balancing and the rebalancing of what memories mean. These erotic memories, fun moments in the sand with a guy, are reconsidered, become something else, when you are on the phone with various people trying to get your insurance situation figured out so you can start taking a pill that makes you feel nauseous. Fun too often comes at a price. That hangover. That sense of shame. That waiting in a doctor's office. But for a moment, before all of that sets in, before those after moments occur, you are as alive, as present, and as happy as it might be possible to be on this planet when you are fucking that dude in the dunes under the light of the moon. But that means little to nothing when you are sitting on a toilet with diarrhea wondering why you can't exercise more self-control.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Beyonce - "Schoolin' Life"

I waded into the water slowly, my body shocked at first by the cold. Baby steps. I kept moving forward because despite it feeling freezing, it also felt so good. I was vaguely hungover, had gotten little sleep the night before. It felt therapeutic to bathe in the ocean, to let this cold water slap my system into a state of being awake, of being alive. Once I dove in, I felt the joy. It was cold, yes, but the pleasures were greater than the pain. Pain subsides. Keep swimming, keep moving, and you will forget about it. I played in the ocean forever, solitary swimmer, riding waves, diving under them, floating on my back, enjoying what it is to have a human body and to feel its fluid movements in a body of water.

I came out shivering and lay down next to Nik who was passed out, getting some of the sleep we didn't get the night before. I can never sleep at Fire Island, can never get much of it. I always want to be up late, chasing those parties, admiring the men, dancing to music, feeling alive, free. There were so many beautiful men everywhere you turned. There were so many beautiful moments, so many beautiful scenes, so many beautiful sounds. The sound of waves crashing just out of sight as you stumble through the Meat Rack between the Pines and Cherry Grove, dusk slowing occurring over dunes, everything insanely beautiful. Shimmering blue pools of water. Green eyes. Exposed skin. Passing smiles.

I left the party with this guy who was staying at the house I knew people at. We got into the hot tub together, everyone asleep at the house. Soon after, we were kissing, stroking each other's dicks. We moved into the shower and I was a little drunk and overwhelmed with all the beauty of that island, all the beauty with me in that shower. He had an amazing body. I kept running my hands over it through the water. I was so happy to be there, to be touching his body, to be under that stream of water.

I woke up at the crack of dawn, having crashed on the floor of their living room with massive glass windows that did nothing to hide the day's announcement of itself. I went out to meet it.

On the train ride home yesterday, exhausted, I could feel sunburn setting in. I listened to Beyonce's "Four" the whole way over and over again. I snacked on almonds and looked at the towns of Long Island we passed through. I texted some boys to see if they wanted to meet up, wanting so badly to continue having nice moments, for it never to end.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Jose

This guy came to my party a few weeks ago. I had never met him before. He came with a friend of mine. I talked to him on and off through the night. We both had bleached hair at the time. That was something we talked about. The rest I don't remember. I just remember immediately thinking he was so fucking sexy and that I wanted him.

He was at Spectrum later that same night and we danced on each other for a moment, it clear that we wanted to have sex with each other.

Last night, weeks later, I finally got to hang out with him.

It was my first "date" in I'm not sure even how long. It's so weird to meet up with someone you have never hung out with, to go to a bar and meet up with a person you don't know but who you want to know. It shouldn't be weird. It should be something I am used to at this point in my life, thirtysomething years old. But most of my romantic and sexual experiences have all been borne from some hookup, from a drunk night in a bar and going home with someone or going over to some guy's house from Scruff , and then having nice or awkward sex, either way though it soon becoming awkward because it's usually with someone I barely know, but the problem becomes that more than I wanted sex, I really wanted to know someone, and I realize, in those post-orgasmic moments, rare as they actually are in my life lately, that I confused the things, linked them so that they appeared to be the same, but I put on my clothes and head out the door because I realize I'm supposed to leave and we say let's hang out again and I am never sure if they are saying it because that's what people say or because they really want to, and I realize that I say that because I am not sure if I am supposed to say that or if I actually feel that - I go through the motions is what I am saying, and I walk back towards my house. So because of this, because most of my experiences tend toward these of-the-moment things brought forth by sexual hunger and which end the moment that hunger is sated, it's always weird to go and have a conversation with someone in a not-too-crowded bar and look at their eyes and get to know them, to try to actually connect with another human being, the thing sought unsuccessfully in all those hookups.

I was really nervous before going to this bar. But I went and he was insanely cute and I rambled about I don't know what. We sat in the corner booth at Legion against the glass windows, his back to them. A very intense thunderstorm had just ended, one of those angry summer storms, the sky unable to take all the humidity, all the heat, it just exploding, huge wallops of thunder, bright lightening streaking across the sky, fucking beautiful stuff that reminds me of so many Florida storms, those daily things I would sit through for their short duration, admiring their ability to just let things out. There were still massive flashes of lightening shooting across the sky as we sat there after the heavy rain part of the storm had passed, intense flashes, lines traced by a drunk hand at warp speed. The bar was playing nothing but Garbage for the first half hour we were there. So there all these things: this guy with his cute fucking face and adorable smile sitting across from me, every thirty seconds or so a huge flash of lightening which illuminates the sky behind him, and these songs of angst, rage, and loneliness that I used to listen to all the time in high school. There is all this stuff, this beautiful fucking stuff, and my heart is swelling with all kinds of things because I hadn't talked to a boy I liked in so long. I have chatted with them briefly at clubs shouting in each other's ears over pulsing sound, or have exchanged the briefest bits of text possible with various guys on Scruff, but there hasn't been this - this leisurely thing, to just sit and hang out and talk and see if you and another human being actually like each other.

After many more beers and many cigarettes, he came home with me. We smoked weed and I played T. Rex. We made out and didn't have sex because he didn't want to, or said he shouldn't. I just said okay and didn't question it, everyone having their reasons for things they have to do. We made out and dry humped with our shorts on. He left to go pack or something.

I have been scared to like a person. I recently realized this when I was talking to my friend Darnell on Gay Pride Day. I told him about how I literally ran away from a club a couple nights before from a guy who I liked and who had agreed to come home with me. Literally ran away from the club, back home. His reaction wasn't "You're weird" or "Why the hell would you do that?," but instead was comforting because he realized what the problem was right away: "Aw, Charlie, you're scared." And then he proceeded to tell me that I don't need to be scared to like somebody, that I am amazing and that I shouldn't be scared.

I am trying to be open, to like someone, to allow myself to feel certain things, to let down safeguards I have erected.

He is really fucking cute. It feels so good to like someone and for it to be this new thing, for it to be this awkward dance cause you're pretty sure the other person likes you as well and both of you are dancing around each other trying to see what's up, what's there.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Robyn - "Call Your Girlfriend"

It's not too late, I told myself a block away. You don't have to act like such an insane person. You don't have to sabotage things all the time. You could still go back.

I did not. I rounded more corners, made myself more safely out of sight and soon enough was home, where I fried up some eggs and soon after eating them passed out in my bed.

Earlier in the evening, I had gone to Riot, at a space very close to my house, some queer Pride party full of cuties. It was warm inside the venue. I danced shirtless, drank a very tall glass of whisky I got poured there, and every now and then sniffed from the vial of poppers I had in my back pocket.

Around four in the morning, I finally talked to this guy I had noticed as soon I got to the party hours earlier. He was cute and seemed weird in his own ways, in a way that didn't reek of the forced weirdness that is queer Brooklyn. I don't think he had any glitter on. I think he was wearing all black. He seemed distant, a little removed from the goings-on.

I don't remember who said hello, though I am pretty certain it was me. A lot of the conversation I don't remember. But I do remember that I was totally smitten talking to him. Robyn's "Call Your Girlfriend" started playing and my heart beat in pulse to the music, faster and faster. We danced around to the song. I was screaming lyrics, feeling them. "But you just met somebody new!" I was smiling. I was happy. After the song ended, I suggested to this guy, this Sebastian, that he should come home with me. He eagerly agreed to the idea. He said he just had to go tell his friends he was leaving.

Cool, I said. Just meet me outside, I'll be smoking. I said these things. I then walked out the front door and soon found myself quickly walking through the parking lot, around the corner, down the street, and around the next corner. I don't know why I do these things. I don't even know why I'm doing them during those moments. I question them even then, asking myself what I'm doing, why I'm running away, what it is I am afraid of - happiness, sex, intimacy, the chance at being human? I have no clue what the issue is.

I remembered how at one point we hugged and he cracked my back, how good that moment felt, that he felt something that needed fixing in me and with his touch fixed it. I felt really open during that moment. I remembered how dancing around to this Robyn song felt like "a moment," something full of import, that this was a person I was going to be connected to and that I would remember this particular song playing when I thought about my relationship with this person later on down the line.

I remembered how I had felt these things as I darted down empty Brooklyn streets, running away from him, running away from other things.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Erotic City

Having lived in New York for a while, it takes a lot to impress me, wow me. It's one of the problems of aging I guess, that you can only have so many first moments, that soon enough you will have experienced this before or that before or something really close to it, and you lose that wide-eyed wonder that can happen when you first encounter something. When I first moved to this city, I was wowed by most of those clubs and bars I went to, me new to the city and never having experienced anything like those places. Having gone out so many nights for years and years now, I have become dulled to nightlife's capacity to make one feel lucky to be there, someone lucky to be here, someone so fucking glad to be alive, that somehow for an evening, you made it past the gates and landed in some cool alternate universe with amazing lighting, great sound, and beautiful people.

Last night, I went to the Shade: Shame party out in some massive warehouse in the wilds of Bushwick. I had originally said that I was not going, that I hate paying covers, let alone a $25 cover. After drinking all day on the Christopher Street Piers with Nik though, who was going, and after getting a call from another friend encouraging me to go, I didn't want the party to end, and said okay.

I am so happy I did. Even approaching it, I started to get that giddy expectation that I was going to something really cool. We had to cross a footbridge elevated over some railroad tracks to get there. It added to the allure that this party was cultivating, that of some rave in a secret warehouse that you had to get directions to the day of. I paused on the footbridge, standing over these railroad tracks running between these factories in this part of Bushwick I had never been in, looking toward the city, Freedom Tower aglow and towering over that line of buildings I trace in moments when I imagine home.

My mouth dropped again when I walked through the door and was confronted with insanely amazing lighting in this amazingly huge space. The sound was fantastic, insides-jiggling, no mater where in this warehouse you were. I was blown away in a way I haven't been in years. Pondering the logistics of it all, all the insane planning that had to go into this one night to make it work, and for it to work so well, to be so amazing, the cover didn't seem like a big deal at all. It felt so good to be wowed, to feel be at an awesome party with all these amazing people, everyone dancing, everyone loose.

I was a bit high, a bit drunk, and kept chasing poppers most of the night. I saw a lot of faces I hadn't expected to see. Everyone was in a great mood and it was so nice to encounter people in such a setting.

There was a moment late in the night when Prince's "Erotic City" was played in the midst of this otherwise very dance-heavy dj set. I was the happiest person in the world at that moment. I danced and danced and felt loose, unconstrained by whatever things normally constrains one from dancing how their body, not their mind, is telling them to move. It felt so fucking good.

I walked home over the Metropolitan Ave bridge over Newtown Creek, the second bridge I stood on that evening, admiring this view over this industrial body of water, factories the main thing around, Pumps strip club a block or so ahead, last call customers hanging out front, car headlights moving down the roadway, neon signs, and the smallest little trace of daylight starting to announce itself.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Smashing Pumpkins - "Thirty-three"

About two weeks, I quit my job in hospitality. It ended a chapter of my life that had run for too long, boring its readers, boring its writer, a section that dragged on and on, unable to conclude its rambling prose. It was five years of my life. Five years ago, I was unemployed, some party-loving twentysomething who did enough odd jobs here and there to barely make ends meet. Based on a friend's anecdote about how much the S- Hotel was going to pay, I decided to apply there, knowing very little about hospitality, but liking the sound of making what sounded like a lot of money at the time. It was a strange interview experience and my lack of knowledge about hospitality paired with my life of partying all the time made me what they were seeking out, some idea of cool to help represent their hotel in its opening rather than people with any actual discernible skills relevant to working in a hotel. And because I worked with other people who just wanted to party and have fun, it was a beautiful place to work for a particular moment in my life. I had a lot of fun and time blurred, and soon enough, a couple years had passed and somehow, without me ever intending to, I was working in hospitality.

I moved to the N- Hotel a couple years ago, wanting to do something different, seeing perhaps more opportunity to grow with a hotel, wanting a change of that hectic pace that for a while I had found so exhilarating, wanting something a bit more adult, sedate. 

Somewhere in these five years, I turned 30. That was a big moment of self-evaluation for me. I became really aware of where my life was headed, that all this time had already passed and it would be so much easier for time to keep passing and me to soon enough be a grumpy hotel manager in my forties, in my fifties, grumpy because it was a job I had never set out to do, because there were dreams of other things, because I would have felt that there were skills unused.

Something needed to happen, some change. Jacob broke up with me and that further inspired these thoughts about what to do with my life. The happiness I had from being with him distracted me from the world and what I was doing (or, really, what I was not doing). With the source of this distracting happiness gone, I saw things I hadn't in a while. The rose colored glasses were gone, smashed on the street. I saw that I was some person doing a shit job I didn't really care about and which often brought out the worst in me, a defensive sassy, over-it queeniness, just a general crabbiness. 

This could not continue. At one of Nick and Diego's house parties, I met a copywriter and talked to her about her job, intrigued by it, wanting to know moret, it sounding just like what I should be doing, that it would be the best way to monetize the skills that I know have, that I am good at, skills that I would like to put to use as much as possible, even in some commercial capacity, writing copy for brands, selling the world stuff it probably doesn't need. She recommended that I look into portfolio schools as a way to build my book so I could get a job.

And so last summer, I started going to portfolio school in the evenings after work. For the past year I have been running on empty, getting maybe four hours of sleep most nights, working during the day at the hotel, going to school at night so hopefully I could someday not work in a hotel, and taking long subway rides seemingly all the time.

The hotel job ended about two weeks ago. My last day of class was about a week ago. Also a week ago, another birthday passed. Time is marching on and on, and I am scampering up behind its fast legs, trying my best to keep pace. I started interning a week ago at a big ad agency doing copywriting. The hope, the prayer really, is that by the end of the summer, I can convert this internship into a job. 

I am making my bed every morning before I leave my house from now on. Today was the second day I did so. I am finding myself really into the World Cup. I am really emotional these days and just want to hug everyone in a way that will convey my joy, my love, to these people. I am trying to be an adult. I am trying to remember to be good, to be nice, to be the human I want to be. I am trying to keep front of my mind always the knowledge that I am in charge of what I do, of where I go.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

there is graffiti on a blank billboard near the BQE saying "Know Gods Just Work"

At the courthouse downtown, I spent forty-five minutes in a security line just to get into the building. I was there to see my friend get his citizenship and was really excited for him. The line was making me very angry. For a moment, I had forgotten some of the worst aspects of this country - the exercising of power just cause, the security theater set up everywhere now post-9/11, the maze of bureaucratic bullshit that you are totally powerless against. It was worse than any airport security line I have ever been in, and this just to go to a citizenship ceremony. It made me so angry that these people who were about to receive their citizenship and their families, this really meaningful day for everyone here, everyone all dressed up, that they were corralled tightly into this maze of a line, guards yelling at everyone to tighten up the line, move in closer, turn off your phones, take off your belts. A lot of unnecessary yelling. And, of course, no one challenges this treatment because everyone just wants to be able to get into the courthouse. These guards know this and act like total fucking assholes because of it. 

Forty-five minutes after standing in the line, this line that they made a really pregnant lady and a man on crutches wait in, this line that the lady in front of me had a panic attack in and had to step out of line to sit down on the floor, I finally made it into the courthouse. My rage at the bullshit that is power in the US subsided once I saw my friend and sat with him and another friend in this massive room. It was a beautiful moment to witness and the presiding judge actually gave a really sweet speech about his own immigration story that made me really emotional.

There is a lot to love. I want to be here. I love this country. I want it to be everything it can be though and I don't know how to make that happen. I don't think anyone does. How do we step back from this security state we live in so that we don't spend 45 minutes in lines getting berated by guards, made to feel like elementary school children lining up for some fire drill? 

After the new citizens were sworn in, the entire crowd said the Pledge of Allegiance, and I don't think it had ever sounded as sweet as it did in the room. That closing phrase of "with liberty and justice for all" lingered and floated around the room, an ideal that sounded so perfect, all we could ever hope for, what this land is supposed to represent. We grasped up at the phrase, bits of a blown dandelion, trying to hold on to it. The sun was shining brightly outside the room's windows.

I bought some hair bleach after and spent hours trying to take the color out of my hair, to make it as white as possible. The result is still a bronzy yellow. 

With my yellow hair, I left my house last night, quote a bit stoned, and walked up to Spritzenhaus where it was a classmate's birthday. I made a mental note to do this more often, to walk around North Brooklyn at night while stoned. It was such a beautiful experience and I had some great thoughts. It was the best walk I had had in forever. I had forgotten one of the best benefits about warm(ish) weather, how you can get more thinking done in it, because a half hour walk outside at night isn't a big deal, isn't something that you want to take a cab through, or hurry through, huddled up in your jacket. Instead, you can walk at whatever pace matches your own mood, take in the scenes, and try to recall what used to be where this block of massive condos is now on the side of McCarren Park, that you know these weren't here when you first moved to this neighborhood eleven years ago, and that you can't recall exactly what they used to be, that your memory is fading, that even the memory of that New York is fading away. It gets harder and harder to hold on to old street maps, to remember what used to be in each of these places, each of these new fancy restaurants and bars along the stretch of Graham Avenue nearing the BQE. But then you see R Bar, a bar you had forgotten about it. It is still there. There are still some older regulars perched on barstools there. For a brief moment a decade or so ago, the bar had held gay underwear parties, and you used to be really cheap and all about any sort of free drinks, and so would go and strip down to your underwear for the free drink promised to people in their underwear. You were there with Matt, you think, back in those days, so far gone. There is a dead pigeon underneath the BQE that you almost step on. There always seem to be dead pigeons underneath the BQE.

I got to Spritzenhaus. I didn't have my classmate's number to text him and see where he was in this packed beer garden. I did one awkward circle around the bar, too stoned for any setting other than a crowded bar setting, not this everyone sitting at their tables with friends thing. Analogies to the cafeteria on the first day of school here. I couldn't see him and felt too weird and so left. I walked back home, tracing more memories, taking in the beautiful night clouds that were visible last night, passing the nail salon called Cutie Calls, there this entire time I have been in New York, entertaining me this whole time with its name, me talking back to the sign, saying, "Oh, really? I wish, but sadly he is not calling."