Wednesday, April 16, 2014

the time, having it

While I was waiting for the subway, I was reading in The New Yorker  a story about advances in fancy airline seats for business- and first-class passengers. Airlines are trying to one up each other, an arms race of luxury, comfort, and isolation, these airlines in search of these big spending passengers.

A guy, vaguely skaterish dude, came up to me. He asked me if I had the time. I looked at him suspiciously, annoyed that someone was talking to me while I had been lost in reading, also sensing some scam, some trouble. 99 times out of 100, when someone approaches you in New York, it is not anything you want to hear. And so I have learned to deflect, to avoid. They usually want something, your time, your money, your sanity, your phone. 

I was about to tell this guy that I didn't know what time it was, didn't want to take my phone out of my pocket. It's a defensive crouch that I have taken so many times on desolate streets in sketchy neighborhoods when at an hour no one needs to know the time, someone asks it of you. It comes from some not entirely ungrounded fear of being mugged. Instead, when this guy asked me, I did pull out my phone, but accompanied by an audible sigh, vaguely annoyed, and told this guy the time.

He heard my annoyance. He apologized, said that he had just lost his phone yesterday and how much it sucks not having a phone. I felt like a dickhead. I probably am a dickhead most of the time. I don't mean to be. But there are so many moments that I have closed myself off to by always being in some figurative crouch, hoping to prevent any sort of crazy from even coming near me.

The guy was really cute and really friendly. I wanted to know him, imagined that we could hang out and get a drink because it's not like he had a phone to contact any of his friends to meet up, that we could have fallen in love as we wandered Brooklyn and the night talking about phones and how sickeningly dependent we are on them and life in general. And yet I closed off to this fantasy from every even having whatever small chance at reality it may have had on some fantastical faraway land. Once I actually looked at this person, looked at his eyes, saw this human being, bothered to look away from the magazine in front of me, I saw this beautiful person, this human being, vulnerable, open, and looking to make a connection.

On the train ride home, I mulled further on my assholeness and also pondered these social changes that have occurred in my lifetime, that this person apologized for a casual approach to a stranger, something that in the time before smartphones used to be such a common occurrence, people asking other people with watches what time it was, the asking of people for directions before we each began carrying a GPS in our pockets. This is a fairly recent change. How many chance encounters have we closed ourselves off to with these technological changes? How many people will never know a happiness they may have because they never met that person who in not too far off times, would have asked them if they happened to have the time?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Taylor Swift - "Holy Ground"

It was yesterday that I really noticed. I was taking numerous selfies of myself at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Trying to select a real cute one to post on Instagram - because self-preservation isn't a full time occupation, Ani, so much as self-presentation is - I kept on not choosing photo after photo noticing striking crow's feet around my eyes in them. I am turning 33 in a couple months and so this isn't really shocking news that I am developing wrinkles around my eyes. I am going to spare you the gay panic of physical imperfections setting in more and more noticeably, of youth fading. These things happen. This is life. People age. People die. This is not another gay narrative fearing aging, fearing the loosening of one's grasp on youth, on what a large part of your culture celebrates as the erotic ideal.

And yet, after work today, were you to look, you would have found me in the aisles of Duane Reade looking at various eye creams for a good long while, reading reviews of certain ones on my phone while I stood in the aisle holding this or that brand, reading over their youth-renewing, age-defying, time-warping claims. 

I bought one of them, its claims of youth seeming the most convincing, skirting just perfectly that line where reality brushes up against fantasy. 

I got stoned tonight after class, ate a burrito, and listened to (and am still listening to) Taylor Swift, who grows on me more and more as a songwriter with each listen.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ben Harper - "Burn One Down"

I was getting a blowjob from this guy. A sunny afternoon, the middle of the day, a lazy Sunday. There were a lot plants in his apartment. It looked lived-in for decades. Out his windows were beautiful tableaus, an old New York made of West Village buildings that I could have easily been looking at decades and decades ago. I could have been getting this blowjob in the 50s, some closeted gay man, and would probably be looking at the same collection of brick buildings outside these windows as now.

I was on my back on his bed. I looked down at my own body, at my dick disappearing and reappearing. He paused and held my cock in his hand. He looked at my body in this hungry way, took the sight in. The attention made me feel really good. His eyes scanning my body felt as good as any caress from his hands. I saw in a way I don't always do what he was seeing. I was looking really good. He said, "Beautiful," and kept looking at my body. I looked it over, the sunlight coming through the window was doing my stomach some great favors, throwing shadows, making things look more defined than they are.

It was nice, an intense physical encounter. It felt really good afterward to lie back exhausted with this guy for those couple moments you allow yourself before the weight of some notion of reality forces itself upon you again. For a brief moment, the spell had yet to be broken, that joy, that pleasure, that comfort. It has such a short lifespan.

I got dressed and left. I ate a burrito. I then went to the gym to make myself something else.

After this long, long, so long, miserable winter, the sun and some warm weather made an appearance. I forgot how good it feels. Mid-April now, some trees have finally started to blossom. Most trees are still bare, ugly branches sprouting nothing but their own sadness, nothing but ours. Finally, little flowers are appearing, bits of green.

I listened to music on my headphones and walked around from here to there, from there to there. There were people in t-shits, forearms showing, men in shorts, women in skirts without tights. People were starting to blossom also. Everyone was looking so good today and I think everyone thought the same thing, everyone walking about town with smiles that just can't be helped, everyone feeling everyone and everything, a great Spring vibe that everyone was jamming to, feeling.

Life can feel this way. I forgot what temperatures in the seventies felt like, forgot how heavenly such days can be after months and months of miserable coldness. Happiness is back in town.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Missy Elliot - "They Don't Wanna Fuck Wit Me"

I walk down streets littered with memories and associations. The litter blows around the streets. Swirls of memories here and there. I tread through these, newspapers blowing against my face, events from years ago on the front page: Charlie Eats Falafel at Manna After a Sad Night at Metropolitan. There are so many layers of history for me on Grand Street and I peel through them all when walking alone down the street, up the street, headphones on. I get chills, particular moments happening again with just as much force as the first time round, and yet there being the knowledge that those moments are past, gone, things that for whatever reasons you will not experience ever again, save in the form of these pickings at the scabs of nostalgia on lonely walks. Life marches on, short thing that it is. I try to reconcile the desire to hold on as much as possible to these things with the reality of time's forward march. We are going to die. I am. This is the issue we aren't addressing when we scratch at the surface of nostalgia and recall fondly past moments, but this is what we are thinking about by doing so. This is what informs that melancholy in recalling past moments. We are mourning our own future death in these recollections.

The very first apartment I rented in New York was a sublet on Grand and Manhattan. I was there for a month or so, before heading off to another sublet, before finally settling into 424 Grand Street for four years. Those years, I was really broke and I would steal all the time from the Key Food on Grand Street, would buy a few bananas for the pocket change I found around my house while I had my messenger bag stuffed with stolen groceries. Too many nights have been spent walking to Metropolitan from various apartments over these past eleven years, the walk down Grand Street to or from Metropolitan with numerous boys, maybe with a couple of men at some points. There is a restaurant I went to with Jacob. I inhabit all these moments again as I head to Gem True Value in search of a stove-top coffee maker. They apparently no longer carry this item, something I have bought at least twice from this store over the last decade. Their shelves were looking poorly stocked. I can't imagine that Gem's life is going to last much longer and more and more this world I knew eleven years ago disappears.

The Liberty on Grand Street, another massive retail space that I bought super discounted housewares at over the past eleven years in New York, shower curtains every couple months to replace moldy ones, dishwashing soap, mops, stovetop coffee makers - this Liberty is now gone, covered by scaffolding. Some massive and ugly condo complex surely will end up there because this is the march of some idea of economic progress. It's a city tight for space so something is going to get squeezed - the discount homewares stores for instance, along with the population they serve, a population that is being decimated with an unrelenting brutality and speed by the market forces of New York real estate, by rents that become more and more outrageous for anyone not making astronomical incomes.

Yesterday evening, I realized that the Daniela's diner, small, divey thing that I had been to quite a few times, especially in my first few years of New York, was gone. I once had a really awkward first date there over pancakes. I couldn't even place which storefront, which juice bar, was now occupying its former space. Time marches on. Storefronts change and change. Bars close. Some places, thank God, are still there. There is still Gran Morelos on the corner of Graham and Grand, caked in layers and layers of memories, many drunken after-hours spent there sopping up alcohol with their amazing carne enchilada burritos, some of the best, perhaps the best, in the city of New York.

I am so happy in my new apartment. It's a really beautiful and large apartment. It is on the gorgeous street, the gorgeous time capsule of small old houses, that is Powers Street. It is contiguous with these sites of my memories. I am overlapping with moments from these past years in New York each time I walk here or there. I feel at home. I feel alive.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bob Dylan - "Desolation Row"

I could hear them last night as I tried to fall asleep, a symphony of angry roaches mourning their friend I had killed earlier in the evening.

I had been enjoying a burrito from Mesa Azteca, lamenting the approaching end to our relationship, knowing that in a week I would be outside of this particular Mexican restaurant's delivery zone. There will be a new favorite burrito delivery service certainly. There is always a new love eventually. You forget what you had with that past boyfriend. You have someone new to snuggle with at night. Or you don't, and you cling to memories of how good those burritos used to be. Knowing that there are plenty of good burrito places near my new apartment didn't make the end to this relationship any less sentimental. I looked out my window admiring the view that I would soon no longer see, tried to hold on to it, these Bushwick brick houses, the roofs of which form clean lines running toward horizons, toward far off street corners, the blocks long in this neighborhood.

That's when I saw it out of the corner of my eye, a massive roach, the kind you find in Florida, some holdover from the Jurassic era. The little ones are bad enough, but these big ones produce a terror and disgust beyond reason. I grabbed the roach spray and knocked it the floor in a stream of poisonous chemicals. Cheering on death, chanting it into being, into not-being: die, die, die.

The constant battle against roaches is something I will not miss about this apartment. The roach lying on its back, squealing in pain as it died, quickly brought to an end the mourning I had been doing about what I would leave behind when I left this apartment. I don't think I have ever heard a roach make noise before - that's how big this creature was. It made some audible high-pitched noises as it convulsed. 

And because I had had too much coffee in the evening, I lay awake, weed not putting me to sleep, Benadryl not putting me to sleep, jerking off not putting me to sleep. I heard the sound of crickets or some light squeaking noise coming from somewhere. My mind soon made this sound out to be a chorus of roaches haunting me, squealing around the edge of my bed. 

I woke up this morning to quiet. I walked to the subway. Everything was beautiful, is beautiful.

Friday, March 7, 2014

"I don't know my future after this weekend. And I don't want to."

It's remarkable how much more beauty there is in the world when things are going your way. I was walking down York Street to class a couple nights ago as I do several times a week and noticed for the first time, really noticed, how insanely beautiful the windows were of this old industrial building. I was made giddy by the beauty. Joy was building on joy, scaling higher and higher.

I found out I got this internship this summer that I really wanted. I will be doing copywriting for this awesome ad agency. For months, I have been waiting to hear about this, hoping I would get it. A couple days ago, I received word, an email, saying that I had gotten it. This means that finally after about five years of working in the hotel industry, something that was never planned and was never meant to be a career, there is an end date in sight. Most likely, I will no longer be working in a hotel by June, which makes me so incredibly happy. 

My plan is not definite and nothing is guaranteed. There are a lot of question marks and that feels really good. It has been quite a while since I haven't known what I would be doing in a couple months. I like this uncertainty. There is a thrill to it that I haven't felt in years. I am going to quit this job and work a barely paid internship, living off whatever savings I can accrue in the next couple months, as well as my mom's kindness, who has offered to loan me money if I need it. There is the lack of any job after this internship, of having given up this nice hotel job that works so well with my school schedule. The plan, if something so based on hope can be called a plan, is that I will do this internship this summer, be insanely amazing, and find a job straight from there so that I don't have to go back to school and so that I don't have to ask my job if they might re-hire me. 

I am jumping and it feels great.

The other great news I received this week is that I got the apartment that I really wanted. Diego and I signed the lease today.

Everything in New York looks so fucking beautiful right now is what I am trying to say.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Brooklyn

A couple months ago, my landlord told me he wanted me to move out of the building by April because he wanted to try to sell the building and it would be easier to do so without tenants in it.

Today, I got a voicemail from him:

"Please call me back. I have an apartment for you. Nice apartment for you. On the first floor. Almost the same money. Please call me back. 516-XXX-XXXX. Thank you. This is Spiro."

My brain nearly exploded when I listened to that.

I didn't call him back then because I was too furious. Also I had an apartment that I really wanted to see. It's a dream come true, especially after some of the other stuff we have looked at it. It's huge. It has a backyard. It's on a really cute street. It's two blocks from the Grand Street stop. It has closets. It has a seafoam green kitchen. I paid a deposit on it, but the landlord still has to approve our application.

I didn't yell at my landlord when I called him back, didn't even ask what the hell is going on, just told him I was moving in with a friend elsewhere, that I had already found an apartment

Now, I need this to be true.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Gillian Welch - "I Dream a Highway"

I was in the back of a Jeep and I watched his hands grasp the wheel, steer me, guide me. They were nice hands, fingernails trimmed, fingers of a nice long length.

Earlier, I had found myself standing up straighter when I met him, this tall, handsome guy. I was instantly smitten in a way I haven't felt in a while. It was weird.

He was the guy showing us apartments.

Diego and I started our hunt for apartments today, an exercise that has so far made me very depressed about moving and about finding something nice. I called this ad on Craigslist about this two bedroom off the Montrose stop, the stop both of had been hoping to live off of, but which is seeming far and far less likely to happen, that it is seeming very likely that we will be perhaps living somewhere off the J train instead.

Anyways, I am getting distracted here from what I originally started writing about, the realtor that showed us this apartment off the Montrose stop, Jacob. I thought it was weird to be calling a person named Jacob to inquire about an apartment off the Montrose stop, given that I lived with my ex-boyfriend Jacob off the Montrose stop - there seemed to be too much symmetry of some sorts in that.

He's so beautiful. I felt nervous, awkward, not beautiful. I was nursing this never-dying cold that has been roiling at a slow boil for the past week now, making me feel vaguely disgusting 24/7. I was also lugging around a backpack full of stuff from work for ad school that I had been doing earlier in the morning. What I am trying to say is that I was not feeling real cute, not at all.

The apartment he showed us was really cute, or at least I thought so. It was on a vibrant stretch of Graham Avenue by the J train. Diego was not having it though. Nope, he said, I think after maybe ten seconds. The bedrooms were tiny, tiny things and Diego is looking for a huge, huge room to make costumes in. Luckily, our dreamboat realtor, had a car and wanted to show us another place.

I sat in the backseat, cause I again I was not feeling real cute, and watched this guy's hands hold the wheel, listened to him talk about his job, about New York, about apartments, about the winter weather.

He showed us another apartment that Diego didn't like. And then we had an appointment with someone else to be shown another apartment. It was time to part with Jacob. I just wanted him to show us anything, even the apartment he wanted to show us off the Gates J stop. If he was selling it, I was buying it.

He told us he would hang around the neighborhood and grab a bite to eat while his other colleague showed us this apartment we had already made an appointment to see, that he could show us this Gates apartment after, just to text him and let him know. For some reason, exhaustion, sickness, and the admitting to each other that we didn't want to live off the Gates stop, we texted him back and told him we were going to pass on checking out the other apartment.

He texted me a couple times later asking if railroads are totally out of the picture and saying that if he found anything else he would contact us. And I stood on the street, giddy that a realtor was texting me about apartments, imagining that it could potentially mean something more than that, me saying, yes, please, if you hear of anything let us know. Telling him it was nice meeting him. Losing my mind outside the Associated (or as I like to call it Ass O' CIA Ted), I looked at my phone and thought about how I might ever get to be with this person, whether that would ever happen, whether any feeling that this is some charming, friendly likable person might not instead just be a work persona, what he does to close sales, that this person might actually totally hate me.

I want to get over my sickness. I want Jacob to find some apartments that both Diego and I like. I want to lie in bed with Jacob eventually in this new apartment and look at his face and lace my fingers in those I saw steering us around Brooklyn today.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Yonce

The choreographed dance moves of pop stars, a type of poetry that seems uniquely American. Watching Beyonce videos as I float through space, unmoored in some ways to conventional modes of experiencing being.

A fog of Benadryl. French people telling me they didn’t drink the wine.

Cup of coffee number two, something to counterbalance, attempt to counterbalance at least, and failing miserably in that, the somnolent effects of antihistamines.

What does it mean to watch a group of ladies move in sync with one another, blocked in neat lines? What is the source of the joy we get from such a thing? We witness humans, things we know to be imprecise, be, for the span of a pop song, precise things. The joy of pop songs, which really is the joy of life, its most magical manic moments, finds physical manifestation. We all turn on the exact same beat, no one’s timing off.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Shangri-Las - "The Train from Kansas City"

One of the coldest lines in any song ever: "I'll be back in the time it takes to break a heart."

_______

I did some work for school with a classmate this morning, from a Dumbo classroom overlooking the skyline of Manhattan. I saw wet trains glowing in the sun, these golden streaks of light moving over the bridge. The sky was a blue that made me slightly delirious; it was some form of happiness that took you in its big blue arms and shook you around. I stepped out of the house today into blue. It was after the tornado, as you walked out your door and you crossed over from your black and white world straight into that of Oz. The world was in technicolor today. Weeks of snow and freezing temperatures had rendered the world in just grays and whites. I forgot about these other colors, these other modes of feeling, the brightness to it all.

______

On a stoop somewhere in the Lower East Side, sun shining on me, the sky so blue, still so overwhelmed with these feelings brought on by a blue sky and temperatures above freezing, I ate a chicken burrito from Mission Cantina. Beans spilling all over me. Everyone was out today, the weather bringing out all of the beautiful humans in beautiful clothes enjoying what it is to live in New York City and walk around on days like today after being cocooned inside for so long and seeing all of this beauty - people, blue sky, sunlit streets, smiles on face. A sense of leisure to it all - that one didn't need to race from indoor point to indoor point today just to escape the cold. There was a lot of strolling. I walked around the city. I looked at some galleries in Chelsea. I saw many future potential husbands gallery hopping as well. I fell in love so many times today.

There was woman on 11th Avenue outside of a building, smoking, leaning against the brick wall. The scene held the light of the sun that was beginning its descent over New Jersey. Everything was gold, glowed from within, the woman, the brick wall behind her, the sidewalk we both were on. There wasn't much oncoming traffic to ruin the scene.

There were so many beautiful unphotographed photographs today.
_________

"The Train from Kansas City" is such a sad story, which, really, I guess is any Shangri-Las song. It's a story of doomed romance, of bad boys, of broken hearts. The singer addresses the song to her fiancé, telling him about her ex, how he had moved out of town but how he thought they were still together and sent her letters all the time. She says he is coming into the train station to see her. She tells her fiancé to wait, just wait, while she runs to the train station to break this guy's heart, that she will be "back in the time it takes to break a heart." Then there is the repeated and quickening chorus of "here comes the train, here comes the train" as the train and this guy approach, the chorus sounding more and more uncertain about what that means, about whether the singer is actually going to break up with the guy from Kansas City, whether she is going to have an affair with him, or whether she might actually be planning to get on train with him and run away to Kansas City. Who knows? She is a shady heartbreaker. I want to know how the story ends. Everything about the song is so great, particularly since pop songs usually don't build up a story just to end before coming to any resolution. Instead, it ends right there, right at the build-up, refusing to indulge your need for closure.