Friday, August 29, 2014

Kurt Vile - "Girl Called Alex"

There were a lot of hairs. They were long. A unibrow was starting to take shape. Somehow this had gone unnoticed. I usually pluck these hairs well before it gets to this point. I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror this morning, groggy, tried to shake myself out of this grogginess I've been feeling for weeks of being unemployed now. It had come to this. I have apparently stopped caring about things I normally would, had failed to notice myself, had perhaps done so intentionally, perhaps wanted to forget myself.

I started tweezing hairs away, making two eyebrows, sending the fighters back to their respective corners, pulling them off each other.

That's when I noticed ear hairs as well, a lot of them. I have been failing a lot lately. This was proof.

I have been unemployed for about three weeks now, probably long enough for these hairs to grow wild, untamed. New York is getting the better of me these days. I want to win. I want to beat this city. I don't feel like I have ever felt solidly in control of this city. To keep with this fighting analogy, it's been a gritty backyard wrestling match amongst school boys. For the better part of my time here, I have been pinned to the ground, the city yelling "Say Uncle!" There have been moments where I have squirmed my way out from underneath and managed to pin the city, have felt for a moment, sometimes even moments, that I was in control, that I had the city pinned, that I would emerge victorious. But usually the city, stronger thing that it is, usually quickly flips things again and has me pinned again, shoving my face into the grass.

I honestly have no clue what my future holds. I am unsure how I am going to pay my rent this month without overdrawing my bank account. I thought things would be easier. I didn't really plan for this. I somehow imagined after interning at an ad agency this summer, I would easily get hired at one. The process is a lot more drawn-out and time-consuming than I had imagined. And so I applied at a temp agency, but so far they haven't had any short-term assignments for me. They offered me a month long job, which I was nervous about taking because I had been hopeful that I would get a job at an agency soon, but now I am realizing I probably should have taken it.

I have been eating way too much pasta, way too many bagels, way too much peanut butter. Once I finally get steady income, I never want to eat these things again. I have been drinking too many three dollar bottles of Trader Joe's wine, which, let's be honest, I will probably continue to drink once I have steady income.

Diego and I are taking on a third roommate, renting out our living room for a couple months, which has eased my stress about rent somewhat.

I have been striking out with boys I like left and right, which has just been adding to this feeling that the city is piling on me right now, wanting to kick my ass, and to do so in a way that leaves me humiliated. The city has taken my shoes and thrown them over telephone wires, told me to walk home barefoot. Some boys do appear to like me, though they tend to be 21 years old or so, and I am too old for that. Everyone is too old for that, even 21 year olds.

The summer is coming to a close. I am noticing now I need to clip my nails as well. This, as most acts of grooming are, is a metaphor.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Lucky

Last night, I stumbled back to my house from a friend's place in Greenpoint. Stumbled not so much because I was tipsy, which I was after watching the VMAs, but stumbled because I had injured my foot at a rooftop party on Saturday and have been hobbling around since.

I stopped into the bodega by my house and ordered a roast beef sandwich on a roll and chatted with the guy that makes the sandwiches there, Lucky. I probably have had more meaningful conversations with him than a good majority of the people that I consider to be friends. He's there every single night working the overnight shift. He has seen the entire spectrum of Charlie wasted, from just a little tipsy to an absolute mess. He is the sweetest guy and we usually end up talking about life in broad strokes.

He asked me if I am always so happy since usually I am smiling quite a bit I guess when I talk to him. I said that, yes, usually I am pretty happy and like to laugh a lot. He said he's pretty much the same way. He told me about how when he was a kid, his mom used to ask him why he laughed all the time. He would laugh about everything and his mom would say: Why do you do this? However, he told me that he isn't always happy, that there are moments when he also is really sad and doesn't laugh and people don't understand that either. For instance, he said, that recently his sister's husband had died and he was very sad about that, that it showed just as visibly on his face as a smile.

We talked about how the two come from the same place, the happiness and the sadness, that they really aren't that different at all.

I went home and ate a roast beef sandwich.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Adventures in Umemployment; or, Making Absurd Songs in GarageBand

Roisin's Italian EP

So that nice, cute guy that slept over last weekend? I texted him on Tuesday telling him I wanted to hang out with him again, that he should come over and get stoned with me some night, or something. And his reply? Deafening silence. 

His reply was to not reply.

I am beginning to realize I am a terrible judge of knowing when someone is into me. I thought there was some nice shared moment, something cute, that this person definitely wanted to hang out again. Wrong. Alex Trebek buzzes that buzzer to let you know you have said the incorrect answer and says "Oh, I'm sorry," his face contorting in pain that you were so wrong, that you were so oblivious of your wrongness, answering your wrong answer so confidently. 

So maybe I'm not going to win Jeopardy, but that's okay. I'm playing the game and that is all that matters. I am trying to make myself more vulnerable, to verbalize what I want, to go after it. And that's part of life, of playing the game - getting the answer wrong. But there are more questions out there, more chances to get it right.

I hung out with this guy, Sebastian, last night. We had chatted on Scruff briefly before I invited him over. He was cute, charming, and new to the city. He was in his early twenties, another guy probably too young for me to be hanging out with. After some talk about something or other, we started kissing, took our clothes off, had sex. We held eye contact as we fucked, saying yes and more and this feels great with our eyes only. Afterwards, we lay next to each other, dripping sweat on to my sheets.

We then moved to my roommate's room so we could smoke out his window. We sat there drinking wine, smoking cigarettes, and talking about our lives. These moments of connection are all I want and they are so nice when they occur. 

The moment expanded. A woman who lives a couple doors down walked past the open window that we were sitting in front of and said hello and introduced herself. We chatted for a bit through the window before we invited her in to join us. The three of us hung out in our apartment, drinking and chatting about past histories. 

It was a great New York night, having this nice evening hanging out with two people I didn't know even just several hours earlier.

My neighbor eventually left. Sebastian had to leave soon as well. We kissed goodbye by my door, which led to fucking goodbye by my door.  

It was raining. I gave him an umbrella for his walk home.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gilberto Gil, "Tenho Sede"

I rode the subway by myself yesterday out to the beach. I read from a book I have been reading, Long Division, but more so, I didn't read from it. I enjoyed that luxury that you have on long commutes alone, losing one's self in a particular type of thought that really only seems able to breed in these circumstances, moving through space and time in some vehicle, somehow these conditions making everything (appear at least) to make more sense. You can sketch out, in ways you hadn't been able to earlier, the contours of your life.

Soon though, I was on the beach with friends. I was so much happier to see them because I felt more secure, more aware of who I was, after that subway ride alone, that quality time I had been able to spend with myself.

I drank a lot of vodka and swam in the water and talked to people in the sun about Walt Whitman and mole people.

Everything took on the blur of those best summer beach days in the city, alcohol combined with the effects of the sun, for making everything have that beautiful mellow glow. Cares of other lives, lives other than this one now on the beach, seem so distant. There are few better experiences of freedom than to spend the day at the beach. It felt so good. Soon, it was evening and I was riding in the back seat of a car, somehow finding a ride home. The drive home was beautiful through various neighborhoods. At some point we were driving north on some road - I know this because to my left was as we passed each block, the beautiful view of a sunset happening perfectly at the end of each road. I kept waiting until we got to the next corner so again I could view the bright red setting sun lining up perfectly down every block.

I ate some food and then went over to Nik's house. We pre-gamed there and then went to Spectrum. The blur of the beach, a hazy playfulness to the day, continued into night, into the city again. Beach vibes all day and night.

I was introduced by a friend to this guy, N. We have been introduced once or twice before, mutual friends in common, however I was excited for some re-introduction because I've always thought he was cute. So I smiled at him as we were introduced. I looked at him for probably a few moments longer than that of polite friendliness, saw in his eyes something that told me it was okay, that he was looking for a couple moments longer as well. I smiled at him again and we talked about the beach, about his sunburn. He showed me a picture he took of his backside, so you could see the tan lines of the burn, could see his cute ass.

And I don't know what else happened in that bar, who was there, what music was playing, anything. At that point, everything but this guy faded away and I just wanted to keep talking to him, to keep this ball in the air, having so much fun talking to this cute guy. I remember at some point some guy I used to be into a lot recently and who blew me off multiple times came to say hi to me, but I ignored him because I didn't want to stop this conversation, this moment. N asked if I lived nearby. I said I did. I asked him if he wanted to come over. He said he did.

At my house, we drank wine, smoked weed, and talked about Roberto Bolano and science-fiction. He is so fucking sexy.

When he left my house this morning, I smiled. It was my first time having sex with someone in my new apartment, which is not that new. My bedroom has finally been broken in. It was really nice to have a guy in my bed next to me, to sleep against someone. And so I smiled for those reasons, yes, but on top of that smile, there was another one, happy to have slept with this particular person, this nice and cute dude.

After he left though, a hangover started to set in more and more. Beach vibes came to a scratching halt. I slept off some of my hangover. I ate Mexican food. I read Walt Whitman and paranoid lunatics and committed dreamers on Twitter. I listened to Gilberto Gil. I ate more Mexican food.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Gilberto Gil - "Sandra"

I am unemployed. This is the first time I have been in this position in at least five years. In the recent past, I have left one job for another for another. The future has always been a bit more known over the past several years. I forgot how stressful and terrifying it can be to not know what your next job will be, whether anyone will hire you, how long that will take, and all while you have little money in your bank account.

I am being positive about it because I do think there is something to that, to manifesting the life you believe you will get, that life sometimes is just a game of confidence. Perhaps a more apt analogy is that it is a game of chicken. Whichever. Hold the wheel steady, look straight ahead, and floor it. The future is what you make of it.

On Thursday, I said goodbye to the people I interned with this summer. I tried not to cry. I could feel it coming, that quivering bottom lip. I made my goodbyes quick. Out on the street, it hit me that I had nowhere to go the next day, no job lined up, no clue what I would be doing. My eyes started watering and I held back tears as I walked through midtown crowds. I wasn't sure if I was sad about likely never seeing some of those fellow interns again who I had become so close to or whether it was some terror of what my future might be, or more likely some combination of the two of those.

I swam in the ocean yesterday. I floated on my back, feeling free and unencumbered by the concerns of land. I rode waves in and then swam back out because that's where I wanted to be, in the weightless depths of the Atlantic, bobbing around, hopping over waves and feeling some satisfaction in how well I could do so, obstacles nothing, easily overcome, dove under, jumped over, and ridden on top of to the shore.

Tuesday, there is a recruiter fair that I am going to and hopefully I will hear good new from an agency this week. There is the waiting for the waves to come. I want to ride them. What scares me are those moments when there aren't many waves, when you are in the water just waiting and waiting for one to come. I like the action, the movement, the reaction, the decision about how to approach each wave. I've got my fingers crossed and my swimsuit on. I am looking away from the shore.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Free Fall

Maybe it was good that the movie was so miserable. Maybe it was good that its view of gay life so bleak. Maybe had it been some charming, romantic movie showing all the joy in life, I would have been miserable. I probably would have cuddled up with my pillow and wished for something like the thing on screen, sad because it is currently absent in my life.

But the movie, Free Fall, instead played up how hard, how difficult, how miserable gay life is. And it is in some places for a lot of people, yes, but it just seemed way off for a movie taking place in present day Germany. I grew up watching movies like this, gay-themed movies from the 90s too numerous to count, too unmemorable to even remember by name, in which the gays get their comeuppance, in which they suffer because of their sexuality, racked with guilt as they struggle to accept themselves, shunned by society and loved ones, unhappy endings all around.

Are we really still making movies like this?

The year is 2014. Where is the joy? Where is the fun? Where is the sense of play? I know that there are some movies out there that depict this but then to come across this movie, which has good reviews and which several of my friends have been recommending, I get really confused and I get really angry.

But it just means I need to depict the world I know. There is such a beautiful gay world out there that I get to participate in. I am so happy to be gay and to get to participate in this gay Brooklyn life, to have such amazing friends. Life is fucking awesome and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" - The Smiths

The human body - its wants, its needs - I am not sure where the line is between those two, though am certain that there probably does exist some line, as porous as it likely is to be.

Friday night, I partied hard. I went to some party at a club out in Bushwick. As soon as I got there, I saw a certain someone that I have been trying not to have a crush on any longer, my lack of success with him making me feel insecure and slightly crazy. He was flirty and cute as hell. He immediately came up to me and started talking in some intimate manner that confused me but also made me happy, made me think that this person actually did like me, that I could hook up with him, that we could have some cute romance. Really, though, the reason he was talking to me was because the party wasn't that crowded yet, that there weren't yet other people willing to give him attention. He wanted attention, and I was too willing to be that person who gave it to him, smitten yet again.

At some point our nights diverged and I went to some rooftop party with friends. I got further drunk, further high, and danced to music on some old rooftop that I imagined collapsing under the weight of so many people. I danced as the sun came up. I talked to some cute boy unsuccessfully, some boy apparently with a boyfriend. I left the party with my friends soon after daylight started to appear. They were going to take a taxi back to their apartment and try to find a bodega still selling booze. I said goodbye, wanting to walk home and enjoy the sunrise.

It was such a beautiful walk. The sky kept on getting more and more beautiful, purple into pinks into fiery reds, explosions of color on the eastern edges of the sky, glimpsed down the ends of blocks, glimpsed over high school football fields, glimpsed under overhead subway tracks.

And because my body had all those wants that night, the desire to party until daybreak, it had a lot of needs on Saturday, needs that perhaps might have been wants, again the line never too clear. I slept a lot and lied around the house for too long. I chatted with the crush on Facebook even though I shouldn't have, said it was nice to run into him at that party. He was at work and had gotten barely any sleep. He mentioned wanting to cuddle. He said he would text me later in the day and we could hang out and watch movies and cuddle. And I wasn't expecting him to necessarily text, had my doubts he would, but certainly hoped he would, and definitely was disappointed when he didn't. My body then told me it needed pizza, which might have been a want, but my body was absolutely demanding it, saying it needed it. A hungover body is in some ways what I imagine a pregnant body to be: having very particular demands that it insists it needs.

I ordered Domino's and listened to the Smiths and watched an eighties teen movie. My body wanted this other body next to me, believed it needed it. I ate pizza instead and listened to one particular Smiths song again and again, feeling slightly sorry for myself. The song title was what I wanted to tell myself, that the story was too familiar, this frustrated longing, this tease of him saying we'd hang out, not hearing from him, and for some reason still hoping for different results. That I know how the story goes and yet I keep thinking it will play out differently.

So please, go ahead, stop me, stop me. Stop me if you think you've heard this one before.

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!”