Friday, December 31, 2004

This evening, I walked around Williamsburg, chasing the setting sun towards the river, giddy, chasing that 2004 out of town, blowing smoke in its face, pushing it out of mine.

It felt so awesome to watch the beautiful red ashes of this year flare across the sky, knowing that it is over. Normally, I never get to excited about New Year's. In the past, I have not really had reason to desire such drastic change, the hope that a new calendar year could provide. But I am quitting the Strand, starting over. 2005 is going to be a Strand free year except for the one day I am going in, Sunday, to quit. I really feel like things are going to happen, not really sure what, but just different things, and this has me so excited. This year, 2004, I was in a coma, and I am coming out of it. These are the rays of light this year still somehow managed to provide, the rays of light that helped guide me, that encouraged me not to give up, and to continue to revere art and art-making. Thank you all of you.

1. Yayoi Kusama at the Whitney Biennial and at Robert Miller
2. Queer Fist's RNC actions and all those groups that livened up the march
3. On Kawara at David Zwirner
4. Philip Roth
5. Hernan Bas at Daniel Reich
6. The Patriot Act performing in Erin's backyard. Your friends make art, people you know. You do. You can.
7. Le Tigre's Halloween show
8. Bjork's Medulla
9. Destroyer's Your Blues
10. Bruce LaBruce's Raspberry Reich

Things not from this year that I discovered this year and that have sustained me: Joan Didion, John Cassavettes, Studs Terkel, David Wojnarowicz, the Shangri-las, Marcel Proust.

Things that totally sucked about this year: the Strand (see every entry from this past year), my dad, being dumped for kissing a dog, acne, getting mugged, people thinking insincerity, aviator glasses, and studded belts make you cool. See you later, fuckface, 2004.
There is always something pathetic in a man's desiring of another man. I wish this were not so, and wish it were not such an easy generalization to make, but seriously, even when a gay male likes another gay male, things can never go right, the crushee is filled with rejection (before it has occured), with guilt, and with crushing doubt. Why is it that our earlier method of desiring straight males, as erotic objects we can never have, that would never like us - why is it that we (that I, and many people I know, but mainly I), why is it that we replicate these same methods of desire when we are attracted to a homosexual, filled with frenized panic to the point where the crushee could never like you because you are a pathetic mess?

I started reading Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty today, and I cringed with how familiar the feeling was when the protaganist desired his straight male friend:

Sometimes Toby [the crushee] would have come back, and there would be loud music in the drawing room; or he was in his father's study at the back of the house making international phone calls and having a gin-and-tonic - all this done not in definace of his parents but in rightful imitation of their own freedoms in the place. He would go into the garden and pull his shirt off impatiently and sprawl in a deckchair reading the sport in the Telegraph. Nick would see him from his balcony and go down to join him, slightly breathless, knowing Toby quite liked his rower's body to be looked at. It was the easy charity of beauty. They would have a beer and Toby would say, "My sis all right? Not too mad, I hope," and Nick would say, "She's fine, she's fine," shielding his eyes from the dropping August sun, and smiling back at him with reassurance, among other unguessed emotions.

And with that passage, as spartan as it is with regards to the desire of Nick, I had horrible flashbacks to the same sort of pathetic adoration of straight males, thought to Shane Riley, to Mark F, to Keith, even thought to how I had the same sort of pathetic desire even towards fags, Ben Haber, Evan, and Christopher. Christopher, who I ran into tonight at the Metropolitan and who is the provocation of these thoughts here on desire - the provocation even though I did not exchange one word with him. And probably because of this, because we did not talk, my desire was allowed to bubble to insane proportions and I felt this pathetic feeling. I was sitting outside listening to Peter and Joe when I saw him come outside. I stared at him unseen, sighing with longing. The sight of this normal looking boy inspires the most intense longing in me, the type that makes me feel like a total pathetic loser. Tonight, the feeling of pathetic was amplified because I had written him a long gushing e-mail a while ago which he never responded to and I was embarrassed that this person, that any person, but this person especially, whom I desired so much, did not desire me also, that he never even bothered to reply to the e-mail. I don't understand, surely it must be, because he shows disinterest in me, that I want to melt into the ground at the sight of him. He is beautiful sure, but not especially so, nothing to make me be such a frenzied maniac at just the sight of him. Surely, if anything ever happened with him, the desire would vanish, my calm would be restored, and he would be just christopher, not [in the most swooning drawn-out voice possible]: C h r i s t o p h e r !

And I wanted to leave after I was done with my beer but was convinced to stay for another one, and the whole time I was drinking it, all I could think about was Christopher, and when I was done with that beer, I left the bar and Christopher was standing by the door, and I walked as slowly as I could up to the doorway, hoping he would say hello, say something, but he kept talking to his friend, and said nothing, and I made it out the door and walked home, the entire time, hoping for something cinematic to happen. But boys that don't like you don't come following you down the street, calling out your name, saying wait-up. But that could not stop me and my brain heavily influenced by too many romantic comedies, and so I kept turning back around, hoping to see him coming after me - someone that all night, did not even seem to notice I was in the same bar as him. And after one more time looking down the street before I stepped into my building, I closed the door behind me and felt so low, so pathetic, always the person desiring, always the bridesmaid and never the bride, but worse - I don't know. I know that my methods of desiring other males is skewed and I don't know if there is a way to adjust, am wondering if there is a point, if not most of the eros springs from this feeling of loserness. This is the pleasure they refer to as masochism. And I am gay, and this makes me so typical.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I don't know what I am doing, and it feels so, so good. I have known what I am doing for too long. For two years I have known that I am going to wake up and go to work at the Strand. I have known that I have to leave my house at around 1:15 everyday to get to work mildly on time. I have known that every Friday, I would receive a check for just under the amount of 250. I don't want to use the word "comfort" here because it implies some sort of poshness that my wage did not enable, some sort of happiness that the indignities of the job did not enable. I have been experiencing discomfort from the comfort of knowing what I was going to do everyday. Really, there may be about only more week of work at the Princeton Review and Monday is going to be my last day of work at the Strand, and I have no clue what the future holds, but I believe that things will work out, that I will have enough money to sustain myself when I don't have any work.

And I am daydreaming. The very real possibility of financial insecurity looming is leading me to dreams of various jobs, leading me to think, just to use a portion of my brain that has been anesthetized by not having to worry about what I am going to do with myself. At the record store tonight, I flirted with the cashier and I think this means something. I am so happy, so elevated and am not giving a shit, am loving just walking down the street in my blue peacoat and swinging my arms feeling like Sarah Jessica Parker's character or Mary Tyler Moore in the opening credits, just a girl going against the city and coming out on top.

I am not one that is big on regrets, but man, I am wondering how much more I would have experienced, what other menial jobs I might have had, how much happier I would have been, if I would have done this earlier. And still, I am not sure that it really is going to happen. I have still yet to tell the Strand, but I am so sure of my decision, am on the schedule all next week at the Princeton Review, and man, I just can't even believe that I am about to jolt my routine so much. It is so exhilarating. For two years, I have sat on my hands and the part of my brain that dreams of running away and schemes atrophied, and blood is flowing into it again for the first time in a while. Like when your foot falls asleep and you have to jump and shake your foot to get the blood going back through it, and you wiggle it and are so happy to get some blood moving through there again. That is my giddy organ right now.

I have been downloading old girl pop: Shangri-las, Brenda Lee, the Ronnettes. And yeah, some Mariah in there also. I don't know why, maybe cause I am a fag, but I don't think so, right now, this sense of freedom, this joy of doing my own thing, is only finding expression in female pop songs. What is it about the female voice and why do so many gay males love it? (see The Queen's Throat). I want to avoid reductionist psychoanalytic stuff that will point to gender longing, and instead point to the perhaps patronizing notion it is because I identify with the female assertion that is occurring (yes, even the Ronnettes are asserting independence by stating their desire) in a culture that has not allowed for it much, is the thing, this giddy assertion of independence, reveling in this world, and I don't know, I am tired, have had a few glasses of wine, and just watched two episodes of Sex and the City on TBS, so there are reasons, but this is true: that I am excited, I am quitting the Strand, and I am tossing that hat, that beret (right?) into the air, giddy and a little wowed that I can do it, I can.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

This should say something about something

So I just read that Susan Sontag died, and I let out a large gasp of shock. Fifty thousand people died in a wave and I let out no gasp, dismayed as I was by the news. I am reading Butler's Precarious Life right now, which talks about this, about how some lives come to be greivable and others don't and am feeling a mild disgust with the way my brain has come to process certain news items.

I am at the Princeton Review now and have been told of a glitch to my plan, have found out that there is probably only about another week's work of work here until March. I still think I am going to try to quit the Strand right after New Year's.
It depends on where you focus your eyes. See, at first, I had them focused on the blur of trees lining the road as we drove to the airport this morning as the sun was just about to rise. And really what I was looking at was the moon, and hopefully you saw it last night or this morning and can relate, can understand how cartoonish this full moon was. I kept imagining that it would start talking and say hello to the cows or something, so big and so yellow and so low to the ground it was. But yes, first, my eyes were focused on the foreground and it looked as though the moon which was behind the trees was racing along to keep up with our car. We kept going past more and more trees and the moon kept racing to stay even with us, also speeding past all these trees.

Then I refocused my eyes toward the office building farther back which stayed as a steady referece point, and because it did, the moon did also. It was sitting still now, just waiting to be outshined by the rising sun. Now what does this mean that our perception is so mutable? That we can see the moon as a speeding object or a static one? Is one better? Or is it better the awareness of that other to put in perspective the one? It is just where I focus these eyes that will determine what I see, what I feel.

It's easy when your eyes are presented with a frame of view that you have been conditioned to appreciate. There were lots of these frames, just about every time I was in the car either seemed to be at sunrise or dusk and there was that full moon and we drove along the Potomac to get to my aunt's house last night and saw the sky reflecting off the river. These things, easy. But every day, I am presented with things that are not as easy to process as beautiful, but more importantly, what I want to start training my eyes and my brain to do are to see things as flux, as chaos. I want to find objects to focus on to make static things mutable.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

It depends on where you focus your eyes. See, at first, I had them focused on the blur of trees lining the road as we drove to the airport this morning as the sun was just about to rise. And really what I was looking at was the moon, and hopefully you saw it last night or this morning and can relate, can understand how cartoonish this full moon was. I kept imagining that it would start talking and say hello to the cows or something, so big and so yellow and so low to the ground it was. But yes, first, my eyes were focused on the foreground and it looked as though the moon which was behind the trees was racing along to keep up with our car. We kept going past more and more trees and the moon kept racing to stay even with us, also speeding past all these trees.

Then I refocused my eyes toward the office building farther back which stayed as a steady referece point, and because it did, the moon did also. It was sitting still now, just waiting to be outshined by the rising sun. Now what does this mean that our perception is so mutable? That we can see the moon as a speeding object or a static one? Is one better? Or is it better the awareness of that other to put in perspective the one? It is just where I focus these eyes that will determine what I see, what I feel.

It's easy when your eyes are presented with a frame of view that you have been conditioned to appreciate. There were lots of these frames, just about every time I was in the car either seemed to be at sunrise or dusk and there was that full moon and we drove along the Potomac to get to my aunt's house last night and saw the sky reflecting off the river. These things, easy. But every day, I am presented with things that are not as easy to process as beautiful, but more importantly, what I want to start training my eyes and my brain to do are to see things as flux, as chaos. I want to find objects to focus on to make static things mutable.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I am going to work, and straight from there to an airport, and from there to my mom's house where I will be until Sunday. So see all of you later and have a happy life.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Okay, remember when I was talking about Gwen Stefani and the inexpressable qualities that pop music has, the power it has over us - wondering about why it was so good, if it really was, or if this was just evidence of our mystification. Well, today, Pitchfork lists Annie's "Heartbeat" as the #1 single of the year, and so I read their review of Annie's album, and this, this review is what you are going to read right now:

This reviewer says everything I half-wanted to say about the joys of pop music and says it so well. I am listening to Annie right now, and predictably appreciating it far more now that I have read Pitchfork's praising of it. It has been on this computer for a while, downloaded by Jillian, and I never paid it too much mind, but I am a whore, and now like it. The word that keeps coming through my head when I am trying to verbalize pop music is delirious - it just makes me lose my shit in a crazed, happy way. Fills me with joy. Is anyone else surprised that Destiny's Child's "Lost My Breath" isn't on this list? And not one of those awesome "Medulla" tracks made this list, what?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The storm came. [See last sentence of last entry.] It is snowing! Snow! La, la, la, I love snow, it makes me so happy. Yes, it does. Seeing it blow across the street, I think of Mad Max, a reference Nick made about how he felt like Mad Max driving across the desert, during this horrible snow storm we were driving through in New Hampshire. The analogy has never left me, it was probably always there inchoate, but now every time it snows, I am a desert wanderer, things are new. It looks so pretty passing slowly across the halo of streetlamps. Snow! La, la, la.
Remember that time when you weren't neccesarily down, but not up, just not feeling it, and a little bored with anything that this world offered, thinking that this world doesn't really have those things, or at least not for you? And I was like, no, no, don't you see, everything is great - what more could you want than this. It is cloudly, but so what? There are clouds! How is that for amazing. And I went on and on, giddy, drunk on joy, trying to make you see what I was seeing, trying to cheer you up, rally your spirits, and bring you forth into the world I knew.

Well, I am not sure if right now, I want you telling me those things because they might irritate me and make me more miserable, and no, I am not miserable, but not there, where I have been, and where I was telling you about, and I haven't felt it in a while. I sometimes will get flashes, this morning in the grocery store, laughing to Peter about something, but they go fast and don't come too often. I don't know what it is, what to do, to ride these waves out, or to do some rain dances, force a storm.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

I live like a fucking pig! I really, really did want to try to write a piece of criticism about John Haskell's American Purgatorio but cannot find the book that I just finished up yesterday in my bedroom somewhere. Now, it is not like like I live in a palaital suite where this might be understandable. My room is maybe six by ten. Maybe. It is fucking tiny, and so my inability to find a book in this space is driving me fucking crazy. There are piles of clothes everywhere, blocking the door from opening, on the floor there, under the bed - so much crap everywhere. Do you remember how bad Bonnie's room was? Or how bad Rebecca and Sara May's fishbowl was? It's like that except eight million times worse. I have to clean up and organize. I lose books so often in that mess. There are old newspapers thrown aboutm, fliers handed to me on the street, crap from my pockets. It is a firetrap waiting to set me ablaze. I am going to check out the book from the Strand tomorrow and this will be my homework assignment for tomorrow night, to write a nice critique of the book, to be intellectually engageed with what I am consuming.

My stomach feels so nice. I did sit-ups today, which I never do, and you know how when you exercise for the first time in a long time, your muscles feel sore. That is how it feels, like the day after good sex. I love this feeling. Exercise is the new internet.

Friday, December 17, 2004

went to the drugstore, fell down on my knees

I have had the last two days off. I go back to work tomorrow and now it is that moment of "Fuck, what I have done with myself?" during the twilight of my free time. Yesterday, I left my house to go to the grocery store and spent the day eating junk food and reading. Today, much of the same except I went and did some Christmas shopping.

Yesterday, I finished American Purgatorio and I had had plans to be a little reflective about it and maybe I will when I finish writing this, but you see within minutes of finishing it, I started Griel Marcus' Mystery Train, which is about rock and roll and America, and the idea of America, something I am a little obsessed with - notions of America, and I am loving it. I read the chapter on Robert Johnson today and am now listening to him. I also picked up Artforum and The New Yorker while I was supposed to be picking out gifts for family members.

I have such a hard time thinking about other people and what they might like. Really, when it comes down to it, I am totally and hopelessly self-centered. I realized that I could not for the life of me think of what my mom or my sister might like. I could only think of things I would like or do like, and thought about getting them a CD by this artist because I really love them and they should too. I have no concept of what might be considered objectively good, just what I know to be. Going shopping for other people is a repressed, a stifled shopping for yourself.

Anyways, I want to suggest that you guys drop five dollars and pick up this Winter Fiction issue of The New Yorker like I did today. By yourself an early Christmas present. It's Table of Contents are all writers I love. There is this essay by W.G. Sebald that is beautiful and meandering as all his stuff tends to be. Do you remember that episode of The Simpsons where the town of Springfield decided to take on Nelson and the bullies, and even Grandpa Simpson is enlisted. He gathers up other old folks and their weapon is pointless storytelling that quickly loses its point, jumps from one subject to the next with a long aside about who this was, and who his mother was, and what his mother said this one time at a dance to his uncle about the school, which was under construction at the time... Do you remember that episode because that is what WG Sebald reminds me so much of, and I love it. The effect is has is to sort of set you off on your own string of daydreams, thinking about past things much like his narrators. Supposedly another one of his books is going to come out posthumously this spring, and I think this may be included in that book. But yes, the issue is worth the cost just for new Sebald, but it also has AM Homes, Chris Ware, Ian McEwan, Dave Eggers, and Edward P. Jones.

Dara, my roomate, just told me that last night at karaoke, Matt and Kevin were there, and that Matt was really cute and sang cute songs. I am not sure I needed to know this. I had sort of considered joining her and Niki for the free pizza. I am glad I did not. Dara is moving out at the end of January. Jaymay is probably going to move in. I have been daydreaming a lot. My lips are chipped. I am going to Virginia on Wednesday. My hair is getting long. I love it. It is the one thing that keeps me happy, being able to twirl it nervously, or pull it stressed.
It is a cold, cold day here in New York. I have done nothing I wanted to do today. I ate nachos, and read from The New Yorker. How many strings of these days after occur before the climax occurs, before I am inspired enough to do the things I tell myself I want to do.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Labor has lost again. My co-workers voted tonight on the contract offered to us by the Strand owners. I couldn't go to the vote because I was forced to man the info desk since no one else could who wasn't at the vote. The details of the contract were not told to us before hand, and for good reason, because the details are awful and if the workers had time to mull over them without the union lawyers and reps there to push on us the bad deal they brokered, they surely would have revolted and voted no. I am shocked at how much we got our asses kicked. We lost on every single front, every single issue being negotiated. The vote was something like 11 no's and 36 yes's. Thirty-six of my co-workers wanting the couple hundred dollars backpay agreed to this with the urging of the UAW.

There is no increase in base wage. There is still an annual raise of fifty-two cents. They were able to hold ground on this, but we should have been able to increase this. Fifty-two cents?! This fucking bookstore makes money hand over fist. But now, this is not what has me sad, and wondering how they, the owners get away with this. What has be terribly sad is that our health plan was torn to pieces. If they were going to screw us on health care, we should have been able to secure a wage increase, but no wage increase, and now we are going to be paying through the nose for health. We had had a sweet health plan, one that no one else has had, and that was the one benefit to working at the Strand. It was basically free healthcare. We only had to pay two dollar co-pays for doctor visits and two dollar co-pays for prescriptions. Doctors visits now will require a $25 dollar co-pay, which for someone wondering if they can afford to do laundry this week is a lot of money. Prescriptions are now going to be between $10 and $35. And if you are picking up a couple of prescriptions, something that would have cost $4 will now easily cost $50 or $70. Plus that $25 doctor visit. That's a lot of money.

The UAW folks scared people by talking about how we had no leverage, how there was a large non-unionized staff at the store because of the high turnover. And you might think by this, that we got slapped in every way imaginable, but no, they find still one more way of rubbing our face in the dirt, something that I swear can not be legal. We get a five dollar rebate on doctors visits by bringing in our reciept to the owner. It seems like a way to discourage doctor visits, the fear of presenting your reciept to the owner. It also seems like a scheme to find out who is milking the healthcare and making the premiums go up.

The fifty two cent raise is retroactive to September 1st when our contract expired, so that will add up to a couple hundred dollars, which is nice, but not worth the costs. I am so sad that we lost so badly. It has me so hopeless about progressivism in this country, thinking about unions, about how they don't work in a service economy with people changing jobs so frequently. I imagine Nancy and Fred, the owners eating in some fancy restaurant right now, ordering more champagne, clinking their classes and toasting to themselves, congratulating themselves on crushing us so ruthlessly. We gained not one thing. We lost on every single front. This sucks. Why did you vote yes?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

You can't be in the circus if you don't go to the circus interviews, and so, I am not going to be in the circus, at least not now. Numerous people pointed out to me that it was probably a butch, tough guy culture of carnies. I thought they were probably right and also, I didn't feel like waking up early this morning. Instead I curled up under my covers, stretching, hiding and reading American Purgatorio.

Also, the circus starts right after Christmas and if I wait until the new year to quit the Strand then I can collect 2005 unused vacation and personal days, basically three weeks pay. The new plan is to make sure there is steady work for a while at the Princeton Review, try to pick up at least three shifts a week and quit the Strand and collect this pay bundle.

Making Cafe Bustelo requires far less coffee than making Starbucks coffee. I like my coffee pretty dark and normally put in at least a couple of spoonfuls for each cup, however, do that with Cafe Bustelo and you will be drinking some nasty syrupy thing that runs straight through your bowels. With Cafe Bustelo, only one spoonful is required for each cup. Although, it seems like too little, it is not, and today, I finally got it right and am drinking a nice cup of coffee.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

It's the human body made into a percussion machine that makes music good music. Is that why you love songs with handclaps? You can move your body, stomp those feet, clap those hands, and become a participant in the song. Right now, there are some amazing sounds being produced by pop music. This is delirious pop music, this stuff. You know how you felt about Kelis' "Milkshake," and "Hey Ya" - what is it that delirious pop music inspires in you to lose it and dance, is it an ecstatic embrace of the ideals of capitalism? Why does it make you, make me, so smiley?

Destiny's Child's "Lose My Breath" is one of these great songs. Yesterday, I stumbled across a whole album of delirious pop songs. I listened to Gwen Stefani's solo album at Virgin and was wowed, giddy, and dancing to the headphones. They are all downloaded now on my computer.

Download "Hollaback Girl". The rhythm is a sampled step team and it is so, so awesome. The rhythm is definitely the coolest part of the song. I want to stomp and clap listening to it, but I am listening to it on headphones because Dara is asleep next door and stomping would definitley not be the kind roommate thing to do. "Cool" is totally Cyndi Lauper. The Andre 3000 "Long Way to Go" is either good or bad, in that it is a 2004 "Jungle Fever" with samples of MLK talking. For some reason it irks me, that hip hop singers being able to date white chicks is probably not the most important race issue to be singing about, but even my own annoyance with the song, probably means that it is - that it is still an issue, that I still do glance at interracial couples and wonder about the dynamics of them, if one of the partners is not exoticizing the other, so maybe still a long way to go.

"Serious" is also awesome for the same reason that "Cool" is, it is has that silly eighties pop sound. Pop music is delivering some treasures this winter. In the next couple of days, the weather is supposed to dip into the low thirties. This will get me through this.

Friday, December 10, 2004

What in the fucking hell? This, from the Washington Post in their Best Books of 04 list, talking about Russell Banks' The Darling:

The Darling, by Russell Banks (HarperCollins). About a disillusioned and seemingly doomed woman, Hannah Musgrave, and her travails in Liberia. Yes, Hannah is white -- a point she often remarks upon -- but her Liberian world is honestly African: romantic, brutal, black and quite deadly. -- Wil Haygood

Honestly African?! Black and deadly?! This is the same type of gibber gabber that made me so frustrated with this novel, with its cloying Heart of Darkness representation of Africa. Hello, did we not read that Achebe essay telling us why this is not kosher? Besides this huge HUGE problem with the book, it is just not that good otherwise, and I am getting so irritated seeing it on so many Best of 2004 lists. Did Edward Said really die this year? Was he ever alive? What bizzaro world is this?
Last night, I watched The OC, then went to Metropolitan and hung out with David, Joe, and Peter. I then came home and Dara invited me to go out with her to the Alligator Lounge, so back out I went, ordered a beer to get my free pizza, and Joe came out also. I sang the most awful version of "Brass in Pocket" imaginable. You can always decieve yourself about your singing capabilities, thinking that you are better than you are, but when you get up on a karaoke stage and hear yourself messing up lines to a song you thought you knew by heart, hear how flat, how bad your voice is, then you realize that it was all lies you were telling to yourself, that you are a bad, if not horrible singer.

In other news, the preview for Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remake is online, and it doesn't look totally awful. My fears of a Planet of the Apes abomination so far, have not materialized. This movie has to be awesome otherwise me and Tim Burton are over for good.

Thursday, December 9, 2004

A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image. -Joan Didion

And it is not even about claiming the space as my own, but this is right, that it is the reshaping of a particular place that all the best writing does. In my past attempts at writing fiction, I have been hesitant to use real settings from my past and have instead used bland Anytowns, tried to eliminate the necessity of place from the story. Could there a more stupid way to approach writing? There was a quote from Brian Hughes, said probably half in jest a few years ago, the type of quote that only twenty year olds can drop so confidently, that there was no more awful form of writing than autobiographical writing, that the writing of technical manuals was even better. This quote and the thinking behind it have led me to avoid writing "semi-autobiographical" fiction - a terribly ugly phrase.

Proust is nothing without the sight of those church spires. Roth, nothing without Newark. Didion, nothing without California. So as a joke I started writing this story about a map of Alexandria and masturbation and one idea is leading to another is leading to another. There is no straining for what to write; there is a straining to contain it all somehow, and I am really happy with it so far. Past attempts at writing fiction have been awful, I will not hesitate to tell you. I have finished little stories and reread them, cringing, thinking how awful they were. Without a place to focus on, to eulogize - the story was a sham, having to rely on cliched phrases and sentiments since it was about no real place, but the typical town, thus producing typical prose, typical storylines and reproducing all the conventions of fiction in the process, the type of writing that I hate, yet the type that I was doing. Place frees you from plot.

After reading Roth's fiction, after reading his defense of his fiction (yes, fiction!) against all the critical writings that read his fiction as veiled autobiography, I knew what I wanted to do, saw the freedom that playing with your past gives you. I have been wavering whether I should try to write Sarasota or Alexandria (never New York - the places yet to be staked out - maybe Didion was right, it is about claiming it, colonizing it?) and ended up writing this story about a teenager which for me, I associate with Alexandria, those teen years. Last night, I felt like I got a sign to stick to this project. I opened up the new biography of George Washington, His Excellency, and Joseph Ellis writes in the first sentence about how he grew up in Alexandria, near the same part I did (he of course, doesn't mention me), but since I had been thinking of Alexandria a lot the past days, this was very exciting. And I am not sure why. I like George Washington and stare at the statue of him in Union Square everyday. I see the ties between here and there and like the potential of dealing with America as a subject. I am thinking about Whitman and how Midnight's Children dealt with the birth of India and the Smashing Pumpkins and how to integrate these concerns into something coherent, something even enjoyable. I have to stick to the project. The only difference between good artists/writers and us (both you and I) is the level of commitment, so let's quit doing it half-assed and commit ourselves to these things, set aside time each and every day.


Yesterday, I talked to a couple people at work about bankruptcy, heard about stories of friends who have done this or that, or even a friend of a friend. I finally opened up the pile of bills that I have been negleticing/throwing away for months to add up my credit card debt to discover it is much higher than the 3,000 that I was prediciting, that it is in fact 5,629.42. Please do not ask me what I have to show for this amount. I don't have a car. I did not go on a European holiday. I don't have a VCR, let alone a DVD player. My computer was bought when I was in high school. I wear the same clothes everyday. Really, I think that is five grand worth of burritos right there is what that is.

Plus I still owe about two hundred to Sprint, which I can't even find the bill for even though they send me one about every other day. So, yeah that is an astronomical amount considering my current (lack of) wages. Time to call the bankruptcy lawyer and find out real details. First, a long hot shower with loud, loud, motherfucking loud music. Bankruptcy! USA! Bankruptcy! USA!

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

When you don't wear headphones walking around the city, you make yourself more open to contact. Sometimes this is good, sometimes this is bad - but either way, it is probably better for you than no human contact. This morning I went to the optomotrist to tell them that they did not give me the right prescription and on my way there, waiting for the NR at Union Square, there was man standing a couple feet away from me, muttering dirty things. This was a middle-aged business looking guy and I didn't think he was talking to me. I was reading my book, an excellent book that I am going to tell you all about in depth when I finish it because right now it is the best writing I have read by an unknown in so long. Philip Roth and Kafka are no surprise to read, to be astounded by their goodness, but this John Haskell and his American Purgatorio is amazing. More about it later, but anyways, I am reading this and so sort of ignoring everything else around me because it is so good, but then the man walks past me and I look up to see him licking his lips in a crude manner. Then with that gesture, I was able to understand his diry mutterings. When he had stopped a few feet past me, I looked at him to see him staring at me. I turned around and moved further the opposite way down the platform, because it was ten-thirty in the goddamn morning and I was reading something that made me feel clean and the sun was out, and here was this relic of the end of nights, of unhampered desire looking for something before the sun comes up. It was anachronistic to encounter this mid-day.

Shortly after this, a middle-aged woman came running off the express train, almost into me, laughing that she didn't want the express, and placed her hand on my shoulder laughing, telling me she was only going to 28th Street. This made me feel clean, a nice, human interaction, me laughing knowingly along with her mistake, having done it myself countless times.

The optomotrist gave me an eye test with my glasses on that I could not do, and then wrote out a new prescription that will be ready this afternoon and will hopefully be correct.

Walking back to my house, I walked past this man hosing down the dirt off the front of his house, this old man, and seeing this made me so happy. I really wished that I knew his name and could call it, say hello, and live in a small town. He stopped hosing when he saw me coming and looked my way. I gave him a big grin and wave and said Hello. The old man, happy, said hello back. And it is not cold today. The outlines of the clouds glow today as if someone traced them in an electric highlighter. The sun is out and I am happy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

There is a Strand Sucks website, and it bothers me not because it trashes the Strand but because it could be done so much better. For a while, I entertained the idea of creating a Strand Sucks webiste (seriously, with the same name) and was going to do it so much better, and so that's why I am mildly annoyed by the appearance of this one. It is done by some employee and everyone wants to know who, and I am running through the list of potentials in my head also, wondering which of my co-workers has this sense of humor, has Photoshop, and isn't too wordy.

The site has too many references to Nancy and Fred, the owners, people no one cares about or has anger towards beside the employees. The site should be geared toward a much broader audience, the NY book buying public. The ideas I had brainstormed for my site was advice on how to steal books, which ones aren't tagged. How to get books for cheaper if you are afraid of stealing: peeling off the labels of paberbacks and getting them for half-priced, or switching around stickers of books with similar titles. I was also going to have a guide of other bookstores to sell your books to, so that you would not be giving the Strand books for pennies that they would then mark up tenfold. I was going to try to get the big NY book bloggers to link to it: MobyLives and Maud Newton.

But more importantly, this was all going to be done with a purpose, with the message hammered again and again that the Strand workers were exploited and grossly underpaid and that these were tactics to bring attention to that. That is not being done on Strand Sucks, rather it is more of an adolescent slambook, demonizing authority figures. So I am just sad at the potential not utilized with this site, but I do still think it is funny, and that the boy is ballsy to tag the site's address in the employee bathroom and outside the Strand.


Cold and wet: one of the worst combos ever.

Aimmee Mann on cold and wet days: excellent.


The Princeton Review wrote me back to say that there aren't any full time openings but that I can still work there part time if I want. I am going to do that until the New Year, at which point if I am not in the circus, and if there is still part time work at the Princeton Review, I am going to quit the Strand and try to pick up enough shifts at PR to survive. Three shifts there equals a week at the Strand, so I think I can do this easily.

Monday, December 6, 2004

Here I go. Watch me as shoot myself in the foot over and over again, the left and the right, both of them again and again. Sometimes it is nicer not knowing how close you were to something and how much your irresponsible actions cost you. I just talked to Peter (who works at the Princeton Review) and Irina (my boss while I was there) asked what was up with me, if I did not want to work there. And Peter said that the way she talked about it, sounded like she was talking in reference to working there full time permanently - and that I have wrecked that by not showing up for what I thought were my last two days there last week.

I just assumed that a full time gig there was not possible after having asked about it, but I guess it was, or might have been, and man, now, I am cursing my actions and about to write an e-mail to Irina apologizing for not showing up and ah, watch and laugh, amuse yourself as I do stupid thing after stupid thing and chronicle it all here for some sense of art, of stabs at something, not sure what, never succeeding, but always ready with the gun in my hand, or in my holster, or wherever it is when you manage to do this foot shooting.

Sunday, December 5, 2004

Gary Indiana talks about the eighties East Village art scene, in response to the New Museum's show that I want to see now. This is choice:

The East Village had already become a zoo, and NYU would go on to plant some ugly dormitories down and unleash thousands of rich kids whose idea of art was grazing the streets and poking into boutiques while asserting their pathologies by screaming into cell phones. But hey, shit happens.

Saturday, December 4, 2004

salmon, red wine, and bankruptcy

I left work early tonight to go to Daniel's party with Joe. I got home, called Joe, and have still yet to hear from him. I am sad that I am not going to this party. Sad, for one, because I am not going. Sad, for two, because I am not going by myself, not being brave and walking the long walk there in the cold to a party where I would not have the saftey of Joe to talk to in lonely moments - for basically not going because I am a wimp when it comes to certain social situations.

It is not really that sad. I am drinking red wine and eating salmon while looking at information about, and seriously considering the option of filing for bankruptcy. I love that sentence.

Friday, December 3, 2004

a + b + c

I very may well fall asleep within the hour by six pm and the reason is a six dollar bottle of Cabarnet Sauvignon that I opened a couple of hours ago, that I am have already drank half of, and that had me enjoying a piece of erotica far more so than before I had started to drink the wine. The erotica in question is Melissa P's 100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed that was written by an Italian sixteen year old, and nothing against sixteen year olds but it definitely sort of shows sometimes with the overblown, flowery sex cliches that even Anais Nin would think too much. For example: "We were fitted together like a key in a lock, like a farmer's spade thrust into the rich, luxuriant soil. His erect member, after nodding off a little while, again began to thrill me with the same shudders as before, and my broken voice showed him how much I was enjoying the game."

They are her supposed diaries, and I was reading it today on the subway also, feeling dirty to be reading erotica in public, thinking that everyone around me knew I was a total perv. I tried hiding the cover. This city is beautiful sometimes and I was thinking this before I had even purchased the wine. I walked through the East Village this afternoon after I picked up my paycheck, still a little sexually charged from the book, and looked at everyone, every male especially wondering if they would be my lover, what it would be like to kiss their lips. This is a really fun activity to do, and one that will make you a lot more comfortable with your surroundings, more happy with the world, if you imagine the passer-bys as the possible lovers that they are, and think to how close you are to that, that you are just a conversation away from that, something that starts with a hello, that everyone here wants love, that they are all playing the same game, trying to advance to the next level. And yes, yesterday, I was just advocationg video game outlooks in writing.

But not just the people were exciting me, the buildings were, the pale blue restrained sky of winter ("what howls restrained by decorum"), and it felt like this neighborhood was mine - I like these streets better than the ones that surround my house, feel more familiar with them, but that is probably just because they are more culturally significant and I think to the diaries of Wojanrowicz, think to Lou Reed, and the streets are not mine, but these people have made them seem so. I kept thinking I would run into someone I know, was sorting of hoping to do do, to share my delight and joy with people, with human beings. I bought the previously mentioned bottle of wine and found my home, started to drink it, finished this book, and watched the sky from my kitchen window, the piegons gathered on the roof of the building behind mine and thought how much I love these sights, if not neccesarily my point of observation of them.

This wine is delicious. The clouds made me want to cry. I bid two dollars and fifty cents on the Ungame and find out in three hours if I won it, and I hope I do, I hope, I hope I do. It is a such an easy source of pleasure this combination of late afternoons, wine, and a book.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Misogynist rant just deleted after I reread how asshole it was. It was provoked by me complaining about [a certain person].

Some other thoughts and news:

I realize that a lot of the appeal of Philip Roth is his imperfectness, how he has some misogyinist tendencies, but how they make his novels better, more real. These things should not be excised from social novels depiciting this land. However much, I might have not like Roth's patronizing comments about blacks in Newark, I found it extremely brave and sincere, artistically commited to have these things in there. Roth talks about the race riots that destroyed Newark and obviously laments the loss of his Jewish neighborhood now that Newark is a black city.

The past few years have seen lots of literary writers exploiting comics: Amazing Adventure of Kavalier and Clay, The Fortress of Solitude, etc. I was standing over a guy who was sitting in a crowded subway car. He was playing on his Gameboy, and I thought that this has yet to be exploited. That there will be a boom of writers exploiting video games, nostalgia for those old Nintendo systems, maybe even utilizing video game players fantasies in its setup, a la Choose Your Own Adventure. Lichtenstein and Warhol exploited comic imagery for visual art decades ago, yet the lit trend seems to have just occured. Cory Arcangel is now playing around with old video game imagery in his art. Will it be decades again before it is adequately exploited in literature?

I didn't go the Princton Review today. MTA was out to fuck me over, making me wait twenty minutes for the L, and then another fifteen for a local downtown. No locals were coming. Four expresses had come and gone, and when the fifth one came, I said fuck it, I am not waiting, am not going to show up grossly late to the Princeton Review - so that job is over. I went and spent too much money and got a pair of glasses which will be ready on Monday.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Even before I went there, I knew I shouldn't and tried to convince myself to instead walk to St. Mark's Place and support an indie record shop, but I was lazy, it was cold and I was in a bad mood, ready to spend money in the hopes that a purchase, a CD would make me feel better. I have been wanting some Pretenders for a long time and yesterday looking through the CD's on offer at Virgin, there was one that had a bunch of songs I liked on it, however it looked like it might be a live album. A worker asked me if I needed help, I said I did, and asked him if there was any way of finding out if this was or was not a live album. He went to go find out and came back to tell me it was not a live album. I bought it, throwing away the wrapper, the bag, and the reciept, throwing the CD in my discman and going to sit in Union Square.

The album opened with applause. No, this isn't a live album.

It is what I get for supporting a chain CD store. The songs were all light, acousticy, and live! I was so irritated. Songs I love, lines sung a certain way were sung a different way, were sung slower and without as much as feeling as the studio versions I am used to. I went back to work, sick to my stomach, and feeling even worse having bought the album, knowing that you can't return opened CDs, and not even having the reciept. A couple hours later, mad at myself, and ready to try, I went back to Virgin and explained to about three people there what had happened, how someone had told me it was not a live album, how I HATE live albums and could I please, please just exchange it. And no, I don't have my reciept.

Homos are my saving grace in this world, and yesterday, I was able to return an opened CD without a receipt because the manager was a gay man and it is easy to charm gay men by being gay, and after enough self-deprecating comments, he gave in and let me return it. I now have their first album with no songs on it that I know (save #10), which really is what I should have done in the first place, rather then going for the safe choice, learning nothing new, milking songs I already know and the hope that they can provide feelings they have provided in the past. I got a new album that is awesome, that is far more rocking than I knew the Pretenders to be, and I hear so many people (um, Karen O?) and would think this album is deriviative if it were not from 1980, before the people I am hearing.

But god, "Brass Pocket" is awesome. Yes, I know all the words, have known them forever, but these feelings feel as good, as fresh as the first times I had them listening to this song. There's nobody else here, no one like me. I am special, so special.

I went to Metropolitan with Joe last night, played two games of pool. He won the first. I won the second. On my way home I ate beef jerky and string cheese. I finished American Pastoral this morning. What the hell was that Harper's essay by Franzen about? Roth has been writing this big, social novels for a while. Roth kicks Franzen's whiny, Charles Schulz loving ass.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

This makes me happy. Other things:

Philip Roth
Aimee Mann
Sunny days after cloudy ones
My dick between my hands

Saturday, November 27, 2004

After the end of a Shania Twain song played out, REM's "It's the End of the World as We Know It" came on and I got so happy and looked out into what was the midnight Virginia sky since my plane left way behind schedule. But I was home, or what used to be that, and this car ride, my mom and I commuting from Dulles to her home is probably the most significant part of this trip, and yes, that may be because it was the only time the whole trip where I was alone with my mom. But she told me that she finally divorced my dad a couple months ago, that she couldn't wait around for him to die forever. (His doctors predicted that he was going to die about two years ago.) She is dating some army guy. I told her good, that she probably should have done it a long time ago. She then made a succession of quick, revealing comments - that she would have earlier but my dad needed health insurance, and that she probably never should have married him in the first place. It was stunning to consider that things could have been so different, that my existence was so based on chance, on a regretted marriage. She continued this stream of quick thoughts and said that she was grateful because it gave her Jamie and me. I asked her how old it was when she got married and she thought about it, if it was 22 or 23, and then declared as her answer, "too young." I told her that I was gay, since it had only been vaguely alluded to since I told her I was bi at the age of 18 and this car ride seemed to be the place to talk about things.

She missed two exits on the way home. I didn't mind because it was more time in the car. When we got home, everyone was asleep. My mom microwaved me some leftovers and served me a beer, and we talked some more. It was very nice. There is really too much I could say about my trip home, about the feelings provoked by old sights, by sporadic suburb developments gently lighting up the woods, the night sky, about seeing familiar stores, or new stores where familiar ones once stood. I'll tell you that I talked with my sister the next night and she sort of kicked me ass, told me that she was probably going to go teach English in Japan when she graduates this spring and that I should do something to escape the cycle of working and drinking, that I should see the world. I told her New York was the world. She knew I was lying and rolled her eyes, told me I was too smart to shelve books, that I should do something with myself. It is definitely an experience to be told what's what by your younger sibling.

At Thanksgiving dinner, I found out that one of my younger cousins is suspended from school for serving her classmates ex-lax brownies, and while, it is nice that someone seems just as hopeless as me, I then realized that she will at least be cool and badass whereas I am a boring mediocrity messing with no one's bowels. There was a priest at dinner with us, my mom's uncle, and it was funny to see how little people had to talk about besides distant relative stuff with a priest at the table.

I was so happy when I arrived back in New York last night. When I unlocked my door, I sighed to myself, "It's so nice to be home," and really felt like I was coming home for the first time in so long. It is nice that I have managed to establish that at least.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

a 10,000 maniacs kind of day

I didn't have an umbrella and that is significant, it is perhaps further proof of what I want to try to talk about here. Even though I must have bought at least ten umbrellas since moving to New York, I no longer have even one, have left them all over this city, forgetting about them as soon as I am inside somewhere and only remembering them later far from the place, "Wait, didn't I have an umbrella?" So to get milk for my coffee and shampoo for my frizzy head of hair, I walked to Walgreens in the light rain without an umbrella, and I got to thinking about my reading habits of late and why I am so worried about my love of Philip Roth, about what it could mean about me; how, and in what ways I have changed as evidenced by my changing reading habits.

And you see, I am flying on a plane this evening to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and this is why this issue of self-image and self-presentation is nagging at me now, because I know that it will be nagging at me even more as I am sitting around a large table with all of my relatives and they will want to hear about my life, how am I doing, if I am ever going to go back to school, and what - this huge existential question tossed about as casual dinner chit-chat like it is the fucking weather or something - asking me what I am going to do with myself, what I want to do with my life. And yes, so the question, questions have been a little more amplified than they would normally be. I will hear about my younger sister's time in India, which I really do want to hear about. I will hear about cool places my mom went to for work. I will hear about my younger cousin having lots of features published in the Baltimore Sun. I will see all sorts of babies produced by aunts and uncles who were my age not too long ago. And then I will confess I have no clue what I am doing with myself, that I work at a job I hate that pays absolutely nothing, and I fantasize about moving to some hick town and listening to Neil Young until I die.

And is it really that time of year again? I was in a similar state last Thanksgiving and resolved to myself that by the next time I saw my family I would have my shit together, but I don't, and there is no clear date coming up where I see myself having my shit together.

And this is why I am a little worried about my love of Philip Roth because I think that all these things may be tied together, that in high school, I would read poetry, no matter how bad it was, and love it - that I cannot think of the last time I read poetry and was moved by it, where it inspired me to dream. Maybe what I am really worried about is that I have lost that dreaming capacity, that now I am reading nothing but Newark family dramas and that they are all I want to read. When was the last time I scribbled notes, thoughts, lines in a notebook? Is the last time I wrote anything resembling poetry almost two years ago, a poem I found recently in a notebook written about seeing the outline of Ben Haber's penis through his spandex shorts?

I am reading Roth's American Pastoral right now, a book that yes, and no, I don't mean to sound elitist, but that yes, is so suburban, is so bougie. I think I can picture the book in the hands of so many relatives, of so many adults. And I love it so much. There is nothing difficult about liking Philip Roth. Everyone likes him (save Bonnie). But it is also incredibly easy to like those people I used to read then, Ginsberg, Henry Miller, all the Beats. It is probably easier to like them, just because of that alternative appeal even though they are all so mainstream also. But it isn't really just sex appeal that I am worried about here, that someone will see me reading Roth on the subway and think less of me, think I am so typical - it is that I am the one looking at me on the subway and thinking that, that I am so typical.

And I don't know why I am using "typical" as a term of derisiveness. Really, I just don't know anymore, but this morning I was worried and thinking about all this as light droplets hit my face since I cannot hold on to an umbrella to save my life. It all seems like part of the same problem, the inability to hold on to an umbrella, the inability to get excited about poetry, still working at the Strand, and Philip Roth. Again, I am just not sure, and please don't ask me what it is I am unsure about, because even that, I am not sure about. I will tell you this, though - that I am sincerely excited about seeing my family, eating food at a table with them, and perhaps more than anything, open stretches of sky, strip malls, and one townhouse development after the next. My mom is picking me up at Dulles around 9:30 tonight, and I am going to hopefully sit up front with her and control the radio and do the thing that for me is how I imagine eternity. I am going listen to songs I like as we drive along highways in the black night.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

with links!

My bottom lip is really dry and has these three veritcal gashes that are reopened if I smile too much and my lips bleed and it kind of amuses me. As if I should not be smiling, that this is punishment, that I am Satan.

Yesterday, I bought a really rare book: William Sheldon's Atlas of Men. I want all of you to come over to my house, to play Scrabble, and to look at this book while I am taking my turn. There are about 1500 different men in it, a front, side, and rear view of each standing in this odd position to determine their somatype - basically relating one's posture and build to their personality. I am trying to figure out which one I am. Expect quotes from this book when I am not running to work. There is also a Varieties of Delinquent Youth by this crazy doctor, who used Ivy League students as his subjects. In the mid century, students at Harvard, Yale, etc. all had to pose nude for posture photographs as part of their orientation. This all amsues me to no end, but some of the observations Sheldon makes about male body types, as debunked as they may be, are really amazing observations about wimpiness, about different types of masculinity. And there is a book called Varieties of Delinquent Youth. It is non-fiction! How amazing!

I am listening to bad recordings of The Patriot Act this morning
[from the world of Friendster: "patriot act mp3s are up. go to username: americanrevolution password: 145145], thinking about Evan. I read "Love in the Night" by Fitzgerald this morning, and my god, Fitzgerald is such a good writer. He makes me long for love of any variety. So not Evan, any boy really. I am just listening to his voice on fuzzy tracks right now and so that's why it is thoughts of him, but really any one, any dick. I watched a Fitgerald adaption last night, The Last Time I Saw Paris, with a gorgeous Elizabeth Taylor and the sky is gray, you know this, and I don't know what it is that I want from this world, what it is that I desire, except some abstract thing like Love or Happiness and I look for it in human bodies. I want to unzip pants, mine, and lie in beds - but that doesn't do the trick, nothing seems to. The moments are rare, and somedays seemingly getting rarer. I am going to Virginia in what, three days, and I think that will be good, that that will provide some of these moments, not the hard dicks, but those feelings sought out with strangers' dicks, you know, good feelings

Friday, November 19, 2004

I skipped my last day of working at the Princeton Review today to go have lunch for free at MoMA, an incredible meal that is the yummiest I have had in so long. Joe and I ordered lots of food since it was free, ate yummy mozarella, eggplant, ham, nice desert and downed it all with a bottle of wine. I thought to the little of MFK Fisher I have read, noted to read more of her, closed my eyes and felt it all through my body with each chew, the pleasure of good food. Tipsy, we then wandered around the museum, drinking more wine, and maybe this is why, because I was drunk at three in the afternoon that not much made an impression on me, nothing except the windows. To see dusk setting in over stretches over midtown Manhattan was amazing, and I ran to the windows whenever they made an appearance in a gallery, looking at the sky. This is in a gallery full of Picassos that I am running to the window and being way more moved by the sky, by the view from this slit of a window. MoMA is so overwhelming. It is treasure after treasure, painting you have seen reproduced a million times, right next to another you've seen a million times. The first gallery we went into had Kahlo, Cornell, Dali, Miro, and Matisse waving hello from the next room. Even "Starry Night," I barely noticed, lost in a room with so much other famous stuff. Shiele right next to Klimt right next to Chagall, artists I love, not one even touching me, too overwhelmed am I by everything thrown together, by my drunkness, and by my pretty constant need to pee because of all the wine and coffee. There should be some point to seeing works of art in person that you have seen prints of a million times. I tell myself this but I am not really sure, not sure there is a point. The paintings I had never seen were the ones I loved. Stuff by David Alfaro Siqueiros. But I also liked his stuff because his last name seems related to mine. It is all a haze, my time there. Did I really see all those things and not care. The pretty lights were cool. They always are. Flavin. Nauman. Everything else, bah! Outside the sky was black, the people were rushing down streets, and it all seemed so much more worthwhile than you Pablo, than you Marcel, than even you Cindy. I went to the H & M nearby afterwards and saw a display of male underwear that impressed me more than any of the works of art. I went and touched them and wondered if I should spend thirteen dollars on this hot underwear. Did not. Spent twenty-five on a girl's western shirt, and walked down more streets, past more people, to places where I consumed more wine.

"You call yourself an artist. I call you a drifter." (318)

I think maybe Proust was the last book that I underlined passages in. That was a long time ago. Months and months. I finished reading Philip Roth's Sabbath's Theather tonight, putting the book down with lots of underlined, starred passages, marks that were not in the book when I picked it up. It is really fucking good. I am a little in awe of Roth right now, and trying to think of anyone I could claim to be a better American writer right now. Surely part of the reason, I liked the book so much is because I am a lit nerd and laughed at all the references to Joyce, Shakespeare, Woolf, and Dostoevsky. But, this book makes watersports seem so hot. It redeems the perverse.

Enough reading and rereading of A Room of One's Own Own - get yourself The Collected Works of Ava Gardner. A tweaking and fingering lesbian virgin, V. Woolf, erotic life one part prurience, nine parts fear - an overbred English parody of a borzoi, effortlessly superior, as only the English can be, to all her inferiors, who never took her clothes off in her life. (157)

And yes, my feminist side should perhaps not be so amused by Roth's (his?, or his narrator's) misogyny, but even that can not detract from this magnificent book. Wow. The other day, I tried writing a story and failed in so many ways, and so then to pick up this book where things are done so effortlessly with lovely phrases, put me both to shame and inspired me to try harder.

What a bother we are to one another - while actually nonexistant to one another, unreal specters compared to whoever originally sabotaged the sacred trust. (262-263)

Yes, such diaries have a privileged place among one's skeletons; one cannot easily free oneself of words themselves finally freed from their daily duty to justify and to conceal. It takes more courage than one might imagine to destroy the secret diaries, the letters, and the Polaroids, the videotapes and audiotapes, the locks of pubic hair, the unlaundered items of intimate apparel, to obliterate forever the reliclike force of these things that, almost alone of our possessions, decisively answer the question "Can it really be that I am like this?" A record of the self at Mardi Gras, or of the self in its true and untrammeled existence? Either way, these dangerous treasures - hidden from those near and dear beneath the lingerie, in the darkest reaches of the file cabinet, under lock and key at the local bank - constitute a record of that with which one cannot part. (447)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

similarity of orange in sparks and trees in autumn

I finally have internet again in my house. This makes me so happy. Here is an entry I wrote on Election Day and some photos from the past few weeks. There are not this many leaves on the trees anymore. Things change fast.

Election Day 2004
Those same halls you used to line up in to do fire drills – I was walking through those this morning, walking down hallways with those thick green tiles on the walls to get to the school gymnasium where the voting booths were set up. There were lots of others marching down the hallways with me, all going to vote. There was also a crowd going the opposite direction, just having voted. Everyone kept exchanging looks and we all knew that we were on the same team, that we all wanted the same outcome. It was such an amazing feeling to see all those knowing glances exchanged, this expectant happiness, everyone seeing that all these people here were voting one way, that things should go well tonight when we watch those returns come in. It was all the more thrilling for the motley mix that composed these crowds in the elementary school hallways a short two blocks from my house. There were the few Hasidic Jews, the large Latino numbers, and also the scattered newcomer to the neighborhood, the young hipster. And everyone feeling a solidarity, happy to be there where things seemed logical, where people were voting for one person, and even more so, not voting for another person. I looked at all the exercise posters taped along the walls as I waited to enter the booth, I saw a mass of yellow leaves outside the gym windows.

It is fall. November. It is time for more moody music. Those slow Led Zepplin songs, anything folk, anything sad. In the middle of Union Square, there is a cluster of trees that are all a gorgeous yellow. This one little cluster, most of the trees in the park are all still green, but there is this shining circle of yellow peeking through all the other trees from the center of the park. Yesterday, I went into the new Filene’s Basement that opened up on Union Square South last week, and for anyone that lives in New York, I want to recommend a similar trip for a reason that I will tell you right now. It is not for the selection of clothes you could get at any department store in any town, but instead, take the escalator all the way up to the sixth floor and look out of those windows that look out on to the park. It is an amazing sight to see such a pretty aerial view of Union Square, the park where I spend so much time. You can see the patterns in the tiles, you can see that little circle of outrageous yellow trees. The skaters that hang out front look tiny and completely harmless.

Halloween was fun, decadent, and inspiring. I dressed up as a bunny. I will post pictures of the outfit once the internet in my house finally gets fixed (tomorrow supposedly). Gravy Train was fun to see, but Le Tigre was more than that, fun yes, but tack on something else also, awesome, good. Kathleen was dressed as Annie. JD as Tarzan. And Joanna as a nun. I had already seen them play twice before hand, but I was still so moved by this show. I used to not like the “Hot Topic” song but now it is one of my favorites of theirs and when they played it I got so excited, so happy, and so filled with thoughts about what I should be doing with myself. Gravy Train seems totally irrelevant when compared to Le Tigre, that here is a band serious about issues and doing so in a fun way. Le Tigre is definitely my inspiration for this week. I want to think of ways to incorporate these two strands somehow in my own way: activism and artfun.

After the concert, I stopped by briefly at Le Petit Versailles before going to Will’s party filled with nothing but Strand people. It was fun to see all these people, but it also made me want to get out of control, that here is a group of nice, but slightly boring people and I want to rock and roll, to cut loose, foot loose. So on the way home to the subway, it is not totally surprising that Joe and I stopped at the Cock. It was Halloween, a night where out of controlness is not only pardoned but encouraged. As soon as I walked in, I saw go-go dancers getting sucked off on the bar. I drank some, smoked some, and did naughty things in the backroom with countless strangers. I have no idea how many people touched my penis, I think I have an idea of how many people sucked it (four?), and it was an awesome time that had me so happy I was living in New York, that this bar is awesome for being so dirty. The backroom was so warm because of all the body heat, and it smelled so much like b.o., like sex. Just stepping into that room from the dancefloor turned me on, the temperature, the smell, and so it is totally understandable, my behavior. I made out with a pirate, with a boy scout, and I danced to lots of Prince songs it seems.

I walked home from the subway cold in my outfit, looking at the night sky, feeling the fall air, happy with human bodies, remembering what it felt like to be with all those naked male bodies in that bar on Avenue A. Today in the polling place, I had the exact same happiness with human bodies when there was that mass of bodies in the hallway, I had it yesterday looking down at the mass of bodies in Union Square from the sixth floor of Filene’s basement. I don’t know if I can ever make you understand that the first experience, the group sex is just as pure, just as wide-eyed a love with human beings as waiting in line to hopefully elect a certain person to be the president of these united states.

Friday, November 12, 2004

talk about it

How does one integrate the irritating and nonirritating aspects of a life into a nice narrative without the irritating aspects distracting from the heavenly aspects not only in the narrative constructed, but in one's actual life? The narratives fashioned may be all that there is to this life, and so I am being delicate here trying to figure out what to talk about and in what order to do so and how much importance to place on things, because the past few days has been a real mixed bag - some things that have made me happy to be alive just by reminding me that I have a body, that I am composed of flesh and blood that is easily stimulated, and some things so routine, so mechanical that make me feel anything but alive. I know that I need to work on looking at those happy things, that this is how I should construct this narrative and put those other things out of focus, just background noise to the beauty, to the joyful singing that is otherwise there. It is just a matter of focusing.

I still don't have internet at my house after three visits from Time Warner. There will be a fourth visit which would not be so irritating say if I were a fifties housewife and not working two jobs, and had all this time where I was home anyways. The Princeton Review also seems to be out to distract me from constructing a happy narrative by not having my paycheck today, even though I needed it desperately, and they do not know when they will have it.

Because I am having trouble integrating these narratives, because the one tends to stress me out so much and distract me from the other, I went to a therapist yesterday for the first time, which you might think remarkable if you have ever heard me talk about my aversion to the field of psychology, but why not utlizie your health insurance for every penny it is worth and try out new things in this life, and so yes, yesterday for an hour, I talked with an elderly lady on 16th St about my life. It was not all that I was hoping for, but it is what I was predicting. I think really what I was looking for was a guru, some sage person to direct me. She is a little old lady with a little dog and focused on a career and finishing school much more than I would have liked her to. I wanted to talk about love and searching for meaning and she wanted to talk about stability and security. One choice question from her that might explain the system of values she is working from:

Are you going to be a drifter your whole life?

She obviously hit at something since this question still irritates me and for that reason I think I am going to continue to see this woman because her outlook is so drastically different from mine, that it will hopefully help me to step back and see things from other ways. New ways of seeing, that is what so much of this life is about, the fun parts, and that is what this experiment is about. And giving her the brief overview of my life, I realized how easy it would be to think of me as troubled. I did not even finish cataloging all the family catastrophes I witnessed, but she seemed shocked by the few I did get to bring up in that hour. I look forward to seeing how these sessions progress.

I called in sick to work a few times last week just because I was not happy and would not be made happier by going to the Strand, that is what lead to me calling the therapist. During that time off, I read a lot, and if anyone wants a book recommendation, I cannot sing the praise of Philip Roth's The Plot Against America enough. The book has gotten an insane number of write-ups, most of them gushing, and this book deserves all that praise. I could not put it down. I read it in two days, and soon jumped to Sabbath's Theater because I wanted more Roth, only to be at first disappointed because the tone is so different from Plot Against America, but now I love it also, and maybe it is because I am reading this sex-obsessed book right now that sex was about the only thing I had on my mind last night. Getting insanely drunk before the open bar closed at Metropolitan was the other thing on my mind last night, and together those two thoughts worked in concert and were successful in bringing a cute boy, a boy whom I had written a Missed Connection for last week, brining him to my bed. And this is what I was talking about at the beginning, that heavenly narrative that sometimes get drowned out by those loud neighbors downstairs with their yelling and bad Latin music.

Lots of rum was consumed and it was not too long before I was talking to strangers, making out with them, and unbuttoning their jeans. My long time crush Christopher was there and I am afraid that if he was not already terrified of me, then he surely is now after I was insanely hyper last night, telling him that the behind the hyperness, propelling it was just a desire to make out. I was forward, really forward with this other cute boy, Anthony and told him that he should come home with me. He said yes, and soon without any of those hesitations and formalities that postpone the act, he was on my bed naked and his cock was in mouth, and I was trying not to stifle my gag reflex and so my eyes were watering and that moment was bliss, that pleasure bordering pain, continuing to suck his dick as my eyes watered, trying to navigate it to the side of my throat so I wouldn't gag, his legs wrapped around my neck, the most intense physical feeling I have experienced in too long a time. My first bedroom sexual encounter in over six months. The last person I had non-anonymous, non-backroom sex with was Matt. I hadn't done laundry in two months either, but I did it yesterday and of course, sheets that don't see sex for months, see it on the first day that they are washed and clean. After both of us came on his stomach, there was the casual good-bye since he had to wake up at five to do interior design work for Kelly Ripa or something that sounded equally surreal in my drunken state. He put on his skull and crossbones underwear and wrote his number on my wall in ink.

I woke up this morning happy, sang to myself in the shower even though Jillian was asleep on the opposite side of the shower wall. Nothing could contain that happiness I felt this morning and again, this is what I want to talk about, what I want to feel. The narrative is going to be a joyous one. I am going to read oversexed books and am going to be forward and am going to engage in numerous sexual encounters, am going to do without guilt, going to stifle out those stupid neighbors with happy thoughts, happy touches. It is one way. What we are talking about is combination therapy. That will be in play, as will good music, good words, looking at nice things, open stretches of sky, and narrating this in such way to you, but mainly to myself in such a way that I will be happy with my life, really seriously happy.

Friday, November 5, 2004

The trees on Keap Street, two days ago, glowing with gorgeous yellow leaves are now all barren after the rains and winds of yesterday. I noticed this on my walk to the subway this afternoon while I was listening to Morrissey. You would not believe the sunset I witnessed this afternoon from the Princeton Review offices. I really like working here and I really think what I like is the change of location, of spending time in a new area of this city, of wandering around SoHo on my break.

Last night, I drank beers at Metropolitan and enjoyed it. I need a new job. You have heard me say it before, but naturally I am a happy person and I realize this when I am allowed other opportunites other than the Strand. I think I will finally do my laundry tonight. I saw two boys that I wanted to make out with last night. I didn't make out with, didn't even talk to them, but had such a nice elated crush feeling produced by the sight of cute boys that I did not even mind. This world offers too many joys that I sometimes fail to notice.

Thursday, November 4, 2004

I am looking out onto a fog covered New Jersey skyline. It is raining outside as I sit here on the twelfth floor of a builidng in SoHo scanning Scantrons and looking out these large windows. I have had a lot to say recently but I have been without internet, am still without internet until the cable people replace the cable line in our backyard, which should hopefully occur tomorrow.

I am thinking about hope because so many other people don't seem to be thinking about it. I know, it is easy to feel defeated, too easy, and yesterday, despite my efforts, I occasionally slumped into periods of hopelessness, wondering how there could be so many in number, if it could really be true. Last evening, I sat in Union Square and the scaffolding that had been surrounding the statue of George Washington seated on a horse had been removed. This is one of my favorite statues and when I first came to New York, I used to sit in front of it and marvel at it, at the history of this country, and think about what American means, about what it meant then when he was atop this horse fighting. That here is George pointing forward with his finger, looking up at the sky filled with our nation inchoate in that head of his. It seemed too meaningful to me that the removal of the scaffolding used to clean the statue occured on the day we learned that George Bush was to be our president for another term. I did not know it meant, but I wanted to. I sat there on the ledge next to George with my eighty cent cup of deli coffee and a couple cigarettes with Le Tigre playing on my headphones to silence the protestors gathered thirty feet away on the steps of Union Square. I got real sad because it was dark and the building across from Union Square, the new Filene's Basement that just opened was glowing out its bland merchandise, and I saw where George was looking. No longer was his gaze and finger towards the sky, but now it was and is directly pointed at this garish consumer spectacle. The irony of this got me down for a while, that those big dreams produced this, but this wasn't the dream in that head, that instead that finger is leading the charge, pointing out enemy forces.

I listen to good music. I look at the sky and at the changing leave colors. Yesterday, there was a tree on my block with one solitary leaf left on it. One leaf on a whole tree, and I got to see that last leaf there! I am reading good stories. I am drinking good coffee, not always the eighty cent deli variety, and I am thinking of plans, curtains, stories that I will construct. These are the things that keep me from getting down, that and the knowledge that vigilence and hope change things.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Covert update from work. Last night, I saw the Gossip play Ladyfest. They were awesome. So were Tallboys. I got the Gossip's setlist. It is hanging on my wall over a Pearlstein poster. That is contrast. I love leaving a show sweaty, stepping out into the chill and not putting your sweater back on because it feels so good, the fresh air on your sweat soaked body.

Friday, October 29, 2004

I am getting paid fourteen dollars an hour right now to wait for them to give me work to do. My internet at my house is not going to be fixed until Tuesday. I am not very happy about this. Sunday is Halloween, Le Tigre, Gravy Train, and Breaker Breaker. I still have no clue what I am going to be. I am now going to plan my halloween outfit, and get paid fourteen dollars an hour do so. God, if only this job was my all the time job.
The moon is full, or at least seems so. Last night was a lunar eclipse and it was beautiful. Today felt good despite the headache. Worked at Princeton Review, got out early, watched Cassevettes' Opening Night, and that is probably what this day will be remembered for. I could say so much about this movie but I also can't because there is so much to say. I am imagining how many college papers must have been written on this. The metaness, the feminism, the harmful effects of fiction on reality, and the neccesity of hope. Cassevettes' character playing Rowlands' character's wife in the play. Ahh, too much! So fucking good. And a ghost seventeen year old that seems so Lynch. This is the third movie I have seen of his and it has only excited me even more about him, his genius, art, and its potential.

Genius! Genius! Genius! That's my take.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

more than this

yes, that is what music does to you, but a specific type of song has this very particular effect on me. Roxy Music's "More Than This" is one of those and I am listening to it right now feeling that particular effect, was listening to it a lot yesterday experiencing the same sensation. I bought their Greatest Hits album yesterday because socialcarwreck said to buy myself something, and I like any excuse to forget how broke I am and make unneccesary purchases.

And I am not sure if these are my memories being evoked in fits of nostalgia or if they are cinematic memories I am mistaking for my own, if they are memories from some John Hughes movie or Lost in Translation even. And if in fact, they are not my own experiences being evoked by these songs, but are memories of other character's experiences, does that diminish the feeling, make it a wobbly nostalgia supported by artificial memories? Let's add OMG's "If You Leave" to the tracklist at this point also.

Are not all memories, even those based on our own experiences to some extent artificial? As I sit here in New York, more than a little malcontent as of late, thinking back to past experiences, giving the past that glow that an unhappiness with the present will do, I think this is a very important question to ask, to ask constantly. A movie has just as much weight as my past experiences do. And saying that should not minimize the importance of either one of those, rather, it is meant to open up both to more forms of meaning, that the past has its role and I am not sure what that is, but do know the feeling I get when I hear these songs that conjure it. After I put the CD in the discman yesterday afternoon I sat in gray Union Square with the chill fall air blowing against me, lashing me with memories of high school where the weather always seemed to be like this, a constant gray fall. I must have worn shorts sometime during high school, other people must have, but all I can recall is us in shorts out on the blacktop during gym class, all cold and thinking of other places. And it all seems sad and great to me, that is this music.

I signed a new lease on Sunday at our old rent price and it didn't elate me, the thought of being here for one more year. I still dream of moving to somewhere else. How often are our dreams of the past? Do these ones outnumber the dreams of the future? There is a John Ashberry quote that says something about aging that Rupert read to me from the cap of his tea bottle that would be apt here. And if I can feel this, I don't care if they are not my own memories but the feeling I had during these movies, retriggered by hearing songs from the soundtrack. It's the feeling that matters, not the cause.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Can you make me more disgusted with our country?

Serpico at Peter's. I went to the video store eager for old timey scary New York movies: The Warriors and Escape from New York. Both were checked out. I stood there, frustrated, ready to call the night a night before it had begun, too overwhelmed with choosing a selection. I had come determined to rent one of these movies. This was the purpose of the evening. I wandered around, not finding anything even remotely similar, frustrated and make awkward by how small the store is and how crowded it was and how everything is shelved by director. I spotted Serpico, which I remembered LOB talking about in her diary, and so got it to prevent a nervous breakdown in Reel Life. It was really that bad a situation. I wanted to cry because they didn't have the movies I wanted. It was a boring movie, which was all right because it meant that I didn't feel guilty talking over it to Peter, chatting into the morning.

Friday, October 22, 2004


Dara talked to Iris, our landlord's daughter yesterday, and told her that Josh only sleeps here on weekends, and apparently this is okay if we stick to this, and we will sign a lease for another year on Saturday, at the good old price of 1300. So this ends those dreams of Austin. For now, at least.
Here's what I do: I stand behind a computer and a massive Scatron grading machine in a room with about seven other people doing the same task. Most people sit behind tiny Scatron graders, they do not stand behind massive ones because they have done this before and know which machines to grab. It also does not help that I get there a few minutes late. The room we are in is a corner of the twelfth floor whose windows look out onto the Hudson River, the New Jersey skyline, and way downtown Manhattan. It is a gorgeous view. I watch an insanely large cruise ship, looking large even with skyscrapers foregrounding it, make its way down the river. I see the sun sort of set even though it is pretty gray. And I do this while I let the machine eat Scantrons until a message pops up on the computer saying that there is no birthday, or no ID number, or no test code. Then I look at the sheet and see that the kid is an idiot and bubbled in about five numbers in one column, or that they didn't put the year they were born. Do some kids not know this? Why was this was so frequent, bubbling in the month and date, but not the year? Then I look up their information in the database and complete the missing information, or fix the wrong information. Some of these tests make me giggle so much, the completely insane bubbling habits. Kids write their names out and then bubble letters that do not correspond at all to what they had wrote. And the thing that entertains me to no end is that their is a kid, a fifth grader, in Philadelphia whose real name is Somemore Love. Another kid's name is Eros. What the fuck is wrong with these parents? Were they high when they decided this? Somemore Love? Isn't that a joke from the Simpsons where Bart calls Moe and asks for last name Love, first name Somemore. Moe yells to the bar: "Uh, I'm looking for Somemore Love! Somemore Love!"

When I am leaving, I get my headphones out of my bag while I wait for the elevator, and this guy asks me what I am listening to. He is European, if that makes any difference, and I think it might. I hate small talk and meaningless questions, of talking about how glad you are to be out of work. I think it is really cool when people brush aside all of that or even introductions and ask you what they are curious about. So waiting for the elevator and riding down it, we talk about Le Tigre, about jumpy music vs. lounge music, and I leave really happy to have had a non-artifical encounter with a stranger. I resolve to make my own conversational habits more earnest, less plastic, even with strangers - especially with them.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Michiko, how do you do it? This fall is going to drown me. I never even finished all the books that came out this summer I wanted to read, haven't even started them. Anchor Book of New American Short Stories. Cloud Atlas. Undoing Gender. Aloft. The Dew Breaker. Oblivion. They are all sitting in my apartment eagerly awaiting their turn.

And now there is an insane amount of books coming out this fall to further get me backlogged. That Roth book. That Koestembaum book. And oh my god, How We Are Hungry comes out in a week. I have to get moving on this Thackery horse. I know I will read that Eggers book as soon as I get my hands on it and that every thing will be bumped back one in line. God, I sometimes think this is an addiciton, that I could not stop. It is compulsive, the need to read certain books. It is all I am ever doing.

I don't know if I talked about it here, but my love of Eggers has definitly dwindled since I first became obsessed with him. Now, I no longer still hold him in such high esteem, but I still really like him and like reading his stuff. When I notice his tendencies, I notice that I also do them. The breathless, speedy sentances - the obsession with motion. I wish I had better samples of my writing pre-Eggers to know if this is his influence. But I could also blame Whitman. Doesn't the cover look awesome, though?
Peter was mugged two nights ago right on 14th Street, kicked in the head, rescued by some passer-bys. New York, this should not surprise me. It does. This is daydreams of other places. This is daydreams of a sort of white flight.

Le Tigre says finally free. Tomorrow, I work at the Princeton Review. I got the Wayne Koestenbaum novel last night. I am so excited. But first, must finish Vanity Fair, then I have The Plot Against America, which I am also itching to read. I aquire books way faster than I read them. I am tempted to put VF on pause, but know that if I do, I will never finish it.

It's cloudy. I am going to work at the Strand. I am late. What's new?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Franzen! Franzen! That's who this essay is about. She kept on talking about her boyfriend's lauded book and I kept on wondering who it was. It was another far from perfect essay in the collection. The fact that it is about Franzen is probably why it made it in. Hell, I even want to go back and reread the essay now that I know it is about Franzen.

From some Amazon review:

"Envy" by Kathryn Chetkovich. In this autobiographical essay, Chetkovich, an obscure short story writer, chronicles her romance to Jonathan Franzen who with his novel The Corrections becomes a publishing phenon, making her consumed with guilt for experiencing, against her own will, envy. She combines narrative with a sharp analysis of the causes and effects of envy in her life and shows how the condition is a universal one.

travelling miles

I read an essay by Rick Moody about the word "cool" last night that was in the Best American Essays 2004. It was a terrible essay in every imaginable way and surely, the only way it gained inclusion is because it was by Rick Moody and it will help sell some copies of the otherwise unsexy anthology. Anyways, in it, he talks about Miles Davis a lot and it is probably for that reason that I am listening to him right now and that is a good thing, because really if I was listening to anything with rage right now, anything with teeth, anything of the rock variety, my blood pressure would rise too much, and there would be a rambling entry ahead of you, much like the one I composed last night. Instead, I am going to curl up in my bed, masturbate, and maybe read, but probably won't once I masturbate.

And I will just touch on this one topic before I head off to sleep because something is going on with it lately. I saw this boy at a stupid club on Saturday night. And man, I cannot get him out of my head. I am not sure if it was that or the stress of late since they both emerged around the same time, but God, I have been so easily turned on these past days and find myself masturbating to sleep, find myself half awake in the early hours mastubating to a dream I am just coming out of. I was so mad walking to work this morning just thinking about my landlord, and suddenly I get sidetracked by thoughts of masturbating. And it clicked that stress = horniness. That because of this tension, I look for release, and am masturbating all the time, or thinking about it all the time. It's a method of escape. I used to take masturbation breaks when I had to write papers. And that is the only reason I can be happy about this stress in my life, that it is giving me a sex drive. I was sitting in Union Square smoking a cigarrette this afternoon. My jeans stretched across my legs just so when I shifted my leg and I sighed with pleasure, wishing I was home.

I read a short story by Gary Lutz in the Anchor Book of New American Short Stories last night that was really good, was different, intelligent, and the sort of stuff I am planning on reaching for, that I want to see from fiction. I need to get his book and find out if all his stuff is good.

Thursday evening at 11:15, we are meeting with our landlord and her granddaughter.

People asked me for advice tonight and I was surprised that people were mildly respectful and even complimenting. One of these persons told me I should be an actor. I laughed. The other I talked to about Miles Davis.

I was bitching very loudly about how little I made an hour to Jesse after I found out that he made nine an hour and I only make eight twenty-seven even though we started at the exact same time and both have about the same work ethic. Later, my manager who heard this talk asked me how much I made and I told him, and he said that he would talk to someone, that I worked hard and have been there a long time. Which is nice that he understood this was outrageous. I used to not care about getting paid more because I kept telling myself that I was going to get a new job soon so I should not pressure for a raise. I am not sure I will actually get a raise right now because our union is negotiating a new contract with those stingy fuckers who own the store, and the owners are trying to crush our morale. Remember, I was only going to talk about one thing, going to do one thing. Stress, this, equals that.

Monday, October 18, 2004

We still have yet to have a succesful meeting with our landlord. I hate her. Yesterday, the three of us went downstairs to meet her. It lasted about two minutes. We said that Jillian's boyfriend doesn't live here and that we shouldn't have to pay more rent. She did not know what the hell we were saying and said she would talk to her daugter who would then communicate with us. Today, her terrifyingly tough granddaughter called and left a message on my phone right before I had to go to work saying she wanted to set up a meeting where she would act as translator either today or tomorrow. I didn't have time to call her back before I went to work and passed the message along to Dara.

When I left work this evening, exhausted, already mildy annoyed, I checked my message and there was another message from the granddaughter, left only a few hours after the first message saying, "Hello, this is Iris calling AGAIN!!! I WOULD APPRECIATE IT if you would return my phone calls! You can CALL ME BACK SOON at blah blah blah." And this is one of those instances where language, where not even capital letters can convey tone of voice, the snottiness of this message. Apparently, I should return her messages as soon as I recieve them. Not like I might not have a job or anything.

Dara talked to her sometime after she left this hostile message on my phone, and granddaughter said she wanted to meet with both of us together. This is not going to be easy since Dara and I have opposite work schedules. And we could either meet at eight in the morning or at eleven at night. I cannot tell you how much this irritates me. I am at that point where you are so stressed, so annoyed that you cannot fully verbalize it, that all you can really do, all you want to do is roll your eyes, because it is all so fucking stupid and not even really worth wasting your breath. Today at work, I stole glances at this book of Whitman poetry and I should do this all the time, should spend some time at home with him and realize what is important in this world of ours, that this stuff is not, and certain things are, and that this stuff is distracting me from that, that there always seems to be some this stuff here in New York, that it is too busy, there is never space for contemplation, for being bored. Remember where your thoughts went when you were not bombarded with constant stimuli of one sort or another, those afternoons on your couch, looking out to your empty street with only the occasional car interrupting your thoughts? I remember those moments, and I want to find my way back there. I am really seriously wondering if I can do that here, that I should be able to do it anywhere if I were serious enough, but there are other things. I am constantly stressed about money. I like sun, heat and natural skylines.

And now there is this apartment stuff that is exacerbating the normally bearable obnoxiousness of daily life, making everything just one more reason I hate my life lately. Since I was mugged, I find myself hurrying home from the subway stop, afraid of that dark stretch of Keap Street that I have to walk down, checking over my shoulders occasionally, something I never ever did, making sure my front door is locked, something I have never in my life worried about.

I am listening to these eighties songs that Jillian recently downloaded to my computer, right now Level 42's "Something About You." If you want the soundtrack to this entry, download the fucking song and maybe if you are in the right mood, you can also daydream about past days when you would turn up these songs on the radio and unironically be moved them, because you were in a car moving and on your way to something, on your back from something, just moving you know, and to listen to these songs in a stationary position is something else entirelly, and I am seriously considering dropping it all. I am looking at the Craigslist ads for apartments in Austin, marvelling at how cheap they are and thinking to myself what I will do if it doesn't go well with the landlord. I am conjuring the most lovely runaway fantatsies right now. New Orleans is also in the running, as is Memphis. I will get eight hundred dollars when I move out of this apartment and if I work everyday for the next two months, I can hopefully save enough to start again, to roll those die, blowing on them first, wishing, and seeing if I can get snake eyes this time around.