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 gmail.com 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.