Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

I had heard references to What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? for years and years, but for whatever reasons had never actually seen the film. I now have. I suggest that you see it if you have not. It has been many months since I have seen a movie that has so delighted me and held me captive. Bette Davis, we do love you. Davis does a mind-blowingly amazing job as Baby Jane. There is so much going on with this movie, so many themes, so many essays waiting to be written. Like two other films I love, Grey Gardens and Sunset Boulevard, this film is a study in fallen stars, in people who at one time were it and now live in a time where all they can do is relive those memories of being it, wondering where things went wrong. Aside from that, there is commentary on child actors, on acting in general, on fame, on sibling cruelty, on creepy father-daughter dynamics, on egos, and all of this in a riveting story. The last scene is so surreal and so spot on in its satirization of our culture's habit of making celebrities out of criminals, about the desire for attention and notice and how that is to be done in the 20th century.

It is about time that a movie excites me again.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I rode to the Lorimer stop today on the L to pick up my bike, the last of my things left to move from Grand Street, and the ride there, from Jefferson to Lorimer, felt unbearably long, scared me a bit about my new residence. I picked up my bike and biked home, feeling a lot better, bikes tending to do that to you, making you feel better, the sky above me, cars passing me by as I balanced a curtain rod with one arm, purchased for partioning off my room from the rest of the apartment, and, God, the ride on my bike was probably quicker than the subway ride and certainly much more enjoyable, made things seem not really that far away at all. It is very clear that I am going to be biking a lot more than I have been, and about that I am really excited.

I don't feel it yet, the change, the ending, the beginning. Last night, Niki and I, sitting in my now former apartment, the Grand Street one, talked about that place, Niki asking me if I was sad to leave it. I was not sad, had not really contemplated the move too much in the past few days, too busy having fun on Fire Island and occupying myself with other distractions. Niki said that she was sad, far more sad than I was, that she had a lot emotionally invested in the place. She was the person that was supposed to originally move in with me there four years ago. There was a second time where she almost moved in. There were streches of time where she stayed on our couch or chaise lounge, the chaise lounge brought into the apartment by her. That piece of furniture stayed behind, the thing now a memory, no longer a ratty piece of furniture in my living room.

Things have changed and things have not. I dream about boys in the evening time and dream about food in the daytime. Thoughts concerning my lack of a job stress me out when I think of them, which I do not do often enough. I watch movies, read books, and don't write. So what else is new?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My corneas are fucked up. I learned this today when I went to the eye doctor to get some new contacts. I had known that my eyes were experiencing some troubles, having lately been having on and off terrible vision and occasional extreme sensitivity to light. Apparently, I have been wearing my contacts for too long each day and also not switching pairs often enough, and my corneas are damaged, though the doctor said they should be fine, that I just have to wear glasses for a week and lube my eyes up several times a day. This news scared me and I realized how reckless I have been with not only my eyes, this thing that you only get one pair of and this thing that allows me to process so much beauty, but also so many other things in my life, it all so fragile, and me, a kid, frustrated with it all, not knowing what to do, not being able to respond appropriately, breaking the dishes, the pretty things - self-destrutive behavior. There was that New Yorker article last week about the people that bit their fingers off.

I want to be free of that, the desire to bite my fingers off - metaphorically of course. I want to love and want nothing, to be happy with the things I have and free of bitterness and jealousy. It's really hard, but I do think worth striving for. I feel it sometimes when music is playing.

Several cops yelled at me today, as Niki had left me parked in her car that, unbeknownst to either of us, was blocking the driveway for the police station. I moved a carload of stuff today further out into Brooklyn, into my new apartment. I saw Avenue Q today. During that music, I felt it, the joy I want to feel all the time. I felt it yesterday also while watching the recent film version of Hairspray. I felt it on the subway platform today, a brass heavy trio playing and a trumpet leading it all, the thing a beat-up piece of metal and sounding like it also, the thing a terrifying call to sin, the noise making me want to dance with someone, drink whiskey, smoke, and do illicit things.

I want to love and I want my doing so to be independent of the other things and other people around me, to not need things from them to emit light, to be a conductor of the thing onto myself.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Suydam Street

There is a black cat sitting in the kitchen, looking through the fan and then back at me, this new person in its home. I don’t remember this cat’s name and so whenever there is the urge to call it, to make it move from where I need to drop something, I say kitty. I am the interloper in its space, a new addition it is developing comfort with, looking at mildly suspiciously.

I came here because it is quiet, because there are wood floors, because there is a block party on Grand Street in which salsa music is being blared from gigantic speakers, being blared so loud that it fills every corner of my house with noise, which, though pleasant at first, prevents any type of thinking, particularly the type of thought that necessitates quiet, the type I want to be doing, from happening. And so here I sit, on this nice wooden floor, watching this cat watch me, attempting to think through these things, doing that and writing and looking for employment.

The changes of the past month, planning a move from one apartment to another, drama with friends created by that move, and the end of my short stint at one job and back into the world of being unemployed, have provoked questions about these changes and the broader framework of my life that these are only a small part of, making me wonder about exactly what various things mean to me, the ideas of home and friendship specifically, but following from that the ideas of happiness, security, and a sense of comfort, and how I had been achieving these things in the past and how I would like to achieve these things in the future. Throw into that mix a general anxiety about my future with respect to employment and making money each month to pay rent, thinking of how this is a worry that will occupy me until I die and how I should at this point in my life take more seriously this concern and come up with a long-term solution to it that would satisfy both my needs for money and my desire to feel utilized in a fashion that I enjoy. Circling that, and actually of even more concern to me, is how I am to live a life of meaning and creativity, of how I am going to (finally, yes, finally) take seriously my desire to be a writer, to live a life in which writing plays the central role, where it will become the thing to which I am most committed – that in this I will now pin my happiness, security, and sense of comfort on, that it is far more stable, and something for which only I can be responsible for.

There is so much to be had in this life, so many things possible, and all it takes is both an enthusiasm toward these things and the actual will and self-discipline to pursue them. There are so many pleasures and - a pleasure in itself - there are hardwood floors to sit on as you contemplate them.

Friday night, I got fairly drunk, went to some bar by the Williamsburg Bridge, a bar terribly named, and followed that by attending the Metropolitan. There, I asked Daniel if he wanted to come back to my house to play Scrabble. Daniel is a boy I have had a crush on for a couple years now. He came back to my house and we did not play Scrabble. Such a thing at near four in the morning and fairly drunk would have been a pretty terrible idea, and I had assumed that Daniel knew I had no intention of actually playing the game. Lying next to each other in my bed, still dressed, we talked about various things. At some point, a point before slight touches and advances had been made, Daniel said that a couple of years ago when he knew I had a crush on him, he had read my diary, this thing, looking for references to himself. He said he found none. I knew then that I would have to make some mention of this boy here, tell how thrilled I was to have this cute boy in my house, in my bedroom, in my bed. And so, I was thrilled to have this cute boy, Daniel, in my house, in my bedroom, in my bed.

Eventually touches were made, became more blatant, articles of clothing came off, and I kissed him and we rubbed bodies together. Typing rubbed, I think of rubbing, I think of lamps and genies, wonder if the rubbing of a lamp till a genie emerges is a sexual metaphor, can see very well how it could be, can also see how rubbing a dick until semen emerges can produce, and often times does for me, a genie of sorts.

The cat is now half asleep in the windowsill, its tail moving in circles, pleasant seeming.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Yesterday, I rode with Kim down to DC, she moving to North Carolina, me just wanting to go on a little road trip. The drive down 95 involved a stop at a Walt Whitman rest center, lots of classic rock, and steady conversation about various subjects, namely though our lives. I was to be dropped off in DC where I was supposed to have several hours to kill until the last Chinatown bus left and was planning on perhaps visiting a gay bar or two. Instead, we didn't do things right, didn't switch to 495, and by doing so, possibly did do things right. 95 bypasses DC by a hair and instead takes you over the Woodrow Wilson bridge into Alexandria, the town I grew up in. I started to lose my mind as we went over the Woodrow Wilson bridge, seeing Old Town on the other side, these places and roads second nature to me, encountering the site of memories which at this point in my life are so distant seeming and which suddenly made themselves present unexpectedly. Had I been planning to visit Alexandria, it would have probably been less emotional to do so, but our ending up there had something of fate to it, of magicalness, perhaps ending up here was why I had jumped at this opportunity to go on a random road trip, that this might have all been supposed to him, the Walt Whitman rest stop, the drive, and the encounter with my past in such an assaulting way in Alexandria. We, because we were so close, went to my high school, and that was totally mind blowing and weird and I got butterflys in my stomach, unable to handle being at this place that seemed so alien to me but at which so much important and formative things had occurred. Four years of my life were spent at the place and to be there all of a sudden on a day when only a day earlier I had planned on sitting in a cubicle at work on this day seemed so strange. We then drove past my old house, past the library I worked at for two years, and then past the school right behind my house that really seemed to bring the symbolism of this trip full circle, Walt Whitman Middle School. It was upon these soccer fields that I used to wander at night since my backyard abutted them, these soccer fields that I loved to masturbate on in the dark of night. We then drove to Mount Vernon, which is right down the road, drove along the Potomac, talked about the potential for deer on the road, me dismissing it as very rare to see deer on the Parkway. On the drive back from Mount Vernon to the Metro stop, we passed a deer, dead, obviously just hit. A late night dinner in Chinatown followed where I drank some beer, read my book, and struggled with chopsticks. On the bus, there was almost a fight between the driver and some other alpha male, the two threatening each other with fist gestures, the driver still mad at Baltimore and trying to throw him off the bus, threatening to punch his head. I fell back asleep once things cooled and soon was in New York. I would occasionally wake up to see that we were flying past every car on the road. The drive, which with Kim took five and a half hours, on this crazy bus took less than three and a half. I think the bus driver was obviously on drugs of some sort.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I rode my bike to the bank and the grocery store just now, did so without underwear on, and the air flowing through my shorts, making contact with my skin, felt great, amazing, made me feel in a very immediate way that I was alive and that there was this world I was (and am) existing in.

Playing in the ocean at the beach both yesterday and today presented similar feelings of joy. How to take those and apply those lessons, those observations, to everything? I sat in McCarren Park today with John drinking tall boys and I think I got closer to some answers, or at least at the time, sun shining bright, lying in the shade, beer in hand, pleasant conversation with a friend, I felt that I was closer to such things.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

"all i really, really want our love to do is bring out the best in me and in you"

This past week, I have been feeling pretty terrible. I have been thinking a lot about my life and its friendships. These thoughts have been sparked by several of my closest friends here choosing not to live with me. Not to be too dramatic, but this decision has really broke something, heart, feelings, whatever you choose to call it, as I have contemplated what I thought my relationships with these people meant and how that must have differed from what they thought they meant. I was really excited about cementing my close connections with these people, but the breaks were put on that excitement. The car was turned back from the gates.

I had decided I was moving out of my apartment even when I was pretty sure that these people were not going to have me live with them. My body doesn’t like my bed anymore and has told me to find another place to lie it down in at night. And then enter Niki, telling me that I could live with her. And this action has really warmed my heart at a time when it needed it for so many reasons. I had been thinking a lot about friendships lately, about the many I have had and the many abrupt endings to them I have had, two of them even with Niki, and how despite this, how I was thinking about what a social fuckup I am to have had so many breakups with friends, here was one from so long ago, something like eight years at this point, who still loved me in a way I could recognize as such.

I have been lying in bed a lot, daydreaming, thinking about things, how I had imagined them to be, how they are, and what they could be. I am feeling better today than I have felt in a week, have occupied myself with work for ten hours, a visit from Time Warner, a burrito, some beers, and, when the transcribing of panels was done, with Joni Mitchell’s Blue. Tomorrow will be great. There will be more work and time spent with Kim watching Vanessa Redgrave recite Joan Didion. Things are different, and though I didn’t want them to be, am shocked by the sudden difference felt, there are things to be done, so many books to read, so much time.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

from Wild Tigers I Have Known

Do you think about breaking things?
We could break things.
Don't break my heart.
Walking home through the southside of Williamsburg, back from the video store, I saw things I probably will not see many more times in the same context. I will no longer walk along South 2nd Street to get home from the video store. There were lots of new buildings, most of which looked ugly, and old apartment buildings, also ugly, but ugly in a much better way, the way old things are. It is a hot day and gathered on the street were lots of older neighborhood types (read Latino, not white twentysomethings), sitting on their stoops, listening to music, playing games - it being cooler outside than in an un-air conditioned apartment.

I picked up some beer at my corner bodega, La Divno Nino, splurging on Hoegaarden since I just got paid 300 for a blowjob. I paid my landlord, Iris, my very last rent check. She was hanging out with her family on the sidewalk, this large family which I have come to know over these past four years, various ones of them assisting me in apartment crises. I have seen her children grow up, seemingly so much so in just four years. She told me that she was sad I was leaving, and I could tell she was. It felt like a departure, and I was sad also. I lied and told her that she had been a great landlord and I would miss her. The missing her part true, the good landlord part not so much. But regardless of how much she doesn't take care of her building, she also never harrassed me about anything and was always way more understanding than any landlord should be about late rent. Our first year here, all three of us were always behind on rent, usually so by about a month, and never were we evicted or even threatened with such an action. Iris would always be understanding and would tell us that it was okay.

She also has seen me grow in so many ways. I look a lot different than the kid that moved here to New York four years ago, have become in some ways more New York, meaning a little better dressed and presented, and that's what I thought about during our sad little moment, about how you see a person so regularly and interact with them, such as co-workers, landlords, or customers, them becoming a part of your life in this very distant way (but a part nonetheless), and then you just leave, probably never to see each other again.
As we moved with the mass of people all fleeing from, storming off from, Lauryn Hill's concert at Wingate Field, I overheard several pretty hilarious things, all of which may give you, the reader fortunate enough not to have attended this concert, something to understand what it is you missed. Among these choice quotes: "I wish I had a tomato." "Lauryn Hill needs to be arrested." "It's sad when Sean Kingston [the opener] is the highlight."

To watch a performer who once had it, that special quality, and whose album you played non-stop over and over again during that year in college, how those songs when heard again bring to the surface those memories, otherwise buried, of dancing with this person, that person, and singing along with countless people on car rides the whole of that CD - to watch this performer, Lauryn Hill, these days, in the year 2007, is terribly disappointing. Whatever it was I loved was absent. It was painful to watch.

First, after being about an hour and a half late to her show, her band played a long, terribly long, instrumental introduction, which seemed all the more painful, all the more rude, after already having made the audience wait for so long to see Hill perform. The band was playing jam band type grooves, stuff I thought they would switch out of once Hill finally emerged on stage. Instead, they continued with their riffs, too loud and unfocused, while Hill chanted something in a scratched up voice. The effect she seemed to be going for was perhaps something along the lines of Fela Kuti, some really bad attempt at Afropop. It wasn't working. Her voice was terrible. The band wasn't that good. It was just an ugly mess, and after that very first song, despite having waited hours to see her play, the crowd started to stream out of the venue.

We stayed for a few more songs, all just as terrible, and watched the mass exodus before eventually joining it. Sean Kingston's performing "Beautiful Girls," sadly, definitely was the highlight. To watch one of your favorite singers from your past bomb on stage in such a terrible fashion is not pleasant, makes you ponder time, the gifts of youth, and, when you are already in a bad mood, makes things seem pretty miserable. Joy is found when someone can capture that miserableness and take it to the extreme, statements such as "Lauryn Hill needs to be arrested." That, and the image of this man actually having a tomato, an early Looney Tunes cartoon, and him pelting the performer with it, the mental imagery too great, too funny.

Friday, August 3, 2007

the last grand street days

The best way to get into a pool is not toe by toe by limb, slowly inching your way into the cold water, but all at once, cannonballing into the thing, feeling free and great for jumping right into the thing. There is also an analogy about a band-aid that is similar, about ripping it right off, but that doesn’t seem as appropriate, conjures images of pain, suffering, hurt.

I decided today that I was moving out. It had been something that I had thought about for a while, ready for change after living in this apartment for four years. Last night, Ethan got legal papers from someone on the street saying that a bank was trying to foreclose on our house, that our landlord has not been paying her mortgage payments. And while not dire, while even if it were to be foreclosed upon, the end result of us being kicked out would be months away, this just made my desire to move take on more urgency.

And today, a bit strung out on coffee and the night before, sex with some skinny boy far out in Brooklyn, I decided that, yes, I am moving out, that this would be my last month living here at this Grand Street apartment, probably my last month living in Williamsburg. Hopefully, I will move into Ben and Gabriel’s loft, though that seems unlikely. And so probably I will move into Niki’s apartment, which despite being no longer in walking distance of so many things (Bedford, Greenpoint, the East River, McCarren Park, Metropolitan), is right across the street from a big park, is close to lots of tacquerias, is a Spanish speaking area (more impetus to learn this language!), and is an apartment without roaches! I am really excited about this. Everything looks more beautiful, as it always does before goodbye.

Last night, at this gallery opening, I met this boy briefly, exchanged names. Half an hour later, he came up to me and said goodbye, that he was leaving. Don’t leave, stay, I said. He said, Come with me. And I said Okay, got into a car with two complete strangers heading to an unknown neighborhood to hang out at some random girl’s house. That was a rash decision and though there were odd points to the night, there were points to them regardless. There was a sense of living, of having fun, of doing new things, of being present. Today, with my announcement to my roommates that I was moving out, it felt a lot like hopping into that car with strangers last night, aware that I was doing something audacious I wasn’t totally sure about, but glad to have made the decision, excited about what it might lead to.