Thursday, September 30, 2010

another song about my dream of horses

I had a list of some songs that I really, really wanted to hear them play. Only one of them was played, "Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying," the song they closed the show with, thankfully it the one song I needed to hear them play and the one which I would have been really been bummed not to hear as it's probably my favorite by them and one that seems like a sure bet for a set list. Less sure bets for a set list and ones that did not make it were "Electronic Renaissance," "This is Just a Modern Rock Song," and "Lazy Line Painter Jane." These ones were not played. I am okay with that.

Because at some point during Belle and Sebastian's set at the Williamsburg Waterfront, I realized some things, that, metaphorically, you can't be always listing off the songs that weren't played but have to appreciate the ones that were. That wasn't necessarily what I was feeling at the time - that's the metaphor I'm trying to extend to the sentiment now. I have been bitching on here lately in sometimes muted and sometimes not muted ways about the feeling that my life sucks, that I am entering adulthood not as the person that I would like to be, doing a job I don't really care for, and not spending any of my time writing and still yet having far less fun that I used to. I had been hoping earlier in the day that the concert would be cancelled because of the threat of a storm and that they would reschedule at an indoor venue later on down the line. But anyways, I really connected again with this music that means so much to me, has meant so much to me at really important parts of my life. Stuart Murdoch led the band in these beautiful songs with gorgeous orchestration and lyrics that hint at a life I used to want, that I still do, that I had, and that I still do and which I forget about sometimes in my whining. So they are playing a really spirited version of "Boy With the Arab Strap" and I am dancing along with a few other people around me, whom it is clear to me also have some really personal associations with this band, and we are going through it, releasing something, a bit of catharsis, a bigger serving of nostalgia, and I smiled so much throughout this show, really felt like this life had something magical to it, that I needed to recognize that more often.

The chorus to "We Rule the School" felt like a finger being wagged in my face, the good kind though, the kind you occasionally need, your friend telling you to get your shit together and quit thinking about that boy that breaks your heart. They sang, "Do something pretty while you can. Don't fall asleep." And I, churchgoer, thought Amen, Brother, Amen, Brother. I have to do this.

But back to the feeling. So they are playing the titular track of their third studio album and the skyline of New York City is behind me and I thought about what this band used to mean to me, the person I was some ten years ago, the summer I lived in Madsion, Wisconsin, with Bonnie when we listened to Belle and Sebastian all the time, going through some emotional changes and thinking about life and our place in it, what it was that lied ahead, feeling on the cusp of things and looking back longing toward other things, this music really helping with feeling, living. I do not know if I can emphasize enough how much this band meant to me and how many times I have listened to If You're Feeling Sinister and The Boy With the Arab Strap. There is no doubt in my mind that I have listened to these two albums way more than any other albums ever, hundreds, if not thousands, of times. So many sad afternoons and nights and mornings and also happy moments were spent listening to these albums. These two albums really helped guide me through so many moments in my life.

I thought about that Madison me during this song and thought what he would think about this current me, if he thought I would be in New York City a decade later, living there, and seeing the band play in my new residence with a boyfriend I am in love with who is the age I was then. I doubt that he would have. I am not sure he would have had any clue that this might have been where he ended up, just as I now have such a hard time imagining what my life may be like in ten years or what I would even like it to be like. But I thought that I am here in New York, okay, a place I dreamed about living ever since I was a sexually confused teen and reading slam poetry and thinking that this was the bohemian Oz that would provide me everything I wanted in life. And so maybe it doesn't necessarily match up with that fantasy, but I am here and I do have a job and I do have a nice home and I do reside with a beautiful man who tells me he loves me often and who when I think about, I smile a lot. Things could be so much worse and I am a fucking ungrateful asshole for whining about all the ways in which I am sad or disappointed when there is so, so much to be grateful for. The rain, the remnants of some tropical storm, that was supposed to flood New York this evening never appeared and the show went off with not a drop of rain falling on me, and them closing their performance with my favorite song of theirs and this man I love next to me for all of it and this gorgeous city I live in lit up behind me, shrouded in clouds and fog.

I have got a lot going for me, so much to be happy for, so much to celebrate. This life is a hard thing and the news from the past couple days has really reinforced this, all of the young gay suicides. Each story has broken my heart and the amount of them has made me incredibly angry. Each story has made me remember difficult years in my life, middle school and early high school and the relentless bullying I had to deal with, and it's bullshit that kids have to suffer through this, and it's bullshit that there are adults that through their anti-gay rhetoric foster this climate where these things are seen as okay. Belle and Sebastian, during their set, after some lame banter about American football and rugby, played " Lord Anthony." The song, about a young femme kid being harassed at school, really brought forth all this anger and sadness I have had about these recent events. I am not sure Murdoch was aware of the recent events at all, as he introduced the song with a flip remark, saying here's a song about someone that probably didn't play rugby. The lyrics aren't entirely clear as to what's being said and this was one of the off-moments of the night for me where I wasn't sure what Murdoch's intentions were, if he had any, and whether he was just a patronizing straight indie asshole that doesn't get it, couldn't get it. It seemed weird to play this song without reference to all the suicides that have occurred lately amongst young teen queers because of bullying.

I put it past me though because I can't hate a person because of some rugby comment, even if it does seem like the same type of flip remarks that trivialize homophobia and assert some notion of gender norms at the expense of the safety and even very lives of queers. Sometimes musicians just shouldn't talk. It's sometimes a dangerous thing to see bands you really love and then to hear their on-stage banter. Sometimes the image you have of them is so inflated because of gorgeous songs that hearing them make bad jokes or even saying something that makes you cringe just a little in the way your uncle might at a wedding can really destroy the thing you have going with them. But with this band, it'd be quite difficult for that to occur for me because of the years and years I have spent with this band.

Up and down, washed back and forth between Madison and Sarasota and New York and various roads and highways around these United States. These songs have been with me everywhere and so to hear them again tonight played live while I was a bit stoned brought together all these places, all these memories, all these old friends and old lovers. They all gathered and we danced and we cried and we all had such a lovely time. For a couple hours, we all still hung out and still talked. It was such a shame when it had to end and we had to herd out with the crowd past the really high young man, kind of chubby, holding up a peace sign, incredibly sweaty, smiling at everyone that walked past him, and everyone walked past him.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The rain has been steady since I woke up this morning around 8, when Jacob came home from work. I woke up, my day off, and the two of us hung out on our couch, eating breakfast sandwiches from the bodgea around the corner, getting stoned, and watching some Curb Your Enthusiasm. I had some vague plans for my day off that involved going to the gym, going to a couple of thrift stores, and maybe going to see a movie. At this point, it is seemingly unlikely that any of these will be done, though the movie does have much better odds than the gym or thrift stores. Not that it is that difficult to carry an umbrella, but residual effects from this weed are making me feel too lazy to do much other than play online.

Yesterday, the two of us made the stupid decision to go to Ikea, not realizing that Sundays at Ikea make the place even more of a hell than it normally is, which is saying quite a bit. Pushy families everywhere, our cart stolen from us twice, three various lines just to pick up a table, annoying announcements over the loud speaker every thirty seconds. I was ready to lose my mind. Luckily we escaped with our new kitchen table and found a livery cab outside right away that sped like a crazy person on the BQE and got us back to the safe space of our apartment in such a short amount of time. We assembled two chairs and this table, positioned them in the corner of our kitchen, extended one of the table legs so it didn't wobble on our uneven floor, and now I sit here in front of my kitchen window, like I have dreamed about, looking out on to all the green in our backyard and listening to the rain fall when I am not listening to Arcade Fire. I am reading old diary entries and thinking about my life, wondering what it is I need to do to make myself happy.

I would like a new bed sometime in the near future. I would like to go to South America very soon and have Jacob applying for his passport, so that perhaps we can make this happen. I buy lotto tickets a couple times a week in the serious hopes of winning, pinning some idea of escape on printed tickets that cost a dollar a piece. I am cooking a frozen pizza from Trader Joe's in my oven right now and hardly eating like I should be. I will blame this too on the rain, on making me not want to venture to the store to pick up some greens and fruits of various kinds. I also really want to see Niagara Falls. I don't necessarily want to return to work tomorrow, and I feel that way often. I should be looking at job listings today and putting this free time to better use. I google image search pictures of that or this place. I play around on Kayak several times a day, looking up flight prices to this or that city. I dream a lot.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jason's mom gave birth to you and me

There are a few bodegas by my house. Lately, I have taken to going to one particular one more than the others because they sell Orangina and more appealing flavors of Ben and Jerry's ice cream than the other ones nearby. Last night, because it was on the way home from the grocery store, I stopped into a different one to purchase some beer. When I brought my beer up to the counter, the man was so friendly in a way that seemed totally sincere, saying, "My friend, where have you been? I have not seen you in a long time."

It says certain things which you may be able to intuit when I say that this was the highlight of my day yesterday. It made me feel connected, noticed, that this man who runs this bodega missed the sight of me, or perhaps just the purchases I made there. He told me to come back soon. My heart swelled a bit. It was a really depressed thing yesterday, still a bit today, less so.

The prospect of living and all it requires in New York, anywhere really, is stressing me out, bringing me down. I don't particularly like my job, but am not too well suited for other jobs, let alone other jobs that pay as well. It's a problem, particularly when I think about aging and adulthood, something I now am firmly in the realm of with the age of 30 approaching in less than a year. How is that one can provide for themselves and be happy doing so? How do I find work that pays me money and also doesn't make me feel like I am wasting my life and my time? What is there in five years time for me if I don't alter my path, let alone ten years time?

I am finding myself overwhelmed by these feelings and unsure of what to do about them, how to find a nice job. I find myself sleeping a lot and watching horror movies on Netflix. There is a comfort that I have yet to identify the exact nature of in watching seventies and eighties horror movies while stoned. There are themes in these films that rear themselves again and again. The nature of place and whether physical locations can hold memory is one that is there again and again. I live in New York City. I live in an old apartment building. My bed is not entirely comfortable and this heat as of late has brought several mosquitos to my bedroom, bugs that seem to take particular pleasure in keeping me up throughout the night, tossing and turning, hiding under sheets. Camp Crystal Lake, a house in Amityville, a hotel built on top of Indian burial grounds. There is something really poetic and mesmerizing about this theme, something hopeful almost about it, that there is continuity, that things don't end, that bodies may end up sliced and maimed, but this land holds grudges, the memories of certain things, and we reside in these memories, thrown about this way or that by the recollection of them.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I walked to the grocery store this evening alone, Jacob at home, feeling sexually frustrated and sad, the two of us not having had sex in a couple weeks because of my bout of strep throat and his overnight schedule. I listened to Bjork, trying to bring myself back to some place, not sure where, some place a bit happier. The moon was full and I did not get to that place. I think I'm going to get a dog. I want to go out of the city and walk in the woods somewhere. I want to go swimming and have sex and not work ever again and cry.

Monday, September 20, 2010

rented bicycles

I woke up Jacob yesterday, after sleeping for about an hour after his overnight shift, gently, asking how long he would need to get ready, that we had about half an hour before we had to leave. We were going to go meet my mom and sister for brunch in SoHo before going to Governor's Island for a day of bike riding. My mom was going to be visiting for the day and Jacob had been wanting to meet my family for a while. He said he needed half an hour. I told him that that's how long he had and so he had to get up. We spent some time on our hair, put on outfits that we hoped looked cute, popped some guarana and headed off to meet them.

It was a lovely, sunny day, hotter than I had anticipated and we sat in front of the Jane, waiting for them to arrive. I should have felt more nervous I think, but I didn't feel nervous at all. It seemed very natural, which I guess is the way it should feel, and so that it did is something I should feel good about it. I'm not sure. Either way, it was the first time I had introduced a boy to my family, and it went off really well and non-awkwardly. I am thinking the couple of Bloody Marys I had at brunch certainly helped with this.

At Governor's Island, we ended up meeting up with my uncle and cousin as well, who had had similar plans to bike around that day. I had never been to this island before, had thought it was larger than it was. It takes about ten minutes or so to do a bike loop around the entire island, and after a few of these loops, I began to get bored of the same scenery and also tired of the feeling that I was going around in circles. Jacob and I got off our bikes and I decided to go in some circles of habit that I at least enjoy and ordered some beers. We sat in the sun at Water Taxi Beach, imported sand underneath our shoes and a preponderance of yellow jackets flying around our faces. A boy was nearby digging in the sand and pulled up a baby turtle. It was definitely not native to the island, to this area. It seemed like one of the ones you will see for sale on side streets in Chinatown. I imagined someone had bought it there, for some reason brought it here, got tired of it, and abandoned it on this island. This little kid was really happy about the find, sadly for the turtle. He buried it in the sand. The turtle would burrow out. He would rebury it. It would try to escape and he would grab it and carry it around in the sand in his excitable, shaking hands, a little giant, stomping around on small villagers beneath him, oblivious.

The sun became more and more pressing. The consumption of beer may have had something to do with this.

Eventually, we all met up again, talked about the yellow jackets and observed the sad relationship between this boy and the turtle. The boy's dad put the turtle in a tupperware container and then tossed the container in a giant Wilson golf bag he for some reason was carrying around. He biked off, the bag bouncing around on his back, the turtle probably doing the same, a sad, short life ahead of it. We boarded the ferry back to Manhattan, rode the subway together for a while, and parted ways at 14th Street.

I did in fact have strep throat and am still in the tail end of this infection, my throat still swollen, but only slightly. The sun is shining. I have this day off and am going to go to the gym and run and look in some furniture stores and see if I can find a cute little kitchen table to place next to my recently cleaned kitchen windows so I can eat there (and no longer on my couch) and maybe even write there, but definitely sit there and look out on to the green that grows in my backyard.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Saturday night, it slowly started to happen. Smoking a cigarette seemed like a bad idea. The back of my throat felt weird, the beginnings of a cold. It came on fast, an incredibly swollen throat, tonsils streaked with white spots. This stupid thing has lasted for so long now, my tonsils still incredibly swollen. I feel like the last week of my life is one that in all honestly might as well be erased as never having happened. I have rarely left the house, have either slept in bed, slept on the couch, or watched crap on tv or the internet until I fell back asleep on either the couch or the bed. I went to work on Tuesday, which was a mistake, because it was insanely busy, it being Fashion Week, literally the worst week of the year at my job in which the workload increases probably by about twenty while the tips and general niceties shrink to near-zero. I didn't go in yesterday, instead went to the doctor. She even described the back of my throat as "gnarly." I get the test results back tomorrow, but she was fairly certain it was strep throat. If not that, then it is gonorrhea or chlamydia of the throat. Great. I got a shot of penicillin in the butt yesterday to treat it, assuming that it is strep.

Really intense thunderstorms have started. Hail stones hitting windows. Big streaks of lightening. My throat is feeling only slightly better today. I am no longer in terrible pain when I try to pass even water down my throat, which is a major plus.

I am going to try to not to smoke anymore once this passes. I had terrible foreshadowing feelings about what lung cancer might feel like, the pain involved with that, how terrible this felt, how I needed to do everything possible to protect my health, remembered how much pain my dad was in when he was dying.

I want a new job. I want to redecorate. I want many things. First though, I want my body and my throat back. I cannot wait to be over this sickness and hope it ends in the next couple of days so I can go out and live my life this weekend and get off this fucking couch.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Last Day of Summer

“And when you go around in circles, brother, the world is very big, but if you plow straight ahead it’s small enough.” –Colum McCann, Let The Great World Spin (53)

It is now September, these months flying past, one right after the next, New Year’s seeming like not that long ago. I smell lighter fluid, a barbecue going on somewhere nearby, the end of summer celebrations scattered across backyards, Labor Day cookouts.

Yesterday, I spent the day at Jacob Riis beach, most of my time there bobbing in the water, diving under and under, catching the occasional wave, taking breaks to lie exhausted and winded on the sand underneath the sun. At some point, I made eyes with a guy nearby, and he waved me over to talk to him. I plopped myself down on his blanket next to him. We exchanged names and he rubbed my back, telling me my skin was smooth. Salt water, I said. He was from either Bosnia, or Serbia, or Croatia. I can’t remember which, only remember that it was one of those countries we used to hear a lot about in the nineties, but less so now. He had an accent, long brown hair, and a hairy chest. At some point, he started to kiss my neck, my ears. We started to kiss each other and lied side by side, dry humping. He pulled my dick out of my swimsuit and jerked me off. We were close together, our bodies, no one able to see what was actually happening. I came on his towel. He poured some sand on to the pools of semen. I was done, wanted to move on, felt awkward. I told him I was going to go back in the water and dived underneath a wave, getting wet quick. What people say about band-aids, pulling them right off, same with cold water, you just have to dive in, none of this toe by ankle by leg business.

I stayed in the water for a long time, thinking it might be the last time this summer, this year even, the last time until maybe next year. The sun descended lower and lower in the sky, bleaching out my view of the shoreline from the water, making the ocean glow, white ripples stretched down the horizon, billowing white sparkles, cresting and falling, rising again and again, the movements of the tide, its steadiness and resolve comforting, some hint that perhaps things don’t end, that the wave crashes, the tide recedes back to the ocean, and another wave comes soon after, the cycle endless.

Nick, Diego, and I rode the Q22 from Riis Beach down Rockaway Boulevard to 96th Street because I really wanted to check out Rockaway Taco, which I had often heard about but never actually eaten at, despite my obsessive love of tacos. The place was beautiful. It brought forth memories of a small beach town food shack in Florida or Mexico. These past memories conjured, all pleasant, were laid on top of this little food stand a block away from the beach, surfer kids and hip little Brooklyn kids eating in the backyard of this place serving really yummy fish tacos and fresh juice. It was the perfect cap to the day at the beach, to this last hurrah of summer, the calendar setting aside this weekend, Labor Day, as a way to mark the end of a season, of a mindset, fall starting soon, and with it a saying goodbye to laziness and relaxation, or so I hope.

Fall for the early part of my life meant a return to school and working, and I need it to be that way again this year, not in the literal sense, but in the more figurative sense, meaning that there are changes I need to make in my life, things which I need to recommit myself to and that I need to pursue these things head on, full steam ahead. I need to take seriously this habit of writing, need to do it daily now that it is fall. I need to look for a new job, since my current one, as pleasant and easy as it is, is not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.

I am getting old. Within a year, I will be 30, an adult age (even more of one, an incontestable one at least), at which I would like to not be doing the same thing. My job now requires me to be at work at seven am each day, which is too early. I am capable of doing it and have been doing so for months, but there are costs associated with it that I am becoming more and more aware of and which I think I am not necessarily willing to pay for much longer. I am missing out on nightlife, which doesn’t mean the same thing to me as it used to. I no longer desire to go out every night and chase open bars and dick and wait half an hour to catch the subway at four something in the morning. But there are nights where I do want to go out and dance and not be so tired because of my sleep schedule. But more than that, I am missing out on those wild curlicues of thought a tired mind will create, the flashes of thought that come to you in late night hours and the ability to write those down. I don’t know. I do know though that I want to change some of my habits this fall and to commit myself to producing things and to changing my employment situation to something slightly more desirable.

And so when I read that line about how the world is a large thing if you are constantly going around in circles, something about it really struck home to me and my current concerns. A story from last week to further illustrate where my mind is at these days:

I was riding on the subway to work, it about 6:50 am on the L train, me seated at the end of a car. I felt something on my leg all of a sudden while I was reading and I freaked out and went to brush it off, wondering what the hell was on my leg. I saw that it was a huge, bright green grasshopper. I was drawn out of my tired mode and thrown into some panicky-there’s-a-big-bug-on-me mode. I pushed it off my leg and it fell to the floor where it rested by the door. What was this grasshopper doing on the subway? How did it get here? Where are there even grasshoppers this big in New York? I was aware that this bug was probably going to die because it had somehow ended up on the subway. I began to think about my own life and draw parallels (perhaps overwrought ones) between myself and this grasshopper, that neither of us should be on this subway right now, that we were both going to die because of it. The bug belonged elsewhere and so did I. Something is being smothered. I had to rescue this bug. If this bug died, I was going to die. I had begun to tie my fate to his and if I could rescue this little creature, then through some turn of karma, I too would be rescued from my situation. I scooped it up in my hands, closing my fists over it. I could feel it bumping against my fingers, trying to squirm its way out. I walked up the stairs at 8th Avenue, and went down a block to Jackson Square Park where I set it loose into a bunch of flowers, hoping for the best for this thing. I then walked to work, a few minutes late.

I need to plow straight on through, make this world small. Goodbye, summer.

Sleepaway Camp

I watched this movie last night, and if you haven't seen it, stop reading.

This horror film from 1983 has some crazy stuff going on in it with gender, homosexuality, and trans issues. I don't know what to make out of any of it, but the ending is totally batshit crazy, and I played back the scene a couple of times last night, loving it so much. The film itself is kind of slow-going, not gruesome or suspenseful enough, but the ending really pays off. What a beautiful final image of Angela that closing shot is!