Monday, April 29, 2013

"Have faith, old heart. What is living, anyway, but dying."

A few weeks ago, I bought an e-cigarette. I was in Ricky's buying some hair products and they had them stocked near the cash registers. An impulse purchase. Since buying that one, I have bought a few more. Since buying that one, I have not bought any packs of cigarettes. They are not the same. They are a close approximation of the thing, but there is a difference. It satisfies most of my urges, though not all, and there are moments when I am taking a drag on one, such as now while I sit here in front of my computer drinking coffee and listening to Kurt Vile, that I would really like to smoke a real one. But I push that thought out of mind and take another drag from this e-cigarette.

I just had a guy over to my house from Scruff. He was an e-cigarette. While his cock was in my mouth, I wanted a different cock in my mouth, a cock attached to a person I knew, had affection for, or even the passion and furtiveness of a steamroom hookup. This was mechanical, willed desire, false. E-cigarettes claim to have all the desired nicotine from cigarettes without the carcinogens. Something key was missing. I had hooked up with this guy several months ago and remembered the experience positively, had been talking to him every now and then about meeting up again. I let him into my building and quickly had to recalibrate my conceptions of this person, my memories of him quite different than how he appeared. He wasn't as cute as I remembered. We kissed and I could taste cologne, some sort of scent.

Lines from the opening of "Song of Myself" quickly flashed through my mind:

Houses and rooms are full of perfumes . . . . the shelves are crowded with perfumes, 
I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.

I tried to forget about these chemicals I was smelling, these things blocking any sort of human scent. One of my biggest turn-offs is artificial scents. The obvious corollary to that is that one of my biggest turn-ons is body odor. Each time I kissed him, the scent filled my mouth and I didn't want to be tasting whatever smell this was. I wanted to taste this guy.

We undressed and hopped into my bed. I started to kiss his chest but tasted cologne there as well. I gave him head and could taste it there on his cock as well. At this point, I asked him if he put cologne on his dick. No, he said.

We fooled around for a bit longer but I wasn't into it. I was tired of tasting these scents whenever I tried to make contact with his body. I told him I just wanted to watch him jerk off. He asked if he turned me off. I told him that I am just really sensitive to scents and just like natural body odors. He apologized a lot and told me that most guys don't and that's why he put some cologne on. He said that next time, he wouldn't wear any. I didn't tell him that there would not be a next time. We both came, he got dressed, he left.

There are things I want and I am more certain of what those things are, at least am so right now in this current caffeinated and nicotine-fueled moment. There are certainly moments when things are more hazy, when I long for this boy or that one despite being rejected by them. There are many moments when I fail to fully live in this space and time. I often find myself wrestling against the past, wanting things to be different. But this weekend, things started to feel different. I realized that I wasn't wrestling anyone or anything, that instead I was flailing around on the floor, cursing shadows still cast by figures that walked away a while ago. I am learning, unfortunately quite slowly (but learning nonetheless), that happiness is accepting these things, of living in a present moment with the things and people presently there - obvious stuff, yes, but stuff that is easily forgotten when you nurse thoughts of being held by this or that person as you sleep alone in your bed at night.

I have had this bundle of fabric in my apartment for a month or so that I had intended to frame and hang on my wall, yet another planned project unrealized. Well, I finally got around to framing it this weekend, to finding a drill, to purchasing a masonry drill bit to hang this on my brick wall, and now it hangs over my couch. One planned project now realized. I followed that up by hanging curtain rods, shortening the length of a set of curtains, and hanging those as well. Two planned projects now realized.

My home feels like more of one. I have a bit of momentum and I am reading a beautiful book, Stag's Leap by Sharon Olds, that is making my life more beautiful, making me realize certain things, clearing away some of the vagueness, some of the haze, making things clear - well, clearer at least.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

People of Varying Degrees of Fame in No Particular Order Who I Would Like to Either Have a Drink With or Make Out With

1. Michael K of

2. Chris Crocker

3. The really cute guy who works at Oak

4. Marlon Teixeria

5. Damien Crosse

6. Justin Bieber

7. Charlie Day

8. The guy who reads old Penguin classics while working out at the gym

9. My subway crush from my morning commutes

10. Arden Ytterberg

Thursday, April 25, 2013

a decade

Ten years ago yesterday, I arrived in this city. It was dark by the time my flight landed, cold, and a little rainy if I remember correctly. I took a taxi from the airport with all of my belongings stuffed into two pieces of luggage to my friend Niki's apartment in Red Hook. I spent the next few days, walking around, looking for jobs, looking for apartments, taking in everything, so incredibly happy to be in this city that I had dreamed about on and off ever since I was a kid. 

I can't believe that it has been ten years. I still remember that taxi ride from the airport to my friend's apartment in Red Hook and how thrilling that was. I had no home, no set plans, no job waiting for me. I was in this city, New York City, and I would have to figure out how to make this work. I had nowhere else to go and little savings. The first months I did so quickly, filled with drive, getting a job at the Strand, hopping around various sublets until I got an apartment, and going to just about every reading and concert I possibly could. It was almost impossible to be tired in those first few years. I was living the dream.

Things have changed so much. I no longer talk to Niki. I no longer talk to quite a few people that I used to be really close friends in those first few years, some by choice, others just by the gradual fading away, calls to each other spaced further and further apart until at some point they just stop. When I first moved here, the smoking ban had just taken effect, and there were still quite a few bars that were taking their time complying with the ban, and my jeans carried the odor of stale smoke. The Strand had yet to undergo its renovations. It didn't have air-conditioning and I sweated through the summer, the dust from the books collecting to my sweat. Williamsburg was such a different neighborhood then. The new condos that dot every block had yet to appear. The apartment that I lived in for my first few years was a 3 bedroom apartment right off the Lorimer stop for 1500 total, an amount that now seems like a dream. I walk around that neighborhood and can still remember certain buildings that no longer exist, see ghosts superimposed over tall new residential buildings. There was no such thing as a smartphone yet or Facebook. People weren't spending every second looking down at a screen. It was such a beautiful time. People still got lost.

I moved here with vague dreams of being a writer, of living some artist life, and hanging out with cool people, of having lots of sex, of my candle burning at both ends. The candle burning at both ends part I definitely lived. There has also been a good deal of sex, of romance, and also of, its twin, heartbreak. I will be the first to admit that I have failed in some major ways though, that I have been incredibly lazy and wasted precious time. I have failed to seriously pursue writing. There has been this diary project, which I have been very good about keeping up, but I have failed to write fiction pieces, stuff apart from this diary. 

A few days, I was walking around the Lorimer stop, thinking about my time in this city, brushing my shoulders past memories on the sidewalk. They walked quick in the other direction, not stopping to apologize about bumping into me. I walked past Fly Rite tattoo as they were opening and popped in. I got myself a tattoo of 424 on my wrist, a celebration of living here for ten years, but also a reminder that I couldn't escape, something I would see anytime I looked at my hands, a reminder of what it is I moved here for, what it felt like ten years ago to arrive in this city, a call to hold on to those dreams and pursue them.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

derived from aperio, meaning "to open"

I may or may not have a broken pinkie finger. I certainly have a very bruised one after dropping a 35 pound weight on it yesterday at the gym.

However, I did not let a potentially broken finger stop me from jerking off in the showers with the guy in the shower next to me. My gym, for whatever reasons, has fogged opaque partitions between each shower stall, so that you can see a blurred image of the person showering next to you. This muscled-up guy came into the stall next to me and started washing himself with a little too much care, it all a little too slo-mo sexy shampoo commercial for me to not think that this guy was looking for something. So I started jerking off. He pressed his ass against the glass between us for me to get a better view. He turned to face me and I pressed my cock against the glass. He did the same. I had my hand resting on the glass. He put his hand there as well, across from mine, as if we were touching through the glass. I pulled my hand away quickly, as if from a hot surface, the gesture too intimate. We jerked off until we both came. I left the showers and as I entered the locker room blushed with something close to shame, convinced, probably falsely, that all these people in the locker room were aware that I was just jerking off in the showers.

The guy came out to his locker soon after, which, of course, was right next to mine. I got dressed even quicker. He wasn't as cute as the fogged glass allowed me to imagine him.

I smoked weed last evening to help with the pain of my finger and also because it was 4/20. I watched the same episode of Veep twice, really in love with the witty rapid-fire jokes. I listened to music and melted into my couch.

I awoke this morning to a text from the guy uptown. I hopped on the train and read the Roberto Bolano story in this week's New Yorker on the way there, and maybe you know and maybe you don't, but Roberto Bolano is a deity. It's been a while since I have read something by him but now I want to go back and read everything. He was such a talented writer - is - the writing is still alive so I am not sure whether that statement should use present or past tense. Also I want to move to Mexico City, which I have the urge to do probably at least once every six months. Amazing story though, is what I am trying to say, beautifully written stuff.

I finished the story right before getting to 96th Street. I pissed and came in the guy's mouth. He asked me how everything was going afterward and made the same jokes he always makes about how he might just be a homosexual. We talked about the weather. I took the train back to Brooklyn while I read about a film studio lot in China.

There was this cute young gay couple that got on the train at some point and stood in front of me. I got distracted from the story by the sight of the one's ankles. He was wearing dress shoes without socks paired with some Thom Browne length pants. I tried reading the story again but then they started to hold hands and China and its film lots started to seem so much further away.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

writings in the sky

There aren't too many cuties riding the subway at 6:30 in the morning when I head into work, but I have seen this one guy on the subway a couple times now during my morning commute. He lives out past me because he is always on the train by the time I get on at DeKalb. That's a plus in his column already - that he lives far out in Bushwick near me. Even without that though, his column is checkmark after checkmark, a scribbled column with frantic checks all over the place, and an empty column next to it of his perceived minuses.

He was seated. He was wearing rust colored jeans with brown Clarks. I recently mentioned how seeing a little bit of ankle, that bit of skin that sometimes shows between the bottom of a pair of pants and the top of a pair of shoes, is one of my biggest turn-ons. Because this guy was seated, his pants were riding up his leg a bit and there was that little bit of heaven above his Clarks, a tiny strip of pale flesh, a teaser, a tiny audio sample when you really want to hear the whole song. I untied his shoes and removed them and no one said anything as I played out this fantasy in my head, seemed normal enough for the morning commute my mind imagined. As I played through these scenes, I actually sat a little down the train from him, peering around other passengers boarding at each stop, making my view more and more obstructed as we got closer to the city. He has beautiful hair and large nostrils. He was wearing purple headphones. He got off at Union Square, where I transfer trains, and so I followed him for a bit up to the platform where I catch the N or R. I somehow lost him in the rush of commuters. I wanted to see where he was headed to, what stop he got off at, imagine what his life was like and where he might be heading into work so early. I started recalling the details about him, committing them to memory, imagining I would write a Missed Connection about him. I have not. The day was busier than I expected.

On the subway ride home today, there was a man standing next to me reading a guidebook called The Moon. I wanted to lie on a blanket with him and have him tell me about the moon, about the stars, about the universe. He got off at the Jefferson stop, one stop before me. I watched him exit. He was wearing flared jeans. The crush was over. I would not learn about the moon, the stars, the universe - at least, not from him.

I walked down Knickerbocker Avenue this evening to the grocery store. Dusk was settling over the streets. There were children everywhere at the park, everyone enjoying this weather. I bought some mixed greens, some mushrooms, some tea. I walked back home and watched an overly aggressive cop tackle a bicyclist who had run a red light. It was an ugly and unnecessary scene. I kept on walking, Sonic Youth playing on my headphones, the sky incredibly beautiful, the magic hour making me both happy and sad about this life, overcome with emotion. Closer to my house, I watched a flock of pigeons make circles in the sky, swerve that way and then this.

I have been in New York just shy of ten years now. My ten year anniversary is coming up on April 24th. I associate these circling pigeons with New York. The apartment that I lived in during my first four years in New York faced the rooftop of a pigeon man. He would be on his roof every evening with his pigeons and they would circle the sky, hundreds of these birds going around and around. These things always happen at dusk, these pagan pigeons doing their ritual dances to the setting sun, praising its glory. I always knew where my apartment was, blocks and blocks away. I could spot this formation of moving dots in the sky and know that that was the guy who lived behind my building underneath all of those birds. Brooklyn has a lot of these circling flocks and I am always wowed by them, stopped in whatever I am doing to look at these creatures. It's such a beautiful sight and one that I still don't understand, how their movements are so coordinated. I don't need to understand everything, anything. I don't need to know much about the moon or about circling pigeons against a setting sun. I see these things and recognize their beauty. All of the other stuff, the facts you would tell me if were were to lie on a blanket together and you knew facts about such things, is entirely secondary.

Monday, April 15, 2013

"Here Come's Your Man"

I went to the post office today and mailed off my application for advertising school. I then went to the gym for a bit before finding myself outside on this beautiful day and relieved finally of this task of finishing this application that I had been under for the last week. I wanted to spin in circles and throw off a cap I wasn't wearing into the air - it was that type of day. The trees all have gorgeous blossoms on them, the sky was blue, and everyone was looking beautiful out on the streets.

I went to the Strand and bought Sharon Olds' Stag's Leap, a collection of poems about the end of her marriage that hit me like a punch in the gut as I read them on the subway later in the day, after wandering around this city, looking at boys, thinking about boys, thinking about life.

I went into store after store, looking at clothes this afternoon, saying hello to the cute shop clerks staffing the places, these beautiful men. At each place, they asked me if they could help me find anything. At each place, I lied to them, said no, because I was sure they were just talking about clothes.

On the Bowery, I saw this guy walking his dog. He was wearing canvas shoes without socks on and had his pants rolled up. That little bit of flesh always does it for me, more so than the skin exposed my a tank top or by an unbuttoned shirt. I didn't have my headphone on, and good thing, because it was very easy to hear the Pixies "Here Comes Your Man," playing in my head clearly. For a moment, I imagined I was meeting up with this guy, that he was walking toward me. It provided me a thrill of happiness for a moment. For just the briefest moment, I was able to trick whatever chemicals are released when you are meeting up with a cute boy, that thrill you get walking toward them. Him and his dog walked past me and the moment was gone.

I replayed this scene several more times with other cute boys passed on the street, sometimes substituting The Magnetic Fields' "The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side" as the imagined soundtrack. It is Spring and I want to walk toward someone, want to meet you on these sunny sidewalks, and wander this city together.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I was holding a bag with a burrito in it, walking home, enjoying the mild night air. I felt the first light drops of rain, ominous, the kind you are know are going to be a torrential downpour in seconds.

I don't know where these things come from, but you can feel them before their arrival, sense it. I started to run to my house, knowing that I was going to get soaked very shortly. The skies opened up and dumped water down in huge sheets. I made it to my stoop, winded and only a little wet, protected by the little awning over the stoop from the rain around me.

Before the drops started, I passed boy after boy in my neighborhood, exchanging eyes with them, hungry, looking for various things in just about any boy I saw on the street, sizing them up for what various emotional and sexual needs of mine they might be able to fulfill. In other words, the trees on DeKalb Avenue are starting to show buds.

I went and saw The Testament of Mary tonight as an unexpected storm raged outside. This is what I love about heat, that it eventually breaks, that it can only take so much of itself, works itself into a fever, drives itself crazy, pounds on the walls, sets fire to its drunkenly-scribbled manifestos, and then passes out on the floor. I smoked from an e-cigarette as I watched the lights of Times Square dance in the puddles all over the roads of midtown.

Fiona Shaw carried a jacket back and forth across the stage countless times and wrapped various scarves around her for the duration of this one-woman show. The blocking, the need for Shaw to always be busy, really annoyed me. I nodded off only a few times and thought variously about my Catholic upbringing, my own relationship with the story of Jesus, thought about my desire, very intense these days, for sex, for romance with a boy, to touch and to be touched, thought about how that desire, summer storm of a thing that it is with its thunder and lightening spasms, is pushing people away, making them run to the safety of their stoops, thought about this application that I need to put together this weekend for this school I want to go to, and thought about the beautiful set compositions that were often created throughout the play, a curtain parted just the tiniest bit.

I ate my burrito as I watched the storm from my window, thunder every now and then shouting over the sad and beautiful Chet Baker song playing on WBGO.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


"It's not even June yet," said an old black man in sunglasses, remarking on the hostility and tension in the air, something that seems to be a feature of New York summers. I was in the checkout line at one of the discount homegoods stores on Knickerbocker Avenue by my house. I was buying some mops.

He made this remark because there was a loud Latina lady, mid-twenties, on the plus side, next in line who had just flipped out when an elderly lady came up from the other side of the cashiers to pay, circumventing the line. "Oh no, where did that lady come from?" she shouted, sincerely bewildered by the old lady's arrival.

The old black man giggled to himself, a knowing chuckle, this wise-seeming, stoned-seeming, seen-everything-under-the-sun-joyful-resignation.

The Latina lady was encouraged by this. She was now an actress with an audience. The yelling continued, her voice rising, trying to build the audience, now addressing the cashier ringing up the little old lady, saying that "they" need a separate line, that it's not right. She kept on saying over and over again - that it's not right, not right. And again with the theys, she said that they, presumably these seniors, keep cutting the line, that the store needs to make a separate line for them, that it's not right.

I had my own experience with this at the Duane Reade down the block earlier that morning. Some old lady tried to cut in front of me while I was waiting to buy some probiotics for my upset stomach. I was, like this shouting lady, not in the mood, and told her that I was ahead of her.

While the little old lady was getting her homegoods rung up, the shouting lady grabbed some more items for her cart. She came back with hot dog rolls, ring pops, and a loaf of white bread.

"It's not even June yet," the old man said again.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

the way home

I did that thing that I do when I am feeling awkward at a bar by myself. I downed drink after drink, gulping them down quickly, both to ease whatever feeling of awkwardness I had, to wash it away in a flood of vodka, and also to have something to do with my hands, with my mouth, a way to occupy myself. I was at Westway last night to see Jinkx Monsoon perform and was waiting for friends to arrive. As I downed these drinks, I stood off to the side and watched the insanely beautiful gogo boys at Westgay do their thing on the runway in the center of the floor. Immediately, there was one who I became totally smitten with, a beautiful bearded man with an absolutely insane body. He was a terrible dancer but that didn't matter, or maybe it did, maybe was what made him all the more attractive, that there were no impressive dance moves or booty-popping skills to marvel at, rather just a beautiful body that I was already trying my best to remember the details of, knowing that the night would end with me drunk in my bed alone and recalling these sights, this body.

Friends arrived. I talked to them, mostly about these gogo boys. Jinkx performed. Having ordered all those drinks earlier, my wallet was full of singles from the change given. I put these to great use. It's amazing what you can buy with a dollar. You can buy a lotto ticket and for an evening have dreams of what you would do with countless millions of dollars, what neighborhood you would buy an apartment in, the various cities you would travel to on your endless vacation of a life. Or, alternately, when you are at a gay bar, drunk and horny on a Tuesday night, you can put a dollar in a gogo boy's jockstrap and rub your hand against his chest, physical contact that you never would have had with a person this sexy outside this setting. You can put that hand that touched his sweaty chest against your face afterwards, see if there is any smell on your hand, feel that little bit of moisture on your face, your lips, and fantasize about what it would be like to have sex with this person. The fantasy is a little bit more real that it would otherwise be. This, for only a dollar. I kept on dreaming, putting dollar after dollar into his jockstrap.

My friends had left at some point but I stayed, watching this gogo boy until he was on stage no longer, until it was three something in this morning. I took a taxi home to Bushwick, looked at pictures of this guy's gorgeous ass that I had taken on my phone, and talked to my taxi driver about tolls, about overnight shifts, about Turkey, and about how he talks to other taxi drivers all night long on his cellphone, other guys working the overnight hours, bored, lonely, and trying to stay awake. I was flipping back and forth between a map to give the driver directions to my house and in between the photos of this gogo boy, toggling back and forth between real and imagined directions to beds in this city.