Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I ate six tacos just now. I will likely shit out this piece of 2013 sometime in 2014.

I bought some bottles of Andre after I got off work this evening, bought them from the liquor store a block away from my house in Bushwick. On my way out the door, a happy family came barreling into the store, led by their dog pulling on his leash. I stepped over the dog, over a little girl, and there was an energy out on the streets. The sun had recently set. There were still colors in the sky, fading streaks of daylight, of 2013, the year on its way out. We all celebrate a chance for something new, an ability to wipe the slate clean, forgetting in our glee about resolutions and new and imagined better lives that time is marching on, that we are closer and closer to death, that another year has gone by in which we didn't live entirely as we wanted to.

Vendors were selling glowsticks, various noisemakers, and 2014 glasses.

This past year was far better than the previous year. I feel secure. There are days when I feel confident. There are days when I feel sexy. I am 32 and I think I look better at this age than I did at any other age. I have lived in this apartment out in Bushwick for the entirety of this past year and it feels more and more like home. I have spent a lot of time at the gym this year and that has contributed a great deal to my happiness. It makes me mentally happy to leave a gym sweaty, hungry, and sore.

I saw Rome this year. I saw Istanbul. I saw Puerto Rico. There are so many more places I need to see and hopefully I will be able to get to some of those places in the coming year.

I started school, took control of my life in a way that felt really fucking good after drifting along through various vaguely shitty jobs since moving to New York a decade ago. I am going to school for copywriting and hopefully that will lead out of the wilderness I suddenly found myself adrift in after years and years of partying and going to work and partying.

I am trying. And that's all you can do. Just wake up and keep going. I have been dreaming about LA more and more and am trying to arrange some pieces on the board to place myself there by year-end. I want romance and I don't. I want to eat burritos and tacos and drink beer and read and write and learn Spanish and get a job in advertising and be kinder, nicer, more open. I want to be a really good human being. There are ways, big ways, in which I fail, ways in which I do so every day. I am going to keep trying in this new year. I am dying, yes, but you are too. We are all dying together. Let's do so as beautifully as possible and let's really celebrate this time we have here by being as happy and as good and as everything we tell ourselves on January 1st that we are going to be.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2001: A Space Odyssey

“2001: A Space Odyssey'' is not about a goal but about a quest, a need. It does not hook its effects on specific plot points, nor does it ask us to identify with Dave Bowman or any other character. It says to us: We became men when we learned to think. Our minds have given us the tools to understand where we live and who we are. Now it is time to move on to the next step, to know that we live not on a planet but among the stars, and that we are not flesh but intelligence.
-Roger Ebert

It rained today. I listened to the falling rain from the comfort of my apartment. I finally made it all the way through 2001: A Space Odyssey, a film which I have tried to watched numerous times over the years but which I always fell asleep during sometime early on around the monolith part. What a beautiful film.

Last night, as I drifted off to sleep, I read from Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Collected Stories and read this:

The biblical dust of death. Perhaps then he will feel a slight nostalgia, the nostalgia of not begin a formal, anatomical corpse, but, rather, an imaginary, abstract corpse, assembled only in the hazy memory of his kin. He will know then that he will rise up the capillary vessels of an apple tree and awaken, bitten by the hunger of a child on some autumn day. (10)

Reread that last sentence. Do it again and again.

Friday, December 27, 2013

American Hustle

In a condo somewhere in Delaware, I was gathered with my family on a couch, drinking wine, as I had been doing pretty much all day, watching, as we have for several Christmases now for some reason, Love, Actually. And it, as it usually does, made me really lovesick and crazy feeling. The Britishness of the production made me think about Jacob, somewhere off on the British Isles, and I missed him, missed that time in my life in which I felt some feeling close to that feeling of love exhibited by all these characters in this film. I kept drinking because really what I instead wanted to do was dance and stomp around and seek out boys.

I watched so much television while I was there. There wasn't much else to do. I was only there for two days and that felt like too long. I was so excited to get back to New York, especially since I had been texting flirty messages with the guy I met at Diego's holiday party this past weekend and had plans to grab drinks with him as soon as I got back into the city.

Before I boarded a train back to New York, I watched American Hustle with my family. The sky was grey outside the theater, a multiplex in a run-down shopping center. We sat in the back row, crowded theater. I love Jennifer Lawrence more and more with every movie I see her in. The movie was great and only would have been better had Jennifer Lawrence's character had even more screen time.

I drank a beer on the train back, talked to my sister next to me, listened to Beyonce, and texted more with this guy about meeting up. I asked him if he wanted to meet up in Bushwick. That's when the quick flow of conversation paused. About ten minutes later, as we left the Newark station, as we were almost back to New York, as I was getting positively giddy about hanging out with this cute guy, some new person, making conversation, making out, there was a long text back from him apologizing. The text started with "Yikes." It then followed with an apology, with him explaining that he had thought he had been texting with someone else, some guy he had hooked up with the night before this holiday party, that he's so sorry, that he still wants to hang out in the future though sometime.

The skyline of New York was getting bigger and bigger as we sped toward it. Home was getting closer and closer. The dreams, hopes, and fantasies that we project on to this city are brought back down to the ground, to the gutter, in that unique way and with that particular form of brutality that only this city seems capable of doing. I wasn't too sad about the guy because the train soon zoomed underground for that final stretch to Penn Station and I knew, with that text, with being underground, with it all, that I was home.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Beyonce's "Mine"

I had on a jacket this morning, first time in days. The cold weather hit the skin of my face and I was aware of winter, of what time it is I am actually living in. This, like the warm weather of the past couple days, felt nice. Something can feel nice and its opposite can as well - the pleasure of one need not negate the pleasure of the other.

I texted a guy yesterday. I got his number at a party this weekend, this cute boy I want to make out with. Via text, I asked him if he wanted to come over. Via this same medium of letters appearing on the screen of a phone, he let me know that he was already out of town with his family. I texted another guy. He was working late then had dinner plans. I took a nap on my bed, looking at Scruff, again trying to bring about some physical connection via metal and glass, hocus pocus, chatting with people half-heartedly, wanting something and thinking I could maybe find it there.

I thought about friendships, current and past ones. I thought about romance, about what it means to like a person. I mentally wrote letters to a lot of people from my past last night, thought all the things I would like to tell them from this current vantage point I inhabit, enough time and enough things having happened to me to let me see how wrong I often was.

I am free. I am happy. There might be some causality between those two statements.

The wind, cold slap of winter reasserting itself, felt great this morning. I buttoned my coat against it and pressed forward, bag full of clothes on my back, a shopping bag full of presents in my hand, heading on a train this evening from work, bound elsewhere, towards some iteration of home.

Monday, December 23, 2013

"I woke up like this"

We had some drinks at a nice East Village bar and then we had some drinks at a not-so-nice East Village bar. We talked about Beyonce and Lana Del Ray and Los Angeles. I asked him to come back to Brooklyn with me.
We got sandwiches from the bodega by my house and watched Beyonce videos on my couch.
It is Christmas in a just a few days and last night with this guy, walking around this city, I wore an unbuttoned long-sleeve shirt, sleeves rolled up. It felt nice, really nice.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Inside Llewyn Davis

Last night, I did some Christmas shopping, bought some gifts for my family at the Strand. The woman who hired me there a decade or so ago helped bag my purchases. I had been in this city for a couple weeks then and was overwhelmed by everything. My friend Jamie told me to come apply with her there. I got hired, she didn't. I stayed at the fair too long - story of my life, I know - worked there for about two years. This woman terrified me the entire time I worked there. There was a whole mythology about her life and her romances that everyone traded in the aisles as they hid from her glare. We made her this rich villain who was intent on crushing our spirits and destroying the bookstore.

She had no clue who I was, just some customer. Despite this, I was on edge again, as if she had spotted me hiding in the stacks reading a book again. But then I realized that she actually cares about books and about this great bookstore, that otherwise she would not be helping bag books in a Santa hat, pointing out to me that one of my books was autographed.

I stopped at Best Buy on my way back to Brooklyn, bought the Beyonce album because I wanted to watch the videos on my DVD player, on a big screen, and am not technologically sophisticated enough to figure out how to make that happen from my phone. I had another great moment at a cash register.

The lady ringing me up was so excited that I was purchasing the Beyonce album. I told her I already had it on iTunes but wanted the album, and she told me she definitely bought both versions, that she loves Beyonce. She started singing "Drunk in Love." I told her my favorite video was "Mine." She told me how she thinks Lady Gaga is in the "Haunted" video. She told me to watch it closely and let her know what I think. The cashier next to her started talking about her favorite songs and the three of us were squealing about song titles and favorite lines. It was a beautiful moment that really furthered what I am believing about this album, that this a large pop moment that we haven't seen in a really long time. This is some Michael Jackson "Thriller" shit happening - the broad level of shared excitement across races, age groups, everyone. We are glued to our screens, marveling at these videos, at these songs, at this massive project none of us saw coming.

I had a tentative date a couple nights ago to get high and watch Beyonce videos with this guy who charmed me by asking if I wanted to do these things. He said he was doing laundry and would text me when he was done. He did not. He did again start talking to me on Scruff today, wanting to meet up. I told him I had plans this weekend now.

I got stoned by myself last night and watched these videos again. They are so great and work so well together. I particularly can't get enough of "Ghost" and "Mine," both directed by Pierre Debusschere. The editing of these videos is so musical, so perfectly timed to the beat of the songs.

The repeated sample playing on the main titles screen woke me up this morning, me having fallen asleep sometime in the midst of this delirious pop vision.

I ate some food, drank some coffee, showered, and then headed off to watch Inside Llewyn Davis. It wasn't everything I hoped. My expectations from the Coen Brothers are probably impossibly high, but it was still a very good movie - just not what I had been expecting. But I do live in a cesspool of assholes who roll their eyes at sincerity - that much is true, Joel and Ethan.

I had a shot of espresso at Eataly, enjoying the mobbed scene there, and then went to the gym where I ran and ran for much longer than I ever do. There was a rerun of some boxing matches on one of the channels. I watched people punch each other, rooted for particular people. This, people ducking punches, landing punches, clear winners and losers, kept me on my treadmill, running and running, thoughts of winning, vague thoughts with no clear thing taking the place of a KO, that this, men, fit men, trying to hit other men, other fit men, in the head kept me running, running, wanting to win.

And I am not sure I am. I probably need to define what these terms are. In the steam room, I jerked off with a, what through steam seemed, sexy man. He had his feet planted on a towel. I kept glancing down at them, their shape perfect. I wanted to put them in my mouth, to admire their proportion, to worship order. He asked me if I wanted to head to the showers.

Um, I don't think so, I said. I am real awkward at times. My fantasies are best enabled when vague, obscured by steam and undefined terms. Make it real, clear the steam, and watch me back away.

Friday, December 20, 2013


The first thing we did in Puerto Rico, after dropping off our luggage at the hotel, was walk the couple miles into Old San Juan to take the ferry to the Bacardi factory. This should maybe serve as some sign to you, intelligent reader who can pick up on such things, of where this story and where this trip might be headed. We drank more than the two free drinks they give you. The bartender didn't really seem to care too much about collecting these drink tickets they give you for going on this tour. The tour was really boring. We quickly headed back across the water to Old San Juan.

We stopped in a couple bars, wandered up and down beautiful old colonial streets, and I, at least, was absolutely awed by the beautiful colors all the houses were painted, the bright blue sky behind this tableau. 

At one of these bars, we ordered a round of Medallas. Maybe you know how to say that. Maybe you don't. Apparently, it took me the entire time we were in Puerto Rico to get the pronunciation right. I had just landed. I hadn't really used my elementary Spanish skills on this trip yet and was pronouncing those L's. The bartender at El Batey, a grizzled old punk, corrected me, laughing at my pronunciation. Ma-die-ah!

We watched the sunset from the top of an old Spanish fort, ate some dinner, and then headed back to our hotel in Condado, drank some more, then walked to the Santurce neighborhood. We hung out in La Placita, enjoying all the people drinking in the streets, dancing to the sounds of salsa bands spilling out of bars. I was still saying it wrong. The bartenders here for some reason were set on this one beer being pronounced correctly. No one ever corrected me with all of the other Spanish words I surely butchered on this trip, but everyone would quickly correct my saying of Medalla, no matter how correctly I thought I was finally saying it.

We went to some gay bars, all of them fantastic in their own way, great views into another place and how things work, how gays live. I ordered rum drinks at most of these places, but when I would order Medellas, again I was corrected. A hunky bartender at Circo laughed when I ordered them, and said the word exactly how I thought I had said it.

There was time spent on the beach. There was a drive through El Yunque, the rainforest. We took the ferry from Fajardo to Culebra. I had never felt sea sick before; I didn't know how miserable a feeling it was. Now, I know. A good half the passengers on the ferry, the tourists mainly, all looked green. People all around were reaching for seasick bags. I put on Kurt Vile, put my head down as far it would go, and did my best to imagine I did not feel like throwing up, that my insides were not being violently tossed up and down my throat. 

The island was gorgeous, a sparsely inhabited little piece of paradise in the Caribbean. I also learned that I like densely inhabited run-down urban spaces much more on this trip. I went snorkeling, saw many bright fishes winding their way through coral, which, you know, is a sight you are not going to see too often in your life, and I was probably most happy during this moment, alone in the water, unable to hear anyone other than my own breathing, taking in the sights of an underwater world as I swam far out along some cliffs and down to a different beach. 

Our last day in Culebra, some white bartender, tried correcting me when I ordered some Medallas, telling me it was Ma-DELL-ahs. No. I didn't tell him how wrong he was. I was over being corrected, especially by some American ex-pat who decided to lead the Jimmy Buffet life and run away to some island - like seemingly much of the population of Culebra.

We drove back from the ferry in Fajardo to San Juan, stopping in Pinones, a gritty collection of ramshackle food stands along the beach outside San Juan. I ordered some chicken and some Medallas. The waitress, who only spoke Spanish (such a nice change of things after being in Culebra where everyone spoke English and where most people probably only spoke it), did not correct my pronunciation. I had been waiting for it to come, expecting it, it having become a part of ordering this beer for me. When she didn't correct me, I asked her how it was said. I wanted to to be sure. She said I was correct, and pronounced it the same way. Finally. Success with the last beers I ordered in Puerto Rico before flying back home, to New York.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

"Nothing Going On But the Rent" - Gwen Guthrie

Snow was falling. I was walking down 5th Avenue, the Empire State Building looming a couple blocks north and the Flatiron Building a couple blocks south of me. There were tourists all over the place, cameras aimed up toward these iconic buildings, everyone full of glee about the sight of this falling snow, the New York skyline behind the trailing flecks of white illuminated every now and again in their descent by the various streetlights, car headlights, and storefront windows of the city, trying to capture the happiness they felt, the elated feelings that the beginning of snow falling in New York City can bring about, hitting click click click, hoping to capture the feeling, bottle the joy.

I walked along 23rd Street, headed toward Trader Joe's, taking in the sights I see just about every day made fresh again by the falling snow. I thought about people not in New York, wanted them to see this, wanted to see this with them.

I bought some mixed greens, some chicken, some carrot juice.

My day was spent in a fog of hunger and hung-overness. I did some shopping I needed to do, stuffed my face with a burrito at Chipotle, went to the gym, and did not go to the Balthus exhibit which had originally been my whole purpose in heading into Manhattan today. I was moving slower than I wanted to. After eating the burrito all I wanted to do was eat another one, was to head home to my couch and order a ton of Mexican food and make the world the happy place it was while I was inhaling that burrito in a crowded Chipotle, sharing a table with a woman frantically checking her phone over and over again, waiting for someone it seems. The person never came, or maybe did after I finished my burrito and headed out into the streets of this city.

Somewhere in the East 50s yesterday, I drank a fairly strong vodka drink and did some superhero roleplay with the guy I saw a while ago. He had an entire scenario he wanted to act out. He was going to play three bad guys, whom I would defeat one by one, until all three of them ganged up on me together and captured me. The vodka helped me get into character. Led Zeppelin was blasting again. "No, you can't do this, you're not going to get away this," I said as he had me, Batman, pinned down and punched my stomach over and over again.

After I showered, washing off the semen from both of us that was on my chest, the conversation quickly and seamlessly pivoted out of the world of fantasy and superheroes back into the typical chit-chat conversation that is the basis for so much human interaction, for so much of our time. The off switch had been hit and we obeyed its directives. I told him my plans for the night. We talked about food, an easy subject for me. We talked about Bushwick, Brooklyn, and a changing New York. We talked about steak tartae, my love of it. He talked about eating raw meat as a kid as his mother made hamburgers.

I walked through the sharp, cold air, smoked a couple cigarettes, listened to some really great songs, rode a subway, and soon was at a house party in Williamsburg for a friend's birthday. There was this guy there who told me that he grew up on Long Island across the water from the Fire Island Pines. His parents were conservative evangelicals and in his teenage years, he would take the ferry all the time in the summer and get fucked in the Pines. It was the nineties and he had long hair at the time. I drank more vodka, did some other things, and talked to various people.

Andy and I left at some point, walked over to Metropolitan. My crush from Oak was there. I didn't talk to him, was too nervous. I did talk though to this tall, handsome guy who I had been making eyes at across the bar. As he was walking past me to go to the bathroom, I said hi. He told me I was cute. And we were off from there. We chatted. We danced to "High Energy." I talked about how I had just been listening to this song over and over again earlier in the evening on the subway. We kissed. We got in a black car and headed to my house. The driver let us smoke cigarettes in the car and we flew through the streets of North Brooklyn, leaving trails of orange embers out both rear windows. Between this train of glowing orange dots burning brightly before fading were our hands, fingers interlocking over the middle seat.

I woke up this morning, realizing that this guy was in my bed, having briefly forgotten in the first moments of waking up. We cuddled and I was already starting to feel hungover and couldn't wait for this guy, nice as he was, to leave, so I could unravel into the mess I felt like, so I could sprawl out on my couch, coffee cup at my side, moaning over an egg sandwich soaked in Cholula hot sauce.

And I don't know what I want. I know that I sometimes think that I want a guy in my life again, someone handsome and charming, and for the hour or so that this handsome and charming guy was in my apartment this morning, holding my hand, being all cute, I could not wait for him to leave. I also know that once he was gone and when I was alone, that that is when I felt really happy.