Saturday, May 31, 2014

there is graffiti on a blank billboard near the BQE saying "Know Gods Just Work"

At the courthouse downtown, I spent forty-five minutes in a security line just to get into the building. I was there to see my friend get his citizenship and was really excited for him. The line was making me very angry. For a moment, I had forgotten some of the worst aspects of this country - the exercising of power just cause, the security theater set up everywhere now post-9/11, the maze of bureaucratic bullshit that you are totally powerless against. It was worse than any airport security line I have ever been in, and this just to go to a citizenship ceremony. It made me so angry that these people who were about to receive their citizenship and their families, this really meaningful day for everyone here, everyone all dressed up, that they were corralled tightly into this maze of a line, guards yelling at everyone to tighten up the line, move in closer, turn off your phones, take off your belts. A lot of unnecessary yelling. And, of course, no one challenges this treatment because everyone just wants to be able to get into the courthouse. These guards know this and act like total fucking assholes because of it. 

Forty-five minutes after standing in the line, this line that they made a really pregnant lady and a man on crutches wait in, this line that the lady in front of me had a panic attack in and had to step out of line to sit down on the floor, I finally made it into the courthouse. My rage at the bullshit that is power in the US subsided once I saw my friend and sat with him and another friend in this massive room. It was a beautiful moment to witness and the presiding judge actually gave a really sweet speech about his own immigration story that made me really emotional.

There is a lot to love. I want to be here. I love this country. I want it to be everything it can be though and I don't know how to make that happen. I don't think anyone does. How do we step back from this security state we live in so that we don't spend 45 minutes in lines getting berated by guards, made to feel like elementary school children lining up for some fire drill? 

After the new citizens were sworn in, the entire crowd said the Pledge of Allegiance, and I don't think it had ever sounded as sweet as it did in the room. That closing phrase of "with liberty and justice for all" lingered and floated around the room, an ideal that sounded so perfect, all we could ever hope for, what this land is supposed to represent. We grasped up at the phrase, bits of a blown dandelion, trying to hold on to it. The sun was shining brightly outside the room's windows.

I bought some hair bleach after and spent hours trying to take the color out of my hair, to make it as white as possible. The result is still a bronzy yellow. 

With my yellow hair, I left my house last night, quote a bit stoned, and walked up to Spritzenhaus where it was a classmate's birthday. I made a mental note to do this more often, to walk around North Brooklyn at night while stoned. It was such a beautiful experience and I had some great thoughts. It was the best walk I had had in forever. I had forgotten one of the best benefits about warm(ish) weather, how you can get more thinking done in it, because a half hour walk outside at night isn't a big deal, isn't something that you want to take a cab through, or hurry through, huddled up in your jacket. Instead, you can walk at whatever pace matches your own mood, take in the scenes, and try to recall what used to be where this block of massive condos is now on the side of McCarren Park, that you know these weren't here when you first moved to this neighborhood eleven years ago, and that you can't recall exactly what they used to be, that your memory is fading, that even the memory of that New York is fading away. It gets harder and harder to hold on to old street maps, to remember what used to be in each of these places, each of these new fancy restaurants and bars along the stretch of Graham Avenue nearing the BQE. But then you see R Bar, a bar you had forgotten about it. It is still there. There are still some older regulars perched on barstools there. For a brief moment a decade or so ago, the bar had held gay underwear parties, and you used to be really cheap and all about any sort of free drinks, and so would go and strip down to your underwear for the free drink promised to people in their underwear. You were there with Matt, you think, back in those days, so far gone. There is a dead pigeon underneath the BQE that you almost step on. There always seem to be dead pigeons underneath the BQE.

I got to Spritzenhaus. I didn't have my classmate's number to text him and see where he was in this packed beer garden. I did one awkward circle around the bar, too stoned for any setting other than a crowded bar setting, not this everyone sitting at their tables with friends thing. Analogies to the cafeteria on the first day of school here. I couldn't see him and felt too weird and so left. I walked back home, tracing more memories, taking in the beautiful night clouds that were visible last night, passing the nail salon called Cutie Calls, there this entire time I have been in New York, entertaining me this whole time with its name, me talking back to the sign, saying, "Oh, really? I wish, but sadly he is not calling."

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