Sunday, June 28, 2009

6/27/09 - Blessings

The Highline Park is packed on this mostly-sunny, unsettled day, and we are surrounded by hundreds of people, but no one seems to notice as I get on one knee and open the box with the ring to ask the question I've been waiting to ask. After the obligatory calls to the parents there's pictures on cell phones sent to friends without explanation in hopes of blowing their minds.

As we run to the subway, the clouds that have been gathering over Jersey finally begin their assault on Manhattan, but when we come above ground in Brooklyn, the sun shines bright through the pouring rain. I look East, following the path of the storm, to see a rainbow bending across the sky, and I get the feeling that we have been blessed.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

6/26/09 - celebrating a life

The DJ at the bar Katie has taken me to for my birthday plays mash-ups of Michael Jackson and, apparently, whatever else he can lay his hands to at that particular moment. We sit in a curtained booth that Katie's pull at her job has gotten for us and we cuddle and crack jokes about pedophilia and dance like assholes to Li'l Wayne tunes until the bouncers that have a sightline into our cloister laugh at us.

Earlier, we had gone to get massages at a place Katie found out about online, and it was incredibly relaxing. The woman doing my massage was kind enough not to notice the half-erection I got as she rubbed down my shoulders, because, really, it wasn't that kind of place.

Friday, June 26, 2009

6/25/09 - While you were out

"Scott, it's Warren, your super."

"Hey, Warren, what's going on?"

"I just wanted to let you know, there was a problem with the boiler and the fire department came, and while they were here they had to break down the door to your apartment to see if everything was OK."

I stood there in Katie's apartment, phone in hand, watching the news replay over and over again the stories of dead celebrities and New Jersey housewives, and said, "OK, man, I guess I'll be there in a few minutes."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

6/24/09 - "Woman is the Nigger of the World"

The 6 train is packed, but no one sits in those seats. A red stain, like a wet butterfly, a vagina-print, smears across the powder blue bench, and everyone gives a wide berth, some pretending not to see it, some wrinkling their noses in disgust, some shaking their heads in resignation ("ah, this city, what can you do?").

Finally, as the train reaches maximum density, someone sits near it: a young woman, hard face set in annoyance, looking pointedly away from the blood smear. Her tensed shoulders and upper arms are bare, and on each bicep are dark, angry-looking bruises, almost black against her golden skin, and each about the size and rough shape of a hand.

6/23/09 - Am I using my time well?

"Superjail," I tell Katie as we talk on the phone, "seems like it'll be bad mojo, but really, it's pretty benign." I say this while the remains of the two beers I drank in quick succession during dinner finish rattling their way around my bloodstream. The cat lifts her ass as I pet her, and for once she simply allows me to stroke her fur, rather than yelling at me about whatever it is a cat thinks is important enough to yell about.

Earlier in the day, I played my guitar and sang a version of the song Bobby McGee for a play reading, before having to go back to work, where I thought about my upcoming 38th birthday, and what I've accomplished with my life so far.

Monday, June 22, 2009

6/22/09 - Everyone I know will one day die.

"I've wanted to visit Alaska for a long time," says my mom, "and your father hasn't, but I swear I did not manipulate it."

We're on the phone, and she's telling me about the gift my father received from his company at his retirement party this past week: a week-long cruise around Alaska!

"Well," I say, "you're going to want to go pretty soon, since you haven't been feeling so well; you know, travel while you still can."

"Travel while I'm still here," she says, matter-of-factly, and a premonition of grief blows through me like a cold wind.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

6/21/09 - pop culture/the auto-tune wants what it wants

After spending most of the morning listening to this, Katie and I have some friends over at her house to watch "High School Musical" 1 and 2. I have obviously become extremely sensitive to auto-tune by this point, and after a few drinks to calm my reflexive squeamishness with both the subject matter and execution of these homosexual recruitment films, I spend most of the afternoon commenting on who's been "tuned" the most (hint: it's Ashley Tisdale, though Vanessa Hudgens (whom I've seen naked, thank you interwebs) comes in a close second) and marveling at the incestuous and gay sub-plots that permeate these wholsome, "family-oriented" movies.

After one of my semi-rants, Katie looks over at me calmly and says "Hey, the auto-tune wants what it wants."

Later on, after eating ourselves stupid through most of the day, we take a walk through her neighborhood during a break in the weather, but a sudden downpour catches us out in the open sans umbrella, and we dash through streets of haughty brownstones, and the rain washes all the pop-culture away.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

6/20/09 - my inexplicable heart

I lie in bed staring at the ceiling as what little light there is on this gray, cloudy morning filters weakly through the shutters and curtains and blankets Katie has thrown over the window. Her arm drapes across my chest and even though I lay calmly, I can feel my heart beat slow, hard and strong, shaking my entire body slightly with every thud.

I think this may be an insight into myself. I am calm on the surface, placid, with a seemingly orderly mind, and people sometimes look to me for steady leadership, but beneath it all, my inexplicable heart pounds, shaking me and everyone close to me, and none of us is quite sure why.

Friday, June 19, 2009

6/19/09 - I'll say it again: we're not that different

Probably drunk, possibly insane, definitely insane, definitely belligerent, wild-eyed, short and staggering man in baseball cap and t-shirt bellows at me across the street. Maybe at me, but regardless, he stalks the crosswalk, staring at the place where I'm standing, while I do my best intermediate submissive posture (body turned half-way, no eye contact, all this made easier by my iPod) until he is about a foot away and definitely "in my space". My aggressive ignoring seems to throw him off, and I leave him flat-footed when the light changes, cross the street and continue on my way, unmolsested, heart pounding.

A few blocks further on, a dog barks at a pair of other dogs across the street, and the sound is almost identical to the tiny belligerent man in short pants shouting in the distance behind me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

6/18/09 - This damn rain

The rain buckets down disheartening amounts of wet and gray and chilly, until the drains swell up and choke and the gutters turn into tumbling muckish streams of street silt and rainwater.

I look up at the pissing sky from beneath the broken wing of my nickel-ninety-eight, dissolves-in-water umbrella, and shout, "Stop-stop-stop-stop raining!!", startling an older man attempting to light a soggy cigarette beneath his own umbrella.

His head snaps around and I realize how I look, sopping wet and cursing at the weather. "Sorry," I say, apologetically. "It's this damn rain."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

6/17/09 - Bad day for Rats

The rat runs past me on my way to the deli, hugging the wall and scuttling up the wheelchair ramp. I'm worried that he might have actually gone in the deli.

I come around the corner to the entrance, but the rat has thought better of his escape route, and he and I come face to face in a startling moment (me going in the deli, him coming out), only for him to run back in.

The counterman and I find him stuck to a glue trap under the shelf with the potato chips, and he squeaks when I say to the counterman, "Hey, man, whatever you're gonna do, do it fast."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

6/16/09 - Danke, Dirty Projectors

Tried (not very hard) to find the new Dirty Projectors album, Bitte Orca on a torrent, but finally gave up and just bought the damn thing on iTunes (only the second album I've ever purchased on iTunes, the first being Earl Greyhound's Soft Targets). The whole world seemed to provide a review of this strange, atonal, dissonantly beautiful music as I listened to it on my walk to the train this morning.

A small dog taking a shit finished up as I was walking by and trotted over to say hello to me, with a beatific smile on his little doggie face.

As I neared the station, a man walking a full pack of dogs paused to let a man pet them, while one of the dogs looked up into the sky, grinning, wagging his entire back-end.

6/14/09 - Churchill called it his "Black Dog"

Dark night. Spent most it laying on my bed, trying to think of an unambiguous reason to do anything. Read an article that discussed why it was a bad idea to anticipate negative outcomes, but the darkness in my head plays tricks on me, telling me no one loves, no one cares, saying I've already failed.

In fact, it was Katie that lifted me from my funk, or the thought of her, since I couldn't stand having her think less of me because I had done nothing, because I'd let myself go.

I shook my head, like a dog shakes off water, and got to work.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

6/11/09 - This is NOT an assassination threat, OK? Lighten up.

Exhausted, I sit at the computer and type in the words that I promised myself I would type. A few people read them, and in a couple years, I'll be able to look back and see them and think, "Hey, you know, I remember that day, with my cat yelling in the background, the day that I came in carrying my bike and there was this roach in the middle of the floor, and I'm willing to bet said cat had eaten the legs off the thing."

Katie and I were out of sorts tonight, what with her roommates leaving their shit all over the kitchen and whatnot (a thing which I, too, have been guilty of at her place, and which I am trying to be better about), but the Chinese food we had was good, and we almost always manage to amuse each other. We were watching an ad for Mayor Bloomberg and Katie says, "Bloomberg's gonna be mayor for life and we're gonna crown him like Caesar and somebody's gonna have to stab him on the 6 train to get him to leave."

6/10/09 - Exemplary Moments in Racial Harmony

I'm taking the garbage out before riding my bike over to see Katie tonight when, from behind me, a smoky voice says menacingly, "I got you now."

I spin around, heart pounding, but it's only Mary, the lady who lives upstairs from me.

Seeing my terrified expression, she laughs, a throaty, raspy chuckle, that almost turns into a cough.

Without thinking, I blurt out, "Oh my God, Mary, you really spooked me!"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

6/8/09 Braid

"You have to try this awesome new game," I say to Jonathan, my cubemate (he refers to me in all correspondence with his friends as "my straight friend", which is both hilarious and somewhat touching (no, not that kind of touching. Pervert)).

He takes my frequently shifting enthusiasms with about the exact amount of salt they deserve (i.e. plus/minus one grain), but he does tend to listen when I talk about gaming, because I've turned him onto some decent stuff (Lego Star Wars), so he rolls his eyes a little, but turns to listen politely.

"No," I say, "it's really awesome, because it's like a side-scroller, like Mario Brothers or whatever with time-warping, but instead of just trying to rescue the princess, you're collecting clues to figure out why she left you, and it's really sad!"

"Oh," he says dryly, "so it's like most heterosexual relationships."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

6/7/09 - New York is a Zoo (and she did stop)

On the subway to the zoo, the Asian man opposite us on the bench speaks quietly to the child clinging to his neck. As he tries to put her in her carriage, strapping her in and clipping the clips in the fashion they have now, she begins to cry and negate him in a language I don't know.

At first she's just whiny, a typical tantrum, and her parents rightly ignore it, but as the trip progresses, over the course of 45 minutes or so, she works herself up into a real fit, crying hysterically until she's completely out of control.

As we pull up to the stop for the zoo, and she and her family prepare to get off the train (as we are doing, as well) to go to the zoo on this most beautiful of days, Katie leans over to me and whispers, "Guarantee she stops crying as soon as we get off the train."

6/6/09 - Circle around the park

Rode about five and a half miles around Prospect Park in the middle of the afternoon. There wasn't anything particularly interesting about the day.

The previous evening, I was at a friend's cabaret performance, and she sang the song "Moonfall" which got me to thinking. The results of that thinking can be found here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

6/5/09 - Short attention

I saw two dwarfs today.

One was running for a train in a t-shirt and canvas sneakers, the other walking down the street in the rain, his small face (so similar to that of other little people I have seen, on TV and the like) watchful as he warily eyed the unsettled sky.

Sometimes when you hear an unusual word for the first time, you'll hear it again very soon afterwards, as though your ear were searching for it, and call it coincidence or selective attention or synchronicity (which is really just a coincidence freighted with an extra load of meaning).

Well this was nothing like that.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

6/4/09 - Some Days

Some days, the subways are full of nothing but pretty girls. The world seems to shine with them, like a new penny face up on the ground, promising that today, glorious day, you walk in grace and can do no wrong. You feel blessed just to travel in their midst, and beautiful in their reflected glow.

And some days, not: the beauties aren’t there, and everyone seems hard-faced and closed, lost in thought, tired, no one shines; the penny is face-down in the muck at the bottom of the stairs, the Lincoln Memorial like bars, and you keep your head down, too, and just try to make it through the day.

6/3/09 - Dropped

The rain falls lightly, but stings my face as I pick up speed. The route I bike to Katie’s apartment is thick with riders, despite the wet, and every one of them seems determined to “drop” me (that is, to pass me, kicking up wet road muck as they go).

I balance with one foot touching the ground at a stoplight, and yet another rider pulls up beside me, grinning, and says, “Nice weather, huh?”

“Well,” I say, “it’ll do until the real good weather shows, right?” and the light turns green, and this guy, too, drops me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

6/2/09 - Seriously, it's freaking me out.

"Hey, Warren," I say to the short, round-faced, balding black man hanging out in front of my building. "Got a second?"

In my apartment, I show him the bulging boil of white paint hanging pendulously over my sink where the water from the apartment above has almost, but not quite, eaten through the ceiling of my bathroom.

"Yeah," he says, "those people upstairs moved about two weeks ago, but Mr. Zimmer won't even let me fix the hole in my ceiling that the leak made, and I'm the super!"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

6/1/09 - this happens every once in a while

"Scott, please remind Dr. [redacted] that we need his outline for the training as soon as possible."

"Sure, I'll ask him about that right away."

I check my inbox, and due to a lazy streak I have been indulging the shit out of lately, I have not passed on the email that said Dr. sent me almost two weeks ago with exactly that information.

"Oh, man," I lie, "I thought sure he cc'd you on that!"