Friday, April 25, 2008

4-25-08 In which I find out that, in fact, it is not as dire as it seemed

Darnell, who calls himself the "assistant-super", is a skinny, older black man who lives across the hall from me. He wears glasses, a baseball cap, and most of his teeth are kind of a mess, but he's always ready with a smile and some sort of vaugely comprehensible greeting.

When I got home last night, I decided to ask him what went down yesterday morning, and he told me that the couple down on the second floor who always seem to be screaming at each other about something or other decided to really go at it, and the woman apparently went upside her man's head, and somebody went to jail, and somebody went to a shelter.

"It's just disrispecful," said Darnell, indignantly, "'cus they don' havta clean up the blood, I do!"

Thursday, April 24, 2008

4-24-08 I May Be One of Those People

As I may have mentioned on these pages, I used to live in Queens, a few blocks from the spot where Kitty Genovese was killed, and I've long been fascinated by the story of thirty-eight people who sat in their apartments and did nothing while a young woman was stabbed to death.

This morning, I awoke to the usual pounding on doors and yelling in my apartment building, followed by running up and down stairs and more voices raised in anger. Annoyed, I turned up the radio until I couldn't hear the yelling anymore.

When I left my apartment building at about 7:45, there were drops of fresh blood in a trail down the stairs, leading to a puddle of blood about a foot wide in the entryway of the building.

Monday, April 21, 2008

4-21-08 Sinus redux

Ever since 9/11 my sinuses have been a total mess - I mean, admittedly, they've sort of been not great for a while, but after "the unpleasantness downtown" spewed a toxic chemical stew into the air above New York, I started getting sick every 3 months or so. For a while I thought I was better, but it came back with a vengence this past year (probably a function of stress and not taking care of myself).

Work becomes a blur, and it's all that I can do just to do the barest minimum. I fret myself into disease and only when I'm truly good and sick do I realize, "Oh! that's why I've been such a jerk lately: I'm getting sick!"

Friday, April 18, 2008

4-18-09 - Making "friends"

Coming home last night from the laundromat, pushing my clothes in one of those metal fold-out carts, I arrive at my front door, and sitting in a chair to the left of the door is this heavy, round-faced woman who lives in my building. I've seen her before, sitting in this chair, smoking and laughing raspily with the thin, older man who sometimes sweeps up in my building, and she's seen me, and, feeling friendly, I greet her. She promptly asks me for change.

After explaining that I don't, in fact, have any change ("How about a dollar?" she then asks) she finally relents by saying, "Well, I'll look out for you anyway."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

4-17-08 Yeah, me too, kid.

Listening on my iPod to Alan Watts talking about Zen on the way home from the grocery store after work, walking through the glorious spring day, trees budding, flowers blooming, blue sky above, moon rising straight down St. Marks, and all's right with the world. He says, "...and so the present moment suddenly expands, and it contains the whole time, all past, all present, all time. You never have to hold on to it."

I walk by the row of houses, and a little boy stands behind a steel gate, solemnly blowing bubbles between the bars and watching them sail out into the sunshine, sparkling, iridescent and lovely, until they dissolve into nothing in the air.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

4-16-08 Couches and Comics

Today I bought a couch, and the gradual transformation of my apartment from bear den to habitable abode proceeds apace. It was a little too awkward for Katie to carry as we shoved it up to the third floor, so mostly I ended up flipping it end-over-end up the stairs all the way to my apartment, where it now sits, comfortable and a little cramped until I get all the other crap put away and/or tossed out.

Also, as a side note, and probably totally unrelated, I just bought a ticket to go to the New York Comic Con on Saturday. I'm hoping that I'll get a chance to maybe even say hi to Grant Morrison, which would be awesome, since he's kinda one of my heroes (the other one, in comics, is of course Alan Moore), and since I've got an artist who's doing a couple of pages of the comic script I wrote back in 2006, I really would like to just get in the game, as it were.

Monday, April 14, 2008

4-14-08 Seriously? Fuck Darth Maul. And Muggers.

I dreamed about fighting with Darth Maul all night. Every time I would wound him or cut off a limb with my light saber he would heal or regenerate a new limb, until finally I grew so annoyed with the whole thing that I cut him up and liquefied him in a blender, and even then, as I awoke, the mush formerly known as Darth Maul was beginning to clump together in preparation to recombine and continue fighting.

My horoscope said that I might be confronting issues of "assertion and aggression" today, and everyone who looked at me on the subway for more than a second seemed like a potential enemy, until my adrenaline levels got so jacked up I was practically shaking as I got off at my stop. Someone was mugged there a little over a week ago in the early evening, and the thought of it makes me so angry I wish sometimes someone would mess with me so I could stick a knife in them, but I'm glad they don't because then I'd have to deal with the karma and the guilt.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

4-13-08 Duly Noted

I'm walking home from Katie's house after dark, two gentlemen are standing on the corner, one of them talking to an older lady. I walk between the two men, and one makes eye contact with me as I pass. "What's up?" he says, as I continue down the street, and I'm at least smart enough not to turn around. Continuing, I hear, "Yo, I thought that nigger was gonna step to me," and I try to impress on my memory the fact that not everyone has the same personal space, especially after dark in my neighborhood.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

4-12-08 One block this morning in Crown Heights

An older, glasses-wearing black man in a natty tan suit stands holding a bible next to a woman in a similarly colored dress on the corner, the man in a heated conversation with a thin man in a yellow, black and green dread tam. The dread says to the bible-holder, in a thick accent, "You can't tell me nothin', because whom God blesses, none can curse, and you don't know me from Adam!"

A fat, balding white man lies on the ground in front of an apartment building, passed out, his pate covered in sores, still breathing, so I observe him for a moment and move on. Not ten yards away, the well-dressed folks in their Eddie Bauer sweats line up in front of the newest hip restaurant in the neighborhood, waiting to get in for brunch.

Friday, April 11, 2008

4-11-08 Probably Ought to Get Those Taxes Done...

Laying on the floor last night, going through the computerized tax thing, inputting all my W-2's and 1099's, marvelling at how little money I made last year. The carpet was rough, sturdy, and familiar, grey and black, and used to sit in my living room in Queens.

I was terrified almost all the time, toward the end of my tenure in Queens, there. There was no way to make money, no way to pay bills, a constant stream of adreneline and bile in response to the decisions I'd made, but now, I've paid some of the Karma off, and the final few repayments are coming due - nothing I can't handle, but a reminder of what I went through, like a scar that aches a little on the anniversary of its creation.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

4-10-08 Hanging Bike

I screwed a hook into my ceiling, and from said hook I hang my bike. My apartment now looks like a "...real New York apartment", says Katie, "like, 'yeah, my bike's hanging over my guitars and the vacuum cleaner next to the fridge, so what?'"

Last night, late, riding my bike home down Dean Street (where sketchy lives and the factories just don't stop!) was like riding through a cloud that lost its ambition and ended up wetly moping along the ground. The bike and I were covered in a fine mist that, when I hung my bike up, left wet, streaky black marks on the wall and ceiling.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

4-9-08 Shoes

Spring's here, and you can tell because girls are starting to wear their cute shoes again. Red and pink painted toes peek out from open-toed heels like tulip buds pushing out of the ground, flats and ballet style shoes in metallics flash across sidewalks and up stairs; thick, clunky boots retreat to the back of the closet and the sandals begin their warm-up stretches after the long winter.

Speaking of shoes, I tend to be pretty hard on mine, and, after only a month or so of wear, the shoelaces on my new work shoes needed replacing. Nothing makes me feel so much like an adult and a little kid at the same time as buying new shoelaces: the tidy loops tightly wound in their paper wrapping, threading the new shoelace (never exactly the same color black as the previous shoelace) through the eyes on the blind, gaping shoe, tying the shoe extra tight again without fear of breaking the old, worn shoelace.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

4-7-08 Flowing with the Tide

Between Sixth Avenue, where the B train arrives on 42nd Street, and Fifth Avenue, a tunnel stretches to funnel commuters beneath the street. For some reason, today all of the trains in both directions arrived at the station at once, and the tunnel was full of people, hundreds of people bobbing along in the stream of bodies, all flowing down the conduit.

I was worried that, if I surrendered to the flow, relaxed and let the tide carry me, that I would lose my individuality, but I realized that if I relaxed my body, flowed with the mass, while keeping my eyes open and paying attention, that I actually was freed to be even more myself. I didn't have to push or impose my will, skirting between slower walkers and constantly searching for an opening - I could be both myself and a part of the crowd, anonymous, unremarked, necessary.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

4-5-08 The Class War Continues

Walking last night home from a thing, recounting a conversation from the evening before to Katie.

"...and I told her that the reason I hadn't been mugged was because I look kinda mean when I'm just walking around, and she told me to show me my mean look. She looks at me and she says, 'You don't look that mean.'"

Katie says, "Honey, you don't look mean, you look poor!"

Thursday, April 3, 2008

4-3-08 Knight of Pentacles

The workload has been very light for the past few days, and though normally I'd be pleased with this, the boredom of it is actually starting to wear on me. I stare at a computer screen for hour upon hour and feel my eyeballs begin to crystallize and turn opaque under the constant bombardment of needles of gamma wave radiation from the monitors.

I meditate in the mornings, chanting my mantra, doing push ups, watching my body change, waiting for some kind of overwhelming epiphany to break upon me like lightning, but fairly sure that what I'm really looking for is coming gradually. Maybe I'm looking for an enlightenment more subtle - less like flipping a switch than watching the sun come inexorably up after a long, long night.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

4-2-08 Gross Out Post Warning - Sinuses

After enduring an inexplicable stuffed up nose for the past 2 weeks, today during breakfast, for some equally inexplicable reason, my entire sinus cavity abruptly liquified and drained. I imagine the flooding of the Nile River Valley might have felt like this, if the Nile River Valley were a nose that suddenly began to gush a thick, clear mucus over its morning eggs and toast.

The upshot of this rather disturbing event was my sudden increased capacity to smell the newly arriving spring. The heady, floral perfume of the woman walking by on the subway, the acrid smog from the bus idling in the intersection, the loitering smoke of the cigarettes burning in the vestibules of the buildings I pass, that man's coffee he frantically sips as he hurries along to work, everything opened up and my world went from black and white to technicolor, 360-degree, smell-o-vision.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

4-1-08 Not an April Fool's Joke

Across the street from my work, clearly visible from a window in the board room, is a tree, just beginning to bloom. The delicate green buds, glowing in the grey of a cloudy day, must have been growing for the past week, and yet, all of a sudden, there they are, just like magic. It's supposed to be 65 degrees or something ridiculous today, and there is no stopping the world from turning.

Spring comes, winter ends, and darkness, without our really noticing, as busy as we are, suddenly gives way to light, and everything changes.