Friday, July 31, 2009

7/31/09 - too hot, too humid, too crowded

Even the massive bulk of the trains hurtling by the platform can't stir the thick, tepid air. Sweat hangs on every passing face like a soaked veil.

The girl sitting next to me on the bench as we wait for the next Q to whisk us away to air-conditioned (albeit standing, crowded) nirvana arranges herself just so to avoid touching me accidentally, and I do likewise. We sit, simmering in the wet air, watching the trains come and go on the other, Brooklyn-bound platform, and pretending we don't notice each other at all.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

7/30/09 - Connect the Dots: Bald, Crazy Fucker Edition

I play a game sometimes, hearing a song or watching a movie, that, until recently, I wasn't even aware I was playing. A sample game goes something like this: listening to my iPod, I hear a song called "Gunning for the Buddha" by Shriekback, which made me think of Grant Morrison, who wrote a chapter of his comic book The Invisibles called "Oh Buddha, Up Yours", which included the character King Mob, who looks a lot like a buffer, slightly more violent Spider Jerusalem.

Katie, of course, was long familiar with this (pointless) game by the time I figured out that it was "something I do," which you can imagine was pretty disconcerting. There is a whole world out there that sees you and forms opinions of you and notices patterns in the things you do, and even makes decisions about you and predictions about what it thinks you'll do next, even if you don't know yourself; and sometimes, they'll be right.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

7/27/09 - at best

Deadlines begin to, if not exactly loom, then at least to stand nearby and look menacing. I spend a futile evening playing with African guitar tunings whose simple alterations to standard serve only to prove that I need to play more if I'm going to pull off this massive project in September.

Later that night, I lie in bed complaining to Katie until I catch myself and apologize, saying, "I guess I'm not really at my best right now, am I?"

She tousles my hair and smiles, replying, "I'm tired of seeing you at your best."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

7/26/09 - Weird ways we're connected

The sun continues to shine, despite the dire warnings of the Weather Channel et al. We wander down Bergen Street and look at the dogs and people, count the stores that have closed and the new ones that seem to spring up immediately to take the place of the fallen.

When I see Jai at the Chocolate Room (when did his hair begin to gray like that?) he is sweet and polite, and it's good to see him, but as usual, most people have someplace to be and I'll talk all day. He politely bids Katie and I good day, and extricates himself, and as we're walking away, Katie says, "He went to NC State, right?"

Monday, July 20, 2009

7/19/09 - C.H.U.D.

The subway tunnel we stood in was walled up at either end, and the tracks were long gone beneath 150 years of dirt and neglect. The air was cold and clammy, and Katie shivered a little as the group we were touring the long lost "Oldest Subway Tunnel in the World" with played their flashlights up and down the whitewashed bricks that arched above us, and down the half a mile of dark tunnel punctuated by the occasional bare lightbulb.

The overweight, greasy, pallid man who guided the tour would sit down every hundred yards or so to tell us stories about the history of the tunnel in a rushed, out of breath voice that seemed to me to indicate that he'd simply like to get us out of here as quickly as possible, perhaps so he could go back to gnawing on the bones of unwary tourists who'd fallen behind. Things decay so quickly in the damp and cold, and, as long as you didn't know where to look, there would be lots of places to put the remains.

7/18/09 - Joy at watching a friend succeed

The heat began to depart, chased by a cool breeze, as Abena got up on the stage at Prospect Park bandshell to play her set for Africa Day. She was so beautiful in her colorful clothes, and I was shocked at how the year since I'd seen her perform had changed her. Friends that I also hadn't seen in ages stood up and began to dance while this powerful, commanding stage presence took control of the crowd and rocked the party quite capably.

Later, eating carrots and hummus up on the hill above the rows of chairs that led to the stage, I embraced a friend I hadn't really spoke to in years, tears in my eyes, and told her how much I had missed her, missed all of them, missed a bit of myself, even in spite of my need to be alone, sometimes.

7/17/09 - Word (actually, Excel)

"The thing is," I said, toggling back and forth in the "page preview" screen of the spreadsheet I was working on, "is that the page preview doesn't really show you an accurate representation of the document. It always loses lines on cells at different levels of magnification, and I mean, yes, you can still print it, and it'll look fine, but this is just one of those instances where, and it's been like this since the beginning with Microsoft, they just keep heaping code on top of code so the problems that are inherent in the thing never get addressed, and this is, seriously, this is a basic interface where the user should be able to see what the document looks like!"

Jonathan looked over the cubicle wall separating us at the screen where I continued to toggle between magnification levels, watching the lines reappear and disappear on the worksheet. Finally, he looked at me and said, "Is this how I sound when I starting ranting about Macs?"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

7/15/09 - Nice try, asshole

The big, black guy with the narrow head and the crazy eyes turns, just as I walk past, making sure to smack my hand with his hand, and I hear something fall to the ground a second later.

"Hey," he calls to me, showing me the glasses that barely fit his head and the obviously old, sharp crack right in the center of one lens. Looking as mean as he can, he says, "Can you do something to fix this?"

"Sorry, man, I don't have any money." I say, walking away.

7/14/09 - Welcome to New York!

Transportation home from the clipper ship is kindly provided by Katie's company, who have booked a double decker tour bus to convey us to Penn Station. We sit in the front on the top, high above the streets, watching the buildings and lights pass by and enjoying the cool evening air.

While stopped at a stoplight, a young kid walks by going the other direction, and, seeing us seeing him, shouts up, "Fuck you, tourists."

"Fuck you, kid, we live here!" I shout back, and Katie looks at me, wide-eyed, while her boss, sitting directly behind us, (hopefully) ignores me.

Monday, July 13, 2009

7/12/09 - on returning

We return to New York mid-day to find glorious weather, a perfect reminder of why we love this city, but New York is also instantly one of the most annoying cities in the world, with its ridiculous traffic and price-gouging cabbies and crowded sidewalks where no one seems to know how to walk without knocking somebody down.

We take a walk to enjoy the Brooklyn late-afternoon sunshine after we've had some dinner and a couple of drinks. On the corner, a man rummages in a garbage can singing quietly to himself, "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere...."

Katie says, "Sir, might I suggest you try your luck elsewhere."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

7/6/09 - wedding stuff

At Katie's house in NC, her mom and she look through bridal magazines and geek out to Martha Stewart and designers whose names I don't know or remember ten minutes later. The names remind me of pictures I've seen in certain types of magazines of slightly effeminate men in scarves and tight pants, with high, cut-glass cheekbones and European tans.

Katie is leaning toward a wedding date the September after next, while her mother continues to push (gently, persuasively, with all her diplomacy and Jedi Mind Tricks) for a June wedding.

My job, of course, is to back Katie and keep my mouth shut, and if those appear to be contradictory duties, you begin to see my dilemma.

7/5/09 - travel day

Got up so EARLY to go to the airport that the sun wasn't even up. We arrived in Charlotte without incident.

Katie and her mom looked at bridal stuff online while I drifted in and out of sleep watching Ocean's Thirteen. Finally fell asleep like a stone for real at midnight, so happy to be back on East Coast time.

7/4/09 - gayest post yet

Stood in the dark outside beside my parent's pool in the rain, watching clouds part to reveal an almost full, incredibly bright moon. The rain fell softly and steadily, and I stood there and got wet. I was able to see almost as well as during the day, the moon was so bright.

Are there ever rainbows made from moonlight?

7/3/09 - cleaning out the shed

I found, amidst the detritus of childhood and youth, at least ten notebooks, probably more. Notebooks from High School (not all of which I burned, apparently), notebooks from college (drawings all over the covers and misery on every page).

Despite my love of music, despite my love of performing, apparently, writing is what I do. If it takes 10,000 hours to become expert at something, then the one thing I do is freaking write.

7/2/09 - Mars Attacks

We drive through the drab brushlands outside Phoenix heading North on I-17. The "forests" of low, stunted trees and dirt give way gradually to taller trees and stony cliffs.

Then we reach Sedona, and there is actually a line in the cliffs that we can see as we drive by where the yellowish stone of the desert changes over to the red rocks of what looks like Mars.

Bell Rock swings into view, deep red and majestic against a blue sky, and Katie turns to me, saying, "Too bad about the view."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

7/1/09 - Caitlin Rose Visits the Zoo

My niece Caitlin Rose has never been to the zoo in the 3 years she has been alive, and Katie and I agree that being there when that happens would be an incredibly fun thing. So, to beat the heat, we end up going to the zoo around nine in the morning, figuring that the animals would be more active before the sun really beats down.

Caitlin is both amazed, and occasionally bored, at one point being way more interested in the new friend she made on the playground the zoo conveniently provided than in any animals, but the magic we were hoping for finally focuses into one moment when she reaches up her tiny hand to feed a leaf of lettuce to a giraffe as it gently bends down over her.

After we've arrived home and are lying around on couches and chairs, recovering, Katie sums it up, saying, "Living vicariously through a three-year-old is exhausting!"

6/30/09 - it's a drag getting old

My dad takes me to J.C. Penny's to look for clothes for my birthday, but nothing that I put on seems to fit properly. This may be partially a function of the cut of the clothes, but it also probably has something to do with the slight spare tire of fat I seem to have recently acquired around my waist.

When he suggests going to, of all places, Costco to look for clothes, it's been an hour, and I still haven't had breakfast, I'm disappointed that my folks didn't really put any thought into my birthday, I've been bickering with my Dad about our differences in clothing taste, not to mention that I'm starting to feel kind of out of shape and old.

"Listen, Dad," I finally say, "shopping for clothing when I haven't eaten just... seems like a bad idea."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

6/29/09 - bucket of mush

We sit in the living room of my parent's house: me, Katie, Dawn, Caitlin, and my folks, all shooting the shit after picking us up at the airport. Most of the furniture has been moved out, and my dad has done a lot of work around the place in hopes that it will sell soon, but so far, no takers.

My sister is talking about dreams, and Dad, in a rare access of self-revelation, is talking about a dream he had frequently as a kid, saying, "It's like a bucket of mush: you'd punch it hard, but the bucket would just suck it in. No matter how hard you pushed, you'd just get sucked in."

6/28/09 - still tempted

The pill bottle was lodged between the wall and the back of the dresser, and believe me, I'd known exactly where it was for a week. I also knew that we'd be out of town for two weeks, no pills, and I'd given up Kratom for over a month.

I gently lifted the bottle from its precarious perch and poured two codeine tabs into my hand, which I planned to take while Katie was in the bathroom, and which would carry me in slow, rolling half-sleep until the wee hours.

And then I put them back in the bottle, placed the bottle back where it had rested, and lay down, embarrassment and pride contending in my chest, until Katie clambered over me to her side of the bed, and we fell asleep.