Saturday, October 31, 2009

the minor fall and the major lift

My first Friday night as a single girl and I spend it alone at home with a box of Cheddar Bunnies? Seriously. I treated myself to a twenty dollar bottle of Cabernet and a few bargain bags of Halloween candy, made myself a tuna melt and curled up on the couch with a movie.

It was one of my favorite nights in the new apartment, which is starting to feel like home and not just this big, unfinished project (particularly now that I rid the freezer of that smelly half-defrosted organic lasagna).

Now I will quote Nietzsche, who once wrote, " . . . the greatest events—they are not our loudest but our stillest hours."*

I wake up every morning feeling free. I am finding my own will to power, my own "wholesome, heavy selfishness" and learning to listen to the commanding "I" and "yes" and "no" that come from myself alone.

*from Thus Spoke Zarathustra, translated by Walter Kaufmann, (Penguin, 1996).

Friday, October 30, 2009

two things

One: I dare you to tell me this isn't meant to be a pumpkin cock n' balls. (Some have said my mind is in the gutter.)

And two—to whoever posted the Mark Strand poem: thank you. How totally appropriate. I have the full text taped up at my desk.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

coming attractions, november twenty-oh-nine

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Witness the return of my optimism. Marvel as I attempt the impossible.

  • I will sing in public. (In stockings and eye makeup no less.)
  • I will apply to graduate school.
  • I will put a down payment on space for a passion project that has no business on stage (and that I have no business producing).
  • I will cohabitate with Peter Pan in Chapter Two of the world's Most Amicable Breakup Ever.

Very likely, I will fail at one or all of these things. But you know what they say... journey, destination, blah blah blah...

Do something every day that scares you.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

so I will share this room with you

*Behind the Montague Book Mill, "Books You Don't Need In A Place You Can't Find."

When you listen to the universe, it can surprise you.

Perhaps I am in denial. Perhaps this will back up on us in the none too distant future and we will be suddenly crippled with what could have been. Certainly, when I glance at my left hand and find the tip of my Claddagh heart tipping precariously into the unknown, a hollow wind ripples through my abdomen.

But then I think how we have averted catastrophe and I smile at our resilience, the brave faces we've thrown up for each other, and we laugh together like we haven't laughed in years.

All those doubts disappear. Corners we felt backed into open wide. Seemingly ill-fated choices find new footing. Once again, Odin gets yanked up by his ankles and tied to a tree branch, looking down at the ground as if it were a brand new world.

I'm sure no one will understand this. How pruning the branches made the roots grow stronger. But surely it is no one's business but our own.

Monday, October 26, 2009

and as the nail sunk in the cloud

I don't often reference the title of this endeavor, but nevertheless the ouroboros bites me in the ass from time to time—if only to remind me that life moves in spiral.

From where I sat on my long lost high school English teacher's sofa Saturday morning, drinking mint tea with handmade honey and being vetted by a Siamese kitten named Sigmund, my world began to make sense again. I am not the wholly new invention I think myself every year. I do not restart from scratch each January the first. My selves are spun from the same center locus, no matter how many and manifold they become. And no matter how old I get, I am still the same doe-eyed kid who once stole for him the forsaken statue of St. Francis. There are no beginnings or endings, only cycles.

That said, things change. There may be no wrong way around the circle, but certainly there are sinkholes and wagon ruts to circumvent. There are changes to be made, though the thought of making them may rip your heart right out of your chest.

I have done something so selfish and so scary that I still cower at the thought. It was the right thing to do, but it stands a fighting chance of turning my heart to pulp and rendering it unfit for future use. And I don't know what to say now, really. Is it better to do as I have done? Choosing to hurt now for a little dignity down the road?

Or maybe I have just lost what hope I had left of happy endings.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

pity party

The wolf is gone and I am still sick. I'll spare you the details, but let's just say something is very wrong. It's been four days.

Also, it is 43 degrees and raining.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

my head a moon of japanese paper

My love affair with my new place has come to a rather ignominious end. Raise your hand if you saw it coming.

I still love it here. But we are well into the double digits of October and still have no heat or cooking gas, with no end in sight. And I can't even get mad because not only are my landlords the nicest family alive, the situation is all red tape and city bureaucracy and therefore entirely beyond their control.

I also managed to contract the stomach flu of the century (an affliction I originally imagined—and still suspect—to be food poisoning wrought by the friendly neighborhood Pita Pan...) So I have been out flat since Wednesday night, beset by fever, aches and intestinal scourges. The mere smell of food nauseates me. I'm subsisting on white rice and Saltine crackers alone.

But here I am in bed at four pm on a Saturday afternoon, covers up, church bells in the background, and I'm sucked right back in. The Good Samaritans, my landlords, have already sent up two batches of chicken soup (which I can't eat because I wouldn't be able to keep it down and anyway I'm supposedly vegetarian) plus their son gave me his personal space heater to keep warm.

Really, the worst part is having to give back the Wolf, who has so thoroughly wormed her way into our hearts that the loss of her presence will likely ruin our already tenuous grasp on domesticity.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

what are the odds

Sat next to the same person on the N two days running. Only today he was wearing a jacket and we happened to be sitting on the opposite side of the car (panoramic view of greater Queens instead of the habitual skyline). Odd, that.

Also, transferred to the R at Union Square and got the same conductor...two days running. I know this because he sounds exactly like Pepe the King Prawn from the Muppets. You know, "What do you get when you cross an elephant and a rhino?" Only this guy just says, "Brooklyn bound R train, Brooklyn bound R train," in various shades of hilarious.

Perhaps this was the Universe subtly calling for a do-over of yesterday? I was planning on leftover eggplant parm for dinner. That and accomplishing relatively nothing in the allotted span of waking hours. May the circle be unbroken.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

recession special

This morning, as weary commuters power-walked up 23rd Avenue, this little guy was angling for access to the Zorba's Souvlaki kitchen window and the tough-guy line cook making bemused faces at him behind it.

Because he was so tiny and hungry and collarless, I stuck around. Ready to take him home as a playmate for the Timberwolf and feed him Oreos and milk until he was up to mouse-catching strength and body weight. But I live in Astoria now. So the mustachioed owner emerged (just like the benevolent Woodsman in a fairy tale) and scooped the little fellow to his belly. Just like that. He was no longer alone and afraid on a cold morning.

That's right, bitches. My neighborhood sticks up for kittens.

Monday, October 12, 2009

the new world

I am often accused of being provincial.

Perhaps if I were cooler and more cityfied, I would not be listening to Nina Simone in my kitchen, reading yesterday's New York Times and looking forward to a stroll around the block with the rent-a-puppy for a coffee and some new flowers.

But I am not. And if this is indeed what my neighborhood looks like at seven on a Sunday morning, why leave. I know I keep saying I don't belong in New York, but perhaps I have finally (four years later and still penniless) found my niche.

Thank you, Cristóbal Colón, for being such a lousy sailor and for quote unquote "discovering" an already inhabited continent; this day off is much appreciated. I get to digest yesterday (grand day of sports that it was) in the comfort of my sunny kitchen, rather than hunched before my workspace computer. I maintain, however, what I said in my fourth grade research report: you are no hero of mine.

I would gladly give back this day off. Gladly.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

politics as usual

I don't pretend to know whether President Obama "deserves" to have won the Nobel Peace Prize in the adolescence of his presidency (I'm timing this assessment on dog years, by the way), but I can say this:

For those of us on the left, debating the merits of the committee's decision is futile. And for our chums on the right (if such they can be called), denouncing the president with derisive mocking hardly seems to further the peace dialogue. Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland put it this way, "The question we have to ask is who has done the most in the previous year to enhance peace in the world." And, while there are certainly human rights activists toiling worldwide to fight for this (perhaps making more tangible—albeit less visible—strides), it is hard to deny that Obama did make a global ripple in the pond that touched the hearts and ideals of billions.

I prefer to look at it this way. This award is not based on his presidency, per se (a presidency that is nowhere near complete and therefore impossible to judge on the whole). To quote Bob Kerrey, "It's honoring the country. The Nobel committee couldn't award the peace prize to the voters of the United States, but that's what they are doing. It's an award Americans should feel good about."

I am certainly appreciative of what Obama has accomplished, even if that was little more than an innovative PR campaign for the United States.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


This little beast is in my charge until next Saturday. She's the gentlest, snowiest fuzzy little pig-fox I've ever seen and she has one blue eye and one brown.

She was also up half the night wondering where her moms were (she has two) and why she'd been left in this new place with trains rattling overhead.

Between the click clack of her paws doing laps around the apartment, Peter Pan's incessant snoring (what is this new phenomenon?) and my misguided decision to set my dishwasher to run at two in the morning (it chugs to life with all the subtlety of a freight train), I didn't get much sleep.

However, once the reveille sounded at 6:45 and I cleaned up her puppy puke (poor thing is still anxious), I took her for a long walk. Must say, my neighborhood is lovely in the mornings...

shredding paper

Someone told me once that a day is a battlefield. Today, for example, you take the field—you versus all the gods of Wednesday—and may the best woman win.

Some days are better than others, some worse. But, much like baseball, there are certain contests that cannot decisively be called. Those days are a tug-of-war of minor skirmishes, dull scrapes and lesser victories. No one bothers to keep score until one side guts the other in an unexpected blow. Then your Wednesday becomes Antietam, for one side or the other.

But this was just a Wednesday. My victories were shallow, but they were enough to carry the day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

this from the boyfriend

"Why can't you just be a slutty witch for Halloween like all the other girls?"

la diritta via era smarrita

Last night some animal woke me up. Or else I dreamed up some hideously menacing animal noises, some duet of lowing or growling with a higher-pitched whine building in the background. It sounded like screeching, like pigs being butchered. Or a coyote braying. And it was getting louder and louder.

Anyhow, I woke up in terror, right at the crescendo—presumably to go outside and rescue whatever it was from harm—and there was nothing but dark. Dark and Peter Pan snoring next to me, sinuses straining.

Maybe the red curtains are giving me hellish dreams?

Monday, October 5, 2009

the long, dark teatime of the soul

I know I keep saying I am done with New York. I gave myself a year to make up my mind. But already I suspect I'll need more time—particularly if I continue this love affair with my new neighborhood.

Sunday was a blur. It began with Peter Pan needing to be let in at 6:34 am (Yes, I latched the door on him when he wasn't home by 2 am. Yes, I am a bad and passive aggressive person.) Then there was sheet changing, brunch with my dad and the buying of bamboo for my windowsill vase. But I spent the afternoon soaking in the last flash of summer sun, alternating outdoor locations for the semi-sacred ritual crossword hours between the park and my balcony, where someone started playing godawful acid rock and I was almost chased away by my neighbor's yipping rat dog.

The bloom still being on the rose, I found these things charming.

Most people might take annoyance at the sounds of my neighborhood on Sunday afternoon. It is an atonal symphony of church bells, child squeals, trains rattling over the bridge, trains braking at Ditmars, the reving of muffler-less engines, and the landing and taking off of airplanes. But I find it oddly comforting.

This, my friends, is the pleasure of having your own space. Perhaps too much solitude in said space, but that is another beast to conquer...

Friday, October 2, 2009

write this above her bones

Yeah, so this week. Not the best.

Let me preface this by saying that nothing happened to me. This marks one of those strange moments in life where the world starts sucking chunks for people around you, people who are near or dear to you, but you are expected to hold it together. Because, really, you are fine.

I can be a rock star. I am a twentysomething urban female with all sorts of sublimated maternal instincts. I'm a hair-holding, kitchen-cleaning, cookie-baking, flower-buying coordinator of efforts large and small. I have the luxury of being in a place to help those in trouble (be that a fragile mental state or multiple broken bones and cranial bleeding). So that is my plan. Asked or appreciated or otherwise.

For the purposes of my own sanity, I will concentrate on the fact that October has arrived, heralding my very favorite season with its signature bite in the air, its melancholy and its pumpkin spice lattes. My apartment continues to be an oasis, however sparse, and every night the smell of bread baking manages to waft up to my living room from the bakery around the corner. Things aren't half bad.

[ Sidenote: I never imagined I would be called "boring" for spending weeknights on my couch with a bottle of Malbec and the first season of the West Wing on dvd. And yet? Boring. Net regrets: 0. ]