NYC: day by day (2)

iunie 27, 2008

DAY 6, june 20 – black construction workers are building a big house right across the street from matt’s place. i’m sitting at the livingroom table writing early morning, then finish a joan didion novel and start on another book. matt takes me to sandwich bar for absolutely huge sandwiches + free coke, and he puts cocorosie on for breakfast, so i’m somehow on the Prague – TIFF (‘after hours’) loop again…again and again, those are the coolest things i’ve been, and maybe just because of the heartbreak within them. matt books my china bus and boston hostel for me, and i tell him my being autistic theory. he’s so amused by that, that he’ll keep calling me ‘autistic kid’ forever, i guess.

so afterwards all i do that day is go almost straight to williamsburg, where i roam around bedford street (in and out of shops, hipster-watching and bookstore envy and all) then i go and read in ‘el bait’ but not for very long because matt comes to meet me, and he’ll take me to this concert in this cool place, 10 dollars cover. i stop for a painful five minutes to reassess the state of my frayed budget. try not to make a big deal out of it, just because. but it’s there. but we agree that it’s not THAT important. but it’s a shadow on a lovely day. so we go to the concert to ‘monkey town’, where we sit on low couches arranged along the walls, with stuff projected on screens all over, and we have wine, and a girl comes and sings, and then we get to the bar where we keep having/splitting glasses of wine and beers. also, we talk about miranda july. again.

the night was all about what is essential to matt – it was about asking him questions. no one could have planned or envisioned it that way. patient, sarcastic, snarling (yes all at once somehow), with a lot of twists and pauses, and with rain when we got out to go back to brooklyn social, and a long walking phonecall. incidentally, or not, the end of my NY honeymoon, matt said that night that nowhere is home.

but people are shining points on our world maps.

and no i don’t think i’ve lost the love of my life. but it was a relief to say it.

DAY 7, june 21, Boston – hah. nothing much to say. arrived late, lost my watch somewhere on newbury street, it was very very hot, i went by the river, back bay- prudential-hynes-symphony area. all nice except i felt like a dummy deciphering the map, with no idea what is what. at fenway park they were just having a red sox game, and the celtics apparently had just won big very recently, so people must have thought my green dress was a costume 🙂 . talked to my hostel roommates a bit (an american girl , a taiwanese couple, later at breakfast couple of indians.

DAY 8, june 22, Boston – very very early start, subway day pass (that subway is a joke!! i totally enjoyed being bustled in and out of shuttles and redirected though), old town. market, harbor/waterfront, bits of freedom trail. in the afternoon, museum of fine arts, very nice (and free, ha! and everyone got a wonderful T-shirt saying „corporate culture” – i’m wearing it right now!! yes i’m cooped up in the basement so don’t worry.) then all i could think of was, do i want to go to harvard???

duuh. i did go. i guess anyone could have told you/me that i wouldn’t resist the idea. not very academic thoughts though: i was trying to figure out which building they used in ‘good will hunting’ for the girl’s dorm; also wanted to find harvard law school; there were groups of students and i kept wondering if it was research trip. also, at the h. bookstore i saw buttons with writers’ names. (but no miranda july, no; though not only classics – some very contemporary as well, i had heard of all of them – sigh of relief). it’s nice there, all spread out and…ceremonial – that’s the boston air. i did like it. also, at harvard station about 5 (white) women were having a bake sale for obama.

i’m transcribing something i wrote in boston commons that evening: „my purpose is never to take time off (off what??) to feel good about myself – it’s to take time to find new and marvelous ways in which i can be inadequate.”

DAY 9, june 23, back to brooklyn: i took and earlier bus than was supposed to (fung wah bus: on this day a woman was crushed to death as she was waiting to board a fung wah at the same place i had, in chinatown NY – but i only found out later) and arrived around 4, camped on the livingroom couch because mary was back home. at 5 matt woke up and came to talk and so we’re out in the backyard for a cigarette. („how was it?” – „i lost my wristwatch!” – „who cares?” – „exactly! it was good!” – „did you go to harvard?” – „yess!” – „i knew you would.”). so i’m appeased. i suddenly and overwhemingly feel super-fine. we go back to sleep til noon, and at some points i wake up, it rains with a vengeance, the workers across the street keep at laying the bricks though.

next, we have breakfast in red hook, at ‘baked’ (the best lemon scone in my life), then i wear my obama T to go up to columbia. i think what the hell, but i never expect the reaction that sweeps me through a whole whirlwindy afternoon. i’m thinking my face must communicate that something’s going on, how important my columbia pilgrimage is to me, and finding the hungarian pastry shop. i’ll question myself later as to why. (of course this is one thing i’ve imagined – and it didn’t correspond at all). everything is just quick. first i get stopped by this guy originally from ecuador who wants me to talk to his daughter on the phone. then lots of people are smiling at me (at the T-shirt, i know) and one 50-ish woman high-fives me in the street. i pass through the campus, but fear stopping, a minute even, i just can’t make it, so i just circle around amsterdam and phone matt every hour. i find the fountain, and the HPS, but there’s just not time for lingering, because we’re meeting ben at 7 in east village. i somehow still manage to tell about 3 people on the terrace, while i drink my coffee, the story of how my friend used to come here often while he was at columbia. (but he doesn’t want to anymore. and i see how that’s easy: upper east side and brooklyn are as apart as 2 different small countries.)

so yes, a long time on the subway, wishing i could have teleported myself and just stayed a bit more at the fountain. or on the library steps. actually wishing that sitting on the library steps didn’t feel illicit or ‘stalkative’. but oh well. these three women talk about obama’s giving up public financing right next to me, and about VP choices, i smile and one of them says „yes we’ve seen your shirt.”

with ben at ‘loreley’ and finally ‘good world’ again. everything becomes positive drinking, because ben (i.e. someone else) is around, and i’m going to let no guard slip, no matter how much i drink. and i manage to be proud of it. and i manage to understand and like „good world” better on a second look, although acquired tastes do take a lot more ‘acquiring’ that i’ve had the chance to have. also, ben and matt speak romanian for a while, and it makes me feel good. (me and matt speak some romanian routinely, or slip from one to the other, but it’s really efortless for me, so i don’t know how serious it feels. but i’m always amazed at how well they manage and how little they seem to have forgotten. )

DAY 10, june 24 – breakfast at brooklyn bread; last time ever that i see mary, and jeff (maybe not jeff, though). grieving. last time w4th and washington, bleecker, jones, 7th…doma…i wander around like a beaten dog. two girls in DNC shirts want to make me contribute to the obama campaign. it’s a hot hot day- then of course it rains, while i’m already in brooklyn, in prospect parc (lots of groups again, and a dog beach, and a woman with her easel, painting the lake). it stops as abruptly, so i walk down 9th, park slope i guess, and i’m back in red hook. not really sure what i’m doing. grieving is a good word. first the other side – brooklyn social, abilene, then fairway, waterfront, baked, the sandwich bar, coffey park,.and i’m back home to trying to not even look at bonz and trout much, to packing, while matt is ? working? talking a bit?. there must be a last day for everything. it was beautiful and didn’t hurt. then i’m suddenly on the cathay flight, surrounded by yelling 3 month-old asian kids. things never end, really.

Reclame

NYC: day by day (1)

iunie 26, 2008

DAY 1, june 15 – JFK, my plane held up on the runway or whatever they call it, on account of a thunderstorm, for 4+ hours; „new york doesn’t want me”, i think, knowing at the same time that my thoughts are silly, because i’ve seen the myriads of lights expanding way beyond my eye’s view, and there’s a place in NY for everything, even panic, then in the visitors’ queue (at 2:30 a.m.) i play with two black girls, one of which has a plush toy plane: we make the plane sit on the floor, and stomp our feet at it and beg it to fly, then finally we lift it up and make swooping circles in the air. the rest of the people in the line may be not so amused.

4 a.m, i’m just off my taxi on the corner of 3rd and sullivan, and matt pops up right next to my shoulder, in his ceska red T, and we start this new bit of our normal crazy english-romanian conversation that always goes on and on, and it’s so hot i shed my two vancouver blouses off and we’re strolling west village (but i don’t know it yet) because all the bars are closed, but there’s still people in the street, and not even the stores that are still open will sell alcohol, which makes me giggle because i’m still not aware how expensive alcohol will turn out to be, and we’re walking to 29 jones and matt says „you’ve made it here, it’s amazing”.

we wake up round noon (matt works from 6) and go for coffee (latte+bagel 🙂 ), which lasts 4 hours or so. we sit on a bench in front of the coffee-shop and i tell him „all about” vancouver and cluj; and all these people passing by the brick buildings, with dogs or no dogs, stopping for their own conversations, lining up for coffees. not like spoiled children (i’m trying to remind myself) whom life has placed at the center of the universe – but as young people living by different rules and still making it- with projects, pets, ambitions and their own small whims, like a latte in a place very close to the waterfront (summer rain) in a city where they must have wanted to live all their lives. the place of their choice.

early morning – i walked the area with a map matt drew for me, i sat in the window at ‘doma’ for 2 hours writing about how i’ll never be miranda july, then i’m at his workplace during the emptiest night of the week, drinking wine and eating gelato, and just waiting (already??) for brooklyn. there’s something about the tiredness of a sunday night dragging on in spite of reason, that spells incomprehension…right next to me two women keep ordering other and other glasses of wine, and going through a very long list of their affairs.

DAY 2, june 16 it’s Bloomsday, i tell matt, and we relocate to brooklyn, after we talk about china over brunch; we take the subway, go under the BQE, and there’s red hook and his place, with mary, and with bonz who promptly licks my face all over. i go out for a walk, with a small google map, and there’s coffey park, and van brunt street with ‘baked’, and finally the waterfront from where the statue of liberty is outlined so clear, even on this muggy day. the feeling is a bit rural, a bit desolate; i walk among the identical looking dozens of brown buildings of the red hook housing projects. clinton street in brooklyn is NOT the clinton street in cohen’s song, which makes me incredibly sad.

matt goes to a meeting and sends me out to chinatown: „if you don’t like how you feel about it, face it and change it, make yourself a better person”. he walks with me (on court and smith) to the bergen stop, and shows me the places he drinks at, along the way. i’m alone on the F for the first time, and a bit panicky, i’ve already adopted the W4th and washington as THE stop where i go to feel safe. but from there to chinatown i have to walk, and i walk, through a bit of rain, past one of the NYU buildings, past areas with no chinese lettering – and shortly after 8 i stop to chat with some old guys sitting on crates in front of a chinese store; they are greek and sicilian, and drink cheap beer, watch the passer-bys and feel very satisfied with themselves, especially tonight for getting me to sit and drink with them. i laugh so hard, knowing i have to stand up and walk away, then one hour on there’s this other guy michael, black, younger than me, who has joined the group for a while, offering to take me for a walk around the east village. so we go, it’s me and michael and an austrian guy (i’ve stopped trying to make sense of this) and we drink indian malt and energy drinks and this is the first time i hear about hookah bars and ‘alphabet city’. rivington, allen, avenue A,B,C, E 2nd…up to &7h…somewhere we enter a place called ‘sidewalk’ that has an open mike and we listen to a guy singing and one reciting, then another bar called ‘max fish’ that’s supposed to be famous, where the guys end up playing pool and i watch and start waiting to go ‘home’.

home is red hook, and michael takes me to my east broadway stop (thanks matt for not freaking out, i won’t stop to consider what bad stuff could have happened, just because), but now matt is supposed to be waiting for me at ‘jakewalk’, but when i walk there he’s not. it’s 1 a.m, and i worry that he’s worried, and i scold myself (on account of no cellphone and general thoughtlessness) and circle the livingroom, talking to bonz and trout. he returns at 2, we swap stories and eat out of mary’s paella, for a few minutes there’s loud music and bonz barking, mary and her friend skateboarding across the room, then everything’s dead quiet.

DAY 3, june 17 – central park (it IS big), and ground zero, „just because i have to”. there’s nothing at ground zero, but people trying to take pictures, not very sure about what should be photographed: there’s the fenced site, the fire department plaques, there’s a chapel close to there…i end up walking along the esplanade at Battery and pondering if i’m really intimidated by high-risers, and if not, why not. i phone matt from a payphone and we meet in his neighbourhood, to hang out with half of the ‘birthday boyz’, and drink a lot of beers on the ‘social side of the street’. but we still return home pretty early, i eat icecream, he explains about the china documentary some more, we stay up til past 3, and when we go to sleep (matt in mary’s room, since m. is away) we leave both our doors open; bonz comes in the dark and settles down on my feet. i feel mean and grateful.

DAY 4, june 18 – so i wake up at 6, and assume it’s hangover. it’s also the sun through matt’s drawn blinds, and voices at 2 millimeters from my ear, and bonz shifting on top of my legs, and the multitude of things my mind has to take in. i go for a walk in red hook, to the water (as always), and it’s all empty the nice sunny way, with just someone maybe buying cigarettes at the corner, and school buses going by, and not yet the icecream van. so next matt wakes up and we take bonz for a walk in coffey park, then we go to ikea brooklyn, that’s just opened, and is being made a big fuss about. next, i go to coney island, on the beach mostly eating icecream – it’s kind of cloudy, but when the sun comes up all that sand is simply golden (so much better than west coast beaches); about 5 people are swimming, and as i trail my feet through the water, it gets warmer and warmer. the smell is so good. i never look at the amusement park itself much, just because i find these places sad, generally.

next, i go grand central terminal – times square. the subway trip is long enough for me to catch up on sleep. the terminal is impossibly crowded, and i finally realize, 4th day in, this is what people mean when they talk about new york. the towers, the ant-like people; there’s fascination in it, but definitely not the nice fuzzy kind. i find the building of the ‘new york times’, and it cheers me up a bit, but then in times square it starts raining a lot, and the screens are flashing everywhere, i get slightly lost and cranky, then there’s a rainbow.

on the way back i stop by 2nd avenue a bit, a small flea market, some good grafitti, but it’s late and i know not to overstay now, matt’s working from home and we have pasta and coffee, i nod off with a movie, then he shows me his prague film and we sit outside in the yard for a while, with bonz and rollies. we just talk a lot, gossip and plans, and it’s beautiful. the transvestite matt wrote to me about goes by; the night is so good.

DAY 5, june 19 – i leave late (dunno why – maybe because i wake up later this time, we walk bonz again etc, ) anyway i want to do MOMA, but first i go to the met (i don’t go in, only at the entrance) and then i spend like 3+ hours at the MOMA after which i already have to go and meet matt at ‘good world’, because there’s a free party we can go to from there, even if everyone assumes it’s going to be lame.

the party IS the mother of all lame parties, but i’ve had at least one beer before, and then red bull+vodka, and matt had sensed right away that (maybe because of the museums?) i was already on edge. we sit on the sidewalk in front of this club and talk about marriage, responsibility, choice, people i look up to :), and i even forget how we go back to brooklyn then and end up at the „brooklyn social”, i’m not the only melo one, he tells me about the prague days during which he shot the film, the unexpected obstacles, the sheer chaos of it. it sounds so much of a better story than just sitting in a basement in front of the computer for weeks on end. as he gestures towards the outside, and walks out to stand by the wall for a rollie, i come out after him saying „i’ve lost it”, and i’m already crying. he asks why, and i blurt out „you can just speak so well about the things you do” – then i pretty much cry, amidst the talking, for the rest of the night.


NYC: i stand amazed

iunie 25, 2008

on my way back to JFK, a few hours ago, just: a black woman sitting with her kid (5-6 yo) on the A train. i looked at her because i’m impressed every time at how beautiful they can be, in such a different way from white women; the little girl was asleep, with her head on her mum’s purse, mouth slightly ajar (and all black kids are cute too – but then all kids are). and the woman, absently, just starts unbraiding the girl’s hair, a minute, painstakingly slow work. and i thought, wait a sec, how long does it take for them to do that?? (5 minutes on the first small plait, and the kid had like 25 at least) – how about actually braiding? when do they find the time to do it? all black kids i saw must have had braids. and i also thought – a lot of related, or unrelated things – about how i don’t know shit about things (but smtimes think i do), and how hard it is to catch a beautiful moment and say smth true about it etc.

for example: 1) the SoHo effect, i called it – soho is „south of houston street”, pronounced like „house-ton” – who knew?? but of course you hear bout soho every day and think sure, those…people…that place; just that. i’m particularly good at name-dropping in the short run. but i scare myself right while doing it, because…because i have no idea, and you know it. so a first thing about NYC is, nothing should be taken for granted.

2) photos: the best moments i’ve had are uncaught on camera – and not only because i was walking alone most of the time and taking pictures of myself jumping up and down in glamorous places is silly and fake; but also because ‘real’ things are uncatchable, and that we’ve established. and it’s a good thing. because just looking repeatedly at stills of matt holding trout or playing with bonz, or at the woman undoing the kid’s hair, or at the faces, smiles of the people i’ve talked to, or the columbia grounds, or the morning/noonish crowd in west village, or  would be painful and would feel incomplete anyway. also, i’ll forget soon the music from the icecream van; the voices talking right outside of matt’s window at all times, beats of music blasting by; the smell of the sea at the red hook waterfront; the quietness of the backyard, matt rolling cigarettes; disconnected bits of birthday boyz songs; the taste of gottino gelato, or of the third beer of the night; the warmth of bonz laying on top of my feet. and forgetting is good too, because that’s what happens.

3) love: all the moments i would have liked to actually catch turn out to be about affection (or distance), tenderness, and how beings relate. being in transit, having conversations with perfect strangers (yes, wearing the damn t-shirt), taking up someone’s space, getting attached to animals for maybe the first time in my life, hearing stories, looking at neighbourhoods in an attempt to get the feel of that particular community…also: filling in old gaps. also: hopefully growing up a little- or it becoming visible.

4) home: „nowhere is home”. but the opposite is true as well, ppl make homes for each other, and in this respect NYC was home to me even before i dropped my bags in the 1st place i stayed at. matt says it can be lonely, and i can see that, for sure – it can be lonely in many ways, like the reflexions of waves, shaded and bright. but so what?

5) vacationing: i didn’t go for tourism, i went for research. honestly. it may have been a bit dumb, but it was now or later, and everyone knows i’m impatient.

6) because i’m drained, and have to sleep now (and i’ll claim jet lag over the following 3 days), quotes: #”then i’m afraid we have nothing to talk about: we charge for conversation here” (man in front of the met, heckling me, after i told him i have no money for his stuff); #”everyone holds a world. life never stops, unless you make it stop” (mural next to matt’s place); #”we’re sorry it happened to you” (9/11 painted tile, in a collection hung on a fence across the street from matt’s bar); #”(matt said, and i couldn’t agree more): „you don’t just get things back!”; # and finally, there was the good quote in the subway, about new yorkers: natives give NYC solidity/’character’, commuters give it the restlessness, but settlers give it passion.


cellist follow-up

iunie 13, 2008

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article4083037.ece

i keep trying to post links and it comes out all wrong – i don’t see why… anyway, the cellist in galloway’s book is mad at the book and at galloway. which on the one hand does make for good publicity, though i refuse to believe this is exactly what steven had in mind. (it’s funny that i should be thinking about this now instead of packing for new york…or not?) my first reaction when i heard that smailovic wanted to burn his cello in protest was „galloway obviously can’t handle eastern europeans” – but honestly: why the cello??? isn’t that a negation of the stand he took during the siege??

but honestly, look at my life and reactions: aren’t we, poor us, just desperate, fantasists, building up far fetched narratives in our minds just to have them knocked down by reality and then suing said reality for it? there’s nothing logical about smailovic’s being angry at the book, as i see it, it’s just that he is a man who always TAKES STANDS.

at this point in my observing things, i doubt communication is possible, or useful. i doubt galloway should have even tried to have the cellist sit down and agree to discuss the terms of the story. no. it is the cellist’s gesture; it is galloway’s freakin’ story! (but don’t ask him to read it and agree that it’s well written)

you know what this is about. it’s about a life’s struggle, about what you’re trying to mean as a human.


wacko week

iunie 12, 2008

„i told him i wasn’t really into going that far yet but maybe when i was older and had put travel to foreign lands and sex and eating meat and some other important experiences behind me i’d be willing to check out the depths of understanding where everything and everyone was the same. for now though i was still into differences.”

‘rule of the bone’ – thanks y.


freeway

iunie 10, 2008

this is just a pretext to link yael’s video of „freeway”, new aimee mann song. (i know!!!! i was so thrilled when she started with the aimeemannia! de asemenea, asta e pt ca o sa-mi fie dor de ea timp de 15 zile, pt ca si ea pleaca, maine, in ann arbor; si ca sa mentionez, cu titlu de barfa, ca yael e o persoana care spune A2 in loc de ‘ann arbor’ , si singura persoana din vancouver cu care stau de vorba si care stie ce e ‘in’ si ce e ‘out’)


open thread

iunie 9, 2008

pentru toata lumea care citeste aici, ma cunoaste personal si e in romania, unde eu voi fi candva prin iulie-august:

1) daca aveti ceva de anuntat despre care stiti ca face-to-face o sa ma darame (casatorie, copil, schimbare de cariera, ca sa nu ma bag in exemple nefericite)

2) daca aveti idee despre cum sa ma contactati in cazul in care banuiti sau v-am confirmat eu ca n-o sa fie o intalnire usoara; or in any other cases

3) daca va doriti ceva (micut sau specific, nu casa cu 3 etaje) ce v-as putea in mod logic aduce din canada

-va rog sa ma anuntati, presumably prin mail, ca doara nu veti fi vrand sa va stie toata blogosfera :). zic chestia asta azi, si ma spal pe maini de repetarea ei la vreo data ulterioara.