Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I put on my complain pants today. They don't fit.

I may be experiencing a holiday season hangover. I can't really blame my doldrums on work, seeing as this week I'm only working three days and only four hours out of those three days at that. I have tried and failed a few things to ease myself back into some kind of sense of not being in a funk. These things included but were not limited to: cleaning my refrigerator (it was rather nasty and shameful), finally putting batteries in my digital point and shoot camera to take quirky photos of junk and the neighborhood (haven't taken one yet), set up an online dating profile in the hopes of meeting a man who is single, attractive, interesting, not weird with commitment issues or embarrassing online photographs and not 21 years old (this whole process made me even more depressed and I quickly took that profile down), took out my flute and tried to play it only to realize it needs to be tuned up (and after pricing such a thing online realized it was way to expensive for a whim), tried to arrange several plans with different friends only to be shot down because people have lives and I don't this week (woe is me), stuffed my face with marzipan fruit shaped candies (my stomach hurts) and watched a French musical, namely The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (which I found to be a bit melodramatic and blah. Yes even Catherine Deneuve prancing around in yellow didn't cheer me up.) 

He just wanted to open a damn gas station.

So, seeing as I have roughly two more days left of this week (that aren't holidays) I decided that tomorrow I'm going to visit the Met. I'll be car-less (my car is going into the shop for an undisclosed amount of money) and, as is well documented, if one thing cheers me up, it is a trip to NYC. There is a Stieglitz exhibit that I'm interested in and after carefully researching all the different exhibits currently going on now, I decided to go with the one that is closing soon. And if a well earned back ache from long lines and museum going doesn't cheer me out of my post holiday funk, nothing will. Well, maybe booze.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Empire of Dirt

Random things.

Thing 1

One of the most fascinating things I've encountered is eavesdropping on a conversation between people during which they slowly convince themselves that something is true. These conversations are usually based on 100% conjecture, preconceived notions and deep, subconscious prejudices. I know this is vague but next time you are listening to, I don't know, say coworkers talking outside your office about someone new in the group, notice how all these assumptions turn to scripture, right before your ears. I shudder to think what is said about me in new groups. Probably that I'm TOO nice or TOO pretty. I mean, clearly.

Thing 2

Two nights ago as I was driving home from work in the cold darkness, I was all alight inside because the guest on Fresh Air with Terry Gross was Trent Reznor. Everytime I hear something about him or listen to something he releases I can't help to feel that familiar flutter, a flutter first born when I watched him spin through  the air, untethered, adrift and yet paralyzed. Oh and covered in leather you know what I'm talking about don't you?

Yeah, you do.

How could he be from Cleveland? Anyway, his existence was integral to the person I was back then. I bonded with friends and lovers over this man. I spent long hours alone in my room with him. I used to have a ginormous poster of him in my dorm room and I don't have many memories of that time in my life that don't include his voice in the background.

Anyway, he is now an Oscar winning film composer. His next release is the score and soundtrack to David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and Teri Gross was interviewing him about it among many other things. It was a pretty great interview and one part of it in particular really struck me. It was when he said the following:

I feel great now. I addressed my issues and I continue to address them and I've seen a dramatic change in every aspect of my life. You know? I like myself again, I am able to have mature relationships, I'm able to be a good friend. I'm a father and I think that my art has gotten much better and I enjoy the process of making it now. And i really couldn't ask for more and I feel strangely optimistic about everything.

I mean, how awesome for him. Sincerely that's amazing. Yet it just makes me feel...I don't know....bizarre. My memory of him and of that time is just like gif up there, spinning aimlessly and wallowing in it. I suppose it should make me feel hopeful. Sometimes people come out of their darkness and go on to just be okay.  Regardless, I'm grateful for whatever it was that inspired him to make his music, especially "The Downward Spiral." It left a big ol' thumbprint on my brain.

I might spend the day revisiting those albums. This is the first day of my last day (nerrr nerrr nerrr nerr nerr)...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rats! on Bleecker Street

There are few things as irritating as being awake when you don't have to be. Yet my saucer eyes were wide open and the only sound I heard on Sunday morning was this bizzare pulsing coming from I don't know where the hell outside my window. Part of the reason I was up is because I woke up laughing from my dream. I will not be a person to describe my dreams but only to say that in the end of that particular dream, my cat Thelma was speaking Spanish. I'm sorry but that shit is hilarious!

Saturday I went to the city to hang out with my friend Lauren. At her Christmas party a few weeks ago we decided to see "the Artist" together because she, like at least four other people in my life said "that preview reminded me of you." I love seeing films with Lauren because she sees and does everything with an open  mind. Few people will react to me saying "Come over my house for a silent movie marathon" with as much genuine enthusiasm as Lauren and I just love that about her.

I got to the Angelika a bit earlier than I expected, after an uneventful train ride in and noticed, as is happening more and more lately, that my cell phone battery was dying despite me leaving the house with it fully charged. It annoyingly forced me to plug it into a rickety old outlet that was just high enough on the wall to be awkward. For some reason I thought of David Cronenberg's "eXistenZ" and people plugging themselves into machines. It could have been the notion that my arm was plugged into the wall. This was probably my dumbest digression to date. Onward...

Lauren arrived and we had a lovely brunch at an Irish/Mexican NYU college restaurant. It was amusing seeing hungover college students come to quel their nausea in greasy, cheese covered nachos. Ah, memories. Then it was time to watch the film. As if further enforcing the idea that I was born in the wrong era, the film delighted me. For a few months now I have been convinced that nothing could top "Midnight in Paris" for me as the film of 2011. But this came very, very close. It cracks me up that a silent movie, especially one like "The Artist" which is fairly typical of silent films of the early part of the 20th century is getting such acclaim. I suppose everything old is new again. Since I was born in the wrong era, this makes me smile.

After the movie, we walked around a bit, stopped into Crate and Barrel, witnessed a black Santa giving out pretzels inside the store, perused gorgeous furniture I'll never own and braced ourselves for the cold. Suddenly it was winter. We walked until we ended up on Bleecker Street in a bar called 1849. Immediately I was struck by the NYU-ish crowd but the guy at the door was nice enough and told us to sit on these low to the floor red velvet chairs that seemed to have a timed heat release on the bottom. We ordered a beer and got to chatting. About 15 minutes later my eye wandered to the floor next to me and there it was. The one and only mouse I have ever seen inside a bar or restaurant in NYC. Because that had never happened to me before, not once in the 10ish years I lived there and not once since then, I had a minor moment of panic wherein I stood up suddenly, told Lauren through clenched teeth what was happening and silently squealed "ewewewewewew!" Mice are everywhere in the city but few are so brazen as to come up to the main floor of a crowded restaurant and saunter around. I was shocked and still am.

We downed our beer (clearly, not so disturbed as to not drink Guinness) and then headed off to find less infested surroundings. There is this Belgian beer place on Waverly, the name of which eternally eludes me but I go there often when I'm in that neighborhood and so we ended up there. One Framboise later and I had to leave to catch my train home because I have been banished to a hell of my own making.  to get back to Long Island on the railroad's time. Had I know what a palaver that was going to be, I would have stayed in the city like a wayward drunk instead of being herded onto a hot and uncomfortable train with the rest of the suburban chattel. (Man, I'm hard on the burbs sometimes.)

There were approximately 9 million people waiting to board the train at Penn Station. All of them sober, as it was 7pm as opposed to the drunk 3am train. Which is worse? I mean, no one vomited on the train but everyone was so pissed off. Leonard Cohen popped into my head Everybody's got this broken feeling, like their father or their dog just died. Something about weekenders on the much anger and irritation. The irony of course being that these were mainly people who had come into the city to do Christmas crap and were supposed to be all full of donuts and joy. Could have fooled me. I was full of Framboise so I was all good. Also, and this could be because I had seen that movie earlier that day, the young man across the aisle from me looked just like John Gilbert, circa "Queen Christina" and we kept making accidental eye contact.

"I've been memorizing this roooooom."

So that was fun.

All in all, another exciting Saturday. I successfully managed to avoid doing anything practical or productive and I did this by doing fun and meaningful things like spending time with a friend, taking in a beautiful film, standing in Penn Station looking up at a digital board for 10 minutes among a large group of angry people and imbibing Belgian beer. I enjoy my life.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cough. An acronymic blog post

C) for Chuckle. Something I've noticed in the past three weeks, living with a cough that won't die, is that when someone is talking to you and they start to cough after you say something you will start to laugh because you will, at first, mistake their mini eruption for a chuckle. This is regardless of what you've just said. For example you could be talking about how your grandma has been forgetting things and if the person you are talking to jerks forward just a wee bit, you start to laugh. I don't know why I made this observation but if you ever want to see someone laugh, just start to cough after they say something. I mean it could make for a somewhat awkward aftermath what with concerns for your health and fear of contagion. But for a chuckle? Worth it.

O) for Old Timey Illness. Having a cough is not the worst malady on the infinite list of "things that can malfunction in/on your body" but the steady stream of irritation doubles as a subtle reminder of your mortality. I may be alone in this but each time I erupted in a coughing fit I kept thinking of old timey diseases. These included but were not limited to: dropsy, pleurisy, consumption, bad blood and Bronze John. Turns out I had none of the above but rather bronchitis, the gold standard of coughing fits.

U) for Untreatment. In general I try to avoid antibiotics. Don't get me wrong, antibiotics are 2nd on my list of mankind's greatest inventions. It is just that my armchair general practice degree (aka--the Internet) has given me "ideas" about taking them willy nilly. When I want them to work, I want them to work. I can usually handle a snotty nose and a scratchy throat for the average duration. I just now realized the irony of my practice of being super careful about antibiotics but drinking alcohol on a regular basis does nothing for the hackles of my health consciousness. Anyway, after three weeks I finally gave in and visited the wood paneled office of my family doctor. In a shocking turn of events, he prescribed antibiotics and sent me on my way. I'm on day 2 of the treatment and I just coughed as I typed this. Nevermind that, I have faith in the thing I avoid. That's a blanket statement.

G) for Getting Hammered. On Saturday I attended a wine party. This differs from a normal party where wine is served. Think Tupperware party but for wine. Although I've never attended a Tupperware party (as an adult--I have a vague memory of accompanying my mother to one as child.) I can't imagine that the attendees get as hammered as we got at the wine party. Perhaps that is oversimplifying things a bit as we also ate pretty amazing food and learned about the wine we were drinking. In fact the more I think about it, the party was a kind of perfect dichotomy of classy adulthood and drunken revelry. To wit: we learned about pinot noir and after that we drew on the host's face with a marker after he passed out on the couch. This part of the acronym has nothing to do with coughing apart from the fact that thanks to all the wine, I forgot about my cough.

H) for Hangover. Let's be honest. Hangovers are terrible, made all the more so because one arrives in such a state due to one's own inability to be disciplined. I can't really accurately describe having a phlegmy cough while hungover except to say that the following words plowed aggressively through my brain like a cable news ticker: retch, spew, shame, nauseate, throb and oh let's just say dropsy.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Like Lazy

Fridays are my early days. I have the fortune of working for a library (one of my jobs) that observes all the Jewish traditions and  holidays and closes early every Friday afternoon. Honestly I can only guess that this is the reason I've been able to work two jobs for going on four (I kind of feel like screaming after admitting that) years. Needless to say, I LIVE for Friday afternoons. They afford me the privelege of getting home before darkness, of pretending like I have stuff to do that doesn't involve work, of diverting from my routine. Strangely, I feel rebellious on early Friday afternoons, when I'm at the mall shopping or I'm at my apartment napping or I'm at the movies. These are tiny rebellions. Like hitting the snooze button twice. Or parking outside the marked stalls in an empty parking lot.

So yesterday I opted for the movies. I used to go to films alone all the time when I lived in the city. I suspect I did it so often and with such ease because the sheer volume of people in NYC is enough to make it easy. You get to and from places constantly surrounded by hundreds of other people. I used to eat out alone quite a bit too and never really shook the feeling that I just attended a huge dinner party. (I'm often the quiet one at dinner parties anyway.) Out here, living in the sprawl (and there's no end sight), people notice. You go to a restaurant with couples and families surrounding you and people don't blend you in to the background of their subconscious, a smudge on a Monet postcard from the museum gift shop. No, they think "why on earth is that person here alone? I feel so bad." I know they do this because I do it. I don't know why but the contrast of aloneness and togetherness is so much more stark here, in the sprawl. I say this not because it bothers me (I'm content being alone most of the time) but just because it is true.

The film I saw yesterday was Like Crazy, which is a love story with two attractive leads (make that four attractive main characters), a weepy soundtrack, all kinds of critical acclaim and tons of buzz surrounding it. I knew a Friday afternoon would be sparse what with people having jobs and lives and things to do during the weekend. But for some odd reason I thought this film would be semi-popular. However, there was not another soul in the theater. Not one other person. I experienced the same two part reaction I experience without fail when I first enter a movie theater that is empty.
    Part 1: elation at being given a special screening just for me
    Part 2: confusion as to whether I'm in the wrong place and/or there has been a zombie apocalypse and I  
    am trapped forever alone with only a bag of popcorn and my water bottle.
You would think I was joking about part 2 but no, no I'm not. Anyway, I had the theater to myself.

 Forever alone.

I went into this film knowing I was going to cry. It was kind of like the time I went to see Brokeback Mountain alone in the middle of the afternoon; I knew what I was signing up for and I willingly did it. Like Crazy is a beautiful film that will remind every single person who sees it of their first love. That is a guarantee. I don't care if your first love was so long ago that you can't remember his or her face or you just broke up with someone yesterday (caveat: don't see this film if you just broke up with someone yesterday.) You will more than likely shed a silent tear of nostalgia and regret or, if you aren't weepy like I am, you'll sigh heavily, remembering. There is a genuine quality to the film that I can only assume is because the dialogue was entirely improvised. That, and it is based on a true story. The two young college students (who, incidentally bond over Paul Simon's Graceland an album likely released the year they were born) were so vulnerable and naive and brave and worked so hard for their love. They reminded me of two newborn chicks. Of love. Two newborn chicks of love.

They also reminded me of how lazy I am or how lazy I've become about love. I just don't even want to bother with the pursuit of it. The other day for some giggles I looked at some online dating sites. My reaction could be accurately described as severe laziness. I actually took a nap right afterward! Seeing the two characters in Like Crazy in all their tortured baby chickhood just reaffirmed my desire to have love dropped squarely in my lap out of nowhere, to have to do little else but acknowledge it and then have to do nothing whatsoever to preserve and maintain it. Is that too much to ask?

Regardless, I'd recommend the movie. Tonight I'm going to a tree trimming party in Manhattan. My good friend Lauren throws these every year and every year they are a rollicking good time. So good in fact, that I don't remember a large chunk of last year's party. I was told that there would be candy cane cosmos served this evening. Nothing I say after that will be as good as that prospect.