Sunday, September 13, 2015

Atlas me! (Now with footnotes!)

It has been a pretty intense and amazing year for me thus far. I am reflecting on it now, even though it is still September because there are two days every year that mean renewal to me: New Year's Day and Labor Day. One is for obvious reasons and the other is because of years of institutional brainwashing (aka going to school) has indelibly ingrained the end of summer with starting over, as though I should have sweated out all my physical energy (such as it is) and focused instead on working out my brain. I also tend to assign witchy sorts of activity to September since so many significant things have happened in my life during this month.

And maybe it's all the coffee or all the running around I'm doing of late, but I find myself reflecting and lost in my head more so than normal which, if you know me at all, is already a fuckload* amount of time. I've tried to get down on paper or make note of things I want to write about and we've now reached the point where the things I want to write about and the things I want to write through are catching up with my ability/time/desire to write them out. My brain most closely resembles every long suffering bookshelf I've ever owned: never enough space for all the things I pile on top of it. I find myself often wondering how most people cope with the hyper activity of the world and, after years of close study** what I have concluded is that we are all on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram staring and focusing on image after image and soundbite after status update after photo because it helps us whittle everyone (and ourselves) down to a more manageable size. I blame no one for getting lost down those digital rabbit holes. I do recognize that my life is whizzing by while I'm Facebook stalking you doing useless things. So I came here to blog. Because I'm definitely going to write about something meaningful any day now. Ahem.

In the spirit of having too much to talk about, I find myself typing frantically with nothing to say (witness my pointless diatribe above.) So instead, let me tell you about last night:

Nancy invited me to something via email earlier this week with an accompanying link explaining the event. I've made it a policy lately to accept invitations when offered, when possible; my hope is to quiet my restlessness through perpetual newness. And Nancy has never invited me to something I didn't have an awesome time doing so I accepted the invite and spent the next five days not clicking on the helpfully informative link and not knowing what I agreed to, only that we were to meet at a bookstore in Dumbo. Nothing bad ever happens at a bookstore so all was well.

Unbelievably, after living in NYC for more time than I haven't at this point, the first time I ever set foot in Dumbo was earlier this year when I was sent on a work errand to what could be the coolest publishing house I've ever been to: Melville House. At the time, I was a bit lost and just kept walking toward the water and found myself surrounded by cobblestone streets and factory facades.  I remember thinking that Dumbo was a strange place. I also remembered being jealous of the people working in that converted factory loft because that is just the epitome of coolness to me. But I digress.

Last night I got out of the subway and it was drizzling and bustling and as I walked the streets toward the bookstore, I got the strange notion that I wasn't in New York but in a Hollywood, soundstaged version of New York. That's what Dumbo reminds me of: everyone's idea of New York. And, like most ideas of things, I loved it. I temporarily forgot about how expensive everything is here and how dirty and smelly the summertime is here. I forgot about my wanderlust and that blinking pilot light inside my head that whispers always what else is there, what else is there? was quiet for a moment. I just felt grounded and present inside a tangible, realized idea. By no means do I think Dumbo encompasses the reality of NYC but it does paint a pretty picture. It probably helped that I didn't know where or to what I was going to that night; the unexpected always quickens my pulse.

I got to the Power House Arena bookstore, something I wasn't aware existed until just then and it was closed for a fundraising event. Turns out, I was there for that event. I was early but Nancy's name was on the list and I got in and headed straight for the free bar. There were book displays everywhere and, still not fully grasping what the event was or what funds were being raised for what, I started browsing the books, cup of wine in hand. I was immediately approached by a woman who introduced herself and asked if I was a writer and whether or not I had been at the conference that day. Using my unparalleled powers of deduction, I figured out that the fundraiser was for the literary magazine that had sponsored a conference for aspiring writers that was taking place all weekend. The event was a game of Jeopardy between authors, literary agents, publicity people and editors. The woman who spoke to me was a very nice person and she told me that she was writing a book based on her Instagram account. I really don't understand that sort of thing but I nodded and smiled and checked the door for Nancy.

I circulated the room and checked out the book displays, doing that dork thing I do and counted how many of them I had read ( gives my brain distraction from feeling awkward) and contemplated buying several more before coming back to reality and remembering that I have one bedroom right now and that bedroom is literally covered in books all over the floor. I met another woman who is an independent book editor which is a job I didn't think existed but sounds pretty awesome to me. Nancy arrived and we chatted and drank and were the bleacher creatures of the Jeopardy game. I noticed the playful, yet cutting banter between the four groups of people and it left me wondering whether or not literary agents, authors, publicists and editors all secretly (or overtly) hate each other. I'm sure someone wrote a book about that.

A highlight of the game for me was when one author was contesting an answer in the "Literary geography" category and yelled out "Let's look it up! Atlas me, someone!" I want to use that in every day speech going forward, but only regarding reference books. Almanac me! Dictionary me!

After the game was over, Nancy and I stayed for another beer and I bought a little notepad set with the promise that I would write a poem in each page. I can get SUPER creative with my rationalization. On our way out Nancy said goodbye to a former coworker who was packing up the leftovers from the event and he gave me two beers to go. They sloshed around in my purse while we walked again through the evening movie set of Dumbo. Here's a photo I took:

And that's what I did last night. I'm awake super early after doing a fuckload *** of things this morning, blogging being one of them. How are you?

*An actual measurement.
** "Close study"= I just had that thought right now.
*** See "*".

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