The last time I lived alone was the summer of 2002. I had six months to kill awaiting my grad school acceptances and spent every last wonderful drop of them in New Orleans.
I rented a tiny (300 square feet?) apartment on Dublin Street in Riverbend, a camelback with a screened porch.
I loved that apartment. It was a mess when I moved in. I was so broke, I convinced the landlord, who drove a fancy white SUV but was a decent fella, to let me clean it for a break on the first month’s rent.
Tina downstairs later told me that the previous tenant had been a frat guy who had been seen at least once vomiting out of the second-story window. It was pretty dirty.
But I had all of my things. Books. Dad’s old record player. An old enamel-topped table that my great grandfather used to fillet fish on in Mississippi. My first digital camera. The statue of David with the blue glitter hair and pubes purchased the summer before in Sorrento.
Landlord John told me I could take a trip to Freret Hardware and pick out paint to put on the tab. I painted the first room, my bedroom, blue. The kitchen, with my desk, and an old dial-style TV I got when I turned seven, was to be chartreuse. Or yellow-green, as I think the crayon was called.
(Have you been to Freret Street lately? WOW.)
When at home, I subsisted mainly on Easy Mac, runs to Taco Bell on Claiborne for Mexican Pizzas, cheap white wine, and cigarettes.
I distracted myself by writing on Diaryland and taking selfies, of which there are hundreds from this period.
It’s funny — in my post-9/11 funk, I let my birth control prescription lapse, and had a terrible, almost disfiguring breakout that required many trips to the dermatologist. And yet, there I was, months later, kind of cleared up, taking as many pictures of myself as I could. Finding just the right kitchen light to do it.
Same thing happened to me a year and a half ago when I went off the pill. Guess I can’t blame the terrorists, stress, or my mom being a carrier of Streptococcus B after all.
I just shipped two posters to myself that I had framed at the Michael’s in New Orleans that summer. They’re from The Public Theater’s marketing closet, which I had keys to, a privilege I did not abuse, except for taking the beautiful poster Dancing on Her Knees, which hung in my boss’s office, and an early print of Lackawanna Blues, before we realized Bill’s name wasn’t on it.
I’m staring at Dancing on Her Knees now. I have no idea what the play is about.
I remember thinking that summer, fuck it, this could be me going full cat lady for the rest of my life. Love may never come, and that’s perfectly fine. Because I am an eccentric woman who wears scarves and drives a Volvo with stickers on the dashboard and who’s gonna be a writer anyway so nyah nyah nyah.
And here I am, twelve years later, wearing gold glitter toenail polish, reading my tarot cards, wandering around the streets of Brooklyn, going wherever I want, doing whatever I want, writing, drawing, bookstore-ing, drinks with friends, kissing my dog, and loving every minute of it.
Last time, there was a certain fragility associated with the experience. Where will I get in? What will happen next? I knew the spring and summer would end with a move, somewhere.
I feel the same fragility. What will happen next? What job offer might I get? What person might I meet?
It’s something precious, not to be concerned about.
It makes all of this navel-gazing, this going through old boxes at my parents’ house and taking the time to Write it All Down seem really important and worthwhile. Because it won’t last forever.
This ridiculous 26th floor view of Manhattan from the other side of the East River won’t last forever. And I have no idea what will come next.
It only took about 3 weeks for me to cook up a Tinder drinks date, start to finish.
Just as my local yokel conversations were starting to get humming, I up and took a 11 day, 10 night trip home. New zip codes. New doods.
Sitting at a dark French Quarter bar, I opened the app to show my sister how it worked.
We found someone who had written a sort of enfant terrible novel in the early 00s and, more recently, an article about his experiences on Tinder (mwahahaaha MATCH!).
We found someone in town from Boston for a bachelor party (mwahahaha MATCH!!).
We found someone with a dog, a tattoo of a famous literary character, and a resemblance to Ryan Gosling (mwhahahaha MATCH!!!).
I had drinks with Ryan Gosling last night.
The red Hamster rental and I took the Franklin Avenue exit. I sat at the bar of a joint that only makes me think of increasingly inappropriate R. Kelly jokes. Someone cute — a different someone cute — sat next-ish to me. That was the Craigslist missed connection.
He came in through the back door.
The rest I will describe to you via this stream of consciousness word jumble:
T-shirt Comb-over Belly (rubbing) Personal space; lack thereof "Coming in hot" Modelo tall boy "New Orleans isn’t a city…it’s just a TOWN" (stage whisper) Hates football Hates football fans “I swear to god, if I hear ‘Who Dat’ one more time…” (<— at a bar during a Saints pre-season game) Hates the media Hates people who hate pit bulls Hates the police, and the protestors, of Ferguson, pretty much equally Hates Teach for America
1.75 hours later, I said, “I hope you find your peace.” I said it like I imagined Pema Chodron would say it while sucking on a lozenge at the end of a very long meditation retreat.
I got into the Hamster machine and drove back uptown.
"What I mean is, where before I would have striven to grip the meaning of what you were saying, and would have fretted over whether what I understood and what you meant were the same, now I just listen. I’m resigned to the effect of this sort of abyss that swallows your words and spits them out on my monitor and vice versa. It’s almost like sending each other an endless series of inkblots. But that understates my interest in what gets said. As you’ve surely noticed, I hang on every word you say. And I freak out every now and then and have to hear your voice or see you. That’s when I’m pissed off at the abyss and I need to narrow it. But one thing I hear every time you say or write anything to me is: ‘I want you to hear this.’ And it’s louder or softer in proportion to how much zeal or effort is apparent in what you say. So that’s how I get past the contradictions (or swallow them). I’m not reading for sincerity, I’m reading for what went into writing or saying it. Because it seems profound to me that a person with such bleak views as you could ever think, ‘I want you to hear this.’"
There has been a Bunuel (you’re not going to see the tilde, so just chillax) fest going on at BAM for the past couple of weeks.
Years ago — when I first moved to NYC? — I saw That Obscure Object of Desire at Lincoln Plaza and it really stuck with me. Not just the surrealism, but also the sense that this was the era from which I sprung. At once familiar and foreign.
My two takeaways from the film are: 1) the totally inexplicable replacement of the lead actress with another lead actress in the middle of a scene — something that makes me remember, I really need to get around to rereading Two Serious Ladies again, dammit — and 2) car bomb out of nowhere. The very 70s, darkly funny, deadly serious, sense of the political being the personal and that you might as well do a bump because ETA could off you at any moment.
I missed re-seeing that one on the big screen but caught The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie last night.
I can’t really put into words how stupidly appropriate it was for me to see this film, at this exact moment, but it was. If I knew, I’d be off writing my expository essay on identity politics, Latin America, the man with a creek running through his house, “that caucasian look” recreated in the #selfie the Brazilian guy who rejected me liked, Tinder, cousin Pedro, “I love New Orleans…except for the corruption of course,” “The best run city in South America,” and all this other shit I’ve alluded to in previous posts.
Instead I am here, drinking coffee at 4:54pm on a Sunday instead of cracking open a bottle of wine, looking out at the East River, sneezing because I refuse to vacuum, washing my whites, defrosting homemade meatballs, wondering if I should try to hit another Bunuel tonight, wondering why the guy who sat one seat away from me disappeared into the night so quickly, wondering why Charos from Uzbekistan went from approving of my breakup to disapproving over the course of one wax.
I have been listening to this song on repeat for the past six weeks. It all started on an overnight flight to Madrid in which I stared into the back of someone’s head for eight hours, finally speaking to him, but never catching his name.
I have listened to this song so much, it plays in my head when I’m not listening to it. I now walk down the street in time to this song.
I don’t know why.
I don’t think it’s a sad song — it strikes me as triumphant and funny-sad despite the lyrics — but there is just something about it. I know it’s trendy to like Nina Simone at the moment (yesss I read the New Yorker article). I don’t care. She is so right for right now, and that’s all that matters.
The whole place gives me the heebies. Starts with the Wes Anderson monogram-as-sign covertly placed in the upper-right-hand-corner, hoping you don’t even notice. Oh god, it’s you? Fine…come in.
Enter and be judged by a lit-er-al-ly blonde botoxed bitch who rolls her eyes cause you walked over to the wrong couch area duhhhhh. This ain’t a Denny’s, and I ain’t stealing a carafe, girlfriend. And fine, I’ll type my name into the goddamn iPad mini.
Makes the Ace seem downright quaint and friendly.
Seriously it’s a “CANTEEN?” Are you kidding me?
He was wearing white-rimmed glasses. Perhaps mother-of-pearl.
Have you ever met someone who waltzed through life getting everything they wanted because they’re so good looking? I have. It was 1998, and I launched a strange, semi-successful attempt to befriend a very good looking man/boy/man because I thought goddamnit probably no one takes you seriously, but I WILL.
Did white rims know? Did he not know? It was hard to tell. In an attempt not to break the spell, he committed to natty dress. Hanging out at the work collective. With the goddamn CANTEEN. Keep gritting your teeth and being cool and wearing Thom Browne and whatever you do don’t stop walking, just keep walking, everything will be fine if you just keep humming, getting older, older, beauty fades, Thom Browne and CANTEENS last forever.
Cibeles VIP lounge, MAD, T1. Future meets the past. An un-renovated New Orleans Riverwalk with 80s Michael Graves velour couches in red, blue, and tan, sitting on top of white tiles, quiet, eerie, jutting out onto the runway. The hum of machines. A rattly custodian cart. Crustless ham and butter sandwiches in a refrigerator for the taking. Silver ice bucket. Coca Light. Men, laptops, quiet desperation.
The big thing I need to write is of course about my identity, and how it feels to be Penelope Cruz on the inside and “posh Glaswegian” on the outside.
Threads would include my father outing himself as Spanish in his heart and not, gasp, Sicilian; being told by a bunch of Brazilian men I look like Kate Middleton; getting caught up in some #banbossy moments at work; cultural stereotypes; ethno-tourism; almost being born in Bogota (but not quite); Shakira; studying French, not Spanish, in school; “that which you displace only comes back to haunt you” as said by my Austrian undergraduate thesis advisor; the “Mexichicks” from high school and college and that short story I wrote when I was 19 where I described their attire, in a way that still fascinates me; selecting the shade with which to dye one’s hair; sunscreen; the embarrassment of spelling my anglo name aloud to the nice guy at Starbucks on Gran Via; “Eat Pray Love” as a concept; and pretty much all of this.
There is a man you see out of your left eye’s peripheral vision as you exit the Q train at 14th Street from adjacent doors. The height, the hair. You clock them. The tote bag. Ugh. Not another tote bag.
The man works on your building. On your floor, to be precise. You know his name. You met in the elevator. You relate to his Brooklynness.
Ugh. You relate to his Brooklynness.
There is a man, except he is a boy. He is serious. He is a Pisces? He must be another goddamn Pisces.
You find him. Another man with a truly un-googleable name. You find a bio. A college. A “several bands,” “enjoys playing in.”
You find a band. The band’s name is a reference to technology gone awry.
Because, of course.
But before you google this man, who isn’t that much younger, not really, you are standing on the platform between the recently departed Q train and the not-yet-arrived N train. You know he’s there, you know he knows who you are, and sees you, and you stand there and play dumb and just drink it all in.
You know he sees you because there has been a lot of seeing, and noticing, and looking, but not off campus.
You put on Wild Tchopitoulas. You apply Rosebud Salve, Mint, to your lips, with your right ring finger. You think, ugh, tote bag. And the N train arrives, and the doors open between you, and you wonder when eye contact will be exchanged.
Not another Pisces. Not another tote bag.
Still. You play along. You’re just So Wrapped Up in Listening To Your Music. The station arrives. You exit. You, the two of you, walk up the staircase feet away from one another.
He makes a run for it on Broadway in front of a taxi. You do too.
Then you cross the street. Where’s he going? You’re (actively) not paying attention. You hop up onto the curb. You don’t sense the shadow again until you turn to smile at a passing Shiba Inu on the office block. He’s there.
You reach the building first. You chat with the doorman. Someone enters. Another person enters. Another person enters. You’re chatting with the doorman. The elevator line is long. But there he is. Here comes the stubble. The tote bag. The hair.
You are standing in the elevator, side-by-side. There is still no eye contact. There is a chat with someone else. The electrons stand on end. And yet. The air slowly leaks from the balloon. The person you know better, with whom you are talking, demands your attention. There is no, “Did I see you on the Q train?” There is no, “Romance is likewise strange but potentially emancipating if you care not for convention.” There is sadtrombone.wav, putting your bag down, reloading, walking to the kitchen, Maybe The Kitchen!, except, no, no kitchen.