Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New York, I Love You (But You're Bringing Me Down)

I wonder if I'm falling out of love with New York.


Maybe it's the man I passed while walking the same route to the same internship (it should be glamorous but how glamorous is it, really, sitting inside all day in front of an outdated Mac in too dim lighting and rereading the same blogs to alleviate boredom?) whose umbrella got scraped and broken by a postal van driving too close, and him screaming "fucking faggot!" at the driver and walking off, anger steaming from his shoulders in this miserable October rain and drenched pavement that splashes dirty rainwater that soaks into jeans and fake leather boots.

Maybe it's taking the same lines at the same times on the same days to the same stops and making the same walk through areas I've already memorized. Maybe it's feeling the same frustration as the L train chokes through its tortured route from Bedford to 1st Ave, circling the same never ending construction around Washington Square, watching the same tired performances and skate boarders and vendors pepper Union Square.

Maybe it's the oppressive roommates, 25 or 29 or 30 and living in the same Brooklyn apartment with a shitty job (waitress, bartender), still slugging through school and spending weekends at home with only the noise of her TV or a boyfriend without a job, their voices a constant terror and reason to stay in my room (or leave the place as often as possible). The fear of becoming them, their sad repetitive lives, their endless complaints and pains and same old answers to the same old questions (how are you? Good. How was your day? Long, I'm so tired).

Maybe it's Joan Didion or Meghan Daum's essays on leaving New York. Brilliant writers who described exactly how I've felt the little tidbits of New York, envisioned the same romantic future I do. Instead of Daum's 104th street apartment with the wood floors, my dream abode is on West 10th Street, with its brownstones and archway of leaves that I'd fallen in love with the very first time I walk down it, and still marvel over even after the hundreds of times down that same path.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Skin Like Silk, Face Like Glass


It's not winter but it feels like winter. Not winter from a snow globe and warm fires and soft layers but that different sort of winter. Distant, cold, tender. Winter in breaths of air frosted on windows, on fingertips and eyelashes that quiver with the wind, and the welcoming of the caress of warm air, indoors, anywhere. Fumbling for keys and misplaced pens and notebooks and adjusting this and that. But it's fall. And I know, I know, I write about it a lot, too much, but I can't help it--it's in the air, the room, the covers on my lap, the words falling from countless pairs of lips.

Lately I've been preoccupied with the idea of "pretty" writing--language for language's sake, songs for the loveliness they provoke, experiences because they match the versions played in my head. I've been dreaming in other worlds too, complex and vivid, and terrifying, most of the time, ghosts of little children and vengeance and blood spilled on board ships--it just sounds bizarre, explaining it, but in those foggy moments in between dreams and consciousness, the full potential of these dreams come alive. And I hardly want to wake up. Not waking up from nightmares, really? Yes, it is like watching the most absurd surreal horror films in my own sub conscious. And there is beauty in the morbid and terrible.

And what else. Lately I've been trying not to play the aggressor-so to speak. Letting things happen, and not worrying if they don't. Of course since picking up that approach lots of (unexpected) things have started happening. And I'm going to have to remain vague, for now, anyway. Vague and abstract. My old friends. Sing, muse, of these impossible to capture thoughts that drift, shadows fluttering across my eyelids before bed, bitter sweetness that sinks in between my lips, tinting my teeth. Sing of the burning eyes and a heart that won't stop shaking for whatever reason. Sing and sing and make it go away, like my broken headphones, my broken phone.

It's easy to forget how easily disconnected I can become, one little technical error and I'm without contacts, without constantly reachable friends. It's just a minor thing, of course, easily fixed, but it's a nice reminder. I know, this season sends most people tottering toward another's hand, fingers laced together and heads nestled on shoulders, two shapes on one bed and lips that mingle, but I think I like it just as well alone. Even without headphones, or a working cell phone. Without distractions and just this, embracing this, the dreams and the thoughts and the visions and the sensations that cling to my skin.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dream Apartment

I spent much of today looking at photos of wonderful apartments and fighting the screaming ache in my stomach for somewhere better, somewhere I could call my own. It's going to be a while yet before I can afford the apartment of my dreams, but for now, I can plan and imagine and fantasize.

It'll be an airy brownstone, with brick walls and one wall that is a bookshelf, and bookshelves underneath the stairs (the stairs will be a narrow metal spiral staircase to a rooftop with a few of a skyline!). I'd have a Rococo era couch with robin's egg blue cushions and ornate gold corners, and a glass coffee with copies of Lula and The New Yorker and strange little antiques and teacups.

There will be Christmas lights strung across each wall, and clipped in between on one side will be photos and on another side, scissors and skeleton keys will hang and when it gets really windy they'll quiver and tinkle against the brick behind. Then there would be the couche so soft you'd fall into it and never want to get up with luxurious blankets
in the softest pastels.

There'd be lots of paper lamps hanging overhead and candles that flicker from end tables and shelves. There'd be a kitchen with a display of exotic teacups and wine bottles and tall dark wood stools that surround a small square dining room table.

There'd be bedroom with a fluffy bed, all white and falling into it would be like being swallowed by clouds of cotton candy. There'd be a canopy and big windows and curtains that match, usually pulled back but sometimes closed with the light just peeking through, a silken glow. There'd be a closet and a wall that consists of mirrors and a shelf with books and journals and strange little dead creatures underneath dusty glass orbs. On the walls there'd be sparse wonderful art prints and typography posters and at the foot of the bed, curled, sleeping, there will be a darling old english sheep dog named Sebastian.

For now, I'm stuck with what I have, and it could always be worse, lots worse, so I'll make do with my mini photo wall and compact closet and comfy bed until next time.

What does your dream apartment (or house) look like?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bring Your Hips

Thao with the Get Down Stay Down-When We Swam

I'm walking, I'm walking, walking to the subway station, walking to my next class, walking with coat wrapped and scarf knotted, walking with a destination and pavement blurring beneath my steady heels. And then there is this. And I'm walking with a swing in my step, a sway in my hips, a leap in each movement of the feet, and there, my shoulders are shifting of their own accord, my body twists so and so. I'm walking and it has become dancing.

Suddenly I'm dancing under a bright sun, dancing with a smile and each step on the pavement sprouts a new golden yellow flower that spills to the sky, each breath in and exhale into pretty brilliant colors, rays that spin and dazzle. With a jerk and a nod, a wink and a shrug, I'm stepping and dancing and laughing, and oh, bring your hips to me, oh oh bring your hips to me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How to Spend the Fall

+read in a park (self explainatory and wonderful)

+go for a walk! Pick one: bring a camera and take pictures of every little detail you notice, the frayed edges of a leaf, the etching on a bench, or leave your cell phone and camera at home, and walk for the clear air on your skin, the blue sky and the trees, the call of the birds and sounds of the city.

+take a class! Since you're already involved in school and learning, you might as well take it further and tackle a few subjects not on your academic calendar that you might enjoy. How about picking up a dance class, yoga, drawing, screenprinting, cooking? There are a ton of fascinating classes in subjects you might never expect and now only will you learn something new, but chances are you'll have lots of fun and make new friends, as well.

+strengthen friendships! Be it someone you haven't talked to in a while or someone interesting you'd like to get to know better. Take a chance, invite them to lunch, or an afternoon at a museum, and remember why you wanted to befriend them in the first place.

+stylize! This is probably my favorite season to dress for, and with the variable weather you've got plenty of options when using the sidewalk as a runway. I especially love cardigans and coats with bare legs and flats/Oxfords, loose scarves in tie knots over vnecks, summer dresses with tights and a jacket--instant transformation and utter loveliness.

+shop! On that note, prep for the winter ahead and play with new ideas and habits with a few new indulgences. Be it delicate or bold new necklaces, eco-friendly and elegant notebooks with fine tipped pens (I have an affinity for Muji pens and if you can get your hands on any, the Uniball Signo or Pental Hi-C, all in .38mm), luxurious bath products and lotions that you can pamper yourself with.

+go out! Not only is the weather gorgeous, but (especially if you're in the city) this is a season abundant in events and festivities, exhibit openings or extravagant parties, film screenings and concerts a plenty. Take advantage of your energy and desire to leave the house. (I swear it's not just my internship talking: TONY has got a ton of wonderful events and things to do, New Yorkers, and I hardly want to miss any of it.)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Book Talk: The Rings of Saturn

W. B. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn was another title off the book recommendation list from the fine folks at Obscura. And I can see exactly why.

I've been diving into these books blind, having never heard of them, read any reviews nor even knew what the books were about. And so, I expected this (not reading the backcover very carefully, as usual) to be a novel in the traditional sense, with a narrator and a storyline and conflict and resolution. But this, this was nothing like that. It's a bit of a travelogue, imagined and real, historical and present, delving into places of such incredible beauty and strangeness, a world that becomes too wonderful to be immersed in, histories and characters that touch and flutter. To try and name them would take away the magic, this floating sense of wonder.

Reading this on subways before class, while waiting for trains on heated platforms, it took me away to these lands, and made me never want to leave. The language is delightful, and the tone is so distinctive, I could actually hear the voice and it was one I wanted to listen to. I wanted to reread pages and passages over and over again, just in case I missed a detail. It's like a tour, narrated by Seblad, whose eye and ability to capture stories and histories is simply marvelous. Recommended? Yes. And I'm even more excited to reading the rest of the books on that precious list.

Friday, October 2, 2009

On Writing, On Blogging


Public. Private. Real. Imagined. I'm born to be contrary.

The line resonates, and it does because it's true, because it embodies so much. I struggle, so much when it comes to this, blogging, writing, writing fiction, writing about my life, writing my life inside my head: living my life. It should all be the same thing, but it never is, never. In Personality there are countless theories, theories of identity and layers of consciousness and social perception and self motivation, there are experiments and beautiful ideas that just can't be true, absurd definitives, things that just sound about right but it certainly can't be right. Not really.

I haven't been blogging, as is inevitable when I get serious about a blog. I get excited about new projects very readily, and I attack it with enthusiasm, dedication. After a little while though, it loses its gloss, its glimmer. I forget--I get attached to everything else. Especially with blogs. God, I can't even remember ever single blog I've had, the topics, the angst, stemming from old livejournals and xangas in which I recounted useless details of my everyday life to a mp3 blog that just turned into an endless release of PR description, attempts at gaining more visitors and links and that whole vicious feed cycle. I started this blog because I wanted a change, something truer, something that was about the writing, the words, not marketing the next It artists. It's always about the writing, really. When I blog I write better. I'm writing for an audience, except, at the start, I didn't.

I wrote and wanted to keep it private. I write better when my words are displayed on an aesthetically matched site, I like seeing them, I like the idea of them, beautiful, published, complete for consumption.

And I am different when I write. I am different in different styles of writing, and I know, I have so many, I've played them all. There is the optimistic, sweet and inspiring blogger, there is the snarky pop culture/music critic observer, there is the serious, poetic and lyrical thought, there is the descriptive for the sake of descriptive, the anecdotal (turning my life into stories, my favorite thing in the whole world), the journalist, the novelist. And I can accomplish each, for myself, for an audience, for another site.

But it's only occasionally that I dare to write with truth, with emotion. In fiction, I can do it, I do it well, I do it because I speak for my characters, and they're not afraid to feel. But then there are things like this and this, and it's truer than most things, it's not about an image (or maybe it is, it always), it's not about an ideal. It's emotion that's too raw for me to admit. On the page, it's not me, it's a character, a character with my life, my sensibilities. But it's indescribable, you know? In Real Life I'm far from sentimental. Really far.

Just because it's writing does it make it not real? Just because it sounds more romantic on the page does it mean it couldn't have been as beautiful when it happened? The world is simply what we perceive it to be, isn't it?

So maybe it's a defense mechanism. Maybe the reality and disappointments of the world outside these letters makes me afraid to admit to anything. In this world I can create and maintain absolutely anything, but the world outside doesn't work exactly as I want it to. It's a never ending balancing act, and I wonder if I'll ever master it.

Perhaps, perhaps not. But it seems a bit silly to pretend that my other world, this inner world of thoughts and emotions that are far darker and deeper than my persistent optimism doesn't truly exist. And I suppose I wouldn't be a writer if I didn't lust after recognition, wouldn't be writing anything outside of a journal if I didn't hope for readers and connections. So I guess I shouldn't be so preoccupied, with what this blog should be or what I should feel. And stick with writing, my multiple personalities, and everything.