Monday, March 15, 2010

Slouching Towards Somewhere, Vol 2

There are some basic guidelines to living in New York. The most important, I believe, is that people walk here like you drive anywhere else. The sidewalks are our roads -- walk accordingly.

There are slow lanes, and fast lanes, and it is inappropriate to stop in either. Should you need to stop, you need to signal, then merge to the shoulder of the road. It is never, ever appropriate to stop in the middle of the road to stare at the Madewell store, or anything else. Similarly, it is ineffably rude to line up in a row with your party and take up all the lanes in any direction of traffic. While single file is preferred, it can be appropriate to walk in a twosome -- but then you MUST be in the slow lane.

While walking in New York is perilous business, eating is something else altogether. Accordingly, it has its own rules and regulations. Today I will be discussing one of the most important: eavesdropping.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Slouching Towards Somewhere, Vol 1

While it's definitely going to snow at least once more before Easter rolls around (see below, ugh) I was walking down the streets of Brooklyn today feeling at least a little lighter because: it's not February any more.

February has nothing to recommend it. It is, in all seriousness, the August of winter.The joys have long faded. The holiday season, with its aromatic bustling streets, and freshly dry-cleaned layers of bundling feeling subtly sensual, have now given way to snow the color of feces of nine types of species, and all those layers of bulky clothes make you feel like a lumbering tauntaun, sure to eat it on the slippery sidewalks while some asshat toddler laughs at you.

And February has Valentine's day, which is genuinely offensive in it's hetero-normativity and blah blah blah.

But today was March 3, and while it's gonna snow again, I have that springish optimism that tells me, "this rain is nourishing, the soil needs snow so that it can replenish the roots, and trees and flowers can bud and eventually blossom!"

If you're wondering, yes, I even bother me when I start thinking like that. Not that that's so difficult to imagine.

...Which is to say, I was walking down my neighborhood streets today because I was making a trek to Bergen Street Comics. If you actually pay attention to my twitter, you'll have noticed that I've recently fallen into the TOTAL AND UTTER BLACK HOLE OF AWESOMENESS (...so many inappropriate jokes spring to mind, but I'm trying to get use to letting those pass by as I get closer and closer to being a published children's author) that is Fables by Bill Willingham.

I'm on the 6th volume of a series of which there are more than 90, so you know... You'll all be (un)lucky if you ever hear from me again. (...I couldn't have found them at the start of winter?)

Anyways, because I like to give my unwisely spent money to independent operations, (click on that! it will tell you you're nearest indie!)) I was thrilled that Carrie Cheek told me of this hot spot.

(Side bar: Carrie Cheek makes movies and films things -- and edits to them too. She is a champ, and if you need something filmed and or edited, you should use her. She did my Super Tuesday videos for Glamour, and I was very glad for it!)

So, I was wandering on a cold spring day, looking forward to spending too much money on not enough comics from my local comic shop. I have one of those. I also have a local hippie food grocery store, and a local pharmacist, and a local electronics store and a local almost everything and over the years I've gotten to know these people, and sometimes it seems like they sorta recognize me as that girl who comes in sometimes, looking like a Star Wars animal.

Anyway, I was walking and then I realized that I was standing outside of some good friends' old apartment.

I think it must be a marker in every New Yorker's city existence when your first friend leaves for another town. I remember crying when they told me. Of course, they're a couple, of course, they moved to Portland, and while I would go on to visit them there, and be envious of their good food, large yard, and fabulous new friends, I was really crushed to know that I would be loosing two touchstones in the Big Bad Big Apple. Crushed, and flabbergasted.

You're leaving? But why? You'll have to get a car! You won't have a deli! (Which, I maintain, is New Yorks' most genius and beloved offering). How will you do things? How will you function?

But it's nearly four (or is it five?) years since then, and much has changed. I'm at not on the bottom-rung of a massive editorial machine that eats its young, I'm not in apartment with two other girls, trying to figure out how people in New York get to the ER when they're bleeding profusely, etc. I don't know the city totally (who does?) but I know it well.

Oy. That sound you might be hearing, or making, is the sound of so many people getting mighty cranky because they've been here longer, they've worked harder, they've seen more they've done more, and they've lost more people -- and not just to charming hippie towns where it rains more. (Or less).

Yeah, well. Fair enough. C'est le guerre.

But I know it well enough to watch a slow and steady stream of people leave it, and standing outside that apartment, where I had dinner parties and dance parties, and good cries and bitter laughs -- and it wasn't even my own goddamn apartment -- I realized that I'll probably be the next to go -- because I'm going, somewhere -- and come next fall someone will move into my apartment, and not know anything about who I am, or what it was like when I lived in New York, or why I left.

Because, well, why should they?

Suddenly, this all made me wish for spring even more. Because if this is going to be my last summer in New York, I want it to be a good one -- an epic one. The sort of summer that I'll remember for the rest of my life.

Which probably means it'll suck, and rain every day of June like it did last summer, but oh well.

It'll still be good.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

On The Death JD Salinger

Because I have this stupid habit of writing where I was when I finished a book, I know that the most recent time I finished re-reading The Catcher in the Rye was March 29, 2002, at the Peppercorn CafĂ© where I was waitressing in Poughkeepsie, but it’s closed now because the owner had a gambling problem. Or so I heard.

I hadn’t read it since my original reading in the eighth grade, which I guess is when you’re supposed to read it. And like othersI was a little embarrassed by it and its voice, and by who I was when I first read it, when a teacher told me that I needed to for my own peace of mind.

Mr. Q had handed me his own original copy and told me that everything Mr. Antolini says to Holden, was what he had to say to me.

“I have the feeling that you’re riding for some kind of terrible, terrible fall. But I don’t honestly know what kind […] It may be the kind where, at the age of thirty, you sit in some bar hating everybody who comes in looking as if he might have played football in college. Then again, you may pick up just enough education to hate people who say, ‘It’s a secret between he and I.’ […]

Among other things you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them – if you want to. Just as some day, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful, reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.”




It scared me that someone I respected so much believed that I was headed for a “terrible, terrible fall” and it scared me even more that all the annoyance (and hate?) and I had for the other kids – the few that I was able to bully myself as well as the others who shoved me into lockers – was so obvious.

I asked Mr. Q what I could do to stop myself from falling, and he answered me in one word: “Write.”

And that's sort of how I got here.

So as embarrassed as I am by the person I was in the eighth grade (very!) and as much as we take Salinger and his tone for granted (since it’s now the tone of the entire internet), I’d like to add my glass to the many that will be raised in honor of his passing.