Monday, September 28, 2009


I am not an astronaut. I am a hungernaut.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

All Details Required

It was an overcast but unseasonably warm late December afternoon when you and I trolled the aisles of my local Midwestern Target...

You were in town for a New Years party. We were searching for a bottle of soy-based non-dairy creamer for your morning coffee. Up and down the refrigerator cases we ambled, separately, with me pausing at whatever Target's latest melamine offering was on display.

Here is what I only half-remember: who saw them first. That's right, I said them. (And also, I think I reached for my phone to urgently find you and the aisle you occupied.)

Why? Because there was more than one microcephalic Somali female adolescent shuffling past me. They were wearing matching pink jumpsuits. Only one dragged behind her a small wooden pull toy. Could've been duck or dog, really. I had trouble catching my breath.

So, there it is. It was what it was. Suddenly, a David Lynch miniseries.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Speak, .

I've prided myself since childhood on a sickeningly retentive memory. Dates, full names, and faces pile up in my noggin like earwax. (E.g., I visited Florida for the first time on June 19, 1989, and I lost my virginity on June 10, 1997.)

Unfortunately, since hitting my late twenties, I've found that there just isn't enough room in there for all that. My memory's been importing at a shittier bit rate, doing a kind of Cookie-Monster chew and not swallowing much of anything.

I've done some housecleaning and found suspect memories in there: things that may not have happened as I remembered, things that may not have happened at all, and weird lacunae for things that probably did happen. Then there are the things my memory stole: things originally described to me secondhand, which I eventually began remembering as having seen myself.

So I must ask: Was it just you, or was it both of us together, who saw a Somalian (or Ethiopian?) microcephalic pulling a toy dog (or duck?) on wheels in the food aisle of your local Target?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It has to Happen

I have to stop watching television, logging in to Facebook, basically TAKING ANY PART in our culture. Why?

Because after my last somewhat morose post, I watched some prime time TV (never amounts to anything beneficial). And then, I couldn't stop pondering this question:

What ever happened to that slightly pretty/funny girl a class ahead of me in high school... the one who had kind of sold out to the popular crowd, but whose lining was strange and smart and oddly humorous? At a cast party I remember her making up some ridiculously funny 'forbidden dance' involving "flossing her crotch" with a football scarf. See? She got away with that kind of shit and was STILL invited to the sleepovers, WTF.

Anyway, turns out I cannot look her up on Facebook because I am not prepared to be devastated again.

Also, there's this. And I have so many feelings about that - right now hysterical laughter is winning out against horror. So that is probably a good thing. For me. At least.

Wishing for Exile

Dear Shiddy:

Your last post made me feel sad and worried. I wish you were feeling less frazzled and stuff. The post instantly brought to mind the purported benefits of transcendental meditation (being able to block out noise and all sorts of other external stimuli). Unfortunately, I myself am horrible at filtering things out or performing any of those disciplined mind exercises (though I've never actually taken a class). But the husband has had some success with it. Worth a try? Who knows.

I am in a similar boat to yours in the sense that I have never really liked the city I live in now. Many people and books and other assorted sources of supposed wisdom tell me that you can learn to love your life anywhere, that it is all in your head, etc. And it's true that I've got a lot of community here, but from a purely aesthetic perspective, for example, I find this city incredibly ugly and barren and boring. And what, what can you do about the climate? Puhhhh.

In summation, this post contains no actual advice, only a bit of commiseration. Sometimes, I find it's nice to spend some time with your imagination, detailing with exquisite specification the exact type of place and environment you'd ideally want to live in for all times.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Why I do not love NY.

As I continue to fantasize about leaving New York soon and for good, I thought it was time for me to get out of my system a few of the reasons I hate this place so much:

1. It is deafening. There's a John Cheever story whose protagonist, a 1950s New Yorker, is startled by the sound of a bus outside his window. Cheever plops down a line that might be the most resonant thing I've read since moving to NYC (despite the fact that I don't like Cheever that much): "It seemed to him that the penetrating noise of the city had a mortal effect on the precious lives on the city's inhabitants and that it should be muffled."

I have worn earplugs every day since May 2007. At first I only wore them in bed, to hide explosive bus brakes outside my bedroom window and the sounds of people shouting to each other, which, even if jocular or celebratory, always sound to my WASP ears like fighting. I quickly graduated to wearing them on the subway. An express train barreling through a station, squealing brakes, intercom announcements = repetitive aural rape.

It's not just my sensitivity, which is admittedly high*: research backs me up on this shit. I've since learned to keep my 'plugs in from the moment I leave my apartment to the moment I step into my office building, and likewise the reverse.

2. It smells like piss. The streets, the subway stations, even the subway cars. I've always been aware of what piss smells like (I have, in fact, been pissing all my life), but since moving here I have learned to identify all piss varieties, on a spectrum that includes alcoholic, dehydrated, and kidney-failure pathologies. On the Times Square platform where I change lines every morning, there is a reflective, congealed film underfoot. By smell, you know a train is on its way even before hearing it because the train pushes out a cylindrical piss cloud from where it had been patiently baking inside the tunnel.

3. It's fucking expensive. This one's obvious, but I'll never get used to it. I'll be brief: The other day I was staring in the window of a store selling interesting items, and I saw this:
These knick-knacks (specifically, the owl, the squirrel, and the polar bear platter) filled me with a kind of hysterical longing I didn't understand. And then I did understand: I hadn't bought a single knick-knack since moving here two years ago. I have almost no disposable income because I spend nearly half of my net income on rent.

4. There are too many people. My significant other once astutely commented that there are so many people in this city that it cheapens life. I see waves of people walking in the same direction (e.g., to a subway station at rush hour), and I become panicky and hateful and excrete cortisol. About a month ago, I realized what an asshole I'd become when I scoffed at a comment made by the S.O.'s little brother, who was visiting on his way to college. We were watching people zombie-shuffle in a human column boarding the Staten Island Ferry when he marveled that each of these people had a soul, and a life, and wasn't that overwhelming? Yes. Yes, it is. To the point where you are comfortable seeing others not as souls but as retarded fucking assholes who are (more crucially) in your way.**

* I don't normally relate to this kind of self-diagnosis--in fact, I hate what it implies about me--but when I took this quiz I literally selected
all of the check boxes.

** Not to imply that there isn't an overabundance of R.F.A.s here.