There is a business man in Brooklyn who is walking down the street who is touching himself, hands down the pants, elbow deep. And he’s not just readjusting, he is going at it full throttle, and no one else is phased by this. I know this because I went to Brooklyn yesterday, unintentionally, when I became absorbed in a book I was reading and accidentally took the 1 train much much past my street. I’m pretty sure the universe is pulling me towards Brooklyn, each day there is a more clear sign, and the idea of centering myself here in New York is an appealing one. Over the weekend at the Nu Yorican poetry slam, which was awesome, the dominant part of the crowd was from Brooklyn, and none of them seemed to be touching themselves. Hmm. However, the cafe did help re-establish my purposes for coming here, or at least re-affirm them. With all the people and traffic and freedom to get away with anything (including public urination, read on) it is easy to forget why you’re here. After a delicious dinner and a French Toast Ale (soooo good) or two at a local brewery, a friend and I rushed off to catch the opening round of the poetry slam. While hailing a cab my friend could not stop freaking out, about being late for the slam and missing a poem and disappointing our friends who would already be there and about if we left a big enough tip at the brewery and if we had enough cash for the taxi and everything in between. Finally, as we sat in the back of the surprisingly clean taxi, I was able to calm him down. He just hailed his first taxi in Manhattan, polished off some top-drawer fish ‘n chips, washed it down with a local draft, and is now comfortably whisking through traffic to watch a friend win a poetry contest at a well known cafe… It doesn’t get any more real than that. From Bummblefuck, Kentucky, he’s made it here. Everyone needs a little reality check sometimes.
Then again, I lie. A lot. Life is like a poker game, and I’ve been called on a bluff or two in my time. Not that it won’t keep me from doing it again, but I’m more conservative about it, and I’m getting rid of most of my tells. My friend PokerJew, however, is not quite at good at the life skill of bluffing. He met a girl over the weekend and (mindlessly) decided to introduce himself as a 23 year old graduate who works for Spark, instead of a 20 year old who interns for Spark. Mind you, he goes to a great school and has a prestigious internship, so lying was probably a bad choice. Regardless, this girl threw in her chips and they got to chatting- she’s 25 and working at her dad’s company. …Or at least that was her bluff. After the flop, it appears that both of them are about to call… that is, without the poker metaphore, she’s about to realize he is actually 20 and he’s already discovered that she is a fairly wealthy Greek shipping heiress. …My, how we play our hands close to our chest before the reveal. He’s looked her up on Forbes, and is now trying to take her out on a classy date. She thinks he’s 23, but when his ID doesn’t get him into a swanky joint (or bluff-friendly dive bar), he’s going to have a little ‘splaining to do.
See, poker is a spectator sport. People watching on Broadway is practically as good as seeing a play. Only with more gratifying tears.
As if all of these little episodes haven’t convinced me that (one) Brooklyn is pretty ok, afterall, and (two) that I should keep my focus while in Manhattan, a day spent enjoying a street fair followed by a night trip to Chinatown helped reinforce the ideas. I polished off some sesame noodles and began talking with a friend who’s done a lot of bizarre video work (like shooting under-water births and scoring them to original music). It seems my friend who’s spent time professionally capturing life (in aquatics) has had the same problem I have of keeping focused with all these damn tasty distractions. Steve Zizzou and I walked through Little Italy and gorged on gelato as we discussed on honest passion for media, for success, for moving to a city and really making something of ourselves. We made jokes about where we would be in 10 years, her having been deported and making documentaries from Columbia, me drinking and pill-popping my days away, a la Valley of the Dolls, under the roof of a much wealthier and older man. But it was in jest, as we both knew we were digging our heels into this island, or at least our dreams for it. But achievement and debauchary don’t have to be mutually exclusive, success can come along with spoonfulls of gelato and poetry on Saturday nights, it can be balanced with trains in Brooklyn and noodles in Chinatown, but it does depend on personal resolution. I think I’ve already reached the point in my summer where I can say I’ve become resolute. I’ll be staying in New York, dating and eating and drinking and working and job searching and drinking and apartment hunting and talking and watching and drinking- whether I have everything else in place or not. I will be here.
Inspired by our gelato and resolution that we bought in Little Italy, we decided to further indulge our international appetites and make the night a little Irish. And Russian. And Mexican. And whatever rum is… Pirate. It was a multicultural buffet. As we wander-stumbled back to our apartment the feeling of our earlier conversation combined with our current drinks converged, and we couldn’t have been more full of life. At least it felt like life… it was actually pee, though. I’m told those get confused a lot. Next thing I know I am so full of life that I think I’m about to die, so I find a conveniently dark street and pretend I’m camping. Only then I realize, this is not that dark of a street. Suddenly there are people walking towards me, as I’m one handedly attempting to desaturate my body, and enough sobriety kicks in to provide shame. At this point it’s too late to cut off the stream (it stings, bitches) and I’m too embarassed to just stand in front of on-coming foot traffic, so I walk behind a car and continue to walk behind it as people come closer. However, walking around the car quickly means being in the street, and next thing I know I’m draining life all over on-coming taxis. I zipped so fast I nearly hung myself.
After all of that time spent being appauled about the nonchallance everyone had about the Brooklyn stroker, I find the shoe is now on the other foot. Or that the hand is on the other… yeah. The point being, perhaps settling into New York means learning to (one) focus, (two) suspend some judgement, and (three) go to the bathroom before walking 20 some blocks.
Still, after giving a pep talk in the taxi on Friday on the way to poetry, and a prolonged drink-fueled pep talk on Saturday night, I was pumped about everything New York had to offer. On Monday I made more advances at work (already discussing possible long term employment) and got a great set of interviews lined up at various media firms in the city. Hooray! On the way home I was able to talk with Dr Mario, my longtime friend and roommate who is still residing in Bummblefuck, Ohio, to finish up a vary impressive pharmacy degree and play video games. Considering we’ve been close friends for just short of a decade (even though he consistently makes better decisions than I do), his seperation anxiety has been lower than I expected it to be. Upon returning from Europe he waited almost a day before calling me. I walked home from work and chatted with him for quite some time before I had to (unfortunately) cut our conversation short. Promising to call back one of my favorite friends, I hung up to field a text from Mary Jane (one of my new favorites), who wanted to have dinner and a bottle of white at a nearby Indian restaurant. The food was overpriced, but light, and the sub-par coffee kept me from having too many glasses before settling down for the night. But if we didn’t get our moneys-worth in tastiness, we definitely did in atmosphere; it’s hard to be upset with spacious seating on an open verandana on a highly trafficked street. I’m glad she suggested the place.
I was even more pleased to discover Mary Jane hadn’t suggested the place at all. Instead, Cute Clerk had mentioned to her that she visit this location to avoid getting rained on (which we did, fortunately). Upon returning to our place I was suprised to see Cute Clerk working on a Monday (he only works Sundays, as I’ve dutifully noticed), but thanked him for his Monday dinner recommendation. It turns out Cute Clerk has a name of his own. He also has a phone number. Both are currently saved in my phone (just saving one of them wouldn’t be useful). Considering the gay learning curve isn’t always kind to those of us who didn’t date for four years (I lived in Bummblefuck, after all), I’m surprised how quickly the learning curve can be conquered. I suppose conquering a curve is easier if you’re bent.
Another strong day at work and it seems like everything is falling into place for a little while. Nothing is settled, but it is falling. Work is going well, interviews are lined up, phone numbers are saved, friends are being made, and I already had dinner plans for the night- dinner and casual conversations with a few sales people at a major computer company that’s expanding into television… I’m not feeling creative so we’ll just call them Goodle. At any rate, the conversation at Boogel couldn’t’ve been more interesting, and when they loaded us with free Clif bars and walked us past they’re ball pit (yes, the employee break room has a ball pit), I was pretty convinced that my re-found sense of purpose and resolution in the city could lead to my own personal ball pit o’ success someday (or at least the money to afford my own Clif bars). Building a professional life and a social life here can’t be that hard.
Walking past the ball pit I decided to check my phone. Last call- Cute Clerk, which means I didn’t miss any during dinner. But the call before that- Dr Mario. I never called him back! I was so busy with my over-priced Indian ambiance dinners and Goodle visits and Cute Clerks that I couldn’t even remember we had talked …My first pangs of New York guilt. Worse, Goodle guilt. I should’ve called. A reluctant wunderkind can apply himself at work and achieve wildly, but keeping friends to play with in the ball pit of success isn’t so easy.
[in chinatown, hungover, you showed me just what i could do]