Monthly Archives: January 2013

Still worrying about Frank

Over the past few days I’ve been thinking about something I posted here almost four years ago after I found a man’s leather-bound travel journal at the cyber cafe where I used to work.
I published two of Frank’s unsent love letters to Catherine, hoping that he would find me to get his journal back, or that Catherine would see them someday and know that Frank actually did care. Also, because I find them fascinating, and finders keepers. Rarely have I seen such a raw outpouring of male emotion.

Barfly reminiscence

I went to my old wagon wheel bar tonight. The place I’ve gone more consistently than anywhere else in the city on Tuesday nights these past (almost) five years. The place I’ll take my kids when they’re 21 and I’m 51, where I’ll get drunk like I did when I was 23 and complain about how much things have changed since the good old days and the kids will have to figure out how to navigate a cab through New York while I’m pretending to be passed out, but am secretly just closing my eyes and listening to them try to handle themselves.

My bartender was there. His new girlfriend was sitting in my seat at the end of the bar, so I sat at the opposite side with my friends to avoid her. I felt a tad dethroned, but only a tad, as we were always better friends than lovers. I felt a nagging twinge of annoyance as she sat there and watched me with laser eyes, not just because she was doing that, but because she didn’t have anything better to do. I did, but I was choosing to be there despite. I was in full judgment mode, ignoring her and him until she finally retreated off into the night.

“Girls do that to each other, way more than guys do,” my bartender said, once I finally had him to myself and I asked him if his girlfriend still hated me for knowing what we were. “Perhaps,” I said, thinking of Lana Del Rey.

With her away, he engaged my friends and poured me drinks when I wasn’t looking, like he used to do. He was mine again, only insomuch as he ever was from moment to moment, which was barely. But it was relieving to have my friend back. I’d worried that he’d changed.

He told me he did, that he was thinking about quitting the bar, as the hours were wearing on him and his new domestic life.

“I’m getting old, babe, ” he said, smiling. Smiling the friendliest smile in the world that so quickly twists into a grimace when the switch flips come 5am and he acts like he hates everyone including me, but secretly just himself which is why I never take it personally. I looked at him with my ‘whatever I don’t see age’ eyes, and initiated a thought experiment.

“What do you think I’ll be like at your age?” I asked.

His eyes widened and he replied all too quickly: “Scary. And smart. And smart. Scary smart.”

“Better keep drinking then to balance it out,” I said, and he poured me another glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Circe and Odysseus

Circe, by Wright Barker.

Circe, by Wright Barker.

That’s Circe, the daughter of the sun in Greek mythology. She knew a lot about drugs and herbs and would turn guys who pissed her off into lions with potions and a magic wand. When Odysseus came round her lair on his Odyssey, she gave him her usual potion, but Hermes had warned him of her antics before and he’d eaten something that made him immune to her emasculating tactics. Tables turned, Odysseus lunged at her. It was probably the first thrill she’d had in years, poor thing. She was hooked, and ended up boning him for a year in her lion den before he she sent him on his way back home to his wife, Penelope. He always came back though, as Circe ended up having three of his nine kids (six of which were split between five other women). And even though he dipped out from time to time, Circe got to lol with the kids AND hang out with her lions in her island mansion that she built for herself.

Lately I’ve been getting some of those years-later confessions from people I used to know. The “why didn’t we ever date back then?” late-night drunken messages. I have them tell me why they think that is, and what it always comes back to is that they found me intimidating. My friends have explained to me why this is for years and years, but it’s one of those things that just sounds so silly to me that it goes in one ear and out the other. I’m a delicate flower. It’s not like I turn people into house pets like Circe or anything, though, if I could turn people who pissed me off into animals, I would have the zoo of my childhood dreams after all. Still though, I wonder how long she waited before she finally found someone who approached her without fear.

 

Seapunk squid screening party success

I somehow managed to gather most of my favorite people over to my apartment tonight to watch the premiere of Discovery’s squid documentary, about which I’ve spend the past two weeks interviewing the most fantastic scientists for, culminating in one of the best articles I’ve ever written:

Giant squid! To catch a monster, bring patience and plenty of cash

RELEASE THE KRAKEN!

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Galapagos humans

He came up to me, sitting in the corner of my local bar, as I was holding back tears related to a betrayal I’d rather not get into right now.

“Is that yours?” this man with wild blonde hair asked me making a splayed gesture to nothing specific with his hands.

“Yeah,” I said tentatively, grabbing my beer from the counter in from of me.

“No no, is that your vase?”

I looked at the vase on the table in front of me. It had all kinds of ancient inscriptions on it, with drawings of two women playing catch, and one sitting on a floating rock looking off into the distance at nothing.

I laughed, as he went on to explain to me what the paintings on the vase meant. It was the only thing preventing me from spiraling into my worn internal rhetoric about how I’m not good enough.

Defensively, but politely on the surface, I fired questions at him about the who what when where why how. Something about him immediately struck me as free in a way that I’ve been annoyed with people for not being.

He kept dancing in his chair to the music in a completely unselfconscious way. I wound up asking him where he was from, which is something I try to avoid doing because I like to guess and usually the fact reveals itself without my asking, but in this case I just had to know.

“I’m from a small island,” he said, “off the coast of Rhode Island.”

I’ve never been to that state, and the only things I remember learning about it are that is the smallest state and the state with the largest per capita crystal meth habit. I studied him more closely to see if he was on crystal meth, but found no signs. Instead, he just kept pulsing to the music and talking with me. He asked if I wanted another drink, and when I opted for water, he returned with two cups and said “here, I’ll let you pick which one so you know I didn’t drug it.”

To be quite honest, at that point roofies would have been welcome. I sipped my water one sip at a time, hoping there were drugs in it that would slip me into a state of oblivion that I could recognize in a mild form with enough time to walk home. There were none, and my new friend kept beguiling me with conversation.

I learned he had been traveling around doing charity work, and that he hadn’t lived in the US for some time. He was passing his way in Bushwick on his way to Thailand to volunteer. He was one of those indigenous ex-pats, it seemed. I was skeptical I was being conned.

At one point, Carly Rae Jepson came on. Let’s just be clear: The song is played out, officially. The bartenders at my local bar payed it unabashedly, without looking up, because they know this was the one place that would fly, where it was finally ironic. I groaned and rolled my eyes, but my new friend pumped his fists.

“Have you ever heard this song?” I asked him.

“No,” he said, “but it’s kind of catchy!”

At that point I was sure I was either dealing with a full-on con artist or someone of the likes I’ve never met before.

“You’re like a Galapagos tortoise,” I blurted out. He was. He was like a creature who’d been raised completely oblivious to the evils of the world and was now dumped right in the middle of the biggest cesspool of the US and picked me to sit next to at a bar.

“No, I … ” — he went on to start to explain how he’s in touch with society in a number of ways, but then quickly and ultimately concluded: “I am like a Galapagos tortoise.”

He invited me to go somewhere to smoke weed with him. I declined, but invited him to my squid party. Because essentially, at its core, the party is for we creatures in the world who are singular, glorious, and oft misunderstood.

I hugged him goodbye, and asked if he thought that was actually my vase. He shook his head no. I was glad.

God Hates Us All [New York Subway Art]

Yesterday I was walking up the stairs from the L while transfering to the 6 train at Union Square, when I passed the a subway ad for the new season of Californication featuring this image:

Californication

For once, I thought, an ad appealing directly to me. First of all, David Duchovny is the perfect man. Second of all, you may be aware of my X-Files obsession (see previous post, “Why TV sucks but The X-Files is AWESOME“), and if not, know that I am currently on a mission to complete the final season of the X-Files, which I originally boycotted when Duchovny dipped out of the show, but realize now it is actually underrated.

The primary reason for Season 9’s brilliance is that, once you let the show take you past your irrational annoyance with Agents Doggett and Reyes for replacing Mulder and Scully on the X-Files cases, which it affords you by giving them some of the most gruesome x-files ever, they lead you to the biggest LOL of the whole X-Files series when they start immediately hooking up. There’s no discussion about company policy, no walk down the hall to HR to follow whatever protocol was keeping Mulder and Scully apart for SEVEN SEASONS. It’s just like, obviously when two attractive people are working together side-by-side every day in the most stressful situations imaginable and they return home from a near-death situation, they are going to immediately bone. The fact that the directors toyed with viewers for seven seasons, impregnating Scully with Mulder’s seed artificially and not having them even so much as kiss until the last episode of season 7 was cruel and unusual, and awesome in a way.

I’ve only watched the first two seasons of Californication, but anything that involves the intersection of Mulder, sex, and professional writing is automatically win. I was pondering all of these things when I walked past the ad again near the NQRW entrances, this one with a special addition:

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Did I say Mulder? I meant Lulder. Thank you subway ad defacers, you made my day.

PS: Everything is better with googly eyes.

A brief history of my bird obsession

I woke up thinking about something sad today, so I immediately thought of parrots, as my therapist has instructed me to do. I imagined I’d been admitted to the MIT Media Lab to study African Grey parrots in Irene Pepperberg’s lab where she trained Alex and the others. Then I started to think about what in the world I would ever do to get to such a place, ie: how I would translate my good parrot handling abilities into something academic that could benefit the world?

My friends joke that I am “the parrot whisperer,” but what is whispering to an animal? I think it’s simply understanding the animal, and most people don’t bother with parrots. Most people look at parrots and go into color shock. They see the colors, and they say “how beautiful,” and they feel jealousy that they can’t have colors like that—endogenous fashion. Then someone says “do you want to hold him?” and they look at the beak, which crushes down on things like walnuts or fingers with up to 700 psi of force, and they say fuck that I’m fine over here. This is because people are afraid of things they don’t understand , including other people.

When I was 5, I wanted to have a zoo full of all kinds of magnificent animals including an orca whale, which I guess was influenced by Free Willie, although I clearly missed the point. At the time I lived in an apartment building in downtown Ann Arbor, so I established that the zoo would have to go in the back parking lot. It didn’t occur to me that this might perturb the other neighbors, or that the Orca would freeze in the Michigan winter. As an only child, I was only concerned about how much fun I would have playing with all these creatures, as the stuffed animals weren’t cutting it. I drew massive architectural plans for this zoo in crayon, and pitched the idea to my mom. In her life, she’d at one time or another possessed: two siamese cats (Sasha and Tisa), two Lhasa Apso dogs (Miel and Sasuk), a large unidentifiable parrot (Caca) that she hated and purposely left outside in some South American country hoping a burglar would steal it, and a spider monkey (name unknown) that flung its feces at her and her guests. It’s anyone’s guess as to what happened to that poor creature.

So, she wasn’t having my zoo, and got me the most low-maintenance animal she could think of: a fire-belly newt.

I was ecstatic!!!! I named this small amphibian Scooter after my favorite Muppet Baby (which according to Wikipedia was “a brainy, computer-knowledgeable child”) and would play with him for hours at a time, as long as I could until his skin dried out and needed to go back in his habitat, which was a fish bowl inside a cardboard diorama I created to mimic the natural habitat of my neon wondered dreams.

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