Monthly Archives: July 2012

Two Days in New York City

Standard

It’s late morning, an overcast, recently drizzling sky threatening to become very wet, and I’m walking down Broadway, at about 39th St. It is all fancy now, with outdoor tables and chairs, lush, potted plants, and other rotating installations. I stop to touch one of these plant filled cubes to see if the greenery is real or plastic. It’s real. I decide to take a picture. While I’m snapping my photo, another woman walks by, also reaches up and touches the cube. I laugh and say, “I just did that.”

We get to talking about how much Broadway has changed over the years as we fall in step in a downtown direction, and how lovely this little strip in the upper 30’s is now.  We each mention how we go out of our way to take this route on our way to our respective destinations – my part-time office, her studio. I ask her what she does. She’s a costumer, and an interior designer. She often works with plants, greenery.  She asks what I do. I tell her, “Communications, and writing. I’m mostly a writer, though.” It feels good to say.

We compare more notes. She even knows a friend of mine, another costumer on Broadway. Aah, Broadway, not much work anymore, contrary to what you might think. Everyone is doing lots of different things these days.

We’re both “freelancers” now. Aren’t most artists and creative people working in NYC? Friends from out of town may think she’s a loser, ask when she’s going to get a real job. This is a real job. This is how it works now.

We all have about 35 jobs. I joke that I feel like an immigrant. But is that an outdated stereotype? I guess we can all feel like immigrants now – tenuous, not firmly anchored, struggling to obtain benefits, insurance, no secure social safety net to entrench us in warm and fuzzy nationalistic glow.

By 37th St., it’s time to part ways. Me to my office near 5th Ave., she to her studio down near 26th St. We introduce ourselves. I’m Carla, she says. I’m Deborah, I say. We exchange a firm handshake, a hearty smile, a thank you for sharing this New York moment and a sincere wish for a good day. No exchanging of business cards, no networking. Just this wonderful moment.

I continue east to 6th Ave., remembering how I was feeling yesterday approaching this same corner from the South after a trip around the corner to Duane Reade to buy a box of super tampons (for those extra heavy flow days). The woman at the register had double bagged my purchase, for modesty, I suppose.

Afterwards, I had stopped into a Guy & Gallard café (fancy deli food chain masquerading as something more upscale) for an iced beverage. The three young men behind the counter were all engaged in something else and I wasn’t clear if any of them was going to tend to me. One finally gave me his attention. May I please have an iced coffee, half decaf, half regular? No enthusiastic acknowledgement. I waited, watched. He finally bent down to open a cooler behind him, and I said, again, can you please make it half decaf and half regular?  (Caffeine really messes with me.)

He turned to me and said, I heard you the first time. Somehow, I had… insulted? annoyed him? I thought about it for a second. I felt a flash of anger. But I was still moving slowly from the heat outside, and had been working for the last couple of days to temper hormone sourced crankiness, so I figured a response from me was probably not a good idea. Clearly, he already thought I was a bitch.

Oh well. He handed me my plastic cup, and I thanked him. As I stepped over to the adjacent counter to add half and half (the best way to drink iced coffee) to my beverage, it suddenly hit me. He probably made this all caffeinated, just for spite. I looked over at him, searching for a clue in his body language. He was saying something to his co-worker, stealing a glance back at me. I’m sure I was right. Fuck that bitch, he probably thought. If I said something now, I would prove him right. Damn it.

I took another free muffin sample (tasted like cardboard, but gave me the sugar rush I was looking for) and paid for my drink. I felt tired, vulnerable, a little of the city’s diffuse anger pressing down on my spirit. I walked slowly back to my office. Later I suffered from a jangly caffeine buzz that reminded me why I quit drinking coffee in the first place.

Today, despite the weather, I’m wearing a brightly colored flowered blouse. It’s something I used to do all growing up – wear bright colors to school on rainy days. Sometimes I think you just have to act as if…

Leaky Pipes

Standard

I was thinking everything was OK, until one day I woke up and realized that I was living on an entirely different planet, and you seemed like a complete stranger to me. I was feeling so ashamed of these feelings, that I couldn’t even tell you about them. I couldn’t help that it was almost a week before I was able to put any of these murky thoughts into words. At this stage of my life, uncertainty congeals at will into recognizable form. I have little or no control over the time frame. Sometimes I’m just watching and waiting for things to make sense.

So then I was thinking I needed some time to myself. I was thinking that this process of coming into myself, rediscovering who I am, fastening together the pieces of my identity from the fragmented timeline of my development – it would all take a lot of concentration and focus.

There are many tasks involved in gaining clarification. Cleaning out my house is just part of it. Getting my thoughts in order, putting the ideas into spreadsheets, making sure the to-do lists are complete and have encompassed everything I don’t want to forget is all taking a tremendous amount of energy. So is writing down all my story ideas, all the loose plot lines and stray images, random scenarios and character sketches. I was thinking there was no way I could do all this and still give you the kind of attention you crave from me.

One thing I have realized is that the more I create the environment I need around me, the easier it is for me to think clearly. Feng shui is real. My spiritual clarity depends on me folding up the piles of laundry. Having the leaky refrigerator fixed was a step forward in establishing the strong foundation of my courage and independence. Subsequently changing the water filter myself was the “I Am Woman Hear Me Roar” icing on the cake.

But I fucked something up when I was tightening the bolts. By mistake, I loosened the connection to the copper tubing that led to the water pipe, and now it leaks. Now I don’t know what to do. My kitchen is a mess, the refrigerator is in the middle of the room, I can’t turn on the ice maker because I can’t turn the water back on, and I can’t afford to pay my plumber to come over and embarrass me by fixing it with his big boy tools in about five minutes.

But mostly, I’m really pissed off, because I could call you, and you would probably come over and fix it for me, because you have those same tools. And I’m pissed because I don’t want that kind of relationship where I get scared and call you when I can’t get something to work. Even though I really feel like crying and I miss you. Because I know that after we kiss and make up (and the sex will be so good), I will wake up tomorrow and wonder why I am spending time with you when I’m not sure. I’m just not sure.

Maybe I’m just supposed to not mind the leaky pipes. Or the fact that it takes three times as long as I thought it would to fix them. Or the fact that one day I think you’re amazing and I want to spend the rest of my life with you, and the next day I hate everything about you. How is that not supposed to freak me out? How am I not supposed to hate that I can’t fix a fucking pipe in my house without calling someone to help me?

But then you called me. And you asked me how my day was. And when I told you about the pipe thing, you actually gave me a couple of good ideas, and I’ll probably head back to Home Depot tomorrow to get what I need to really fix it this time. And then I was thinking, man, I wish you were coming over tonight instead of going to play cards with your friends. Because you wouldn’t care that my kitchen is a mess, and you’d kiss me and hold me and love me, and I would be so sleepy and a little sore walking through the aisles of Home Depot tomorrow.

But instead, I’m sitting here writing this story, because I’m fucking finding myself, here in these words, on the page, articulating my feelings and sharing my experience and making some kind of narrative out of this ridiculous series of events that is actually my life. I don’t know if this is supposed to be a short story, or a blog post, or a chapter in a book I keep telling myself I want to write, or just an entry in my journal that really ought not to have been shared, and therefore I should be sort of embarrassed by this massive overshare.

And I don’t know why I think I should be any more adept at relationships than I should be at changing refrigerator water filters. I have not been well trained for either. And yet, here I am, muddling my way through as if I actually know what I’m doing.

Photo courtesy of fekaylius