New York City

Dig Deep

You can't hear snow fall. At least I can't.

I often listen to rain sounds through headphones, stormy ones, with claps of thunder. Sometimes the sounds of a rainforest. 

I can't hear snow falling, and I can't hear a birdsong. Maybe I could hear them if I stood in the center of Central Park, where if you squint, you forget you're surrounded by tons of steel and glass.

Sometimes I think of taking the train up north to I don't know where. Hiking in the scraggly woods of the other New York, the one without all the honking. But it's too cold now. 

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I need snow boots. I almost fell on the grate on the sidewalk that is already slick, even though the snow is fresh. It will be brown tomorrow and the next day.

I need gloves with all their fingers. I bought the fingerless kind, for texting, which was a total San Francisco move. My hat is knitted loosely with knobby yarn. It warms my ears, but not if the wind is a punch instead of a caress. 

Sometimes I think of taking long walks in the mornings, but where would I go? 

You could walk around this city for your whole life, slip into it, disappear, live off of dollar slices and fifty cent coffee from the carts, get fat, start a book club for one that meets every Tuesday at the library.

This city makes you work for it, work real hard, and do it amongst a million younger, leaner, richer and with better jawlines. No city cares about you. Least of all this one.

It takes a year, they say. 

If I pull back I can see what it's all for. From a distance I can see magic. But up close it's a big old mess.

It's up to me. It doesn't come free with rent. It doesn't get served up on a beam of sunshine. It's not as easy as a gorgeous view or a cab ride down the hill toward the sea. 

And I will give it all I've got.


Last Summer's Cooling

When the thick cream infiltrates the iced coffee it creates a black and white sex scene in my cup. The liquids--one creamy, one thin--meld themselves together in unctuous streams, tripping and falling over ice cubes, until they mix to form a milky brown oneness. I am eager to consume the sex scene in my hand, but will only do so after holding the sweaty cold drink to my forehead.

I used to place iced coffees on my face when I lived on an island called Manhattan. On this island there was no where to escape the endless spankings at the hands of a brutal summer sun. Iced coffee became a portable cooling device. I'd stick the chilly cup under my arm pits when no one was looking, even though on that island of Manhattan someone is most certainly always looking.

I lived in a high rise apartment I couldn't afford and would stay inside the small studio most days, propping my ass up on the narrow vent of the air conditioner by the window. I could see all the way to Brooklyn from up there. I'd sit on the air conditioner until my thighs grew raised bumps, cheap binoculars pressed to an unwashed face.

Ice Coffee

Twenty dollars is not enough to spend on binoculars if you really want to know what's happening inside your neighbor's home. You should probably spend at least $75, unless you can find some heavy, old binoculars at a flea market and flirt yourself into a good deal. The heavier the better, because when you are holding binoculars to look into the windows of strangers your hands shake. The fight the tiny Asian lady is having with her meathead boyfriend becomes blurry. You can't tell if the makeup session at an expensive dressing table is for her or the man who might come later. Splurge on a telescope, I say, with all the money you save staying in.

Sometimes I'd imagine someone was watching me, too, so I'd put on productions in my apartment. I'd pretend. I'd pull the blinds all the way to the top and open my laptop and stare at it, unmoving, for hours. 

In Manhattan, you can have a single iced coffee delivered to your house.

[photo by Duncan Spalding]


This Post is a Re-Run from a Different Channel

I wrote this one year ago today, when I lived in a far off magical kingdom known as New York City:

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How NYC Has Changed Me

I woke up late. I wake up late a lot, but when I woke up today I was already late for work by two minutes.

I scared the shit out of my cats by tornadoing around my apartment throwing on clothes and chucking food into their bowl and beating it out the door.

At 9 am cabs in NYC are scarce. I got to the corner and stuck my hand out and watched two people dressed better than me get cabs even though they’d gotten to the corner minutes after me. When it was about to happen again, with two girls in their early twenties, I spoke up: “Excuse me, but I was here first.”

Turns out, though, that someone was already in the back of the cab. When one of the young women saw me turn back around toward the corner she let out this bitchy, exaggerated laugh.

I didn’t even think, I just spoke. “Is that funny?”

She turned away from me and stared at her shoes. Her friend looked at me and said, “What?”

“I asked your friend there if she thinks it’s funny.”

She grabbed her bitchy friend’s hand and they ran across the crosswalk.

I finally got into a cab and told him 30th and Park and, of course, there was crazy construction traffic the whole way. Once at my destination, only 24 minutes after waking in a frenzy, I was mere feet from work.

Then his machine broke.

“You have cash?” No, I told him. I have a card.

He started cussing and randomly hitting buttons and they would beep but not show a total. I looked at my phone. I opened the car door.

“WHERE ARE YOU GOING?” I told him I was going to work, that I was already late, and that this issue sounded like his problem.

“I HAVE TO GET MY MONEY,” he screamed.

“ME, TOO,” I yelled back. “That’s why I took a fucking cab to work. I’m already late.”

“You need to relax,” he told me.

He finally got the machine to work and I swiped my card and overtipped, as usual, and walked in to work and got settled.

Minutes later I hightailed it over to Bread & Butter for a quick bagel and coffee so I could fuel up and start my day. I got in line behind a couple and their teenaged daughters.

When the guy behind the counter said “next,” the father of the quartet began to speak in an adorable British accent: “Can you recommend a traditional American breakfast? I dunno, maybe bacon. Maybe pancakes.”

NYC delis are not known for their recommendations. You tell them what you want and they make it. The guy behind the counter looked at them with an “are you serious” face.

“Bacon and eggs?,” he offered, when I am sure he wanted to say, “I’m from Venezuela, I don’t know shit about traditional American breakfasts.”

There were more questions about the validity of the maple syrup. The girls wanted only two pancakes each, even though the menu item came with three. Patience oozed out my ear.

I wanted to spin them around and say, “You know what Americans do for breakfast? They order fast, and they get the fuck out.”

But I didn’t say that, in part, because it’s not even true. That is what New Yorkers do.


"Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale of all."

It's been almost six months since I left. 

I was reminded of this blog I created while I was there today. I hadn't looked at it in many, many weeks. I barely looked at it while I was making it.

I see it now and I see a good amount of sadness. I also see just a skimming of the surface of what was.

I have so many stories to tell, stories that need to be jostled out of me, but that are true and honest and more fantastic and more fucked up than fiction.


Hey, You Wanna Hear a Good Story?

Eve Batey and Justin Beck were very nice to ask me to talk to them about why I decided to leave social media as a career and go back to waiting tables and writing. The conversation was recorded for their media podcast Punching Down. 

Eve and Justin came all the way to me in the Mission, and Justin even brought beer. And not cheap Miller, neither. 

It only took one Day Beer to get my big mouth moving. 

You can listen to me talk Nashville is Talking, what happened after I flounced out of WKRN in a huff, how my work translated in San Francisco, how taking that job in New York was a mistake and why after a short stint in San Jose I said, "Fuck it. I'll just wait tables and write."

Hear all that stuff here.


One Time I Got To Be a Part of Something Super Awesome

For the first Longshot Magazine I just submitted a story, and was thrilled when it was published. For the second one I helped choose the submissions and sit in while these whip-smart people buzzed and worked and talked around me. The second time was certainly more fulfilling.

Now there's a short documentary about that weekend. (I can be seen at minute 4:05 being allowed to "make a map" of the magazine.), and how it was made last summer. Last summer when I sat atop a roof where a hammock was strung and drank beer and memorized a skyline. This video not only takes me back to that weekend making something awesome, but back to New York, back to to last summer.

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I'm so glad this video was made. Long live Longshot Magazine.

See the video at Longshot Magazine's Tumblr.


A Conversation, Just Now, Typical

Corner store clerk: How old are you?

Me: 34.

Corner store clerk: You? 34?

Me: Wanna see my I.D.? (hand I.D. over)

Corner store clerk: New York State? I do not trust New York State.

Me: Ha.

Corner store clerk: You hear about what happen? The big planes fly into the big buildings.

Me: Yeah. I did hear about that.

Corner store clerk: It's too bad. (pause) How long you been here?

Me: Well, I was here for a while, then I went to New York, and now I'm back.

Corner store clerk: I have been to New York, but only its airports. Never for a visit.

Me: Well, it is definitely worth a visit.

Corner store clerk: They say, "New York is great to visit, not great to live." I don't know why. But you have a good night.


That Seems Light Years Away

The most surprising things remind me of New York. A photo of bamboo, tall and thin, green and lush. A photo of such a foreign thing, so Un-American unlike Manhattan, evokes nostaglia for a short time ago that seems light years away. 

The bamboo reminds me of The High Line, the Chelsea park built up from railway ruins. It was new to the city like me. 

That time seems like a dream. Seems like a miracle and a burden all at once. 

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I forget it happened until I have a bad bagel or watch a girl struggle up California in stilettos and rememeber the women, the impeccable women in their heels and blow outs and flawless skirts. 

The weather was bad and I gained weight in New York, sitting silent and solitary in my high rise studio overlooking the fabulous and iconic skyline of storylines that define entire existences. I had only a taste, just a small, trial-sized cone of New York.

Anyway, I'm often reminded.