Destiny

•May 13, 2010 • 6 Comments

When I was very young, while other girls were doing things like playing house, I was lighting little fires in pie pans in my grandma’s backyard pretending to be a vagabond.

On the drive back from New York, we slept in the back of the moving van on a nest of furniture blankets and down comforters, all of our worldly possessions towering in unstable piles around us.  In that limbo of the road, I felt more at peace than I had in months, and, already accustomed to sleeping in the windowless box of the city, waking up in the windowless box of the truck with the sound of the highway, foreign birds, and the early mist of the south coming in through the cracks was natural and comforting.

Now, I’m picking up the pieces of a life without much connection.  I’ll be house sitting for a friend over the summer, and haven’t made any plans for what comes later.  My things are already stored away where I can’t get at them much.  I’m looking at five moves in nine months and four new jobs.  I’m getting used to the transient lifestyle and coming to love it.

I’ve been up in Pagosa Springs for almost a week now, in a cabin that is also not mine, with my notebook and guitar.  Every morning I wake up, make coffee, write, make something to eat, and the day continues on that way with little regard for time.  I know that the next day will have the same elements, slightly rearranged, and although I have to go “home” at some point, not a word has been said about it.  I’m not bored.  I’m not anxious.  It’s a different kind of limbo.  It’s finite, but immediate peace.

I haven’t lived anywhere for more than a year and a half since I moved out of my parents’ house after graduation, and when I think about committing to another short term apartment, going through the process of finding new furniture, new mundane household necessities, a tiredness comes over me.  I just…don’t want to do it again.

Sleeping in the moving van, I realized that I never wanted to own another vehicle that I couldn’t sleep in.  Today, browsing craigslist and expanding on that thought, I realized my destiny:

Obviously...this is the only option.

Yes…I want to live in a van.  The more I think about it…the more I want to live in a van.  One that runs properly that I can take wherever I want.  I can work for a while, then when it gets cold, I can drive it to somewhere warmer.  I can live on the beach in Mexico in my van.  I can live wherever the hell I want in my van.  I can wake up, make coffee, and write in my van because it’s what I would be doing anyway.

Is this like the third grader having the life-changing epiphany of “I’m going to be an astronaut”?  Probably.  Except that my dream only costs a few thousand dollars.  I live rent free for a while, and if it doesn’t work out, I still have a super cool camper van and everyone will want to be friends with me so that I can take them around the country in said camper van.

So the only questions left are: will you let me park my van in your yard?  And…can I use your shower?

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I’m a’leavin tomorrow.

•April 25, 2010 • 2 Comments

But I could leave today.

Or I could have left last week.  Or the week before that.

Escaping from New York is proving to be more difficult than getting here was.  So far no mutated Manhattanites have come out of the subways to kill us before we can speed away, but if it happens, I won’t be surprised.

I know, I know.  What the hell am I talking about?  I’m moving back to Albuquerque.  Repress your shock.  It’s something that has been on my mind as a possibility since I got here, when things started spiraling into a place I didn’t want to be, but I didn’t decide officially until two weeks ago.

Sometimes a venture is doomed from the beginning, but you don’t find out about it until the doom catches up with you.

The details aren’t important.

What is important is that I’m a pretty big fatalist, and instead of seeing this as a failure, I’m seeing it for what it is.  For what all things are.  They just are.  They happen as they happen and as they’re meant to happen.  And looking back, this wasn’t going to happen any other way.  So, I’m keeping the regrets at bay.

What is important is that I’ve realized it’s not the city’s fault.  It’s just not the time for me to be here.  Any of you creative types reading this, hit me up in a few years so that we can rent a warehouse loft in Brooklyn and take over the world.

What is important is that when I left Albuquerque, for the first time I felt like I had made a place for myself there, and I was sad to leave.  So, as much as I will miss some of the things here, I’m looking forward to going home.  If for nothing else than the green chile.  That was harder to give up than I thought it would be.  And of course, there are marvelous people that I can’t wait to get back to.

I came out here, in large part, to write, to gain perspective and material.  I have a lot more material than I can process yet, and the perspective hasn’t all been sorted out, but I plan on making good use of those soon.

For those of you that know me well, you know the details anyway.  This is just a heads up for the rest of you and a proper goodbye to New York.  Thank you, New York, for your green growing things and squirrels and rats, your ocean, for leading me to some pretty amazing people that I didn’t get a chance to know well enough, and of course, the opportunity to prove that I could leave home and survive.  After three new jobs in three months, I discovered that I could indeed make rent.  If I could do all of this, I can do anything.  I have about ten years on me, about about ten pounds less, three days on the road, and then we’ll see what I am when I’m home.

Don’t know what will happen to this blog.  It will need a name change.  And it will be harder to come up with ground breaking news to write about in a town where most of my friends live.  But we’ll see.

Feet, Tea, Dark Dark Dark

•April 6, 2010 • 1 Comment

The cover of their new EP. Observe the strange, photo shopped little man in the bottom right. Is he holding a towel?

Took in a show, successfully this time, at Union Pool a few days ago.  Dark Dark Dark, the lovely accordion, clarinet, trumpet, keyboard, double bass ensemble.

The opening band, or I should say opening guy, will remain nameless because I already forgot what he was called.  He had a tiny, whiny voice, thick coke bottle glasses and frizzy hair.  His acoustic guitar was hooked up to an amp and distorted, his vocals had a ton of reverb on them, his playing was messy as all get out, and boring, but gee, was he sincere.  So sincere and so…bad.

After his first song, in his little voice dripping with sincerity, he said “thanks guys…that one was about my feet.  This next one is about…tea.”  A lot of the audience started to giggle.  There was also one about “Alzheimer’s and animals running away.”  I’m sure he’s a very nice boy, but…

Dark Dark Dark, however, was lovely.  Every so often at a life show, there is “a moment” where the entire audience goes silent and is totally emotionally captivated.  Here, it was this quiet song: 

I command you to watch it!

Like live music tends to do, this one has refueled my desire to purchase an accordion.  Oh you heavy, expensive, obscure instrument, you!  As if I will ever be able to purchase anything ever again while living in New York.

Goodbye Organic Grill!

•March 29, 2010 • 3 Comments

Appetizing, ain't it?

My official goodbye to the neon-green-painted nightmare you see before you: the worst job I’ve ever had.

For those of you in Albuquerque, think of The Organic Grill as the twisted, evil doppleganger of Green Light Bistro…and Green Light Bistro was pretty twisted itself.

It was uncanny, really.  It had the tempeh bacon, the soy cheese, the grossly overpriced vegan desserts.  It even had a Prakash and a Yashoda, the quintessential angry immigrant owners, except they were called Vladamir and Olga.  (Could their names sound any more doom filled?)

Vladamir and Olga run their restaurant through a fax machine, except when Vlad makes his daily five minute visit to scream at everyone.  When they’re not around, they watch you in real time on the many surveillance cameras hanging around the business.

They recently got a restaurant computer system, but are afraid it will eat all of their records, so they make their underpaid employees do everything twice.  On paper and then in the computer.  The records are still, always, always, always, wrong, because they have so many glitches in the system that they will never fix.  It’s the most inefficiently run business I’ve ever seen.

In a way, it felt like returning to my old, dysfunctional Annapurna family.  It felt familiar and comfortable in an “I’ve been here before, I know how to handle this” way.  Then I remembered that I didn’t WANT to handle it.  I lasted a week, had a few open spats with the owners, and then got a new job.  (More on that later.)  You thought the turn over at Annapurna was bad?  The longest employee there had only been there for eight months, and she quit at the same time I did.

The thing that hurts my soul about the place is that all of my coworkers, to the extent that I could get to know them in a week, were amazing.  (Phil being one of them, who I may have made a legitimate friendship with.)  And they were being mistreated and screwed over in ways I can’t believe.  But it’s the same New York story, the city is short on jobs but full of horrible business owners and desperate people.

One of my favorite people there, Abel (or Abelito, or “the kid” depending on who you’re talking to,) the delivery boy, isn’t getting paid wage.  Just delivery tips.  Let that sink in before I tell you that he works for ten hours a day delivering food on bike to over privileged Manhattanites that, on average, tip him less than fifteen percent.  Let THAT sink in before I tell you that he does it seven days a week.

Despite the language barrier, Abel is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever worked with.  He’s my age, lives in the Bronx.  I don’t know his story at all, but despite the perpetual black circles under his eyes, he smiles a lot.

This was one of the biggest puzzle pieces in the “Why Manhattan Breaks My Heart” puzzle.  I wanted to call every person that ordered something for delivery and tell them, “hey, Abel is going to deliver your food, he doesn’t get paid wage so take care of him.”  But they probably wouldn’t care because the divide between people like Abel and the people ordering fifteen dollar vegan lunches in Manhattan is so great that they literally cannot interface with it.  One choice, drunk, trust fund baby at an NYU dorm tipped Abel with a lip gloss.  No money.  Handed him a pink lip gloss.  And he, being in the position he is, didn’t even have permission to punch her in the face.

I’m somewhere in the middle I guess, floating in the chasm between the super rich and super poor.  Either way, I definitely don’t belong in this borough, where everyone either seems tired and sad (the majority?) or drunk (on booze…or money…or the thrill of a new city), giggling, stumbling off to their next liquor/food/goods dispensary.

The new job isn’t fantastic, but it’s less soul sucking by far.  I’m making better money there, and I’m slowly warming up to the co-workers, who aren’t as instantly bad ass as the folks at the grill, but aren’t bad either.

Three new jobs in two months?  Can I be done now?

No Niblett…But Brass Playing Astronauts…

•March 14, 2010 • 2 Comments

Really used to be a piano store...

So…my aforementioned journey to see Scout Niblett was a failure…

Went out in the rain after an especially bad day at work, got on the train, got off at the wrong stop, got back on the train, got off at the right stop, found Union Pool, entered the bar, saw the the show was two dollars more than expected, asked what the progress was, the second band was just going on.

The bar wasn’t as much of a hipster* nightmare as I expected.  Everyone seemed fairly normal, in fact.  Does this mean I’m already enmeshed deeply into hipsterdom?  About three minutes into being there, I feel a tap on my shoulder.  I ignored it for a few seconds because that’s what I do instinctively in bars, but it turned out to be one of my fellow Albuquerque migrants and old co-workers who I haven’t seen since my birthday.  And by the way, he’s definitely not a hipster.

It’s comforting AND creepy to know that even in New York you will run into people you know at bars.

Anyway…we shared a smoke outside and talked for a while, then I went back inside to go pay for the show…which was by that time…about fifteen minutes later…sold out.  FAIL.

Oh Niblett…how I pine for thee!

Not all has been lost on the live music front though.  A few nights before, I went to a bar down the street from me in Manhattan called Pianos.  Apparently it really used to be a piano store, just like Union Pool used to be a pool supply store.  This turning of old stores into bars and keeping the names has become somewhat of a hipster trademark out here.  This bar was refreshingly divey compared to most I’ve seen in Manhattan and reminded me a lot of the Launchpad.

Astronauts

The band I came to see is called Brasstronaut, and they’re pretty much exactly what their name implies.  They started out as a jazz combo in college and then went on to become an indy band.  The blur on the far left is a guy rocking out on the clarinet, and the blur in plaid is playing a french horn.  Then of course there is the quintessential indy synthesizer/keyboard guy in the middle, and drums and bass in the back.  They opened up by saying “Hi, we’re Brasstronaut.  We’re from Vancouver.  We’ve been

A girl and her synth. Opening act. Only caught two of her songs but she was actually BAD ASS. Kind of Niblett-y herself.

on tour for three weeks escaping the Olympics, but they’re over now, thank god.”  It was a really solid set. You could tell these guys had been formally trained.  And they were friendly and Canadian, too!

Then…to further practice my hipster ways, I bought one of their LPs.  Good god does brand new vinyl sound nice!

Also on the music front, a super cool co-worker, long time musician, British guy named Phil, who I kind of adore, is interested in me playing bass for his weirdo experimental…dance hall…noise…electronic seeming…band thing.  So far it’s just him and this vocalist who apparently has a really out there, androgynous voice.  Phil’s on synth, this guy is singing, and they want someone for rhythm and possibly backing vocals.  So far it seems like Phil and I have pretty compatible taste, but he keeps telling me, vaguely morosely “it’s kind of weird…you might not like it…”  He’s bringing me a CD tomorrow, and even if I don’t particularly like it, I’m so antsy to get out and play that I’m sure I’ll say yes anyhow!  Besides…ya know…desperate for friends.

More music updates to come…

*I use the word “hipster” a lot in this post.  Let it be known that I don’t think that “hipsters” really exist.  I think that people hate “hipsters” because there are some obnoxious people who are trust fund kids, for example, who can hang out in thrift stores and coffee shops all day.  People who have nothing better to do but try to look cool.  But in truth, this is a pretty small cross-section of the population.  Everyone else who might wear the same hat or like the same band gets lumped in with these degenerates.  It’s a word that has become synonymous with insincerity, but like any cultural subgroup, if you want to say it even is one, it’s made of people who are legitimately passionate and also those who are trying too hard to seem that way.

Trains Are Not Mythical Creatures.

•March 3, 2010 • 3 Comments

Grand Central Station

Imagine my surprise, coming from the southwest, when I walked in to Grand Central Station and discovered that there are trains, in abundance, that can…take you outside New York City!

It’s true.  Trains are not the mythical creatures I once thought they were.

For my maiden U.S. train voyage, I went to visit a good friend at his college for his birthday about an hour and half away.  The ease.  I wish I had taken some pictures of the festivities, but, ya know, typical epic 21st birthday.

Other happenings of late.  I’ve had some good wandering adventures.  I found this igloo for one thing, which I want to be my new home.

My new home.

Snowy parks at night may well be my new favorite thing.  For some reason (and I’ve discussed the same thing in Albuquerque) even though I’m surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people, it’s still possible to find beautiful places that are completely deserted.  Surely, I’m not the only person who has the thought to take a walk in a park at night?  Am I going to get chainsaw murdered?  Am I?

Also in the same evening: hipster-watching in Williamsburg.  I did see many a pair of sparkly leggings and a lot of handlebar mustaches, but goddamn it, Williamsburg has the coolest apartments!  Everything is some graffiti covered, vaguely foreboding, waterfront loft.  Found out about one of the apparent quintessential hipster bars there, Union Pool.  Scout Niblett is playing there in a few weeks, and this little hipsterette is getting her legging-clad ass down there!

Last night I was sent on a scavenger hunt for circles.  I found these:

Columbus Circle. Isn't Columbus...passe or something now?

Some globe thing. It's probably famous.

I encourage all of you to send me on similar hunts.  I need more wandering destinations.

Snow my God!!!

•February 11, 2010 • 3 Comments

Tompkin's Square Park two blocks away.

A winter storm warning went into effect last night and something happened here that I didn’t expect.

Everyone FREAKED OUT.

Bars up and down the block had signs out that said “Snowstorm Special!!!”

The schools closed preemptively last night along with most government offices.  My roommates coworkers along with my friend’s student peers were all saying things like “go buy food!” and “are you prepared to stay inside all day?!”

Was there something we just weren’t getting?

The snow started late last night, and it hasn’t stopped yet.  Its texture has varied from beautiful, fluffy, and mostly harmless, to the wet, sludgy mist falling right now.  The roads are covered.  The gutters are getting slushy.  There’s less traffic.  It’s quieter outside.

I went out to look for jobs in my black faux-fur coat and hat ensemble (The coat: found in a garment bag on top of sidewalk trash, the hat: on a post in Brighton Beach.  Another score!  Lice can’t live for very long away from a human body, so I think the hat is okay.  It smells like old lady perfume.) and was toasty warm.

The finest in faux glamour.

Fuzzy hat! I got Brandon a fuzzy black ushenka. Now we can rock the black fuzzy hats!

However, I discovered that my boots are no longer waterproof.  They’re REALLY no longer water proof.  And freezing feet make the rest of you freezing no matter how much faux-fur goodness you’ve got engulfing you.  So, I came home to remove the soggy socks and report to you all on the sunny spring side of things.

My friend and I were puzzling over this snow-freakout from the locals.  I mean, we ARE in a northeastern city.  Don’t these people…get snow?  We thought:  maybe it’s just…gross! Tonight it’s still fluffy and white for the most part, but the gutters are already taking on that sludgy grey characteristic and by tomorrow we will all be wading through puddles of liquid smog.  Mmmm.  Liquid smog.

Still, no one really needs to drive here, and we haven’t even gotten a foot of snow yet.  Most of the sidewalks are already salted.  I don’t really understand.

Suck it up, east coasters!  If we desert folk can do it, so can you!!!