Mon May 3 22:32:05 EDT 2004
Eating Moosewood carrot cake with freshly-whipped cream (damn you,
Wayne! now I can't even look at that cake without feeling compelled to
add yet another layer of fat to it), drinking tea, and cradling a
small new hardcover, the windows open and admitting a welcome
October-worthy breeze, I start to think there ain't so much bad to
Not that I waste away in this urban cage or anything. Just that, as
soon as I leave town and set foot in the East Village -- hell, as soon
as I approach the Chinatown bus -- people seem to enjoy my haircut more (at least, more vocally);
dress more eclectically; eat more eclectically; in short, they tend to
be anything but the cookie-cutter mold populating K Street. It is, of
course, partially my fault for working on said street, and partially
my fault for coming to the seat of the federal government if I wanted
nothing to do with its wanks (politics, yes; wonks, no (and yes, I can
use both 'wank' and 'wonk' to describe the same kind of blonde,
suited, heeled, vanilla, chino'd, j. crew'd horror that something like
the Sneech machine must chonk out. I bet even 'wunk' would work (but
perhaps not 'wenk', and I'm reserving 'wink' for sly orchestra
It doesn't have to be New York, I don't think. Fanjul's tiny Avenue B
apartment, the 10th & 1st Tarallucci e Vino and its
two-bite-sized flourless chocolate cakes (at which we devoured half of
that long-awaited French confiture), brunch places in Brooklyn,
and small Japanese udon places (a few blocks outside of which a gaggle
of alumns can run into -- and schmooze with -- Al Bloom and his wife;
ha) are but a fantastic and momentary point of confluence; it could be
Philly again, or Seattle, to which Chuck is trying to re-entice me ("I need minions! I brew
beer!"). And things about his Chris's neighborhood kept reäffirming
that, if my town-of-the-moment was too troglodytic to serve
walnut-lentil pâté, what the fuck was I doing living there?!
Two years total ain't a bad estimate. At some point, quality of life,
of surroundings, is going to take precedence. And the more alumns I
meet, the more hookups I seem to accumulate in California ...
Reading this precious little hardback I just picked up (but have been
coveting since it came out in the U.K.) -- Eats,
Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to
Punctuation -- I suddenly recall the solicitation I received
from one of the many colleges who suddenly swam into view, and into my
mailbox, junior or senior year of high school. Before I started
weeding them out based on how they spelled my last name, the triage
commenced with me taking a red pen to one egregiously poorly
punctuated letter and mailing it back to them in their self-addressed,
postage-paid envelope. What a little snark I was (and still am, or so
I like to think).
There's a cake dome on my table, and I love that it's still in the
single digits Centigrade. I can stay here for a bit longer.
Thu May 6 10:33:53 EDT 2004
At work, writing angry emails that will never get sent, and listening
to loud music on my new favorite radio station (KEXP in
Seattle), Basement Jaxx's "Where's Your Head At" comes on. And I
suddenly want to go running. Fast. This is the music I put on every
afternoon after work at the LDC, two summers ago in the sweltering
heat of Philadelphia, living with Jenny & Eve in a
non-air-conditioned apartment and drinking hot tea and munching
pop-ices. Every day, two or three miles down Chestnut and
back. Terrible on the lungs, running next to traffic. But great for
the endorphins. I would come home, occasionally decide not to run,
and sit on the couch, brain boiling until I put on my spandex anyhow
and cranked up the music while I downed a liter of water before
heading out. Not an option not to run.
Good fucking thing I'm running another marathon. Excuses to run.
Excuses to do everything -- shave my head; go to New York; run.
Sun May 9 24:26:22 EDT 2004
Woken up and twice-breakfasted, I put the end of Eats, Shoots &
Leaves and a New Yorker in my bag, draped my red lapa over the
side, and went out Sunday-promenading with Jaime down P to Dupont.
Ice cream (! almost never these days; it's one of the most prominent
manifestations of the little vegan within me rearing its
growingly-vociferous head; and not since Girish took me there in the
fall) and several Budapest tourbooks later, I realized it was missing.
First stage of grief: denial. I searched Kramerbooks and called Logan
Hardware, where J'd picked up a gallon of green living-room paint; I
morosely padded barefoot one revolution around Dupont, eyes out for
snatches of red, convinced the wearers of rouge T-shirts had picked up
my sarong and suddenly refashioned it into a garment. No one had.
Second stage: anger. I lashed out at the shady spot we were sitting
in: too dappled. Made us move. Moaned a bit.
Next, bargaining. Short-lived. I may have sworn to treasure my
possessions more, but when you don't have a God with whom to argue,
it's a pretty one-sided negotiation.
Then, depression. I'd gotten that in the Swarthmore bookstore! They
so seldom have duplicates, and they're only out in any quantity during
the beginning of classes each semester, when African starts up and the
women need something to wrap around their hips they're just learning
to shake. This one -- bright red -- fit me so well. Doubled as a
summer bathrobe; tied around the neck, what I used for the modelling
I'd done for the life-drawing class last year; walking around the
house mornings, over the paper, at breakfast. Ruined my whole day.
Acceptance. Life goes on. Bought myself darjeeling first flush and
dangly earrings in consolation.
And then, walking back home down Connecticut towards the circle, what
should I see -- folded and neatly draped over a parking meter -- but
my bright red lapa, carefully put there by some passerby whose karma
just went up by several orders of magnitude. Don't it always seem
to go / you don't know what you've got till it's gone? Thanks,
passerby; you just restored my faith in humanity.
Tue May 18 15:40:21 EDT 2004
My head and heart are full of all things Swarthmore. It's amazing
that the place doesn't disappear into the mists once you've graduated;
I kind of can't fathom that they've broken ground and half erected a
new dorm already -- for whom? What possible future students can they
be expecting? Didn't their tenure as an academic institution expire
with the class of 2003?
And yet, sitting on the beach and quaffing Yuengling, eating
strawberries from the 320 Market, with Claire and a graduating Gabe;
or in the stacks of Underhill, leafing through decaying folios of
music in the quartet section (whose call number I still remember) with
Oliver, ostensibly looking for gig fodder, yet jumping at an idea to
just throw the Debussy opus 10 in there for fun, I'm glad it still
exists. His cell phone rings and I continue the tone, recognizing
Night on Bald Mountain from the first nachschlag; I sign my
name on a card upstairs and bring the CD down, blasting Mussorgsky and
educating my former and future cellist about his ringtone. Wandering
around the wooden atrium like I have for so many years. Couldn't
quite bring myself to go into the concert hall, on which I first
played Bach a year and some before my actual matriculation, on the
college tour that Anna, Ben, Alex, and Dan took. Contented myself
with calling Daniel from the beach, making him promise to have a drink
with me next time he's down in DC.
I love this tango stuff. I'm just going to have to eventually play
Schoenberg's Fourth String Quartet, and all of Bartók's, that's all.
In Northern Liberties, as many alumns as there were current students
back on campus -- Paul in town on hiatus from Egypt; Roban down from
New York for the occasion; some I'd never even met for a while. I
went to bed early, but woke up in a house full of maybe twelve of us,
who trooped off to brunch, and then splintered into two groups
(somehow all-you-can-eat Indian wasn't what a slightly hung-over crowd
was looking for), my faction wandering a back to the beer-with-brunch
Standard Tap. Singing before we went in, a four-part round from
college. Jenny looking picturesque as she is wont -- does she
just attract good light? Some of my best people pictures from school
are of her: drinking espresso sophomore year on the Worth/Lodges
courtyard; throwing her head back laughing at the beautiful day
against Parrish; again senior year.