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28 September 2016 @ 10:30 pm
This morning, the fog swallowed up the sunrise. And though the sky was pearlescent by the time I showed up for work, I nonetheless felt robbed. On the way back, I boarded the train too late to catch the sunset. Wind attended my walk back and on Chapel Street by the Green, cops rousted folks whose back story I could not hear or discern. They looked as though they had fallen on hard times. Everyone wears hoodies or jackets now and the tips of their cigarettes glow amber against the dark. There was a specific smell that reminds me of the accident and I've all but forgotten it now, even though the apartment had been thick with it when I had finally returned on Sunday. Were I to sniff the soles of a particular pair of shoes, however, that smell would return in all its carnage. That pair, it's safe to say, is ruined. The train rides are less taxing, though that may owe to earlier bed times on my part, whose terms see me no longer blazing through Ken's book (having recently finished it), but now matociquala's collection Shoggoths in Bloom. So now I end every night lost in a story, coming up before sleep with just enough air to ask "how on earth did she do that so beautifully?"
27 September 2016 @ 07:02 pm
Between the World and Me - A ReviewCollapse )
Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: cars driving by
25 September 2016 @ 02:57 pm
The Nevermind baby is 25 years old.
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Current Location: Home
Current Music: I See Stars - Running With Scissors
25 September 2016 @ 02:09 pm
Last night felt like the first really cool night of the year. Probably somewhere in the 50s. Felt like bliss.

Related to Bar admission, I received documents from an organization I used to work for, and the signatory's address is listed as "Ramallah, occupied Palestine" and I've been thinking a lot about the place and someone stateside with whom I'd corresponded at the time. I remember, I was working on the stories for "Varieties of Religious Experience," that collection that has now seen or will see, I believe, three of its stories in "print." "Place of Worship" was the first. Then "Still Life," though that very much seems an outlier. And most recently "The Plight of Engineers," which itself was a combination of two stories originally envisioned for the collection. "Corinthians" struggles to find a home, but the entirety of the collection was written out of love and enjoyment of the craft, and because I'd needed desperately to confront my fear of short stories. At the time that I wrote the stories, I wrote letters as well, and I was reading them over last night, prompted by I-don't-know-what.

There's an urgent care place off the Berlin Turnpike, right across from Bertucci's, and even if you had never driven in that neighborhood before, I could tell I was near home because everyone was all smiles, especially strangers. Afterwards, leaving the Dunkin Donuts situated in what passes for our downtown, a big bearded guy leaning up against his car a couple spaces from mine shouted out about the weather, a salutation as preamble, and I shouted back, and we chuckled, then an older lady, presumably his grandmother, left the nearby TDBank and joined him.

I came home to run some errands but also because, inspired by Habibeti, I've resumed my studies of Arabic. Mentally, a few things have calcified, and I'm not nearly as spry as I used to be. (It takes only a few glances at college essays to see how much nimbleness I've lost since.) And while an electronic keyboard sits in my room in New Haven, I cannot find the wall plug for it, so for now it collects dust. I do however still have my al-Kitaab books, though they were purchased back in 2005. I also have my Serbo-Croatian packet, but I don't want hubris to force me into the same mistake I made last time, studying both languages simultaneously while also cleaning the rust off my French in preparation for a semester abroad. Back when, in Arabic class, if I didn't know a word for something, my mind would leap to its French analog, and if I didn't know a word in Serbo-Croatian class, my mind would automatically jump to Arabic, and if the ground was fallow there, then to French.

The leaves are at the very beginning of their transformation. They've darkened. A few trees I passed had patches of red on their foliage, but the true blooming is yet to commence.

The temperature dips, the leaves darken, and fall is here.

I love this place.
Current Location: Home
Current Music: wind
24 September 2016 @ 11:07 pm
The collection plate makes its way around, across each row, snaking its way to the back, down the bridge, then reverses its course to land back in the hands of the Treasurer and every Saturday since I've been back, somebody has folded up a dollar bill into the tiniest origami I ever saw, and frustrated, dt-ridden fingers fumble to take the thing apart. It's never not funny.

Today especially it feels like I've resumed things. Whether the stopping point was when I started law school and moved back to New York full-time or at some point, thereafter, (starting or ending certain jobs, starting or ending certain relationships) the project I'd embarked upon in February 2011 has come back to me in earnest. The meeting ends, chairs get stacked, and then folks flock to the fence across from the Chapel and each Saturday has me staying longer to fellowship with people I haven't seen in half a decade, people who still remember my name. I'd spoken hopefully in the past of simplifying my life, not quite knowing what that meant or what it would look like. But I woke up this morning after three days of waking up at 5.30am to get to New York and two days of waking up at 4.30am to get to New York and realized that it had eradicated any lingering impulses I may have guarded towards entering the city on the weekends. Formerly, I'd figured I would enter and leave the city at my leisure on those days, attend certain events, see friends for coffee or dinner or what-have-you's. But I spent the afternoon playing Journey and Flower, the two most Buddhist games ever and even though I'd salted the repast with rather imbrued episodes of Hannibal, wordless felicity was the order of the day. Those two games, played in concert, resulted in metanoia. The evening, spent among kindred souls, my familiars, many of them strangers linked by the umbilical cord of desperation and thus more intimate partners than I'll ever find, culminated in the same.

There's a bit of mystery to it. For some reason, my thoughts speed to July in 2013. In Palestine. On our balcony, occasionally, my flatmate and I will step out to find baby clothes. A pair of black shorts with red stripes down the side, splayed and wrinkled amidst the dust. A white sock. A girl’s blue blouse.

They vanish with identical suddenness. One day, they’re there. A few days later, they’re gone, sometimes replaced by new articles. Where they come from is less a mystery than where they go to.

New York and Rikers and the Sisphyean work of keeping people I recognize out of jail will have me for the workweek. But for the rest, I am home.

The train rides have allowed me time and space to really dig into Ken's book, and I suspect others will be similarly devoured.

My current professional life is predicated on a November exam, the results of which will come forth in December. Should I find my time opening up around that period, I don't think I would mind too much. Sure, I've much more of a material cushion against the possibility of impending job loss, but, more importantly, I can hear in the background the noise of construction. Often, I’ll think of this cathedral I’m rebuilding, and I know I’ll never see its end. I would, in the past, spend time daydreaming about what it might look like one day, but the cool thing about this project is that from time to time others come along and I’ll turn around and see a friend or acquaintance working on some drywall or putting in light fixtures.

Where I am is where I first met D and where I'd first learned that the blue collar is more beautiful to me than the white collar, that it was, in many ways, where I had come from. During those years, it had become a place I had to fight my way back to. It made The Sparrow. It's poetry that so many of the people work in contracting, that they're builders or plumbers or work in gardens or fix roofs. I remember them and they remember me and with each thread to New York that gets severed, it becomes easier to hear them, to note their passing. Occasionally, while I’m picking through rubble for anything that can be salvaged, stooped, covered in dust and ash, I’ll pause, thinking I’ve just heard a snatch of birdsong and I imagine turning over my shoulder and seeing one of them. Putting in a new window. Whistling a tune I recognize.
Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: FKA twigs - Papi Pacify
20 September 2016 @ 08:40 pm
The sunset over New Haven around 7pm or so, my goodness! By the time I'd passed the halfway house on the way home, it had passed.
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Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: ceiling fan
19 September 2016 @ 11:31 pm
Earlier this evening, I had on one of my tabs a website for a bed and breakfast near the site of a wedding I've been very much looking forward to attending. It'd long been a dream of mine to do that thing, retire for a night or two, a weekend maybe in serene New England, and I'd wondered at bringing Her, so this seems rather serendipitously placed. When I told Mom about the upcoming nuptials and their location, we laughed at how much of our family history (immediate and extended) could be traced back to that span of Massachusetts. Thoughts of that place, even absent its associations with a joyful childhood laden with contentment, bring to mind peace and simplicity and the precise opposite of New York's pulverizing anonymity. My picture of myself in that span of Massachusetts, that slice of New England, is that of the individual comfortable in his rainboots, hardy, eager to be outside and pass the time, surrounded by kinder earth than he has known since he was a kid playing in the backyard of his home in New Britain, smashing stones open to reveal their iridescent insides. It was during this same conversation that I showed Mom a picture of a woman next to whom I'd sat at my cousin's fashion show, and not only had the woman known me when I was little, her and her sister had served as flower girls at my mother's wedding. I am perhaps being overly sentimental in making Tolstoy's Levin from Anna Karenina a consonant part of this vision. Of flowers and little girls and kind earth.

“He thought of nothing, desired nothing, except not to lag behind and to do the best job he could. He heard only the clang of scythes and ahead of him saw Titus’s erect figure moving on, the curved semicircle of the mowed space, grass and flower-heads bending down slowly and wavily about the blade of his scythe, and ahead of him the end of the swath, where rest would come.”

No matter how many wondrous and kaleidoscopically healthy displays of love I witness, I'm always returned to the notion that it is, in a certain line of my experience, an amalgamation of flat and short-sighted ideas of personal happiness. "The greatest lie about love ever told," writes Zadie Smith, "is that it sets you free." And yet one persists.

Back in 2010, Habibeti and I dialogued, as we were wont to do, about the intersection of the cosmic and the terrestrial. Conventional wisdom had us flesh and blood beings at the mercy of the Gods of Olympus or karma or the Abrahamic Heavenly Father, and, to have some fun, I wondered if perhaps it were not the other way around, "What if we who are composed of flesh and blood and bone are the true masters of the universe, not the other way around? What if it is our anger and indiscriminate malice that killed the dinosaurs in a shower of meteors? What if our playful stomping about separated tectonic plates and what if our hands joined together, fingers intertwined, erased entire oceans and bridged continents?" Ending of course with the image of us birthing the universe every time we opened our eyes and whispering galaxies out of existence every time we fell back asleep. Discussion spun out to prophecies and how we no longer read them in the stars but in our genetic coding. Oedipus Rex becomes "hurt people hurt people." A more recent conversation with another beloved turned a deeper look to the notion of genetics as prophecy, and there was banter and self-deprecation, but love hummed underneath it, in so many varieties.

Moments like what occurred during those conversations and what I expect to witness in October feel very much like that bit in First Corinthians Chapter 13, verse 12: "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

There is stress and fighting and learning, sure. But there is also knowing, or at least the promise of it. Perhaps we were just victims of poor timing, or, more unforgivingly, two temperaments ill-suited for that sort of endeavor.

It often feels during those fights like the earth is cracking beneath us, that the sky is being rent asunder, that we are extinguishing the dinosaurs, and the immediate aftermath carries the finality of apocalypse. This one felt different, not because of its severity and the way it smelled of the End Times, but because it started with an attempt at helping, at bridging a gap in understanding, proffering, however innocently and without malicious intent, an explanation for certain mysteries. But moons in their orbits meet wandering asteroids by chance, and suddenly, the cretaceous period has ended. She will think I didn't care or that I'm profiting from this or that this cataclysm was the result I'd quested for all this time, perhaps reading the word 'cataclysm' in dark recognition. Thinking, suddenly, of prophecies. She will think I wanted this. It will not be my job to disabuse her of that lie.

What she was looking for here, she can now quest for elsewhere, and my hope is that the thought of it (and its eventual finding) fills her with the same ease, pleasure, and peace that I get whenever I think of flowers, and family, and New England.
Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: Snakehips, Tory Lanez - Dímelo
18 September 2016 @ 05:46 pm
-- Radical Flâneuserie - Lauren Elkin, The Paris Review Daily, Aug. 25, 2016

“Many critics over the years have argued that shopping was at odds with the idle strolling of the flâneur: he walked the arcades, the glass-roofed shopping streets that were the precursor to the department store, but he did not shop. Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, writing on the flâneur in her book Paris as Revolution, argues that women could not flâner because women who were shopping in the grands magasins were caught in an economy of spectacle, being tricked into buying things, and having their desires stimulated. By contrast the flâneur’s very raison d’être was having no reason whatsoever.”

-- Raised By Women To Conquer Men: The journey of Jimmy Connors - Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated, Aug. 28, 1978

“Conqueror was what he was, too, because Connors did not merely win. He assaulted the opposition, laid waste to it, often mocked it, as well, simply by the force of his presence. The other players feared to go against him, because the most awesome legend that can surround any athlete sprang up about Connors: the better any mortal played against him, the better Connors became. So, he became invincible upon the court, because no man could beat him, and he was inviolate off the court, because his mother had told him so.”

-- Yuja Wang and the Art of Performance - Janet Malcolm, The New Yorker, Sept. 5, 2016

“What is one to think of the clothes the twenty-nine-year-old pianist Yuja Wang wears when she performs—extremely short and tight dresses that ride up as she plays, so that she has to tug at them when she has a free hand, or clinging backless gowns that give an impression of near-nakedness (accompanied in all cases by four-inch-high stiletto heels)? In 2011, Mark Swed, the music critic of the L.A. Times, referring to the short and tight orange dress Yuja wore when she played Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto at the Hollywood Bowl, wrote that “had there been any less of it, the Bowl might have been forced to restrict admission to any music lover under 18 not accompanied by an adult.” Two years later, the New Criterion critic Jay Nordlinger characterized the “shorter-than-short red dress, barely covering her rear,” that Yuja wore for a Carnegie Hall recital as “stripper-wear.” Never has the relationship between what we see at a concert and what we hear come under such perplexing scrutiny. Is the seeing part a distraction (Glenn Gould thought it was) or is it—can it be—a heightening of the musical experience?”
Current Location: home
Current Music: standing fan
18 September 2016 @ 04:45 pm
Learning how to shrink myself to accommodate the persistent presence of Another after quite some time contentedly swinging my arms wide while I danced. Perhaps it's petulance that stifles the urge to dance altogether.

I don't know how women do it all the time.
Current Music: muffled TV broadcast
18 September 2016 @ 12:53 am
Tallied it up, and it turns out I wrote 21 pages of essay today. (technically yesterday)

I think this is what the kids call a mixed state.