Sunday, May 24, 2009

Noting The Day*

*This was originally titled "You Are The Resurrection", in reference to another blogger's post title, but I realized the title had nothing to do with anything.

Ah was quite notable for me, although I'm not sure I can pinpoint why. So here, I began to "journalize". Today at the job, we (some of the employees) were subjected to a particularly malodorousness coming from the basement, where people eat and rest. It appears the water fountain down there began issuing forth this nauseating smell. Over the past few weeks it had been mysteriously clogging up more and more rapidly as people used it; less and less of the water was actually making it down the drain. But today, the drain vomited up flakes of grime and dirt onto the stainless steel basin. Of course, I figured some Draino was in order, but someone else told me about changing the filter, and someone else said something about something else, so I'm not sure how that tidbit was solved.

Tonight, I met some friends for a purposeful dinner on the upper west of Manhattan. A friend was supposed to throw a rooftop party with musicians and comedians and all kinds of theatrics. I'm not a party or a late night person, so I wasn't going. But because I did not (and two others couldn't) pick up the sound guy and his equipment for the party, my friend cancelled it altogether. He felt sullen about this, so we had a dinner get together to pick him back up. But the part that interested me was the trip there. My mother took the car to Conneticut, so I took the train to the East Side of Manh. and walked.

Now, talking to friends from church, virtually all of whom have moved here from some rural area or a farm or small town, made me feel ashamed. They've come with an objective view of the city, and so, took some time to study and know a lot of the areas and parts. Which places of Queens or Manhattan are cheap/expensive to live in. Where goods Japanese or Indian or BBQ restaurants in Brooklyn are. All kinds of stuff. I, master book/video game/movie/hermit guy, never cared about any of this until recently. My old friends would always talk about going to dance at this club, or hop around these 20 bars at forsaken hours of the night, and I hated both of those activities1, see notes below.
In my defense: it's good to explore and get to know things geographically, but telling someone to explore certain parts of New York City is like telling someone to explore Compton2. Unless you have a purpose for being there, it would be much more sensible to just be aware of the place. Example:

I'm on the east side of Manhattan and the restaurant was on the west, on 109th street. I had plenty of time to kill after work before meeting them, so I figured I'd just take the train down to 109th and walk across. Getting off the stop, I came up out of the station......where the Projects3 sat and greeted me with a nice, bright figuratively mocking smile. Groups of guys in red4 playing basketball. Others selling copies of bootleg DVDs and incense on the street. The typical resident sitting outside their apt. window with a cigarette and Bacchata5 or Hip-Hop blaring out. Another group of people playing dice on the handball court wall. East Harlem. I went up to 109th and began walking.

One avenue had bodegas, liquor stores and check-cashing places abound, of course. At some point, I came across a church building that looked like nothing more than a generous backyard doghouse, replete with boney, skeletal folk wearing haggard faces, sitting on the stoop and watching the world spin. However, the total of 2 avenues being crossed, I was immediately hit with towering, crisp, clean buildings behind a street semi-full of running clean-air, hybrid buses and a bustling park6. I've always been aware of this geographical lopside, but it never ceases to amaze.

So, I get to the restaurant an hour early. Luckily, it had a bar where I could sit and kill both time and my liver7. I began talking to some Yankees fan who was throwing back his own glasses of Bud and we began talking about Pacquiao, a recently famous boxer from the Phillipines who is "considered God in his country". We talked about the YMCA (where he works) and about how they've begun taking kids to the library to read books and only go on one trip every two weeks, due to the hail of lawsuits from parents8 whose kids have been hurt on various past trips to places that have actually heard of the word "fun". Hmph.

I shook his hand and left to join my own party. Friends arrived. Food was had. Cheering up was done. I went home and hit the Moleskine to jot notes. Quite the day.

1) It might also have something to do with the fact that I hate people. Yes, I said "hate". What? You wanna fight?
2) A suburb in Southern California, notoriously plagued with gang warfare and drugs.
3) Housing Project–(noun): a publicly built and operated housing development, usually intended for low- or moderate-income tenants, senior citizens, etc. These usually also have the items listed in 2).
4) I suspect these were the Bloods, but I could be stereotyping.
5) A genre of Hispanic music.
6) gen⋅tri⋅fi⋅ca⋅tion [jen-truh-fi-key-shuhn]–noun: the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper- or middle-income families or individuals, thus improving property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses.
7) Kill two birds with of rum? Efficient.
8) Read: lawsuits from dirtbrained knuckleheads. You don't want your children to get hurt from life? Tie them to a chair next to the water heater and only feed them every 6 hours. Actually, don't feed them.


  1. Ah, a great vignette (although that word seems too constrained, too small to describe writing as large-as-life as this). Loved the humour and bite; the immediacy and vividness. I could read writing this good indefinitely.

  2. I went outlet shopping today.

    Therefore, I despise people, too. About an hour in, I was on a barstool at Ruby Tuesday's with a cold beer in front of me.

  3. This Brazen TeacherMay 27, 2009 at 1:23 AM

    I could be way off base... but I would like to contend that you might love people and mistake it for hate.

    Often I find I get most angry with the parts of the world I love and therefore become more 'letdown by.'

    Plus your writing indicates you observe people far too well to hate them.

    Just a thought ;)

  4. Don't Feed The PixiesMay 28, 2009 at 3:56 AM

    I know how you feel about people sometimes - but i would clarify it in my case to say that i have to be in the right mood to cope with other people.

    People as individuals aren't actually so bad - its just en masse as The Public that they become a problem!

    Love the sparse style you're developing on these posts. Almost reminiscent of Hemmingway: except that i want to read it!

  5. I liked the footnotes on the journalizing. Makes it much more interesting and reveals your character.

    I also find it FASCINATING how big cities have this weird magical line that all of a sudden transforms neighborhoods.

    And, yes, Pacquiao (did I spell it wrong?) is so revered by us filipinos. In what other sport can we short filipinos excel? (considering our national pastime is basketball) ...


What's your beef, sports fan?