Okay, okay, I’m sure you already took me off Google Reader and are wondering if I’ve finally killed myself after all my depressing posts. Nope, still here, still ticking. In fact, I just ate a Chipotle burrito and an ice cream sandwich, and I’m sitting on the couch indian-style with trusty steed, Macbook Pro, the one on whom I occasionally spill water and the cursor doesn’t work for weeks at a time, which also randomly closes application windows while still in use. It’s like an autistic child whom I love, but doesn’t always listen to me.
So, I’m reading this book (obligatorily) that my brother mailed to me, as he did the rest of my family members, to discuss over family vacation (which is an entire, whole other can of worms seeing as I’ll be thirty in September and still going on family vacations replete with book club). Anyway, the book is called Americanah. It’s boring as hell and I’m only on Chapter II, which has been like a non-prescriptive form of Ambien, but, there was an important message in the first chapter that kept me going. The main character talks about how she wrote a blog. It’s a blog about African American lifestyle and stereotyping, so not exactly like mine, but nonetheless, she wrote a blog. But she talks about how she stopped writing. In the book, she writes, “Readers … made Ifemelu [yes, that is her name] nervous, eager to be fresh and to impress, so that she began, over time, to feel like a vulture hacking into the carcasses or people’s stories for something she could use. … The more she wrote, the less sure she became. Each post scraped off yet one more scale of self until she felt naked and false.”
And I related to that. By the end there, I felt like a story combine, just harvesting words to fill a page, no longer personal to me, or anyone else for that matter, but just for cosmetic value. Trying to siphon trickles of water to save something from which I’d grown estranged still flowing, although the well had long run dry. I was sloughing off the scales of my own identity. And then I was naked.
And that’s not who I am. That never was who I am. I started this blog as a journal, to write stories I thought were funny, which sometimes became sad, or perhaps pointless, but meant something. And over time that turned into an opportunity to relate to people over things we all experience: being poor, black-out intoxication, depression, cockroach-infested New York apartments, eating Chipotle because we don’t get paid until Friday, break-ups, and sometimes, death.
And more importantly, I’d lost my zest for contemplating what we’re all doing in life. Because life is like the ocean, always waxing and waning, and just when you think you’re at your peak, the tide rolls in like a hooded marauder to strip you of everything you have until you’re lower than you’d ever thought possible.
Took a little comment from Prince George today to remind me that this blog is a good thing. And I shouldn’t forget.
I was cleaning my apartment the other day and as I washed some glasses in the sink, I eyed these small colored tea cups I have sitting on the wooden ledge. There are three of them. Scarlet. Orange. And pink. I’d broken the blue one in the move from my last apartment and the other colors didn’t match, so these were the three I’d selected for presentation. I’d sort of placed the teacups there haphazardly when I first moved in, so the space wouldn’t be bare, but I’d forgotten about them. As I finished washing the glass, I placed it on the counter top, and decidedly, I picked up the red teacup from the wooden ledge, and with suds dotting my hands like small piles of snow, I placed the teacup under the stream of running water. I watched as the dust vanished revealing the shiny crimson red enamel that lie underneath. I’d forgotten how beautiful they were simply because I never felt the need to look. They were always just, well, there.
And I realized, in some ways, that is so much what life is about.
We take care of what we can and what needs the most attention at the most imperative times. Maybe it’s a job. Maybe it’s losing weight. Maybe it’s a sick relative. We follow what feels right with no true compass to actually instruct us on where/how to best allocate our time, but we follow our instincts to extinguish fires, and we hope that it’s what will make the most positive impact to our quality of life. But in the process, sometimes we forget other areas of our lives- perhaps not the ones most yearning for our attention, but the ones that feel the most comfortable- that don’t tug at our hand for our attention, but simply wait for us to notice them, dormant, in hopes that we’ll take them by the handle and wash them off, just like the dusty teacups on my shelf.
Teacups can take many forms: A husband. A job. One’s body or mind. Friends. For me, it’s my writing. And maybe that’s the lesson I’ve been missing. Perhaps life isn’t about extinguishing fires- they’ll always be burning, and as we get older, they’ll simply spread. But rather, maybe life is about paying attention to the parts of you that stand there quietly all along, watching as you come and go doing other things, hoping that one day you’ll remember their worth before they disappear under a film of negligence or ambivalence, a pearl lost in the sands of the waxing-and-waning ocean we call life.
So as things oftentimes do on a random Monday in the sultry month of July in a year of our lives with no certain direction (not unlike any other), maybe we start here. Maybe it’s a reason to stop looking for the next reason to chase the future, but simply to open our eyes and to look around, to see what exists when we, for once, forget about all of the fires and look at the raw bark of life. It’s oftentimes then we discover life’s true beauty before it inevitably burns away.
While Brazil may have lost the World Cup, they’ve still won, genetically speaking.
Things I don’t understand: this outfit.
Is this trying to emulate a prison uniform or has this person just made a concerted effort to achieve the color of Tang, the 90s fruit drink? She looks like the Lorax.
Secondly, I didn’t even know ribbed mock-necks came in that color.. Of a bike reflector. That had to be a special order. It’s like she matched herself to a box of “Wheaties”, brought in a traffic cone and was like, “This. This color.”
Third, I love after putting on the shirt and the pants her thought process was, “you know what this outfit needs? Orange shoes.” And went there. She must have walked into Nike with a Pantone stick.
Well, you know what? Go for it. At least it gets you noticed. Hard to do in a city like New York.
I love signs like this in basically every city that ever existed. It’s like the universal “scam” sign. What is it even for, cash for gold? Auto insurance? It doesn’t matter what they’re for because they all look the same: made in someone’s basement with the same low-rent, barely-legal 18 year-old model. This one happens to be in Texas. I can’t tell if she’s doing to “hang loose” sign with her hands or if that’s supposed to be a telephone because the poster isn’t high-resolution enough to make out the details.
I love this sign because evidently their market is people with no credit, no traceable bank account, or registered state identification.
They should just change those headings to “Illegal alien?” Or “convicted felon?” Or an all-encompassing “Running from the law?”
But that part will be in the small print at the bottom.
So, like every other Orange is the New Black fanatic, I’m uncontrollably binge watching Season 2, may my life resume again at its culmination.
I just got to episode 6 this evening, the one about Valentine’s Day (in prison, which surprisingly mirrors my own life), in which they ask a bunch of the ‘inmates’ the question, “What is love?”
I just loved this response. (Thank you, Crazy Eyes). Because I kind of think this is what love is, too. Or at least what I would like for it to be.
Maybe love is not soul-engulfing flames of passion. And maybe it’s not a waterfall of body-drenching lust. Or a balloon-release, body-freeing euphoria. But maybe it manifests itself in acceptance- an ability to look at the parts of you that you try to hide from the rest of the world, like a damaged vase or a broken lamp that you turn on the mantle just so, so no one can see the banged-up parts- before realizing that there is someone in the world who accepts you for those, even when it seems that no one else would, and if anything, loves you more because of it. Thinks of it as ‘character’. It’s a rare find, and if you have it, never let it go.
Because it’s easy to love perfection.
It’s imperfection that requires sophistication in the heart. Vulnerability that yearns for elevated taste. Insecurity who seeks intelligent emotional design. Someone who can find tenderness and honesty in those inescapably honest places without casting it off as weakness. No one should give his / her heart away to someone with no taste.
And that’s what I think love is. I don’t think most people are hard-wired for it. Most are philistines when it comes to the art of appreciating the value of another human being, unselfishly and without judgment, unable to think beyond the cost sheet of expenses versus reward in terms of a person’s value- maybe because they’re too lost up in trying to add up their own worth.
But someone exists in the world to make you suddenly appreciate in a way you never could before, you, and when you find that, you’ve found love. It exists.
So, if you haven’t found it, keep searching- it may be a long and unfulfilling journey, but it’s an enlightening one, and usually, in the end, rewarded.
There are a couple of baguettes on the floor of the Christopher Street 1-stop this morning if anyone is interested. I don’t see any jam anywhere, but they otherwise look in tact and ready to eat. I didn’t notice any bite marks or loitering pigeons or anything.
You better hurry before this guy gets em.