Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Prestigious Writers are Blow Hards

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

I got yet another rejection letter for the book I'm trying to pimp - that makes 7 or 8 so far (but who's counting?) - which makes me feel like I can't write... but I can yoga!

I may not be the best or most flexible yogi in the world, but I can hold my gas in class - which I recently remembered is very difficult - and is more than I can say for some writers at America's top papers. Sure, they may be able to write in depth award winning exposes, host dinner parties and wow dignified guests with their intellect and wit while showing off their Ivy League diplomas in their glossy, oak decor studies over high priced whiskey. But, can they bend themselves into a virtual pretzel and not blow gas? I don't think so. In fact, I know so. And that's where I've got them beat. When it comes to holding my gas I'm phenomenal. But given the right set of circumstances, say, if I were invited to one of those high brow dinner parties I just might blow hard too.

My return to mastery of my gas began a week ago or so, just after I'd come back to New York from Salt Lake City on my bus ride through Dante's inferno. Marie'd left town for two weeks to cook at a yoga retreat Upstate at her friends place. And after having been jostled and throttled across the land for 56 hours straight, unrelentingly, mercilessly on a caravan full of crazy, the thought of yoga, stretching my body and relaxing my mind sounded okay. One day after my return, on my way to work I walked past a yoga studio a couple blocks from our apartment that was advertising a yoga barbecue for the next day. It sounded like a winning combination and I decided to do something rejuvenating and recuperative for myself.

I needed to love myself again.

The next day I went to the yoga barbecue.

I've done yoga in the past and I really liked the tranquility and almost euphoric sense of calm that I would often experience after a session. What I'd forgotten about were the volcanic like bursts that would sometimes shudder through my intestinal tract forcing me to clench myself tighter than a dolphin's butthole.

I remembered quickly.

The yoga barbecue started to seem like not such a good idea after all, as for almost the entire hour or more that I twisted myself up like a python my mantra was: "Don't shit yourself. Don't shit yourself. Don't shit yourself!" It was a lot like the beginning scene of Braveheart when those Celtic warriors were bracing themselves for the attack with Mel Gibson yelling at them: "Hold! Hold! Hold! Hold!!!!!!" I held. But for the next few days thereafter I blew gas like Old Faithful in Wyoming.

My body and mind felt better after the class, and I wanted more of that feeling, so a few days later I went back.

Same thing.

Puckerin' up.

And for the next few days after class, again, I blew wind like the Santa Anas.

Over the next weekend I went up to the yoga retreat to help Marie out some in the kitchen.

Not long after I arrived in the early morning I was put to work, which meant that I'd be doing a sea of dishes. No problem. Fine. I'm a master dish technician. The first job that I ever got was as a dishwasher. My old Finnish boss (Finn) loved me when he wasn't berating me and the kitchen staff for being slow, stupid and incompetent. And under that caring guidance my hands became electric cleaning machines.

Twenty years later I found that I still had the touch.

By the time four o' clock and the start of the afternoon yoga session came around and I climbed out of the relentless piles of dishes, my back and neck were wrecked.

So I joined the yogis for class.

The session was grueling. I looked like I was slightly retarded, flopping around like a fish out of water compared to most of the other obviously seasoned twisters. On top of that I'd made the mistake of drinking massive amounts of coffee to get me through the dishes that'd paraded mockingly, in grand awkward stacks, in front of me all day long. Once in class I very quickly found myself near total ERUPTION! But not a peep nor blaring butt trumpet sounded from me the entire session - after which I glued myself to the toilet holding on for dear life (remember the scene in Dumb and Dumber? - It was a lot like that).

The next morning was the last class of the retreat, and after Marie and I made coffee and set the continental breakfast out for everyone I went into the session all hopped up on Java again (I just don't learn). And while I struggled to restrain myself from cutting loose, the mid thirties petite blond in front of me began to let go with galloping bursts of abandon. At first I thought that her foot had maybe slipped on her yoga mat causing the tearing, squeaking sound, but as she continued to blow horn like a light house signaling the incoming fog I saw heads around us turn, and particularly towards me, to see where the fire was. I just looked proud, held my pose, and my blow horn, and motioned towards the culprit with sideways looks and head nods as she let go a series of short explosions like a car getting going on a cold morning. I felt sorry for her, but was pleased once again with my intestinal powers.

After class I went and locked myself in the bathroom.

The next night after most everyone was gone I was recounting the story of the farting yogi to Marie, her friend and a couple other girls over dinner, and they told me that the woman who'd blown like Fog Horn Leg Horn wrote for the New York Times or some other prestigious publication, and I felt a sense of vindication wash over me, as even though I may not be a published writer, and I get rejection letter after rejection letter for my book I can hold my own when it comes to yoga and blowing my horn...


Monday, 22 June 2009

Off The Top Of My Lid

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

I took the Facebook IQ challenge last night. It said that I was officially brilliant - IQ well over 140. And in case you're doubting the results, I also took the 'What UFC fighter would you be?' quiz, and the thing said that I would fight like Anderson "The Spider" Silva, which is exactly what I thought. How can you argue those results? You can't. They're air tight.

So, you're probably wondering what happens in a day in the life, and what goes through the mind, of somebody brilliant. Here goes. A day in the life of somebody that Facebook says is brilliant. A behind the scenes look at the monkeys behind the wheels of thought. It's a cornucopia of banality and neurosis.

Alarm goes off, figure I can get some more sleep. Hit snooze. After about four snoozes realize that I won't be able to drop rest of money in Marie's bank account for rent for June (which I didn't pay as I abandoned her for Utah), on my way to work like I told her I'd do (solidifying the fact that we are in fact really going to try to work things out - I am invested in this thing, literally, kind of thing) if I don't get up. Get up. Put new work pants on that I got the other day, two for $50 - not bad as far as pants are priced in this city - as I needed pants. Curse pants for being to big. Hate that I spent $50 on pants that are too big. Think about taking them back. Fish receipt out of trash, then remember other pair that I wore to work the day before in the mud in the Hamptons. Then remember trying on size smaller at store and having to suck in waist. Fuck it. Put receipt back in trash.

Look in mirror, think I look good but thin. And think about the 20 to 25lbs I've lost since coming to New York five months ago. Notice hair is getting longer. Think about getting on steroids to bulk up and get ripped. Then think about hair falling out due to steroids.

Contemplate hair falling out as I take vitamins and drink orange juice. On way out the building still thinking of hair falling out. Thought of hair falling out takes on life of its own. Decide to go to pharmacy on way home and buy Rogaine and condoms (in case Marie drives home from Upstate yoga retreat). Stop at little coffee shop down the street as opposed to bigger coffee shop across the street even though last two times coffee at smaller coffee place has tasted watered down. Have aversion to bigger coffee shop for being so trendy. No croissants at smaller, cuter, quainter, coffee shop, and coffee tastes watered down. Damn. Still tip girl a dollar which raises cost of watered down coffee to three dollars. Am mad at myself for spending three dollars on coffee, but remember when I worked in coffee shop and would think about jumping over counter to bash people's skulls in who didn't tip me. Feel bad when I don't tip for being broke, not tipping. Figure that it's better to feel bad doing something selfless rather than self serving, like saving money, even though saving money could mean that you value yourself and your future. Psychological implications of tipping threaten to overwhelm me at an early stage of the day as I hurriedly walk towards the L train stop. Fuck it. Thoughts go back to hair falling out and getting Rogaine and condoms on way home from work at Rite Aide or Duane Reade. Convinced that Rite Aide and Duane Reade are one in the same, like the Republican and Democratic party. The illusion of choice. Decide hair is strong and healthy and that I am neurotic.

Didn't get on first train that came as it was so packed. Figured another train would be right on it's tail, as that often seems to be the case when one train is overcrowded. Have more time than I thought. Proud of myself for getting ready so quickly. Coffee is okay. Train does not come on others tail as hoped. Pissed about that, but ultimately happy for myself as I still have time to get off train prematurely in Union Square to go to my bank to get money to take to Marie's bank to drop into her account. At Union Square crossing the street am upset by thought that I have already been surcharged at ATMs getting money out four times in the last week or so totaling $12, and that I'll be damned if that is going to happen to me again any time soon, as $12 is like four cups of fucking coffee, or a lunch at a little deli. Get my money out of bank and walk to Marie's bank on the next block. Drop the money in her account. Fill good about myself. Want to call Marie to tell her, but it's early and suspect that she's probably still sleeping.

Walk the ten or so more blocks to work.

Feel good about getting exercise.

No one is there when I arrive to work. Text friend who works there to see where she is. No response. Go inside. No one there. Go back outside and sit on stairs.

Think of calling Marie again. Decide not to as I don't want to seem needy or dependent. Don't want to be annoying. Think that it may be better to distance or detach myself from her so as to not always "be there", as I don't want her to see me as clingy.

Call friend girl from office. Wake her up. She tells me to go and get coffee, that she's running late and will be there in a bit. Go get coffee and croissant. Don't tip. Feel bad for not tipping young girl behind counter as her tip jar is empty.

Finish coffee and croissant and decide to call Marie. No answer. Decide to fuck trying to put on a front with Marie. Fuck it. I am who I am. I am loving, I decide, not clingy or dependent, and if a girl doesn't like that, fuck her.

Decide I want an Iphone.

Call Marie again half hour later. No response.

Boss comes out of building. Saw him go in earlier but didn't recognize him without hat on. He's on his way to warehouse where I'm working for the day. Works out fine.

At warehouse I see all of Marie's friends who are working with Marie's company out of same warehouse. They are surprised to see me and look at me curiously as I don't think they knew I came back from Utah. Am glad not to be working with them, although I realize I do like the adrenaline rush of some of the events. Don't like working with Marie. Realize how much I need my own life. Try to behave myself in front of her friends. Feel a bit like a dog who has pissed on the rug.

Bad dog.

See artist friend of hers who said he wanted to film us having sex. Think about it. Think I might could do it. Would probably come with great unforeseen cost. Think I would do it if he were famous. Think I'm a whore.


Think I will wash two pairs of pants in super hot water to shrink the shit out of them. I tell people at work. No one cares. I feel triumphant by my thought and underwhelmed by their lack of response.

Go through the motions.

Not really there, but working.

Guy I'm working with gets pissy with me as I believe that he thinks I'm moving slowly. Think how often in New York busyness is confused with productivity. Think that people are stupid fucking sheep. Decide not to act busier. Do job. Guy says something smart and something in me awakens. I will spar back. Like Anderson "The Spider" Sylva I will feel my opponent out, taking my time, then strike with missile like accuracy. Watch. Wait. Okay. Bitch. I let him know that I'm awake. Back off. He laughs. I prod again. I smile. I'm awake. Back the fuck off. Sometimes people just want to know that you've got a backbone, or they walk all over you.

Fucking people.

Think about Marie getting upset with me for responding to guy banging on the van one night as she backed up, and about fight we got into one night crossing the bridge when bicyclist yelled at us to get the fuck out of the way as we kissed. We were the fuck out of the way. He was being a dick, and I told him so. Told him to go and fuck himself. Marie was livid. Told me that I will never talk to people like that around her. Then I was livid. Told her I'd talk to dickheads how I wanted. She was unimpressed. Think about how she hates to be told what to do or not to do, but is happy to tell me. Think about New York men that I see looking meek and meager following around a plow of a woman. Feel like a proper New York male is supposed to be neutered. Fuck that. Think about something I read the other day in New York magazine. Article asked well known New Yorkers how you knew if you're a true New Yorker. Think of Dennis Leary's response: If the Pope mobile cut you off in traffic you'd give him the bird and tell him to go fuck himself. Think of Marie getting upset with me when I tell people to fuck off and honk when I drive. Think I'm a real New Yorker and she can fuck off.

Leave work with nice boss and friend in bosses nice BMW. Laugh in Holland Tunnel telling stories about company Marie works for. Like my new boss.

Get dropped off on Canal St. Like Canal St. - it's a fucked up mish mosh of races, tourists and goods. Like looking at the watches and colognes they sell. Decide I'm gonna go shopping down there when I get paid and get a watch and some cologne.

Think of calling Marie, but don't. Don't want her to feel confined by me. Decide to wait til I get home to call her. Look for pharmacy on way home. Can't find a Rite Aide or Duane Reade. Find stop on Canal for JMZ that take me across bridge by apartment. Didn't know there was a stop on Canal. Decide not to look for pharmacy anymore and take train, as hair is fine and Marie won't be home anyway. Turns out JMZ doesn't stop on Canal. Underground maze of tunnels leads blocks away for JMZ stop. Fine. I'm tired anyway. Not too tired that my legs ache standing up riding the train home though.

Go to local pharmacy when I get off train. They don't have Rogaine. Meal replacement powder that I want to gain some weight back with is too expensive. Can't find condoms that I want. Don't buy anything. Figure my hair will stay for a while. Remember I have hair tonic at home, eases worry. Think I should try to be a model or an actor so that I can obsess about my appearance and get paid. Decide to look at career path of model turned actor that people sometimes say I remind them of.

Walking towards home think of getting some beer or wine. Think of calling Marie. Don't want to seem needy. Decide to wait til I get home to call. Decide I'm not drinking until I see Marie again. Not sure why. Maybe it seems nicer with her, intimate with her. Feels lonesome drinking alone. Think I'm on health kick. Decide to go to gym when I get home. Decide not drinking is way to show Marie support in her slowing her drinking.

Decide I don't really want to call Marie.

Get home. Pissed Netflix didn't come.

Check email. Watch video that friend sent of animals getting drunk in Africa off of fermented fruit. Drunken animals are very funny. Makes me laugh. Reminds me of me and my friends.

Decide I want to call Marie. Miss her. Call. Conversation seems far away. So does she. Sad. Miss her. Decide it's okay.

Go to work out. Drop off laundry on way. Laundry proprietors speak Spanish with me and smile as they know I'm trying. I like that.

Go to Community Center to work out for first time around the corner. Run halfway. Gym is small and filled with big gym rats of men. I look thinner in mirror than I remember myself. Gym crowded and shitty. Start small workout in corner. Hear workout gorillas talking about Shaolin kung-fu, which I'd much rather be doing. Muscle bound gorillas are talking about Shaolins who can spin a spear with their feet then kick it at someone. Think that I'd much rather be able to spin a spear around with my feet and kick it at someone's head than lift a million pounds.

Leave gym.

Get sports supplement and nutritional drink on way home.

Think about getting a beer.

Decide not to.

Hear my name as I cross street. Sebastian and Bethany and their daughter Valentina are Marie's long time friends. I like them. Marie is at their house Upstate cooking for yoga retreat. I like Sebastian. He smiles and tells me he hears I went to Texas. I tell him Utah. Bethany is nice and gracious but somehow always slightly distant. Valentina is adorable. Valentina gives me a kiss. Makes me feel good.

Sister calls when I get home. Niece gets on phone and tells me that she loves me. Feels nice. Sister asks about me and Marie. Tell her we're trying to make it work, talking it slow. Sister tells me to let her show me, if she loves me, to let her prove it. She tells me that I've taken care of enough women. She tells me that I've proved that I'm a good guy, that I have nothing to prove anymore, and to take care of myself. Think to myself that Marie has tried to take care of me, and that was nice.

Hang up phone and remember Buddhist quote that girl read at the end of yoga class the other day, how it was impossible to hurt someone if you loved yourself enough. and I think how that applies to me and Marie.


Friday, 19 June 2009

Present: Dog Turd Choker Chain

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

I went to Soho looking for a gift.

I wanted to get something to surprise Marie with as I was planning on taking the bus Upstate for the weekend to the friend's house she's at cooking for the yoga retreat.

Soho seemed like a good place to go to look for a gift.

For some reason, each time I walk into the depths of Soho off of Houston St., I walk down one particular cobble stoned street that has a jewelry store called Versani that I'm inclined to go into every time I pass it even though I can't afford anything inside.

This time was no different.

The girl that was working in the lowly lit underground store remembered me from the last time that I'd been there looking at things that I couldn't afford. I told her that I was looking for a necklace and she began showing me around. She looked Armenian or Turkish, or perhaps Greek. Maybe she was a Gypsy. Wherever she was from she'd learned some very crafty selling practices from her home country. Each necklace that she pulled out from the display case she'd drape across her neck and let hang across her chest and the divide between her breasts, asking me what I thought. It was very subtle what she was doing, and very unfair, as it was meant to make me turn over all of my meager funds, without giving a shit what I was buying. After looking at three or four necklaces it was nearly impossible not to want to buy something. In fact I thought about taking out loans or robbing a liquor just to be able to buy something from her and that store. I don't think that the sales practices that she was using were on the up and up and am planning to check in with the better business bureau to find out, as a man in a weakened condition like I was could easily blow his entire rent - which reminds me of why I haven't been in a strip club in years. Then she took her button down sweater off so that I could see better. Christ, at that point, she could have hung a pile of dog crap off of her neck and any man would have paid at least a couple of thousand dollars for it. She blurred the lines of what was being sold. It was a ruthless and unfair business practice that is meant to drive men like me to the poorhouse. And I had to leave before I ended up in debt, the proud owner of a dog turd encrusted choker chain.

I will never go back to that store unless I have endless piles of money to burn.

Eventually I bought some perfume from a gay guy and felt like I got what I wanted as his charms had no effect on me. He even threw in some body lotion as I guess my charms worked on him.

And I'm only buying things from gay men from now on.

When I got home I got call from an event lighting company about a job that I'd put a resume in for when I'd first gotten to town, and I felt like New York was welcoming me back into its fold and finally opening it's steel arms to me. The company wanted me to go in and fill out the paperwork the next day and start on a job in South Hampton over the weekend.

I called Marie Upstate and told her the good news and the bad news - that I'd gotten another job, but that I wouldn't be going up to visit her for the weekend. After I hung up the phone I thought that maybe it was better if we had a little time apart to let the drama of the previous weeks clear out.

The next day I went to see Marie's therapist and felt like I got some clarity on some issues. I know that we have our work cut out with each other, that living together, by our natures, will be rocky. But we're each willing to work on it. And I feel like we have something worth working for. We each need the change that the relationship will bring.

What else can you ask for, besides a little Grace from God?

We'll see...


I Think We Can Make This Work

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

She said that she knew that she had to work on some of her behaviors and that she doesn't mean to treat me unkind. She said that she really didn't want to hurt me, that she loved me, and that she wanted to change.

That left the door of hope open for the relationship for me.

We'll see.

I know that there are things that I need to work on too.

I made it to a therapy appointment the day after I got back from my road trip that I set up through an organization in Manhattan that matches people up with therapy that they can afford.

I couldn't afford much.

You get what you pay for.

I got sent to a Community Clinic in an all black neighborhood about an hour subway ride away. The appointment turned out not to be therapy after all, but rather an intake appointment where the gentleman told me that he couldn't get me in to see a therapist for another two to three weeks and that the best he could do was get me immediately enrolled in a 5 day a week drug and alcohol program that would last for eight months.

It wasn't gonna work for me.

I felt like I needed to get in to see someone immediately to help make heads or tails of my thinking.

Marie'd gone with me to the appointment and called her therapist who said that she could see me for an appointment and help me find a therapist that I could see on a regular basis. It would cost more, but it seemed worth it after the money I'd just paid traipsing across the country, shaking and delirious, clutching my backpack with all my belongings, one false move away from being homeless and screaming at the sky in vain about Marie in an alleyway in Seattle.

And I set up an appointment for later on in the week.

Marie and I spent the rest of the afternoon walking through Park Slope in the chilly air as thunderclouds gathered above our heads. We were looking for somewhere to eat and wandered, talking and reconnecting, at one point stopping under a tree that formed an arch over the sidewalk to kiss. After an hour or so of searching the streets with a nervous, sexually charged tension between us we came upon an Italian place where we talked round and round the entire the idea of how we could make things work.

I was feeling somewhat shitty about myself and the prospects of anything working out as I'd gotten drunk the night before at the bar and still felt slightly hungover, a anxious knot in my stomach.

Marie'd gotten called into the office after our brunch the day before after I'd returned, and I'd decided to go and look at a place that was for sublease for the summer, just in case that's what needed to happen. After I'd gone to see the place I didn't feel like going back to the apartment by myself and decided to stop by O'hanalon's where Tugboat worked. I told myself I was just going to have a few drinks and kill some time, hang out with my friend and watch the game while Marie worked. The next thing I knew I was shitfaced drunk and Marie was coming to the bar on her way home from the office. After that it was pretty much a blur. I made it home with Marie and woke up hungover and feeling shitty about myself and life in the morning. And figured that I'd fucked things up again as I could tell she was upset.

But she wasn't as hard on me as I was on myself.

At lunch in Park Slope over pasta we agreed that we should take it slow.

I was feeling unnerved by the weight of it all and just wanted to rest, go and talk with someone about all that was spinning around in my head, get my thoughts straight, make sure that I wasn't crazy, get back to work and come up with new direction for things.

Marie had to go into the office again to pick some things up and had to stop by Molly's on the way too. I wasn't sure about any of the details. But she said that she didn't want to be left alone just then and I followed along.

On the subway ride into Manhattan she held my hand, rested her head on my shoulder and leaned in occasionally to give me a kiss, her hand resting on my thigh brushing against me. She looked up at me with a little bit of shock. "What's that?" She said, surprised. "What do you think it is?" I asked as I looked over at her and smiled, feeling slightly delirious as the train rattled along the tracks under the setting sun that was parting the clouds outside the windows. "That's how I like to ride the train." We laughed at the thought and the tension between us was broken.

We sank into each other.

We could laugh again.

It would all work out.

Molly and Marc were surprised to see me when I walked in their door. It was good to see them. They had company over and Marc was on a comedy roll. I felt at home, although somewhat saddened by all that had happened. We stayed a while as Marc played the fool to Molly's straight and we all laughed as the conversation tumbled round.

It was getting late and Marie had to go by her work.

The three girls in the office stared at me with a combined look of disbelief, distrust and concern as they'd seen how Marie'd been hurt by my leaving and I tried to fade into the walls.

There was a box of my shoes from Texas that my mom'd sent before I'd gone to Utah sitting in the office waiting for me as though I'd never gone anywhere. Things can't be sent to our building as we don't have a buzzer, are never there, and packages usually just end up back at UPS, FEDEX or The Post Office. I opened the box. On top was the cowboy hat that Marie'd bought me in Luckenbach on her trip to visit me not long after we'd met. She immediately put on. There was also a clothes hamper full of my shoes that I carried out to the street as we tried to get a cab as Marie walked along the darkened streets of Midtown with the cowboy hat on.

Back home we made love and feel asleep.

The next day she had to leave Upstate to cook for two weeks at a yoga retreat at her friends place. "I think we can make this work," she said before she left.

I felt slightly lost without her.

I wandered the streets aimlessly, unsure, for hours.

She called as I walked towards home.

I just needed the reassurance of her voice.

It would all work out.

The next day I worked at Fleurs Bella and felt that I'd not only ripped the fabric of Marie's and my relationship by leaving, but that I'd also ripped the fabric of my relationship with New York. I worked in a daze as the event whirled around me. Twelve hours and a couple of beers later with the people I worked with and I felt settled back in again.

After work I walked through the rain to Yoko's apartment to water her plants as she's still in Japan. And for a brief transcendent moment as I looked out the open window in the hallway of her sixth floor walk up in Alphabet City over the tops of brick and steel buildings juxtaposed against the gray sky I knew that somehow I would make my way through the chaos of the City and that it was home.

I don't want to tear things apart again...


Thursday, 18 June 2009

Back Again

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

I went back to New York City.

After a few days in Salt Lake City I couldn't quite picture myself living anywhere else but New York City anymore. It seemed there was only a small part of me left that had ever lived, or that could start a life in Salt Lake again. The thought of going back to Austin churned my stomach and felt like a certain kind of stagnation. New York seemed vibrant, energetic, alive and new.

And I knew that I had to go back.

I'd spent too much energy getting myself up there and getting myself settled to let it die.

New York felt like my future.

I closed the door on going back to anything that I was before.
Whatever I would become would manifest itself in New York City.

Once I felt it, and knew that I had no other option that would be satisfying I bought my plane ticket (I promised myself that I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, take another cross country bus trip again), consolidated my bags of clothing leaving some things at my friends house to be shipped back to me at a later date, turned myself around and went back.

Marie and I'd been talking on the phone the few days that I'd been there in Utah, and besides the first day conversation that was a little shaky (the morning after I arrived in Utah I was vibrating on a completely alien frequency due to the complete working over my entire system took on the bus and the shock and sadness that I was feeling over the seeming loss of our relationship) our conversations were good and comforting. I wanted to be back with her. I loved her. I never really wanted to leave in the first place. I simply wanted to feel understood, and be treated with a little more kindness. She said that she could do that. I told her that I'd work on being a little less sensitive and a little less reactionary, but that I'd need help. We both realized that we needed some help to change, and that it wasn't going to come overnight, and that we'd take things slowly. I'd get in and see a therapist, and she'd work on her issues with hers.

And we'd see where it went.

The day I bought the ticket Marie's friend Yoko Skyped me from the airport just before leaving to Japan. Her uncle'd died. Between tears and smiles after I told her that I was going back to New York she told me that I could stay at her place while she was gone and that the keys were at Fleurs Bella and that the girl who ran the office could get me the keys.

She waved good bye from her computer screen and boarded her plane and I knew I'd made the right decision.

I told my old friends goodbye, and they told me not to worry, that if things fell apart I would always have a home in Salt Lake City.

And I left.

I'd been up all night due to getting bumped from a flight, long layovers in two different cities, the inability to get comfortable on the planes, and general anxiety when I got to New York City one week after I'd left town. The rain drizzled out of the gray sky and my nerves felt frayed. The girl from the office at Fleurs Bella wasn't answering her phone at nine in the morning even though she'd text me at the airport the night before saying that she had the keys and she'd meet me in the morning. I was exhausted. So when Marie text asking if I wanted coffee saying that she had a spare set of keys to Yoko's I called. She said to bring my bags to her place, that we could get some coffee and talk and that she'd make breakfast.

I didn't want to impose on her or have things be uncomfortable between us and thought it'd be best to look for a place to sublet for a month or two while things settled between us into whatever they'd become. But I saw that idea drift away as soon as Marie opened the door to the building in her silk pajamas smoking a cigarette with sleep still in her eyes and a smile of knowing on her face when she saw me.

My defenses faded away.

I felt electric in her presence.

It was good to see her and be back. Being in the apartment in Williamsburg again with her I realized how much deeper a resonance the city had with her - the two were intricately linked and made each other richer, fuller and more intense. And I felt the idea of having my own place floating further and further into the gray sky, over the river, above Manhattan and away as I looked out the window at the rain coming down.

I gave her a peace offering of a free airline ticket that I'd gotten for being bumped from a flight the night before. It was all I had that I could offer to tell her that I was sorry. I felt like a dog bringing his master the morning paper - love was my master.

And once I held her, smelled her sweet scent and looked into her wading pool blue eyes, the idea of moving out on my own vanished.

We lay on the bed as the rain poured down outside of the windows that looked out at the brick buildings and the faint gray outline of the sky above as Marie looked into my eyes. She stared searchingly, imploring, then paused for a moment as though stuck on a thought that I asked her to let go of. And as I waited for her words to form my mind ran wild with all of the horrible things that I'd heard the women before her say in moments not so different from that one, about the awful things that they'd done that they couldn't live with, that they had to get off of their chests. I braced myself for what was to come. My eyes welled up full of emotion, and a tear rolled down my cheek before I even knew that I was crying, as her words filled me "You're my favorite person"...


Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The Girl I'm Not Doin' In New York Anymore

Salt Lake City, Utah

We'd been arguing, fighting, pissing each other off, simply doing whatever the fuck we do when we we're upset with each other - our "thing". To me she'd been finding fault with anything that I did all day long. And she was exasperated that I was upset again by that. The day moved along in an stalemate and we ended another night in an icy silence.

The next day after seeing her therapist Marie caught me at home with a gift before I went to work and apologized for the day before, saying that she realized in her session that from watching her parent's dysfunctional relationship growing up that the way that she'd learned to show love was to find fault with the other person, and that she would work on it.

We made up and I went to work coming in at 3:00am.

We both had the next day off and we're getting ready to go out to the Bushwick Studio Showings. It would be nice to spend the day together and do something different.

As I was washing the dishes while she was getting ready she started talking about what she'd done the night before. And as she passed by me in the kitchen she said that she'd gone to the club Shadows, the place where we'd gotten into the fight when I'd first arrived in town, the place that I'd left her sitting in a taxi cab out front before she went back in and I walked to my friend's bar to get piss drunk, the club where she'd been to the night before I'd left town and'd drunkenly called me at 5:30 in the morning telling me that she'd rebutted the men trying to get her number or kiss her, because of me. And as she told me that she'd gone to the club she stopped to look into my eyes for brief instant as though trying to gauge my reaction and she said that she'd not stayed long after being there, after waiting a half an hour in line, and'd been upset and'd felt foolish for wasting her time.

And she walked into the other room.

I thought for a moment that I could let it go, that it meant nothing. But I couldn't. It meant something to me - that she didn't care if what she did bothered, upset or hurt me; or possibly it meant that she simply couldn't see beyond herself enough to see that? I don't know. Either way it bothered me. And something rose inside of me as though from a well of pain and fear and insecurity, something that had such a depth and life of it's own that I was momentarily shocked by it's force. And I wondered why she felt she had to go to that club at all as the image of her dancing with a sea of black men all night flooded my mind. And as I finished up the dishes I began to feel a sickness rise in my stomach from the hurt of years past with my first wife, from the unresolved issues with her wanting to fuck black men, and my inability to talk to Marie about how I felt about it all. The well was deep and dark and holding all of my stagnant and rank insecurities and fears of not being enough, enough for the women that I had loved, of being cheated on and feeling like a fool, and fearing that I was not enough for Marie. And in that moment my past experiences screamed at me that if there was smoke there was fire, and if there was an intrigue or a desire it would eventually manifest itself in physicality, and she would cheat. And as I tried to hold back my feelings (as I knew that she wouldn't want to hear me say anything at all) my hands began to slightly tremor, and I felt a knot form in my throat as I tried to find words for the feelings that were rising like bile inside of me.
I felt like a doormat once again.
I felt like the proposition that she proposed, that she could do or say whatever she wanted with complete impunity, but wouldn't grant me the same when it came to what I had to say, wasn't holding up for me anymore.
And I simply wanted to tell her how the fuck I felt.
I wanted to let it go.
I wanted it all to go away.
I felt that I would be dishonest to myself if I didn't say something, if I didn't tell her how I felt.
And I couldn't live with that.
I had something to say about it.
I calmed myself and tried to find the words as carefully as I could, trying to let them out without malice or accusation, simply telling her that it made me uncomfortable that she'd gone to the club, and that I wasn't quite sure why, but that I wanted to talk about it.
She walked towards the door, ready to go then stopped abruptly and asked me what I'd said as she opened the door to leave, as though she hadn't heard, or simply couldn't process what I'd said.
I told her again that it made me uncomfortable that she'd gone to the club.
She heatedly accused me of being controlling and said that she felt like she couldn't go anywhere alone, that she knew she shouldn't have gone to the club as she knew that I'd have a problem with it and that she felt confined.
I was frozen for an instant that seemed like an eternity as I tried to process what she was saying, what was happening.
- I was controlling.
- She felt confined.
And I felt like I couldn't trust her not to hurt me.
I felt like a fool for caring.
In a flash I saw that that would be the trajectory of our relationship if I stayed: my feelings would not be respected or considered and she would continue to do or say things that hurt me, and she would feel controlled and confined by my response.
And I wondered to myself what the point of being in a relationship was if you couldn't trust the other person not do things that they knew would cause pain.
I want to be in a relationship where I feel like the other person has my best interests at heart.
I didn't feel like that was the case with Marie.
And I knew then that I had to leave.

I walked into the other room and told her that she could go wherever the hell she wanted, but that I wasn't about to go anywhere with her, that I was leaving... I felt defeated... I felt that I didn't have the energy to do it with her anymore... It seemed futile to me to go round and round with her, over and over, feeling like I was simply fighting an uphill battle to be heard and understood and have my feelings appreciated.
I felt completely deflated, like she didn't get it and never would.
I wanted her to hear me, to respect what I had to say and not to do things that she knew would hurt me, or at least consider what I had to say.
And she didn't seem to have the patience for what I was asking of her as a partner.
She never did.
It wasn't working for me.
I didn't feel that it ever would.
And the relationship was lost to me at that point.

I zoned out.

I didn't want to be there anymore...

I started mindlessly pulling my clothes out of the closet as she asked me what I was doing and began begging me to leave the house with her and not to ruin another day. "You're not leaving" she said to me over and over again as she put the clothes away that I'd laid on the bed. I walked into the other room to search for bus fares on the computer.

I was done.

She sat on the couch across from me as I searched for a way out of New York, resigned.
She asked me snidely to tell her what the problem was.
She didn't give a shit.
She was simply humoring me.
I didn't have the words for it anymore.
I couldn't articulate.
I was too upset.
I was too fucking unnerved by it all.
It felt like de-ja-vu to me.
We were a broken record repeating the one shitty verse from an otherwise good song.
I felt that I couldn't talk to her about any of it - what was going on in my head as she would become upset (looking back, probably rightly so as the material is better suited for a shrink rather than a lover).
I was lost to my fears at that point.
I'd let go of the reigns of sanity and would be dragged back down into my own private hell.

I would run again...

I told her that I wasn't telling her a fucking thing and that she could go and fuck every black guy in the city for all cared at that point. She asked me if that's what it all was about, if that's what I thought, my anger and resentment overflowing as I told her that there was something cruel and rotten about her (repeating lines from her book from an ex infatuation she'd had that I knew would sting her and hurt her as much as I hurt at that moment). She told me that I had to grow up, stick with and work through something.
But I didn't see the point with her anymore.
She begged and pleaded for me to simply leave the house with her and go out, saying that we just needed air and that it would all be okay.
She told me to trust her.
I told her that I trusted her about as far as I could throw her.
She begged.
I couldn't let her in.
I'd shut her out for good.

But she wouldn't relent for me to simply go with her.

Finally I consented to leave the apartment as I felt my will to battle her drift away as I saw that it was useless to fight her anymore.

And we left.

As we walked down Metropolitan Avenue she grabbed my arm and tried to hold my hand. I felt her touch but I felt no more corresponding feeling inside. I felt as if the care for her had been drained out of me, sucked away by her ambivalence. I loved her deeply, but her searching looks and touches as we walked side by side down the street couldn't seem to reach me anymore.
I simply felt numb and wanted to drink - nothing more.
I wanted to drink...

We wandered into an art gallery out of the sun and up the stairs of the building that reeked of cat piss and neglect, and I thought it a perfect metaphor for the state of our relationship as I wilted under the smell.

Inside I sat on a bench and stared out the window as she stared aimlessly at the art on the walls. She came over to me, saw that she was losing me and asked what I wanted to do, searching for the simplest of responses to let her know that I was still there.
I told her that I wanted to drink.

We came upon a bar not far from the gallery and we drank in near silence as she touched my arm and stared intently into my eyes with big blue pools of sadness as I told her how absurd it all seemed to me at that point - what our relationship had become; neither of us seeing or understanding where the other person was coming from.
I was vacant.
I was empty.
I was desolate.
I didn't want to try anymore.
And she went outside to smoke.

We left the bar after a few drinks and ate at a place around the corner in virtual silence and walked home in the same fashion.

When we got home I told her that I was done with it all.

She said that I could stay with her and try to find a place in New York City, that I didn't have to leave as she started to manically rearrange the apartment to the way that it'd been before I'd arrived, reverting what'd been done since we'd been living together, trying to erase the fact that I'd ever been there, in the process tearing pictures off of the wall and getting rid of anything that she suddenly found useless or simply in the way - like me. She stacked things on top of each other and dragged chairs, foot stools, plants and the mattress that we'd just gotten out into the hall in a desperate silent rage.
I sat quietly in the eye of the storm waiting for it to pass and blow over, went to the fridge and got a beer and began taking the items that she'd put in the hallway down the four flights of the stairs to the trash, the mattress threatening to jump through the window at each landing as though trying to escape from the bedlam.
I walked out the door and away from the chaos of what our relationship'd become with no destination in mind.

I just wanted shelter from the storm.

A few blocks away I walked into a bar looking for escape as she called on my phone. Ignoring the call I turned around and walked out of the bar knowing that it wouldn't help the situation at all to drink anymore. I walked blindly down the street under the screeching rails of the subway train as though in a nightmare that I couldn't shake myself from.
No direction.
No destination.
I was shell shocked and disoriented at what was happening to me again, of what had become of our love.
She called and I picked up.
She was looking for me.
She was coming to find me.

On Broadway under the elevated train tracks, the distant rumble of the JMZ and the cars in the background filled the air with the tumultuous sound of horns and grinding metal as we stood there in silence, her eyes filled with pain and confusion. The tracks blocked out the sun as she put her hand on my arm and sent chills of sadness and regret down my spine. "Let's go somewhere and talk." She said. "It's so depressing here."

We walked towards the Williamsburg Bridge near our apartment and sat on a park bench surrounded by a few lonesome trees in the midst of the concrete jungle as the sun began to slowly set to the West over Manhattan in the distance.
She wanted to talk.
But I was too close to the precipice to turn back.
I was ready to free fall again back into the abyss.
A lone tear rolled down her cheek tearing through me like shrapnel as I wiped it away, nothing to say...
And if I could take anything back I would have opened up to her at that moment. I would have pulled us back from the brink of destruction.
But I had nothing left to offer.
And I left her sitting on the bench with tear filled eyes in the dying light of the day.


Escape From New York

Salt Lake City, Utah

The dust is only beginning to settle.
Last night I disembarked from a 56hr greyhound enduro across countless states and two time zones, unable to sleep, eat, or get remotely comfortable for more than a few seconds at time on my escape from New York City and Marie. Escape is never perfect and's often crazy, as was this. And I'm confronted again with my pattern, my coping mechanism and my craziness. I run. But I can't do it anymore. I can't hide from the fact that as decent a person as I consider myself to often be, I'm often equally as insane. And when I get hurt I run. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Once again I ran expecting a different result. I've run time and time again throughout my life and always with the same catastrophic results: I end up somewhere confused and disoriented, having hurt someone that I care about, running low on money, a bag holding my clothes, a head and heart full of regret and remorse, half wanting to go back to whatever it was that I'd run from with only vague visions of how to move forward, feeling shell shocked and saddened as to why it happened again.

And once again I feel insane.

I'm in Utah where I grew up, taking refuge and cover at an old friend's place with he and his girlfriend. And I realize now that I just wanted to be somewhere that I felt safe.

Home feels safe.

Very little is coming into focus clearly at this point. My thoughts wrapped in gauze after the last eight months of and Marie's and my relationship flashed through the landscape of my mind as the Greyhound bus that served as my escape hurtled over the endless terrain. Most of the memories were of the good moments, of holding hands, laughing, sharing a smile, or laying together. Others were of the fights, bruises, cuts and insults. At times I felt like a hostage to the love we had, being terrorized as I sweated and writhed on the bus, my body, heart and soul aching as the visions of our time together flooded and tormented me. The visions were poignant, sad and crushing with their weight of finality of what I'd done - run. I'd destroyed the relationship. And I realized once again that there is no such thing as escape. I'm stuck with what I have done. What I've done is hurt someone who I care deeply for. She tried to hurt herself after I left. And for that I am terribly sorry, saddened and ashamed. I left without saying goodbye. I left her feeling unwanted - that is not the case. I simply didn't want the hurt and the craziness anymore. Both still keep me company. She wants me away from her now. And that I understand. What I don't understand is how to move on and repair the damage.

I wanted out of the relationship, of that I was sure of when I left. We were driving each other crazy. I felt invalidated. I felt trivialized. I felt like she didn't respect or consider my feelings. She felt exhausted, annoyed, and constrained by my need to be heard, sort, and talk things out.

And I left. I didn't know, or don't know how to break away from a relationship without ripping away quickly, like tearing a band aid off. The pain is intensified briefly, but it is done, it is over, and the healing can begin. I wanted to avoid the confrontation, the uneasy limbo of the state of the relationship, the accusations and the drama. I wanted to get rid of the sickness that I felt in the pit of my stomach.

The sickness in my stomach is gone, but the bonds that were still holding the relationship together sting like raw and exposed nerves after having been ripped from the thing that they were holding onto so desperately. There is no escape. There is only pain. There is also suffering. And there is still Love.