"Don't you get the idea I'm one of those goddam radicals. Don't get the idea I'm knocking the American system." -- Al Capone

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Holy shit. I'm tired as a trucker on an overnight along I-5.

Last night was a doozy. It started out with an NYU shmoozefest (one of the many events where they put our tuition to use by getting graduate students nice 'n liquored up). For more -- at this point unnecessary -- drinking, we hit an underground dive bar, followed up by a deck party off of Houston with 100 or so drunk, arrogant journalists. It ended with smoking and munchies at a friend's place in Sty town, where we ate grilled cheese.

There are parts of the evening that are a blur. Others that are an embarrassment.

At one point, my friend NT insisted I take some of her Atavan. Apparently I had the half-crazed look of a heights-fearful, drunken neurotic on a roof deck. So sad that it's that obvious that I've become a little bit unmoored.

Ah well, could be worse. I could be working.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

New York is swarming with beautiful people, weighed down with the spoils of wealth -- the archetype of American decadence.

As I'm entering the early stages of friendship with a handful of folks, I wonder if the cliched New York of Sex and the City -- a sort of shallow paradise for the rich and glamorous -- is more true than I'd like to believe.

First, I have already walked alongside Uma Thurman and Chloe Sevigny, both within blocks of my $750 a month apartment. How can the likes of me, with my cheap clothes and self-cropped hair, rub shoulders with such gorgeousness?

This, apparently, is something that true New Yorkers do not consider twice. I'm not much of a fan (my biggest celebrity crush hit at 14 when I fell hard for Wiley Wiggins, who played the geeky-cool, younger brother in Dazed and Confused), but I find it hard not to stare when faced with someone who normally only exists as a four inch character on a screen. These people aren't too far from Marshians, as far as I'm concerned.

So, Marshians have landed and I'm still not a true New Yorker. These things weird me out.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Fucking hell. That's it, I'm pissed.

NYU is shit.

It's just too big and bureaucratic. My professors seem very impressed with themselves but only semi interested in their students. Even at a graduate level, where it would seem that the student-professor relationship would be more equal and less hierarchical, these guys insist on titles but have no time for office hours.

They're too important. They're "appointment only".

Granted, this is how UCSC was. But UCSC was a public school. It was overcrowded and the professors were overworked. But there, at least, we were paying a small fraction of NYU's costs. It's a lot easier to tolerate the imperfections of an institution when you're not going into debt for years to be there.

What especially gets me is that there are some things that UCSC did better, like send out mail(on deadlines and events and class schedules). From the time I was accepted to NYU I received so little correspondence from the school that I begin to wonder if I'd been admitted at all. Maybe I'd imagined it? I had to call them to find out about financial aid and about registering for classes. The orientation was a joke, almost completely uninformative, and we don't even have an advisor to talk to if our schedule is mixed up or we're unhappy with a class or we are confused about which courses to take.

The head of the Journalism department wrote a really great book. It's so interesting that I'm neglecting some of my other reading (The New New Journalism, by Robert Boynton). But the guy has no time for us. I've sent emails and received no response. I had a concern about a class I was scheduled in and was told, in essence, to grin and bare it.

I'll be in dept for years in order to come here. I wish they would take that as seriously as I do.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

"When all else fails, threat the town like a tourist."

Before I lived in New York, I visited New York. The first time I came with a boy who I was crushing on. I was 19, maybe I'd just turned 20. I'm not sure. We took the train down from Boston to see "Sensation", which was making a stir in the world of art and politics because Giuliani found it offensive and was trying to shut it down.

I loved New York. I loved the food, and the walks through neighborhoods that felt like distinct countries. My crush was less enamored and I knew he and I were not right.

Later, when Tim and I were UCSC students with a meager budget and big fantasies, we visited during a spring break in April. There was a small snow flurry one afternoon and I remember looking up at the buildings the falling flakes and being full of excitement.

Now that I live here, I think I need to visit the Guggenheim and the upper parts of Central Park, where I've never been, and the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Mona's is an unmarked dive bar near 14th and B. Its patrons, mostly alcoholics and hipsters, come en mass on Thursday nights for $3 Guinness pints. An abundance of cheap thick beer is both good news and bad. It's too much temptation, too much luxury. It lures one away from graduate school responsibilities and into the arms of alcohol and "the scene".

The scene isn't something I'd considered before. But the scene is New York. At least it is if you're young and white and going to a school like NYU, where everyone seems to have an excess of style and money.

There's little to say if it's not about a new band, new author, new designer, new space.
  • Some new, indy-hip hop-singer/songwritery thing that only a handful have heard of.
  • An avant-garde novelist who's had a very, very rough life (lots of sex with inappropriate people).
  • A designer who makes clothes people don't wear or objects that have no utility.
  • Spaces-- maybe a bar, or an art "space" (gallery), or someone's shi-shi apartment.

Most of this rubs me the wrong way. But it's seductive and I'm easily sucked in. I'm also easily bored by the really really bad reading that my Journalism professors have assigned. It's as if they're trying to keep our enthusiasm and inspiration at bay. It's as if they're trying to program us away from creativity and beauty in writing. It's like they're fucking with our heads.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Two years ago, Tim and I spent three days and nights on an icy cold Amtrak train to New Orleans. We arrived in the sticky weather of spring in the South and dove headlong into the city we thought we'd soon call home. We were about to graduate from college and, young and in love, felt the steamy heat, spicy food and music of New Orleans would suit us well.

In our first days there, my feet were so badly blistered from walking that I would have been immobile, were it not for the cheap beer and open container policy of the French Quarter. It's amazing what excitement and alcohol can do to dull pain. And while it seems a little unseemly, I have fond memories of Tim and I sharing oversized cans of beer on the stoop of a church (always the disrespectful atheist, I was once scolded by a nun for making out with my high school boyfriend outside of the Vatican in Rome).

We didn't visit during Mardi Gras, and we're not big on going on tours or being "tourists". We visited New Orleans as people who wanted to call the city home one day, with the hope that we could find jobs and friends and a life there. What I saw was a city more foreign from my United States than any place I'd been in this country. And I loved it. But I wasn't keen on graduating from college only to return to the service industry, and it seemed likely that those would be the only jobs I could find.

So we moved to Chicago instead, and loved it, but we always said that sometime down the line, when our pockets were a little more full and our desires for "career" already somewhat satisfied, we would make New Orleans our home for a time.

I'm in mourning for that vision of our future. I can only imagine how those who did live there and love it and call it home are feeling.

Or, actually, I don't think I can.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

On the flight back from LA, I got sick. A few days later, I'm still feel like there's a flesh eating worm in my throat, trying to burrow its way out.

Because of the worm, I woke up early. Before the alarm, before Tim.

I thought, hell, I'll take the dog for a walk. So Gypsy and I wander over to Madison Square Park with the sky all blustery and the breeze, finally, breaking the summer heat. Gypsy's had a little trouble "socializing" with other dogs, especially the yappy New York City variety, so I've so far avoided the notoriously rowdy dog runs.

This morning, however, the place was dead quiet -- the perfect opportunity to let the poor beast free for a few laps.

Right as I unleashed her and she was in her first bounds of exuberant disobedience, a man with a blue workers uniform entered the double gates, dogless. Shit, I thought, this guy's with the park, and we haven't yet gotten the required license. Well...We'll see if I can talk my way out of it.

The man in the blue jumpsuit speaks authoritatively to Gypsy, "Sit", "Stay", "Down", as she jumps playfully at his knees. She's getting better with commands, though, and responds to his by putting her ass to the gravel as every other part of her is squirming and wiggling, desperately wanting to do bad.

Just as Gypsy can hardly control her inner Tazmanian Devil, the man in the blue jumpsuit lost control as well. From nowhere, the man raises his arms to the air, jumpy and erratic. "Sit dog, sit" he's chanting. Quicker and louder his words come, with Gypsy getting more and more excited. This has to be a game, she's surely thinking.

As Gypsy bounces beside him, smiling her wiley smile, the man in the blue jumpsuit begins running. First slowly and then more briskly, he skirts around the tree at the center of the run. Gypsy, doing what cattle dogs do, began after him. This is, after all, is her favorite game. The man, hands still above his head, still chanting, runs faster and faster around the tree, Gypsy, all the while, at his feet. "I gotta control this dog", he repeats, "I have to control this dog".

I'm standing, in utter disbelief. Realizing now that my "authority figure" was in fact some harmless New York retard, and my dog is herding this man around a tree in the middle of Madison Square Park at six in a very groggy morning.

My dog is herding a retard!

I love New York.