Hand-Scrawled Notes In New York (5/6/05)


Battery on the DVD player ran out while watching Dogville. Interesting look to the movie. Fell asleep listening to KD Lang. Woke up to the airplane descending. Took at taxi to the hotel. Discussed basketball with the driver. Arrived at the hotel to encounter the least helpful front desk staff ever. I had arranged an early check-in but they screwed it up. Checked in my bag with a grumpy bellman. The restrooms weren’t even open. Wandered up Lexington listening to Chemical Brothers. Made eye contact with every person going the other way for six straight blocks. Wondered if I was breaking some kind of cardinal NY rule. Wondered if I could make it to either Washington Square or Central Park. Realized I was actually going south. Found Grand Central Station. Entered and looked around. Thought about how many people had wandered my exact steps who were no longer alive. How many people who had stepped through the doors for the first time and found the grand hall oddly familiar. Stood and looked at the map. Still couldn’t figure out exactly where I was. These maps need arrows. Retraced my steps, heading northbound now. Intent on finding a dinner to sit at. Itching to write in my notebook. Wondered if someday, someone will sell my notebooks on Ebay because I’m both famous and eccentric, and my notebooks will be advertised as a “Diary of a Madwoman—One of a Kind Collectible.” There are some crazy things in here. Stream of consciousness. Perhaps the secret of the universe scrawled in here when I wasn’t paying attention. God enjoys a good joke that makes him feel smarter than us. (I’m on the juice again, ma. I just can’t help myself). If I ever went missing, I want you to tell the cops: She was about five foot six. Medium black hair, muscular build that just never hits lean. Nice smile, slightly cagey. Liked her eggs over easy but always mistakenly ordered them sunny side up. Preferred English muffins over toast, but sourdough over wheat. Is not on a first name basis with her Lord and Savior, but God…we miss her already. Listened to sad songs when optimism felt cocky. Blushed when she said the word cocky outloud.


I’m sitting on the B train on the way to the East Village across from two Chinese women. They’re probably mother/daughter, around 80 and 65 respectively. They’re wearing matching flowery silk ascots, the daughter in a green one to match her coat and the mother in a deep lavendar one to complement hers. I watch the mother extract two toothpicks from a plastic container and hand one to her daughter. She takes a container of plum preserves out of her purse and they spear dark, oily lumps out with the toothpicks and eat them while discussing the weather. This mundane scene brings tears to my eyes. I hope my mother lives forever, but she is a robot who can not understand these types of sentiments.

I follow the women when they get off the subway and find myself in Chinatown. I am momentarily basking in the feeling of being with my people until I realize they’re not the most helpful when I’m asking for directions. I get lost in Chinatown as I always do when I go to New York. Leave a message for Brian in LA saying, “I’m lost in Chinatown, surrounded by Chinese people, and they’re mean. ” He calls back a few minutes later and mapquests me out of there.

He was wearing a red & black headband with the number 23 emblazoned on the side, a strange accessory, she thought, for someone so straightforwardly pressed against her. She took him for underaged despite his success at battling for position inside this seething adult playground, searching like so many others for a much needed inhibition killer.

“Jordan or Lebron?” she asked, even though she knew the answer.

He smiled, lips parting to reveal an even row of smooth charm.

“My name’s Larry,” he offered, presuming her question to be an introduction.

“I think you’re 18, Larry, not old enough to be in here.” She is careful to control her demeanor as to reveal nothing, though her voice melts into that dangerously hypnotic timbre that can drown a weaker man.

“I’m 24 but I…I get that a lot.” His bravado stumbles a step but makes a commendable midair recovery.

He wants to know about her, his questions tentative yet polite as though engaged in a two-way interview. But she does not see it that way. She does not see most things the same way. She sees him as articulate, though having not yet developed a crafty man’s mask to hide an honest boy’s straightforwardness, and it evokes something gnawingly tender in her, a faint memory of some faraway loss. She is suddenly troubled that she can’t see his face–the room is dark, his face is dark around that little boy smile presenting possibility as a question mark, and her eyes have not been able to consistently separate color from form for hours.

She takes out her camera and without feeling a need for forewarning or permission, she snaps a picture, blinding him with the sudden explosion. She studies the captured image, his boyishness having nowhere to hide from an all too harsh light.

“You’re high,” she says, to which he sheepishly nods. She likes his transparency. She likes the way it tastes on her tongue. She likes the way he can smile at nothing in particular, just because he is happy.

He wants to see her. He wants to see how far the night can extend. He wants to hold on to whatever he believes is happening here tonight, because he is believing in magic the way a young boy believes in the magic of entire invisible universes in the darkness of a childhood bedroom. But when he leaves her for a split moment to retrieve his drink, the large Dominican who had been taking everything in leans over and whispers into her ear, “Whenever you’re ready.” He has danger in him, danger in his smooth caramel skin and in his light touch on her bare shoulder. Danger in his eyes and in his lips so close to her ear, in the long, crooked blunt tucked behind his own like another braid in his hair. She takes his rough, powerful hand and lets him lead her through the crowd, past the bouncer in black into the cool, biting night air that is eager to remind her that tonight, you make up your own rules.

But then again, she already knew that.