Archive for July, 2007

new york, late july

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007 at about 9:25 pm

I have slipped, somewhat unsuspectingly, into the very terrible state of not-doing that has frequently haunted my most idle of times. It’s not that I mind being inactive, but that being inactive renders me incapable of even occasionally actually doing something simply and effectively. The smallest of tasks seem suddenly insurmountable — writing this, for instance, or catching up on e-mail. Lydia says she finds it useful to periodically become so bored that one questions why one ever does anything to begin with. I find that in these situations I can only ever focus on one thing, and I allow it to consume most of my relatively little energy. I’m not sure how useful this is, but I can certainly get a lot of that one things done. It’s rarely anything terribly worthwhile, however. This activity is, at the moment, reading Harry Potter. This is somewhat different than usual, since generally the further I sink into sloth the less likely I am to read anything (I read books so pitifully rarely as it is). Lately (the last six months or so) I’ve been more fond of becoming engrossed in television series, but at the moment my mass-consumed medium of choice is the Harry Potter novel. I’ve gotten well over halfway through the series re-read that I have embarked upon in preparation for the seventh volume. It’s sitting, waiting for me, and I am frequently tempted to just give up and begin reading it instead, but I feel I’ll get the most out of the end of the series if I have the rest fresh in my mind. It has been, after all, nearly ten years since I read the first book — I read them all when they were published and never re-read any of them. My memory of the events of the books is fuzzy at best. So, yes, I think this a wise decision, overall.

Yesterday I returned to Long Beach Island from a weekend trip away. I’m here at the beach for two weeks, beginning last Saturday and ending next Sunday, but that weekend in between I took as a vacation from vacation, a spot of adventure in the midst of an otherwise very calm fortnight here (this last clause I am adding mostly to use “fortnight,” however out-of-place it sounds). Thursday afternoon I took the bus to the city, where I met Nicole. We tried and failed to attend a taping of the Daily Show, being a scant dozen or so people back from the cutoff in the line. We walked back to her mid-town apartment, stopping at a small and very cute grocery store in Hell’s Kitchen on the way. We bought provisions for an excellent Central Park picnic (baguette, a good soft cheese, some Genoa salami, grapes, chips, the ever-unlikely Milka chocate bars we found next to the checkout, a bottle of decent champagne), swung by the apartment for cutlery and glasses, then headed uptown. There was a supposed novel reading in the park, but we took one look at where it was and opted instead to just enjoy ourselves in Sheep’s Meadow. It was lovely. The weather was nearly perfect, the view excellent, as was the company. We had a grand old time. The night ended with a walk from the apartment to Bryant Park.

Friday I walked Nicole halfway to her first day at work, then returned to Bryant Park to read for an hour or so. Kimmy called when she was finished with a printing job she had, so I hopped on the subway and met her at NYU. We had lunch and then went back uptown to Columbia, stopping at an art store to have one of her photos framed on the way. The guy at the framing shop was funny and friendly, we talked to him for a while. Kimmy’s friend John joined us and we all went to Columbia. The campus is nice and feels familiarly college-y, but it doesn’t expand for miles in every direction the way Stanford does. I saw Jenna’s apartment, then went to Riverside Park. As evening approached I went back to the fashion district to meet Leia and Revti; we walked for a while before stopping at a sushi place to get dinner. Afterwards, exhausted from a long week of work (or mucking around, in my case) we just went back to Leia’s apartment in Brooklyn. We drank whiskey cokes and sat around talking for a few hours, deciding against doing anything more ambitious. Revti eventually went home, Leia and I went across the street to the all-night grocery to buy pints of ice cream to eat while watching Jay Leno before calling it a night.

Saturday morning we met Revti again for brunch in Park Slope, which was excellent. We walked around the area, which was charming, and were particularly thrilled by the Brooklyn Superhero Supply that was just under Revti’s apartment but had never really been explored before. It’s quite something. Saturday afternoon was spent reading, then it was back to Manhattan to try to catch the Chinatown bus to DC. This proved untenable, since the bus never came, but the trains were still running reliably so the entire contingent of people waiting for the bus (which consisted of me, a dreadlocked employee of the Department of Education, his quiet companion, and what seemed to be a South American family of three) took the Amtrak instead. From there it was the Metro to Greenbelt, where Sascha and Faith had just moved. A cab to their house, since I beat them there, and then some groping around in the dark to find the key to get in. They soon arrived, we unloaded some things, then quickly went to sleep. The next morning yielded remarkably fast progress unloading the rest of the U-Haul; everything was in the house by noon. The rest of the afternoon and evening is something of a long, pleasant blur, marked by the shuffling around and gradual unpacking of some boxes and not a small amount of relaxing. The various people who came by to help were fascinating. I had a particularly good time talking to Faith’s father, who was there with them for the trip out from Champaign, and some of their other friends, ranging from Josh, a work friend of Sascha’s also down from New York for the weekend, to a guy whose name I never caught who was, among other things, working in Venezuela and friends with Chavez. Fascinating people.

Monday morning I took the metro back to the city center, walked around the Capitol because I couldn’t help it, once again couldn’t figure out the Chinatown bus and instead took the train back to New York. I quickly hopped the subway from Penn Station to the Port Authority, and from there a bus back to Tom’s River. I was back at the beach in time for dinner.

Today was quiet, marked primarily by my not-doing-anything-but-reading-Harry-Potter business. I love it here, it’s so pleasant. I enjoy it more than I used to. Or, rather, it feels different than it used to. Nicer, somehow, and more luxurious. It’s probably because I’m not a twelve year old kid grubbing in the sand all day anymore. Or maybe it’s just all an illusion. But whatever the cause, I really appreciate how idyllic it is here.

There is much more to say, about my recent thinking about the frantic but inevitable search for a major / career I’m going through, and my recent thinking about my cat’s mortality, and any number of other things. But I think that is enough for now, that little highly literal weekend recap. I don’t even have a poem to add, because I haven’t written anything in a month and a half. Unimpressive. But I’m thinking about it. Maybe once I’m done with Harry Potter.

background noise: sufjan stevens and “inmates” by the good life

Posted in General
by j. android

‘idylls of the king’

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007 at about 6:52 pm

My post-home bliss has essentially continued all week. Every night I’m usually socializing, and the bulk of afternoons as well. It’s perfectly lovely. After last weekend I settled into this fairly regular pattern, which coincided nicely with my decision of around the same time to not get a job. I see a lot of Sergei and Julie, who were, until recently anyway, equally unemployed. And of course Katie, who wanders in and out in highly singular style. I occupy my down time cooking and cleaning, doing grocery shopping, and of course re-reading Harry Potter. My productivity is perhaps low, but I don’t feel restless yet. I’m going to paint something one afternoon soon, I’m working myself up to it. Perhaps a self-portrait. Something emotionally relevant, just to see if I can eke it out with any success.

Last night was the premiere of Harry Potter 5. It was a perfectly lovely time, we went to Collete’s house to mingle and prepare, then trooped over en masse to the Savoy. Along with, it turns out, as many as 1,500 other enthusiastic souls, including the largest collection of Uni alumni and current students I’ve seen outside of the building itself in quite a while. It was great fun, the movie enjoyable, and the night quite long.

The night before I saw Ben E., along with his typically crazy but thoroughly interesting roommates. Katie was there, so I headed over to High Street after dinner with family friends and their new baby (reasonably adorable). It was good to catch up with Ben, as always, but around 11pm I walked the two blocks to Kinzie’s apartment, in order to be (finally, after six months) reunited with Alison and Maya. It was a happy reunion, although the evening had progressed sufficiently so I could barely do the meeting justice. But I tried, I tried.

The night before was Sunday, a good night for a long, meandering drive with Katie. The night before that was perfect for capture the flag in Carle Park followed by an on-campus party with Kimmy and then a ride around the country club and suburbia in her new golf cart. The night before that, Friday, was a party from which Sergei and I walked home. It was over two miles, and I have run more than that earlier in the evening (it nearly killed me). A bit scary, a bit long, but overall definitely worth doing. If, perhaps, only for the story. Early that day we had been to Allerton, which was a very nice afternoon in the park. Friday was an incredibly long day, though: from pancakes with Julie and Sergei and Katie at 10:30am to swimming at Al’s house in the early afternoon to Allerton and then back to home for dinner and that ill-conceived run with Sergei, finished just in time to be half an hour late for Julie to pick the both of us up to go to a party from which we (deservedly, and happily) walked home. The day was as long as that sentence.

And so on the recollection goes: one day after the next, all the way back to my arrival. I absolutely love it. And now I’m off to Alison’s birthday, and then another night ride with Kimmy. It should be wonderful.

background noise: The Avalanche, Sufjan Stevens

Posted in General
by j. android

the end of june

Sunday, July 1st, 2007 at about 2:19 pm

This is the 500th post in this journal. The frequency of posts varies wildly, but I’ve been writing for almost five years, since the first month of high school. It’s one of the more permanent things I’ve ever attempted. So here’s to another five years.

I woke this morning and it was July. I didn’t even see it coming.

Life’s a typical blur: the end of school is all packing and hauling futons, coupled with late nights partying followed by even later ones. And, somewhere in there, finals, but my schedule was actually far from onerous academically. And, thankfully, I finished with good marks, proving with some finality to myself that college isn’t going to be impossibly difficult at all (far from it).

From California I flew to the East Coast, to spend a day reconvening with Scott, whom I will see only for those few hours this year, and prepare for the family cruise to Bermuda. The cruise was reasonably lovely; Bermuda is stunning, and unlike too many touristy destinations isn’t impoverished. It’s actually incredibly pleasant. But, admittedly, overrun with tourists, which I find a little irritating when traveling. Of course, I must count myself among that number, but I like to get away from major populated areas and major tourist destinations when traveling. That’s nearly impossible on a cruise, since the entire enterprise is a mobile tourist destination. But no matter, it was still pleasant. And the family reasonably well-behaved, at that.

Perhaps the only interesting thing to note about the trip, beyond the jet-skiing to remote beaches and rented mopeds taken around the idyllic island, was a girl on the boat with us. A girl from, I think, Berks County, Pennsylvania, or some other relative rural destination in the Eastern half of that state. My cousins and sister met her, and found her strange. I didn’t really understand why, but I hadn’t spoken to her. We saw her dancing alone in the bar most nights. The final evening of the cruise my two male cousins and I were there, sitting smoking Cuban cigars, when she came up to us, asked if we’d like to dance. “Sure,” I said. No one else came with me, my enthusiasm apparently didn’t speak for the group’s. But I went and we danced, her in a sort of modified country line dance kind of a fashion and me in whatever way I thought felt least foolish. This lasted a long time. “If you request a slow song,” she said, “I’ll dance.” When I asked the DJ to play “something slow” I only found skepticism, though, and I helped nothing by suggesting 98 degrees (the first thing I could remember from middle school dances) when he asked for a suggestion. So no slow song, only hours of this strange kind of dancing. All of my cousins were in the bar by now, amusing themselves by either photographing me or having Jagerbombs at the bar with my uncle. Finally, the night almost over, the DJ comes through with Enrique Iglesias’s “Hero,” which was perfect. Not perfect enough to detract from the strangeness of this girl, though, which my cousins had been pretty accurate about. We talked about a lot of things, and when we left the bar after that song talked about many more things. About her cat, with hair that’s white and black, or her graduation party, or the time she was on the local TV news, or how she’s pretty handy with a discus. We talked about the constellations we could see from the aft deck of the ship, where we walked after the bar, and the beauty of long, straight, 8-mile stretches of country road. She talked about wanting to go into dentistry, because she loves teeth. But there were some things that threw me. She described the girl who beat out her sister as the star of the track team as “a coon,” which caused me a moment’s pause trying to figure out if I had heard her right. “That girl was a beast,” she said. Yes, I think I heard her right. Around this point I gave up the pursuit of actually wanting to do anything with her, I really just wanted to go to bed. Three hours in and nothing was going anywhere, plus she’s sort of racist, apparently, and in many ways maybe a bit unworldly. It took a while longer to call it a night. But eventually we did, and as expected nothing came of it. I saw her the next morning as we were leaving the boat, spoke to her some. She was gracious. We hugged goodbye. And that was that.

After the cruise I was back at the shore in New Jersey for almost a week. Rachel came down, we spent a very pleasant day swimming and biking and enjoying ourselves. Then we headed to Philadelphia, where we met Ron and spent another excellent afternoon eating lunch in the Terminal Market and wandering South Street and then Rittenhouse Square in the evening for gelato. I bought some pants at Urban Outfitters that I am particularly proud of. We watched Dandelion, an incredibly bleak movie that (in true Indie-film fashion) is somewhere in between Donny Darko and Napoleon Dynamite, except not funny at all. The cinematography is wonderful, though, even if it does have to stand in for the lackluster dialogue.

The next day, Friday, I flew home. Everything went smoothly. I arrived Friday evening and ate dinner with my father. It’s beautiful in Champaign; all the recent rain has rendered the terrain the most vivid green. The weather is perfect right now. After dinner I rode the scooter around the country block signing at the top of my lungs in elation. Anita came over, we went for a walk. Katie came over to drop off an invitation. I went to bed early.

Saturday I unpacked and got a haircut and went downtown with Sergei, then with him to Carle Park to meet Lucy. We went shopping, I looked unsuccessfully for a cheap suit jacket to wear to that night’s party. I returned home to eat dinner with my father and change, then went with Sergei to the party. It was wonderful: many old faces, and all faces I wanted to see badly. Plenty of people whom I haven’t seen (or in some cases spoken to) since the winter. It’s been a fast six months. We all stood around and played music and talked and made merry until the early hours of the morning. The birds chirped as I fell asleep on a couch with Katie. I awoke this morning and it was July. Katie gave me a ride home. I spoke to my father, who was just waking himself, and then went back to bed until the early afternoon. I woke to see him off as he left for Indianapolis, then wandered upstairs to write this.

It’s almost 4 o’clock. I should see if anyone wants to come over for dinner. I might make the artichokes in the fridge. The window’s open. I feel overwhelmingly good. There really is no substitute for home sometimes.

background: boards of canada “zoetrope” and sigur ros “()”

Several weeks ago I was feeling a longing for this same home, and wrote this:


there is no romance
in the newfound ubiquity of fast food
or in dwindling populations
on signs at city limits
or even in the old bed
of a much-loved pickup truck;
there is only loss disguised
as progress, or championed as
part of a simple, respectable life
that was always only myth.
But that gathering darkness
over a July field
knows much of these things,
and those who live under it
know much of this space
and how to worry not as
the crowds do, but as
only a cornfield can:
in words not spoken
but sung slowly, and silently
out of respect for the land
that bore us all.

Posted in General
by j. android