new york, late july

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

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