HE SAID, MARIE, MARIE, HOLD ON TIGHT
~ The Waste Land, "The Burial of The Dead", Eliot
~ The Waste Land, "The Burial of The Dead", Eliot
Sunday, August 24, 2008
it's browntown here on eddy street! chandhni, my room mate has moved in, and with her, her parents. who have brought, from new york, a sack of indian bismati rice, spice racks (we have a--revolving--spice rack with 20 indian spices and things like galangal, tamarind, and amazing, demonic things that have no name, all handlabeled by soumya, chandhni's mom), and my garam masala! this is insane. and my first time living with another english major. pajama party every night, she says, grabbing the diary of anais nin from my shelf. i'm raiding this, she says.
Monday, August 18, 2008
it's been pure madness, and i have just moved into a new house. a new house--with garden and patio and driveway and kitchen and fireplace and all that jazz, and for really little money really, cos its far from school. i'm paying less than i paid in that mad co-op-with-14-sorority-girls house. but with all that stuff its a lot of work. if you have a garden overlooking mountains, you have to rake the leaves, you have to make sure you don't thread on poison ivy. with 4 pretty glass doors, you have to make sure you lock everything. with a car, you have to do stuff with the radiator and engine, and im just spending my days in shorts, cleaning the washer, driving to the mall to buy a vacuum cleaner, scrubbing, and i am all alone doing it cos my lame room mate is still in new york. (though it means i have dibs on the best furniture). paying your own electricity bills. last night i went out with one of the new freshmen from hwa chong, fetched her home (oh god, how did that happen? when did i become a driver? when did i become an adult), and was reminded how im done with all that politicking and easily-amused-ness. there is a gravestone outside my room--a big one and a small one, so i am guessing it's a mother and child. there are cicadas constantly singing. i have a day of more physical work for me.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
last week in the city. it's one week shy of 3 months in manhattan. i think i've learnt much, if not about publishing, at least about the city. today i am stressed by work. today was a lot of calls, a lot of press releases. tomorrow is a lot of galleys to be sent out, and i brought work home tonight. sometimes i want to throw my arms about michael. he's one of the assistant publicists, in charge of the poetry and cookbooks and other miscellaneous things, he sits around with plaid shirts, and says pedantic things, and feels sorry for the interns, and is just very nice. someone from a book packaging company called me today, they got my resume ages ago, and asked if i was interested in interning with them. what i like about publishing is that it feels like we're all in a miserable boat. nobody knows how the hell they got there. "you have nice dimples," said the woman in the subway today. "why, thank you," i said. "i get off on the wrong stop constantly," she said. then we talked about how wonderful williamsburg bridge was, the yankees stadium.
in the cantonese eatery today, i sat in front of a very old man. i go to the place often, i come alone because it's cheap and reminds me of china. it reminds me of the nights in shandong, when i'd finish teaching the korean kids, and take the bus to the hole-in-the-wall-restaurant where an old man and his wife cooked while holding their dog in their hands. but i am not in shandong, i am in new york now, bayard street, chinatown. this is a small 7-table family restaurant, with everything written in fan ti chinese, and where everyone speaks cantonese. i usually come with a manuscript, and i sit down with a plate of rice, fish and vegtables, a cup of grass jelly. i am the only one who cannot speak cantonese. but the proprietor likes me. in the beginning when i did not know the place, and could not recognise the fan ti words, i'd ask him, what should i eat? he'd mumble something incomprehensible in cantonese, point somewhere in the menu, and i'd say, all right, i'll have that. the first time that happened, he came out with a plate of rice, drowned in runny egg, battered fish, and pearls of corn. i swear i could have wept. so today, i sat in front of a very old man. he ate very slowly, he had pockets full of stuff. he was wearing a hat, and people seemed to know him. he ordered herbal soup, rice, and one chinese sausage. he reminded me of my grandfather. and then he left.
i talked to leon today. i told him about my crazy plan to wake up at 5 on saturday, take the first bus in to new jersey, take the car, drive up, move my stuff, get my friend, drive out of the city. help me?, i asked. but it's my fucking birthday, he said, i'd be drinking the night before. leon's birthday is the same as sam's birthday, i remembered, sitting in the deli, waiting for the passing shower to end. it has been a long time since i talked to him. sam is a good kid, we had some fun times, but we wouldn't have worked out.
today i read that m ravi was arrested, apparently for disturbing the peace in a mosque. i wonder how the papers responded to it. i wonder what is worse: the flurry of voices in america that fight to be heard, because there are so many voices struggling to be heard, performing to the watchers, they no longer hold any credibility, or value. or is this worse: a pregnant silence? last night i wrote to justin. he sent me the link to a blog "an american in singapore," that florence, his mom, sweet woman, sent him, with me in mind. i told him how much that blog disturbed me. i didn't tell him it offended me. i told him that too much emphasis on understanding cultural differences is to simply reinforce your point of reference, and then you will always be alone, thinking "ah, but in my country..." i told him that the moment one loses a point of reference is the beginning of true empathy.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
got back from baltimore for the weekend--i drove up with his uncle and dad to move in his stuff, then took the amtrak home. baltimore, around umaryland and johns hopkins, is a desolate wasteland, and he lives in a ugly and dangerous neighborhood next to the hospital, where tons of bored ghetto kids hang out outside black soul food joints, and the stretch sells nothing but fried chicken. baltimore near penn station is glamorous, expensive and beautiful, littered with gothic cathedrals and memorials. i was disconcerted, and uncomfortable, and dusty. the amtrak at midnight is full of grumpy travelers and quiet readers, few children. the train moved from baltimore to philly to new york and would continue on to boston.
i got robbed and molested last week around my house--the molesting was a ruse to get me scared so they could grab my ipod from my hand. because the nypd in new york is a silly bureacratic blackhole ("uh, do you know where exactly, it happened? we'll drive you over to look at the spot. i'm awfully sorry but you have to file with the 25th precinct if it was before 110 st, but if the incident was north of 110th, you have to report to the 24th precinct..." "detective," i snap, "are you trying to say that i have to go through this all over again, if so, i am beginning to think this is a waste of time and because i am leaving the city, i value my peace of mind from silence more.") to cut a long, and unpleasant story short, i have decided, well, to hope they like my music. (also, if you are family or family friend, please don't mention this incident to my parents because i haven't told them about it yet, or they would be worried sick.)
other than that, i've been reading. have an interesting manuscript about a boy who gets killed in a murder executed by all the girls who have had their virginity taken from them by him. i get irritated on the subway, and the best part of the very stressful last week (had to freeze a card, pay my school fees, deal with money issues and other grown-up things, drive myself up the highway to get my car number plate--ycl20n, emblazoned embarassingly, and beyond my will, with "maywood, new jersey," much to justin's delight) was swearing to no one in particular when i got out of a jam-packed-my-face-in-your-pits 1 train, like a crazy person. also took the wrong train one night, (the n, to coney island) but to my amazement, it flew from underground over the air, and over the east brooklyn river, where i watched a blood red moon rising over manhattan and the brooklyn bridge. so beautiful.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
i haven't written for a long time. i was too occupied being happy. life is what happens to you when you are too busy making other plans, sings john lennon. what does that mean?, i asked one night. it means you have to pay attention to details, he said. he left earlier today for maryland to start med school. so, goodbye, i said to him this afternoon while we cried outside my apartment next to a car packed with blankets, suitcases, his guitar and eukele. i was late for work. is this how it feels like when you talk about 'big old dogs that make you want to throw your arms around and weep'? why are we crying?, he asked. because we are happy, i said. we had just lived 3 months together between new york and new jersey. he saw me through the first significant death, a contract, my first car. the biggest clam bake we made together while getting horribly drunk on empty stomachs, and then in a happy drunk stupor, sauteing cabbage with beer, and dunking a half bottle of yuengling with the baked fish and clams and onions--that night, eating clambake dunked in beer out of the baking tray with his father, all of us digging into nutmeg flavored rice way past midnight, 5 empty bottles of yuengling--was orgasmic. coney island, brooklyn: sitting by the walrus enclosure, to watch a mother walrus nurse a baby walrus for the rest of the afternoon. co-signing an insurance policy on my new kia rio, feeling terribly stressed out at the realisation--and the finality of being legally intertwined. telling my father, after the fact, that i had just bought my first car--second hand, ugly, bought on his credit history--like all freedom. letting off fireworks in the parking lot behind his former middleschool with yim and tom, us screaming as the burnt stubs came raining down on us. the drives between manhattan and jersey, when i would fall asleep in his car. how i skyped my dad during his birthday, and it ended up with my family clustered around my sister's macbook, while he played his eukele with my dad strumming his guitar, all over skype. the many fights about race and environmentalism--which we never resolved. this summer i felt alive. i felt like i loved, not out of fear of loss (like before). i just loved, generously, with certainty. i am leaving for upstate, ithaca, in a week and a half, to start school. last time i would have said, all this movement, can't be good for the heart. now i think, that if you have something to hold on to, all that movement can't be that bad. it's a little expensive and uses up lots of gas, but there is nothing more wonderful than being on the road with a destination.
[me] dawn, singapore, new york city, ithaca.
holding on tight -- vol ii
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