Monday, August 30, 2010

The Cowboy from Colorado

On my flight back from Florida (sister's fortieth birthday), I fell asleep while we sat delayed at the gate. It was the head-jerking kind of nap, and, when I woke up, I apologized to the man next to me if I'd been crashing into him. He said that was ok, he hadn't noticed anything. Anyway, we got to talking, and I learned that he was a former rodeo cowboy from Colorado. I'd never met a cowboy! He described his ex-wife, sincerely deadpan, as "an OK lady," his German-descent mother as a "cranky Kraut," and his Scottish-descent father as a "70-year old who dances on his knees at nightclubs." He used to listen to Kool and the Gang at rodeos instead of country, couldn't relate to his 20-yr old son's dating stories at all since he himself had gotten married at 19, and loved NY after he went into a deli, got a puzzled look when he asked for a bagel with strawberry cream cheese, but ended up with a bagel and cream cheese, sliced strawberries on the side.

Only towards the end of the flight, after we'd been chatting and laughing, did he admit that yes, he had noticed my head snapping all over the place and that he'd wished there was something he could do cuz he'd felt bad for my neck.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Snowballs in August

I saw this license plate driving out of the city. A New York plate. Above the New York tag reads, "Choose Life," then the bottom, "God is Pro-Life." I always thought if I ever had a car, I would never put any bumper stickers or plates or anything that says anything about who I am. Who needs complete strangers to read into your life? (Oh wait, is a blog very different? Yes! I get to go on and on about what I think!)

Anyway, this month is full of big and small decisions, all of which are snowballing this week. Do I go sailing? (Yes) For how long? (Dunno) Do I keep my apartment or sublet it? (Neither) If I let the lease expire, where do I store my stuff? (Just picked the storage place today) How much of my stuff do I keep, throw away, and sell? (I won't bore you.) What movers do I use? (Same) Where do I board Susie? (Glencadia Dog Camp, NY) Do I keep my COBRA while I'm gone? (Dunno) Where do I have mail forwarded to? Should I switch phone plans? What do I take on the boat? AGH!

I go breathe now and attack another box.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Critic and the Moth

I went to my first the Moth StorySLAMS tonight at Housing Works bookshop. The place was packed to capacity, and the theme was "Flight." Members of the audience who wanted to tell their 5-minute story on stage put their names on slips of paper in a bag and waited to see if their names were drawn.

Ten names were called over two hours. Of the ten stories, two were pretty tight and polished, two were highly entertaining, and the rest--save one--were okay. The stories told of suburban revenge by model plane in the Boy Scouts; hot air balloon catastrophe; the death of a much-loved cat finally setting its owner free to travel; the elation of getting fired from a hated job; attacks by Corsican birds; and scraping by to catch a flight with some dignity intact.

These storytellers were regular people (albeit trending towards the nerdy, neurotic, goofy, or eccentric), so I was really happy that everyone got genuine applause for, at the very least, their willingness to take such a public risk to hone their storytelling skills.

Here's a poem for them...

The Critic

I cannot possibly think of you 
other than you are: the assassin

of my orchards. You lurk there
in the shadows, meting out

conversation like Eve's first
confusion between penises and

snakes. Oh be droll, be jolly
and be temperate! Do not

frighten me more than you
have to! I must live forever.

--Frank O'Hara

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Airing things out

Evan's boat is finally back in the water with a new rudder! We went out with a yellow bucket full of various cleaning products and rubber gloves, ready to tackle the cabin, which hasn't been cleaned in years.

And we inaugurated the boat with a first onboard fight.

The argument started in the marina, on the way to our dock. It continued once we were at the boat, sitting in the cockpit. Back and forth, heated conversation in the cockpit, until a neighbor appeared and said hi. The argument ground to a halt while we returned his greeting as if everything was just fine. Then we waited to resume until he was safely out of earshot. By then, though, another neighbor passed, and the waiting game continued.

Marinas are open spaces, but close. Boats are docked just a few feet away from each other, and sounds carry on the water. There is hardly any ambient urban noise to camouflage arguments or conversations or even snoring. So as our neighbors appeared and passed, and our retorts toed and bounced in their starting blocks, I thought, "Great, we're going to have no privacy on this trip." Because for the first month or so, as we crawl down the Intracoastal Waterway, we are going to be spending lots of time in marinas.

More scary, though, was the fear that, nevermind privacy from strangers, we might not even have much privacy from one another! On a 33-foot sailboat, where do you go when you just want the other person to disappear? I wound up going below deck. A door, I needed a door, something to block off access and sightlines. There was the bathroom (or the head, as it's called), which was as yet uncleaned and cramped and smelly. It had to be the bedroom then (forward berth). Unfortunately, I couldn't find the hook that would unlatch the door from the wall. Very frustrating. I nixed going back above and ashore, since that would require putting on a poker face in case I met a neighbor.  At last, the bedroom door unlatched, and I could sit by myself and pretend Evan wasn't less than 10 feet away.

Sweet privacy: space (albeit small) to hear my thoughts, to let out a few rhetorical, obscenity-laced questions, and to generally calm down. The boat rocked gently. Evan became a muffled presence, reduced to footsteps above deck. A puff of a breeze felt like cool water on my head. My anger dissipated.

Evan and I didn't spend the rest of the day holding hands and looking into each other's eyes, but we did manage not to throw the other overboard. In fact, we aired out the cabin and got rid of some mold, as well as tackled the removal of too-old blue protective tape (picture above). More significantly, though, it was nice to learn that even though such a small space might make it a little harder to take private, I-need-to-cool-off time, it also makes coming back together that much easier.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Geeking out at the NYPL

I am not usually very civic-minded, but last month I wrote a letter to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn against the proposed budget cuts to the NYPL because, in short, I am a big book nerd.

(In full...1. Access to books and learning and imagination should not be the sole privilege of people with money!--And I don't think that just because I'm currently unemployed! 2. I love that libraries are agnostic about book sales and popularity, and a little-known book can sit right next to a Nobel authored book when the alphabet works out just so. 3. Crinkling plastic book jackets, Gumby-bendy paperbacks, and knuckle knock knock rebindings.)

Today, I lost a few happy hours at The Performing Arts branch of the NYPL. Besides musical scores and dance recordings and theatre archives, you can borrow screenplays!

I brought home THE PIANO (Jane Campion), SECRETARY (Erin Cressida Wilson), JULES AND JIM (Francois Truffaut), and THE ICE STORM (James Schamus). I've started the Jules and Jim screenplay, and there are certain scenes already that I've mentally flagged to watch with the screenplay in hand. These are the scenes where I don't really get the technical stuff. The words are pretty self-explanatory--dissolve, close-up, pan, fade--but I have to admit that I can't really visualize, "The camera pans after her in close-up as she puffs rapidly round the room. . ." We'll see.

For those of you who are employed and perhaps too busy to go to the library, you can find the screenplays (or DVD, for Jules and Jim) through the Amazon links below.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Good afternoon

Susie, in her Gentle Leader headcollar (NOT a muzzle), lying on the August toasted grass in the park.

Good morning