Apparently, Americans have a lot to learn

October 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

Recently, I stayed in my first hostel. If you’re ever in Austin, check out the Hosteling International there. It’s like summer camp except with beer and foreigners.

On my first night, I met a pair of brothers from Switzerland, travelling across the United States down to Mexico through Cuba and somehow ultimately ending up in Panama. We started talking about the differences between Swiss and American life, beginning with our education systems.

After determining that “college” to them was “high school” to me, and “university” to them was “college” to me, the blonde brother said:

“In Switzerland, we go to University to learn…I don’t know how to say in English what I’m trying to say..we go to University to…we study for four years to learn…to learn hand job.”

“In Switzerland,” I said, “you have to go to school for four years to learn how to do a hand job? I didn’t know it could be so complicated! Have we been doing it wrong all these years?”

“NO, NO! We know how to do that! I mean to learn job we work with our hands” he assured me.

PHEW, I thought. We Americans may have a lot to learn when it comes to fiscal responsibility, economic policy, education, foreign policy, diplomacy, domestic policy, healthcare, militarism, capitalism, democracy…but I was really beginning to question things when I thought we might not even have know the proper way to do a hand job. I always thought that was the real cornerstone of our society, the one thing we would always have in the bag. If these Swiss bastards are dedicating four entire years to studying hand jobs we really are in big trouble. But, not to worry, it turned out to be just a simple misunderstanding. Keep calm and jerk on, my fellow Americans. It’s all good.

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Writing decisions instead of making them

October 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

What is the world? Who am I to it?

When you have nothing to write about, you clearly haven’t been thinking lately. Or, maybe you’ve been thinking too much and you’re too trapped in your own head to experience the world as it’s happening around you.

If you made this decision, to start somewhere new, you would be leaving something behind.

What would you be leaving behind?

A job that makes you angry. A few people you may never see again. A neighborhood you’d have no reason to go to anymore.

You’d be moving from happenstance to circumstance. From a decision made for you to a giant leap you’ve made for yourself.

Would it be a good decision? Does it matter?

D.H. Lawrence on love

October 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

My apologies for the sentimentalism/romanticism/idealism that is about to ensue. I may be losing my ‘Cynic for Life’ card, but Lawrence’s discussion of love is just too beautiful not to share.

“There is,” he said, in a voice of pure abstraction, “a final me which is stark and impersonal and beyond responsibility. So there is a final you. And it is there I would want to meet you — not in the emotional, loving plane — but there beyond, where there is no speech and no terms of agreement. There we are two stark, unknown beings, two utterly strange creatures, I would want to approach you, and you me. — And there could be no obligation, because there is no standard for action there, because no understanding has been reaped from that plane. It is quite inhuman, — so there can be no calling to book, in any form whatsoever — because one is outside the pale of all that is accepted, and nothing known applies. One can only follow the impulse, taking that which lies in front, and responsible for nothing, asked for nothing, giving nothing, only each taking according to the primal desire.”

“Only there needs the pledge between us, that we will both cut off everything, cast off ourselves even, and cease to be, so that that which is perfectly ourselves can take place in us.”

“I want to find you, where you don’t know your own existence, the you that your common sense denies utterly.”

Once upon a new moon

October 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

I am a tree, rooted, deeply connected to the earth. Though I am connected to the earth, I am connected to myself.

I am the starts, glowing, floating through the dark sky. Though I am floating in the sky, I am connected to myself.

I am a child who feels happiness, who feels excitement, who feels comfort and freedom and love.

I am a flower that blossoms and dances in the sunlight.

I am a vibrant and radiating light that comes from the earth and reaches to the sky.

September 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

It must have been…I think it was a show…yeah, that’s right. It was a show at The Cake Shop, some local band called Friends with Benefits. We ate at some BYOB hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant on the Lower East Side before heading to the venue. After the show, the sky was clear and the air had a gentle breeze that filled the night with a crisp, calm urgency that seemed to whisper “come here, no wait, stay over there”. In this indecisive air we walked, hand-in-hand, across the Brooklyn Bridge, over the mile-wide expanse of the East River and eventually descended upon our home together as the moon ducked behind the Earth and the sun began its slow climb over the horizon.

Take me out to the ball game

September 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

I was riding the 4 train Uptown one evening last month when I was living in the Bronx. There was a Yankee game that night, so the train was pretty packed and I was standing next to a man and a woman who appeared to be on a first date. Now, I love watching any kind of stranger, but watching strangers on a date is pretty much the Mecca of people watching. So I settled into my cozy little spot pressed between the pole, a stroller and a woman’s over-flowing shoulder bag, and began to listen in.

Since we were practically on top of each other, I gave myself full permission to eavesdrop on everything the two people said to each other. The conversation had all the trimmings of a first date – Oh, you live in Hoboken and you work in Midtown? How’s that commute? Who’s your favorite Yankee? Did you listen to the new Kanye/Jay-Z album? Two brothers, you said?

Needless to say, it was one of my more entertaining commutes.

In my head I wished them well as they waddled off the train and into the crowds of people filing into the colossal stadium. I absently wondered if they would end up sleeping together as I continued on my way home.

Tonight, I was leaving the Yankee game, taking the 4 train in the opposite direction (since I no longer live in the Bronx), and noticed that guy I had seen on the date a few weeks back.

When things like this happen, when I somehow cross paths with a complete stranger for the second time in a hugely crowded city, I take a pause to wonder about the order of the universe and other such things that may explain these kinds of “coincidences”. But, as I began existential-izing, I noticed that he was with a girl this time as well. It was a different girl.

He had the same slightly uncomfortable, slightly excited look on his face, and, I kid you not, he was saying some of the exact same things I had heard him say on the uptown train with the other woman. He was on another first date! At another Yankee game!
I giggled, probably louder than I should have.

Admittedly, perhaps the stranger fact here is that I happened to see this perfect stranger in nearly the exact same situation on two completely unrelated occasions, but the questions about that are much too vast and my theories are much too underdeveloped to posit a guess at them here.

So, instead, I am left wondering about first dates.

I get it, some guys love sports, and baseball games are a great first date place. There is just enough action to provide conversation if she turns out to be a dud. Or, the game can be easily ignored if you find out your date is someone you actually like talking to.

And, beer gets delivered to you.

Seems like an ideal place for a super fun and laid back date.

Hell, my parents’ first date was to a baseball game and they’ve been married for 30 years (god bless them).

But, taking multiple people to the same first-date spot seems like it would lose some of its magic. Plus, what if you accidentally call someone by the wrong name? I mean, baseball games and first dates are all kinda the same after a while, so it could get confusing faster than you’d think.

Maybe I’m being too harsh, though. I mean, I guess we’re bound to run out of options for good first date spots the longer we stay on the “scene”. And, it’s not like dinner and a bottle of wine, even if you change up the restaurant and the kind of wine, is all that different or interesting.

Is the alternative to keep a rotating list of first date spots? You could then create a schedule and set a limit as to how many times you can repeat the date spot. Then, you could document which dates went the best at which locations and determine those locations you’d like to continue taking dates to, and those you need to cross off the list with a black Sharpie. You can create a ranking system to cut down on clerical work, maybe introduce some color-coding into the mix…

Or, maybe a go-to first date spot isn’t such a bad idea?

September 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve been spending a lot of time outside, which is nice and all, but sometimes it is too quiet here. New York screams, all the time. You can be walking down the street, a nice, tree-lined street on the Upper West Side or something, and then all of a sudden you can turn a corner and everything is screaming – people in such a hurry that their shadows are left gasping for breath, buildings crying for attention, cars yelling at other cars to get out of the way, trains hissing beneath the ground.

It’s usually ok, though, because New York is not screaming at you. Without the noise, you start to realize that your mind is screaming, but, unlike New York, your mind is screaming at you, and there is no corner to turn to escape it.

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