It is about simple awareness — awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: “This is water, this is water.”
-David Foster Wallace
Spring yields, Paris’s time is up. It’s summer in New York City.
When you arrive in New York you always realize you haven’t brought enough clothes. Moreover, the sneakers you dutifully packed to assuage that nagging common sense of yours are suddenly turned upon with a scornful eye. Walking all day in heels not only seems perfectly practical, you realize now it’s the only proper footwear to be considered. If things get desperate you’ll abdicate your platforms for flats, but by God you’ll not be seen in tennis shoes.
On the street everybody is eyeing everybody else, sizing up their outfits, their attractiveness, their craziness. But there’s a security in knowing that as often as their eyes fall upon you, it only lasts a blink, and then they’re out of your world again. In the short-term memory of this constant promenade you can be anyone you like, confident that whatever judgement you face will only last as long as it takes you to pass your appraiser by.
In the morning, the sidewalks are lined with donut wagons, coffee stops. In the afternoon- Halal carts, cupcake trolleys, smoothie shacks, roasted-nut rickshaws, frozen yogurt trucks. Dark skinned women are selling sliced mangos in a plastic bag with hot sauce, a snack you’ve never heard of, and can’t muster an inclination to try. On the subject of fruit, why is fruit on the street so insanely cheap compared to in the grocery stores? On the subject of grocery store prices, let’s not go there- it’s too painful a subject, we try to suppress the thought.
Walking down the street, men will purr at you, honk from their trucks, wink from the passenger’s seat. On the outside you cock a disdainful eyebrow, but as you walk away there’s a renewed swish in your hips betraying your internal, “Yeah, still got it.”
In lower TriBeCa “The Shirts” purposefully walk the streets on their way out to coffee or back to an important meeting. Black dress pants, light blue button-down shirt is the dress code of professionalism. Standing in front of Citigroup feels like standing in a strange aviary- the shirts flit in and out all around you, flapping and fluttering in the wind.
Any tall, beautiful woman you see on the street you mentally label Model, and you’re probably right. Strange fashions start to grow on you. All these women wearing potato-sack full-length rompers… perhaps you should try it. As long as you’ve got on your wedges.
Museum exhibitions come and go. You wait in line to see upside-down waterfalls, indoor rain, nude people, cartoons. Free exhibitions lure you off the street to discover some the newest art concept of some draped fabric or a box comprising a plastic spoon, a leaf, and whatever the rest of that shit was.
Trips to Brooklyn are remembered by the sight of greenery and the taste of some sought out specialty food- pork belly, famous thin-crust pizza, chocolate-dipped key-lime pie on a stick. Trips to Queens are concrete, bricks, boards, and broken glass. Coney Island is a crowd and a racket; a spin around and hurtle down.
The subway roars in the shadows. It’s always so much more humid and hotter down below. In the tunnels of its lair, the beast rushes, rockets, devours its way towards you. The wind preceding its approach is like a foul breath on your face, and yet nonetheless you’re slightly grateful for the breeze.
Between your breasts your bra rests always slightly damp. Stand too long catching up with a friend on the street and the sun starts to juice you like a lemon, drops of sweat beading your hairline and rolling down your back. Your hair always looked better in the morning.
In parks all over the city, thousands sit to eat, to rest their legs, to cool in the shade. A musician coaxes soulful notes from his instrument, soon joined the banging of a drum, or a bucket. A dancer follows, tapping, twirling, spinning. On paths the runners and bikers form an endless stream, an endless exercise.
The moon rises, the city glows and throbs with life. No one has to tell you the city doesn’t sleep. Spend that time directing me to this large apple I’ve heard so much about.
You go. Eyes slide past the homeless, the begging, the soliciting. Do you ever want a Metro News? Hands on the metal pole, weight shifting, lurching over the tracks. Feet slapping the pavement. Shoes heating up. Looking at signs, your phone, faces, graffiti, clothes, stickers on the mail-box. Your dress swishes around your legs, the weight of your purse bumps reassuringly against your waist, pulls achingly down on your shoulder.
It’s a time and a place. It’s like your memory of Christmas- the years change but the setting is the same, the feeling is the same. All your memories fall in the same genre, set to a backdrop of sticky air, hot sun, damp sweat, rumbling trains, bustling crowds, tired feet, excitement. It comes every year, you flock every year. The city is full of sun and life, and you are full of the city.
I’ve come across two strange public bathroom inventions. “What?” you think, “Like a new soap dispenser?” No, not quite…
Exhibit A) The toll bathroom.
I felt quite incensed that I had to pay 25 cents to use the bathroom at this SF movie theatre. It’s a cruel gimmick to charge people to pee.
I mean really this is actually probably a pretty smart invention. I can imagine the harried mother with the toddler that is always trying to escape, or the baby in a stroller she doesn’t want to let out of her sight, that needs this device. I just wonder if the bathroom designer was enlightened enough to put the same seat in the men’s bathroom as well?
Oh dear God, what happened here?
I’ve walked into a bathroom stall
where something sketchy clearly did befall.
Wasn’t it a nice-looking woman that just emerged?
Like a witness after the fact,
in a daze, my memory I must wrack.
I’ve been taken by surprise, just a bit hysterical-
trying to imagine what possible situation
could have culminated in my current tribulation.
She must have been crouching at some height…
To find just what I’d need a spatter analysis.
Not by me, I’ve been seized by a sudden paralysis.
No, I’m not equipped to handle this scene!
And I know it might seem quite lowly,
but I think I’ll just back away slowly.
People of the world (we’ll be optimistic with that “world” part),
I am not proud of what I am about to show you, but some things are too funny not to see the light of day. When I returned home, I knew I had some comedic gold stashed away- I’ve kept every diary I’ve ever written, and I’ve written faithfully from a very young age. Now I went and unearthed these treasures, but I had forgotten (more likely repressed) what a horrifyingly idiotic child I was. What is about to follow are the multi-lingual (though by no means correct), shallow, ramblings of a fool. Ie. the precursor to me now. Not even a pretty little fool- I was like a greasy walking Abercrombie advertisement.
Please do not judge me too harshly. Ohhh but I know there’s no help for it. Judge away, but at least have a good laugh while you’re at it.
Allo mon Ami!
U R my new diary. Or shall I say tu a ma nouvelle diary. Today school went as usual. I got a 15.5/15 on my roman gravestone. Muchos more than I expected. Flabby Babby (Ms. Babb) still wildly CraZ. At brunch I found out Ariel is having a Halloween party and got myself invited. Vair, vair, disappointing that I was not already on the list since I have been eating w/ Ariel 4 atleast a month and a ½ . They still could just have put my name on the list and not really invite me. Hopefully not. Anyway. At lunch everything went as usual. Waterfight, Austen throwing soda on Taylor, Shelly gushing over Austen. I 2 happen 2 like Austen, but always considerate I put my friend first and will keep my pash 4 Austen 2 myself. After school I walked 2 the library and got Wuthering Heights and the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Then I came back 2 school and walked Angela home w/ Shelly, Taylor, and Jack. Then I got my Vball uniform out and changed. I was still feeling tres malade avec pencil shaving sore throat as we got ready 4 our game against Kennedy. To make matters worse I was in the game 4 a total of 3 serves. Make account, none of them mine. When my mom talked to asshole (Shae)(coach) about it he said, “Which one is she?” Oh tres amusant our coach. He wasn’t joking. We still won ourgame and a few Kennedy Parents said we were better than Jordan. When I came home parents yelled at me about Babb, then I ate soup and had a little cry. When I started homework mom brought in cookies and we all made up. I finee devoir and took a shower. Then I finished my book, Away Laughing on a Fast Camel. Now that was tres amusant. Then I got my backpack ready for school 2morrow and put on eye shadow. Now 2 work out my plan on how not to be a ditz in PE and attract Austen. Now, according 2 my studies, boys like you when you don’t like them. So here ees ma plan:
1) Ignore Austen unless spoken 2
2) Work hard at football
3) Open mouth little or none unless unwanted gabble comes out
4) Be awesome at game.
Now hopefully this will work. Let me memorize it then eat it. Just kidding! Hahahah. Not. Hahhahaha. Not. Hahahahahha.
-An example of the gabble that comes out in PE.
Note to self. Add- get better laugh. Now somewhere between cackle and singing moose.
So that’s what I was like as a 12 year old.. Let’s just appreciate that one moment where I did something on the verge of being intelligent by checking out Wuthering Heights and Hunchback. On the other hand I must note that the book I had actually read, Away Laughing on a Fast Camel, is one of the trashiest pre-teen novels there is, which is where I got most of my idiotic/half french diction from. We must ask, why was I putting on eyeshadow at the end of the night? Also, why is this master plan the same basic outline for my boy entrancing strategy 9 years later?
Well I know you all are wondering how this master plan of mine turned out…
C’est 11h28, almost time for nuit nuit. Much time has past since last entery. I have tried my plan- here are the results-
Sounds okay 4 now!
Well it’s good to know my heart was in the right place with that whole ‘Be kind to others’ stuff… Hey and talking to the boy I liked once a month- that was daring.
Ok I must end with an excerpt from the next entry, which is mostly boring. I spend a great amount of time analyzing whether my gym teacher is a pervert. My suspicions being founded on the fact that he said he’d love to see me “perform” (quotes from my 12 year old self). According to mini me, “There’s something a little “off” w/ him. I’m being very attentive so this doesn’t lead to sexual abuse.” (It doesn’t.)
But that’s not the highlight, this is: I recount our lunchtime activities-
“We all had fun, Shelly read us a scene from her new, incredibly dirty, book. My personely favorite quote, ‘Fuck me now.'”
To my sistas who have ever found themselves uncontrollably snarfing a bag of potato chips, lying in bed all morning eating chocolate, inexplicably crying while unloading the dishwasher, or tiptoeing down the hall in the dead of night to pilfer your roommate’s ice cream,
We need to do something about this injustice.
I’m talking about the injustice that only women have to go through PMS.
Today I was walking with my girl friend and she told me something horrifying. She had mentioned to her doctor that she felt like her PMS’s were especially bad lately, and he said that made sense because women in the 18-25 age range have more rampantly fluctuating hormone levels. He said it’s almost like going through a second puberty.
Sistas, I think I speak for all of this when I say,
AH HELLLLLLLL NO. I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR THAT!
Second puberty? Once was enough, mother fucker. I did my time in seventh grade- awkwardly taller than all the boys, braces, general greasiness. Ya, I remember that, and I’ll be damned if you’re sending me back for another round.
This doctor continued, “Yes, and it’s even worse since you’re around other girls all the time.”
DEM BITCHES! At this point in her story I physically pushed my girl friend away from me. We all know about syncing up, but all y’alls pheromones are up-ing my crazy factor too? There needs to be an app for this. I want an app that works like heat vision, but that shows how much pheromones all my girl friends are giving off. Boyfriends may also find a use for this app too. And by that I mean they can use it to determine the best time to come bearing gifts of chocolate, not to undermine all of our superior arguments with that “are you on your period?” crap.
Now I was becoming indignant. We women have to suffer through the horrors of PMS, which if we make it through alive ends in blood shooting out of our vag, but men don’t have anything? “Ohh no I woke up with a boner!” Wah wah wah. Waistband that shit. “Ooh I accidentally jizzed on my sheets” Fuck you! I wake up and it looked like a massacre occurred in my bed overnight! What do you think is harder to get out, some clear white jizz or blood red BLOOD?
And what’s the reward for our struggles? Oh great, I get the opportunity to waddle around like a pumpkin for 9 months and then force a football sized human out my vag. Brilliant. If PMS is any indicator for how I’m gonna be pregnant, men of the world, watch out. Rapunzel’s mother was craving some salad? She had it easy! I’m going to end up a 200 pound monster and with a child named Caramel Crunch Bar locked away in Nestle’s Toll House. If I have any self control it will be to aim for a slightly human-name-sounding craving like Kit Kat or Baby Ruth.
So this is where the feminist in me says it has to stop. I am officially petitioning God (and hoping that he reads these blog posts rather selectively…) to institute a MANstrual period. I’m not talking about like when a guy’s favorite sports team loses and he mopes about the house for days on end like a lil pussy. I mean I want some mood swings, some cravings, some unjustified craziness that can only be tamed with chocolate. Give me blood! I’d like to see how today’s greatest innovators handle The Manpon and a pad with room for balls. I want to see commercials where men twirl around in skirts, dance in all white outfits, and splash in skimpy bikinis on the beach to demonstrate how free they feel. Yes, this is what I want.
Now I’ll be lenient- I don’t particularly want to see a man try to push a baby out of his…. Yowza, that would inhumane. I’ll let that particular burden to women be offset by men’s general stupidity. But for the rest of it: let’s go, God.
So who’s gonna sign this petition with me?
On a slightly off-topic aside, check out all the things you can learn by Google Image-searching ‘tampon’.
There’s a website called Tamponcrafts.com
Disgusting, but also quite creative. I give props.
You’re so right.