Monday, August 25, 2008

Another Late Arrival

There is one thing I do enjoy about getting into New York late: catching a glimpse of the trains leaving the city. Not the MTA subway cars, but real trains. Trains with two stories of windows glowing blue across the side, making the machine look like a deep-sea creature swimming through the darkness just over and beneath the edge of the turnpike.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Party

A party, on Monday night. Interesting.

My roommate's former co-workers, from...two jobs ago? All involved with some billionaire. They are good looking, interesting, long-legged and broad-shouldered. They have accents, money, PhDs, knowledge and opinions on wine, European travel and soccer. A date in Paris is discussed with the same semi-enthused tone I use to talk about a good deli around the corner.

"Come on out, hang out!" they say.

And talk about what exactly? That I want to buy Madden 09? My trip back to my hometown in Maryland? The suburbs? Outside there is a professional chef(handling the grill while I cook plain chicken, rice and beans), an heiress, a doctor, another chef, and two diplomats. Diplomats! Asking if I'm an American! Is that bad? I'm almost embarrassed to put on pre-season Monday Night Football. Almost. Is there a better way to tell them I'm irrevocably American? Quickly, I switch to the Olympics...even though Family Guy is on! Keep it at the Olympics(Giants/Browns was at halftime).

A guest wants to play Wii Sports. OK, that I can handle. What will she pick? Tennis? Golf? She picks...bowling! Impossibly tall, sophisticated French woman picks the game of beer guts and ash trays.

She is good, but tipsy. I'm sober, and a little better. She's drunkenly fake-angry at her loss. Maybe there's a little real anger. Now, she could be a friend back home. A fellow regular guy at the dive bar...

Until her attractive, Latin fiance comes to take her home. They are all so different from me. Yet, we'll always have Wii Bowling.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Good Start

This is how I would like to start every morning: trying to use the sink that's full of my roommate's dirty dishes(from a Monday night party) and accidentally splashing water so it looks like I pissed myself, followed by delayed trains, and then finally getting to work to find someone else has logged into your machine and locked it.


Late Arrival

Arriving in New York late last night, I noticed how long the tunnel from the Port Authority to the seven train is. Completely devoid of people, the lines of the floor tiles stretch out towards infinity, scaling the people at the far end into specks. The next morning, throngs of commuters will crowd around on all sides, making the tunnel just more walking on the way to work. Late at night, though, it can breathe.

The cackle of an annoyingly loud woman is more grating when you've been stuck in a Greyhound bus for four hours. Especially when you had to tell the guy next you, hey dude, I'm sure you've got a nice ass, but I still don't want half of it in my seat. The cavities that form in your head from lack of sleep fill up with her banal, stupid laughter. People shouldn't be this happy right before Monday.

Everything seems amplified, but in a bad way. An old woman singing for meal money on a mostly empty train is the most depressing thing in the world at two in the morning.

The one exception seems to be borderline women, who become more - not less - fuckable.

I need some sleep.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ramblings, Death Cab, and Guilt

Skip to thoughts on Death Cab.

I am lost.

No, I'm not lost. I'm directionless. Searching for meaning. Fulfillment. But where? From what?

Work? Why don't I feel fulfillment from work? Whenever I try to build my identity(yes, that's the word - knowing yourself is important, I've heard) through work I feel foolish. Isn't it common knowledge that most work is bullshit? Who will remember you for the extra time you put in the office? Is that what you want your family and friends to think of? Yes, I do remember hearing this message - mostly from Hollywood millionaires pretending to be middle-class men who should be content with their place in life. Lost family men who've betrayed their families by missing a Little League game or a piano recital(don't kids do anything interesting? fuck, no wonder pretend Dads and Moms don't want to show up to this shit). Men doing their dream jobs telling us to be content without our dream jobs.

Perhaps if your work is your dream(and therefore important to you), it's OK. From Children's Magician to CEO, I bet both know themselves pretty good through their work. It's part of who they are. Is my job part of who I am?

Maybe there is a problem with my assumptions(which are always dangerous); maybe when you go looking for work that is meaningful you actually rob it of any chance of giving you fulfillment. You can't get by on the "idea' of important work, because you've abstracted it too much. It should just come naturally; what you would be doing anyway.

And if that's true, then what would be important, fulfilling work to me would be reading, writing, watching movies, and doing whatever comes next...

...that's not a fucking job! That doesn't sound like doing anything, let alone an occupation. It's just hanging out.

So yeah, I won't find fulfillment -- at least not total, zen level fulfillment -- through work. At least not yet. That doesn't mean I can't find a certain kind of satisfaction. Hard work can be it's own reward, if you don't take it too seriously. That lesson only took twenty-nine years to learn...

...I'll bet women respond to men who don't do this kind of over-thinking; men who just get things done without wondering what does it all mean?

Is that what the red-head1 was trying to tell me?

"I'm attracted to a guy who is in control..."

I could tell from the tone of her voice what she meant. I could take that tone and march it around New York and it would match frequencies with the vibes those men put out, buzzing in attraction. And even if one was a children's clown, they would be in control. More control than I'm in, that's for sure.

Like I said, I'm directionless. Each morning I start being tossed about by myself, wondering where I'll bounce myself to next. I have no control over myself - and what else should I be controlling? Maybe this lack of control is why I listened to that damn Death Cab for Cutie album more than once...

I'll admit, I don't particularly care for the last Death Cab album(or the band itself, for that matter). Sure, "I Will Possess Your Heart" is a decent song but I prefer the radio edit version, not the rambling, pointlessly long album cut. I tried, believe me I tried to like them but after a while the lead singer's whiny chirp of a voice grates on my nerves. See, I don't even know his name! Yet I feel compelled to have an opinion about his band, or face losing my music credibility. So I listened to that last album(something to do with stairs), and I listened, and I kept listening even though I strongly disliked what I was hearing. And then, for the last track, someone reads the fucking credits. That's the soundtrack to a hipster circle jerk. Who the fuck thought anyone would want to listen to the album credits? If I like your band, I'll read the fucking liner notes, OK? Christ people, have some faith.

ANYWAY, control, do I right a rudderless ship? Stop making obvious metaphorical writing choices? Couldn't hurt.

I'm reading more, listening to more music, trying to find out what I like, what I am like and in the end, trying to become someone I would like to meet, hang out with, shoot the shit, invite to a party, and possibly meet up for a late night fuck. Who knows?

And it feels a little wrong. Hasn't Judd Apatow and Zach Braff saturated the market with this crap? Isn't this whiny-white-male-disillusioned-and-lost bullshit been done to death? It's so out. And, unfortunately for me, manic pixie dream girls don't really exist. They're just manic.

Well, even if it's out of fashion, it's still where I am. And it's probably why I liked "Definitely, Maybe"2, watch How I Met Your Mother, and listen to Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over"3 late at night like it's a profound act.

Still, I feel a little guilty that if I had a vagina I'd have much less shit in popular culture to identify with.

Could I identify with "Stay Positive", the latest from Hold Steady? Are Craig Finn's lyrics gender-crossing? He does sing about Boys and Girls in America, after all, not just boys. And it would be really easy to say "Here's One For The Cutters" should resonate with women(thought it feels dirty). Still, they are heavily classic-rock influenced, not the most popular genre of music among women(I actually had one girl tell me she wouldn't date a man who listened to Lynrd Skynrd). But that's all based on stupid stereotypes. I'm the only person I know who cut themselves and I didn't even listen to Bruce Springsteen until a girl got me into him.

You know what, to hell with feeling ashamed of what I like.

1The red-head isn't actually red-headed, technically. But my mind plays tricks on my eyes.

2My man-crush on Ryan Reynolds is also a factor.

3In a true sign of being able to bullshit, I know that Crowded House is supposed to be an underrated 80s band with a worthy catalog that goes way beyond this one hit single. And I'll say that. But this is still the only song of theirs I've heard.