06 April 2013

Bye-bye Van Guy

My Van Guy has retired from van-guying. I know I should be happy for him - van-guying is no life for a young fella with a wife and coupla young'uns. But I can't help but feel a bit sad. It's like the Gem Store on Delancey closed down all over again.

Matt's a beanpole. He looks like Carrot top, with a slightly more subdued mop of hair. When he showed up at my door the first time, I couldn't believe it - this stick of a man was going to help me move heavy objects down and up stairs? But move heavy objects down and up stairs he did, like the dickens!

I first used Matt's van-guy services when moving from my Devoe Street apartment to Greenpoint. A third floor apartment to a fourth floor apartment. The big move with the U-haul and the friends helping is a harrowing tale unto itself; Matt just helped with the extras after all that was done. Mostly hanging clothes, a couple of boxes, a few loose items, maybe a small piece of furniture, and of course the ten foot pole that I'd used as a curtain rod.

That's how he remembered me the next time I hired him. The ten foot pole girl. It was about nine months later and I was moving again, to my own place off the Montrose stop. A studio about the same size as the one I lived in on the LES, but ill laid out, and, oh yeah, totally janky. But I was desperate and the landlord was willing. Matt told me his wife was preggers and due any moment.

I called on Matt again a year later when I moved from that hellhole to my current, glorious place off the Grand stop. It was a busy moving time for him, so he couldn't help me move, but he did pick up some wardrobe boxes and drop them off at my apartment - a lady was giving them away in Park Slope, and he didn't even make me go out there to me him! He just delivered them. That's service. I got him a again a couple of months later, when I picked up a love seat for the new place. By that point he had some photos of baby Olive on his phone, and they were expecting again.

I found out he'd retired the hard way, when I texted him today to see when he could help me get something from craigslist. I'm not entirely surprised. The last time I saw him, when he picked up the love seat, he mentioned that he and his wife were trying to start an Italian shoe importing company, she being Italian. But he makes temporary wall tiles or some such now. Or sells them. Or made the website for them. He sent me the website, and the name and number of another Van Guy. Will this Van Guy be my new Van Guy? Only time, and several moves/craigslist runs, will tell.

05 April 2013

Subway Triple Header

I was waiting for the L at 6th Ave the other night, as I so often do. I place myself on the platform where I need to be in order to get on the car that's closest to the best exit (or transfer) at whatever stop I'm getting off. That's the kind of planner I am. Some people would say that's the kind of New Yorker I am, the kind that knows the right car for the right exit or transfer.

Right at that place on the platform, which happens to be next to a set of stairs, a musician was entertaining the straphangers, as they so often do. I suppose they stand at that place on the platform because the stairwell gives them a sort of backdrop; musicians set up in about the same place on the Union Square L platform.

Even when I can't stand the music, or am just straight up not in the mood for busking or aggressive drum banging, I still stand in that same spot on the platform, waiting for my train car to come. But this guy, this guy I liked. I liked him a lot. Enough to peek around him for some clue as to his name. This man was a looper. He beat boxed a beat, and looped it. Then he played the trumpet for a bit, then looped that on top of the beat box. Then he played more trumpet over those loops, and it sounded like the fucking Blade Runner soundtrack (I know that's a sax). He hadn't even set up his little money basket before a lady came up to give him money. I don't know if I've ever been impressed enough to consider skipping the next train to keep listening, but the thought crossed my mind here.

When the train came and I did get on, I regretted it after a moment. I should have listened to that impulsive part of myself imploring me to stay and listen a little longer. I got on a car with a particularly aromatic homeless man. Specifically, he smelled like shit. I feel sad as I type this, thinking about this poor man who was covered in his own shit, who maybe didn't even have the mental wherewithal to realize or care. A couple of people turned around and got off the train as soon as they walked on, but I sat. I thought it would be cruel to walk out, to essentially say that I can't stand to be in proximity to this person.

So I waited, and at the next stop I got off that car and went into the next car over.

After a minute on that car, I wished I was back in the other one. I ended up standing right next to  a young Asian man who was preaching. Not to anyone in particular, as they so often do. He seemed to be talking about watching television, or rather, not watching television, or just bad television, ungodly television. I caught him after he began so I can't be sure. He got off one or two stops later, so I didn't hear a whole lot from him, but what I did hear counts: his blog address, which he repeated several times before he got off. It's not necessarily an easy one to remember, which struck me as quite amusing because here he was imploring/encouraging people to visit his blog for more preaching, just sort of shouting out the blog name, and no one will ever remember it, except maybe me because well, being so struck by the strangeness, I remembered. I didn't even write it down. It's here, if you want it. Sort of lame/boring/incoherent analyses of bible passages. I was hoping for some crazy ramblings, but he wasn't all that crazy a rambler in person so I suppose I may have set my expectations too high. There're some good examples of Christian Crazy here, if yr lookin'.

18 March 2013

When I was 17

When I was 17, my grandparents gave me a computer and set me up with an AOL account (that they paid for for several years). At first it was kept at their house. I can't remember why, but I'm sure there was some good reason. Maybe there wasn't room for it, wherever we were living at the time. We moved a lot the last couple of years I was living at home, before moving into the dorm in college. I had a car so I would drive to their house sometimes to go on the internet. Most of the time they were away in Massachusetts.

They got it for me because I was the rising star genius of the family. I was going to go to medical school. I was going right my mother's wrongs, beginning by not getting pregnant freshman year of college. I was wildly successful at that; Chem II, not so much. I switched my major from pre-med to psychology probably in the first semester.

The screen name my grandparents picked for me when they set up my AOL account was "carklet," and the password something like "premed." As soon as I got access to the computer, I set up another account, "prdinpink." Some of you might recognize it. At the time, there was a strict character limit on screen names, though I'm sure that even if there hadn't been, "prettyinpink" or any variation on the actual spelling would have already been taken. In 1997, there were no social networks. At least not that I was aware of. Maybe for techies, or hacker types, but not for average folk like me. We had chat rooms and fan club listservs. That's where we filled out very simple profiles. Name, age/birthday, favorite quote, favorite band, marital status, occupation. If I recall correctly, not unlike Friendster in its early days, except without the photos or commentability or messaging feature. There was messaging in friendster, right? When I was 17, I was quite goth. Prdinpink might not sound particularly goth, and "Pretty in Pink" wasn't (isn't) my favorite John Hughes film, but for a few years there, my hair was colored pink. Prdinpink just made sense.

Morrissey was (is) one of my major faves, so under marital status I wrote "Will Never Marry," the title of a Morrissey song. Also, a sentiment I felt at the time (and maybe now-ish too). My quote was from an Ayn Rand novel. I still remember it, by heart. Judge if ye will. "I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, or ask another man to live for mine." It was in "Atlas Shrugged." That sentence was a password to gain access to some kind of vault or entrance. Only if spoken with conviction would the speaker gain access.

Under occupation, I said "Telling people I'm a dominatrix and then laughing when they believe me HAHAHAHAHAHA" (ah, the foreshadowing!). When I was 17, I had very little idea of what a dominatrix really was. Being goth, of course I had some notion, but it wasn't until I was 24 and living in New York that I learned what it really means to be a dominatrix. I would get messages from people, men, older men, probably much older men, who thought that I might really be a dominatrix. Maybe they stopped reading at "Telling people I'm a dominatrix." That would chat me on AIM, seeking domination. I would ignore and block them.

It's striking to me now that I had absolutely no supervision on that computer. My mother never asked me what I got up to on there, never seemed concerned. My poor sister, with whom I shared a room, had to sleep through the glowing screen, me typing away late into the night, chatting with internet folk, mostly strangers, sometimes a friend. She never asked me to turn it off. Had it been the other way around, I might have gone postal on her. The patience of a saint, that one.

09 March 2013

Chicago Summers

I spent a summer in Chicago when I had just turned 21. The Chicago area. The north(west?) suburbs. With Stella and her mother (RIP) and her mother's boyfriend, Steve. I tried to work at the main suburban Borders, at the big shopping mall, Woodfield I think, but they wouldn't quite have me. From an inventory supervisor in Tampa to a sort of barista in Chicago? It was a mess. They were a mess. They didn't care. They didn't want anything I had to give. Even wiping down the tables in slow times wasn't enough for them. I'd brought my own HR file with me when I traveled to CHI, so when I decided to stop going to that store, it wasn't that huge a deal. I went to a different suburban store, one further away. The manager thought I was a corporate spy, and got her other managers to think the same. In other words, I was hired on the spot. I guess I was just well spoken enough. Enough for them to think I knew what I was doing, REALLY knew what I was doing. Little did they know. I mean of course I knew. I always know from day one. It's only ever a matter of polishing. Isn't it that way with everyone? To know that you have something down ("I got this, man"), but just have to polish it?

It's hard to remember that time. It doesn't feel real, if you know what I mean. It was over ten years ago at this point. It could have been a dream. I wonder if I've tried to forget it, that's how vague a memory it is. I remember the GM, the one who thought I was a spy, she was quite homely. She had these gnarly chin hairs. I later heard that that had happened when she had a baby, and I was horrified to think that that homely monster had a child, that she had someone who would make love to her and that they would procreate and a delicate lovely child would emerge from the ashes. Who was apparently quite adorable. I don't remember her name. Her right hand man name I think was named Cindy. She was a huge ditz. A late 40s ish blonde ditz. I remember having a thought quite like that, like how does someone get to that age and be such an airhead? It's weird to be younger and in a position of less power/authority than that person. She was nice though. She trusted me well enough. I seemed to have more savvy and forward thinkingness than anyone else at that store.

It shared a parking lot with a dying mall. Sort of a dying star, it seemed. Very Tampa mall-esque. So many stores closed down. But the food court was a place to get lunch, at least sometimes. I only remember going there when I first started working at the store. I guess I probably started bring my own, or bought food from the cafe. Once I tried to buy cigarettes from a nearby drugstore, Walgreens or somesuch. But they wouldn't accept my out of state ID. I was so incensed. I wasn't a heavy smoker, but I smoked, and I wanted cigarettes, and also injustice gets me up in arms. They didn't believe my accept my ID because it was out of state. But it was a real ID, I reasoned. Really real. They wouldn't take it. Ironically, when I was under 18, I was the (non-smoking) one that my friends would coax to buy them cigarettes, because i looked old enough, when I took my glasses off. I don't recall ever being refused back then, when I was under 18. No one ever even asked for my ID, never mind questioning the really real ID I might have shown them.

Melissa (Mel) was one of the supervisors. Of what, I don't recall. She had a crush on me though, sort of. She was a lesbian, definitely, but I don't recall her relationship status. I feel like I probably definitely milked that crush. Me and her and some other people went for tiki drinks one night, somewhere sort of between the suburbs and Chicago proper. Somewhere sort of shady. Though in those parts, you're almost always in a car, so shadiness doesn't matter quite so much. It's not like walking the ten blocks from the bar to the subway, or the subway to your apartment, blocks during which you could be mugged, raped, or pass out, because you didn't bother to take down the number for Brooklyn Bike Patrol, even though you've known about it forever. I mean, are you tempting fate or something?

I worked with a man named Jarek. A boy, I guess. I've been getting myself into the habit, lately, of calling males of my age-ish or above, "men." It seems appropriate. But back then, I think he was a boy, as I was a girl. He was heavily Polish, as many of the people in Chicago and its suburbs are. As in, his parents were immigrants. His name the name of an immigrant son. Another co-worker told me that in high school he'd gone back the nickname "Jack," because it was easier, more American. Jarek is pronounced something like "Yah-rick," but with one of those "r" sounds a hard "r." Do you know what what I mean? Like the "r" is a "d," almost. Anyway. He sort of liked me, a bit. LIKED me liked me. Sort of in a way the average intellectual twenty something man can be expected to like the average intellectual twenty something lady. I didn't know what to do with it. At the time I was a virgin, in most every sense. He drove a mustang. We went to some sort of outdoors classical music thing once, I suppose maybe he and/or some other people may have taken it as a date. He brought a bottle of wine, and maybe even a bottle opener, but no cups. I can't remember if we opened it and drank from the bottle, or just forgot about it altogether. Back then I was very much not into drinking, so I wouldn't have made a fuss about it. I do remember him being a bit sheepish about not having brought all the right implements. I'd worn high heeled shoes, but brought something more comfy, knowing it was outside and I'd be doing some walking on grassy land. I ended up leaving my heels in his car and wearing the cozy shoes to the seating area, and ended up leaving my heels in his car at the end of the night. It was a bit of a scandal at the store when he was returning my shoes to me after that. Shoes are sort of intimate, aren't they? Something you'd only entrust to someone special, a lover, or someone of equivalent standing.

I was never into Jarek. I was into someone else, someone whose name eludes me absolutely. He had the look of someone who needed comforting. Not just that, though. A certain effeminiteness, though not downright so. A prettiness. Full lips, devastating eyes, slight curls in his short blonde-ish hair. He was so depressed. He didn't care for anyone, least of all me. I tried to flirt, to no avail, no avail whatsoever. He was like a rock. Impenetrable. Not the rocks in Iceland, obviously, the ones that house elves and fairies. He was a different kind of rock. I befriended one of his dude friends at the store, who only affirmed his disinterest in me, and people/girls in general. Frankie, I think that was. I seem to recall that Frankie was rumored to have a large penis. Lord knows who told me, or why. He was on my side though, Frankie. Sort of. He wanted his depressed friend to not be depressed, and to have a lady, and he thought I was an alright gal so why not me?

I only ended up staying a few months, though, not long enough to get involved with anyone. That had been the plan from the beginning, though three quarters of the way through I started to think about staying. Why? Was it because of Tory, who'd already way fucked me over? I'm still not sure quite what possessed me. I started looking for an apartment in the city, pretty seriously actually. I met up with a guy, a friend of a friend, who was looking for a roommate to find a place in the city. He was a photographer, and he ended up taking a series of slow exposure type photos where a man was beating me, or close to beating me, with a frying pan. I think he got one of his current roomies to be the frying pan wielder, though I suppose he might have put himself in that position, given the camera set up. I've wondered about those photos, what they ended up looking like. I have no idea how I'd find this fellow though, or any of the people I worked with at that store. This chunk of my life, vanished. Where are they now?

28 February 2013

Terry Doesn't Live Here Anymore

When I first moved to New York, I lived in Brighton Beach. Which meant if I was going to have late night party times in Manhattan, I'd need a couch to crash on. This was in the early days, before I understood casual sex, and the strangers' beds that are included in the deal. So every weekend, sometimes for the whole weekend, I would crash on my friend Ryan's couch (futon) in the East Village. He lived on 3rd St and 2nd Ave, a few buildings down from the Hell's Angels HQ. It is said to be one of the safest blocks in the city.

When it came time to head back to Brooklyn, I'd sometimes walk to Union Square rather than taking the closer 2nd Ave F and getting off at 14th Street to get the Q. Sometimes I did it probably because it was nice out, and it was an alright walk, not too far, decent exercise. Probably more I did it because I could take the opportunity to walk by my ex boyfriend's apartment building. He lived at 215 E. 10th St. I'll probably never forget that address. I mean, it's been eight years since then. But I'd helped him find that apartment, I'd mailed things to him there, I'd shown up at his doorstep one day, unannounced, when things were ending. It's a memorable kind of address. I did run into him a few times, in the East Village, but never near his apartment. I wrote about running into him and a subsequent brief and ill advised rekindling, and posted it on here, but he found it and didn't like it, the truth of it, seeing himself accurately described for the whole world to see, or just my few friends who read my blog. So I took it down. I can be merciful.

By the time the rekindling became unkindled, for the last time, he'd moved to Brooklyn, with his girlfriend, and at any rate I'd long since stopped walking by his building, hoping for a run-in, even though by then I was living on the LES and traipsing about the E. Vil on the regs. Then I moved to Brooklyn, and my E. Vil hang time dwindled to almost nil, so walking down 10th Street to get from point A to point B became a rare occurrence, indeed, but whenever I did, I would still look out for house number 215.

Today I was walking down 10th Street from the east side to the west side. I realized where I was when I passed St. Mark's Church on 2nd and 10th, which is also near Angel's Share on Stuyvesant Street, a place where I once saw him get sloppy drunk and had to apologize to the people setting next to us, on behalf of my stumbling companion. I'd passed 215 E. 10th without even noticing.

07 December 2012


My Grandmother is sad that she's spending Christmas in Florida, away from our massive extended family. My mother is the eldest of nine; grandma bore ten living children, one stillborn child, and lost an infant to SIDS. She's been raising children for the past fifty-three years - her own, or her children's children. My mother was the first, at age nineteen, to have children. I'm one of six. We moved in with my grandparents and my teenaged aunts and uncles when my parents divorced, when I was two. My youngest aunt, who was eleven when I was born, got pregnant when she was 21 or 22 and still living with my grandparents; she kept on living there, my grandmother being the primary caretaker of her baby while she went to school and/or worked and/or partied. The baby, my cousin Kenny, called my grandmother "mom" for some time. But he wasn't the only one my grandmother took care of. She was the free babysitter for most of my cousins. My many, many cousins. Only one of my uncles hasn't had any children. At least as far as we know. I'd place the likelihood at a pretty high level that he knocked someone up at some point, and never even knew it; or maybe he did. The rest of my aunts and uncles have an average of five children each. The youngest, I think, is probably about five by now.

The great grandchildren have started to roll in, but at a much slower pace. So much slower. My grandmother must be devastated by the slowness, and surprised - there are so many of us of child bearing age now. There are only three so far: one from my cousin, Katrine, and the other two from my sister, Jane. Katrine was living in Florida when she became pregnant. She moved home with her parents in Connecticut when she had the baby. My sister had her first baby in Florida, and her second in Massachusetts; she moved back there when she couldn't find work in Florida. For a time she stayed with my mother and my two half-siblings in the house that I grew up in. I imagine that whenever my grandparents were in Massachusetts, they would stay there too, and look after the kids, as usual. Well, grandma would - my grandfather would be reading the paper in his reclining chair, as he always does, occasionally lowering it to look at the ruckus-making kids, semi-sternly, over the top of his reading glasses before raising it back up to his face. Don't be fooled, though, he's an old softie, and is probably just as woeful as my grandmother is about not spending Christmas with the family.

It's funny to think how very grandmotherly my grandmother is. That's all she's ever been in my experience. But I hear these stories from my mother's youth, stories about the nanny. It was the nanny that raised the kids, not my grandmother. She worked at my grandfather's medical practice, a secretary or office manager, or somesuch. Maybe that's why she's able to tolerate the young rascals now - she wasn't tortured by them in her mothering years.

24 August 2012

Strange Days

I've lived in New York City for eight years, so I can officially, per the unwritten rules fully applicable to NYC residents, call myself "a New Yorker." I always sort of was, though, at heart - not one of those kids that comes in to live it up for a few years and then settle into the Walmart life back home. By New Yorker at heart I mean: cynical, bitter, mean, snappish, always in a rush. You know, all the good qualities that the ever-increasing slime flowing through the sewer system inspires in us New Yorkers. It also means paying no heed to the screaming man on the subway, the topless East Village girl, that inexplicable maple syrup smell.

 Well today on my commute, I found myself in a state of caught off guardness. There was a woman standing near me on the subway. I was leaning against the door, and she was holding onto the pole beside one of the nearby seats. She was fairly unremarkable, this woman: camel colored loafers, cuffed khaki pants, a multi-colored, probably Mossimo, shirt, mousey brown hair in a pony-tail. Oh, the pony-tail! If not for it, I would not have seen: HER NECK PIERCING. This woman, otherwise a complete bore to the aesthetic sense, had her neck pierced. Suddenly she was magical. Not just because she had a neck piercing, no, any Hot Topic g-raver could get one of those at the mall piercing shop. It's because she was so very unremarkable other than the piercing. It's like, "Hey, check me out. I look boring, eh? I don't even register on your radar, do I?" Then, BOOM. Neck piercing in ya face!