a little let down

September 25, 2012

Was I really in NYC just yesterday? I almost have to pinch myself to see if that was true. (A funny aside; I initially typed “punch myself”). Already, I think the trip was too short, which makes it feel kinda dreamy. It is impossible to look out at my back yard this morning or at the street in front and imagine just 24 hours ago there was honking and hustle and bike delivery guys and a sea of yellow cabs and miles of wide boulevards lined with big ass buildings and tons of fabulous and interesting looking people. I love the combination of energy and solitude I feel in NYC; if that combo makes any sense to you we are alike. Oh goodness, I wasn’t prepared to feel wistful already.

And even with a touch of melancholy, my mind is already starting to tick off immediate and future to do lists: tend to the garden, do my laundry, grocery shop, listen to music, go to the bank, get ink for the printer, do another run of my chap book, change the litter boxes, pet the cats, go through the stack of crap on my desk, start purging – books, clothes, crap in my basement, lift weights, prep my rain gear, figure out if I can go to Chicago in October, clean the house . . . Is there always so much to do?  The busyness keeps me from writing and playing music, which are really my heart and soul, as cliche and dramatic as that sounds and as I think about just saying that, I realize it really may not even be entirely true, as there is some heart and soul stuff in other creative work and in cooking and spending time with people I am close to. I can’t believe I am even talking about heart and soul stuff. But I keep saying I want to open up.

So now what? Be a little sad and miss NYC and M, who I’ve known since I was 14. Be excited about things happening this week. I think, I will be both. Embrace the whole fucking thing. At this very second the Ghost in You by the Psychedelic Furs is playing and even though I don’t associate that song with a particular time in my life, it seems like I should and it feels fitting for how I am feeling right now.

I do have the best housemate in the world though, picking me up at 1am this morning and leaving some delicious food in the fridge for me to eat today. In short, Remy, you fucking rock and I am glad you moved in.


saturday morning and early afternoon in manhattan

September 22, 2012

Hit Union Square this first thing this A.M. for some coffee and then headed down to Washington Square Park, where I spent the morning working on some poems for my writing group’s upcoming reading. Amazingly, I was productive and I did not get distracted by kids on their razors or the people beside me speaking French or the older dudes playing their acoustic guitars and singing songs by 4 Non Blonds and George Harrison and the Doobie Brothers. I could even read the poems out loud to myself without any one noticing or caring or really paying any attention to me at all.

Next stop was Whole Foods on the edge of the Lower East Side for a bathroom pit stop and to scribble down the lines for another poem I have been working on for a month now. Either this going to work and people will get it. Or it’s going to suck because I am trying too hard to be clever. I’m not being dramatic about it or looking for some re-assurance or being defensive.  I don’t think this about everything I write. It’s just true this time.

I also got to bond with this Whole Foods guy over our Red Wing boots. I thought for a second he was flirting with me, but I can am oblivious to this in the same way I can over estimate my cuteness.

After Whole Foods I walked down to the New Museum. I always want to like the shows I’ve seen there better than I do. But the building’s cool and I got to go up to the roof this time and I joked around with this woman who worked there and happened to be riding in the elevator every single time I got in it. So overall, a win.

Last stop for the afternoon, involved me tracking down, Nicky’s, my favorite bahn mi sandwich shop in the East Village. Except its not called Nicky’s any more, but it still has kick ass bahn mi, which I wolfed down. Then I walked back up 1st Avenue and over Gramercy Park, where I am currently hanging out inside and typing this. The sun is shining and its tiny bit cool outside and my friend, who I’m staying with, has the most beautiful apartment ever. And I can slip into one my favorite day dreams, which is that I live here in New York. One of my all time favorite places I have ever been.


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last day of a small vacation

December 28, 2011

Day 7 on antibiotics and  a self-imposed dose of generally taking it easy.  I think the sinus infection is mostly gone.  Finally.

I’ve been reading Joan Didion’s Blue Nights. A Christmas present to myself and the second time I’ve spent then holidays reading JD write about grief. I don’t know why I tend to read heavy book over the holidays. A while back, I had a stretch of Christmases where I read Holocaust books. And there was a couple years of reading war books. Maybe I just don’t read much light fair in general. I am trying to make Blue Nights last as long as I can; it could easily be finished in on one sitting. JD is such a great writer and in this book her writing seems even more poetic and looser, in a way, than in other books of hers I’ve read. It’s really moving.

RU and I took a low key road trip on Monday down to Silver Falls. We drove back roads, which is our favorite thing to do, and on our way we made a detour to Mount Angel. First, we visited the Abbey. We got there just in time for a noon prayer service, which was perfect, both for its brevity and because it was sung. I think it was cool for RU to see these monks and think of the similarities and differences with her Buddhist monks. I’m not sure cool is the right word, but it will have to do. I forgot that there would be bowing any time we heard “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” said together. People used to do that at All Saints. In fact, I think my mom used to bow. But All Saints was very a Catholic Episcopal church. I wished I would have tracked better the short reading from the New Testament, because it felt kind of antisemitic. There was something about how the Jews tried to argue with the Christians, but the Jews were wrong and we, the good Christians, forgive the Jews for their persecution of us. I’m paraphrasing, obviously. But I did feel like cringing and then I thought of Mel Gibson, which made me want to cringe more. I also thought of this PBS documentary I watched about how Jesus became Christ. One of the things the scholars talked about  was how the texts, even the Gospels, changed over time, to turn the Jews, not the Romans, into the bad guys. I’m paraphrasing here, too. We walked around the church after the service was over and then a little around the campus after that. It is a beautiful place and really wonderful that it is open to the public.

We had some excellent, excellent Mexican back in the town of Mt. Angel. We debated trying the Gloskenspiel, to get the authentic Mt Angel-Little Germany experience, but it seemed over priced. It’s weird, but anytime I visit an “o little town of Germany” town I immediately recall the scene from Cabaret where the Nazi youth stands up in the beer garden and starts singing “Tomorrow belongs to me” and a bunch of people stand up and join him and you know things are going to be fucked. And I don’t know if RU was thinking the same thing, but as we walked down the street, she said, “I wonder if they like the gays here?” Which is always on my mind when we travel anywhere outside the I-5 corridor. My experience is gays are tolerated in lots of parts of Oregon, but not very well liked.

We made it to Silver Falls but because RU’s foot is messed up, we only took a couple of short walks and stopped to get out of the car at look out spots, which as fine, as our goal had been to get out of town and breath in nature. If you’ve not been down to Silver Falls before you should check it out. There’s a great hike around the 10 falls which I did once with Becky when she came out to visit from Indiana. It was built by the CCC, a wonderful and sad reminder of what a real government stimulus package looks like. I think we read it took something like 7 years to build the park and the workers were paid $1 a day.

Getting out of town, even only an hour and a half away, is usually a treat for me and RU. There’s a little adventure to it and usually we head to place with more nature than the places we usually go in town. And even a hike in Forest Park is not the same as a hike out on the woods an hour a way. More woods? More nature? I don’t know.





October 11, 2011

After 10 days in NYC we boarded Amtrak and headed south, down to DC. The train ride was nice but the way Penn station manages boarding is nuts. They don’t announce the departure gate until about 10 minutes before the train departs, which kicks off a mad dash of folks racing each other to on the escalator that leads down to the platform. A bottleneck developes very quickly because there is only one agent checking tickets and only one very narrow escalator for each gate. And so people push and elbow and step on each other feet on accident and it just doesn’t seem like it should have to be so unpleasant to get on a train.

Because we weren’t on an express train the trip took about 3 hours. We stopped in Newark and Trenton and Philly and Baltimore. I may be leaving out another stop in New jersey, but I can’t remember and I can’t figure it out on the Amtrak site either. Union Station in DC was grand, as in grandeur, and it reminded me how travel was once considered this grand and luxurious thing to  do.

I had forgotten how close the east coast cites are to each other. Or to be more precise I had forgotten the experience of how close the cites are. It seems remarkable that so many people live so close to together, especially after living out here for 12 years where we are surrounded by vast stretches where hardly anyone lives, if anyone’s living there at all.

We did touristy things in DC, like walked the tidal basin, saw the new MLK monument, went to the National Portrait Gallery and the Women in the Arts Museum and did a night time drive around the city. But mostly we just wanted to spend time with our friend D. And that’s what we did. We ate some good meals together and laughed about our new car and the way Rachel did this funny thing at dinner and made coffee and shopped online for good socks and looked for parking spaces and went to some movies and took some walks and checked out the Dupont circle farmers market. We were all sad that it had to end.

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September 29, 2011

Last day in NYC.  How can that be? Every time I come to New York I always feels like  there’s more to see and do no matter how much we saw and  did and we did alot. We took a ferry. We went to Ellis Island. We ate excellent soba. We walked across the Brooklyn bridge. We walked from the east village to the west village, twice. We saw a friend do stand up comedy. We drove up the Hudson and stayed with my dear friend in Tivoli. We walked through the San Gennaro festival. We had a drink at the Players club. We went to MOMA and saw the de Kooning retrospective. We went to the Met and saw Lucian Freud collection. We got caught in a down pour and I got absolutely soaked. It took 3 days for my shoes to dry out.  We had good bahn mi. We ate in China town twice.  We checked out the Dumbo Arts Festival and walked through the Brooklyn Bridge park where we saw 2 or 3 wedding parties getting their photos taken, one of which culminated in a parade like dance with a drumming. We had over hyped ramen. We had surprisingly good Indian. We went to Dia: Beacon and saw Sol LeWitt, Louise Bourgeois, Agnes Mardin and Richard Serra’s massive steel sculptures. We saw walked the Highline. We saw a fashion photo shoot. We rode an elevator with Uma Thurmon. We sat in Union Square. We sat in Madison Square Park.  We walked in Central Park. We ate lunch in Battery Park. We read the Sunday Times in  Thompkins Square. We listened to a jazz quartet and someone playing a baby grand piano in Washington Square. We checked out Occupy Wall Street at Liberty Square. We went to Blue Stockings and bought zines. We saw a good gay movie. We visited the Cloisters. We rode the bus and got stuck in horrible midtown traffic because Obama was in town to give a speech at the UN. We rode the subway. We took a taxi twice. We shopped, but not very much. We went out to brunch. We heard people speaking French and Spanish and Italian and German and Chinese and Hindi and other languages that we couldn’t pick out.  Our waiter at the Indian restaurant said his wife was visiting from India for and  for the first  time he was was going to meet his son, who was almost a year old.  We had really good Cuban food at this hole in the wall that we ran across when we were really hungry and tired. We met people who had lived in Portland and knew people we knew. We saw a rat and two black squirrel and a bunch of east coast blue jays.

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my l.a. story

January 3, 2011

It was a bust – going to LA. At least kind of. And it all seemed so good on paper. We had a free place to stay. Our tickets weren’t over priced. Dear friends were in town and the record rains had mostly let up. We did  a bunch of research before we left. There were promises of great food, good art, interesting sites and the potential for some relaxation.

It started out nicely, as noted below. And even though RU’s phone died on our second day and then she got saddled with a lemon when she bought a new one, it was more nuisance than anything else. It didn’t put any real dents on our day trip out past Pasadena to tour the Huntington Gardens and the LA County Arboretum and take a second look at LA’s new Chinatown.

That night my stomach started hurting, but I figured I was having too much coffee and shouldn’t have had ice cream for dinner. Go to sleep I told myself – tomorrow promises to be sunny. Instead I woke up sick at 2am, didn’t go back to bed until 7am and then spent the whole next day and night lying down, sleeping on and off, reading and watching a couple bad movies. I barely drank more than a glass of water in 24 hours. And couldn’t eat more than a couple crumbs of a rice cake. I tired to not notice that I was missing the nicest day of the week, weather wise.

After that, I really never got fully back on my feet and RU and I struggled to make the right choices about where to go and what to eat and what to do for the rest of the week. Everything seemed kind of off even though we did some cool things, like we went to Venice Beach and walked along the canals and it was amazing to see inside some of the houses — they looked like something you’d see in a magazine. We didn’t stay out as long as I’d have liked and I had to walk slowly because I still felt crappy, just like I did when we went to Griffith Park one day and back up to the Observatory the next.

We tried to go to MOCA and LACMA but we’d not paid close enough attention to their schedules and they weren’t open when we went. We tried to go the Getty, but the line to park was insane and we left. We did get to to see the Hayden Tract development project even though we didn’t know what it was, when we went to visit our friend’s art studio. And we got to see a couple of our friend’s sculptures, which was a treat.

We had lunch at a hip LA top 100 place on Highland and went for a slow walk on Melrose. We took our time making our way back to the car, taking side streets and looking at houses, killing time before going to a movie. Sadly, we’d not checked the parking sign in front of the restaurant and when we got back our car had been towed. We spent more money getting the car out the impound and dealing with the associated ticket than it cost us to rent the car.

On our last night, we tried to go to dinner with our friend at a cool Korean izakaya. We didn’t get his texts that it was a bar that allowed smoking. We were late getting there and by the time we found the place, he’d already eaten and then the person two tables over lit up a cigarette and we had to leave because the smoke was too much for RU. Our friend bid us farewell and good luck in finding some where else and we went to another place that we’d read about but were turned away because it was closing. We finally ended up at the place we’d been before and after two days of barely eating anything and shuffling around town I didn’t still want to be sick and I ate too much food. Come the middle of the night I felt nauseous. Again.

It was beautiful weather when we left. Cold, but clear and sunny and hardly any smog. We drove around some. RU had a nice breakfast and I tried to eat a bagel. The flight home was uneventful. We read bad magazines and slept.

Coming home, our house looked so nice to me. And I didn’t mind being in Portland at all even though it was way cold.

Oh, I did read the one of the absolute best books I’ve read in a long time. Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. I could not put it down. A brilliant and moving novel.

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so la

December 27, 2010

I was going to post about a bunch of other things, but I’m in LA for the week and the sun is shining. I’m wearing sunglasses and short sleeve shirts. RU and I flew in on Xmas eve,  spent Xmas day with two good friends and spent yesterday driving around – Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Mulholland Drive. So far we’ve been to the beach, the farmer’s market, had some awesome Chinese, Korean and Ethiopian food, and reserved seats at the Arclight and saw True Grit. It’s such an American city in that classic sense – immigration, hustle and invention.

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my new york

October 12, 2010

Orchard street

Originally uploaded by proteanme

Some streets in New York feel a little like Paris, which is what I tried to capture here. You can check out other photos from vacation by clicking on this one of Orchard street.


urban longing

October 6, 2010

I returned from NYC with a terrible cold. I think I picked it up on the plane. At least half the passengers were coughing and blowing their noses. Also, I didn’t sleep well the whole time we were gone, which was almost 3 weeks. All in all, I’m in a a bit of a daze. I miss masses of people, especially masses who don’t look like me. I miss seeing one of my dearest friends whenever I want. I miss building as tall at small mountains. I miss the feeling that I might see the most amazing film, piece of art or performance right around the corner. The tree density is overwhelming here. I could walk down my block and not pass another human body. No one is sitting on their stoop. Hardly anyone even has a stoop. Maybe I’d feel different if I lived there, but that’s not a consolation right now because I live here in Portland, where I ‘m waking up in the middle of the night wondering where I am and missing the most amazing city in the US.


things i’ll write about later

September 29, 2010

I swear to god, TV just melts my brain. Seriously. Air waves evacuate my cerebrum of any interesting idea or creative urge and after an hour or so it’s hard to imagine that I’ll ever have anything to say worth saying again. I once heard that Daniel Mendelsohn wrote sitting in bed with CNN on. Why can’t I be a genius like that?!

It kept raining today. The sky seemed to be hanging so low to the ground that the highrises got lost in it. Magical looking.

Where do all these people come from? That’s what my friend D said a couple times this weekend when we were on Canal street and the side walk was so thick with people we could barely move.

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