December 2004 Archives
Was sick at home yesterday (stomach, headache, overall dizzy...). One of the gifts given to me by the forces of the universe was the sanding of the floor at the apartment downstairs. Imagine an ongoing bussing sound mixed with the agressive and superfine dust from a one hundred years old wooden floor. The building I moved to had only three apartments. There is the great duplex with garden on parterre and the first floor, there is the newly renovated apartment, getting ready for the mystery couple, on the second floor... and then there is that special place I live in. Walking down the stairs, I peeked into the freshly polished apartment of my new neighbors. So beautiful. The ceilings are about four feet higher than in my place, making the rooms feel aristocratic. I on the other hand feel like polishing someone's silver all the time... I wonder why? The fixtures on the ceiling of my future neighbors look classic as well. It is not that ikea material that just recently fell on my head in the hallway. (Nothing broke, the fall was not a deep one, obviously.) My last hope is to imagine that the neighbors are going to pay a lot more for their place, though I know that this is probably an illusion. They probably pay half of what I do, they make three times as much and they... oh well... I am so happy for them. The Curry last night was a brilliant killer. It was just so good when eaten slowly. Once eaten too quickly it unfolded an unstoppable rage, a flame thrower that left burnmarks on the table, wherever it was too close to my belly. The second round of food (yes, indeed, yummyumm) was then a bit of the more diplomatic sort, still the fantastic taste, just no explosives under the jacket. Oh, and then there were the muffins... (Did I mention that I was sick at home because of stomach issues?...) It was good to make little clay toys until about 4:30 in the morning. I am so ready to take out those colored pencils for a ride. (We will make some donuts in that parking-lot of my sketchbook, for starters.) I am a bit burned out, to say the least. Will probably experience the switch of the digit in a quiet and happy place... not piled up on bodies all shaking the bubbly... into or out of their drooling mouths. Or maybe I should do the dishes... creativity comes in many wondrous outfits.
It was good to take the slow way home today, after picking up yet another bag with the remnants of my recent existence. I had forgotten the dignity camouflage, and so I looked certainly like a contemporary Dickens character, a half frozen man with a slowly tearing trash bag, wrapped in several jackets, patched summer shoes, hailing a cab. "my shift is almost over, like at five, I will not take you to Brooklyn." The driver had one functioning eye and so I did not want to challenge him and remind him that we still had an hour to go and that it really was not that bad of a trip. So I took the subway. (Look at me saving some thirty dollars.) The train was packed, at least down to Macy*s. Knowledgeable midwestern fathers explaining to their pink families how it was possible to transfer for free seemed to be the theme of the day. Then, across the east river, maybe around Borough (boro) Hall, a challenged guy entered the car, shaking his bag of potato chips and asking for "change for the n*gga!" He was one of the pretty bad sort: the spitting, shouting, in your face kind of guy; though not as well articulated as that foot stomper who likes to target wall street types and their tourist look-a-likes, one at a time, for several stops sometimes. (He tends to call them something like "Corporate American Scum" (or pigs or shit, or whatever is his flavor of the day), it seems to work when repeated over and over again, while stumping the ground, and hitting it really hard with that used up, long, wooden stick.) The guy today was younger, he just shouted: "I hate you: America" and that he wanted "Bin Laden to blow up the world" so he can watch (huh?)... this always intertwined with "change for the n*gga."... and some wild shaking of the chip bag. We did not even shake our heads. He eventually got bored and switched trains at Atlantic Avenue. (the shouter-stumper guy would usually spit at the glass... the guy today left in a quiet way.) Switch to the cold above ground... It took a pretty long time for the bus to arrive. I tried to wait on the best melted area in the snow on flatbush avenue. The bus connection is usually a good one, except that the busses arrive maybe every 30 minutes or so in the afternoon. The light was magnificent, the setting sun bathed the soon to be demolished buildings in a golden, warm mix of colors. I got to think about the different effects of the biting cold on the human body. The trash bag between my feet wanted to become friends with some of the ones discarded in front of the check cashing place. I eventually made it home, unwrapped my brown time capsule, pulled out an old scarf, which felt rather warm and soft, discovered the pair of boots which my friend Christian once bought me for $10 or so, as well as that other pair, which my father found in the street about 22 years ago and which still fit me and still work as my best walking boots. (Yes, they were free and made for walking.) I wonder why my bag contained the fungus infested version of "Holy water of Jordan." I really have not much to do with that... maybe it is somehow related to the series of slides I found in that other bag. "Mount Sinai 1969", there was one picture taken of children dancing on a burned out Soviet tank. An overnight package arrived from Tokyo, and the content was a great series of amazing little gifts from Japan and the old Communist China, paper cutouts of Chairman Mao from 1969, as well as graphic guides for Communist murals and worker battle signs. It makes sense that there must have been centralized guides for that stuff. Now I own several and they are amazing! (And that Calendar really rocks as well!) I think I am going to go to sleep now. Have been feeling weak for weeks now. Can that voodoo person please pull out the needles out of my doll now, please? The moon is a smiling, dark observer low over the skyline of the city. It is so beautifully cold outside. The ice on the steps of the entrance to my home is harmless. Such a harmless version of water... When we are born, we are 80% water. When we are ready to retire, we are 50% water... we lose two cups of water daily just by breathing... ... It is nice to stop breathing sometimes... and just to listen... the pounding of the heart... the flow of air around the house... and out of the jet engines of airplanes ready to land... I will go and take a nap now... and then I will draw... I will. I have to. This is what I am actually here for. Or so I really hope.
This must have been the greatest Christmas I remember. For the very first time the good moments were so good, that I did not even notice the bad. Really a very, very new thing. I could probably just blame my memory for being too cloudy... but does it matter? Is life the ultimate Olympics? Do we have to have the best moments at the age of three and then see every festivity after that as a chewed on toy and a decaying piece of christmas cake? The holidays this year felt as if a gigantic circle somehow finally closed itself. I found myself in places that reminded me of idealized memories (or maybe fantasies) of good moments, all brought together in some forty eight hours or so. Wow, life really can be a wonderful place. The universe seemed to try to maybe somehow create a balance by planting a vicious custom tailored nightmare in the back of my head this morning, but it was nothing compared to all the goodness and new discoveries of the familiar I had the privilege to encounter. Nice. Oh, and the ten pound box of Lebkuchen, my mother wanted to reach my by christmas eve has not yet completely crossed the ocean. Maybe that's actually great too. The lebkuchen last night was quite wonderful, especially because i was not there chewing on it in the dark trying to grasp on to the faint smoke of my first lebkuchen memories. I was at a table with a loving group of people of whom some had yet to discover the special side of this special German Christmas treats. There was Stollen, for example. How could I have ever predicted that the best Stollen I could possibly come from the food market in Grand Central Station. I mean really, of all places? Oh, and the goose was also the best. And the rest... grossartig. And the conversations were just like the most wonderful nutrient of the Christmas evening. And the day before as well. Christmas eve used to be the evening on which strange knots were created. The awkwardness would usually come to a screeching peak. But not this year. It felt like a gentle home, as if I had been the missing piece. As if the balance had finally been reached. And so the festivities themselves and all the people I was allowed to meet, were the most wonderful gift... wow... thank you so much.
The air conditioner keeps this windowless room on a bearable survival level. The air is being pumped in here to keep me alive and thinking. A now dirty imac is staring at me with some serious expectations. Have we met? Is there something you would like ot tell me? Would you like to tell me now? Isn't now the best time to tell me? I have seen a lot. But maybe you can show me something even more exciting? We are friends here. The phone, the mac, the round table. Okay, I actually had to adjust the positon of the electronic elements. The phone now sits in the center of the perfectly circular wooden pond, accompanied by a crumpled up tissue. The mouse lives there too. (Though speaking of a living computer mouse is clearly a bad joke.) The bottom rim of the mac is stopping me from typing in fortissimo. The air conditioner is much too loud to think. The air here takes center stage. Had to move the monitor a bit higher. I still type with six fingers. (Two hands.) Maybe dimming the lights would be a good idea. I could imagine being in a plane now, maybe on the way to Europe, maybe soon to be reunited with the family. Maybe for a day or two. Maybe that would be quite nice. It is not going to happen. Not this year. Next year... certainly. It should. It will happen. The Lebanese ladies from my special food shop will get me my favorite ham. (It is the Westfälischer Schinken.) Next week. I will probably be the only junkie asking for it, over and over again. So far, they have me hooked on other also exciting products. It is nice to walk into a store and to know that one will be able to choose something approximately... and that this wish will be complemented by a suggested item that will create a wonderful new harmony previously not expected. It is nice to be welcome. I feel welcome. The air conditioner blows. I want to take the train. I want to take the train now. I want to take the train now and stay in it for two stops beyond where I would usually get out. I think that would be the most wonderful thing to do now. The edge of the table is hurting my arms. It is cold in here. I will walk back to my place now. Why would a tiny room like this have such a powerful air blower in it? The phone has not moved a bit. The mouse has not moved either. The few pixels on the clock in the upper right corner of the screen are telling me that it is a bit later now. The sun might be out of sight very soon. It is not too cold out there. I will step out of here very soon. All will be good. Eventually it all will be. There is great happiness within every thought these days.
wait a second, so this is what just happened? Is this why the changes are so radical and why my world was just thrown around and upside down and finally onto its seven feet? Is this why it feels like hour zero, like the very first square, like the two first halves of a cell, like the three pieces that make a whole, like the first four seasons of the very first year, like the five fingers on the left hand, like the sixth floor, like... well yes, the seventh year, for the fifth time, here we go... never been here before, but it is very important that I made it. wow... it looks like the thing to scale this time is a mountain, a gigantic one, the one that really matters... but... it will be better than ever. Wow. how wonderful to imagine that things are going to turn into a reverse avalanche, as they have to, because it is time...
Man meets t-shirt, meets jeans, meets open window, meets cigarette, meets fresh air, meets black squirrel on fire escape. I am going to leave the house in a few minutes, after a bowl of curry with rice. What a perfect morning it was, flights of stairs climbed with greatest joy, a walk in the not yet explored, beautiful park. Some of the very best conversations. Joy, deep in the core. I measured the time. It takes me about two minutes to be at the park entrance. Probably four minutes with coffee purchase. The flea market really offers the exactly same items as last week. The black squirrel is now out of sight. The man with the cigarette just closed the patched up window. The bowl of rice is nearly empty. It is almost two o'clock. Really time to rush to Manhattan. It is going to be crazy... but I promised to show up, receive material for a presentation on Tuesday. And then there are some other things that need to get done, of course. The grey flower at the bottom of my rice bowl is a good reminder that it is time to go. More life later then.
when the cable people arrived the first time, somewhere between two and six a few weeks ago, they just noticed that my apartment had a cable leading into the rooms, but that there was no information coming in it. I was connected to a dry end of the information pipeline. What the cable people also noticed that it was dark outside and that what they needed was light, to see where the information flow was interrupted. Apparently there was a box outside the building, in the garden of my downstairs neighbors and in order for me to get cable service, I would need to allow access to that garden. I do not actually want to watch television. I might get a set some day, maybe, again, that little visual candy box that just keeps on giving. For now I would just like to have internet access over cable (again), be connected to that other information drug, the same one you are looking at right now, the fast way. My neighbors downstairs are some of the nicest people I know. They are a very polite kind of British friendly family. I think there are three kids in the family, though so far I have only seen two skateboards and two of those razor scooters. (Maybe the third kid has some other sort of superpowers.) I scared the parents a little bit when I showed up last friday night, right after work, with my black jacket, the heavy bag still over my shoulder. I was first greeted with an open wallet, as I had been mistaken for the delivery guy, then both of the parents came out to hear my plea to maybe be there the following day, just so the cable people can walk into the garden and flip some switch. I guess this was when I realized that my neighbors were incredibly friendly. Their reaction was just so much more friendly than what I had expected. I congratulated them on the garden, they congratulated me on the view and the access to the roof. (Which I really do not have.) "You can always go to the roof and enjoy the new years' fireworks," my neighbor said. "Well, you know, I had to sign in the lease that I would only go to the roof in the case of an emergency." "I think looking at new years' fireworks could count as just that." I did not want to disappoint my new British friends, but the only time New York really goes out to burn a lot of fireworks is on fourth of July... On New Years Eve... No fireworks for New Yorkers. (At least outside of some few secret firework firing ranges somewhere in the depths of Chinatown.) My neighbors stayed at home on Saturday, I stayed here last Saturday, and when the two cable men arrived, at around three pm, they only noticed that the mysterious cable box they needed to switch on my service, was located in the garden of the building next door. One both cable men went to knock on the door of my mystery next garden neighbor... but nobody answered the door... no cable for me. My next appointment was scheduled for today. My homework was to let the people next door know that my cable people were coming... I told about my homework to my friendly neighbor downstairs. She simply replied: "Oh, that should be no problem, they are so friendly." But of course. Everybody here in Park Slope was super friendly. And happy. And kind. Magic. I wrote down the name of the doorbell marked with #1 in the building next door. I then had one of the toughest weeks of the year. And so yesterday, maybe around 7PM, I had decided to finally call the friendly people, ask them if they would happen to be at home today, and if they would let the friendly cable guys flip that magic switch. The name I had written down was not listed. Not anywhere in Brooklyn. There were so many L's and also some N's in the name, and so I was pretty sure that I got it all wrong, I ran home as quickly as I could, to just ring that bell in person. I probably arrived around 8:30 or so... There I was, at the door, I pressed the name, it was very soft, that's all it did, it gave in, in a very soft way, that backlit name, marked number one... "Who is this?" (Now the name was also the voice of a woman.) "Hello, my name is Witold Riedel, and I am your neighbor next door. I just moved in and I was about to have my cable service activated. Unfortunately the box for the cable is located in your garden, and so I was wondering if you would be home tomorrow... some time during the..." "You know what? No. I will not be home tomorrow... I will be out." "Oh, I understand... maybe on a different day?, maybe?..." "Well, not until probably way after Christmas..." "Oh, okay. I understand." "You know what. I do not anybody come into my garden. Not now and not later. What building are you from? That one that is closer to Seventh Avenue?" "Oh, I am actually in the building to the other side. You know... 485... " (I so wished I had remembered the name of my new British friends... but I did not...) "No, you may not enter my garden. Tell the cable people to put a box onto your building. I do not want to see anybody here. I already do this for all the people in my building. Now I am supposed to do this for other too? ....No." I looked at the four names glowing at me for a little while. I then went home, next door. Walked up my several flights of stairs. No wonder people across the backyard were getting satellite dishes. The box in that lady's garden is probably shared by several of the buildings here. She is the protector of the airwaves, the shield from HBO for some, a giant pothole in the information superhighway for others. I called Time Warner Cable and had a good laugh with them. My operator has not heard such story yet. She asked me if I maybe at least tried to give the lady some cookies. She then offered to speak to her supervisor (she really did.) I was called back with a phone number of an organization called "Right of Way." Apparently a division of Time Warner that is responsible in resolving such special cases. "Are they going to send her some cookies?" I asked. I woke up this morning realizing how rude I actually had been. Christmas is coming up, the woman probably has a job, this is the last weekend before the holidays and a stranger rings her bell just to ask if she could stay home for him so he can watch some cable television? Clearly a crazy request. So now I feel bad. I am going to send the lady a Christmas card, apologizing. I wil also look into some satellite service. Though I will need to talk to my landlord about that. Well, and figure out which one of the dishes on the roof across the backyard look best... though wait, I will not get to see that thing anyway. Or should I just do DSL? Did the first tenants of this apartment have the same problems? "Will we go with gas light or maybe have electricity installed after all?..." "Go away, I am not going to let anybody into my garden to install that electricity stuff..." I wonder what will be the next thing that will come to the house via cable... but maybe nothing more... maybe that's it. Maybe this is the very last hour of cables... at least in gardens, perhaps.
Woke up in the very quiet and cold middle of the night. The room temperature went down to a sleepy 60F (15C). This is the beauty of those old houses, the steam heat just has its own personality. So quiet now. Had some trouble going back to sleep until I realized that it was not the middle of the night anymore, rather the end of it, it was the beginning of the day actually, maybe even the end of the very beginning. I am now even glad that I am not going to Washington today, as I would have now missed my flight. Great. It does feel like the middle of the night. It does feel like the middle of the night. It is the middle of the night somewhere, just about now, actually right now. Now. Four chairs arrived yesterday, the boxes together much larger than me, they somehow managed to enter the building. (This is the place where I should mention that my neighbors are rockstars.) They (the chairs) traveled all the way from Kentucky, the four chairs, three black ones and one red. (Yes, I had plans to prepare for judgement day.) They brought so much packaging material with them (the chairs), bags warning me of suffocation, (deep inside of them, with tiny little type). They are no toys. Oh, I wish they were toys. Maybe they are toys... would we like to play with our lives? The giant boxes look like a portable "cozy studio" in manhattan. Two of the four chairs arrived broken. I will now have to go through the procedure of sending a gigantic box (half a cozy studio) to Kentucky. If things develop according to my current sampling, the next package will contain only one broken chair, which I will then send back again, then the one that I will get back will be half broken, which will probably not be bad enough to really matter. It maybe already does not matter already... the broken chairs are black. The red one is a wicked little guy... the hot seat... I wish I could bake muffins, I guess, or know how to bake muffins, or maybe be next, very close to someone who knows how to bake muffins. Maybe a lazy cat with a leonardo smile would be involved as well, one that loves to bake itself on the pilot lights of a gas stove. Maybe there would be some general sweetness in the air. Lots of it. Soy milk maybe. Poppy seeds. Chocolate chips. (dare we to think of real butter?) Yes, I think I would really love that. Instead I am in the business of being afraid of juggling with chain-saws. Some are broken, some have cords attached, some have been smeared all over with the sap of some not very friendly trees. I know I can work out a way to juggle smoothly and beautifully. It is just that I am balancing on a very thin beach ball and that ever so often a tomato is thrown at me, or was it a potato? Fruit? A bucket of water? (Does water spontaneously foam? I am not sure anymore.) Oh, and and I forgot to mention: most of the juggling happens with written and with voice "commands". Things could be much worse, of course. Always. I will not go to the bathroom from 7:30 through 9:30, just out of solidarity with my friends who are going to Washington DC this morning. One is not allowed to get out of the seat on the planes going to the capital... one needs to do whatever has to get done without getting up. Only the good old stewardesses are allowed to walk around, giving away free coffee and tea and some other exciting things... It is getting warmer in the room. I should be out and almost on my way now. It is so beautifully quiet here. It is so soft and warm and quiet under these covers. It is so peaceful... Okay, it is time to see how the rice turned out. It has been waiting done for about an hour already... I would love to have a not so sweet poppy lemon muffin right now... Maybe tonight? Maybe tomorrow... hopefully before I turn even older... boy, this will be so soon... What are they going to attempt to do to me then? Maybe I should just learn how to bake muffins... or maybe just get back to drawing again, at all cost, urgently, now... : )
My windows in the bedroom now close. This is really exciting news for me. Especially as the weather is getting chillier and chillier. The wind is getting ready for its finest hour in January... well, hours. And not only in January, of course. My Landlord (~Lady) is of the incredibly responsible kind. Things just get done. We communicate via email. It is quite great. The rooms here are still mainly filled with an echo. It will probably stay like this for a little while. Slowness is okay. I use a box as a chair. I use a folding table as a table. It is great. I will maybe hang up the picture of a sea urchin. It is one of my favorite drawings. Well, it is a print. A great one. At least as far as I remember. I might finally have a wall for it... hmm... okay, maybe this could be a great last thing for today.
taking the bus down fifth avenue, as one of the finer, polished experiences. the sun is brilliant this morning. the prime real estate glows as nicely cleaned gems. i am a tiny observer here. i find happiness in the reflections of these giant things. the thin layer of perception is rich enough for me. the free part of this experience is a magnificent gift. anything beyond that would be a burdonsome illusion. amazing how something intangible can bring so much joy. before sunrise, there was happiness in unexpected corners of the morning. regular objects had become carriers of happy. such a perfect little place. i would not want to be anywhere else. wow... so unexpected... so thankful for all of this... (a palmpost)
Hello there dear blog. how about writing posts while standing on a speeding train, leaning against a thin metal door, one layer of fast aging glass,deep under the streets of the city perhaps... how about beginning a sentence in midtown and ending it somewhere below soho? how about asking a question under the surface of manhattan and possibly finding an answer to it on the other side of the east river. delancey will be the next stop, the door will open behind me... maybe some of the air trapped in this car will then have a chance to escape? maybe? two guitar players are now holding on to the same pole. two men are solving the same crossword puzzle, two men to the right are reading along the pages of the same issue of the new yorker. the books read by the two women to my left look very different. from here i see three people with ipods. i am right now the only person crazy enough to write while we are under water. i will publish somewhere above smith street and ninth... ninth street, i guess, that station far above the neighborhood. the bridge from which i will post this is a giant black monster, its raincoat held in place by aluminum buttons. will the bridge ever undress? we are down to one guitar player, all the other players are the same, still. one of the crossword puzzle guys is a lefty. maybe it is not the same paper. maybe these are not two copies of the new yorker... i can now see the titles of the books at least... or is it chapters? "balsamic dreams"... "a series of unfortunate events"... next stop... carroll street... the lefty just threw his paper to the floor... the girl next to me is putting on makeup. her reflection looks much older than her.. wait, there, green lady... we are above ground... and so here i post... ; ) the other man picked up the dropped paper... (a palmpost)
The rice cooker was done at exactly six am. It is raining outside. The trees in the back yard are moving their giant arms in the wind, waving. My house plants are watching them with well founded respect. Will they become new friends? Will I eventually set out some of my trees into the park? The empire state building is not visible from here this morning. Maybe tonight, when the lights are most likely to be red and green again. I can hear the engines of a landing plane, somewhere in the very far background. The loudest noise in the apartment is the sound of the clicking keys. Wow, am I really such a slow typer? Shhh... the heat is telling me to not worry about such things right now... I do not remember being happier... all of the nights since I moved to Park Slope have been so much more restful and good. I have arrived in a place where I have the option of finally calming down, maybe catching a thought and holding on to it, before a police syren or some other event in the street tries to grab it from me. I will need some time to unpack, of course, the dozens of boxes as well as my brain... but... I now live in Park Slope, in Brooklyn. It is quite wonderful to say the least. My commute increased from an obnoxious fifteen minutes to a substantial forty five... but if this is what it takes to be in a place that is this incredibly welcoming and calm and yet unbelievably accommodating... then great... oh and maybe I will have time again to actually draw on the subway again... have not done this in a while... I could write pages and pages about the amazing qualities of my new home... but maybe if I start out slowly and describe a tiny piece at a time... maybe this could be better... for all of us. A friendly hello from Brooklyn, New York. : )