I got a job as a bike messenger in Manhattan. I just bought this item
on ebay to wear while I am on a bike, delivering messages to Manhattan design and financial firms.
Mon, Jul. 13th, 2009, 08:53 am
A True Rule
There are important rules about what to do if three people are socializing together and two of them are "a couple." They just mess me up every time for some reason, and I feel there is no way to negotiate them gracefully AT ALL.
First, if you are in a restaurant or some place where you have to sit down, you have to make sure the couple sits together and the third person sits across from them. Those are just the rules, and if you mess this up, it will ALWAYS be awkward, and people will NEVER accept it--something I've learned from years of personal experience on both sides of this tense situation.
Restaurant seating arrangements used to be my worst enemy when it came to "the couples crisis," but lately I've started to feel that places like the subway or theater, where you have to sit three in a row, are even trickier. You'd think three-in-row situations would be easy because they have an obvious "egalitarian" solution: the member of the couple who knows the third person best sits in the middle, duh. BUT, this only works well when it's very clear which member of the couple knows the third person best. Otherwise, it's a mess: as a member of the couple you have to make uncomfortable assumptions about the third person and which of you he or she would rather sit next to; as the third person, you are forced to pick sides.
Do you sit next to the member of the sex you're attracted to? Do you pointedly avoid sitting next to the member of the sex you're attracted to? What if you just want to sit next to the person you've known longer, but it's interpreted as you trying to "steal" the person? Or what if you actually just like one of the people better, not even in a sexual way--surely it is impolite to express this preference openly? Or maybe not? What about if you are gay and the couple is straight, do you just automatically sit next to the same-sex person anyway? Does this perpetuate "heterosexism" and just plain sexism in the world somehow, assuming that men cannot be friends with women, etc?
In short, three-in-a-row situations require some in-depth strategy (for example, I always try to make sure I am lined up in an inoffensive way right as I enter a theater, as if I'm just going to plop down "wherever," and I've learned to stand up in subways). Yet, I thought I had mastered restaurants up until today.
Like an autistic person who has memorized different facial expressions (so I have read), whenever I've been in a couple+1 restaurant situation lately, in any capacity, I have always been the first person to sit down, amazed by my social facility, proud of my mastery--earned through bitter experience--of the simple rule of "the couple sits together and the third person sits across." Yet, today, I was in a restaurant with a couple and I liked both people (while knowing the male individual somewhat better). And then, the female individual completely messed me up by proceeding to just sit down across from her romantic partner instead of next to him!!! I didn't know what to do! I only had a few seconds to make a decision.
I wasn't thinking very clearly, and I made the wrong decision. If the rule of "the couple must sit together" is broken, then the rule is "two people of the same sex must always sit together across from the person of a different sex," no matter what. That is a true rule.
Why does this seem like the perfect TV show? Why does it seem like any child exposed to this show has approximately a 60% chance of becoming an artist or gay/sexually ambiguous?
I've been watching Neon Genesis Evangelion this week (never seen it all the way through before), and as a result have been having the scary, vivid dreams all week. Dreams that now seem very clearly related to the show, that are pervaded with the feeling of bleakness one gets from watching it. I rarely have dreams that are so flat-out unpleasant. Most of my "nightmares" are still about embarassing myself socially or something.
Evangelion is so good for some reason. It has the same "feel" as awesome and bleak Soviet sci-fi such as the movie Solaris (the 70's Russian one) or the books
of the Strugatsky brothers (the ones I've read). Part of it maybe has to do with the fact that all of these works typically feature a monolithic, crappy, sort-of-sinister (but also sort of mediocre), sort-of-impenetrable government organization facing a supernatural phenomenon that refuses to explain itself. All of these works also typically feature a future where technology, government, and historic events have made life--not a nightmare like in 1984, but also just sort of crappy and a little bit bleak.
What's so terrifying about these works, I think, is that typically neither the monolithic government organization nor the supernatural phenomenon ends up having any kind of real central intelligence, any "ego." Anyway here are some of the dreams I had this week.
Yesterday: I dreamt that I was watching my friends perform and I was part of the performance or something. It was probably a Fiction Circus performance. My father and sister were there. My father was complaining about how the performance was too indecent, and I was worried about what this meant. Were my friends failures as artists, and as people? Was I?
Then everyone starting running--there was a group of gunmen in the crowd that was firing at everyone. My father and sister ran into the car that one of my friends was driving (it was some generic "friend") and that I was in the front seat of. Finally they were experiencing genuine terror; finally, instead of complaining, they were moved by something that happened during the performance. I was proud of myself. The show had inspired this group of crazed gunmen to commit violent acts, even against the very performers. The show was a rousing success. I was sure that my friends and I would escape, with my father and sister, and we would get to tell everyone about it later.
Except as we kept driving and the gunmen followed us inexorably I realized that the gunmen didn't care about the performance at all. They had randomly chosen to shoot at the performance and then randomly chosen to follow this car to follow and kill everyone in it. We couldn't get away and I kept facing the gun and realizing with this terrible, terrible certitude that this was it--that I was going to die, and for no reason, and because of this the show didn't matter, the fact that my friends and father and sister were also going to die didn't matter--everything that I had cared about was retroactively made random and meaningless by my impending death. This kept happening over and over. I kept facing the gun and having this realization, and then something would happen at the last moment (i.e. the killer would start to feel remorseful) that let me escape, and I would try to run away again, and then I would face the gun again and think, "This is it, you won't have another chance."
Today: For some reason I was living with my mother. We had gotten so poor that we had to leave our hole of an apartment and start living out of a used car that someone who pitied us donated to us. That is probably why my mother and I were living together in the first place--because we were so poor. We worked really hard to get the seats out of the used car, so that we could fashion a sleeping place for ourselves inside. I put the seats outside the car and was trying to feel cheerful about the situation. I said something like, "See, now we have an outdoor patio." Unfortunately, we didn't have any money to buy food, but I found a guy (I think it was miraclejones) who could tell me how to make a special nourishing stew that would let us eat for a week.
There was a stove that still worked in some kind of old parking lot. The guy told me to put all these vegetable into a pot on the stove, and a bunch of bacon grease. There was a whole section of the dream where I tried to hide my mother from the police because she couldn't afford a MetroCard and tried to use the subway because we needed to go somewhere. When that was over, I went back to check on the stew. There was a small black cat with yellow eyes sitting in the pot, which was boiling (it looked like jones's real-life cat that is now mine I guess, but it wasn't). The cat was narrowing its eyes a lot but not moving.
I was said something like, "Oh, I guess the cat needs to be in there for the stew to work." I thought to myself, "Huh, I guess cats aren't harmed by boiling water. I remember reading something like that." The guy was like, "Yes, the juices from the cat as it boils are what makes this work." It somehow became clear that I had been the one who put the cat in this boiling water, and that I was the one who wanted the cat to be boiled alive as part of some project I didn't remember anymore.
I looked at the black cat again, and realized that it wasn't moving because it was already about to die. I looked into its yellow eye that was in the process of slowly closing up. It was the only part that was still alive. The black body of the cat was melting all over the place, all around this one slit of yellow.
Hey, if you really want to address the issues on this election day, vote for ME and MY COMIC:http://www.creditcardreform.org/contest/groups/15
The prize is one thousand dollars. I could really use that One Thousand Dollars. If I were a cartoon character, my eyes would be replaced by big dollar signs--that is how much I would like to have that one thousand dollars. If I win, I might even buy you a meal. I guess you have to "sign up" or something to vote, but the potential reward of knowing someone who has $1000 is well worth the trouble, I think. My comic is kind of half-assed, but I sure want that prize money.
In other news, Halloween went well. My costume was a shark. ( This what I looked like, after I attached the shark"s fin.Collapse )
On the actual night of Halloween, my shark costume had neither the duct-taped fin, nor the drawn-on teeth, nor the black pits of its eyes. Indeed, as you might have guessed from this description, on the actual night of Halloween my costume was just a pink bike helmet and me saying, I AM A SHARK. I went to a performance by a band called AIDS WOLF in a warehouse with lakini_malich and his friend Polina. I was involved in a "mosh pit" that consisted of like five other people violently running into each other and shoving each other hard in a 15 or so foot circle that the crowd had cleared. My helmet proved an advantage in this situation, as it allowed me to menace to the other show attendees with headbutts.
Outside, there were these four or five girls from Japan. One of them was dressed as a police car, one of them was Mario (she kept handing out normal, non-hallucinogenic white mushrooms), one of them was a buiding, and one of them was some kind of cartoon bunny. They kept talking to this moronic indie band fucker, who kept saying, HOW DO YOU SAY CHEESE IN JAPANESE HOW DO YOU SAY I LOOOOVE YOUR MUSTACHE. The Japanese girls loved the wit of this fresh-faced, drunk American. It was like a 20 minute conversation of this carefree fool saying, HOW DO YOU SAY MUSTACHE IN JAPANESE HAHAHA, and the four girls in elaborate cardboard costumes telling him Japanese words and slapping their knees and everyone laughing in infinite delight. Illustration: Fools Feasting, by Albrecht Durer
Then we left, and I walked around by myself in Brooklyn and listened to Anika be not supportive of my name change.
The next night, after Halloween, I at last got my full costume together. I do not remember much of it. I drank beer after beer, followed by several big plastic cups full of some kind of hard liquor. I stared at a fire. At one point, I think I tried to gum miraclejones with my "shark teeth." I sat still for about 30 minutes focusing on not vomiting. Alas it was to no effect.VOTE FOR MY SHITTY COMIC
It was the birthday of bileograph
a few days ago and I got to be at the karaoke bar again. I performed the role of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus, conveying my simultaneous fear of and and longing for God through through movement and song. It went well! I felt like I rolled a "20" on a "perform check." I even got the tune right some of the time, and the rest of the time I could just scream about wanting MY LORD (that song, Gethsemane, is basically one screaming climax after another). It was pretty much as though the second coming had arrived, said these attractive girls who were there.
I diminished the impact of my initial performances with a terrible, embarrassing, ill-timed attempt to sing "Nights in White Satin." I had forgotten how, uh, especially sentimental the words to that song are.
Earlier that week, I myself had a birthday and turned 25. I was sad for a while, because 23 was maybe the oldest I'd ever been able to imagine myself at any point in my life, ever. Turning 24 was troubling, but I could still say, "oh, I'm not that far from 23." Turning 25, however, feels like passing the point of no return. It is when you stop being "a recent graduate" and start being "poor" or "downwardly mobile." Similarly, 25 is the age when it stops being ok to be mistaken for a 15-year-old boy or weird teenage androgyne. Yet the alternative is not desirable. I do not have many options here.
However, my black thoughts were dispelled when my friends took me to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire and later to the adult arcade! By "adult arcade" I do not, of course, refer to a porn theater, but rather to Dave and Buster's--an establishment that has fascinated me since my youth, an unsettling mix between a TGI Friday's and a Chuck-e-Cheese's intended for, I guess, young professionals. In any case, it was the perfect place for a man of means to celebrate his 25th birthday with a group of his friends, or perhaps his teammates in "touch football." And I got to be that man.
I suppose there are two reasons I barely update this journal any more. First, since 2006 or so, constructing an overarching "narrative of my life" has seemed less and less crucial. This is maybe the clearest sign one has that one has left adolescence. You realize how arbitrary and accidental everything that used to seem so meaningful to you actually is: your family, your old town--your relationships, even your thoughts. Your whole life. It's not that you don't value these things. They just don't have the same Metaphysical Primacy that they once did, at least for me. Your subjective experience doesn't have the same primacy that it once did. Subjective experience is still imporant to you, but no longer worth talking about. It's only worth being mined for art.
In the old days, I guess people would leave the self-absorption of adolescence and "enter the community." I've always found this thought and these words to be distasteful (as did Kafka, apparently). For as long as I can remember, even before I had words for it, "the community" has ever been this ominous moralizing force whose love I will disappoint, whose love I am inexorably disappointing or it will destroy me.
Interestingly/predictably enough, the Russian words for this shit are all horribly intimate: "folk," "family," and "ours" (the latter also apparently the name of a new, alarmingly fascist youth group) instead of the English word "community," which is redolent of like 18th century bourgeois civic pride. Are the Russian terms and more or less objectionable? I am inclined to say less, actually, because at least they acknowledge the arbitrariness of this "community." It's not a virtue to be loyal to these people, merely a practical necessity elevated to a virtue by the often-remarked-on "fatalism of the Russians." Similarly whereas American teams sports are all, "we are good sportsmen, we will win because we are virtuous citizens who have trained well"--the "team spirit" of Russian sport is more like, "we are low people, we will bring the other team DOWN TO OUR LEVEL." Guess which team wins MY sympathy?
That's why the phrase "Russian community" (or any kind of "immigrant community" probably) is uniquely retarded and condescending, by the way. But anyway, I don't like "real" Russians that much either, and not just because those who self-identify as such are as a rule unpleasant, sexist, or, at least, irrational people. I guess I just don't like surrendering my mean and obstinate little personality in favor of identifying with the needs of the group.
To get back to what I was saying like three paragraphs ago--instead of "entering the community," I've "entered the world," it seems. My life right now is a constant scrabble for recognition from others and money to live. This is what my "mean and obstinate little personality" has been subsumed in. Living in a basement in Queens. Writing thousands of words of about Spain a day for 2 cents/word (in fact, I am writing this entry because I am slacking off). Making burritos, or seeing if I have enough money to go to the diner or Dunkin Donuts. Neglecting work for days or weeks at a time to read books or work on slow creative projects that don't pay. Sometimes trying to talk to people that I like and find interesting, trying to make them like me. It's an obvious, frivolous luxury to try to put any narrative to it (I guess sometimes it is nonetheless enjoyable, and maybe can even prove "useful," that watchword of our lives). And that's what "communities" are supposed to provide, right, a group narrative to replace your personal one.
These thoughts kept recurring throughout my visit to my parents and family California, which took place over the course of these last two weeks. My whole past is like devalued currency, I kept thinking. Why was this not as depressing as it sounded?
Probably because I actually value people much now more than I did then, in spite of the appearance of having "lost my soul." I see people "for who they are," not as figures in the bullshit unfolding drama of my inner life. Despite my increasing reclusiveness during the past few years, despite the greater and greater starkness of my life, I feel that I "live in the world" more than before. My problems are no longer imaginary problems. I don't even have time to talk to people I don't actually like. I barely have time for those that I do like.
Oh wait! The second reason I haven't really been updating in this journal these past few years, is--to be honest--that there's not as pressing a need to talk publically about one's life when one cohabits with some sort of "significant other" and thus always has the "ideal audience." Well fuck. That is sort of lame. Is that the real reason I like people more now--because there's nothing to lose? Is the title of this entry--a lie?
The answer is, "no," but now it is time for me to finish explaining where to find the cheapest hotels in Spain (hint: it's via a certain site on the Internet). Also I shouldn't spend this much time on livejournal entries, and that's the other reason I haven't been writing.
I attended the event of "Karaoke Night" a few days ago, consumed over a gallon of beer, and alarmed bar patrons with an atonal rendition of Nine Inch Nails's "Closer." I basically just yelled "I want to FUCK YOU LIKE AN ANIMAL" a lot, in a sincere, lust-choked voice. I similarly tried to "sing" "Enjoy the Silence" by Depeche Mode but realized that I don't even really know how the song goes all that well!
I guess I just don't get singing. It seems like if you hear a simple melody in your head, you should be automatically able to reproduce it vocally the same way you can move limbs and stuff, but apparently not.
The others were all competent singers. The drunker I got, the more I found myself profoundly moved by every single song, even by the guy who kept performing alternative music from the late 90's. Everyone at the bar, except for an annoying gaggle of girls, sang every song with intensity and complete seriousness. The stupidity or, alternately, calculated obliqueness, of the lyrics only heightened the underlying emotion. A giant of a man named "Big Mike" belted out Oasis songs at a more-or-less uniform pitch and (shocking) volume. I was truly "lost in the music." Probably this is what people are supposed to experience at shows and concerts.
The next day was a hangover and the knowledge that I could not sing, that there can be no music inside of me. This cast a surprising pall over everything. I even recorded myself singing "Closer," mixing my ghoulish "vocals" with an mp3 of the actual song. Maybe I can improve! Then I went to cafe and drew a man with a large lower lip until 5 in the morning.
Wed, May. 7th, 2008, 03:29 am
God help us
It looks like I wrote some kind of terrible exegesis
of slash fiction. It's down in the comments. Possibly amberite
might be interested in what prompted all this,
although perhaps this individual might find it too juvenile or "ignorant of the history of slash fiction" (as someone has, bizarrely, claimed). I just don't know anymore; who can say.
Do you know what I also did?
I just did a google image search for "dog in sunglasses." Then, I took this image
and made it my desktop background, stretched out all the way, so that it doesn't look friendly anymore, so that it looks neutral and horrible.
Then, I made my screensaver be magenta "system" font quickly scrolling across a blue background, just saying "RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF."
I now have the most unpleasant Windows desktop configuration, of anyone.