I know it's been a long time since anyone saw me around here, as I've moved my blog over to Lilit in Stereo
. But, since not all of you have migrated over to the new page, I wanted to make sure you all know about my new project.
Introducing Save The Assistants
, where all beleaguered low-on-the-totem-pole office slaves can have their voices heard. We post your stories about nightmare bosses, crazy assignments, and office politics- anonymously, of course. We also post office doodles, comics, and other workplace-inspired art. Take a peek and contact me with any questions.
And stop by my own site sometime too. Don't be strangers, you hear?
Fri, Mar. 24th, 2006, 03:37 pm
I am twenty three and one half years old today. I suppose that's as fitting an occasion as any to say that I am leaving my happy home at Livejournal to go out into the big, scary world of the interweb.
You'll be able to find me- and links to my writing- at www.lilitinstereo.com
, built courtesy of Michael. Come on over once in a while, have some tea, leave a comment. I'll be keeping this account active so that I can still read all of your lovely words.
I must remember to be thankful. I must constantly remember that there is nothing I love more than Brooklyn on a warm day, people out on the streets, walking their dogs, carrying their groceries, and stopping to say hello. The first day in five months I walked out of my house without a coat. A party in a house with a recording studio in it. I'm over my sniffles but everyone else is getting sick. A whole day with Ashley and Pico The Pug, walking on the cobblestone side streets in the West Village and admiring silk dresses in the windows. I am one winter ahead of her. She is miles wiser.
I must remember to be thankful, in my little room wearing new jeans and snuggling up with an old friend. I must remember to be thankful, because my new boss gave me flowers, because I've only been at the company three weeks and I've already published two pieces on the site. A year and a half ago I would never have fathomed familiar people in the crush of Union Square or a former lover sleeping in my bed without me. I know the names of the buildings now. I know east and west and the best bakery in the neighborhood.
David accused me once of writing images and not scenes. Here is a scene for you. Setting: Hope Street, also lovingly known as "Desolation Row." It's drizzling outside. The redheaded girl makes a cup of tea and gets up the nerve to call that guy she likes. He answers. They make plans to get together that week. She writes for a little while, things for this book she can't stop talking about. iTunes is set on "random" and keeps playing songs about New York City. An old friend calls and they promise, again, that this will be the year they get around to visiting each other. Later when her eyes begin to blur from too much time at the screen she sweeps the floor and scrubs the sink in the bathroom. For the first time in a long time, she is alone in her busy house. Someone bought the Times and left it on the living room table. There have been no epic poems today, nothing dramatic or enviable. She thinks I must remember to be thankful as she washes her hands. It is still drizzling outside. She thinks that she might like another cup of tea.
I went to Amoeba Music in Berkeley with zipperblues
and bought a CSNY record. In my father's rental car I played "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" over and over again while he pretended not to notice me moving my lips along to the music. Rebecca took me to hillel, but all I could think about during the amidah
was how strange it felt to be home and not-home, how I was writing the book the whole time my father and I were together but couldn't tell him. On the beach I was able to read Dubus' Dancing After Hours
, but I brought it to San Francisco because I hadn't retained a word, recalling only the ethereal feelings they gave me. I wanted to meditate but couldn't get any silence in my head. mirth4maudlin
are perhaps the two loveliest, in-loveliest hosts I've ever had.
He wanted to talk about northern California, since he might trade this city for that one. He is tired of paper and maybe of the trains. We went to Essex House and sat for a long time watching people fight for cabs on Rivington Street, thankful we could walk home in a quick minute. This winter has been a coy one. Two giant snowfalls and the next day forty-three degrees. Now it's just below freezing along the seven blocks to the J train, wind always finding the exact path I am taking. Erin and Tadd are both coming for separate weekends in March. I want to go to museums and the park and fancy restaurants and pretend I haven't been living here all this time.
Brennan says that adulthood is lonely. Depending on the day, I think she's right. Sometimes it's mango grappa, free tickets, and new friends on a private beach; sometimes it's the telephone silent for hours and hours. I always know what's louder. I always know what lingers.
I promised myself that if I got the job I'd go lie on a beach somewhere for a couple of days, so I'm in the Bahamas, and when I am done it's off to San Francisco and then back home to start my new gig as an editorial assistant at Beliefnet.com.
The man who runs the only used bookstore on New Providence Island wouldn't sell me Donna Tartt's The Secret History for anything more than a dollar, even though the cover price was three, and gave me some pear juice to drink on my way. I'm staying in a pink hotel and can't walk up the front steps without humming that line from "Big Yellow Taxi." There are also boutiques and some swinging hot spots. I'm just off of Bay Street, the main tourist road, and among the duty-free and souvenir shops, there's an organic market where the owner showed me how to find the best eye of the coconut to drill into for milk.
All I have done is write and read and eat plantains and jerk chicken. Every building I went into yesterday had Coretta Scott King's funeral on television. A man who gave me a tour of the parliament house has managed to find me a rare fifteen-cent piece to give to Dad for his coin collection.
I measure time in water, and the Caribbean is turquoise around my ankles. The locals think the water is cold this time of year, and when it gets below 70 at night they put on sweaters and caps. The first thing I did when I got in was put my winter coat in the closet, close the door, and forget the thing ever existed. I think it is snowing at home.
Every place is supposed to remind you of some other place, but this one is difficult to categorize. The beachfront houses and hotels are lavender and coral and seafoam green, like New Orleans or Savannah. The cars are on the other side of the road and little children wear uniforms to school, just like in England. The verandas and open-air churches remind me of Spain. But this place is not any of those places. I imagine that there must be sad people here, just like there are sad people in other warm and lovely places. Everyone I meet thinks it is odd to go to paradise alone, but I cannot be sad, because there is a palm tree outside my window and white sand to sit on and a book to write.
Living in the same place for a year has made me antsy. It's harder to move in Brooklyn than it is in Greensboro, where applications are intense processes and everyone wants first-month-last-month-deposit-down. I love my house on Hope Street, I love my sapphire-colored comforter and days in the immediate shadow of the bridge, but the rest of my life is tensed in anticipation of the next home.
So instead I quit my job without having a new one and bought a pair of boots I needed but could have waited for. He took me out for tapas and champagne at a fancy restaurant on Ludlow Street where we didn't even have to wait for a table but by the time we were back home I'd spoiled it all. You can cuddle on a red banquette and still sleep alone.
Dating men a decade older than you will make you forget that you have actually matured in these fifteen or so months in a new city. Instead of a retaliatory kiss I called to say I was sorry. Instead of running away to Nassau I went on three interviews (although I might end up there after all). Instead of consoling myself with solitary meals, I went with girlfriends to Indochine for restaurant week and had dreams all night about Fuji apple sorbet on a round green plate.
There were two engagements this week, both beautifully matched and perfectly timed. Other people are quite good at love, even if I'm still playing at it. One wedding will keep me right in my borough and the other will take me to eretz Israel, if I can make it. In the meantime, my last day at my job is Friday, and then some time to write and interview my heart out before I get to San Francisco. Maybe time in another city will cure this itch of mine a bit. Or maybe when I come home I'll start wandering again.
I have homes on the mind, as usual. Raleigh and I have reconciled. I have often seen that city as incidental to my growing up, as in, all the events could have been set in anyplace in the world without regard to scenery. Half the time I imagined myself on the Oklahoma plain I knew only from a car window, eight hours of flatness. No one believes that I grew up in a small town. This last visit, it was a real, distinct individual with its own places and residences. Raleigh things. It helped that almost all of my favorite people were there- Eileen and Morgan, Melanie and Rick, Valerie, Erin, Tadd, Carol, Emily, Jason. I marveled and forgot two-dollar beers. My sister and I went to a movie on Christmas Day. Trying to fit a lifetime in a week will help things to fly faster. Amy announced her engagement to me in the passenger seat of someone else's car. Lindsay and Derek are going to try for kids this year. I was ready for the city and the city was ready for me, even as I stifled every urge to label it a town, a village, a spot on the map.
By the time I got home to Brooklyn, I felt as if I'd lived out the year properly. Despite its name, Hope Street is not a very beautiful place. My little house is the only liveable dwelling on the block. Its neighbors are the back end of an unused factory and a wall that gets re-graffitied every few months. Peter calls it "Hopeless Street," thinking he is hilarious. I prefer a Dylanesque slant, referring to it as "Desolation Row." But it is my Hope Street. Raleigh was a borrowed place for me during the last week of December, and that was the most valued it has ever been to me. Williamsburg was warm and happy to see me, Chanukah candles in place. I read Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, which I characterized to Kathryn as "an urban fairy tale," on the train and almost missed Metropolitan Avenue.
The nicest gift of the New Year so far was him saying I love your writing, even better than loving me, noting my 'delicate touch.' I don't think I've ever touched love or words delicately, but there was a truth to him and I wanted hard to believe it. I am proud of you, I said in response, and meant it. We were in my little room on Hope Street, on the uncomfortable blankets and pillow I am in the process of replacing and the bed he hates that I have no intention of getting rid of. This bed was the first thing besides an apartment that I acquired in New York, after trudging all the way from the bus station with my two suitcases. I've accumulated a lot since then: clothes and shoes, books, a dresser from the Salvation Army, a slew of odd jobs and an even one. He is my newest acquisition, but I don't like terms of ownership. He'd come to see me through my head cold, tea in his coat pocket, although I don't like potential romantic interests to see me in my pajamas. I think I know well enough by now that I shouldn't write about men in my livejournal, even nice ones, even ones who visit me when I am sick, but then, I've never been delicate with words.
I tried to do that 2005-in-review meme, but couldn't get past the first question.
What did you do in 2005 that you had never done before?
Was a bridesmaid in a wedding. Cried at said wedding. Downloaded iTunes. Went out with a man thirteen years my senior. Took Hebrew classes. Stayed up all night on the swings in McCarren Park. Learned to cook tofu. Saw live music at South Street Seaport and Madison Square Park. Took the PATH train. Lived to tell about it. Became a Contributing Editor. Taught the SATs to immigrant children in Bed-Stuy. Supported my neighborhood kickball team. Went to the beach in Long Island. Tried coke. Referred to 40-degree weather as "not that cold." Got into major credit card debt. Paid it all off. Became a member of the Bushwick Country Club. Wore corporate casual. Found out exactly what corporate casual was. Waited an hour for a table at a restaurant. Took the Roosevelt Island tram. Hung out on a music video shoot. Got mentioned on Gawker because of said music video. Visited New Orleans. Had a December picnic. Lived in the same apartment for an entire year (as of 1/15/06, but I'll take it). Ordered takeout at a bar. Bought designer jeans. Explored the Cloisters. Made the first move. Got an eyebrow wax. Sold a freelance piece. Went to the Met hungover. Didn't miss Greensboro. Celebrated Purim and Simchat Torah. Walked in two and a half feet of snow. Had a VIP pass for a sold-out show. Saw a naked homeless man on my front steps. Ignored him. Took a gypsy cab. Got a fucking agent.
( and also, books I lovedCollapse )
"Manna falls from the sky; I have only to open my hands and receive."- Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn
Kathryn and I got the last two seats on the Thursday morning bus to Atlantic City. With our bus tickets we got coupons for $20 in chips at the casino. I spent the first twenty minutes of the ride trying to figure out what to call the neighborhood around Port Authority (isn't it too far north to be Chelsea? It it too south to be Hell's Kitchen?). When we pulled into the casino two and a half hours later, we immediately cashed in the chips and marveled at spending ten dollars on a round trip ticket. I've never been allured by casinos, by the farmland of glittering machines and the bells that ring above a lucky person's head. The carpets and the walls and even the pretty girls who come by with trays of beer and soda seem as if they've been smoking for thirty years.
May's Landing, New Jersey, is a half hour drive from Atlantic City, smaller than North Raleigh, smaller than Greensboro. Their middle school is called High Point. The matching houses in the subdivisions are the same as the one I grew up in. Shopping centers and gas stations and churches. It might as well have been my parents' neighborhood, with oaks in place of dogwoods, fifteen degrees cooler thanks to the winds coming in from the Jersey shore. (Am I becoming someone who thinks every place but New York looks the same?) It was the second Thanksgiving I'd ever not spent with my family, and just as their street stood in for ours her father and mother stood in for mine, the same old stories and cookie cutters and hatred of the city. We had tea and watched television and I remembered what it's like to have someone else cook for you and make your bed.
It's too cold to walk but I want to go up to India Street, Java Street, and travel by collecting names. I want to curl up on my favorite stone bench in the community garden in McCarren Park, where I used to kiss David back when I still thought I might love him, even though the primroses are long gone and the ferns are resting until spring. The new organic market up the street is still selling plums, but they're the last of the stock, bruised and a little sour. This year I am better off than last year. I have a solid coat and am proficient at layering. I know the bus routes to Greenpoint and the warm part of the JMZ train platform. But I'm a Southernish girl, and I still shiver sometimes.
There is always a new city for me, and every time it contracts it expands. Celebratory champagne at the Temple Bar because I have an agent. Holding my gloveless hands in his outside a restaurant on Second Street. Downstairs one of my housemates is playing an electric piano. Hanukkah is coming, a long weekend in Maine, and Raleigh again. The first time back since this time last year. Winter, again. I wait and hope for snow.
I cried over pictures of home and an alumni magazine in the mail. More people from my graduating class are getting married or having children. My city, my Greensboro, taking root and building a new museum, new restaurants, even a hookah bar. Val and Kevin are moving in together. Nate lives on Hill Street, just across the cemetery from my old place, but I cannot walk across the gnarled trees and ancient stones to see him. That was the cemetery where he, James, and I watched the fireworks and decided what we wanted to be independent from. I said "geography."
Before there was Greensboro, before there was Spain, before there was New York, there was a girl who sat in a room and wrote in spiral bound notebooks. An agent read my manuscript and we talked about it today. "You are a good writer," he said. He liked the scene with the boy on the roof and the part about my father's accident. He says I have excellent technique. The part about Elisabeth Zinser made him cry.
[Elizabeth Zinser was a hearing woman who, in 1988, was chosen to be the President of Gallaudet University, the all-deaf school where my parents met. The students protested her selection and started the "Deaf President Now" movement, the Selma of the Deaf Rights movement. Zinser resigned and went away, leaving her position open for a deaf candidate. Zinser had been hired by Gallaudet away from UNCG. For awhile I was obsessed with finding her. I met people who had worked with her, gathered recollections and anecdotes. I scoured the internet and traced her post-Gallaudet career. I was obsessed with her because she was a shadow for me, hearing in a deaf world, knowing that no matter how she worked she'd never belong there. Knowing that she was always an impostor. A usurper. Writing a narrative that was not hers.]
I thought that section was the poorest of the whole book. The agent read about my father, my first love, the first time I understood death. But Elizabeth Zinser made him cry. Like how I can sort through old photographs and diaries long since abandoned, but it is news of a new train station in Greensboro that makes me cry.