Friday, September 17, 2010

Free shoe day Friday

Working at a magazine def has its perks. Today, I got an IM from my managing editor. It went something like this.

Ed: What size shoe do you wear?
Me: haha, ummmmm.... 7/7.5. y?

Ed: Yay!!! You win!

She proceeded to bring a Sam Edelman box to my desk, which I opened to reveal these:

Shoes were always my big thing before I moved to New York. I was obsessed with them. Heels, platforms, stilettos, boots. I loved them all and wanted them all. Then I moved to New York and had to walk everywhere and was basically like FTN fuck that noise.

Today brought a nice reminder that I still, in fact, fucking love shoes. These are perfect. They are sparkly, they are black and they are flat. I can wear them in the city without wanting to kill someone, so that is good. And they were  FREE.  Thanks, universe.

It couldn't have  come on a better day, because I found out today that I have a fucking EAR INFECTION. All caps attack necessary. Am I five years old??? On top of that, I'm on my period, so yay TMI Friday this morning I basically felt like a snotified zombie lady with intent to kill.

But my new sparkly shoes made me feel better. Happy Friday everyone!

PS, I interviewed the guys who made the Facebook film CATFISH that everyone is talking about. My story is here. I encourage everyone to see it - it's shocking and thought-provoking, especially for those of us who belong to the Internet Generation. Ahem, that means you.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

standing and walking and wandering

When you stand on a street corner in New York with your eyes closed, you really feel the wind. It’s scary. When I was a teenager, I remember thinking to myself on the way home from a late night out somewhere that I knew the road so well I could drive it with my eyes shut. I closed them with my hands on the wheel and made it three seconds before I opened them again and thought about how stupid that was.

Testing blindness on a street corner is sort of the same. First, you know there are people all around you. You assume, at best, that everyone is looking at you, thinking you are crazy. You hope, at worst, that no one will attack you or steal your purse while you are defenseless. It goes against your every instinct to stand there still, listening and feeling and smelling but not seeing. Like lying down in the middle of the jungle, trying to sleep in a den of tigers.

Walking from my building to the train after work, I pass a disabled black man in a wheelchair. He is sitting with one wheel against the scaffolding that surrounds my building, not moving. He has his headphones in, and I follow the cord with my eyes as I walk: past his long arms, which are curved in places they aren’t supposed to be, and his hands, which are curved everywhere, to the end of the cord plugged into his cell phone. Then I see the phone fall to the ground, as if I had willed it there with my mind. It clatters.

I walk on, but I turn my head back. I see him struggling. He can’t seem to bend down at just the right angle. His phone has fallen slightly under his chair, and it is hard for him to reach it. I stop walking. I wonder if I should offer to help him. I wonder if it is safe and then I wonder if I might offend him. I watch for a few seconds longer to see if he picks it up himself. He doesn’t. I start walking back toward him.

I approach him from behind, watching him curl over and lurch for the phone in an awkward motion. I peek my head cautiously into his line of sight, and say, "Do you need me to help you?" He looks up at me just as his hand finally wraps around the phone and he retrieves it from the ground. "No, I got it," he says. The words are not articulate but I can make them out. His face is half-paralyzed, but he smiles at me. I can make it out.

A dear friend of mine recently told me he felt like he didn't know who I was anymore. It made me think. I thought about the changes I've gone through over the past year, all the pain and the fear and the joy and the anxiety and the loneliness of growing into a woman and finding myself as an artist. I thought of who I was a year ago today, and confessed to myself that I could not say with certainty, "I am the same person, at my core," which is what people say in these conversations. It's a gut response. My gut wouldn't let me say it. My core had been shaken so deeply, in ways good and bad, that I barely even recognized the old me. Like a friend I used to know but who moved far away and forgot to call on my birthday.

The man in the wheelchair smiled at me, and I realized something. I will always be moved by the beauty of tragedy and struggle and humanity. I will always try to help someone who needs it, if I think I can. I feel and do these things not because of some moral code stamped into me like a seal pressed into molten wax, and not because I thrive on the pleasure of knowing I did something good for someone else - but because those feelings and actions are who I am. They are not my core, not just a part, but the whole. They are me. Everything else is just wandering.

The man in the wheelchair smiled at me, a reminder that people are strong even when they seem weak. Simply moving forward in time is an accomplishment, and I am thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to wander.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

early morning saturday

I'm up on Saturday at 8 a.m.
It feels like never.
I am not in New York,
I am in some other place where people drive cars
And use radio dials, switching from lane to lane,
Parallel parking in front of their houses
And pressing buttons to lock their vehicles.
They actually use their phones as phones.

Last night someone tried to charge me $13 for a vodka
and I laughed in her face.
I'm snooty about being poor -
That's the only way to be about it.
I watched my friend dance on her own,
And a strange drunk man came up and wrapped his arms around her waist.
She slinked away and I remembered
That some men play games with women's bodies
Like boys with their marbles.

I stood, drinkless and motionless,
Remembering when I used to call this fun:
Standing in five-inch platform heels, wax in hair
And gloss on lips,
Feeling pretty and famous. 
Now I just felt like an outcast,
And it was a long walk home,
And the balls of my feet felt like sandpaper soles.

We went into town this morning,
Bright and early in a red car,
The most gorgeous fall day
Blowing through rolled down windows,
Reminding me of the parts of my old self
I want to keep around forever.

Friday, September 10, 2010

if you must speak, please don't

Nothing tries to spoil a beautiful early morning in Manhattan like a woman yelling on the 6 train. She takes a seat beside me, her face pointed up toward her standing colleague, her mouth broadcasting something about work and funds and projects. She flips through her manilla folder filled with papers.

I am trying to read A Moveable Feast. Hemingway named it that because he considered Paris itself to be a moveable feast, an experience a man keeps with him his entire life. But I think it just shows his genius because the book itself is a moveable feast. It is a  treasure I carry around in my bag with transportive properties beyond my grasp. My copy is old and worn, with notes inside from a previous owner’s trip to Germany. There are train directions, and something about the Museum of Modern Art. It is a tiny book, and it fits perfectly in my hands.

I'm still early in the book. I just got to the scene where Hemingway discovers this woman who runs a library out of her house. He is poor and doesn't have enough money to pay the membership fee, but she lets him take as many books as he wants anyway. He is touched by her kindness and goes home to tell his wife about what he has found. They have a simple conversation about their evening plans and she says to him, "And we'll never love anyone else but each other." And he says, "No. Never." She asks him how his writing went earlier in the day and he says he thinks it went all right. I think simply, this is the type of love I want.

But the woman is still yelling. I have put my earbuds in and am listening to Philip Glass at near-full volume and I can still hear her. Not even God drowns her out. I look over and see her papers with designs on them for a presentation. Her colleague has a brown leather briefcase. They are both professors. I hear them say words like "dean," "school," "courseload." It's not just her proximity or my countenance that makes her seem loud. She is actually just very, very loud. She seems to have forgotten the most basic lesson children learn: the value of quiet.

I read the same page over and over, but I'm not actually reading. Her voice is a barrier to the deepest part of my brain where literature belongs. Not wanting to do wrong by Hemingway, I close my book. I close my eyes. I paint a picture in my mind of the man I will one day love and the walks we will take along our version of the Seine. I let Philip's repetitive piano strokes fill my mind and serve as the soundtrack for barefoot dances along water's edge.

I open my eyes and see that my stop has arrived. I put my book back in my bag. I adjust my headphones and exit.

I realize it's been a few minutes since I heard her voice.

Once outside, I see that the morning is beautiful.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I hung out with Big Boi on his tour bus

About a month ago I found out that Outkast's Big Boi was coming to Brooklyn Bowl as a part of his national tour in support of his incredible, groundbreaking, motherfucking epic album Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. After I finished having a fit of pure joy, I decided to pitch a concert review to my online editor at Gotham. She accepted.

I went to the show and Jenny came along as my photographer. The show was incredible. Life-changing, even. Afterward, I found myself sitting on Big's tour bus, talking to him about life, God and Hemingway. Please read the story here, let me know your thoughts and spread it around if you deem it worthy. I've never written a concert review before, so I really wanna know what everyone has to say.

I wanted to say here what I left out of the story: Big Boi (real name: Antwan Patton) is an amazing human being. When I got on the bus and walked in on him sitting near his wife and son, I felt like I was being welcomed into his living room - which I'm confident had everything to do with his Southern roots. He was kind and gracious and completely down-to-Earth. He shook my hand and laughed and smiled with me. His positive energy was tangible, and I was completely floored and humbled by the kindness of everyone on his team.  I sat next to arguably the most innovative rapper alive and he treated me like an equal. I will never forget it.

What follows is the most epic photo of me that has ever been taken. I'm hoping for more to follow.

PS, here's the New York Times review. The videographers there interviewed Big right before I did, though the video itself is MIA.

PPS, If 17-year-old Meghan could see this, she would squeal louder than all the speakers in her Camry bumping Speakerboxx.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

as of late

I've been really busy as of late, which is really just another way of saying I have re-prioritized as of late. I am writing columns for The Local Voice (the latest is here, and I encourage you to download the whole newspaper here). I am writing more and more about culture, mostly music, at my job (here, here and here), with some more exciting things coming up. 

Also on my list of priorities, this:

When I was a little girl, this was my favorite song. One of my most vivid childhood memories is of bursting through the little plastic shutters on this little plastic playhouse in my kindergarten classroom, singing this song at what I believed to be full volume. I didn't have a lisp, and I'm confident that I wasn't anywhere near this adorable, but obviously her performance reminds me of that day.

If you watch this and don't 1. bawl your eyes out, 2. squeal and cover your mouth in delight or 3. tell someone you love them, then you should probably seek spiritual guidance because you are an empty shell of a person. Also, I realize I am two years late on this, but it doesn't matter because it is timeless.

All children are artists.