Wednesday, April 27, 2011

subway kids rejoice

In January, I turned 25. For my birthday, a friend of mine gave me The Alchemist. On the title page, he wrote a note: "MCB, I found this one of the most inspiring books I've ever read. I hope it resonates as much with you." It took me a few weeks to finish the book. As I was reading, I knew something important was happening. The book served to reflect aspects of my spirituality that I had learned over the past six months or so. I put the book on a shelf, feeling cemented in my beliefs, but also feeling like I had missed something, that some of the metaphors were lost on me.

I pulled the book from the shelf yesterday, to share it with a man I've been seeing. I put it in my room to remind myself to give it to him, but decided not to take it with me yesterday. It sat on my dresser all day. This morning before leaving for work, I decided instead to re-read it myself, and I put it in my bag. I pulled it out on the train at 86th street and started reading. I stood from 86th street to 14th street reading, then some people got up to exit so I took a seat. I was sitting there reading, and the man sitting next to me looked over and said, "Your first time reading that book?" I said, "No, my second." He said, "Ah. It helps just to re-read it every now and then."

I agreed with him and pretended to keep reading, but there was an incessant pounding on the inside of my chest, demanding that I keep talking with this person. He was older a bit, probably in his 30s, and he seemed really nice and I liked his vibe. I ignored the pounding for as long as possible until I couldn't ignore it anymore.

"How many times would you say you've read it?" I asked him.
"Ummm, about three."
"Why are you re-reading it now?"
"Um, well.  I just read it for the first time a few months ago."
"Oh really? That's pretty soon to be re-reading it already."
"Well, I feel like I missed some of the metaphors so I want to go back through and get a better understanding."
"I see. Are you in the middle of a big life change?"
In my heart: yes.
Out loud: "Um, well, I really want a new job."
"Ah. What line of work are you in?"
"Well, right now I work in magazines."
"And what do you want to be doing? Healing?" He laughed.
"Well, I write magazine articles, but I really want to be doing something more creative. Like writing books or screenplays." Mind you, this is a complete stranger and I've never even told some of my closest friends that I want to write screenplays.
"Have you thought about  taking a loan out to pursue higher education?"
In my head: Um, wow. Damn. Straight to the point.
Out loud: "I've thought about grad school but haven't done any in-depth research on it."
"Well," he said, "I'm throwing caution to the wind and taking out a $100,000 loan to go to school for psychotherapy. I feel like it's my calling."
"Holy shit. That's a lot of money."
"There's this school out in Boulder, Colorado called Naropa. Have you ever heard of it?"
"It's a Buddhist-founded university with graduate programs in writing. They focus on contemplative learning, meditation and stuff like that. It's really cool, you should look into it."
"All right, sounds awesome." Or something equally inane.
"Have you ever heard of Allen Ginsberg?"
In my heart: fucking Christ.
Out loud: "Yes."
"The library there is named after him. He was involved with the writing school somehow."

My stop came. I thanked him and told him to have a great day.
I got off.
I walked upstairs.
The sun hit my face. It was warm.
I went to get an iced coffee but I didn't really need it.
I held back tears as I walked to my office.


Friday, April 22, 2011

midsummer dream's night

All I want from life right now is a warm night. Just one.

Where I can wear a dress with my thighs exposed, maybe a jean jacket, maybe be warm enough to take it off and drape it over my slingbag. Where I welcome the wind to my face with my eyes closed, cheeks pointing to the sky like bobbing baby fists. Where I can walk through Harlem, maybe over to the East River, and the wind there will be cooler, but not by much, and I can sit on a bench and feel the chills climb my spine as it tousles the strands of my scalp. Maybe it's about 7:38pm, and the sun is just about down, but not quite, and I can still make out Queens in a purple haze. Perhaps I imagine little Italian families preparing dinner in their heirloom apartments across the river, and then I wish I had a big plate of spaghetti.

Once on the 6 train between 33rd and 42nd streets, I peeked up from my book and saw, sitting across from me, a young timid Asian woman asking an old white man for directions to Penn Station. He told her we had just passed the stop she needed to get over there, to the West side. She had missed her chance. She looked confused and just kept repeating, "Trehn. Trehn." The man just kept shrugging and looking around helplessly. She said, "I'll just wait. I'll just stay on the trehn."

I caught the glance of a beautiful young black woman sitting next to them, with a buzzed head and a black RUN DMC t-shirt. She was  eavesdropping too. She rolled her eyes and smiled and I smiled back and we both turned our attention back to the Asian woman. The man didn't know what else to say to her. He looked defeated. Then the black woman reached over the man, tapped the Asian woman on the shoulder, and said, "Just get off here at Grand Central, take the shuttle to Times Square, then take the 1 or 2 train down to Penn. You need to get to the West side." The Asian woman looked like she understood, smiled, and thanked her, clutching her little red backpack. She got off when the train stopped. The black woman looked at the silent white woman across from her and smiled. I smiled back.

Point is, I felt the warm night I wanted inside that subway car, and I carried it upstream all the way home. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hustle mean hard work: The arrival of Emcee B.

So, I'm entering a rap competition. Yeah I know, it's whatever. I wrote the verse and made the video all by myself, and I'm pretty excited about the result! It was really fun and my new favorite thing is downloading beats and writing verses on the 6 train in the mornings. You can watch the video below, and (if you likey) I implore you to go to the YouTube page and vote for me by clicking the thumbs up sign below the video! Duhhhhhh. Thanks y'all :)