On Being Home, City Actually Never Sleeps, Etc.
One week in between days. My darling apartment, I inhabit you lavishly. I'm back in New York for a week before I go on The Road again for two, and here is what is happening.
Things change in a Manhattan neighborhood in 1.5 weeks time. The building, the multi-trillion dollar behemoth outside the window, continues its ascent. There is a new Whole Foods down the block and it is a sight to behold. The fanciest, prettiest, most exciting supermarket. If you like exciting supermarkets. Or you believe supermarkets have the power to excite. There's this sushi bar that involves a little conveyor belt from which you pluck color-coded plates of sushi and dim sum as they whiz past. There's an actual bridge on the second level that leads to the healthy living gift shop where there's a ton of crap no one needs like fancy yoga bags and scented candles. And those padded wine gift bags that are everywhere and baffling and look like gore-tex jackets. Do you know what I mean? Maybe I can find a photo.
You know what I mean.
I have started to consider two lives and how to stock them: my real life, and my suitcase. If I change moisturizers in my real life, then I need to change moisturizers in my suitcase. If I wear those boots from my suitcase in my real life, I have to remember to put them back in the suitcase when I'm done. I am laundering and dry cleaning every second I am home. I am calling airlines and trying to get window seats because I live in fear of ending up in an aisle.
I have developed a burgeoning mug-buying habit. I have a fervent desire to get rid of all the crappy mugs I have and drink my tea only from high-quality mugs that are either attractive or have sentimental value. I totally uncharacteristically bought a weird mug in Texas, and since then I'm on the lookout for mugs. This is like those people who buy little silver spoons or tea towels in every city they travel to. I wonder if I'm trying to manufacture sentimentality, to take a mass-produced piece of place back from each of my stops. Mugs?! Once, while in NYC, Peter O. gave me a beautiful mug from the International Center for Photography. "Here, I got you something." The look on his face was one of regret, like he really didn't want to part with the mug. "This is such a beautiful mug!" I said. Then, seeing his face. "Do you want it?" He snatched it back and admitted he really wanted it. He collects nice mugs. It's become something of a joke between us, how he ungifted the mug to me. But since then I've been meaning to stop by ICP and get myself the mug. And now that I'm becoming a mug person too (HELP! SOON I'LL BE COLLECTING MAGNETS!), it's even more crucial.
This is the ICP mug. It's pretty good looking.
Last night there was loud, loud music sort of permeating the neighborhood. This was totally separate from the construction situation. I was reading in bed around 2 and "Idiotheque" by Radiohead came on. Instead of being annoyed, I tried to imagine what it would be like if I lived somewhere where lullabies were broadcast on a PA system every night. That would be weird. Kind of like a cult compound. I love that Radiohead song though. "Everything all of the time." My old friend Ken C. and I, when we used to work soul-deadening office jobs, would get on Instant Messenger, start "Idiotheque" at exactly the same time on WinAmp (this was pre-iTunes, my pets) and type the lyrics to each other while we blasted the song on our headphones. This reminds me of when I'd call a friend in grade school and we'd try to get our Madonna cassettes to start at exactly the same second, the desire to be listening to music with someone and have the same experience, the same response, at the exact same moment, even though you're not in the same place.
It now occurs to me that Ken, Sandra and I used to all get in one Instant Messenger chat room and do the same thing with George Michael's "Freedom '90." Three people, three offices, all blasting George Michael on headphone and furiously typing the lyrics. Dorky. Exhilarating and also supremely dorky.
So there's noise. Night music and day construction, and a new Whole Foods and an old Trader Joe's, where I also went today, on my bike, because one other thing that has changed since I was last home is it became spring. I missed the last gasp of frosty winter. Or I hope I did. I've been mourning summer's passing since last October. Not actively, but still. I wonder how they remain so cheerful at Trader Joe's. I'm sure if you snarl at a customer or get in a tiff with a co-worker they cheerily drag you into the back room and fire you. But no one is uncheerful there. They are constitutionally good-natured and nice and chatty and friendly. And it's the biggest mess of people clawing for the honey glazed cashews you have ever seen. I couldn't work there. I can't even go in there without the iPod. I have to go into my own little cocoon and not come out while I shop at Trader Joe's, otherwise I might deck someone.
I have never decked anyone. Things to do before you die.
Oh while in Trader Joe's a song came on my iPod that I hadn't heard before--"Give It," by X-Press 2. I don't know where it came from, a mix someone made? Some free Pitchfork download? It's the best song I've heard in ages. I listened to it a million times in Trader Joe's. Grind coffee, bend down for soy nuts, say what the hell to a four-pack of Meyer Lemons -- "Guess I should give it, give it, give it, a little more tiiiiiime." Soundtrack for shopping. Where did it come from? I love it.
Some research tells me that it's a collaboration with Kurt Wagner from Lambchop. I think I'm in the mind of appreciating singles since finishing Love Is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield. I don't know if I adored the book but it did, as the bookseller in Austin advised it would, make me thing about how every second of your life could have its own soundtrack. In the movie of my life today, I am riding my bike down Bowery in the sun and "Give It" by X-Press 2 is playing. It has lots of different parts, gospel parts, country parts, techno-ish parts...and it's about as long as a day, too. The song, I mean. It's long and good.
Am I allowed to post mp3s on my blog?