Dans un nouvel appartement, dans une nouvelle vie

It’s so funny to me how long it’s been since I’ve actually written here. It had something to do with the fact that I didn’t have any space that was soundproofed and was my own. My mom is taking over the basement at my grandma’s house, which used to be my  domain, and I had to move all my stuff upstairs. I really didn’t have that much stuff, but the room upstairs is anything but soundproofed. Any conversation that is happening in the living room I can hear with perfect fidelity, unfortunately.

Michael and I moved into our new apartment on August 15 with our friend Sean. We’re still getting the place in order, but it already looks 10 times better. The place is in Chinatown and has a tremendous amount of light. From the living room, we can see out to a park across the street that’s used by the elementary school. Farther out, we can see the Manhattan Bridge. From our roof, we can see the Verizon building, the Gehry building, the spire of City Hall, and even One Penn Plaza far off in the distance.

It’s such a stress-free existence that I can’t even contemplate how we spent so long basically sharing a studio with Miria for almost a year. Michael lived there for almost two years. Moving was a big chore, complicated by the fact that the week after we moved I was going to go on a press trip to Colombia. Sadly, Miria did not help us move. Even though I told her that we were moving the next day, she proceeded to go out and stay out with this girl that doesn’t like us until 5 o’clock in the morning the day before the move. It was just such a crass display of the fact that she didn’t really care much about us.

Also, she was mysteriously gone during the entire moving process for about six hours. Truth be told, she did show up way later and helped us carry a couple of final things upstairs, but it was a token effort.

A few days before the lease was up, I ended up going over there to pick up a few items that she was just going to throw away. It was sad being in that apartment which had seen so much fun and so many parties totally empty. It got us both waxing poetic about the lack of fun parties in the city, and especially about how the Lower East Side had changed just in the couple years that we had all known each other. It was easy to be mad at Miria for her behavior on the day before we moved, but the sad thing is she doesn’t even really understand how insulting that was. She ended up apologizing to Michael, which I appreciated.

I wasn’t sure if she would get her deposit back, considering that she didn’t even bother to take out any of the nails in the wall, but when I went over to visit it was clear that the upstairs neighbors had apparently had some sort of water accident. The ceiling was all brown above the kitchen and water was coming out of the light sockets in the bathroom and dripping out of divots in the drywall over the kitchen. She was using some of the pots that we had left behind to channel the water. “At least they are getting some use, right?” she said, half-jokingly.

She and I ended up at the Bowery Whole Foods having salads for dinner and talking about the future. She’s probably moving back to that house in Nutley that her family inherited, at least for a while. It’s easy to criticize the Girls generation for having no direction, but I’m not exactly living la dolce vita either. I mean, I feel like I’m living a fulfilling life, but I’m not really sure what the definition of success is for my generation. Especially for people who come from money, what’s the motivation to work hard? Why bother? If Mom will just pay for another 15 years of college, might as well just stay a student forever. Unfortunately, I don’t  think this works so well in one’s early thirties as it doesn’t one’s early twenties.

Will I miss our old place? I do, in some ways. Miria was always open to serendipity, to adventure. I’ll definitely miss that. She was always a pleasure to go out with, and someone who would be there to always let you bend her ear if you were having a bad day. Unfortunately, the drama with Jessica laid bare the underpinnings of our friendship, and the blatant transactional nature of some of our interactions. (It was particularly galling that, a week after our move, she wanted us to show up and carry her heavy furniture down.) I was tempted to use her lie and say that I had “work” (she has never, to my knowledge, had a paying job), but I felt pity for her. Michael, who was far more arrested by her behavior than I was, flat out said that he was sick of being the “reliable friend.” The Reliable Friend: she wouldn’t be caught dead in a photo with us for fear of offending Jessica, but definitely cool enough to get the call to do her favors.

The coup de grace was, when confronted with this, her response was “Well, she’s leaving soon.” Jessica’s motto was “I always win.” Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn, and caldron bubble. Why bother with all the plotting and scheming to get back at people who realized that they don’t like you?

If her method of retribution was to show us how she had no friends, just a bunch of people who do drugs together and use each other for favors, she’s certainly succeeded. I don’t need people like that in my life. I like having friends, not human fashion accessories. Why would I be friends with a bunch of trust fund losers going nowhere in life? Why would I try to compete with them by marrying some rich guy I don’t love? Edith Wharton could have written the story of her life, and with far more élan than it happened in real life.

During the days that we used to go clubbing, we were always conscious of the difference between our real smiles and what we would call our “cat smile.” The cat smile was the one we’d use when we were displaying happiness to others as an affectation. On those long hours of hosting at that bar we all used to hang out at, she’d have the cat smile plastered all over her face.”We’re just having so much fun!” she would say dryly through the mask of the cat smile and we’d laugh at the sadness of it all.

I ended up seeing her wedding picture, as some of our mutual friends had access to them on Facebook. I gazed over the German countryside in the background, the phrase “destination wedding” had been used. I took in the tacky, too-sheer dress she was wearing. Her new husband was radiating the kind of bland enthusiasm that bubbles out of people who have never had any real problems, but hers. Hers was shining all the way across the screen, back to everyone she had ever hated and hoped to get even with. The smile that said her struggle was over. The smile of freedom from 12-hour shifts at the café, days asleep and nights of forever. The smile was weightless. The smile that said she’d never have to deal drugs again. The smile was the ultimate con.

It was the cat smile.

Roman Tragedies for my birthday.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=IgcbRyjio4g]

I hadn’t wanted to be bothered with coming up with some elaborate plan of things to do on my birthday, so months in advance I had purchased tickets to Roman Tragedies, a five hour and 30 minute mashup of Shakespeare’s Roman plays: Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus.

It was being performed by a Dutch theater company, so I was a little apprehensive when I realized that we would be seeing five hours of Shakespeare in touch. However despite not knowing the exact details of each play, the action proceeded at a pace that was easy to follow.

The avant-garde staging meant that the audience could move all around the stage and the auditorium at will. People mostly scurried around and found a spot during the five-minute intermission segments that pepper the performance, but there was a full bar and catering available on stage, so one could Naushon a sandwich or have a beer if one wished. It’s strange, but it seemed like it really enhanced the audience experience. People who weren’t feeling it would leave the stage and take faraway states, or go upstairs to the café where the entire show was shown on massive TV screens.

Despite the fact that this was technically a play, there were cameras creating a live video feed that was pumped to twenty or so televisions all over the stage and the opera house. It was more useful during the play to just watch on the screens even when we were sitting right next to the actors because the show was translated live as it progressed. I don’t speak Dutch, although certain words had an eerie echo of English. The most heartfelt sections, especially between Antony and Cleopatra, had an alien sheen through the torrent of strange words encoding a four hundred year old story about events taking place fifteen centuries before they were written.

 

I went to the house but did not enter

In the morning, I was still a bit dizzy from last night’s revel. At breakfast, at El Sombrero (also billed as the Hat Restaurant), the passerby and horizon were wobbling along until I had consumed my huevos rancheros.

On a whim, I purchased tickets to this play, I Went to the House but Did Not Enter, that was being staged at one of the theaters in Columbus Circle under the auspices of Lincoln Center. I thought the show looked interesting because it incorporated sections of T.S. Eliot poems.

We went up to Columbus Circle and got some coffee at Bouchon before finding the elevator to the show. I’d never been up there before, but there was this grand space (ostensibly called Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola) which offered an amazing view of Central Park.

However, the show actually consisted of four guys singing poems in elaborate sets. There was nothing original about it. I just really didn’t care for it. I never thought that I could loathe The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock more until I heard it actually sung by some sort of Gregorian barbershop quartet.

People left during the show, which was understandable. Michael and I went over to the post-show reception in the atrium of Alice Tully Hall, mostly out of confusion. We sipped our complimentary champagnes and wondered what we had just seen. Quickly losing patience, we decided to cut our losses and go home.

Congee Village, then WestGay

Michael and I ended up trying out the Chinese restaurant Congee Village for the first time, which was amazing. The staff totally don’t care about you, but the entrées are eightish and large, which is very reasonable. Also there’s a giant mosaic of a cock. What’s not to love?

Rooster mosaic at Congee Village

Rooster mosaic at Congee Village

Afterwards, we decided to go out to WestGay. I had purchased this very nice bottle of Gewurtztraminer for some reason, and in lieu of buying expensive drinks at the club I opted to down the entire bottle  in less than a half hour.

A silly night at WestGay ensued, with amazing hair.

Stop. Hairtime.

Stop. Hairtime.

Brunch and civic duty

In the morning, Miria, Michael, and I walked through the remnants of the snowfall to Sugar for brunch. It was good to go to familiar places after more than a week of being in a pleasant, if alien, world.

Post-brunch cuddles

Post-brunch cuddles

Afterwards, I headed to Jersey to do my civic duty and vote. I had spent almost an entire night with one of the other tour participants convincing the PR lady to vote for Obama in Florida, so I was especially motivated to vote.

I went up to the firehouse, and to my dismay they had those electronic voting machines. I don’t think my vote counted for anything, mostly because it was electronic, but at least I showed up. I wonder what it must of felt like to be those people that showed up and voted for Saddam Hussein year after year. Or did they just falsify all the ballots?