Sunday, April 27, 2008

My-ami: part 1

On the flight home from my visit to Miami, I watched Juno and cried the entire way through it. This incident serves as the ideal encapsulation of my week in Paradise.

My parents picked me up at 6:30. After eleven hours, a layover in Denver spent mostly at the terminal's 'French' bistro (hello, bagel-esque croissants), and no in-flight entertainment, we arrived in Miami. After renting a car and driving to Miami Beach, we drove up to a 40's Spanish-era bungalow where we were greeted by my teary-eyed, 88 year old Hungarian grandmother and the Cuban nurse that monitors her raging diabetes and stroke recovery. I breathed a sigh of anxiety.

Then arrived my aunt, who at 39 *cough*earlysixties*cough* is one of these unimaginably wealthy Miami housewives with condos overlooking the ocean and more prescription pills than a Walgreen's. The Hungarian Dream embodied, she is the love of my life. We all flitted away to Joe Allen's, a South Beach landmark where rich Jewish clientele are served my tanned homo servers. Ours, while not especially attractive, did me a huge disservice in ID'ing me (the Louis was over the river and through the woods at Grandma's house) and refusing to serve me any of my beloved Stoli, as well as completely making my night by bestowing upon me the knowledge that in the right light (ie near darkness), I still look until 21.

After a restful night (thank you, Lorazepam), the four of us, as well as my aunt's octogenarian Westie, set out for Lincoln Road, a pedestrian street in South Beach with lots of chi-chi boutiques and eateries. This marked the occasion of the first of many chopped salads on this trip and also the first of many references to the salad-chopper my grandmother used to chop my father's weed in his younger days. Their house of my father's youth was also a painfully honest one, where drugs, if not approved of, were at least out in the open. I firmly believe that this was the contributing factor in his not becoming an addict and thereby providing me with a much more boring life.

That night we went to The Palm. Just the name alone screams "No one under 60 ever comes here." To properly illuminate my aunt's (or rather, her husband's) social circle, you know how in the old-time restaurants they have painted caricatures of the rich and famous on the wall? Yeah, they're up there. It is one of those restaurants where the waiters still have those really high-buttoned smocks and martinis are large and boozy. So boozy, in fact, that I shamefully nursed one through the entire dinner and was still a bit drunk at 2am when the first inklings of a hangover appeared.

Still bloated on booze and money, the next morning I set out for Aunty's crib, a 19th story condo with marble floors, balcony on two sides on which I could run track meet and a bathroom bigger than my apartment. Nothing heals like time except for affluence. We set out for Bal Harbor, an outdoor mall that looks like the first 100 pages of GQ or Vogue. It's so exclusive that at the restaurants even the waiters are white. Mind you, this doesn't stop the clientele from looking like they were going to the Piggly-Wiggly; this is Miami, after all, where golf shorts are dinner attire. Over a lunch of tuna carpaccio (me) and air (her), Aunty announces that she is going to buy me an Hermès belt. For those that think that Armani is the tops, allow me to illuminate: before there was Versace, Gucci, Prada, Chanel, even Louis Vuitton...there was Hermès. Ol' school luxe, dogz. Think of it as the difference between Placido Domingo and Andrea Boccelli.

I can't even bring myself to walk into Harry Rosen Polo Park, so to enter through the gilded (not really, but stfu) gates of Hermès was a spiritual experience. An adorable clerk helped me go through various buckles (gold, silver, polished, brushed, lined) and straps (various combinations of black, brown, orange, blue and the most ethereal crimson). I love any sort of debate whereupon pros and cons are weighed, but when it is as something so absurdly extravagant as an Hermès belt, I am truly in Heaven. 'Cept my aunt didn't realize the true cost of this religious awakening. Upon learning of the price tag (roughly the GNP of Spain), she informed the salesman that we'd think about it and be back. She then tried to foist on me garish equivalents from Gucci and Prada, either so bland I might as well be perusing Sears or so steeped in motorcycle culture that my beard grew three centimetres on the spot. No, I was smitten and no 100 year old upstart fashion house would fill the void. And so I worked. I mean, w-o-r-k-e-d. I spent the next hour and a half as the doting nephew, sweetly smiling 'No, thank you' s at Neiman's, helping her pick out lipstick at Saks ('Jungle Infusion') and waxing poetic about the proud 170+ year tradition of my beloved H belt. Finally, over iced lattes, she says, "You're so brave. You have all these awful circumstances and yet you never complain [ed. ha!]. I'm just so proud of you."

He was wrapping the belt (reversible black and orange with a brushed gold buckle) ten minutes later.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Having a dirty apartment is a great form of contraception.

Big Miami update tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A couple days ago I was on the bus on my way to my parents'. A couple seats over was a girl, maybe 20, in baggy, punky clothing, short, multi-coloured hair and a definite "No dick" demeanor. We both got off at Confusion Corner at which point I started hearing some odd rumblings. Some slightly disheveled man of eastern European tongue started yelling at her, nearly intelligibly expect for the spewing forth of the word 'lesbo' as though it was the very composite of fire and brimstone. It all happened very quickly and within seconds, she was back on the same bus, my guess being to escape this harassment. For the next five minutes, until my bus came, the man paced back and forth, smoking and yelling in broken English about the vile nature of this young woman. There was nothing that I could make out in his words that were appallingly objectionable, but the hatred in his voice was clear. And I sat there, doing nothing, watching others around me offer each other uncomfortable smiles, but no one saying anything. No one approached him with meaningful dialogue, verbal threats or physical beatings, all three of which he probably could have used. As I drove away on my bus, I was filled with shame, having not said anything to him. I ran my lines in my head for the next ten minutes, painstakingly detailing the firm but non-antagonizing language I would use to make sure he knew that it was inappropriate and that this kind of blind hatred is not welcome and I would vindicate this girl as I hope someone would do for me. It was a cowardly moment and I'll own that. I don't know a whole lot of people that honestly would have done differently, but that doesn't condone it. I suppose the point of this is that if you love me and you see this happening to someone that could be me, say something, please.

Monday, April 07, 2008

This is not one of my "Oh Em Gee, you guys, I freakin' love my friend, ________, so much!" So just...ok.

It's been my experience that the people I prefer to spend most of my time with are opposites to myself in many ways that are of little importance here. Perhaps it's an aspect of self-loathing that I enjoy the qualities in them that I do not possess, or simply a break from myself. I'm attached to them through different mediums, be it music, high school, sexuality, etc. But I have one in particular that is set apart as we seem to be attached at the soul. It seems a somewhat flaky thing to say, but I'm not sure how else to describe it. I do not have this with the vast majority of people, even my self-described "best friends" are not linked to me through the soul, metaphysical, existential embodiment of self. Our Gemini status has become something of a running joke in my circle and I'm quick to laugh when it's brought up. It's frightening though. Not that I'm getting all Khalil Gibran here, but there's something overpowering about being around someone who you feel reads you better than most. We don't spend a lot of time together as it would be too much of...not a 'good' thing exactly, but too much of being in your own head. It's an immense relief at times to have someone say exactly what you want to have said in a moment. I'm not sure if it's true half the time; it just seems as though This is what needs to be said Now. But true or not, it works. It serves a function and an important one at that.

Now, the malaise of being in ones mid-twenties has started to afflict some of us now. My specific symptoms and reactions were chronicled somewhat in the last post, but suffice it to say that I am not alone and that this has become something of a tragic bonding point as of late. We were discussing recently how strange it is that we know through history and instinct what we need to feel good and yet we actively choose to do the opposite. We know about exercise and eating right, how to combat depression and achieve goals, but what do we do? Sit on our asses eating Doritos Cool Ranch (ew) and do nothing. And what is so great about that? Why do we prefer to be slothful rather than feel better? Got me. Perhaps we're all just a little bit emo, a little bit "I like being imperfect because then I can complain and people will listen to me." Well, yeah, but - and correct me if I've not sunk your battleship with this statement - wouldn't it be better to get people listening to you because you look good, feel good and acheive a lot of success?

I will now opine my solution to all of the above by informing you what I feel will save your life:

Pop music.

I don't mean your Beyoncés, your Christinas or even (Lord, strike me dead) your Rihannas. No. I am talking about real, true, gritty (that's right: gritty!) pop music. We're talking Aqua, Abba, A*Teens. Anything with beginning with an 'A' is usually a pretty good marker. This is not superficially deep music; that is, this is not music that the writers have created whilst thinking, "Gee, this is deep. I'm gonna affect people, y'all." Yet, there's something very genuine and telling in the seemingly frothy nature of the stuff. They're Fairytales v 2.0. Fantastical tributes to the romantic notion of humanity as a vessel of love and idealism. These songs speak of love as if it's the most important thing in the world, which, c'mon, it is and even when it's lost love, they aren't all like, "Fucking bitch left me!" No, say "This happened and I'm really sad about it." Isn't that more rational? When you break up, a mature person is not gonna go and smack a ho. They're going to grieve. And not through over-thought metaphor and whimsical glochenspiel motifs. It's clear, basic. "I'm sad. This bites."

If I'm filing at work or riding some shitty-ass bus for the 17 time that day or even summoning the devil that is the gym, what do you think is going to make time pass more quickly: moody complexities developed by music's intelligenicia's to make me think about the crushing state of these dark days we live in or motherfucking Barbie Girl?! I'm sorry, but I need it. Life is just too rough otherwise. You will not find these bands listed on my Facebook profile because I would not want to be judged as a person via those musical tastes (cause God knows, I'd judge me), but when I go to karaoke you know I'm punching in The Sign. I know all the Romanian lyrics to the Numa Numa song. I want to play jazz flute just for the riff in California Dreaming. I have a dance to Like A Prayer. And I've done moody piano ballad versions of all four, as well as Knowing Me, Knowing You and the theme song from Friends. And they'll last, because look at the songs we know from the last 50 years. There will never be any musicals based around metal bands. There are not a bajillion covers of Kanye West songs. Mere decimal points can sing you lyrics to songs by The Ramones, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs or Final Fantasy but every single person in the free world knows exactly what's about to go down when they hear "[rolling piano arpeggio] At first I was afraid, I was petrified..." And we dance. Cause it's fun. And holy hell, do we deserve some fun once in a while.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A while it has been.

Reading is to writing as cooking is to baking. Cooking, one can do at anytime, throw stuff together, watch it meld and common sense will get you through. Baking and writing, so many variables need to be in place or it flops. I don’t write when I’m too happy or too overwhelmed. It just seems like a burden I don’t feel like taking on.

I can honestly say that not since high school have I felt so isolated. The desperate teenage angst isn’t there, replaced by adult stoicism and acceptance of the negative, but the solitude is present. The plates, they are a-shifting. Twenty-four is fast approaching and with it the knowledge that early adulthood is drawing to a close. Mistakes are not cute any more. Responsibilities affect not only myself, but many around me and must be fulfilled to the letter. The letters D, V and the number 24. Perhaps the tragedy of adulthood is that when your ego takes a major bruising *cough*Festival*cough*, you don’t fight against the cause but rather drop trou and take it. At least with the irrationality of adolescence comes a sense that you deserve better, whereas now we’re nothing more than victims of our own doings, imperfect in a world that demands everything. There is no satisfaction in completing a task because no one is waiting to hand you a cookie anymore. It’s simply on to the next obligation. I tell people about the things I’m doing and they’re so generous with enthusiasm and congratulations, but the entire time I’m thinking, “Then why do I feel like such an abject failure?” Bizarre to the Nth.

Friends are utter failures at this point, a feeling which is most likely reciprocated. We’re all so selfish at this time of year, necessarily so in some cases, less in others. So much to do and so many ways in which to deal. Personally, I need people in my down time to continue with the work. Others are the opposite, but even when we both need that contact, schedules rarely align for play. To compound the physical aspect of that need, my semi-regular bedfellow has found himself in a rel-…rela-…what is that thing called ag-…ah yes. Relationship. It’s amazing how bi-weekly, (mostly) platonic sleepovers can keep the demons of restlessness away and more amazing still how notable their absences are.

In other news, working out for a few months and then stopping is a bad idea. Like, really bad. Fat is a bitter bitch, determined to make her presence known on my ass now more than ever. The recent hiring of last year’s crush to play in my recital and the recent hiring of celluloid on my buttocks has led me to a five-days-a-week gym routine for the next month. Starting today. We’ll see.