Category Archives: deep thoughts

do what i always do

I’ve sat down t write something here many times during the last few weeks and, every time, after typing a sentence, I’ve walked away.  It’s not for not having some thoughts in my head.  I’ve got some of those.  The hesitation has stemmed more from a concern that veering too far from my eternally optimistic tone may read as alarming to some.  I mean, if we were to analyze this blog I would guess that the words “lucky,” “grateful,” and “awesome” appear more than any other.  It’s rare that I scratch the surface…

It’s probably better that way…but when has whats better stopped me from doing what I want?

A (rather big) piece of me wanted last nights hurricane to affect us.  Not in a catastrophic way but in a humbling way that required humans to use their instincts instead of the internet.  The earthquake we had the other day scared me and immediately following scared I was irritated.  Stupid, entitled and numb New Yorkers were so unaffected that, while the building was swaying, they were reaching for their phones to tweet about it.  (I waited to tweet until I was outside and relatively sure that I wasn’t going to be crushed in a pile of falling ruble.)  The point being that for hyper-connected beings it is all feeling pretty detached…

It’s possible that this is my own not-so-subtle reaction to a string of mild rejections or it’s possible that this is a trending problem that nobody will pay attention to unless it’s #trending or #viral or #somethingallyourfirendssawtoo.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that, for the first time since I moved back to the USA, I’m feeling pissed off.  And lost.  And lonely.

There.  I said it.

The water in this city is like a stimulant and anesthetic.  I am powering through days and nights…busy and occupied…and then I come home and have the same sinking feeling.  I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel – running myself ragged and going nowhere fast.  In my past life, it was the opposite.  I was so stationary and stuck in my isolation that I set myself free in my head.  Turns out that the fantasy and the reality are a lot alike except for the fact that one doesn’t feel like anything and the other feels confusing.  I’m leaning on things that I didn’t think I would lean on and looking for things I told myself I didn’t want.

So now what?

..wait for a natural disaster to flood the change i’m seeking?  stay in the fast lane and trust that my moral compass knows where the hell i’m going?  pull over and ask for directions?  wake up tomorrow and take it from there?  I’ll probably keep doing what I always do…wake up tomorrow and take it from there but, damn! it would feel great to  see some fresh light cast on these old ideas and it would feel better-than-great to be rewarded for putting myself out there instead of left hanging like an asshole.  I hate that i’m complaining but i’m just sayin’…

Anyway, I think I already regret dumping this honesty out into the world since it’s unclear to me who even reads this shit.  But there is also something therapeutic about materializing thoughts into words and turning words into action.  So….boom….lights, camera, ACTION!

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Is that the internet in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

It’s hard to imagine the world with no internet.  Even life pre-facebook takes some imagination to fathom and this is only the last 5 or so years.  The stretched limits, power and instant gratification that comes with a pocket full of bandwidth are amazing but the new layers of skin it places between already socially awkward animals doesn’t always feel like progress.  The notion of cyborg anthropology has arisen here before and it’s on my mind again lately.

I made a case to my 91 year old Grandfather that social media and ‘life online’ has been, for me anyway, a 100% positive experience that has added depth and breadth to my own knowledge & network making things possible now that weren’t before.  4 years of isolation and then a seamless reentry into a life I left behind are only one testament to this perspective.  If we discount the handful of less-than-awesome internet dates, I could stand by this sentiment and still easily defend the position.  Though I live and preach transparency and have a robust life online, I will not pretend that there aren’t downsides.

In particular, I see a new layer of living that isn’t quite grounded in 3 dimensions or cyberspace – a netherworld where new friendships seem to be still-born and old friendships go to expire.  Flirtation that has no intention of ending with dinner and dinner plans that revolve amongst calendars attached to phantoms.  This in-between place has an atmosphere that allows superficiality to flourish and flakiness to function as a standard operating procedure.  The life happening here is real enough to occupy thoughts, direct action and inspire though it simultaneously demands quick dismissals and casual acceptance of behavior that would not hold up when exposed to eye contact.  Something about digital connections allows them to be held by totally new standards.  We are on a frontier and there are only a few sheriffs and very few laws.  Etiquette is being reinvented as we speak and human interaction is molting like an old python.  I’ve been lucky to see real fruit bloom from cyber seeds though my feeling is that this non-landscape is less fertile than it used to be, the netherworld or cloud  is now a legitimate state and the expectation that rain will fall from the cloud is outdated.  A paradigm shift is in order.

Or a reprioritization, perhaps.

Anyway, I could rattle on about that for ages but instead I’ll share an example of when a digital friend escapes the fiber and emerges as one of the best tour guides Memphis has ever seen.  Ween and Facebook were the red threads that helped me get to know Johnny but 3 days together in Memphis are what made him my friend.  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves and just say that I had a wonderful adventure in Tennessee…

Johnny

the things that came before and everything after

Monte Cristo & Cheese Grits - Brother's Juniper

 
 

"Elvis, let me in" - Graceland

 
 

Beale Street Saturday Night

 

Huey's Midtown

  

Johnny Williams

If you want to armchair travel through the rest of my fun times in Memphis, click here for the whole album.
 
As for the moral of my story….I guess it’s presence is the best present.  It’s an affirmation from my side that, though I live an amazing life online, I still prefer the tangible present to the virtual one.  I can’t promise that I won’t continue to try to merge these 2 things but I am beginning to realize it may not always be up to me…
 

Beana Bern - Central BBQ - Memphis, TN

 
 

Stairway to …

i have a lot to say right now about a lot of things.  the usual gratitude, a healthy dash of adventure, some musings on middle america, love in the 2st century and some work on the horizon that can change everything….while the words find their ways towards one another and my mind has a little time to cluster things, i’ll share this photograph from Memphis

stairway to heaven

On a road to . . .

With 15 pages left to the novel I was reading, The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, I found myself so impatient to see how the story ended that I got frustrated with my inability to read faster.  Shifting in my chair, sitting up straight as though that was going to streamline absorption, I was relieved when I finally reached the  end.  I’m commenting on this because it was a new feeling.  Usually, I get a little sad when a book is ending and tend to drift off before reaching the end, perhaps to keep the end from coming…Anticipating the need for a new beginning I picked up another paperback off a stoop today and wonder, already, how that story will end.

This seems to be a theme with me:  a pounding desire to know how the story ends.  It didn’t occur to me until pretty recently that this may be a trend worth diverting.  Perhaps, like the mighty Mississippi, I can reshape my own path and carve a channel through a more patient and meandering landscape.  I think to myself (everyday) that I want to write a book and then think a little longer (every time) that I can only begin when I know how the story ends.  Tonight is the first time that it occurred to me that this may not be true.  Maybe I just need to know where it begins…

The last couple days in NYC have proven to be filled with stories.  Cue up a soundtrack of some old timey Rugged Sauce and ease into Paul Simon playing his acoustic guitar to a silent Webster Hall then fade into a jubilant David Byrne followed by a melancholy and over-crowded Andrew Bird.  In front of the music was a hard lost fight with an endless To-Do list, some unidentified ailments and a little caffeine. Perhaps more excitement than some people score in a lifetime but, for me, a rather typical week.  It’s utterly overwhelming.

Pinch me, I'm dreaming

I keep waiting to wake up feeling ‘normal’ and it keeps escaping me.  Overseas I dreamt of the ease with which my life unfolded in America.  Now that I’m back I realize how easy I had it beyond the beyond.  The grass is always greener…the water always clearer…the smog always smoggier in the space between what we know and what we think we know.  It’s both reassuring and a little anticlimactic to constantly realize that wherever you go, there you are.

Old Rugged Sauce - Brooklyn Rod & Gun Club

Succumbing to the overwhelmption (should I trademark that word?) seems to be the only course of action.  The things to do, places to go and people to see are not going to decrease in number.  It’s up to me to make the space, make the time and make it work.  It’s breezy tonight in New York City and I have opened my windows wide, allowing the wind to stir me up, fill my sails and carry me a little ways.

Lonely Geometry

There’s a city in my mind…it’s very far away but it’s growing day by day…but it’s alright…

Cosmic Sandpaper

The weekend is crawling to its close; on its last legs but not quite finished.  I should be packing a bag right now, planning my week and trip but my mind can’t leave this moment.  I’m content to leave all the details for the morning and while away in Sunday evening.

The weekend surprised me.  Actually, the last couple weeks surprised me.  Since I returned to New York I have felt a little numb.  I thought there was a chance that the city would have a Novocaine-like effect on me and the irony is that I have been numb to my own numbness.  Drifting through the days and nights, so filled with so much goodness, I am tingling now; coming to, shaking off the anesthesia and feeling flooded with all the bits and pieces of the last weeks.  The details that I normally like to wade in are flooding me and I’m happy to sit here on my couch and let them.

The thing about moving is it shatters routines to pieces and lays waste to the order of what was.  Disorientation is like cosmic sandpaper; buffing and polishing as it wears away edges and reveals the essence of things.  In my own lost way, I can see familiar pieces of me bobbing up to the surface, tied loosely together with new threads and modified perspectives.  Retrospectives.  Connectro-spectives.  The rhythm of conceive, create, experience, reflect that I relied on like clockwork to measure my careful days is now more like free form jazz.  There is space between the notes,  they jumble and then pause, they collect and then spill over…yesterday’s metronome is obselete and my clockwork has melted like Dali’s Persistence of Memory.  Dripping and moving like liquid finding it’s new level.   I have no idea what my new level is going to look like and I can’t guess when full sensation will return.  I have no idea what my routine will evolve into and I am looking forward to finding a new rhythm for this new soundtrack that is my life.

If the past few days are any kind of indicator, I think the rhythm might rock ’cause there are a lot of good stories heating up like coals in the fire…

Reunion

New York Fucking City!

If you’re wondering about this shot, it was taken last night on the tail end of the tail end of a frozen margarita (or 2) after the Rocks Off Rock and Roll Walking Tour.  I learned some things, had some fun and shot some pictures

NJPW Invasion Tour

Had I known that Rock and Roll history was going to lead me to the East River, under a bridge and smack dab into the middle of some Japanese Pro-Wrestling, well, I might have brought my camera.  OH WAIT!  I did.  Click here to see some more photos of these legends (or whatever).  Good times.  Great oldies.

In Context & Out of Place

I dug up an old Strangefolk song yesterday and turned it up loud for my ride home to Brooklyn.  Like a kid with a blankie, I was scraping and scrounging for something to bring me some comfort and sense of familiarity.  As I expected, there aren’t too many problems a Reuben’s Place can’t fix and I seemed to be feeling better by the time I hit State Street..even busting some dance moves in the sunshine while crossing Boerum Place.

This week has been a hard one for me.  I feel stuck between something old and something new.  Like a ghost or something, I feel out of step with time and either too early or late for the party.  If you were to ask me why this is or what I mean specifically, I would probably rattle off another few analogies that make the same amount or less sense and we’d arrive exactly where we are now.  I guess it can’t hurt to try one more, right?  It’s like everything around me is the fake roller coaster or Eiffel Tower background on iChat and all my edges are pixelated and pointy.  See?  We’re not much better off than before, are we?  Being out of context or, better yet, in context but out of place isn’t totally unfamiliar which is just adding another whole dimension of weird.  Everywhere is home, everything is normal and everyone is fine and, as a result, I shouldn’t be affected.  Right?  Wrong. 

I’m headed to Austria for a business trip in a couple weeks and, though I’m not thrilled to leave my nest so soon, I’m excited at the prospect of coming home.  Sounds funny but this has proven to be one of the most concrete ways to punctuate my moves.  Leave and come back again.  It works and will be a nice way for me to see what I have now with unhazy vision…not to mention, allow me to rally with my AustroPeeps for some overdue catch-up and fun in the Alps.

I heard this song the other day and it struck all the homey chords that I’m rattling on about now and I want to share it…s’good  http://2beanornot2bean.com/Music/NoPlaceLikeHome.mp3″

Patience is something that, I hope, can be cultivated like a house plant or field of grass.  I’m gonna keep watering that idea like it’s true and maybe, at least before I’m dust, I’ll find some growing in me.

The Big Town: Chapter 3

Watching the headlight of the N Train crawl along the dirty, white tiles in the Court Street station this morning, I found myself captivated.  The same wonder and curiosity that I enjoyed in discovering the mundane details of a commute in Innsbruck or Hong Kong is not lost in the familiar and also new home I have in New York City.

It’s been just over a week and I am perfectly at home while still feeling totally unsettled.  I wish I had more cosmic weight and could simply yank all my belongings back to me with the force of gravity but, alas, I am at the mercy of the God of International Freight Forwarding Logistics.  She is not a benevolent or merciful God and, it appears, as though I will roll with the air mattress and my (tired) suitcase of things for another week.  This nomadic, sparse living should be something that I’m used to and, I am, but my lovely nest in Brooklyn is yearning for some furniture and I have been waiting years to dust off my pretty pictures and hang them on walls.  All in good time…

Would you believe that, in addition to simply arriving that I have already painted this town a whole rainbow of red?  Some notable dinners (Frankie’s b-day topping the favorites list), Mike Birbiglia on Barrow Street, Charlie Sheen at Radio City (that’s a whole story in itself) and I even had my first house guest.  It’s all a little disjointed in a way.  Making time for Charlie Sheen before making it to New Jersey to see my Gramps has confused me a little but, as I see it, my life is something of a Rubik’s Cube.  It will take some strategic shifting of this and sliding of that before things line up.

I can remember clearly turning 25 a few months after arriving in NYC in 2001.  Hopeful and open, I perched myself on the fire escape of my apartment on Cornelia Street and dove in.  10 years and a lot of miles later, I am perched on a stoop in Brooklyn Heights equally, if not more, hopeful about what lies ahead. 

”Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”  ~ Seneca

Here we go….