Wednesday, June 11, 2014

pay attention to the signs

" If whispers don't get your attention, bricks will start flying your way".

They haven't been as quiet as a whisper, or as painful as a brick, but the sensation has been quite uncomfortable.

I guess the universe decided after checking off one thing on my list it would arrive at the next. And so the symptoms started to appear that first popped in a different area of my life last year:

Fatigue upon waking despite hours of sleep, dread upon arriving at my destination. The tell tale signs it is time to go. But this time it's a little easier to navigate these waters. I have more of a concrete footing of what I'm looking for. The reason why there hasn't been much activity on here, besides digesting and working in much valued feedback on the back story of the broken-nosed ghost in the fedora, (the light at the end of the tunnel is shining brighter now!), is that I've gone old school. Writing notes and rants to myself in a flesh and blood journal. Think the last time I did this with effort was in 10th grade.

In the words of Annette Hanshaw " That's All".. :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

a tree grows in Brooklyn

A delicate tree with strong roots..

What happens when nature rips it out of the soil and the roots become exposed? Still clinging to the life force beneath it?

There were frantic messages for a safe haven online. Being withdraw from the online world at that point and time, I saw it after help had been offered. But I kept watch. Then out of nowhere a quiet request for help with packing up belongings. leaving the adult home that had been hers since she was 18. Indefinitely.

I knew this tree, our branches crossed every so often. We met at a wedding of a mutual friend six years ago and teamed up as both our trains passed through the same entry point on the other side of the Hudson. Seeing the post I noticed that no one was offering to help. Just "good lucks" and "take care".

I raised my hand.

So last Saturday, I showed up through the slush that was slowly turning into rain. She gave me a big bear hug at the door.

"So how long do I have you for?"

" As long as you need me."

" Really?! You really are a great friend."

Waiting for her parents to arrive with the Uhaul truck, bits of pieces of what happened spilled out. Roommate situation that went bad. Could tell that by the way they blocked off half the apartment and kept themselves barricaded behind closed doors.

Over the next few hours we boxed in addition to all of the basic necessities, her necessities: every piece of artwork, canvas and sculpture she had made from pieces in that borough that has been her only home for the first half of her adult life. At some point, after running down the stairs, I came back up to find her crouched in the corner. Her face trying not to show that she was tearing apart on the inside.

" Oh my's hitting me that this space is becoming empty, it's hitting." She bowed her head and wrapped her arms around her knees. " I will not cry, will not cry, will not cry..". I leaned over and whispered to her that it was temporary. She would be back.

Rooms empty. Devoid of life and memory. Outside in the snow, she stares down at the key ring in her hand. "I have no keys...this is the first time I don't have keys to a home. This is so backward. Their home.." she gestures at her parents. " is not mine. I go to visit them. Brooklyn is my home."

" It is your home and will always be your home. Sometimes you have to take a step back to go forward. And I am pretty certain it will end up here as it always has been."

She smiled " Would you help me to unload on that trip?"


She reached down, gathered a fistful of snow and placed it in a napkin to wrap around the stem of the rose she had in her hand. And probably a bit to water her own roots until she comes home.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

" A Noted Woman"

The gift bag was heavy and unexpected. I had known the woman who gave it to me since I first arrived on this island of misfit toys though we had never exchanged anything more than a hug and agreeting.
" You have to be gentle unwrapping it."
Following her advice, I gingerly pulled back the wrapping paper. I knew from the cover that it had seen its share of use, passing through who knows how many hands, sitting on who knows how many bookshelves.
The card from her gave a brief snapshot of its history, at least where it started with her:
Bought over 30 years ago for a dollar in a bookshop that no longer exists. Piqued her interest by the title and the fact that it was printed  in 1883 in her hometown of Hartford, CT.
She couldn't recall if she had actually read the book in that time span, but came across it as she was clearing her bookcase to make room for new additions. Wondered who she could give it to..
" So I am passing it on to you, an avid book lover and "noted woman'"
It was the most touching gift I had gotten in recent memory. Taking it home and gently flipping the pages, I came across the receipt she had gotten all those years ago. Now it proudly sits on my bookshelf to begin its new life with me.

Monday, October 28, 2013

"I've always enjoyed getting a kick out of life, even when it's a kick in the teeth"

"Can I go home now?"

Apparently I've been saying that alot lately. Probably because for months, I didn't really have a home. I had a place I would lay my head down at night but it wasn't home. The stress and anxiety of finding a new place to call my own/ coupled with an individual who was hell bent on violating my mental space as much as possible made that impossible.

Recently my footsteps are traced in my new neighborhood. Observing the sights and smells of everything around me. And like a sponge thirsty for water, I soak it all in. The yelling and laughter at the local parade a few weeks ago. Funnel cake, zeppoles, powder sugar spilling off of plates and onto the sidewalk. Carts of balloons zigzagging through the crowds.

Chomper, straining at his lease to run up to greet me and sniff the bag of clean laundry before I carry it inside.

The indoor/outdoor market, cramped to the brim with boxes of vegetables and fruits. Two lines of people patiently waiting in opposite directions without a fuss, bags of potatoes passed over one's head and somehow those lines making room for folks to pass back and forth.

Mending takes time and I'm in no rush to get through it. A friend, born and bred in Brooklyn told me recently that New York has a twisted way of giving you a merit test every damn day, to prove your worth and whether you are meant to be here.

I got alot of bruising this year. But I see it as one more test that I passed. So I am enjoying the down time and breath a sigh of relief that the normal chaos and survival mode I am used to has returned.

And that I have a great home to come back to.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Nuisance

As I get readjusted to my life balance, here is a repost from July 2010..

The Past is dead

So let it be

A worn and tattered memory.

What's done is done

Let's not regret

Tis better far that we forget.

The past is queer

It will not stay

Buried in the yesterday

Instead it sneaks up

Softly sly

And pokes its finger in your eye.

-Latham Owens

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Forgive my Involuntary Absence

It all started with a brand new entry lock. The door was in the right place...the lock wasn't. It was installed on an emergency exit. Which as I found out later is a no-no. And it put the person coming in and out of it literally on my doorstep. Thus began the first steps of of my involuntary absence. From here and everywhere else that was a refuge for me.

By the time of my last entry on here, the situation with the tenant next door to me was rapidly spinning out of control. It started in October of last year when that lock appeared on the door and caught me off guard. I was even more startled to hear a key being turned constantly as the occupant came in and out, using that door verses the real entry door in the middle of the hall. Wizened up by neighbors years earlier on the revolving door of occupants in that apartment, I went to management to express my concern. Nothing was done. Then one day I met the tenant of that apartment. He was put out as he had found out that I had gone to management to report the lock. With the elaborate story he told about being trapped in a fire I knew that I was dealing with someone who was not mentally all there. He also happened to be over 6 feet tall and close to 250 pounds. I'm 5"2. And despite the facade of being semi pleasant, a warning bell went off that the tenant in 2PA was not a nice person.

Then the noise came. Lots of it. At all hours of the day. I'm not talking the occasional I-need-to-unwind noise, but intolerable. I politely but firmly asked the gentleman to keep it down, at least at night. As that is when I would write. Response? Passive aggressive remarks on why he should be allowed to play his sound system ( I counted five speakers and two sub woofers during an exchange when he was proud to show it off). Went to management again. Nothing happened.

I'm an introvert. I thrive on alone time, or as the books like to point out I get "overstimulated' which translates into not being able to concentrate or unwind. But being an introvert I tried to reflect if maybe I had to bend a little, maybe I wasn't used to having a noisy neighbor...but the warning bell and anxiety wouldn't go away. And then on the day I got my lease renewal, the gentleman next door blasted his equipment for hours on end to the point that my whole apartment was engulfed in sound. I wandered outside, feeling angry and powerless. A vicious pattern developed that every time he heard my key in the lock, the volume skyrocketed.

"Call the cops," was the response I always got. But I knew that could make things worse for me. Especially when the property manager indicated that all concerns were being funnelled to the person who "handled his care". 

So for four months I barricaded myself in my bedroom as the rest of my apartment was uninhabitable. But I had no energy to do anything, except get up and sleepwalk through the day job. A friend told me during this time that if God makes you uncomfortable it's for a reason. And the reason all added up to the same conclusion: after seven years in my home and neighborhood it was time to find someplace new.

So off into the real estate waters I went. Bounced to three out of the five boroughs, worn out two pairs of sneakers, and thanks to all the skills acquired digging up info on a man who died 78 years ago, knew how to dig up dirt on landlords to protect myself in the long run. Friends gave me much needed respites during this time for which I will always be grateful. When I finally found my home, blessed by the new york real estate gods with dealing with a small landlord directly, I wasn't quite sure if the fight was over. Then a week after I got the keys, I lugged the aerobed usually reserved for guests in an apartment that had hardly any furniture in it to get the one thing I had been missing for months: silence.

Now instead of hearing someone intentionally turn up their music when they hear my key in the door, I'm greeted by my small neighbor upstairs, a nine month old bulldog named Chomper. I went from living in an apartment complex to living in a house with only two other families. And if this post is a tad long it's because I haven't been able to write in months. So this is my reentry.

The ghost in the fedora with the broken nose will be happy. Time for us to get reacquainted.

Feels so good to be home.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

"Whoever discovers what these sayings mean"

My grandfather started it.

Sitting at the dining room table, my grandparents, my father and I forming a perfect north, south, east and west compass. He started talking about knowledge, ancient texts and some other things I can't remember as I was too distracted by the large book he had on the table that contained all of those ancient texts.

I love books and knowledge too much to pass a gem like that up. Made a mental note that when I got back to my home on the island of misfit toys I would look for it.

After looping in circles in the bookstore, I found the large book of ancient texts and bought it to add to the loving piles of text already accumulated in my apartment.

Instead of taking the express train home, I got on the local, absorbed in another book. At some point I turned off the music in my headphones and had the low hum of the subway as background noise as I became increasingly engrossed in the words between my fingers.

" Oh that's a wonderful book!" says a very regal woman who had sat next to me in the course of the ride home. " How are you enjoying it so far?"

" I've actually read it before. It's been awhile so I pulled it out. Need a bit of knowledge in my daily routine."

She asked me what kind of books I liked to read, made recommendations. " Isn't it wonderful to read books? In my country, I didn't grow up with a television or movies, my family told stories, a way to charge our imagination."

She paused. " So what do you do to get knowledge everyday?"

" Through these.." I ran my hand over the cover of the book. " Through texts, through life. It's the only way you grow."

I had reached the station that would allow me to transfer to my train, but I stayed on the local, wondering how this conversation would end.

I asked her the same question, she replied in kind. Through life, through the arts ( she was a drama therapist) and had been in acting all her life.

"I like going to Met museum too. Great place to go for solitude and thinking."

" Oh how lovely!" She exclaimed. " A wonderful place indeed. Whenever I feel lonely I go there."

After a few minutes of silence she turns to me and says:

"Always follow your heart's desire. Sometimes you have to be a bad girl and do what works for you. You can be the easy girl, but then you conform to everyone else's standards. Always keep searching for knowledge."

She got up at her stop and waved goodbye.

" Maybe I'll see you at the Met sometime," I say before she gets off.

"That would be nice!."