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!."

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The ghosts of new year

repost from Jan. 1, 2010

the name of the man who moved in 82 years ago is still on the front door. Telephone wiring from an era long gone still runs on the baseboards. Original moldings, furniture and pictures throughout, including a letter carrier from around 1910 showing the first Model T's. My neighbor had knocked on my door the night before asking if I would like to ring in the new year with her, her sister and uncle. I had planned to spend it curled up in my living room or working on my project, but I happily obliged.

The air was warm and inviting and people who I consider to be family warmly welcomed me. I long ago accepted ghosts as constant companions, in my field of interest they would be hard to ignore. So it came as no surprise when my neighbor said as if it were a common occurrence that the gold trimmed glasses used to ring in this new and unknown year where originally brought by her now deceased husband's mother sometime in the then unknown decade known as the Twenties. Still intact, gold trim and all, bought long before they were born. I had never known people to possess such tangible objects connecting the past and the present until I moved here. Maybe because in my family such things are lost, fought over by elders or hidden in secret places until people forget about their very existence.

We danced in her living room to music from the 50's, me promising to return for the big dinner scheduled for later in the day with more people, and eventually me leaving her and her ghostly companions behind and returning to mine spread out in the stacks paper where I had left them.

Happy New Year Everyone!