Monday, October 30, 2006

On the 6 Train

MzOuiser: Excuse me - do you have the time?

Elderly Gentleman: It's just before noon.

MzOuiser: Thank you.

Elderly Gentleman: I take it your cell phone isn't working?

MzOuiser: The battery is dead, and I forgot to wear a watch.

Elderly Gentleman: You own a watch?

MzOuiser: Yeah, a few, actually!

Elderly Gentleman: I didn't think young people wore those anymore!

MzOuiser: I'm not as young as I look.

Elderly Gentleman: Neither am I, dear.

We both laugh

Elderly Gentleman: I must ask - does your watch have hands?

MzOuiser: It does. And no numbers, so it's a good thing I know how to read it. It also has a leather strap with a gold-tone buckle. It was a gift from a friend.

Elderly Gentleman: Ah. And you have to replace the battery from time to time?

MzOuiser: Yup. But I can buy a battery at radio shack and do it myself - I don't have to take it to a jeweler.

Elderly Gentleman: Good for you. I hope you have that watch a long time. It might be worth something someday.

MzOuiser: Maybe.

I got up to leave, as we had arrived at my stop.

Elderly Gentleman: Nice Talking with you!

MzOuiser: My pleasure!

As I left the train, the gentleman actually tipped his hat to me.

That watch was actually a freebie from my old days at the Seagram Beverage Company. It has the Seagram logo on the face. It's quite classy looking. I was reminded of my grandparent's cheap bedroom furniture, and how I never realized how cheap it was until after they had passed away, and I got a chance to examine it critically. Grandma always kept everything polished and looking nice - even if it wasn't worth much objectively. It was a matter of pride.

I felt much the same about working for Seagram, helping to make sure Seagram's Coolers were in every licensed Wal-Mart in the country. I also remember telling someone that if more people drank coolers instead of Wild Turkey or Jack Daniels, the country might be a better place. A condemnation of sorts, not so much against the beverages themselves, but the habits of their target market.

Thinking about the habits of the urban cell phone user, I realized I was proud to be identified as a watch wearer. I felt a bit smug, walking to my appointment that day.

There have been times I felt that I was born several decades too late. I love the graciousness associated with a slower time, when writing letters was considered an art, when personal visits involved conversation and a pot of coffee. When musicians had to play instruments that differed little from the ones their grandfathers used, and singers had to really, really sing. And I've always gotten a kick out of hats and gloves.

For a few minutes, I felt that I'd gotten a breeze of that way of life, taking a local train uptown with plenty of time to make my appointment, talking with pride about knowing how to read an analog watch. Having a gentleman speak sincerely to my face, and tip his hat.

Just a few minutes can make your whole day.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Days of...

Over the last few weeks, I've noticed it takes longer for the sun to rise in the mornings. Pretty soon G will be leaving for work every day before dawn. G and I hate this time of year. We hate Standard Daylight Time. I get Seasonal Affective Disorder, he just gets worn out more easily. Winter is coming.

Sometime last week, when G left for work, it was still dark. I had stayed on the couch the previous evening until 2am, flipping back and forth between Halloween on one channel and Bridezillas on another. I was feeling a bit guilty for having disturbed his slumbers when I crawled into bed just a few hours before. As he planted his traditional see-you-later kiss on my forehead, I reached for a hug. I pulled him into me as if I could somehow absorb some essential part of him into myself.

"Did you get enough sleep?" I asked.

"No," he laughed.

I fell out of our embrace and back into unconsciousness.

Some hours later, my eyelids registered light in the room. "Meow." Marge was trying to wake me up. She leaned into my ear, sniffed, and yowled "MEOW."

Other than a scratch between the ears, I ignored her.

At around 9:45 I floated back onto the couch. Part of me wondered if this was all I had left to my life, outside of school: Couch to bed and back again. Most of me didn't care.

At 10:00, I paused the TiVo and thought to myself, if I don't get off this couch, I'll stay here all day until 4:30, when I have to go to class.

Then I thought to myself, what's wrong with that?

Somewhere around eleven I made coffee and toast. I struggled with this feeling, this notion that sitting on a couch watching TV simply because I can is just inherently wrong. I've done an awful lot of that over the last two weeks, ever since my last temp job ended, and I'm feeling bad about it. I feel some obligation... not sure to what or to whom.

I've done some other things. The housework and grocery shopping have not fallen behind, and I've made trips to the gym and taken a yoga class. Last Friday I had a routine Dr. Appointment in the city, after which I hosted an Octoberfest dinner for G and our upstairs neighbors, just because I felt like it. I cooked for two days preparing for that. So it's not like I've been a complete slug.

I looked at Marge, sitting on the rug, blinking at me, no longer meowing, simply sitting there, as though she were expecting something interesting to happen. After a few minutes, she grew bored and walked away without a word.

I realized that this may be the last time in my life - perhaps the only time - when nobody other than myself really needs anything from me. I don't have work waiting for me in an office somewhere. I don't have massage clients anymore - last Saturday was my last clinic shift. (Still digesting that one.) G is doing his thing, like always. I joked to a friend on the phone yesterday that my parents have forgotten I exist. I'm... free.

What an odd feeling.

I want to DO SOMETHING with this time that is all mine - something dramatic, like travel, but of course, that takes more than time, doesn't it? So... I stood in the middle of my living room for a few seconds, taking it all in, looking at the closed Venetian blinds.

Every day in this apartment, when the day begins, we open and raise the blinds first thing, even before making coffee or turning on the computer. But on that day, 12:00 noon had come and gone, and the blinds were closed. Again, I felt that twinge of responsibility. G had left before sunrise, so it's my job to start the day today. And I hadn't.

I looked at the sunlight glowing behind the blinds, and I suddenly felt that I'm the one who's outdoors, looking at light coming from shuttered windows of someplace that I'm dying to see, that that I'm sure is full of untold mystery and beauty and excitement, but that I can't afford to go, where nobody inside knows me.

I looked down at myself. I was wearing an oversized T-Shirt and flip-flops. Nobody's letting me into any parties dressed like that. Something in me clicked. A half-hour later I was showered and dressed.

I keep coming back to the realization that this is a unique time in my life. I have no job, no income, but I have a roof over my head, and no immediate worries. School is essentially over. I don't have kids. Nobody is relying on me for anything. So where is this sense of obligation coming from, this guilt?

It would be so easy to chalk this up to money - I'm completely living off of G right now, and will for another week or so. Because he's paying for everything, I feel like I should be earning my keep in a more tangible way, such as cleaning the house 'till it shines, making meals, going to the gym more often so I'll be in the best shape possible, all those old-fashioned notions of proper wifery that somehow cling to me, despite all my efforts to shake them off. But I know better than this, in my gut. This is my screen. There's something deeper going on here.

I wrote a song two weeks ago, and practically flew to my accompanist to have him plunk it out for me. It needs a lot of work. It's rather ambitious - very Cole Porter sounding, lots of chatty lyrics. The tune isn't very original, but whose is these days anyway? I love the lyrics and the sheer fun of it. But that was two weeks ago, and I haven't touched it since.

My piano seems to be suffering here in our little apartment. The keys stick, almost all of them. I'm thinking the humidity isn't good in this place. I need to have the thing repaired. That's #2 on my list of things to pay for once I get another job.

I hardly ever think about my wedding anymore.

I am so freakin' tired. I swear, it's all I can do to get out of bed. I seldom get up before 10. I'm at war with myself - I can hear the battle between what I should be doing and what I feel like doing every day, every morning when I get up, and every day when I'm watching American Chopper or selecting a comfy shirt and jeans or whatever I'm doing that seems like nothing. Sloth wins because I don't know what it is I really should be doing. I've met all my outward obligations. So now...

This time may be unique in my life. I get to do things for me now. And what do I always want to do, more than anything?

Excuse me - gotta go. I have to get back to that song.

It's me I owe.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I'm in class on Halloween this year. After class, we're all going out. On Halloween.

I pulled out the costume I wore about six or seven years ago, a rather unimaginative black cat costume. It's so ghetto and homemade it's ridiculous. I also have this stupied grecian goddess thing in the closet that someone gave me to wear but of course I never did. I'm sure it'll be too cold for either option.

I'm dying to dress as my school administrator - Evil Hair and all - but hey, I haven't graduated yet.

Any suggestions?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bursting at the Seams

I have three saved drafts in Blogger.

Tonight is my last final exam, but my class is still required to put in face time until November sixth.

Wonder how many drafts I'll have saved by then?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

In Case I'd Forgotten Why I Hate Yahoo

I TiVo Project Runway every Wednesday night religiously. I watch it, as I have all season, a day or so later with G. (Yes, my straight bf watches Project Runway with me. And gets SO involved. He's a Michael Fan.) I'm non-committal in my fandom, although I am anti-Jeffrey, in spite of his being so undeniably talented. Being a recovering drug addict from a bad home doesn't give you license to be a bird-flipping asshole, even if you do have a cute kid. But anyway.

So I get up this morning, shower, dress, coffee, boot up the PC. First thing I see on our internet Hompage is the Yahoo! News Headline "Jeffrey Sebelia Wins Project Runway."

You muther-fucking bastard Yahoos.

Well, at least I can look forward to his final recap. Which I've also been reading religiously, ever since the Couture Design Challenge.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Home Stretch

Last night, after sweating and studying and stressing for days, I got the highest score in my class on our last minor Shiatsu exam.

I got an 84%. What a bitch of a test.

Next week is our final - our last exam. Next Saturday is my last shift in the Student Clinic. Sometime between those two events should be the graduation drunk-fest.

Somebody pinch me.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Chores - Updated

So, How'd I do?

Clean house, so G doesn't see what a schlub I am when left to my own devices, which includes:

--- laundry *G and I did it together*
--- Swiffering *DONE*
--- dusting *DONE*
--- de-cluttering *DONE*

- Study for Shiatsu test tomorrow *DONE but need more*

- Eat some sort of vegetable or fruit *DONE*

- shower *DONE*

- put on something presentable *Nope...*

- Perform a Shiatsu massage on G, my little guinea pig for my case study. *DONE*

- Have sex *DONE*

- Type up Case Study notes *DOIN' IT TOMORROW*

- Make G quiz me on test material for tomorrow *DONE*

- Watch the History channel on the couch until 1AM *DOIN' IT NEXT*

Not bad!

Friday, October 13, 2006


The thing that makes me sickest about this is:

But in the end, it was a simple landlord-tenant dispute — and owner Hilly Kristal saw the handwriting on the club's dank walls.

"I knew the closing was inevitable, because my lawyers said, `You can't win this case. The law is that your lease is up, and they don't even need a reason to put you out,'" said Kristal.

How long can I fester and squirm, watching New York lose it's soul, morphing from a place for people to live into a place for corporations to get richer and for petty business people to make themselves feel important by doing shitty things simply because it will line their pockets more thoroughly and there's no law in place to stop them?

My first time at CBGB's, I could afford either the cover or a drink, but not both. While I was dithering on the sidewalk, trying to decide if it was worth getting in line, a random guy in line hooked his arm around me and pulled me into his group of friends. I paid my own cover, and I sat the rest of the evening at a table with his crowd of NYU students. He bought me one beer, and I drank water the rest of the night, until one of the girls bought a round of shots for the table, including me. We all toasted our worthless college degrees. It was fun and wild and everything that being young is supposed to be. The band onstage was loud, fast, and really interesting, and of course I can't remember who they were, and they never made it big. I remember joking at the time that we should buy one of their CD's since it might be worth a fortune someday. Everyone laughed. We all knew Ceebee's was, in 1995, what it had once been - just a place to hang out and hear some music.

And that's exactly why it's closing is so tragic. Maybe, if CBGB's had retained its legendary status and continued to book bands that went on to play Letterman and attain the platinum albums, the landlord might have given a damn and let Mr. Kristal renew the lease. Because then the place would be making money. For starters, the cover might be fifty bucks instead of fifteen. The bartender would be mixing far more Grey Goose cosmos than Red-Bulls-and-Vodkas. And the crowd would be well-dressed. And older. And quieter. No more tables full of NYU students drinking one to two beers apiece because that's all they can afford. That would be a business worth keeping around, wouldn't it?

Oh but wait. There are already plenty of places in town for that, and you can go contribute your hard-earned cash to those million-dollar enterprises all you like. Stand in line for two hours with a bunch of people who don't even know what's inside. Once you get in, IF - and it's a big IF - you can find a place to sit down, your beer will be imported and overpriced. The cocktails will be overly sweetened and mostly mixer. After your second drink, The waiters will hover around you in their costumes, looking at you like your mother waiting for you to spit your gum out, until you finally agree to buy something, anything, even a COKE, from the bar, just to justify your continued presence, because the manager harasses them to do so. The crowd will not talk to anyone other than the people they came with, until they get drunk enough to try and pick someone up. Oh - and don't wear jeans and a T-shirt, unless the jeans cost over $100 and the T-Shirt has Juicy Couture bedazzled onto it.

Those places make so fucking much money. Yeah.

Wait - do you hear that? From all the way across the Hudson River, that sniveling landlord of 315 Bowery Street whining "But where's miiiiiinnnnee..."

This is not a bitch and moan because a historic music club is closing - not really. This is a rant about the continued corporatization and soullessness of New York City. A place where the integrity of a business is meaningless if someone else, somewhere in the city, is making more money. It's not enough to rent space to a legendary place, a place where new forms of music that changed the cultural landscape of America were nurtured, music that changed the dialogue between parents and kids, between classes, between political extremes, between country and city. Nothing to feel good about there, nothing to take pride in. Making more money is all that matters.

I want to live in a place where musicians can play live gigs simply because the club owner liked the audition, where people like meeting new people without an agenda, just because people are fun. Where rock and punk and opera and jazz and symphony musicians can all find a place to just relax, where your hangout isn't a strategic place to network. Where a club owner can push the tables and chairs against the walls when the joint starts jumpin’ and let people dance - and they will simply dance - without fear of being shut down. Where being nobody makes you feel like somebody, just because you're there. Where we look at the Statue of Liberty showing us her ass and laugh about it, because we don't expect anything more from her but a welcome, and we've gotten that. We're not afraid of hard work. We don't mind who else is here, and we don't want something because it's what someone else has. I want to live in a place where what you do is more important than how much you make doing it. Where civilization evolves. Where money is simply a tool.

There was once a time when those in power, who owned businesses and property here, felt civic pride. When New York's wealthiest citizens put their money into libraries where immigrants could learn English by checking out books for free. The philanthropists developed the parks, where we could sit and read those books without someone accusing us of loitering, or threatening to report us to the government for reading subversive or ungodly material. There have always been corrupt landlords - but there were some mayors in the past who worked to pass laws to protect tenants and force landlords to do business fairly, and keep rents reasonable.

Because, see, once upon a time, that's what Liberty really meant. New York City was populated by people from all over the world, looking to make an honest living in a home of their own, with time to relax and enjoy a little cooking or fiddle playing or dancing on the weekends. People who just wanted to exist.

There have always been people who cared about New York City as a whole, about the people in it, about the fertile art scenes here, about the accomplishments of the people, accomplishments that, if you had the power and ability, you could feel good about facilitating in some way, not because it made you money, but because it furthered the development of the city itself.

Now there's too many skyscrapers and not enough people who can afford to live in them, or keep a business there. Maybe they were right, those people in the midwest where I used to live, who said there are no values in New York City, just greed. Maybe this is Gomorrah.

But somehow, I can't lose sight of the city I used to live in, where I shared a clean, roach-free $900/month one-bedroom on 95th street between Amsterdam and Columbus, while my roommate traveled with a touring musical and I sang in concert operas, where I worked a 9-5 job for %15 an hour and felt proud of everything around me. I can't forget that. It wasn't so long ago.

I can't stop thinking that the essential element of New York City is almost gone, and what little remains is disappearing bit by bit, year by year. I also can't stop believing that it can be recovered. I can’t turn my back on the place.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

She was afraid to come out in the open...

I've got a teeny-weeny itsy-bitsy yellow polka-dot bit of faith in the universe. So in my emotional cocoon I'm going to stay. For awhile. From here I can see that good things are happening to people around me, which helps. Sort of.

Actually, that's not quite right.

Writing these days is like trying to watch TV without cable. I keep moving the rabbit ears, but I can't get a clear enough picture of what's going on, so I don't know how to talk about anything. And I'm sick of posting my angst. Reading my past entries, I wonder why MzOuiser doesn't just jump off a bridge if she's so damn miserable. She's disgusting me.

The year-long Work Phase I've been moving through ends in less than five weeks. I have senioritis, and want to start doing other things NOW. Like singing, writing, making trips into Manhattan, enjoying clothes. Too soon for any of that. I'm going to try and wrench my focus back where it needs to be. Pathology test every Wednesday. Shiatsu tests every Monday. Clinic every Saturday morning. Classes and a case study to complete in between.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...