- text from my boss: happy valentine's! Hope you have a heart on.
- me: That's going on my tumblr.
I’m only going to explore one of the many avenues that title could be headed down and talk about the experience of having a new idea, one that tastes ripe, like accidentally taking a wrong turn that instead leads to the used bookstore everyone managed to overlook, leaving all the titles you’ve been meaning to grab but haven’t gotten to yet—mostly because they cost just a dollar too many—all of them inexpensive enough that a single ten spot is enough to walk out with an armload (which you do).
When I have those kinds of new ideas, I often see them in one of two futures: the first being the ideal version and wildly successful, which almost universally equates a fame of some kind; the second being the other end of the spectrum, either never leaving the completely failure-free bubble that encases an untouched idea, or breaching that bubble and finding myself giving up after the first step. So far I have been incredibly steadfast in walking only one of the two paths I have set for myself. As you are free to do, a simple Google search will tell you which one.
Why am I incapable of even envisioning the middle ground? Why do I instinctually shoot right to the extremes? When you consider the capacity that our culture has to drastically influence our individual social developments, how much of this problem am I supposed to feel responsible for? I think recognizing that such a question could be reasonably asked automatically makes you responsible for all of it.
And I think the point that my cannabis-laced conscience is really trying to get at is that our own personal satisfaction should rest squarely on our own shoulders. I know, this is pretty much the unattainable if you ever create anything of your own. Even outside of writing, as a cook/baker, I let too much depend upon reaction, regardless of how I, the creator, feel about it. But even if we can’t quite reach that kind of self-satisfaction, wouldn’t merely trying to make things a lot better?
Deciding whether or not
to stand up & speak
can be like deciding whether
or not to open your mouth
with a grenade lodged in
might be better to spare
those around you the
discomfort of shrapnel
and not give it any exit
between teeth, swallow
You wonder who placed it
there because your gut is
deep & shadowed, no finger-
prints or serial number to
trace, only the presence of
the absence of a pin, & the
knowledge that it may have
been your own, manufactured
in those shadows, as you are
wont to do from time to
To the middle-aged Latino woman who swiped her MetroCard for me last night.
I am one of a horde of white people rapidly gentrifying Bushwick, a fact I am not necessarily proud of. This is usually evident from the way I dress, especially when I am going out for the evening, as I was last night. I was at the balance inquiry machine in the Jefferson St. subway station, taking out my wallet when, unbidden, she approached me, asking, “You need a subway ride?”
I was almost certain I had enough fare and was really only checking out of curiosity. “Here, I have an unlimited. Here, let me swipe,” she said, practically ignoring my half-mumbled response as she walked toward the turnstile, not waiting to see if I followed. I saw that my card had $10, twice as much as I would need to get to Manhattan and back.
I noticed her shiftily glancing at the MTA worker manning the booth. I don’t know if this is technically illegal, but I’m sure it has to be frowned upon, as it is letting people ride for free. But she did it anyway. She didn’t care that I’m a young white kid, didn’t care whether I had the fare or not, didn’t care that I hadn’t even asked. I had never seen her before and it’s possible I never will again.
I have no idea why she did that, just as I’m sure she had no idea that I recently had both wheels of my bike stolen and that it will take about $200 to replace them, so I’m trying to save money wherever I can. She had no idea that I hate paying for the subway when I love biking for free. She had no idea how wonderful it was to be on the receiving end of that kindness.
You haven’t the foggiest idea about the lives of any of the strangers you pass every single day. Do something nice, such as swipe your unlimited MetroCard for someone when you get off the train. It takes zero effort.
(Footnote: The only Conditions of Use are brief and in no way prohibit this. Why isn’t there a city-wide day when everyone does this?)
I am occasionally struck by a sense of foreboding when I go out for an evening that I will run into someone I haven’t seen in years and it will be awkward. It scares me more than it should. I suppose that ultimately, regardless of how great a role the past played in shaping the current me, I want nothing to do with it.
It’s strange to think about the ambiguous “I haven’t seem them in years” group of friends that populate one’s past. For the first big chunk of your life, you aren’t even old enough for it to be possible. Or at least you don’t have any control over it. If your friend moves across the country when you’re six, there’s not much you can do.
But there comes a point where you suddenly realize there are people you used to call friends that are so far removed from your life that just the thought of them is odd, like a social phantom limb. And you never think about that possibility in fifth grade. And now you are old enough to do something about it.
And then that group grows, and maybe it has people in it that you were friends with the first time you ever realized the group even existed. And then you move to New York and there are so many people that came here from somewhere else and that “I haven’t seen them in years” group has gotten bigger and it feels more and more likely every day that you’ll turn the corner and be staring one of them in the face.