Noticing New York

Some people notice the buildings. They look up, the backs of their necks wrinkling like old men’s foreheads, and they strain their eyes and get dizzy with vertigo. They notice the heads carved above the windowsills on lower Broadway. They notice the snazzy designs on the Flatiron and the dials on the elevators going from the lower tracks to the main concourse of Grand Central.

Some people notice other people. They notice the variations in skin color and, for the first time, stare at their arms encased in black coats and gloves and their chest wrapped in scarves and realize that on the crowded bus where the windows are all blocked they cannot see any reflections of themselves. They notice the possibility of their skin being any color at all; they could blend with any of the races siting around them or be a mix of any or all of them. They could be green or blue or polka-dotted and it wouldn’t matter in this moment.

Some people notice the reactions, the connections, the bizarre randomness of people finding one another in lines for coat checks, on street corners, inside corner delis, before entering a taxi, upon exiting an elevator.

Noticing everything in New York City is impossible. Noticing as much as possible is the constant, ultimate goal. It is a city evolving and living up to and through every stereotype it has ever had while building new and unique traditions for itself at the same time. Things are old and new, familiar and strange at the same time. There is a sense of having been everywhere before and seen everything, even as the unfamiliar shadows of taller buildings than those ever encountered before fill the streets and avenues. New York is a city of unnoticing lives being noticed by noticers.

Icarus

Suppose you were told that you could fly. Would you believe it? Let’s say you even woke up one morning and found that you had wings. Big, glossy wings, with feathers of all the right kinds and shapes and colors that you could wish for. Let us even assume that as you walked around your bedroom, or maybe your kitchen, you could feel those wings and gained control over them. You could flex them, shift them, even open and spread them wide if you have enough room. Your wingspan, we can assume, would be wider than you are tall, so you may knock over your grandmother’s favorite flower vase and break it, but then you may discover how useful your wings are in sweeping glass up. No pesky little shards left on the floor with those powerful feathers getting into every nook and cranny between the tiles.
Are you convinced of your wings yet? Can you hold their image strongly in your mind? Can you feel the bones in your back adjusting to the new weight that is suddenly set on them? Good. Now, suppose you were told that you could fly. These new wings of yours aren’t only decorative, as you may have thought, but they can actually support your weight when you leap off the top floor of the tallest building you know of. Would you protest? Would you say – Surely not, for humankind has no wings and cannot fly, this is a well established fact! Or would you, without considering it too much, take a drive to the nearest high rise, or maybe go right up to your own roof, spread your wings, look into the sunlight, and leap?
What if you knew there was a safety net spread out beneath you, just in case it didn’t work? Of course, nothing is full proof, and you might say that even if you really can fly, the ability might disappear in a few seconds once you’re not even over the net anymore. Alright, I understand your concerns. They’re valid. After all, no one ever told you, and you certainly never expected it yourself, that you would one day sprout wings and be told that you could fly. Say I promise to have four cars drive around with a net stretched between them so that they could catch you no matter where you drift to? Would that be enough, do you think, to make you jump off that ledge?
I can see your concern. It’s true, there are many risks to flying. There are other birds in the air who know their business there much better than you do. They may laugh at your flapping efforts or they might squawk when they see how big and ungainly the rest of your body is. Then there is the danger of severe sunburn – although that’s easily fixable if you wear long sleeves and make sure to rub a lot of sunscreen on your face. Perhaps you don’t think you’ll be able to navigate. It’s true, bird’s eye view is very different than seeing things from the ground. Suddenly, things are spread out below you, and you may feel that things are getting metaphorical as you fly around, above and superior to all the pesky human who can’t do what you’re doing. You don’t want to turn into Icarus, after all.
Of course, you must remember that if you can fly, that means others may be able to as well. Ah, you’d forgotten that, hadn’t you? I’m sorry, I can see how disappointed you are. And just when you were getting excited too. It’s a shame, yes, but you must remember that you can’t possibly be the only one who’s suddenly sprouted wings. Think of how large Earth is! True, perhaps it’s not as big as some other planets, but it’s quite big enough in our terms, don’t you think? There are enough people on the face of it to make it statistically very unlikely that you’d be the only one who was able to fly.
I’ve gotten rather sidetracked, haven’t I? The first question still stands. What if you were told that you could fly? Would you do it? Or would you sever your wings off in fear and then forever hide the stubby feathers and protruding bones by wearing big sweatshirts and promising that you never really liked swimming anyway? It would be a sad thing to live with severed wings. Almost worse than trying to fly and plummeting to the ground. At least, if you try it, you’ll be buried with the splendor of those glossy wings, and I promise that no one will forget you.

Rock Star

Rock Star, Rock Star,
Take me in your box-car,
Drive me under night skies,
Fill my ears with sweet lies.
Rock Star, Rock Star,
Show me where your locks are,
Teach me how to pick them,
Tell me I’m your best femme.
Rock Star, Rock Star,
Take me to the milk bar,
Ply me with a stiff drink,
Show me how to not think.
Rock Star, Rock Star,
Twinkle bright and afar,
Stay a wishful nightmare;
We would make a bad pair.

Weirdos of the World: Unite

fruit loop.

Read the post above, if you’d be so kind. Mckenzie, the writer of The Unabridged Girl┬áis an incredibly talented writer. I mean it, she is. Whenever she’s posted fiction in the past, I’ve hungered to read more of it. In the post I linked, she talks about how she’s always been considered weird. I can empathize.

In elementary school, I was picked on a lot. The boys hit me, and even a couple of the girls. That was okay with me. It was better than the alternative. You know that old adage about sticks and stones? Well, If somebody hit me, I could at least try to hit back. Not the most peaceful or responsible way to deal with a problem, but self-defense was something I could do. It was the teasing that I didn’t know how to handle. My face would begin to redden, spurring on more lovely comments, and my brain would go blank as I tried to think of something witty to say. I tried the whole “ignoring” trick; I really did. But since I blushed furiously and teared up whenever anyone would tease me, I think that they realized they were getting to me no matter how hard I kept my head down.

I was called weird a lot. I wanted to fit in so badly that it hurt. I still get those moments of wanting to be popular, confident, blonde and skinny and pretty and perfect. I still get moments of wanting to be someone else, someone entirely different, and the urge to jump out of my skin in those agonizing minutes is overwhelming. It feels like there is literally something inside me bubbling furiously and wanting to erupt out of the flesh I live in and prove itself to be the person I should have, could have, would have been if only this, if only that.

But the thing is – I like being weird. I like the fact that I read while I walk. I like the fact that I have lip-piercings but don’t wear any makeup usually and don’t care about how I dress most of the time. I like the fact that when I do dress up, I sometimes do the goth thing and sometimes do the classy, white blouse and nice pants thing. I like the fact that I’ve read the Harry Potter books so many times that I remember that Nearly Headless Nick’s real name is Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington. I like the fact that I play computer games but am still a hopeless romantic. I like the fact that I find pleasure in being on my own with my books, curled up in bed.

Are there things I regret about being weird? Sure. Of course. Do I still have issues? Oh my goodness, yes. If you could hear the inside of my mind, the extent to which I feel guilty about things that aren’t my responsibility, and the amount of time I spend judging myself, you might just go crazy yourselves. And yet… And yet I’ve come to accept that I wouldn’t give up the joys I get in my weird pleasures in order to be “normal,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.

I also realize that I’m incredibly lucky to be going to a university where being weird is encouraged and that I live near New York City where being weird is a much coveted quality. Maybe there are places where I would feel much less secure in my weirdness.

Have you been called weird? Do you embrace, shun or hide your weirdness?

An Honest Cover Letter

Dear Publisher or Literary Agency,

I love reading. I love writing. I bet you hear this all the time, but I just want you to know that I mean it. When I begin to talk about books, I feel my stomach leaping and the tips of my toes curl in excitement. When I sit down to write every day, I feel as if this is something I will gladly be doing for the rest of my life, even if it doesn’t result in a lot of money. I’m fully willing to become a waitress to support my writing habit.

However, it’s probably harder getting published as an unknown waitress who writes during her hours off than as a literary agent or editor at a publishing house. Working with you will give me an “in.” Am I being too blunt? Forgive me, but that’s the point. I’ve spent the last two and a half hours drafting (or attempting to draft) clever, concise and comprehensive cover letters in which I subtly explain why I will get down on my knees and beg to work for you. My mind is fairly wrung out, and so in order to refresh and cleanse it, I’m telling you the truth.

The truth is that while my biggest goal isn’t to become a publisher or literary agent, these are jobs that I would do a lot to get if they would help me support my writing habit while also letting me deal with books all day. I’ve been working in a bookstore during the last month, and I’ve found that the mere presence of hundreds of books is enough to keep me motivated and happy. Only think how well I’ll work for you at a job that would involve not only seeing books but reading manuscripts and writing letters!

I fear that my formulaic cover letters will get swallowed in the mass of other likely, qualified candidates that will contact you. If I had the guts, I’d send you this letter instead – although, to be fair, I’d probably work at it a lot longer and make it wittier and more touching than it is.

The bottom line (or, rather, lines) is that I love books, I’m passionate about the written word, and I would love to work anywhere that helps in the process of getting a book from the writer’s personal hard-drive and into the bookstore where I happily purchase it. Even though you’re businesses and your goal is to profit, you also save my life along the way by continuing to publish the books without which I wouldn’t know how to survive the emotional and mental turmoil that every human being goes through.

Hire me, hire me, hire me,

Help me keep writing and books in my life forever by letting me leap into the publishing world during my sophomore year at college,

(I promise you won’t regret it,)

Sincerely,

SlightlyIgnorant

Things

Here are some things I’ve been thinking about today:

-A series of short stories that are tied to each other by a common event that all the main characters witnessed.

-All the reasons I love the internet [1) It organizes my life, 2) There are cool people on it, 3) It helps me write more frequently, 4) It forces me, whether I want to or not, to learn a whole bunch of stuff… this list could probably go on.]

-How sad I feel that the stray cat in the parking lot that my mom and I call Funny Face is old and is probably going to die soon. We’ve known him since we moved into this apartment, fifteen years ago.

-The reasons driving in Israel sucks.

-The mean, useless, uncaring, unfriendly, and entirely aggravating service that I’ve received at The Gap this week.

-My friends and how glad I am to hang out with them.

-Books. I’ve been thinking a lot about all the books I still want to read this summer and how the time is slipping away.

-The fact that I’m leaving home again in one month and one week.

-My theory that Wednesdays suck, uniformly, because they are smack in the middle of the week and so there is no weekend right behind you to look back on and no weekend right before you to look forward to. Wednesdays are the worst. Mondays are fine. It’s those bloody, bloody Wednesdays that get me.

-How I’m looking forward to catching up on blogs this weekend. Yes – that means YOU. I’m looking forward to reading YOUR BLOG this weekend!

Birthday Wishes

I wish…
That I were thirty instead of twenty-one.
That my hair was naturally ginger instead of the weird shade of brown-blonde that it is.
That I was naturally skinny without ever feeling the urges of an eating disorder rule my life.
That I manage to support myself, at least partly, with writing.
That I find a comfortable niche for myself in life.
That I keep the friends I have and love.
That I never stop loving books.
That I become a crazy cat-lady.
That I have a good year.
That I sleep well.
That the people I love continue loving me back.
That Harry Potter was a real person.
That I could have more hours in each day specifically in order to read.
That Israel weren’t so hot.
That Johnny Depp, Davey Havok, and Darren Criss were close, personal friends.
That I could get through J. R. R. Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings.”

I could keep writing this list forever, adding random wishes for past, present and future. But the most important thing right now, on this relaxing, lovely birthday is that I recognize and appreciate every bit of what I do have. Cheesy? Corny? Yes. True? That too.