Red Hook and Gowanus damage

The Gowanus Canal had mostly receded, but continued to spill over into a parking lot under the Ninth Street bridge. 

I overheard some folks say the water had risen several feet during the night.

Overturned dumpsters slammed into warehouse doors.

The canal itself, though usually fairly disgusting, was looking particularly vile after the storm.

Tree blown over on Court St.

Over in Red Hook, the damage was far greater…

Ground-floor spaces in these huge warehouses were completely wrecked. 

A NY Water Taxi pier was flipped over on its side. Nobody’s riding these taxis!

Surrounded by water on both sides, this small street was completely submerged during the night. 

The Fairway building still inaccessible due to flooding.

The Statue of Liberty is just a couple miles off to the west. 

More wiped out loft spaces along the water—debris everywhere. 

This double metal door got ripped straight out of its hinges. 

I spoke to this family, who own a small printing press further down the pier. The son told me they had lost everything. 

The Fairway building, facing the water. 

Van Brunt St.

Not really sure what happened here. The cargo holds of these buses, however, were being aired out and drained.

One of many sad little overturned plants in Red Hook, and all over NYC today.

Sock

Havin’ one of those days where I feel like an energy sucker. 

Feeling like an energy sucker is that thing where I become hyper aware of everyone but have no way to connect with anyone. Like suddenly discovering I’ve intruded into someone else’s home. 

No matter where I am, I feel equally displaced.

If I don’t stay focused when I’m talking to people, I end up staring like a creep and making them uncomfortable. My mind becomes a black hole.

Or I agree with everything they say and somehow end up feeling like I’m misleading them. 

It’s a total lack of autonomy. Gaze gets too intense, anxiety goes up, voice is either too low or too high, too smarmy or too unsure. 

Just can’t figure out my place with people. 

Keep thinking: I want to be someone other than me. Or, better yet, to have someone else tell me how to be. Does that ever happen to you?

Its been happening to me a lot, lately.

The best cure I find is just to sit on a bench in a busy area and try to focus on  something—a point, an idea. Let my face relax, acknowledge the people passing me by but don’t look at them, and let the waves of existence sort of crash over me for a while. 

Helps tremendously. 

Suddenly, I don’t feel like such a nervous blob anymore, but a tangible person, with real weight and density and a purpose. At least that’s what happens, for me. 

There’s no going back and fixing or erasing things I’ve said (or haven’t said) to people. But there is a way to release guilt and regret so that suddenly I remember none of it really matters anyway. 

We act the way we act for a reason. 

Energy sucker one day, brilliant scholar the next. It just helps to know that when the tide is low, you have to mellow. 

Goosebumps!

Last night, Lucy and I went to see RL Stine, the author of my all-time favorite childhood book series, Goosebumps! Well, second maybe to The Boxcar Children. But all in all, very exciting!

We got pretty good seats. On the third row up, my seat was above the entrance so instead of another seat in front of me there was just a sort of banister, which made a good shelf for my soda.

Before RL came on, Lucy was talking about her favorite Goosebumps stories. She mentioned a few, and I realized that as much as I’d loved, loved those books, only one really stood out in my memory: something about a mask that was cursed.

I could picture the cover, a girl in overalls holding up a green mask. And, of course, the raised print at the top with Goosebumps written in those green, drippy letters.

But in any case, I knew I was meant to be here, at this book reading. Almost twenty years since first getting addicted to that wonderful, creepy series. RL Stine in the flesh!

The presenter came on and made a small introduction. RL’s face was projected onto a screen behind the stage. In no time, his name was called and he walked out to thunderous applause.

During the interview, he mentioned how he’s mainly known for work he did in the 90s, and how kids who read his books are all grown up now, in their 20s and 30s. Yup! And here we were!

The way he talked to (and about) us was kind of like a proud grandfather.

In fact, he said our growing up had been what prompted him to write his first adult book, Red Rain.

Which is funny because I just took a yoga class last week where the teacher told us: ‘the definition of adult is when you stop growing.’ ‘Have any of you stopped growing?' It was kind of a cheesy moment but I liked it.

Anyway, here was RL Stine saying he wanted to go after his adult audience. ‘You guys look at me as nostalgia,’ he lamented. We laughed.

He went on to read portions of Red Rain.

But…not before answering questions about Goosebumps! He shared some ideas he was mulling over for future installments. It turns out, the series is still going strong. He churns out six Goosebumps books a year.

One of the new books he’s working on, a sequel to one of his earlier books, suddenly caught my ear.

The Haunted Mask.

I let out a big old cheer—along with a few others who also remembered the book.

A new image flashed up on the screen, showing the old Scholastic edition cover side by side with a newer version. And there it was, the dark green mask with the gaping jaws and yellow eyes.

Better yet, he was going to read to us from the new Haunted Mask book!

He read what seemed like a chapter. Obviously, chapters in these books tend to be short, with fairly large print. But the episodes are quick, efficient, and intense.

The new story is about a small girl, Lou Ann, who finds the mask in an attic trunk. She takes it to school the next day, and when she puts it on, it transforms into her skin. She goes nuts, flipping over tables, smashing vases, throwing pies in teachers’ faces. At one point, she actually leaps through a window, lands on her knees, leaps up and goes tearing down the street.

We all let out a huge applause. RL, who actually just goes by Bob, was then led off the stage and improv actors came on to interpret his story ideas into a series of sketches. 

One of which involved a scene where two kids find a bunch of their mother’s old one-piece bathing suits in a trunk in the attic and put them on. The bathing suits melt into their bodies and they turn into cranky middle-aged women. Ha!

Perks of being a wallflower

I finally got around to seeing The Perks Of Being A Wallflower last night. After about a month of hesitating on whether or not to go, reading bad reviews, and mostly just ignoring that it was playing in theaters at all, I let George convince me to get excited. So we went, saw the movie, and wow. It. hit. home.

All of it: the flamboyant gay guy. The group of “unpopular” kids. Charlie’s incessant bedroom journal entry writing. Riding around in cars with the music turned up. Going to parties and feeling like the outsider. Charlie’s need to make everyone happy.

I’ve tried so hard to distance myself from that person, that character. But who am I kidding? In ninth grade, I was a textbook wallflower. And Stephen Chbosky’s book was my manual.

Here are a few thoughts I had after revisiting that story for the first time since I was fourteen.

1. While I never really had a flamboyant gay male friend to look up to, I made up for it with Tori Amos’ music and episodes of Queer As Folk. But in many ways, the character of Patrick—self-possessed, sensational, definitely sexual—lingered with me years after reading the book. Seeing him personified by actor Ezra Miller only intensified a long-standing admiration I still have for those bold, matter-of-fact, diva types of guys.


2. More often than not, Charlie winds up wedged in between larger-than-life Patrick and Sam, or following them around, or being the passive listener to their never-ending drama cycles. Meanwhile, his reactions stay fixed within the vacuum of his own head. I know that feeling. You put everyone else before you, and save the inner mess of your own anxieties, desires and doubts for later, when you’re alone, behind closed doors, and can let it all spill out unedited.  It’s why wallflowers manage to be selfless and completely selfish at the same time.


3. When I was a freshman in high school, my best friends were: my Puerto Rican boyfriend Fernando, the glamorous Molly (who existed as two people: the platinum blonde that everyone in high school wanted to be friends with, and the shadowy, wry theater type, who let us tease her about her “thunder thighs” and flirted incessantly with all of us), and the stoic Selena, the oldest member of our posse, and my best friend. What I did with those kids, all of whom were older than me, was exactly what Charlie does in the book with Patrick and Sam. Hang out in back alleys and parks, smoke cigarettes, experiment with hard drugs, explore our sexuality, trade inside jokes, schemes, hand-written letters, mixtapes…


Our world was so fun, so exciting, so entirely different from everything else I’d known before.

But it was ultimately a dead end. The thrill of hanging out with Fernando, Molly and Selena satisfied a certain part of me, but it removed any possibility of them actually getting to know me. I could never match up to their wild stories, their bold senses of humor, so why risk inserting myself into the equation?

I didn’t need to, as Charlie puts it, be noticed.  If I could get by and just be included, that was enough.

What mattered more than anything was maintaining the equilibrium. We all had parts to play: them, the characters acting out scenarios, and me, their rapt audience, silently watching their every move. I don’t think they bothered questioning my presence because I gave them all the attention they needed.

Perks brought back so many memories of that fourteen-year-old me, uncertain and complaisant. Willing to go along with a group of people I didn’t really have much in common with—just a naive fascination, really, with their personalities. Personalities that were, at the end of the day, fabrications. Portraits. Inaccessible.

Why would anyone want that?

Who knows. But I remember wanting it badly. I remember wanting to experience the emotion-heavy conversations, the deep sense of connection, the rebel-without-a-causeness of Sunday afternoons spent watching Gia and reveling in a collective sense of danger.

A wallflower usually knows better. But he puts up with the artifice because it affords something bigger: the thrill of doing things he’s never done before, like riding in fast cars, trying on other identities, and being part of a group. He’s there for the experience alone, but unwilling to share enough about himself to make it a mutual exchange. His friendships become unbalanced, but they’re infinitely more fulfilling than ending up alone. 

Day #35

         Abu Dhabi               Dhr200, easily                      hour ride       

                 we roll                                         down Sheikh Zayed Road. I am here.

Day #34

                                     Oasis Lounge, JFK Airport

 head

                            Jaye’s apartment,

Wrote stories in the kitchen.

         goodbye            .

                         ‘s for breakfast

       I’ve been coming a                   lot lately.

                                                                   down hard.

       Park.

  sitting                 on th                    e grass with his new little black


                                     and white

             lock

     tatus update.

Packed.

                               6:15,

           A train,

  watched dance a                               t Union Sq station

                                       humping pillars                                  I could tell it


 at Howard Beach,                             plane at 9:25pm.

Day #33

                                        Conrad New York Hotel

                                9:30am.

      phone rang

                        Conrad hotel

                                                    Who comes up with these things anyway.

Left at                         Kula Yoga,

                                                      headstand for a while.

                                                                                                                   What a disaster.

                                                                                                       eggs caked

She leaves

                for Atlanta

    knew he would. bottle                        of Pinot grigio,                                 walked home ‘cross the canal.

Day #32

                 woke                     Upper East Side, I

                                                                        put laundry



          can’t quite shake that weird dysfunctional romantic feeling              that used to be

      between us

Day #31

                                                                                      

                                                                             his family trip to Europe,

                                                                                                               my


trip

Sofia                                                                                                              empty     boy with the                                  magenta hair,

                                                          Inna’s tiny                               Mount        Vitosha,                                   hanging from trees,                  sleeping             

               breakfast the next morning                               her

   family in the suburbs.

                                     I’d like                               also, next time.

Day #30

                     

                                                  more and more frustrated       

                                                                         straw b    err ies,  sweet potato chips, baked 


         haircut in DUMBO                                                                 her happy.