You Should See My Scars: The Soundtrack

1. Garbage - Bleed Like Me
2. Interpol - Hands Away
3. Louis XIV - Finding Out True Love is Blind
4. The Fever - Ladyfingers
5. Beep Beep - Misuse Their Bodies
6. JJ72 - Oxygen
7. Pinback - Bloods on Fire
8. Crooked Fingers - Weary Arms
9. Belly - Puberty
10. Team Sleep - Your Skull is Red
11. TV on the Radio - Ambulance
12. Jawbreaker - Accident Prone
13. Garbage - Metal Heart
14. Snow Patrol - Tiny Little Fractures
15. Elbow - Ribcage
16. Neko Case - Twist the Knife
17. Now It’s Overhead - Antidote
18. Snow Patrol - Grazed Knees
19. The Shins - Kissing the Lipless

You Should See My Scars Vol. 3

My first summer in Architecture school was also the first summer without my father. He had died the September previous. My summer was marked with a number of things: Grief, loneliness, a strange environment, no local support system of family or friends, dick professors, overwhelming studio-cultural shock, more knowledge and information ever given in one week/day/class/hour than I had ever experienced, anxiety attacks…the list goes on.

I started seeing a counselor on campus.

I started dating someone.

Eventually, he accused me of putting up walls and not telling him what was going on.

So, I started to tell him, and I started to rely on him, trust him, even.

The grieving process was in full swing and it was recommended by my counselor to write a letter to my father expressing what I was feeling and after two weeks of disagreeing and telling my counselor to stop playing counselor games with me (read “getting the courage to write such a letter”), I saw that it would help (and I developed the strength).

I wrote the letter. I read it to my counselor, but that didn’t help. I needed to share it with the people I cared about and who cared about me. I needed to let my family know what I was feeling and thinking because it was what they were feeling and thinking.

I mailed the letter to my mom. She let my brother and his wife read it.

I wanted this guy I was dating to read it. This was the biggest reason there were walls in the first place. I asked him to read it and his response was surprising. He said “No, that is weird.” I told him why I wanted him to read it: I want people I am close to to read this because it will help me release these emotions I am holding onto…I need to share it with people I am close to…

I was opening up the most vulnerable part of myself.

“Make photocopies and post them around the Architecture Building,” he said.

You Should See My Scars Vol. 2

During a trip to North Carolina as a twelve year old with my family, I went with my cousin and her then significant other to go fishing.

Since I did not (and still do not) enjoy fishing, I waded downstream, along the rocks and river-worn stones.

There was a bridge overpass of the river, the pilings making a connection to the water on large, smoothly-eroded concrete platforms. There were logs and branches stuck in various positions on and around the pilings.

As I was crossing over a log, I surprised a snake sunning on the platform and quickly shifted my weight to get back on the other side of the log, the side not with the snake. As I did this, the log fell loose of the piling and I went straight into the shallow water, feet first, straddling the log.

I was panicky and got back up and made sure the snake was not around and started wading back upstream. Water rushing toward me, I noticed my foot hurting and picked it up out of the water. I was bleeding.

I guessed that when I fell, my foot went into broken glass, or a sharp rock, rusted metal thrown away in a small-town-mountainous region of North Carolina…something. I went back to my cousin. We were on our way back to my Grandmother’s cabin, to my Dad. He would know what to do.

He took me to an Emergency Clinic in a nearby town. Medical instruments on the walls in what looked like Ziploc bags.

I remember the needle injecting painkiller into my wound most of all and the throbbing pain that would come later that night.

Five stitches and a ¾ inch scar on the high arch of my right foot. Sometimes, if I step just right the skin tightens unnaturally like an over-taut canvas and a fast pain will shoot through the arch making me wince and sometimes step funny.

You Should See My Scars Vol. 1

I must have been between the ages of seven and nine on a family visit to my Grandfather’s apartment. Even though he lived within twenty to thirty minutes to our house, depending on traffic, it was rare to see him. I can only remember a handful of times.

This particular time, my brother and I were in the parking lot having a rock fight. Not the smartest thing two boys can do. He is five years older than I am so that puts him at twelve to fourteen years old. The sun was going down quickly, as it does in South Florida.

As often happened with my brother growing up, he did or said something I did not like and I played up the drama by turning away from him and tapping my foot. It was falling dark, quickly.

“James, watch out!” he said.

I turned and was hit in the forehead by what felt like a boulder, but turned out was only a large rock. I was filled with anger and my brother was filled with panic as he saw what he had done. I fell to the ground and he rushed over. As he began to drag me toward my grandfather’s apartment, I was screaming my refusal and telling him to, more than likely, “unhand me.” As the dragging continued, I felt a warm sensation washing over my face and in my eyes. I touched my face and looked at it. There was barely any natural light anymore and the substance was just dark and thick on my hand. I knew what it was though and began to scream in a different way. I was scared and crying now, no longer angry.

The scene inside the apartment was one of shock and panic, as I’m sure all they saw was my brother dragging in a bloodied me. My father drove to the hospital and my grandfather held me in the passenger seat in his lap with something over my forehead to slow the blood flow.

I had seven stitches put in and the doctor said that I would not have a scar.

It is there, a diagonal inch jutting from the hairline, right in the middle.

Weekend Update

So, I had a whole series planned last week, but I never had time or motivation to finish them. Job Searching is mentally and emotionally exhausting. However! I believe everything is looking up! I had a first interview with a HUGE place on Friday that I never thought I would be called in for in the first place. First interview was at 11am, I left at 12. Called back at 5:15pm to schedule second interview for Monday! My first second interview!

The pay sucks. SUCKS! BUT since it is a huge non-profit, the benefits are astounding!

Here are a few:
4 WEEKS PAID VACATION!
Domestic Partner Benefits
Medical
Dental
Vision
Transit Chek
Life Insurance
Tuition Reimbursement
Pension
and 430(B) Plan (non-profit version of 401(K))

I'll probably have to get a part-time job, too.

I'll tell everyone what place it is if I get the job, of course. Here are some hints:

The name is usually shortened into it's acronym.
It is in midtown.
I love going.
I pass the Lever House (my favorite building) on my walk from the 6.

On another note, I was bitten by a COCKROACH last night IN BED! Under normal circumstances (or not so normal lately) I tend to like being bit and doing some biting, same gender and species ONLY. I never thought cockroaches could bite, but I was awoken by a twinge of pain on the back of my knee. I jumped up, swatted whatever the culprit was away from me, jumped out of bed and turned on the lights to see the Voldemort of Cockroaches in my bed.

AVADA KEDAVRA!

That bitch enjoyed a bleach whirlpool bath in my toilet a few minutes later.

It took me a while longer to get back to sleep.

Again, I am dumbfounded. I am from Florida where the Giant Cockroaches are many and I have never heard of anyone ever getting bit.

I have a mark.

When Sharks Attack

Friday: Harry Potter and the Barnes and Noble at Union Square was a bust.

Jessica, Katie and I went and joined the mayhem after 12AM when all the pre-ordered yellow bracelets had been given out and were adorned on the wrists of the chosen who were currently waiting for their numbers to be called. The orange bracelets were for the others who had just shown up to get the book without pre-ordering it.

Where do we get the orange bracelets? We walk in, and see signs in the back denoting “get your bracelets here,” but how to get there? We mazed our way through people and stages and other various barriers. We went upstairs and then downstairs and when we got to our destination, we were told that bracelets were now being given out outside the front of the store on the sidewalk.

We trekked it back to the sidewalk and got our bracelets. Our numbers were in the thousands. We would most certainly be there until about 4AM if we waited. So, we immediately turned around and said “let’s just get our copies tomorrow” and we headed back underground to the subways.

Saturday: Picnic on Sheep Meadow, Central Park.

Apparently, fifty percent chance of rain does not mean the same thing in New York as it does in Florida. Fifty percent in Florida means it will be raining all day, all night, and perhaps a fortnight longer. In New York, it means that it will be a beautiful day and the rain will come tomorrow when we add the two chances of fifty percent for both days and make it a 100 percent chance.

Katie and I met up with a friend, J.D. on the Sheep Meadow in Central Park with various nosh. Lisa and her friend from Connecticut, Danielle came a little later, and Jessica came soon after.

We were there for a good three or four hours.

Katie and I went to Jessica’s afterward.

Sunday: Discovery Channel’s Shark Week Premiere Party

Pasta at Jessica’s with television and real places to sit that aren’t the floor. It doesn’t get any better than this. Sharks and Queers on the TV! HP to turn to when the sharks aren't biting not the queers. Heaven...

And she drove us back to our apartment when we left! Oh, how I miss driving/riding in cars.

Sleep Disorders: The Soundtrack

1. The Stills - Yesterday Never Tomorrows
2. Andrew Bird - Opposite Day
3. Antony and the Johnsons - For Today I Am a Boy
4. The Smashing Pumpkins - Today
5. Stereophonics - Maybe Tomorrow
6. The Good Life - Night and Day
7. Victory at Sea - Break of Day
8. Longwave - I Know It's Coming Someday
9. Jets to Brazil - Mid-day Anonymous
10. Weezer - Haunt You Every Day
11. Martha Wainwright - When The Day is Short
12. k.d. lang - The Day I Walk
13. Rjd2 - One Day
14. Supreme Beings of Leisure - Nothin' Like Tomorrow
15. Whiskeytown - 16 Days
16. Belle and Sebastian - My Wandering Days Are Over
17. Whiskeytown - Yesterday's News

Sleep Disorders Vol. 2

I have only been through one heart-wrenching, painful break-up. I was twenty-three years old and had experienced being in love for the first time. Darrin and I weren’t together long, but it was long enough for me to grieve a loss when it ended.

The day Darrin broke up with me, I was house-sitting for a friend and co-worker. I had asked Darrin to stay with me that night, as we had been planning to spend the night together with friends at dinner and whatever else came up after.

It was a Saturday. There was no explanation given. Just a “this isn’t what I need to be doing right now.”

I was upset and crying. He was upset, too.

Masochism: He comforted me and got me to stop crying. I held it in. In retrospect, I should have let him leave but we continued to spend the night together as planned. I drove his truck to the restaurant and we ate lunch. We were awkwardly silent. One of us started reading the newspaper.

Since it was a familiar and frequented eatery by us, friends eventually filtered through and we began making further plans. I don’t remember what they were. We ended up at Denny’s later that night with Darrin’s best friend, Brian. I was now no longer sad, but angry. Darrin and his friend were throwing keys around in the parking lot and they dropped to the ground. Darrin bent down to pick them up and I spit, trying to hit him.

Brian gracefully bowed out of the situation and left.

I began apologizing. I asked Darrin to please still stay with me at the house. I didn’t want to be alone. He did.

We got to the house and got ready for bed. It was a queen or a double bed, not big enough to non-intimately sleep two men.

Restlessness: I wanted to hold him. We were close. I could hear him breathing. I turned over. I became so uncomfortable that I could not fall asleep and once I thought that he had, I left the room and slept in the other bedroom with the dog.

Early morning, I woke up and felt guilty for not being in bed with him. So, I went back and tried to sleep some more. When daylight came, I went downstairs and watched television and cried some more.

A couple of hours later, he woke up and left.

Sleep Disorders Vol. 1

Last night, I was awoken abruptly from a sound sleep by an upset friend. Extremely upset. I was disoriented, answered my cell automatically, almost as if were happening in a dream:

My friend sobbing on the other line, No "Hello, How are you?" It takes me a few seconds for my mind to catch up with my body. I am re-collecting myself, but feel panicked and violated, like someone has just rushed into my room and jarred me awake.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Feelings immediately come back to me regarding another abrupt late night wake-up when my father died. My mother did come bursting into the room that night, sobbing, screaming, a painful wail that I'll never forget. One feels as if they jump up, full body from the bed, arms and legs extended in all directions to protect yourself from something or someone.

Who is this? Is someone dead, I think. Who is hurt? My heartbeating fast. I try to remain calm and calm my friend down so I can understand what she is saying.

A few months ago, while visiting home during a school break my brother woke me up early morning, 4AM-ish, by bursting open the door and yelling, "James, I think someone is in the yard." He also hit my foot. I jumped again and started swinging my fists before I realized who was there and what they said.

He wasn't close enough to get hit.

Street Conversations

From an early morning visit to a middle eastern counterstore for a bottle of coke on 43rd St. and 3rd Ave.

As I walk in to grab my coke, a professionally dressed lady has just selected a yogurt and proceeds past me to get in line. I grab my Coke and am right behind her.

Both clerks are Middle Eastern Women.

The clerk scans the yogurt and says "$1.75"
Yogurt Lady, shocked says "No...." Then irrately repeats "No! No! No!"

The two clerks look at each other, the lady, then me. I smile.

Yogurt Lady continues "No! It is $1.25 everywhere else."
"We don't make the prices, they are given to us." One of the clerks says.
"No! I am not paying that for that. No! It is $1.25 everywhere else." Yogurt Lady demands.
Clerk 2 without a breath dismisses Yogurt Lady, "Then go everywhere else!"

The Yogurt Lady leaves. The second clerk looks over at the first and smiles, then looks at me and smiles. I am grinning from ear to ear and I hand them my Coke.

The second clerk bags my soda and mocks the Yogurt Lady, "It is only $1.25 everywhere else!" as the first clerk says "$1.50."

I pay. "Have a wonderful morning, ladies."
Clerk and Clerk 2 in unison respond "Have a good morning!"

Moisture In The Air

It is hot in my bedroom. I am obsessing over several things. I can't sleep.

I keep thinking of several questions I have been asked in the last few days.

Question One (1): What Five (5) CDs would I choose for a roadtrip?

Currently, I would choose:

1. Ryan Adams/Cold Roses (I can't get enough)
2. Andrew Bird/The Mysterious Production of Eggs (catchy tunes and it makes me feel smart)
3. Belle & Sebastian/If You Are Feeling Sinister (sentimental all time favorite)
4. Danger Mouse & Jay-Z/The Grey Album (the best of both worlds with classic Beatles samples topped with instant classic rhymes by "the best rapper alive")
5. The Original Broadway Cast Recording of RENT (2 hours of drive time fly by belting out these tunes. Can you handle being in the car with me?)

Question Two (2): I am planning a dinner party for eight. What seven (7) guests, alive or dead and excluding friends and relatives, would I invite?

Here is what I answered:

1. Ghandi
2. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
3. Mother Theresa
4. Rev. Al Sharpton
5. Bill Clinton
6. Hillary Clinton
7. Jay-Z

I'm thinking of other things besides these questions:

Hurricane Dennis and its effects on my Mother and her house, if any (There is no answer on the cell or home line.)
Job
Furniture
Bed
Air Conditioning
Hootboobley
The East River

Weather Systems or Cloud Coverage

I never realized how much I identified with the South until the past few days. Even though South Florida is not stereotypically southern, I do come from a long southern lineage and there is an oral history that I am familiar with and take comfort in.

I feel in place here. I am not out of sorts. But there is a something that I am missing and something I am taking pride in. And it is purely Southern.

Not Southern in the Confederate Flag-waving kind of sense. But Southern in knowing how grits are prepared and should taste.

I'm from the Dirty, Dirty and I'm proud of it.

I was talking about the change of seasons with my new friend Chris (also hailing from the south), last night. I began to mention the intense blue of the sky in late December and January that occurs in South Florida and I could feel that happiness rising in me, the same happiness when I am under that sky. It is a subtle change, but one that I know and love.

Other things I am beginning to miss is the smell of crisp clean air after rain storms, and that odd stillness after hurricanes with only wind blowing through the sabel palms and pines to announce to everyone that it is time for a moment of silence and to recollect our fortunes.

My fortune and I have moved to 467 Grand Street, Brooklyn and I am very happy about that. I look forward to learning the subtle that comes before or after the obvious. I am looking forward to knowing much more about my surroundings and to know the map of this city like I know the map of home. I am looking forward to seeing, finding, searching, exploring, feeling, smelling, and knowing this city with those I am already blessed in knowing and those I will be blessed to come to know.

The Challah-day Weekend

Sunday: Target: Gays and Beer

Katie and I voyaged to Target in Brooklyn Heights which is very much akin to the Upper West Side in terms of building scale and character.

We did nothing else all day and by the time 9:00pm rolled around, I was exhausted and getting ready for bed even though there were plans to go out.

Jessica calls and says that the plans are to go the Metropolitan, which is the gay bar right here in Williamsburg. So, now, I couldn’t refuse and as I had been reading reviews of it online just prior to Jessica’s call, I didn’t. It is only 3 blocks from my house.

What a great bar. It reminded me of chill bars in South Florida with back patios and small, intimate nooks seemingly planned out for small groups of five or six. We were there from about 11:30pm to 4:00am when it closed and by then we were rather loud and obnoxious.

Greatest Discovery of the Weekend: Brooklyn Lager. It is the best beer I have ever tasted, very bitter. I am not a beer fan, either, but this could very well make me one.

Monday: Williamsburg to Morningside Heights and Back

Over to Jessica’s Apartment in Morningside Heights (read Harlem) on the Upper, Upper West Side of Manhattan, Katie and I ventured, for a rooftop July 4th cookout. Good friends and good food!

Circa evening, the group returned to the ‘Burg for rooftop festivities and fireworks viewing with Chipper’s Visiting Boyfriend (not “Visiting” as in he doesn’t live here, but “Visiting” in terms of the academe system of Professorship: Visiting, Assistant, Associate, Tenured, and Emeritus).

We got to walk home and scour the garbage for furniture...but we didn't find anything.

Necessities, a Plea, and Some Facts

I've found a few necessities:

Target is 7 stops away on the G Train.
Bed, Bath and Beyond and the Container Store are 6 stops away on the L

The L and the G station by my apartment is like 3 blocks away.

A Plea:

If ever so kind, please send gift cards for Target, Ikea, and Bed, Bath and Beyond. Or money for rent and food.

and some facts:

I finally got my 2 bags, so I finally have belongings.

I am sleeping on an aerobed borrowed from a friend.

I am exhausted by the end of the day.

I still don't have a job but it is a holiday weekend.

To get wireless internet, I am sitting on my toilet facing the window.

From said window, you can see the Chrysler Building (Photo to come).