Escape from New York

Three days and two nights. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Meet Mike at the cor­ner of 31st Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan after the busi­ness part of his trip was fin­ished. Get out of the coun­try, con­nect with a good friend, return with some nice mem­o­ries. That was the plan, but I never caught my plane home.

A day before Hurricane Sandy landed, all flights at LaGuardia were can­celled, a theme that would con­tinue two more times until the air­line resched­uled my return for Saturday, almost a week longer than I had orig­i­nally planned to stay (and that’s if it’s not can­celled again). Mike made it home to London, Liz and I weren’t so lucky.

They were expect­ing 6–9 feet of water, and we got 14. The pres­i­dent has declared a state of emer­gency. All mass tran­sit is shut down. The rail­road tun­nels are flooded. All air­ports are closed. School is out for the whole week. The New York Stock Exchange has been closed for two days straight, some­thing that hasn’t hap­pened since 1888. More than 2.5 mil­lion are with­out power. The death toll is over 100 and counting.

Luckily, I have a place to stay. Aside from a brief loss of power, a longer loss of inter­net access, and a few leaks from the ceil­ing, we’re sit­ting pretty with run­ning water, heat, and a flush­able toi­let. It’s a lux­ury com­pared to what oth­ers are going through at the shel­ters, and I con­sider myself for­tu­nate com­pared to those in New Jersey who’ve lost their homes, their pets, their pos­ses­sions, and their lives.

The strange part is that I’ve never met the cou­ple who own this Brooklyn apart­ment. Liz and Mike found them through Roomorama, and they left before the storm hit, leav­ing Liz with the main bed­room and Mike with the guest room. They’ve been gen­er­ous enough to let me stay dur­ing this exten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stance, although the fact that they rented out the guest room to some­one else two days ago means I’ve been rel­e­gated to a nook and mat­tress on the floor. At least it’s cozy, and there’s a spare mattress.

Still, I wasn’t pre­pared for this. I’m run­ning out of money, med­ica­tion, and morale. The only things I brought were a change of clothes, a cam­era, and an iPad. The worst part is the wait. Not hav­ing a com­puter to be pro­duc­tive, and now a week of can­celled plans. Not hav­ing my cats1 or my gui­tar. Not know­ing when I’ll get out of here. Just wait­ing in a city I hardly know, with no way to get around. I can’t be proac­tive; all I can do is be patient.

To keep abreast of the ever-changing sit­u­a­tion, I’ve been watch­ing 24 hour news cov­er­age, hang­ing on the words of Mayor Bloomberg at his live press con­fer­ences for any sign that I may make it out of here.

I came to New York, expect­ing to return home recharged, refreshed, and ready to take on the world. The world decided I wasn’t ready yet.

  1. I left them six days of food, but they go through that in three days when I’m away. A major cri­sis was averted when Aaron found a spare key to my house, and was able to take care of them. The only other per­son with a spare key was Pat, and he just hap­pened to be leav­ing for Cancun on the morn­ing I found out my trip was can­celled. []

Matteo Carcassi: Study in A Minor (Etude No.7)

While study­ing this Carcassi étude — and ana­lyz­ing as many ver­sion as pos­si­ble in aid of that — I real­ized that clas­si­cal music is like wine. They’re both based on a cen­tral theme or taste, and it’s the sub­tle dif­fer­ences between the inter­pre­ta­tion of each per­former or wine maker that make them unique and inter­est­ing. That’s why you need to lis­ten to a lot clas­si­cal music (or drink a lot of wine) to develop a palate. I bet two dif­fer­ent musi­cians (or even the same musi­cian at two dif­fer­ent points in their career) play­ing the same piece would sound the same to some peo­ple for the same rea­son that two dif­fer­ent mer­lots would taste the same to others.

This is sup­posed to be played alle­gro, but I’ve yet to hear a ver­sion above 105 bpm that didn’t feel rushed to me, so I pre­fer to play it andante1. Luckily, I enjoy clas­si­cal music, and I can tell the time I’ve invested in devel­op­ing that foun­da­tion trans­lates over to non-classical songs, not only in the extra fin­ger pre­ci­sion but in prac­tic­ing tech­niques too.

I’m still using elec­tric strings2, which I’ve had on longer than any other set, cause I love how crisp and brassy the tone is through­out the range. For a piece like this where the melody switches between bass and tre­ble, that becomes really important.

  1. Also cause I’m not good enough to play it that quickly yet. []
  2. XL Chromes, warm/mellow, flat-wound, extra light gauge. []

thanks for the trouble you took from her eyes

That lit­tle fur­row was there because you weren’t. That’s why you never saw it, of course. You must think I hate you cause it was the only thing I couldn’t help her with myself. But I could never hate you. You gave her what she wanted. In the end, that’s all I really wanted too.

I knew it was seri­ous when I saw your umbrella under her bed, back when she hid those kinds of things for my sake. You never real­ized she only took it as an excuse to see you again (not because she was par­tic­u­larly scared of get­ting her merino socks wet), the same way you never real­ized how easy it all was for you. That was a sign that you were the right one. I knew it before she did.

If only there was a bit of mys­tery left in you. Instead, I had you pegged by the sec­ond night, and all I can tell peo­ple is that you’re a nice guy, when I want to say you’re an artist, a lover, a fighter, a wor­thy rival, a slayer of inse­cu­ri­ties, a breaker of bar­ri­ers, a tes­ta­ment to testos­terone, a hero among men. She deserves more than the painfully pedes­trian life you’ve given her, but I know she’s had enough of heart­break to think that nor­mal is hard enough to come by. And so I’ve learned that a person’s hap­pi­ness is all that mat­ters, not the dreams you have for them. I guess it’s hard to give up those dreams when you’re part of them yourself.

I want to say I’m leav­ing for some noble rea­son of great impor­tance, but it’s really because there’s noth­ing left for me in this lit­tle town. I used to believe I could escape; even­tu­ally I real­ized you can’t out­run your mem­o­ries. Now I’m just try­ing to fig­ure out where I belong. She was all I knew for so long, and now that life is gone.

And so I must tread care­fully with new lovers; it’s impos­si­ble for me to tell my story with­out that part of my past. That’s why I won­der what she told you about me, about us. About los­ing feel­ing in her face and let­ters you wouldn’t know how to write. If she inten­tion­ally left any­thing out, or whether our time was even worth men­tion­ing. But the past is still the past, and that’s the only rea­son I can write a let­ter now to the man who saved her with­out ever know­ing it.

reduction

Heather G made reser­va­tions for us (and Sergey) at the Back Lane Café last week. We hadn’t seen each other since the sum­mer, before they were home­less 1 and I started recov­er­ing. Last time I saw her, she left me with a take­out Hintonburger and a med­i­ta­tion audio­book that she hoped would help me feel bet­ter. It was so sweet that she didn’t under­stand at all what I was going through, but tried so hard to help with very thought­ful gifts anyway.

This time, she wouldn’t let me pay, even though she treated me last time as well, and she said please with such heart­felt intent that I knew she’d be hurt if I didn’t give her the hon­our. We’d been play­ing phone tag for weeks up to that point, and between their careers and camp­ing, they could only spare them­selves for a meal sans tea or dessert. It made me real­ize how pre­cious their time is nowa­days, and the fact that they made the time to see me meant so much more than the two hours we spent catch­ing up over a great food and conversation.

poached shrimp salad

Poached shrimp salad, with Niagara nec­tarines, bibb let­tuce (for it’s ten­der tex­ture), endive, lime, and hazel­nut dress­ing. An appe­tizer good enough for a main.

Continue read­ing “reduction”…

  1. They got evicted due to an unsym­pa­thetic land­lord, couldn’t find a suit­able place to stay, and ended up putting as many of their pos­ses­sions as pos­si­ble in stor­age and sell­ing the rest. Luckily, one of their friends needed a house-sitter, and it gave them enough time to find a place. []

it hasn't been quite a whole year yet

I still have fond mem­o­ries of the fall. It’s when the light is at it’s most neu­tral, not warmed by the sum­mer sun or cooled by it’s reflec­tion on the snow. The time of long show­ers, kit­ties being even more affec­tion­ate, and girls always find­ing the right spot to nes­tle under your neck.

On par­tic­u­larly bright, chilly days, with all the leaves a flat lemon-yellow, I can hardly take it all in.

cat in sunbeam

We are on this planet to move our cats directly in the path of a sun­beam every 15 minutes.

The sun­beams form a celes­tial cal­en­dar across my floor, slowly creep­ing along as they threaten to warp the wood in my instru­ments, remind­ing me that I haven’t spent a win­ter in this room yet. I can only hope the mem­o­ries will be bet­ter this time around.

These days, I still dream of a nylon-stringed beauty, with warm tones and crisp bass close to the sad­dle. I won­der what she’ll feel like under my fin­gers, mahogany or rose­wood, satin or glossy. It’s a dream that never seems far away cause I know it’ll hap­pen some day, so I try to cher­ish the anticipation.

toy plane

 

I’ve been feel­ing par­tic­u­larly nos­tal­gic. When the right song comes on, I’m taken to the time in my life when it was the only thing I played for a week straight. I used to write so much, but lately I hardly have any­thing to say it all. That’s why I’m addicted to the feel­ing of feel­ing, search­ing for inspi­ra­tion, using my dreams to keep me alive.