Monthly Archives: October 2012

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.


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.