Stomach Bug + The Blues = All-Day Sleeping

Laura: How are you?

Me:
Oh, you know. I made myself take a shower today.

Laura:
Good for you!

Everyone has this stomach thing, and it really blows. It’s so bad, that people are calling me to do things later in the week, and I’m all, “Jeez, I don’t know. I can’t imagine ever being well again, so I’m guessing we should just pencil that in.”

I slept for most of the day today, something I haven’t done in quite awhile. It was pretty fantastic, except for the part where I’ll probably be up all night now. Urg.

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Back in the Day, It Just Went Without Saying at All

Sometimes, New York knows I’m falling out of love, and then she pulls out all the stops.

Tonight, I went to a show, which I never do, and then I went out for drinks, which I do too often. A boy talked to me. He was much too young. I made him play a game. It’s called, Guess My Age? I do this with every boy who admits to being in his early 20s.

“27!” he said.

“31.”

Now, you can say – and you wouldn’t be wrong – that it would behoove him to guess low. The point is, I could clean up if I wanted younguns. I am so not sure why that is, and don’t care to speculate, as it’s honestly somewhat disturbing.

At 4 a.m. plus, I got off the train to an empty neighborhood. I passed the lone guy outside the bodega, and walked toward Methodist and home, listening to the Dresden Dolls as I often do. My favorite song right now is “Sing,” and because we’re unofficially sponsoring way post-teen angst tonight, I’ll give you a lyric or two:

There is this thing that’s like fucking except you don’t fuck
Back in the day it just went without saying at all
All the world’s history gradually dying of shock
There is this thing it’s like talking except you don’t talk
You sing
You sing

All of a sudden, the street opened up for me. There were no cars moving through the lights. No one lingered on the corners. I passed Methodist, and saw a long tiled ramp through the doors, leading to chemical smells and sadness and efficiency. There was no one around at all. It felt like being the last living person, or maybe the first.

Sing for the bartender sing for the janitor sing
Sing for the cameras sing for the animals sing
Sing for the children shooting the children sing
Sing for the teachers who told you that you couldn’t sing
Just sing

And then thing is, and this is good to know for background, things have lately been slow and blue. The kind of thing where you’re disgusted with yourself for ignoring your blessings, but still can’t get out of bed on time.

There is thing keeping everyone’s lungs and lips locked
It is called fear and it’s seeing a great renaissance
After the show you can not sing wherever you want
But for now let’s just pretend we’re all gonna get bombed
So sing

I thought about the signs I’d seen: Jewish Children’s Museum. So-and-so is the Superintendent of this Station. I thought about how there are flowers here, even at four in the morning, spilling out of their containers in front of the bodegas, and how it feels like cheating to see the Purity Diner closed, with chairs upended on tables.

Sing cause its obvious sing for the astronauts sing
Sing for the president sing for the terrorists sing
Sing for the soccer team sing for the janjaweed sing
Sing for the kid with the phone who refuses to sing
Just sing

When I turned down my music, I could hear birds, but also a guy talking to his friend in a parked car. And up ahead, I saw a women walking in a brightly colored quilt, not fast, and realized of course that I’d never been alone all this time.

When I caught up with her, she said, “Excuse me. Do you have a cigarette. I ain’t a mugger. I just got out the hospital.” She held out her sad thin wrist with the bracelet.

“I know you’re not,” I said. “Here. You OK?”

“I’m just going home,” she said. The quilt looked handmade and was very clean. She looked off her meds, but nice enough.

She went down the slope and I went across it, toward home.

Can’t Help You Get Over

It’s boring to write about being bummed out, so I usually don’t. There was a time when if I had a cold, or felt blue, I’d write several posts on it. These days, I’m too busy, and also, significantly less interested in myself. But I’ll mention this because I think it’s worth mentioning.

The other day I woke up happy.

There’s been a long bad stretch in Smashland. It started with my cousin and continued through the winter and a billion other things of significantly less importance. I began to worry, as you always do, that I would never come out of it.

The good thing about getting older is that you remember having gone through bad stretches before. You know what is required: More sleep, more exercise, more books. A little bit of charity toward yourself. A lot of time. It feels like shit, but it goes away, eventually.

Then, a few weeks back, a friend of mine who was due to give birth, went early. Six weeks early. That’s a real problem, not one you make up in your head, and it was sobering. All of sudden, there was something in the world that didn’t relate to me directly, that I couldn’t control, that was big and important and scary.

For a couple days, we were all in limbo. We waited for news. We heard about the birth, and my friend’s trip to the ICU, and the french-fry lamps that warmed up her baby. Nothing to do but hunker down and wait, and know that nothing that’s ever happened to you has ever been so important.

In a week or so, we got the email that he was all right: Eating and sleeping and gaining weight. He was out from under the lamps and his Mom was OK. I called everyone I know. I was elated, really up, for the first time in weeks.

Years ago, when I was in another Great Depression, I decided the only way to get out was to try to help my friends with whatever was going on in their lives. I brought coffee to a friend with back spasms. I made myself ask more questions than give answers to friends with personal drama. It was hard, but really good for me, like an exercise for the soul.

I’m at a point now where people’s lives are dramatic enough on their own. I don’t need to try to remember that their situation is more important than mine. That’s good, I guess, as long as things keep working out.

At any rate: Welcome to planet Earth, little Leo. It’s a beautiful place, full of weird and tricky things. You’re gonna live here!