This blog is welcome to anyone and everyone, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. Unless you don't like writing short stories or smelling bear. Or if you voted for the other guy. Also, I don't really like it when you leave up the toilet seat, so could you stop doing that? Muchas, muchas gracias.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Lexington, Kentucky

Day




Just as I was about to head out the door, my phone rang. It was Matty, who wanted to get a piece of fudge and a diet coke. I picked him up at his apartment, then we sat down at a pizza place to talk for a bit. These days, Matty is like a bite of cake to me, a small, sweet dose.

And now, I can't remember what we talked about. The events of the evening must have erased the events of the afternoon. I know that I returned the videos Matty'd loaned me, then I withdrew some money from the ATM, gave Matty a hug good-bye, and hopped on a bus, only to discover I'd left my ATM card in the machine.


Night



I stepped off the bus in Bernal Heights, where my friend Dahliafully was waiting. She'd contacted me at the exact moment that I needed a friend. Coincidences like these are sort of rare, but they give us a reason to thank god.

We hiked down to The Mission for Guatemalan food, and afterwards we searched Mission Street for a bar. I noticed a man up ahead of us, who was cutting across the sidewalk at a funny angle. He was shouting, and in his hand he held a Corona bottle as though it was a piece of razor-sharp glass. It wasn't, though. It was intact, and half full of beer. Another man, who was dressed all in white, reached into his pants. Then I glimpsed the butt of a gun.




My first instinct was to walk past the two men and pretend that nothing was happening. It's a reaction of blind fear. For some reason, my mind tells me that if I pretend very hard that something doesn't exist, I'll wake up from this dream I'm having. I wish it wasn't a reflex. It makes me feel about as smart as a farmyard chicken.

Dahlia pulled me through a doorway and into a narrow restaurant. It was a very different world in there; everyone looked up from their plates, and they seemed so small, so sweet, blinking up at us, some holding their forks out in front of them. At the far end of the restaurant, behind a glass counter, stood two women. One of them said that everything was all right, which was sort of funny, as I don't think she knew what was transpiring just outside the door. She said it again, and hearing it made me feel safer.

When things on the street seemed quieter we ventured back out, and for the rest of the evening we walked around, peeking into doorways. The whole time I could feel it in my stomach, as if I'd swallowed that gun.

That was yesterday. Today is brand new.

I rose late in the morning and hiked over a couple of streets to see if I could catch part of the Bay to Breakers, an annual footrace through the streets of San Francisco. Instead, I saw hordes of drunk kids and a litter of smashed Dixie cups. I stopped by a corner market and picked up some produce to get me through the week. Most of the fruit I found there was either very hard or very soft. I squeezed peaches and lemons and grapefruits until I'd collected an assortment of things that were reasonably pliable. At the counter I had to wait in line behind three other groups, who were buying six-packs of beer.

I think I'm falling out of love with this city.



p.s.

Are you the favorite person of anybody?

Labels: , ,

17 Comments:

Blogger matty said...

I love being thought of as a piece of cake! I wish you had called me when you were feeling down. I was here. I was feeling down, too.

Hanging with you --- even for a short time lifted my spirits and gave me energy.

I'm so glad she called you, tho! And, that she pulled the two of you off the street!

I have bad reflexes, too. I tend to want to fight. ...and do. Which is really quite stupid.

Big cities are rough. They are fun and offer culture and pretty lights. ...but there is dark side. We live in what I think is sort of a magical place. Like Oz -- it can be so fantastical --- and horrible at the same time.

If your mood is out of sync -- it can seem quite grim.

Reading this post made me think of that very dark day when I was turned down for what I thought was my last chance at a job. I had $4 in my pocket and $3 in the bank. It was early in the morning and I didn't know what I was to do.

So, I sat in front of the Opera Cinema and cried as a homeless man pissed on the window of the Sushi restaurant.

I remember that I sort of walked away in a haze. I was walking up one of our many hills. I was hungry, sad and feeling so very much alone. And this strange woman was passing by me. She told me that she thought I needed a hug. She gave me a very warm one and told me that it was all going to be OK.

I can remember thinking how odd that in a split second this dark world without hope and urine on sushi restaurants had been transformed into this fucking gorgeous place. The fog had cleared. The sun was out. Street musicians were playing -- and, later that very same day I caught my first sight of our wild parrots.

and, by the way, you're my favorite person. For me, your like positive energy and hope.

Hey, do I get a cookie for the longest comment?!?!?!

9:52 PM

 
Blogger ginab said...

seeing a gun, I don't like just to see one either. when nothing transpires from it, makes the world seem more unsteady because the gun is still out there. I was more surprised by the way you saw the people (as innocents) looking up from their plates. I don't think it's the city in other words, I think it's people and your vision of people unraveling.

Not to talk about me, but I've been more open lately how I don't like people. I don't like spending time on my dime for an hour/an hour and a half long distance about a job and to be told to provide the vita (when this wasn't as n instructed listed in the job post to begin with) and to send times that I am available for a full interview by email, to HEAR NOTHING BACK.

Yes, I hate people. I don't think a cat would treat a person this way. Definitely not a dog or even a bear (bea bea sometimes reminds me of a bear).

Very fed up. Glad you have Matty!

-ginab
PS: Did you retrieve your ATM card?

4:29 AM

 
Blogger ginab said...

Pee-pee S: No "confident".

7:03 AM

 
Blogger Ahvarahn said...

The underbelly of cities - the side of things David Lynch seems to see, but is nicer and cooler in celluloid. I am not sure whether you need special glasses to see it, or special glasses not to. Here, the neighbours spent fours hours to almost assemble a new bar-b-que. I like oranges too.

7:22 PM

 
Blogger ing said...

Matty:

Yes, you get a cookie. A hot cookie. Two of them.

I agree, you're a fighter, and I'm afraid you could kick the crap out of someone if you decided to. I wish I had that. I'm going to get mowed down like an overfed sheep. Pure slaughter value.

I've never seen such grimness here. I've seen grimness, but not like this. I just don't understand how people can behave this way. It makes me want to pack up and leave. But it's probably the same everywhere.

I'm sorry I didn't call you. I'm sorry I didn't know. This is stoopid, but I take it for granted that you have B to take care of you when you're feeling down and that you don't need me to call. I don't have much perspective.

__________________

ginab:

The awful potential of it, just waiting to be fulfilled. I hope that's not how it all operates. But sometimes I don't know.

I agree that my sense of reality is messed up. Surprisingly, everyone's always telling me it isn't, but I know better. And I think I would be worse off if I lived somewhere else. But I feel like running away. Even if it wouldn't help, I have this urge to run.

At the same time, I feel so attached to the few people I have here.

About your new openness: how did you express it? And how long has it been since your email that you've heard nothing? I'd hate people, too.

I honestly don't know what I'd do without Matty. And no, I didn't get my card back, but I was able to cancel it before anyone used it. Whew!

_______________

Who is confident about what?

_______________

avarahn:

I like how David Lynch allows for characters who honestly DON'T KNOW about the world's seedier side, not at first. He understands that people aren't born jaded, they become that way, without meaning to or trying to.

I don't have any special glasses myself, but I normally don't see the underbelly, even when it's right in front of me. Occasionally, though, my eyes open up and it rocks my entire world. I suppose it's good for me?

8:56 PM

 
Blogger purplesimon said...

Sometimes your city needs to remind you that, while you love it, there is a seedy underbelly. London has it and I've seen things that I don't wish to recount, except in fictional accounts. There are nasty people in the world. Just this weekend, someone threatened my wife (who is almost 7 months pregnant) because she parked in a mother and child space and this person didn't notice her bump (she don't look pregnant from the back, it's all out front - does that mean anything?). Even after this was pointed out she didn't apologise, simply tried to blame my wife for her assumption being wrong.

You did good to not get involved.

Moving along to happier things...

Your description of the restaurant reminded me of pubs in the UK, in small villages where everyone knows everyone else (and their business). If you're not a 'local' then people stare, open-mouthed and without embarrassment. It's a weird feeling. Nice to know it's international. If you're wondering what 'local' means, try watching an episode of the League of Gentlemen (the BBC Series, not the comic of film of a similar name).

Beer, it seems to me,is available everywhere. When I was younger I was waiting in a queue at a petrol station when the person in front of me asked if they stocked fireworks - it was around November 5th. The clerk, incredulous, said: why would we stock fireworks, it's a petrol station!

The irony wasn't lost on me that they sold barbecue lighters and fluid, cigarettes and lighters, and alcohol! Drinking and driving obviously isn't as bad as arson.

Finally, I hope I'm someone's favourite person. At least at some point each day. It would be sad to think that no one thought that of me at all. Ever.

So I won't.

Here's a tip: to fall back in love with a city you need to see it through the eyes of someone who has never experienced it before. Ignore your usual places and take a tour bus somewhere. Join a tour in a museum, listen to what the guide says.

Of course, you could get away from it for a while, take a trip somewhere else, somewhere you can't get what SF gives you. Then, on your return you'll see the city for all the reasons you love it. It just might help.

purplesimon out...

7:29 AM

 
Blogger purplesimon said...

Hey, was my comment longer than Matty's? If so, do I get a cookie?

purplesimon out...

7:31 AM

 
Blogger josh williams said...

Corona would make me want to turn tail and run. In Indy it would have been a can of Bud. Which in all honesty I think Budweiser is a better beer than Corona. I had Budvar before the original Budweiser and it was one of the best beers I ever drank, I was accosted by gypsy's later that evening. Thats my story, oh I woke up with a head ache.

12:41 PM

 
Blogger ginab said...

where's the afternoon?


On "confident": comes from YouTube, the flick there.

click and select might be the wettest words on record. okay, I can think of more....

2:59 PM

 
Anonymous Meredith said...

If I knew about these things I'd say there was some strange planetary things happening. Almost everyone I know is having these odd lives lately. Not quite bad, not quite good. Just not settled.
I can remember having days like that living in Toronto and Vancouver. Seeing everything gritty and wrong one day but thinking it was the greatest place on earth the next. I'm glad you have Matty, little ray of sunshine that he is. Cake is always a good thing!

9:18 PM

 
Blogger ing said...

purps:

The seedy underbelly is always rearing up, all white and sparsely coated with coarse hairs. I, too, have seen things I'd rather not repeat, but I get the impression that either

1. I haven't seen half as much as everyone else, despite my travels

2. I process these ugly sights differently than other people and have a hard time truly remembering what I've seen, by which I mean the import of what I've seen never fully registers & so I keep these ugly things inside of me instead of processing them & I have all this trauma stored inside of me?

And I've seen death, hate, cruelty to animals and human beings (including blind, impoverished, and mentally retarded people), the kind of sexism you honestly wouldn't believe, and. . .

Well, who hasn't? That's the rub.


This person who yelled at your wife is obviously insane.

And the reaction in the restaurant probably had a lot to do with the fact that they served an authentic and very specific cuisine from a small South American country (I was too rattled at the time to examine the menu), and that from the looks of it, all the diners were from South America, perhaps even from that particular small country, and just because I sometimes hang out in this one Cuban bar, I've noticed that these kinds of places are small-community-gathering-venues.

I will watch that show of yours if it comes on DVD. I don't have a television right now.

And yes, beer is available most places, though stay away from rural Utah!!

I hope I am someone's favorite person, too, though I was struck by Mike White's character's answer, which didn't seem to faze him in the least. I admired him for seeming so cheery about it, and at the same time for having such conviction. I really did. And he had a girlfriend!!

Both of your suggestions are excellent, and I'm taking you up on the first one on Friday night. You most certainly get a couple of cookies. Hot cookies.

_____________

Josh:

Really? I prefer a Corona. A nice, hot Corona. And that warm bottle does wonders for your headache if you hold it up against your head, right where the pain is centered. I call this "alternative medicine."

Did the gypsies steal any of your glands? I hear they do that sometimes, they steal glands.

_______________

ginab:

I feel dense, but I don't get the connection between confidence and the fact that the short I posted was on Youtube -- haaaaalp!

Miranda July, the first person surveyed, is an amazing short story writer!

Is "amazing" a wet word, too? I suspect that it is.

Bedtime. Portnoy's Complaint.

9:37 PM

 
Blogger ing said...

ginab:

Oh, doy, you're referring to one of the choices. Are you confident? I'm confident (not certain), but not from Miranda July's perspective.

___________

Meredith:

I'll catch you tomorrow. Bedtime. Already!

9:56 PM

 
Blogger matty said...

Ing - I'm shocked! I thought you promised not to link to that picture of me posing in my Hot Cookie 'drawers' ...sigh.

10:02 PM

 
Blogger jungle jane said...

awwww both you and matty are having a moment. has town gone downhill or do you just need a change of scenery??

come to london! come to london! no guns here - i do prefer knife crime, i must say...

10:58 PM

 
Blogger josh williams said...

Warm corona, I am a factory for this product. As for the Gypsy's I was in Prague (sounds cool and it was but enough time has passed that I need to find a few new adventure stories to share)....’Twas a fall day four years in the past, I was with a buddy, who insisted on going to Prague for vacation, he was in girlfriend crises so I said yeah, I'll go if you want. So we jetted off to Prague, the last time I can recall I ate a Big Breakfast from McDonalds and then Mexican at the airport. Bad juju, or it was for my seat guests. Gas shortage, I have the answer...We changed planes in Amsterdam we grabbed a beer in a Irish pub in the airport and I was given a Euro, I stuck it in my pocket thinking, I am not much for shopping so I will give this as a gift along with whatever loose foreigner change I accumulate.
We stayed at a nice hotel separate rooms, I owe my buddy on this I think he covered the extra expense.
I think he may have ideas of romance hence his generosity when it came time for accommodations. About the third night after numerous multi vitamin delicious beers I bid farewell and wandered home, having know idea where I was but sensing myself along the way, like a blood hound but not as handsome. Gypsies suddenly surrounded me, (the real thing) they grouped my crotch promised me things and asked me to step into the alley for the favors. I was the entire time patting all my pockets, but one of them managed to steal my souvenir from my pocket, my true cash was hidden in my inside jacket pocket buttoned tight. That’s all for tonight this is a true cliffhanger so I leave you on the precipice. I need a vacation and don’t we all
JW

7:33 PM

 
Blogger Ticharu said...

Thanks for the link Ing, it looks really interesting, and if you ever REALLY tire of life in the city, you are quite welcome to come and join my commune! te-he!

4:11 AM

 
Blogger ing said...

Matty:

I'm sorry about your "drawers." But I thought you were just kidding about not showing it around -- after all, you DID show up outside of Hot Cookie at four in the morning in your undies, waiting for the cameraman, and I saw you pull down your hat and slide up to him on your knees when he finally arrived, at 11. I thought you were into it. I wasn't taking your modesty into account.

______________

Jane:

You're talking to two people who'd take you up on that in a second and brave the knives, no problem.

And yes, knife crime is much more aesthetically pleasing.

______________

Josh:

Hon, that's what you get for soliciting favors from gypsies! Didn't anyone tell you that?

_______________

Peachypie:

I would LOVE to join your commune! I'll keep that in mind for when the city loses its allure.

9:13 PM

 

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