Monthly Archives: March 2011

Tell me I don’t have to have sex out there.

A group of boys, who look no older than fourteen, talk on a crowded New York City subway car—loud—about bitches, and fucking, and fucking bitches.  They carry tennis racquets in zipped cases.  I assume they’re teammates.  The loudest and youngest looking one says, “I could’ve fucked two bitches the same night.  I had them both at my place.  But I didn’t, because one of the bitches was on her period.”

I look around, wanting to see if anyone else’s ears have unwittingly become victim to this conversation.  Some people have headphones on.  Some people might not know English.  I make eye contact with one woman, but her neutral expression doesn’t change.  If anything, she seems to communicate, “Are you really upset?  Are you really surprised or offended?”  Yes.  I am!  I’m upset that these boys boast and talk about female peers that way as if it’s okay.  Or, knowing it’s not okay, making it more appealing.  I don’t care if they’re insecure pubescent boys just making things up or repeating overheard things.  I’m upset that I sit with my book open on my lap, not reading it, listening to them instead, saying nothing.  If girls they have sexual feelings for (if not romantic) are called bitches, what would they call me—some 24-year-old girl scolding them?  Surely they wouldn’t politely apologize.  How would that boost their apparent status as big, sex-havin’ men?

Yesterday was one of distasteful sex-related happenings that made me question the world and the people in it.  Everyone’s entitled to say what they want, do and think what they want.  But that freedom can seriously hurt others.  It can make you think, Man.  This is how so many people approach sex, this is how the media makes sex out to be?  I don’t want any part of that. It’s scary.  Who really wants to be the subject of a nonchalant recap between buddies—“Yeah, I fucked her.  It was all right.”   

When I woke up late yesterday morning I had a notification that I’d received a Facebook message just after 8 a.m.  It started, “Hi, how’ve u been?”  But the sender’s name was one I didn’t recognize, so I assumed it was a spam message.  Someone trying to get me to attend an event, or buy a product, or support some cause.  Turned out to be something very different.  The message was from someone I did vaguely know—a security guard of all things.  You know.  Someone whose job is to make you feel more secure.  I’d forgotten that this man and I were connected on Facebook at all.  He guards a building I used to regularly enter and was someone I would say hello to and small talk with occasionally.  I stopped the small talk, though, after we bonded about our mutual interest in making music and he invited me to see the recording studio he uses—inside of his apartment. 

I hadn’t thought about this person or heard from this person, and then, all of a sudden, a message.  It’s pretty crude stuff and the only reason I’m sharing it is to make a point.  Skip it if you don’t want some graphic imagery in your head.

Hi, how’ve u been?  I don’t mean to be forward, but seriously I’ll like you to know that it’ll be a pleasure to munch on your shaven apple pie haven. If you give me a chance I promise I’ll lick and suck every drop of crease all around and inside of it like no one has ever done b4.

Now am guessing u might have a boyfriend and since I wouldn’t want to be that guy that comes between you two, for the fact that I wouldn’t want the same to happen between me and my girl, that is why I have requested for this alone and nothing else.

However if ever you turn the opposite cheek to this once in a lifetime opportunity, I’ll also like you to know that I will hold no grudge against you and I will still cherish the moments of friendship we shared at [omitted]. Take care and bye for now.

[Name omitted.]

P.S.. Let me be that very private guy in your life that turns u into that glowing mature woman every girl wants to be like…

How kind of him to not hold a grudge against me if I turn down his “once in a lifetime” proposal.  How unselfish, too, to consider my boyfriend (and his girlfriend) in this arrangement!  And how opposite of presumptuous of him to suppose how I groom my “apple pie haven” or that I need to be transformed from a girl into a “glowing mature woman.” 

Granted I probably shouldn’t have even allowed myself to be connected online to this semi-stranger.  My mistake.  I can be naive.  It just wouldn’t occur to me that people might take the time to craft such a message. I would never think of this as everyday, normal fare for a man to send a woman at 8 a.m. on a Monday. 

I’ve watched a lot of romantic comedies in my day, which, admittedly, have probably given me some skewed ideas about heterosexual sex and relationships.  But after watching Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks ride off into the sunset, or Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, I’ve never approached a male love interest and said, “Hey, how’ve you been?  Will you meet me on top of the Empire State Building and kiss me long and passionately and marry me and raise my babies?”  Maybe some people do hold those expectations.  And maybe some people develop their own expectations after regularly watching certain porn, listening to certain music, or talking to certain people.  Just like kids playing violent video games makes them more likely to shoot people, right…?  It’s more than possible that a person would predominantly see inappropriate or unhealthy social and sexual behaviors and use those cues in their own life.  Because inappropriate and unhealthy can be relative concepts.

I told a male friend of mine about the Facebook message.  He advised me to use the block function, but to first send the guy a picture of STD-ridden female genitalia.  “Speaking of which,” he said, “there’s a guy I know who’s HIV positive.”  He went on to say that the person, before settling down with a partner, claimed to regularly have unprotected sex without broaching the subject of any risk.  And apparently, if questioned, would outright lie. 

There’s a scene in When Harry Met Sally after Harry and Sally have sex with each other for the first time.  Neither are satisfied with how it went.  They individually call their best friends, Jess and Marie, who pick up their individual phones from the nightstands of the bed they share as a couple.  Jess listens to Harry.  Marie listens to Sally.  When they hang up, after hearing their friends’ most recent dating disappointments, Marie turns to Jess and says, exhaustedly, “Tell me I never have to be out there again.”  Jess looks her in the eye and firmly responds, “You never have to be out there again.” 

Yesterday, after the things I was told and the things I overheard and the things proposed to me, I felt similarly exhausted.  Out there felt like a scary place.  A place that will compromise physical and emotional health.  A place where women are just vaginas and men are cads.  A place where very few ride off into the sunset.

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Library Finds. Library Fines.

I paid off a collection of library fines this evening that totaled $15.75.  A lot when you consider that libraries, by design, are meant to be free.  But not a lot when you consider just 1 hardcover book can run you upwards of twenty-five bucks.  That $15.75 comes from a total of 13 different books.  Thought I’d share some of the highlights from the list. 

The smallest fine came to twenty-five cents.  That because I neglected to return The World According to Mister Rogers.  I have no regrets about this fine or this book.  I borrowed it to complete research on the one-man play I was writing about Mister Rogers.  I’ve since sold the two year rights to that play and they paid me more than a quarter, so I came out in the black.

The highest fine is also my most recent one.  $2.25 for an overdue copy of The Best American Essays: 2010.  I actually called to refute this fine because I thought that I had returned the book.  I spent about fifteen minutes looking for it in my apartment, purses, shelves–nothing.  Then, several days later, I found the book inside of a bookbag I hadn’t used in awhile. 

Most unfortunate fine: 75 cents for a book titled The Hidden Power of Dreams.  I don’t think I read more than three pages of this book.  I picked it up because I saw the spine and said to myself, “Yes, I do think there is hidden power in dreams.  I will read this and affirm that thought.”

The receipt the library gave me after I paid is almost 19 inches long.  I was worried that the guy at the circulation desk would tsk me.  Tell me I’m a lazy, irresponsible person for accumulating fines I could have easily avoided, as well as keeping materials from other library patrons in doing so.  But I don’t care.  I look at this long receipt and I feel a distinct sense of pride.  To me the receipt and the fines say–You read.  You’re literate.  You like ideas and information and the written word.  You like them so much, you hoard them.  You carry them around with you everywhere and you know you have to return them at some point, but not today.  Or, maybe it is today, but what can ya do?

I hope the NYPL appreciates my money.  I could use that money, but I know they can, too.

When life gives you rotting food…

Last night at 11pm I walked to the grocery store and bought cake mix, milk, and butter. The cashier said, “Are you baking a cake?” And I said, “Yeah.” Then she looked up, started shaking her head, and mumbled, “Please don’t come to my line, please don’t come to my line, please.” I turned to see who had excited her and saw a scraggly looking man heading from the entrance into the produce aisle. “He smells awful,” she sighed.

It’s a hard thing, I think, knowing when to just ignore or complain about something and when to step in and try to make it better. In the “Village Voice” this week, the big feature is called “Ten Worst Tenants.” They recently did their “Worst Landlords” feature, so I was excited to see who they’d compiled on the flip side. Here’s their clever cover graphic:

I was especially struck by the write-up on the Hoarder.  It goes into detail about a woman, Dolores, who moved into an apartment with the leaseholder.  Then, that leaseholder developed dementia and went to a nursing home, but Dolores stayed.  She began hoarding furniture, clothes, and food.  Neighbors began complaining about the smell, the fruit flies, and a “black sooty substance…creepy-crawling” on Dolores’ door. 

Without a doubt it’s bad for everyone involved.  Apparently it took the landlord seven years to get Dolores and her mass of rotting food and stuff out of the one-bedroom apartment.  But that’s when it got sad for me.  It’s easy to empathize with the landlord and the neighbors.  I can easily imagine being in their shoes.  But what about Dolores?  A reporter asked her about the mess after she’d been evicted and, according to the article, “She replied that living with obsessive-compulsive disorder was difficult.”  It goes on to say that after her eviction she found herself in a homeless shelter.

The part that really got me, though, was the quote from one of Dolores’ former neighbors that ended the write-up.  He’d peeked in her apartment after she left and had this to say of what he saw: “‘Once you saw the living conditions…you realized that this is a person who needs help.  She never got the help that she needed.'”

On that note, I’m going to go eat a slice of my cake.  Because what else can I do?

Pigeons, Mike Tyson, and me

There’s an ambiguousness to this blog.  For a whole year I think it had a tongue in cheek tone to it.  And more lately it’s been pretty personal.  More contemplative and serious even.  But something that’s remained constant in its two and a half years is pigeons–and how much I love them.

The About page has described me as “a pursuer of creative outlets with a deep love and curiosity for all things pigeon,” which I think sums me up pretty well.  If I could only tell people two things about myself, I’d feel pretty satisfied if they only knew about my creativity and my feelings for pigeons.

All this is on my mind because I’m in countdown mode for the new Mike Tyson show on Animal Planet that debuts THIS SUNDAY, March 6th–“Taking on Tyson.”

“The first day I fought I must’ve been a ten year old kid.  This is the most frightening day of my life.  The reason for the fight was because the guy ripped the head off my pigeon.  This is the first thing I ever loved in my life.”

I don’t want to get too excited for this show.  I don’t know a whole lot about pigeon racing.  I don’t know a whole lot about Mike Tyson.  But I think this show is going to be an interesting look at a sensitive, provocative man.  Probably a lot of people will tune in because it’s a little strange and funny–but that’s okay.  The things we laugh at have truth in them.  And often the things we make fun of are the things we don’t want to take the time to consider–because they challenge something we’ve always held to be true: fighters are mean, men like Mike Tyson are tough, pigeons are just stupid birds.  I don’t think any of those things are true.  And that’s why I’m excited to watch.