Monthly Archives: November 2004

lugging, schlepping, toting

11/30/04

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our old apartment before the move

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our old apartment tonight

I know that every single one of you reading this has been through a move, perhaps some of you have done it ten times in the last decade. You’ll know this, then: there is no marrow-dragging bone tiredness that can possibly compare. The little tiny things you leave behind that you only notice when the initial husk of crap is stripped away, that’s what kills ya.

It’s the broom behind the door, the endless extension cords, the tiny stuffed animal that this girl gave you in college, the book that was holding up the television. Oh, and does anyone need any phone cord? We have 17.3 miles of it, all in eight-foot strips.

I’ve had it with my body. It’s had it with me. I have one thing to say, however: our new place has really cool peepholes in the old mahogany doors.

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sweepin’ the clouds away

11/29/04

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I would like to take this moment to say goodbye to an inanimate object. Yes, Apartment in Park Slope, this is our last night together. Tomorrow we are moving a few blocks away to a place that will better suit our needs, and you will provide a glorious home to another couple that needs your good vibes desperately.

When I came to you, I was totally inconsolable. I hadn’t eaten in two weeks because of my paralyzing anxiety. I had seen you in the New York Times Real Estate Listings, and picked you because you were at least three miles from downtown Manhattan. The first night I spent under your roof I felt better, like a morphine drip to a patient in pain. You will forever represent recovery to me.

Curiously, as great as you are, not many of my friends ever got inside you. I suppose it was one of those “nesting” periods when I asked my girlfriend to marry me, and then we were engaged, then betrothed. The last place I lived, like any other East Village bachelor pad, was something of a lure. You, however, got me well past that insanity.

You, your stoop, and your neighborhood is what I thought new York was when I was a kid. Sesame Street pretended it was Manhattan – or Harlem, or something – but the minute I walked down Lincoln, I knew it was really about you and yours.

We won’t be far; in fact, we’ll try to walk by you a lot. Maybe your new tenants can get your toilet to work. Perhaps also they’ll have better luck getting their wireless internet to go through the walls. Oh, and your floors weren’t quite thick enough to drown out the guy snoring upstairs (although he must qualify for a some medals in that category).

You were built in 1888, and I once heard a story about a Peruvian family of six living in Tessa’s office area. We are but a tiny slice – three years – of the hundreds of tenants who have broken bread here since the Gilded Age. Thanks for obliging us with your silent largesse.

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Tessa, Chopes, our street, summer ’04

Gee Otter – thanks!

11/23/04

Nobody will be on the internet for the next four days, so I have a few quick thanks to give before Thanksgiving.

– Thanks to my sister Michelle for letting me be the only one who could stop her crying when she was a baby.

– Thanks to my brother Sean for not freaking out when I got him what I wanted for his eighth birthday (a basketball).

– Thanks to my brother Steve for making me that cool robot costume powered by a six volt battery three Halloweens in a row.

– Thanks to my brother Kent for introducing me to the Odd Bodkins cartoons, the Beatles and XTC.

– Thanks to my dad for the orange Huffy 10-speed bike (Christmas 1979), and for letting me understand that artists are supposed to be paid too.

– Thanks to my mom for the new Peanuts cartoon books she left on my pillow every day after I was beat up at grade school.

– Thanks to Chip for moving back to Chapel Hill in 1991 when my world was falling apart, thanks to Bud for getting me through winter 1992 and his advice about baby powder, and to Jon Vaden for rescuing me that Christmas when my parents were throwing antiques at each other.

– Thanks to Salem for his Clinique 2 1/2 Scrubbing Lotion and his undying energy for all things, and thanks to Annie for our fireside (forced hot air blower) chats.

– Thanks to Scotty for his unwavering character and his excellent advice off the tee. Also to Lars for his endless curiosity and perfectionism.

– Thanks be to Jamie Block for our insane years (1987-2000) and our lucky years (2001-present). Thanks also to Kendall for my first kiss, and her abject loyalty.

– Thanks to Lindsay for his curmudgeonly enthusiasm and for doing everything six months before we do. Also to Matt, Clay and Jon Gray for refining my humor when I was getting complacent.

– Thanks to DB in SF for fighting all good fights, and to everyone from Carolina who has forgiven me for being such a clueless bastard whilst there.

– Thanks to Chapel Hill, New Orleans, Venice (CA) and New York City for lust, debauchery, hope and victory.

– Thanks to all of you who read this blog and have such amazing things to say (Caren, Kmeelyon, Oliver, the Canadian Clique, Piglet, Laurie, Andy, Andrew, Shannon, Tanya, Greg, Carla, flaco, cullen, bozoette, Brent, Kevin, Wendi) and everyone else who is sliding through my fingers because it’s 1:51am. Also to the newcomers for being willing to adopt another blog.

– Thanks to the stunningly great people I have met because of my very significant other: the emotive, heartbreakingly great Laurie and George, the effervescent Nell and salt-of-earth Jesse, razor-sharp Virginia, omniscient Kelly, warm mothering Lorraine and Alex, steadfast Jason and Tim, and super sweet Lee and Suzanne. If you have read thus far and not seen your name, understand that it is only my fault, and I’ll get you next Thanksgiving.

– But my most undying thanks belongs to the sweet love of my life, Tessa Valentine, who is just about the best thing that ever happened to anybody. She is the frosting, the gravy, the warm backrub on a cold night. Nothing is better than our families intermingling, nothing is nicer than the ability to love her, and nothing could express how Thankful I am that she was Given to liking me too.

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Tessa and her chowder-headed date

don’t spoil my day, I’m miles away

11/22/04

This diary was originally started to chart my daily feelings on the antidepressant Celexa. I did so for about a month, and then the blog itself started being so therapeutic that I stopped talking about my emotional health and started writing all this random bullshit so many of you are kind enough to read.

You’ve helped me through many problems (although nobody had a decent suggestion on how to keep my barn warm) and I must draw upon your collective wisdom once more: namely, how the fuck do any of you stay awake?

Looking back at the arc of my life, the one problem that has stood out since the age of six is that I never have enough energy to rock all day long. My rest state is more restier than your average rester. I recall the endless days in high school when I would invent word games just to get through the preening boredom of Western Civ class. Now I find myself dragging through the day like I was carrying bags of sand.

I have tried ginseng, but it gats forth very little. I suppose I could exercise more, but I feel like it’s deeper than that. I have tried taking a little bit of Welbutrin in the morning, but all it seems to do is put an endless song loop in my head (usually “Hey Good Lookin'” or the “Facts of Life” theme, no lie).

I have ingested Coke until I got kidney stones. I was an early and proud adopter of Red Bull back in the mid-90s. Now I content myself with a 3-shot latt

the sucker punch

11/21/04

The sports world is abuzz with the brawl/riot that took place between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons on Friday night, and if you haven’t seen the pertinent videos, you can find some here (although the small screen doesn’t quite do it justice). When I first saw it, it made me actually a little sick, probably from some holdover desire for every game to be like “Hoosiers” or perhaps one of Dean’s random wins over Koach K.

Everyone’s trying to figure out who to blame – Pistons fans, Ron Artest, etc. – but the smarmiest judgments came from the sportscasters, who not only condoned the beating up of random fans, but also tut-tutted with endless disgust, saying it was the darkest night of NBA hoops any of them had known.

Frankly, I think that’s a bit disingenuous. I have never turned to the NBA for rational discourse, treatises on how to behave, or good basketball, for that matter. I’ve hated the pro game since I was a kid, because college was always more exciting. I’d rather watch Boise State play Montana than to sit through another Laker game.

The Pistons/Pacers brawl, to me, is the essence of the current American character. There is so much free-floating anger in this country that I’m surprised a massive arena riot hasn’t already taken place.

The last four years have shown us that when it comes right down to it, we are not protected. We are on our own. There were no parachutes or magic slides out of the World Trade Center, there is no flu vaccine for your pregnant wife, and the power will fucking go out for half of America for days on end. Don’t expect there to be a safety net, because there isn’t one.

Now, I’m repulsed beyond reckoning that a 6’6″ athlete weighing 250 is rushing into the stands to beat the living shit out of a 5’9″ schlub because he might have been the one to throw a plastic cup of beer. But the Pacers, at that moment, were in a situation that appeared to have no safety net, and then they made a decision: to beat up everyone they could get their hands on.

I think Tessa’s theory is correct: the number of violent murders with guns in this country is not the cause of a culture of fear (which was Michael Moore’s hypothesis in “Bowling for Columbine”), it is because we are a culture that says, from the very top, that it is okay to kill our own.

The death penalty sets a subconscious precedent from above that sets in motion a wanton disregard for life all over. It’s like having a parent who is a pathological liar; chances are you will be too.

The Pacers aren’t just from poor neighborhoods where fighting was a regular survival technique – they’ve taken their cue from the highest sources in America. Our current administration has reacted to every threat by killing hundreds of thousands of people who happened to be in the wrong country when the towers came down. The litany of our international thuggery gets longer every day.

Now, I’m not saying George Bush was unleashing his inner monster through the body of Ron Artest on Friday night, but I am saying that this country is full of blind rage at a world they can no longer control.

And this is the basic difference between some Americans. Some use their basest emotions, which they misconstrue as some sort of inner truth, and unleash unchecked punishment on anyone who doesn’t appear to agree with them. Others, on the other hand, would have walked out of the gym. You get hit with a beer? You’re mad, but you don’t throw roundhouse sucker punches at people a foot shorter than you.

Alone, surrounded, and feeling the pangs of a world without a safety net, I’m trying to be the latter. I’d like to formally withdraw.

o captain, my… whatever

11/18/04

Tessa and I were talking about high school today, a subject that has come up a lot lately, but in all honesty, I didn’t mentally breach the subject of “high school” for about a decade. It is a place I had written off a long time ago, even though untold wonders were opened to me because of it.

To hear Tessa describe Choate, it sounds a little “Dead Poets Society” with some anorexia mixed in. The kids in her class, when they weren’t doing blow or getting drunk on stolen bourbon, actually lusted after literature and had impromptu gab sessions about Theodore Dreiser. She said she could actually feel her own mind expanding as she and her best friends became more culturally literate with each gasping paragraph.

It also helped they were an hour from New York City, so a quick trip with a borrowed car could be arranged, and days filled with museums and nights filled with underage debauchery would be pursued. The pace nearly killed her – she graduated a year early just to get out – but Choate (also the prep school of JFK) was an exercise in Anything Goes

thanks for the pass —>

11/17/04

God knows 89% of you have no idea why this week is so special to some of us, but here’s the scoop: the college basketball season finally started. I have had small infatuations with football, occasionally lapses into baseball, and I had a New York Cosmos jersey when I was a kid, but nothing has fully permeated my soul the way college basketball has.

You can go to all kinds of other places to hear rhapsodic prose about how college hoops games are the last true representation of “sport,” how truly any team can win on any given night, and how there is no greater spectator sport (with the possible exception of a really bloody fight in hockey). All I can say is that I actually live and die – emotionally – with the fate of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.

I’ve driven 27 hours just to see a conference game. I’ve flown 3,280 miles and back the same day; I’ve scalped in 15-degree weather; I’ve sat next to a Duke student in a game we lost. When I was 18, Kendall Croswell and Jon Vaden and I camped out in the mud overnight in mid-winter to get tickets to the first game in the Dean Dome.

The last few years, especially the rock-bottom nadir of 2001-2002, have been devastating. Our record was so bad one season (8-20) even teams like Davidson were feeling sorry for us. Decades of tradition were wiped out, and fans like me, who can’t help their genetic predisposition to Carolina blue, felt trapped, heartbroken and in serious need of Al-Anon, like a trusted father had suddenly begun to beat us.

Our team has recruited well, got the best coach in college, and fought our way back into the rankings. And this week, all I can say is WE’RE FUCKING BACK, BABY!

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Fuck the Sports Illustrated Cover Curse. If the Sox can win, anyone can. Plus, we were on the cover of SI at the beginning of the 1982 season, and we all know what happened then, don’t we?

I said, DON’T WE???

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freshman Michael Jordan nails the jumper against Georgetown

faux noose

11/16/04

When George W. Bush stole the election in the November of 2000, Tessa and I were so disgusted that we enacted a media blackout at our apartment that lasted ten full months. We watched no CNN, no Peter Jennings, surfed no news on the Web, not even the local news.

It was hard at first, but unsuckling from that teat became enjoyable, as we felt free from the pounding migraine of our country’s machine. We knew our issues, we knew our faith, and if something big was going to happen, we’d find out eventually.

me, Tessa’s mom Sandy and Tessa atop Mt. Greylock on 9/4/01

Boy, did we fucking ever. The next time Tessa turned on CNN, it was the morning of September 11, 2001 and people were streaming up our block covered in soot. That began a hypersensitivity to the news that stayed acute for three years. In fact, in the months following the WTC attacks, I’d casually turn on the TV just to make sure we weren’t back to a 24-hour news situation (i.e., something else had been blown up).

My fixation on the news gradually drew me into a maelstrom of abject anxiety and depression, and, when that abated, the elections took over. It wasn’t just national networks, it was DailyKos, Atrios, the Air America blogs and tons of other internet goodies that served to tantalize the possibility of change.

Now that has been dashed, utterly. I hate to be a pissed-off sour-grape sore loser, but I have no interest in going back to DailyKos and watching my fellow liberals eat their young. All of those breathless reports from each state showing a Kerry surge, the possibilities of a Democrat-controlled Senate, even the rousing spirits of Springsteen in Wisconsin and Eminem’s video “Mosh” – it all seems grotesque and childish now.

And so T and I have begun another media blackout. No CNN on TV, only the casual glancing of headlines on Salon and Slate, and certainly no looking at the cover of the NY Post while getting on the subway. We’ll still listen to “All Things Considered” (I have become very good at turning off the radio when Bush speaks and turning it back on just after he finishes) and the BBC World Service on the satellite, but the giant udders hanging from the fat belly of American Corporate News

doddering constitutional

11/15/04

I have been up at my farm, by myself, for four straight days, without actually seeing another human except the water delivery guy and this other dude who was trying to sell the rest of his steaks. I have begun talking to the dog, asking him questions, taking his advice and discussing the plot holes in movies we’re watching.

This is the “shoulder season” up here – the stretch of time after “leaf peeping” and before snowfall. And though we may be two hours from the most vibrant city on earth, up here, you might as well be on Neptune. It is cold, very cold, and nary a truck passes by on the highway. The sun sets at 4pm, and all you can hear are the geese flying overhead to warmer climes.

Jon asked me why I care about teenage pop music. That’s probably why.

It’s funny, how much of your internal dialogue remains dormant when you live with someone. Being married, you rarely draw upon your inner dialogue, but now I am getting re-acquainted with the inner self I invented to get me through grade school, then to get through three devastatingly lonely years in Los Angeles in the late ’90s.

I’m beginning to suspect that this inner person is your companion for the last three years of your life, as you sit in a chair in an old folks’ home, uninspired even to watch “Matlock.” I making a note:

“Fill up life with tons of experiences so that ‘inner self dialogue’ and you will have lots to talk about when you’re 97.”