Sunday, September 18, 2005

don't mind me, I'm just watching your lips move

It's been kind of a bizarre week.

Monday and Tuesday I spent doing an ad hoc art installation on a loading dock in Jersey City. This guy I know had 'curated a show' there that was supposed to be opening this evening. He sent out a blanket 'call for volunteers' to build partitions and clean the place up for the show. After I got over being annoyed with people who think that my time is theirs for the asking, I showed up in Jersey city on Monday afternoon, to find this guy sweeping acres of filthy loading dock floor with a very small broom, and nothing else at all.

I was not terribly surprised, as this guy is of a type you get a lot of in NYC--the one who talks and talks, about all the people he knows, all his connections, his big ideas and gallery sales. I did not believe the talk. It simply occured to me that there has been an inchoate installation idea floating around in the back of my mind for several months, involving drawing on a really old, distressed wall in subtle and interesting ways. I had a feeling that the loading dock in Jersey City might be a place to try this out, and I was right.

So while the guy continued pushing his broom around and talking, I got out some charcoal and pencils, fetched a ladder, and started drawing. I drew for a few hours, then went to Staples for more supplies. The next day I returned with a boom box, extension cord, handmade paper from Chinatown, pencils, pastels, oil sticks, scissors, tacks, map pins, duct tape, mandala drawings, random things picked up off the ground, and two feathers. I spent all day playing kindergarten while blasting Arvo Pärt into the far reaches of the loading dock; I don't know what the local construction workers thought about it. The 'curator' pushed the dirt around on the floor for a few hours and finally went home.

Once I got done with my experimental mess on the wall, late Tuesday night, I lost interest in the project. The 'curator' called me several times to say how 'encouraged' he was that I was so enthusiastic; the carpenter who was supposed to be building partitions was not returning his calls, so he decided to go ahead with the opening on Saturday, just not hang any art. I ask you.

Wednesday the director of Arts Circle called and begged begged begged me to meet him at the Empire Bar between 7 and 11, where he is the house pianist. He had graphics and information for me which, for some reason, could not be sent over the Internet. I bitched and grumbled about this but showed up anyway; it was an excuse to leave my apartment. And there was, indeed, something a little glamorous about drifting into the Empire Bar at 10:15 with my laptop, perching on a barstool next to the pianist, and doing some desultory faux-antique graphic design while waiting for Grigorio to go on break. All I can say about the proposed benefit concert for displaced New Orleans musicians is that it looks good on paper; Grigorio talked with Woody Allen's manager about the possibility of getting Woody to play sax, but results are, so far, inconclusive.

Thursday the director of EAI called and begged begged begged me to come to his loft and rewrite the press release, answer phones, and attack the backlog of listings by artists who cannot follow 'upload' directions correctly. By this time I was starting to feel like a character in a Barbara Pym novel, a sort of ironic, tweedy middle-aged woman who sublimates her animal instincts by doing laundry for clergymen and typing anthropologist's theses. If it hadn't been Jerry I would have said no. I admit it--I have a crush on Jerry. Not Jerry qua Jerry, himself--what I love about him is that he is utterly open about how M.J. is the love of his life, the inspiration for everything he's doing, his reason to devote himself to emerging artists everywhere, and I have no desire to screw that up. No, Jerry is only my new template. I'd like to meet someone just like him, but available, a little bigger, and a bit less hyperactive. That doesn't mean I wasn't watching his hands moving around on the keyboard, and the way he'd take his hair down for no real reason and put it back in its ponytail, and his smile. It Has Been Awhile.

In fact, the Coney Island episode of a few weeks back definitely woke up my 2nd chakra. Unfortunately, simply getting laid isn't the issue. If it were, I could probably do a few shots of tequila, wander down to 18th and 4th avenue and have my pick of cute Latino gangsters. I'm not merely 'over' the ex, thankfully and finally. I've spent the last year really learning boundaries, which has cleared up my 3rd chakra (identity) and 4th chakra (heart). Which means, I think, that I might be capable of connecting with another person in a somewhat non-dysfunctional way. I don't know, though, because I haven't found a test subject yet.

Thursday after Jerry called my phone line went dead, possibly in order to protect me from more phone calls from desperate men. (Boundaries?) I fell into a state of panic and despair when the lady from MCI said that a repair visit would cost me $180, and thought briefly of cashing in all my available credit and departing permanently for South America.

But then on Friday I got a different lady at MCI, who apologized for the trouble I was having and promised to deal with it immediately; she also helped me access my voicemail, which contained messages from desperate paying clients. I earned $160 in cash and a lot of gratitude. Also, Lara called me from California to say she'd won the screenwriting competition. This caused me to hoot myself hoarse; I am genuinely, profoundly thrilled at my friends' successes. Hoo-wheee.

Then on Saturday were all the art openings. I thought I was working at BWAC, but upon arrival discovered that no, I'd signed up for Sunday. So I hung out by the bar for two or three hours, consuming random bad things and soaking up community vibes. A semi-retarded individual sat down next to me and talked soothingly of many nothings (you know the Long Island Railroad? I saw the train tracks, on Myrtle Avenue, I saw them! My friend, has a dog, the dog won't stay with anyone, he likes me, licks me, jumps up and down, but won't stay) and I did not mind at all, just smiled and nodded and dozed.

In front of my apartment I met my next-door neighbor, an upstanding young man who has been in the Air Force, surfs, rides horses, and scuba dives for shipwrecks. He has adopted the alley cats and named them Reef and Giala. After we'd been discussing the cats for some time, along came the prophet Jeremiah, in the form of a drunken Samoan from down the block. Jeremiah did a great deal of portentious mumbling, much of which I couldn't catch, but the gist of which seemed to be that my next-door neighbor and I should get married. Not immediately, but someday. I thanked him, and urged him to go home and drink a glass of water (compulsive maternality dies hard). "I love Brooklyn," said my neighbor, as Jeremiah wandered away.

Then I set off for Jersey City after all. I did not make it. Traffic was horrible, the Holland Tunnel costs $6, and after sitting on Canal St. for an hour I decided that the odds of reaching the loading dock at long last to find an embarrassingly pathetic scene were too high. I turned around and went to Lowe's instead, where I bought latex gloves, turpentine, chrysanthemums and a toaster. Mmmmm, kinky.

Late, after Prairie Home Companion, I went to the MadArts opening down the block, where I found the inevitable Steve the Poet. I have come to accept Steve as my brother--bad poetry, bad teeth and all--and we had a pleasant chat. He kept backing me around the room, but again I hardly minded. Boundaries are all about knowing you CAN walk away at any moment; then you choose to stay.

No comments: