Saturday, December 25, 2010

Here Come's Santa Claus...


Though often viewed as a time of celebration, of family and friends and thanks and togetherness, of forgiveness and new beginnings, can also be seen as a time of over-whelming sadness, when we as humans are forced to examine our lives, facing our loneliness and the true nature of our fellow man, when greed and depression can so easily overtake the joy and spirit and blessings of the season.

I find myself torn between these two facets of my own personal holiday, deciding between two options that end the page of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. Both choices are choices of extremes, one dark and moody and assuring danger and destruction, the other one of rejoicing and sentiment and cheer. But life isn't as simple as, say, turning to page 84.

I am in a city... a city full of strange places and even stranger faces, a city where the dark is alive with light and my days are spent in search of a future. Here is where I call home, home away from home, away from my family and friends and everything simple and common, lovely and lazy, and missed.

I'm making the most of it while I can. I find the light in the darkest places, and the life I've forgotten or lost or never known... It is here I find my holiday, my Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's Eve. It is here where I learn, after so many years, what it truly means to be thankful for all that I have, and not want for more: a roof over my head and a blanket on my bed, clothes on my back and food in my belly, knowing that however far from my reality I have come, that I am loved beyond measure and can love in return. I love those who need it, those who want it, those who deserve it and those who don't. To wake up in the morning and see the sunlight of a new day, and forgive those who have trespassed against me, and forgive myself for those trespasses I have made... That is what being truly thankful is all about... so far from all that is familiar yet finding myself all the same.

I am thankful, and hopeful and making a joyful noise.

So, as I sit here, typing this and flipping between pages 84 and 129, trying to choose my own adventure, I close the book in my mind. My life is an adventure, one big enough without having to limit my options to simply black or white. I think I'll stay grey for a little while longer. I look good in grey.

Happy holidays, wherever you are, whoever you are, from wherever I am. I love miss, forgive, cherish and thank all of you.

Monday, December 20, 2010


I have not written anything in quite some time due in most part to my recent exodus to the Big Apple... now, after having lived here for more than a month, it is high time I put thoughts to paper, or in this case computer, and fill the world in on my progress.

This is a hard city, towering masses of steel, glass and stone that I am constantly drawn to smashing my head against as though it might wake me from some dream... but no, this is no dream. It is real. It is my life.

After a short two weeks of job hunting, I've landed a part-time gig in reception at a great gym. This does little but to afford my weekly financial stability, and that is more attributed to the generosity of my family, with bi-weekly additions of cash to my quickly depleting bank account. But I won't give up... an exciting world of possibilities greats me every morning when I wake, and I can either grab it by both ears and make it my bitch, or I can let it consume me like it has so many before and will so many after.

Subways are still a great beast with which I do daily battle. I am slowly learning to ride it, but it does, on occasion, throw me off balance,putting me into positions where my sanity and safety are at greater risk than my poor time management skills. A few examples, in no particular order:

A few days ago, I attended the employee party hosted by the parent company for whom I work. After many drinks, a tango, and a face full of plastic, crushed velvet-clad stripper penis, I whisked myself from the bar, and into the subway, where I settled into a seat, popped in my earbuds and rocked out to the hyper-real sounds of Daft Punk and the Tron: Legacy soundtrack. In and out of attention, I overheard a passenger asking for a light. My thoughts didn't focus on his need for fire in a well-lit and properly heated subway car, until the smell of cigarette smoke drifted into my nose, sharp and grey-brown. Mind you, gentle reader, that I had been given liquid courage in the form of Mexican cactus juice, and felt the warm rush of uncaring flood my veins. Boldly, I said to the smoker "Would you please put out that cigarette?"

Of course, this was not taken too kindly by him or his cohorts. He stood before me, a menace of five foot eight in aviator glasses, calling me his "nigga" and questioning my authority as to what should be done with his cigarette. I calmly explained to him that I was not, nor had I ever been his "nigga" and that it wasn't just bothering me, but the thirty or so other denizens who shared the cramped space. I further enlightened him to the fact that I was an ex-smoker who understood his need, but that the street or his home would be a much better locale in which to partake of his smoke.

By this point, several other riders had taken up my cause, and while stopped at an off point, the young man was escorted from the train, amidst much applause, by a subway security officer. Now, the lesson is this: Everyone on the subway gets pissed off. However, I wish I could say people were equally thankful for my somewhat aggressive and upfront nature, but after the young man and his cigarette were removed, one passenger thought it necessary to point out that we had been stopped for ten minutes due to the altercation and we would have kept moving had I just kept my mouth shut. This sent another ripple of descent through the car, as the other passengers, annoyed at the mere hint of sitting through more noxious fumes, informed him that he should "Shut the fuck up because that kid is the only one on the entire train who had the balls to say anything about it!" Needless to say, I made a few new friends that night.

Other ordeals, less harrowing:

A mother was dragging her screaming daughter down the stairs at the 42nd St. Uptown platform. The child wailed "Daddy! Daddy!" while the mother assured her the man she was screaming for was not her father. "That's not your daddy," she said. "That's Julio. Your daddy is Jamal. Your daddy is Jamal." The child continued her sobs and screams, her mother's words punctuating every drowning cry, the passersby not knowing whether to laugh or turn away. I was struck with this strange sort of amusement, much less about the little girl's antics and more about her generation as a whole: It seemed all at once to me sad and disturbing that this child was so unfamiliar with her own father that she mistook another male figure in her life for the man who gave her life. Perhaps Maury is in her future...

I, as so many others, am anxious and terrified about the concept of "just missing the train." So, upon arriving in the subway, again at the 42nd St. station, I heard the train arrive, and ran, tripping down the stairs, and flying through the subway doors just as they were about to close and smashing into a wall on the other side. As I righted myself, and plopped into a seat next to me, I was met with amused titters and giggles, rippling throughout the car. I thought it was pretty damned funny too...

A woman sat on a set next to me. I had intentionally missed sitting there, as more than just the seat, she sat in a huge loogie the prior passenger had left behind. She was wearing very expensive pants...

I am sure many more adventures await me. The city is a beast and I am in its belly, and while it may try to pass me from one end to the other, I just need to keep hanging on and giving it indigestion. It can let me go or turn me to shit, but one way or the other, I'm never going to get out unscathed.... I can't wait.