Saturday, August 22, 2009

What I Remember

It has been really hot lately, for the first time this summer. And of course with the heat comes humidity. All the water in the air makes it impossible to ignore your body. Even right now I can feel the moisture collecting beneath my chin, and its making me wonder how many years of pert under-chin muscles I have left.

For my entire live I've lived in "the tri-state area" and I remember every summer the same: the oppression of humidity, of god's own sweat. My childhood home had plenty of air conditioning and my parents would not hesitate to switch it on at the first sign of discomfort. As I switched on my own A/C this Monday I remembered my father's advice: keep the door to your room shut to keep the air in. It was a strange image: attempting to save cold air like you'd save money in a bank, as if the air was sedentary enough to seal in a tin store away for later.

My parents were frugal, but never miserly. Everyone understands love in a different way. Because of their saving, even of the air itself, I will graduate college debt-free. But money was always the unspoken undercurrent of all our exchanges. There were a lot of things I wanted, but didn't dare to ask for, because I didn't want them to feel my own hunger and dissatisfaction. I wanted them to be proud of me, to think I was too smart to be tied up in some kind of material pissing contest. But they were not soaring over the horses of the material world, they just had simple tastes. Out of all the things I secretly wanted in my teenage years--designer heels, my own cell phone, or a car--the thing that I wanted most was freedom. All I wanted from them was a little credit--not the kind from a bank, but just the acknowledgement that they thought I was capable enough to make my way in the world.

I read once that fear is a sign of error. That the fear of loss is the sign of a false victory, an act of thievery. My parents expressed their love in the language they understood, but it left me unable to love, or to see love expressed in other forms. I was always attaching a number to everything, and whoring myself without even realizing it. I think I let true love pass me by. Not only did I fail to recognize it, but I couldn't conceive I was special enough to deserve it. But everyone deserves pure love.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Things I Love About New York

  • Cranes, because they remind me of my mortality. I guess this is more of respect than love. They soar up into the air so gracefully. But if you've ever walked past the counter-weight at the bottom, you immediately feel like an ant.
  • When a cab pulls over on the shoulder of 9th Ave, and I look into the window to see the driver furtively eating from a Styrofoam carton. Greater voyeurism than a peep show.

  • Seeing pigeon footprints in dried cement on the sidewalk. Almost like the beach!
  • Sitting a few yards away from the halal meat truck near Baruch College and listening to the Arabic pop music cassettes.

  • When the man at the salad counter at the deli compares my beauty to that of a crasin. It took me a while to appreciate this.
  • The fact that in the not-too-distant past, no one really gave a damn about my fake ID.
  • Late-night running when the air is crisp and cool, and the streetlamps look like stars.

  • Most importantly: the fact that I don't have to drive!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What is something Special?

"Talk's cheap. So's our jeans."

I spend a lot of my time trying to think up new reasons for overweight, self-conscious women to buy cheap jeans. Most of this effort is made in vain; usually they just buy whatever's cheapest. But "the powers that be" are convinced that some new form of reverse psychology or word manipulation will make people buy our jeans. I had never thought about this much, until one day it occurred to me: why not make special jeans?

For numerous reasons, it is impossible for us to turn out a truly special product. 50% of our job is to manufacture clothing, and the other 50% is to manufacture desire. I used to get off on this, but now it just wears me out. We all make jeans so cheap they fall apart within a year, so the lady will have to buy another pair. The only question is where she'll "fill 'er up": with us, or with the competition? It is the perfect product: food that increases hunger with each bite. This is not something special.

Something special is the opposite of hunger. It is the thing with an appeal so strong that it could call a satiated man back to the dinner table. It isn't a veil of words, or a wall of noise, or a sensation. This little slice of the Internet is dedicated to those little, special things: the ones that make you smile, the ones that make you think, and the ones that help to bring you satisfaction.