Archive for October 2008

Hello Wyclef Jean   1 comment

As I write this I’m sitting in a bus, watching the world pass me by in a blur of green and the grey of concrete.
I’ve never blogged on a bus before, and I don’t think I’ve ever really written anything on a bus either. I’m on a Bolt Bus, which is pretty snazzy. There is wifi, power outlets, nice leather seats and hula girls that juggle flamethrowers every hour until we get to our destination.
I’m on my way back from New York, and the events of the last few days seem like a dream.
If anyone read through my New York blogs, they’ll know that I spent many a day wandering around the Lower East Side, bar hopping and meeting random people. On one such night, I ended up spending a few hours with some cool Trinidadians, who I later found out did event planning.

Fast forward a few months later, and this is what happened:

Oct 30th, 2008:

I’m standing in the VIP area. In front of me, are a dozen or so gorgeous women. They are all wearing designer dresses, high heels and have flawless skin. They are cheering loudly, and a sea of hands of all colors ripple in the low light of the Prince George Ball Room, in the middle of Manhattan. In front of them, wearing a tank top while holding his shirt in his hand, is Wyclef. On stage with him are no less than twenty women (the stage is no more than seven feet across).
“This part of the crowd. These are the people I perform for every night!” he says, pointing to his left.
“But these motherfuckers, they too cool for school.” He says with a smile. He raises an eyebrow furtively, as beads of sweat dot his forehead.
“Okay he says, I know you see me on the TV. You seen me on CNN, and I honestly don’t curse that much. But if you aren’t gonna get live tonight, then you are a mother fucker.”
The crowd erupts into laughter, and Wyclef launches into one of his smash hit, 2007’s “Hips don’t lie”, and the venue is transformed. Voices roar the chorus, women scream and sing along with gusto, and even in the VIP, people raise their hands, nodding and singing along to the song. Behind me, Shaggy is dancing with a girl, his trademark smirk plastered over his face. He is holding a glass filled to the brim with Appleton.
A few feet away from me, is Jocelyn Gonzalez, the winner of 2007’s America’s Next Top Model. In the background, looking Frosty in glistening shades with diamond earrings and a watch, is Rupee, Mr. “tempted to touch”.
I’m taking this all in while I watch Wyclef perform. He tells the DJ to stop the music.
“Okay, I’m gonna play something on my guitar for you before I leave. You want to hear me play something on my guitar?”
The crowd chants yes, and then I say no. I say no because like everyone I was caught up in his performance, but I have a job to do.
I’m one of the media personalities of this event. I’m at the Antilia 2008 Carnival experience, and I’m the resident VJ. I’ve been interviewing people all night, and I realize my biggest interview, with the headliner Wyclef, might be slipping through my fingers. I walk back to the camera crew and let them know he’ll be leaving soon. The director gives me the positive nod.
I make my way through the throng of revellers, narrowly missing cute feet in expensive heels and I head backstage. I pass a group of models with amazing bodies dressed in carnival clothes. I nod to one of the security men, I know him from a pre-production meeting.
Down the entrance hallway are a series of tables with flyers and posters with information about various Trinidadian carnival bands (three of them were in a Fashion show for this event).
I find my other half, a tall kind-faced fellow named Marcus. “What’s the word on Wyclef?” I say.
He looks slightly confused. “You didn’t talk to Clef’s people?” he says. “Well I’m trying to snag this interview and I think he’s about to leave.” I say to him.
“Okay, let me see what we can do.”
I follow his tall figure as he deftly dips through the crowd. Every now and then he whispers to someone nearby, they nod, and then we move somewhere else. Now we are back stage, and Wyclef is on stage with a few other people.
The hosts tonight are AJ (formerly of 106 & park), and the Lovely Vashtie Kola, of music video directing fame. Wyclef’s performance is over, and he is soaking up the last rays of the limelight. He looks like he’s ready to leave. He comes off stage, and I gesture to Marcus.
There he is, my eyes say.
Marcus eases him up to his full height and then leans over to Wyclef. I hear snippets of the conversation.
“We…. Wondering…. Do interview…cool?”
Wyclef barely nods.
“Yeah, as long as we do it on the way out.” He says, walking away from Marcus. Wyclef walks past me calmy but assertively. His shirt is back on, and his jacket is in his hand. He takes a left turn into the main ballroom and I head to the media area.
It is a large, well lit space with a white canvas emblazoned with the logo of Antilia and a few sponsors. The crew is already there, and they are setting up. I breath a sigh of relief, behind me, Wyclef and a few guys appear.
Tim, the Ceo of the production company, says something to Wyclef as he approaches, he nods. Wyclef isn’t very tall, but not short. He still has the warm approachable face that is known to tens of millions and his outfit is modest.
“Hey man, how’s it going. “I say, extending my hand. He shakes it and we chit-chat as they camera people set up.
“I know you are a busy man, with things to do, so we appreciate this.” I said.
“Yeah, I have to get home to my daughter, the little one.” Wyclef says with a smile.
I tell him that I’m Jamaican and that I enjoyed some of his performances at Fully Loaded among other things, he smiles as I say this. In the corner of my eye, I see one of the camera man give me the thumbs up, I turn to the camera and say—

OCT 31, 2008.
I’m sitting on the E train heading from Queens to Manhattan. I’m sitting quietly, listening to the old train screech and wail against the tracks as we rumble through stop after stop.
I’m thinking of the night before, and it really does seem like a dream. Not only did I interview Wyclef at the end of the show, but during the course of the night, in my first every run at this type of thing I had interviewed: Shaggy, AJ (formerly of 106& park), Anya Ayoung-chee (miss T&T universe 2008), Jocelyn Gonzalez (America’s next top model winner), the Mad Stuntman (“I like to move it move it!), Rupee (tempted to touch), Kess (T&T star), Beniton the menance(“ Pop you head and dutty wine) and a slew of others.
I’m a little tired. At the after party I drank a lot of Alize and snapped pictures. At about 3 a.m, my cousin (Beniton), gave me a strong look. “You are doing BIG thing eh nuh Marcus. Proud of you man, Proud man.” He said.
The train screeches to a halt at Penn Station. As I walk out, jostling through the turnstiles with my two bags, I think wow, maybe I can be proud of myself too.

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Hello DC: Who’s tortured?   1 comment

I’m standing in a library, and for some reason, I felt like looking at some of my blog posts. 

I was speaking to a friend today at length, and he said something that I found interesting. “Marcus,” he said. “I read through some of your blogs one day, and something struck me. Your writing made you sound like one of those stereotypical tortured writers that have this pressing inner turmoil they can’t deal with.”

“Really?” I said. 

In some ways, like anyone else, I have been tortured, and in other ways I am completely fine, but I decided to investigate to see what he was talking about. 

I call my form of writing “stream of consciousness”, because most of the blogs I ever write, I write them once, and never read them again. I occasionally check my blog stats and see how many people are reading, but I never really go back and read my own writing. 

What I saw surprised me to no end. Some of this writing was so…. personal I wondered what I was thinking when I wrote it? I read through some of my blogs on running, my time in New York, and my most popular blog every about my “near death experience”. 

It was as if I was standing by a fence, watching myself typing these blogs up in different locales. I could see myself at 4 a.m in France, blogging about the Cannes Film Festival. I could see myself cold and trembling in an old apartment, blogging about wanting to change my life. I could see myself in New York, sitting in a suit of wet clothes and blogging after a particularly bad night in the Lower East Side. 

Even though these blogs are all about me, when I re-read these, I feel like a stranger reading another person’s blog. They are so descriptive, so direct, it seems as if whoever wrote this blog was writing for money, or something else. Sometimes I can’t even believe its me. 

I’ve felt this way when I’ve re-read some of my writing projects from the past. I find myself sitting for an hour or so, reading through old stories i’ve written, feeling as if they were written by someone else. Maybe I am a different person when I’m writing, maybe I tap into a profundity that I am afraid to show in person, and possibly this profundity (egad, I said “profundity” twice!) comes from the source within my mind that is unfiltered, unashamed and unafraid. 

It is interesting to have a powerful glimpse into specific moments of time, the memories and the motivations. A person might ask, “But you wrote this, can’t you remember how you were feeling when you wrote X blog, or Y blog?” To that I will say a firm “No.” 

In the last three years, I have written over a thousand pages of work, from novels to screen plays and blogs. My average blog runs 1200 words. So far I have 108 posts. That’s 129,600 words. My first novel, which ran 250 manuscript length pages, was around 130,000 words. 

The emotions that go into each book, script, or blog are unto themselves unique to that moment. I realize I may get an inspired feeling after seeing a person walk across the street in a certain way, I might be trying to describe a feeling that is sitting within me at that moment, or I just might be venting after a bad night. Either way, like most people, these memories fade within my mind as soon as I slip the ipod headphones on, start watching a movie, or focus on something else. Looking at these blogs is like looking at the glimpse of the past, at various versions of me in different times, in different clothes.

I like it. 

It gives me perspective on my thoughts and helps me refocus on whatever it is that i’m trying to do in the present. If I was depressed three months ago in New York for a night because some really hot girl flaked on me, am I still like that? I can gauge. If I have a blog that talks about me trying to escape a certain kind of feeling or situation, I can ask myself, “Have I escaped that situation? Have I dealt with it?” Sometimes being able to look into the past, allows us to look at the present with an amazing clarity.

I never started this blog to record tidbits of my life. I started it to keep writing in between the heft mental weight or working on novels. I started it after I read Stephen King’s On Writing and knew that to stop writing, was to create chaos in my mind. 

After almost two years of sincere blogging, I can say that it had been a good thing. Sometimes I laugh at the things i’ve written about, like angry blogs about a malfunctioning computer, or the hilarity of a night from my “Jesus Cock Block” blog, and others. Sometimes I forget that I am an individual that ends up in a lot of funny situations involving drugs, artists and millionaires. Reading through some of these reminds me of who I am, what I attract and what I do. 

I’m glad my friend mentioned the blog today, or I wouldn’t have been able to take a step back and look at myself. 

I have no internet at home, and I’m at the library and its cold outside. I think its time to mosey on home, hop into bed, and dream about dancing sugar plums and pieces of Jerk Chicken that sing falsetto with necklaces that read “Barack the Vote” hanging from the bones.

if I have that dream, I promise, I’ll blog about it.

Hello DC: CHASING DESTINY…   1 comment

Today was the furthest I believe I have ever run in my life.

A few days ago, I wrote a blog about my running habits (here), and I explained the manic nature of how I run.
It is a complex emotional affair, rooted in stuff from the past, thoughts about the future, or maybe the frightening present that fuels me.
Columbus Day is the day I decided to run. I was sitting in my room, listening to music, when I felt very bored. I didn’t feel like running yesterday, but I ran about five miles on Saturday evening.
As always, I started out on first street northwest. Running through the Shaw Howard area, I passed Hospitals, seven elevens and streets filled with light traffic. I wore a visor today, an old Von Dutch hat I bought a few years ago. When I run, night or day, after a while the stream of sweat that gets in my eyes is the most trying aspect of it all. This time I had no such problem.
I had planned a quick two mile run to Dupont Circle. As I ran on the road, running along side moving traffic, I felt a vague sense of quietness around me. There was the noise of the city, but somewhere within me was a blanketed silence. I can’t describe it exactly. I can’t say it was loneliness, or any of the isolated emotions that people are privy to feeling, but it was something.
I didn’t feel like I would be able to run very far. My left calf felt very tight, and my left instep throbbed with each step I took. A few pedestrians looked at me interestedly as I ran past. I’m not sure why exactly, but I think it was the visor I was wearing. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a runner in DC with a visor. Headband? Yes. Baseball Cap? Maybe. Visor? Never.
After reaching Dupont circle, I did a few light stretches. I didn’t look at anyone around me, but in my peripheral vision I could make out dozens of people sitting on benches, in the grass and generally enjoying the relatively warm day. I was warm and sweaty now, and my mediocre ipod headphones weren’t doing justice to my carefully selected trance playlist I made minutes before heading out. At this point, I decide to run to Embassy Row.
I’ve been to the Embassy area twice before, to get passports to go to Spain and France respectively. I head north away from the circle, and take a left by a bus stop that I believe leads to where the French Embassy is.
I’ll stop at the Embassy, I say to myself. I run down a few streets filled with healthy trees. It is a relaxing atmosphere. I’m at Twenty-seventh Street now, and I realize I’m near Georgetown. The embassy was further north; I think I was heading East.
I run across a bridge and I swear I see Mel Gibson. The man is tall, with a long scraggly head of hair. “Sorry buddy.” He says to me as I run past, even though he wasn’t really in my way. A few feet away from him are people with film equipment. If he was Mel Gibson, Mr. Gibson, is really REALLY tall. I’m tempted to turn around and ask him if he is who I think he is, but I keep running. I take a left turn on twenty-fifth street and start running up an incline.
I’m running on a road I’ve been on before. One night a few months ago, I visited a girl somewhere around here. We ordered Thai food and talked about books. I had met her at a bar, and we had made a connection. She was doing preparations for some hardcore financial exam, but she wanted to see me in the evening. I think it was Sunday. Either way, we talked and talked, and I realized I didn’t want to do anything with her. She said she wanted to “sample” me. I didn’t’ like it.
I run past her apartment, and head further up towards Georgetown.
I’m passing the Tudor house, and I’m tempted to stop there. I wanted to walk through the large gardens, touch the leaves and breathe in the air as I sit in a shadow space, but I keep going.
I’m on Connecticut now, (I think ) and I wonder if I should run to Georgetown’s campus and then circle back, and end my run. I look down the road, looking at the line of shops I’m quite familiar with. I decide to run to the waterfront.
I run past the Commander Salamander, a pizza place I used to frequent, and the Georgetown mall. I amuse myself briefly by out running another person running in front of me, a short blonde girl.
I reach the waterfront, and I am taken by the vista in front of me. The sky is a stark blue with sparse clouds, and the water is a silky golden green. I run to the waterfront and look into the distance. I see a large bridge. Is it the Arlington Memorial bridge? I ask my self. I decide to run there.
I run past a few hundred people dining on the outdoor patios of a waterfront eatery, narrowly dodge a few cyclists, while occasionally looking at people kayaking on the water. During this whole time, I’m not even sure of what is keeping me going. My thoughts of late have been awkward. Sometimes I think about a project I’m working on, sometimes I wonder about the present, and how well I can enjoy it, but mostly, I’m wondering if I’ll see someone.
I wonder if someone driving by will see me running, tall and sweaty, and beep their car horn. Will I get a facebook message saying, “Hey, I saw you running through Georgetown yesterday! Good job man!” That I think, was on my mind the most. But one hundred percent of the time, I never see someone when I’m running.
I run past a place where people can rent Kayaks, and I get a flash of memory of my first time there. I turn away from that establishment and follow a short path that leads to the main road. I go briefly through a light patch of thick foliage. There is dirt on the ground, and it feels good under my feet. Then, the road opens up and an asphalt path with grass on either side stretches for a good bit. I run past a family of six, a few cyclists, and a few other runners. Like me, all the runners I see are intensely focused. They are looking directly ahead, covered in light sweat, and they all have headphones.
The path curves out towards the water, and then I’m running on smoother ground, beside a rib-high wall. The bridge I want to reach is much closer now, and I’ve almost reached my goal. Then, I see the Arlington Memorial Bridge in the distance. It is another mile or two away. Across the water, I can see Virginia. It is a postcard quality picture, with large billowy trees and grass that seems hand-painted. Sunlight dances off everything, and it is glowing. Looking at the sight makes me want to walk amongst those trees, to touch the grass, and sit there.
I decide to run to Virginia.
I reach the first bridge and run under it. The acoustics under the bridge make a strange echoing noise in my ears for a minute or so, then I’m back outside. Now, I’m running down a well-paved path. In the distance, I can see the Lincoln memorial, and the shiny glint of the massive Statues at the entrance of the bridge. They look close, but they are far, far away.
At this point I’ve probably run ten miles, and I’m wondering why I’m running. Why am I running so far? I ask myself. The way I feel isn’t euphoric, and whenever I run I don’t feel relaxed or relieved in some way. Maybe I’m just running for running’s sake, to get away from the contiguous existence of living in a row house, or trying to escape the memories of DC for an hour or so.
I’m getting near Arlington Memorial bridge now, and I see people running up the steps, lounging like lizards in the sun and looking out at the water. I go under a small under pass and I see the large statues looming in front of me. Underneath one, a small lady in gray shorts is taking a picture.
I breathe deeply and hit the bridge. As I step on it, I feel a sense of power envelop me. I have always wanted to run along this bridge during the day, and this—this felt good in some way. The bridge is very long, and my goal was in sight. Good old Virginia loomed ahead with its green pastures and beautiful trees, and I wasn’t about to stop now.
To my left and right, is the Potomac, and I watch boats go to and fro, but mostly I look directly ahead, feeling my body wet with sweat, and lick my dry lips with my tongue. I only have three dollars on me, and I hope that I’ll be able to find water nearby. I don’t’ feel the least bit fatigued, but I briefly fantasize that I’ll keel over in a few seconds, and the lady approaching me will call an ambulance and I’ll wake up in the hospital with a beautiful nurse looking at me, and I’ll smile at her, then we’ll have some fantastic love story about me pushing myself too hard, and she’ll talk about almost leaving early that day.
I don’t faint.
In another few minutes, I’ve reached Virginia and I run down a beaten path towards the water. There, I finally stop and look out at the river in front of me. As if signaling the greatness of my achievement, a huge fish leaps out of the river at the precise moment I stop at the end of the path. I do some more stretches, and then stand for a minute. I’m not even breathing heavily, but I sense I am more mentally tired than physically. I have been exercising a lot lately, almost too much. But no matter how much exercise I do, or how far I run, I never feel completely relaxed or centered when I am finished. I feel like I need to run farther, to climb higher and do more.
Maybe I’ll travel to Antarctica, and walk through the frozen tundra for a few months and see what that tells me about myself. Maybe I’ll go mountain climbing and see if I can survive a mountain that has killed thousands before me. Or maybe I’ll take up some weird martial art, paint, or a dozen other little things to see if each of them can give me little insights into things about myself.
I want to feel the world around me. I want to taste it again.
I take off my shirt and close my eyes, raising them in the air and breathing in and out. I focus on the moment; the grass around me, the beautiful day and the river water rippling quietly in front of me. I try to release the strain of negative thoughts that have been plaguing me of late, and I try to just feel good in the moment. I tell myself, Good job Marcus, you ran like a bazillion miles. Feel good about that.
In a small way, I feel okay. I never thought I would run from DC to Virginia. I’m guessing I ran about nine or ten miles give or take. I walk to the National mall after crossing the bridge again and leisurely go back home. For the entire day, I’ve walked and run twenty miles.
When I reach inside my apartment, I sit down for a moment and sip on some water. Some part of me feels accomplished, but there are still little pockets of emptiness rippling about. I feel like running some more, but I’m too tired. I Toss my clothes into the laundry hamper and hop into the shower. As the water beats on my skin, I imagine myself somewhere else, swimming in a river, far, far away.

Hello DC: NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE…   4 comments

People always ask a person who’s almost died, “What were you thinking about just before the moment happened?” With a small level of certainty, I can (sort of but not really) answer this question.

 
Sometimes when I go to Adams Morgan, my mind runs on my ex-girlfriend, who lives in the area. Last night was a particularly boring affair, with me hopping from bar to bar and talking to no one. Like most nights when I’m in Adams Morgan, I take the bus home. When my cell phone displayed the magic time of 1:30, I decide to leave.

 
Strangely, the street is blocked off on one side, allowing traffic to leave the 18th street strip, but not come into it. I watch a bus rumble by slowly, and wonder if it is ever going to come back. I pace around for a few moments, watching people float by in various states of inebriation. An older African-American lady is sitting at the bus stop, with a small plastic bag in her hand. A few feet in front of her, with her arms folded is a tough-looking Caucasian woman. The tough-looking lady is standing and the other woman is sitting down. I lean against a part of the support structure of the bus stop.
So far I’ve been distracting myself by watching people, but for a quick second, I wonder what my ex-girlfriend is doing. Is she sleeping blissfully? Warm in someone’s arms? Or not even home? This thought passed through my head for a fleeting moment, then…

Shots rang out.

There were four or five shots. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! This was no more than ten feet from where I was standing. In that area, people scattered like cockroaches in a room when the light comes on. A few people, not sure what to do, simply stood up, like deer caught in the headlights. Some immediately hit the deck, and others streaked across the now empty street. Strangely, I didn’t move. I was leaning on the post, sort of looking straight up at nothing when I hear the first shot. Then I looked beside me and saw the clamor of activity. Most likely someone had been shot. The noises sounded dull and directed. Somewhere, only a few feet away, a person was probably dead. Only moments before, I had almost walked right there out of sheer idleness.

 
I jogged a few feet away from the bus stop to Columbia road, near the ATM. That was probably a bad idea, because that’s where the noise came from. The gun-toting maniacs were probably running to Columbia Road as well, where the melee might continue.

A few dark bodies fled from the alley, and it seemed that every officer was now brandishing their weapons. A few officers fly out of the alleyway and run down a dark street, holding their guns. As I looked around, an odd quiet hit the air.

People who are genuinely frightened don’t lament or weep. They stand in shock, wondering what just happened, realizing their mortality. One wrong move and a stray bullet could end your life, or severely injure you. The cops looked edgy.

A person running a little too frantically was liable to be chased, and probably beaten I presumed. While observing all of this, I realized that I was the only person standing up (along with the police officer). Everyone else was hiding behind a wall, or lying on the ground. Even this guy I had jogged past, (he was at the second bus stop that faced Columbia Road holding his bike) was crouching on the ground, looking around warily.

The officer looked at me with indifference. I was standing there with my hands in my pockets, surveying the area. The shots didn’t frighten me. A part of me “felt” as if I should be frightened, but the trembling chaos didn’t enter me. I just think I’m one of those people that doesn’t frighten easily.

Once in Jamaica, I was almost hit in a head on collision by a SUV twice the size of my vehicle. It was driving directly towards me with no headlights on. The SUV hopped over an island in the road, and it was only 50/50 that I chose to swerve right and the vehicle went left. Shortly after, a police car came blaring down the road, chasing the vehicle. I didn’t feel frightened at that point either, but seconds after the cars disappeared, my left leg began trembling violently. I was afraid in some way, I just didn’t feel it immediately.

Tonight, or last night was different. I realized that should a shootout happen, a stray bullet could hit me, but that eventuality didn’t make much sense to me. Though I was near the epicenter of the event, and only feet away from where the shooting started, I was standing near all the police cars and heavily armed officers.

After a moment, I walked towards the crosswalk that leads to the McDonalds on the other side of the street. The African-American woman from before was lying on the ground with two young Caucasian women. She was crying from sheer fright. She was inconsolable. I don’t blame her. If I was ten feet away, she was no less than five feet. The two girls held her hand.

“It’s okay. They weren’t trying to shoot you.” The girls said.
One of them, a blonde with tear filled eyes kept looking on me. I recognized her, but I didn’t know from where. They told the lady she would be all right. I couldn’t hear exactly what the woman was saying, but it seemed she thought they were shooting at her, and she was also worried about how she would get home. The two girls said they would pay for a cab so that she could reach home.
I was standing there, watching them with my arms folded. They were crying and seriously frightened, and it must have seemed odd for me to be standing there so stoically. Maybe I will wake up tomorrow and wonder why I wasn’t frightened, and why the tear filled eyes of those three women on the ground didn’t move me to even say anything.

I wanted to say “The worst is over.” And touch the woman’s shoulder, and reassure the girls that they were safe because the police were right behind them, as were the police cars. But I didn’t say anything. I watched them in their humanity, consoling each other in the way that people do in a time of crisis.

 
I felt a piercing vulnerability at that point. I sensed that if I had been walking by there (as I almost did) or if I had been idly traipsing around, I could have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bad luck, bad timing. It seems fit that minutes before this event happened, I ran into someone I knew and followed that person to a bar for a few minutes. If I didn’t, who knows?

 

The girls still haven’t gotten up. They are freaked out and scared half to death, and are still lying awkwardly on the ground. The older lady is still moaning and wiping her eyes.
For a fleeting moment I get a powerful urge to call my ex-girlfriend. For some reason, some aspect of the event made me think of going over to her place to take refuge. She was only a few blocks away I thought, and I’ll be safe there. I wanted to say to her, “Wow, can you believe that I was standing right by a place where some shots rang out?” A part of me saw myself going over there, standing by her door as she rushes out in the hallway and gives me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, thankful that I am alive and well.

But then I realized what I was thinking just before this all happened. I was wondering if she was sleeping blissfully, if she was in the arms of someone else, or even home at all. It dawned on me there was no reason to call her, and there was also no place for me to go but my apartment.
Maybe the event didn’t frighten me in a way that made me run for dear life, or hide on the ground, quivering like a small animal, but for a second it took me back to a point in my life, when I felt I had a retreat, a safe haven from the world, in the arms of someone else. Maybe that’s the real scary part of the entire thing, the fact that I completely forgot that I was no longer with her and we no longer spoke, but hearing a few shots echo in my ears, and sensing my mortality, I felt a desire to see her and speak to her that seemed instinctive, dredged up from the recesses of my being that blasted me face-first back into the past.

In these situations, it is a great thing to reassure yourself that you exist by receiving loving words from someone else. A hug from a friend, a sigh of relief over a phone call, or a naturally heartfelt embrace, like the one shared by the three ladies lying on the ground. My desire to speak with my ex most likely represented my instinctive feeling to remind myself that I exist, and that I didn’t have to travel home alone to deal with the situation. Or maybe I just wanted someone to share the event with. Who knows.

I took one last look at the three ladies lying on the ground, and crossed the street. I hailed a cab and hopped in. “What happened around here?” the driver said. “Some shots rang out.” I replied.
“Really?” he said with an incredulous smile. “Yes, really.” I said.
“Where was it?” he asked. “

“Right by the bus stop. It was like five shots.” I said.

“Wow!” he said almost with too much excitement.

“Yeah, I was right there. “ I said, almost not even believing those words.
I told him where I lived and quietly watched the dark buildings go by in a blur as the cab drove to my apartment. I wondered again about that flash of desire to call my ex, and why it seemed so instinctive. As the darkness of the city loomed at me from the windows of the cab, I knew I didn’t really have a safe haven. All I had was my own thoughts to console me, and the emptiness of my bedroom. I thanked the cab driver, tipped him and went inside, immediately greeted by the darkness of my apartment.

 

****

Hello DC: Saturday Morning Afternoon Adams Morgan   1 comment

view from Coffee and Crumbs

view from Coffee and Crumbs

I’m sitting in Coffee and Crumbs, a tea house off 18 th street somewhere near Adams Morgan. I’m looking outside a half-open door, watching people and cars flash by in blurs of dark color. On my head, are a new pair of cheap stereo headphones I just purchased from a CD game exchange. I’m wearing a black polo shirt, and stretchy gray pants. I wonder if I look like the typical 21st century floater. Floating from place to place, with my headphones on my head to dull my senses, my nice shirt and pants to make me feel good, watching life go by.
Its been a very interesting last couple of weeks in the good old Nation’s capitol. I’ve found myself feeling completely different about my environment. After coming from New York, people always asked me, “Which is better? New York, or Washington DC.” To this question, I give the same answer. “They are different.”
I went to New York for the day yesterday, and immediately I felt a surge of energy course through my body. I was walking faster, I felt generally more alive and well, and everything seemed faster, and more exciting. I even felt more attractive. I tried to pinpoint the reasons for this.
I caught a late bus out of DC at 11:30 p.m. I reached New York at 3:45 a.m. It was cold, and I got slightly lost in Chinatown. After I found a subway heading uptown, I learned that those trains, (the F uptown) were not running from September 5th, through October 26th. I ended up hailing a cab and heading up towards Union Square, where I had spent the last 3 ½ months before returning to DC.

I spent the morning shuffling around in my Aunt’s apartment, grabbing a few things that I had left behind when I came to DC. I watched a few episodes of Entourage, the Chris Rock comedy special Kill the Messenger and slept for an hour or two. I didn’t do anything, but I felt intensely invigorated. Maybe it was the fact that outside, were stores, nicely dressed people walking about, and the noise of the city that never sleeps. Maybe it was the fact that even though New York whipped my ass like most newbie’s, I had enough good memories there to have a nice sense of the place. Maybe I liked the high buildings, the claustrophobic atmosphere and the noise.
I was only in New York until 8 p.m. I would have left sooner if there hadn’t been intense congestion, which delayed the trip by over two hours. By 12 midnight, I was back in Washington D.C. Then, the contrast was obvious.
As soon as I returned to DC, I felt slower, more subdued. I got a sensation of space and darkness. It was quiet, emptier and less energetic. I caught a cab in Chinatown and went home. I looked at myself in the mirror and wondered how long the “New York effect” would last. Could I hold on to that feeling of internal power that comes with walking through New York’s streets? Could I feel a little bit brighter and happier in Washington D.C?
By 1 a.m I had made it to Wonderland, a bar I like to frequent. There, I had one beer and stood up watching people dance. I’ve noticed one thing ever since I returned from New York. I don’t talk to anyone. Most places I go, I stand up, have one beer or sip on water (if its available), then leave. I left the bar at 1:35.
Therein lies the New York Washington DC contrast for me I think. New York made me feel good, but it was a social nightmare of the highest degree. Imagine a land filled with gorgeous progressive women who are 100% dedicated to putting their careers ahead of relationships. Then imagine a similar place, where the women are less attractive but equally dedicated to career first.
Some people would say those are two nightmares, but who knows? I don’t necessarily feel powerless. I think, like DC, I sometimes feel spacious, empty and dark, filled with little gaps and winding places that few feet ever trod.
In New York, I felt that the atmosphere was sometimes like a huge block of ice that I couldn’t break. Around me it seemed people were screaming at me, “Give us ice! Give us ice!”, but all I had in my hand was a plastic spoon. I couldn’t chip the ice.
DC in a way feels similar at times. The block of ice is smaller, and depending on what day it is, I have a plastic spoon, and other days I have an ice pick. As it stands, I think all I have in my cabinet are a series of huge, plastic, spoons.
But DC also feels like an old bedroom. Every tactile sensation in this room sparks a memory good or bad. Walking down this street triggers a memory of you laughing with your boy, kissing your girl, or raging with anger.
But the past, the present and the future are all inherently inescapable things. I woke up this morning, staring at the ceiling. It was cold in the room, and I sat down to meditate. The silence around me was thunderous and I had to get out, to get away.

So what’s the lesser of two evils? A temporary taste of fleeting self-power (as in New York), or that calm (albeit subdued) sense of self that comes with a startling familiarity? I have no answer. No tengo idea. Wakarimasen.
So here I am, sitting at Crumbs and Coffee on 18th street, typing this stuff up, looking outside, watching the world float by in a blur of color. While sipping on green tea.

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