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Hello DC: Rubix Cube Party   Leave a comment

I’m at a Rubix cube party.
We all know the Rubix cube. It was a genius little device invented in the early 70’s by the Hungarian architecture dude. You spin the faces, line up the squares and make the colors match. We know how it works. At this party, we are the colors, and by the night’s end, we must be wearing one color of clothing. In a sense, we are squares on the cube.
Earlier in the evening, I was happily munching on Chicken Tibs at a local Ethiopian restaurant. I was eating with a good friend of mine. We spoke frankly about the diatribes of broken relationships, growth and Sean Penn’s new Movie, “Milk”.
Afterwards, we stepped out into the darkness of DC’s winter cold, and I bid her adieu. Then I hopped on the 70 bus towards Columbia heights. I spent the trip listening to dancehall, and watching the dark blobs that represent rowhouses go past in a dull blur.
I was sitting quietly, (like most people in the bus), but I was listening to sexually charged, uber-voilent dancehall music. I’m sure my hipster pants and trucker hat hid that fact nicely.
It’s really cold when I exit the bus to head towards the party, but there is something oddly stimulating about it.
Maybe it’s the feeling of the wind biting my fingertips, the little brown leaves that rustle above me whenever a gust of wind flashes by, or the fact that I’m underdressed. My fingers are burning me, and my jacket (stylish as it is) has no outer pockets for me to slip my fingers into.
I walk fast.
When I reach the party, there is no one milling outside. This makes perfect sense. Even the smokers are happily huddled inside, accepting warmth instead of tiny doses of nicotine, cyanide and a dozen other harmful chemicals.
As I step in, a guy wearing red tights, and a red dress walks past. His eyes are glassy with alcohol, and he has a wry smile. “I need your hat!” he says to a girl walking nearby. She is wearing dark leather pants, a red hat and a suede Jacket that looks straight out of a vampire movie. She chuckles and disappears into the small crowd of people occupying the space.
I personally am out of place with my outfit. I’m technically wearing full black, (even though I wore a yellow shirt to throw my outfit off) but I am determined to find matching yellow pants. I see one person dressed in yellow, a short girl with dark features. She is wearing what appears to be a yellow jacket around her waist, webbed yellow shoes, yellow stockings, a yellow hat and a yellow shirt. I groan, as I have nothing to trade. The idea of taking off my pants right there to put some yellow tights on isn’t stimulating yet. I need to get some alcohol.
I meet and greet the hosts, and I find out it’s a birthday party. I was invited by a girl I know, Ash, and she is decked out in a full red outfit; large red shirt that reads “Ameican Heritage”, red tights and a  red baseball cap. At some point later on in the night she will be completely blue, complete with a blue wig. “Would you like some whiskey?” she says to me as I step inside.
For a moment I pause, and my mind flashes back to Halloween weekend a month prior. I saw a blur of people, faces and felt the heat of different bars and houses on my face, then I remember waking up and not knowing where I was.
“I think I’ll get a beer.” I say with a smile. Ash starts talking to the girl in the full yellow. Behind me, a guy says. “She (yellow girl) looks like a creature from Final Fantasy.”
I spend the next ten minutes trying to remember what creature she  looked like. I was never a huge Final Fantasy fan, but I knew a few of the creatures.
When I was in high school and Playstation (not Playstaion two or three, not even PSOne… PLAYSTATION) was all the rage, when Final Fantasy seven came out, it was lauded as one of the greatest RPG’s of all time. I didn’t have a Playstation, I had an N64, and I forever regretted not feeding on the frenzies of my school mates. I wished I could have huddled under the tree where the nerds hung out and read backstory on the FF universe, talk about little creatures and boss fights and escape in that world of fantasy. Instead, I played games like Bomberman 64 and Turok. I’m thinking about this as i walk through the kitchen looking a cup, then a word pops into my head:
Chocobo.
That’s the thing the girl in the yellow looks like. It’s a little bird sort of creature. I walk down a narrow hallway and through six active conversations. Outside is  a keg, and I get a drink. The temperature feels like its dropped another six degrees, and I hurry up and go inside. After my first beer, I’m determined to get some yellow pants.
The music isn’t very inspiring. It sounds like slow lounge music mixed in with upbeat country or old pop songs. No one is dancing yet. I see the birthday boy (who I incorrectly called “Jesse” for most of the night) and say hello. He is wearing a hodgepodge of colors. He has an orange shirt on, tiny blue shorts and black socks, and he has an orange bandana tied on his head. “So, you are twenty five eh?” I say. “Yeah, maybe in a week it will hit me and I’ll either be like “oh god!” or “oh yeah!” He says with a laugh. “I’ve been there,” I say. “I’m definitely in the “oh god!” stage right now.”
He disappears down the same long hallway with two girls and I eye some cake. Lately I’ve been avoiding a lot of pastry, and I don’t feel like digging into a suger-laced cake while I’m drinking. Ash is standing beside two more girls who are working the Rubix. One is wearing full blue regalia and has a blue wig on. She does Madonna style poses as cameras flash in the background.
I smile and survey the rest of the party. It’s a weird mix. Some people are dressed very normal, in the usually array of jeans and jackets. Then there are a few hardcore guys, who I call the “Rubix dudes”.
For some reason, they are all wearing dresses, and I think their oufits were elaborate plans engineered by the women at the party (they are in the majority). One guy is about six foot three and wearing a green skirt, a green halter top, what looks like a shiny set of green leaves on a string around his neck and (I think) a green necklace. Another fellow, who I later find out is Mark, is wearing small,orange boy-underwear, what look  like orange tassles around his waist, and a v-neck orange shirt (above a green one) complemented by a knit orange hat. He has sharp eyes, a playfully expressive face,a moustache and goatee. He looks like Robin Hood, if Robin Hood left Nottingham to join the broadway cast of Mama Mia! And ended up doing West Side Story instead.
There are a few other guys who enthusiastically get into the Rubix-mode, but the guy that took the cake was a short, broad-chested fellow wearing a full white female outfit. It was his manliness—hairy chest and broad flat features—that made his outfit the funniest. A tiny white haltertop barley fit on his chest and he wore a small white dress, and what looked like a white hairnet…. Or head tie, I’m not familiar with what all forms of female clothing are called.
They Rubix dudes were constantly taking pictures, smiling and laughing. I was on my second beer now, but I didn’t feel like clothes swapping that much. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I wanted to get my yellow pants. I started talking to Mr. T, a friendly-faced guy with a classic Midwest disposition. Ash told me he was apparently, a rubix cube expert.
We started discussing the dynamics near the front entrance. By this time I was on beer number four or five and sipping on a Bacardi ginger ale. Needless to say, talking about the concepts behind multiple planes and matching edges were lost on me. The music changed, and I started dancing with Ash.
At some point, I start a conversation with the tallest women at the party. One looks Scandinavian, and one looks German. I mention this to them.
“Hah! One laughs. I’m Swedish.” She says. “I’m German.” The other replies.
We talk for a few minutes about their amazing athletic abilities. (The swede did decathalon, long jump, high jump, 200M ,800M and deep sea shark hunting). The German did shotput, discus and javelin. (I guessed discus correctly).
Then the German speaks about one year of celibacy, and its implications as it relates to meeting people for “who they are.” I smile as she says this. “I wanted to know how it felt you know? To just not experience that for a year.”
I laugh, and say.”Most people know that feels for a good ten, fifteen years. I think they are too aware of celibacy.”
“Ten? Try twenty!” The Swede says with a laugh.
Ash is now in blue mode, and is dancing amongst friends, laughing and taking pictures. I wear the wig for a few minutes.
I go to the kitchen, and talk to two girls wearing black trucker hats. “What do your hats say?” I ask, squinting to read the writing on them. “Hah! You though it was Japanese didn’t you?” one of the girls says.
In fact, I didn’t think that, because I can read some Japanese. I was thinking it was some kind of Arabic language (and in my defense, the girls both had that “dark-ish” look. Long black hair, sharp dark brown eyes. Which means they could have Persian ancestry or just be from Manhattan.)
“It’s a hat our friend made. Its actually in English.” She points out what it says, and it becomes as clear as day. “ohhh….” I say. Then I look down, and see that she is wearing YELLOW PANTS.
“I said I’d get some yellow pants tonight.” I say seriously. “You have what I want.”
She swaps pants with me, and we snap pictures with her friend, who also has the pants on. Technically, they are little boy shorts, but I rather refer to them as pants.
I parade around in the pants for a while, and smile broadly. Ash comes over, she rubs her small hands across the small of my back. “I see you got your yellow pants.” She said. “Yes I’m a happy camper!” I reply.
I spend the next few minutes taking pictures of all the other emasculated men, including those I’ve named the White Russian, the Green Giant, Robinson Hood and the Black Tight. Outside where the keg is, people are huddled around a grill, talking about nothing in particular. I snap a few more pictures and go back inside.
The girls in the trucker hats are heading out, and I return the yellow pants. The party is beginning to thin out, and everyone is heading to wonderland. I feel a twinge of regret as I head out with Ash and Mr. T to wonderland. I was hoping I could wear my yellow pants there.

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:::FRIDAY NIGHT GUITAR HERO-INES::::   1 comment

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I’m looking at three hands protrude from a lamppost.

It’s a photograph, and I’m guessing its somewhere in Adams Morgan, that proverbial mish-mash of frat-boy meets sunshine Blond girl, that place where a hot summer night ends up with streets lined with wet slices of pizza and guys fighting police. I’m a little chilly, and I chuckle, remembering that in my Jamaican-ness I still haven’t figured out the proper technique for dressing for moderately cold weather. In Jamaica we just wear what feels comfortable, as opposed to what’s necessary. In a cold climate there is so much structure to what one wears. Tonight I’m wearing thin pants, a long-sleeved white t-shirt and a pink and blue shirt (can anyone say Gay Euro?). I also have a track Jacket, which luckily isn’t a bad choice. There was one winter night I wore the track Jacket and the temperature dropped ten degrees. That night, I hated being typically Caribbean.

I’m at an art exhibit, looking at photographs from DC’s budding geniuses. The picture I’m looking is by a photographer named Joshua. He is a part of the Ten Miles Square group, which I’ve never heard of. Around me, people float around in various states of distraction. I say distraction because few people are reading the short blurbs of the photographers. Instead they are idly gazing at the pictures, occasionally pointing and smirking and then going outside. There is free beer outside, and I don’t blame them. Most people are dressed for colder weather, which I’m guessing is necessary. I’m being 100% Jamaican tonight, comfortable.
There is only one cold night I remember in Jamaica, and it was when I had a 103 degree fever, and my mother was dousing me in alcohol and cool water to bring my temperature down. It is also the first time I remember being delirious, and later I would hear I was rambling about video games and women with small breasts. (Okay, this isn’t true, but I wish it was, I was twelve).

Tonight is warm. I’m at Fight Club! A spot betwixt two large main roads in a back alley. This place feels like the scene from a really cool indie movie. The door to enter is a huge piece of Zinc, and inside has skateboard ramps, junk and lots of people that wish they were artists. DC people don’t dress artsy, nor do they act it. I talk to two girls while looking on a series of photographs that depicts people in different perspectives of distance. “I’m weird.” One of them says. I ask her why, and she tells me she is weird simply because it is, like the Gulf War happening and socks always smelling bad at the wrong times. Her friend, who is at least six foot seven, agrees that she too is a bit weird. Actually, she said she felt like the person in another photograph parallel to the exhibit we were looking at. It was a clown in various areas in DC. She said she felt like the picture where the clown was sitting by himself in a train.
I didn’t get it.

I go outside to get some beer and schmooze with the attendants. The kegs aren’t working, and the beer is mostly foam, but I smile and make sure to tip them each time I come for another beer. Like dressing for the cold, tipping is something I learned in America. Tipping in Jamaica isn’t comfortable, or necessary. The value of tipping works out later on. At the bar, I get smiles from three average looking blonde girls, and this guy who looks like a German trapped in an American’s body.

There is a skating room in this spot, a semi-cavernous area with ramps that allow boarders to skate on walls, the ceiling and wipeout in glorious 3d. Several of the very distracted photo exhibit patrons aren’t distracted in here. They are fixed with generous aplomb, watching skaters with tight pants threaten their skulls with possible concussions. I have a fond relation to skateboarding. A few years ago, I decided to become a professional skateboarder. I tried this for two years and then my knees began hurting unforgivably anytime I tried to Ollie. Now, like the distracted herd, I just watch.

By the wall is a tall girl, with a Winona Ryder hair cut peering through a set of bars into the skate room (yes there is a window with prison style bars erected). I ask her a lame question, somewhere along the lines of: Are you a photographer? She laughs and says no, and I can see her features more clearly. A strong face, with high cheekbones, a straight nose and thin lips. I peg her to be European. “I am no a photo-grapher.” She says with a slight accent. I smile, my international travels haven’t failed me.
“Let me guess where you are from.” I say with a wry smile. Her eyes open slightly wider, and I can see her brain sending calculations my way:
1)    Who is this guy
2)    How does he know I’m foreign
3)    Why is he wearing a gay Euro shirt.
“You are from France.” I say.
I actually think she’s German, but I say France to throw off the scary factor pegging her might bring. “I’m from Germany.” She says with a smile. She laughs, and shows a row of very straight teeth. Germany has good orthodontists.
When I ask her what she’s doing in DC, she says, “Oh, I make marketing for a large car company.”  I raise an eyebrow, feeling my playful side emerge like a rude kid in a unsupervised environment.
“You ‘make’ marketing?” I say. “Did you ‘create’ industry as well?”
Before she can respond, I grab her and laugh. “I’m just kidding!” I say with a big smile.

Four more times that night, I would say she “makes marketing”. Its no longer just a playful jab at her English, it becomes our joke. A little insider thing that we’ll laugh about in a year when I meet up with her in Munich. I don’t know how, but it will happen. I already see myself at the Schoenfeld airport (or wherever takes me close to Munich).We will hug, drink strong beer and take a tour of the city, then when we become intimate, I will stand up in my underwear and proclaim “LET US MAKE SEX!”

Her English is actually very good, and a tall, intense German guy behind her seems very displeased that we are speaking. At some point, I go to get another beer. For a second, stepping outside feels like being in Jamaica. It is relatively warm, the sky is over head and I’m drinking in the presence of a lot of people. Back home we call these kinds of outings Sessions, sans the psychiatrists and immediate diagnoses of Bi-polar disorder.

I’m determined to get my money’s wroth (its ten bucks all you can drink ) and I’m starting to get a light buzz. A slight drizzle comes down, and a girl in front of me says: “ Hey, do black girls drink beer?” (She is black). She is surrounded by five cute women. “Of course not! Black women drink mixed drinks!” I say with a laugh. Her friends laugh. Conversation ensues and I find out these ladies all went to school in Texas together. Like most conversations in Washington D.C after the first three questions, people start asking what each person does. The sequence is usually:
Hello how are you?
Where are you from?
What do you do?

I tend not to speak like that. I tell the girls that I don’t like asking people what they do seconds after meeting them, so one of them, a statuesque Mexican girl, improvises. “What’s your favourite color?” she asks. In the light drizzle, I’m temporarily taken back to high school, when things like “favourite movie”, “favourite color” and “what did you do today” plagued my phone conversations with girls. Everyone in the group chats about their favorite color. I initially say my favourite color is light blue, but after two minutes I realize currently its light purple. At this point, all five girls begin chatting about my shirt. “Purple would look great on you,” one says.”Thanks.” I reply.

The conversation goes in and out for a while. Everyone is lightly buzzed, and we are all talking about nothing in particular, and certainly nothing important. I tell the ladies I’ll be sorry to leave soon because I’m heading to Wonderland. “Wonderland? That’s where we are going!” they say with a twinkle. “Ah, it’s settled then, we are all going there.” At this point, a guy I know, Patrick comes in, and entertains the group with hilarious dynamics regarding African parents and the pressure that comes with Barack Obama being the President-elect.
Putting on a faux Nigerian (or proper depending on how you look at it, he is Nigerian), he says. “My mother would say, ‘Obama is now the president of the United States. You need to be President of a company.”

His voice is hilarious, but I realize now that in typewritten form these things might not come across as that funny. I run upstairs to take a tinkle and run into the roommate of a girl I once hooked up with. “You know,” she says. “Mercedes went back to California.” (of course her name isn’t Mercedes!). “Oh.” I said. (Mercedes fell off the map several months ago, this revelation is news to me.) I chat to her for two minutes then run upstairs. There are about fifty people in line, and they don’t look distracted, but intensely focused. I have to find an alley. I run outside and find a little spot between two huge Garbage bins.

In the near distance, I hear the chatter of a large group of girls. Its my crew. They are a little drunk, but still cute. Out of five girls, four of them are roughly five foot eight. They almost start walking in the opposite direction of the metro, but I tell them the correct way nicely. I’ve learned that some girls get unusually angry over trivial things if they are corrected, like the day’s date, their name and the location of obvious places. We play little games in the metro station while we wait for the train to come. It’s a thirteen minute wait, and we end up snapping at least two dozen pictures from two different cameras and I pick up two of the girls and playfully spin them around.

On the train, we walk in all beer breath and loud laughs. The train is filled with people, and they all give us the “these people are drunk” eye. In a way, I probably was a little drunk. We take more pictures, with me lying in the laps of three of the girls, one girl danced on a pole, and another took a random picture with two guys chilling in the back. When we reach the Columbia heights metro stop, I speed up the escalator and run outside. Time to tinkle again. I find another quiet area between two large garbage pans again.

Tonight is quite random, but somewhat normal for me. I am a floater, like a little piece of flotsam on the sea. I head back to the metro station and take a quick look back down the steps of the escalator, but I don’t see the girls. I do a light jog to Wonderland, and I don’t see them in line. The bouncer knows me by face, and I try and break the line, and he forcefully (but in a friendly way) tells me I can’t cut the line. Its okay, and I go to the back, then see the girls appear in the distance.
“Where did you go!” they said. “You ditched us!” the tall Mexican says.

In the line (as always), one of the girls sees someone she recognizes and they start talking. I’ve been in the line for five minutes before I realize that there usually is never a line at Wonderland. When I reach inside, the place is like a tiny rugby locker room with a full team inside. I’m holding the hand of one of the girls, the only one under five foot eight. She’s never been to Wonderland and I’m leading her to the bathroom to show her where it is. I exchange strange pleasantries with a guy in line, and the little one goes in. I see the others come inside, and head straight to the bar. In the line, the tall Mexican kept mentioning going back to her place and playing guitar Hero. It sounded like fun. Five girls in their jammies, playing Guitar hero till five in the morning, good times.

There were endless people upstairs. The music was good and everyone was dancing. I rarely dance these days, but tonight I danced with everyone. I had a moment with the tall Mexican against the wall on the stage where the DJ was. Dancing with the girl who asked “Do black girls drink beer”, we hit the DJ deck and cause the music to stop for three seconds. I danced with the little one somewhere near the staircase. I did drunk Salsa with the other tall one (the third of four) somewhere near a coat rack. In the mix were several random (and oddly, short) girls. I ran into a few friends that I see every other week. These are people that pop up like the Men In Black. I could be in Dupont, Adams Morgan, George Town, or Kayaking on the Potomac. They would always roll by and say, “Wow Marcus, I see you everywhere!”

The rest of the night goes by in the usual blur. I am having a relatively good time, but I’m not ecstatic. My plan is working perfectly; that is, I planned to go to a photo exhibit and then probably hit up Wonderland afterwards. These girls were incidentals.

The girls say they are leaving. The Mexican mentions guitar hero again and her place. We leave, and I realize there are nine people now. Two very tall blonde guys are walking with us, as well as a short, strange-looking Ethiopian fellow. I don’t’ know where these guys came from, and what makes everything weirder is they aren’t’ speaking, just tagging behind. I found out the Ethiopian looking guy was a work colleague of the Mexican (or was it another one?) So he was in.

Its raining now, and a friend of mine is trying to get the play by play via phone. I foolishly keep texting him while rain drops are hitting the face of my phone. In a few minutes, the 4 and 9 button my phone stop working. Then, the phone starts mysteriously displaying random numbers on screen. Bad news.
I can’t text, and the phone shuts off a few times. We have been walking for about fifteen minutes, when the Mexican says, “I hope you have a way home, I’m not bringing you home with me.” I almost paused (if it wasn’t raining and I hadn’t walked god knows how far). “What do you mean?”
“You can’t come home with me,” she says in a sing-song voice.
“It’s raining…” I say.
“I’ve walked home in the rain before.” She replies, with an almost sarcastic smile on her face,

For a second, I wonder what’s happening. I wasn’t even interested in the Mexican, from early on she said she had a boyfriend. A few seconds after she makes her declaration of No guitar hero and pillow-fighting with five cute girls, we cross the street and everyone (except me ) goes into an apartment building.

I get upset for three minutes. I am upset mostly because my phone is not working, and it is raining and I don’t see any cabs. After three minutes, I laugh to myself. I’ve been in worse situations. Getting ditched by a few drunk girls a few steps from their doorway is child’s play. But I really wanted to play some guitar hero.

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: 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.

 

****

Make it so Numba One [monk’s Abbey]   Leave a comment

I’ve been searching for inspiration lately, and no I didn’t find it in the face of a beautiful woman.

I’ve been floating in between that head space most artistic people reach at some point in their lives. In inevitable top o’ the mountain. We hear the sonorous voice that could be any number of black actors ask us that question: “What are you doing?”

(if aforementioned sonorous voice said “What is real?” then it would be Laurence Fishburne. He was also Mr. deep voice in Fantastic Four two. Betcha didn’t know that!)

My only achievement this week was completely frightening a cute girl in a bookstore named Abby. There she was, walking around with a cute yellow bag, looking for books. There I was, looking for a new book to read with a great excuse to say hello. I’ll scratch the details, but the conversation ended with me asking for her opinion on something. Not her number.

She reminded me that this city is a place for artists. She’s the third girl i’ve met who works in an art gallery, but the first who actually looks like a piece of art. She reminded me of a little porcelain doll. The kind that have organs, and studied Art History in North Carolina. Yes, I frightened her, with my high-energy Jamaican wit and obvious comfort with myself. That ladies and single reader of this blog, is the most frightening thing to a woman, the idea that a man is comfortable with himself. Especially if he isn’t forty-something and flush with mutual funds and crazy levels of disposable income.

Frightening miss A didn’t bother me that much. I was actually glad I frightened her in some ways. I was glad that I came off a little too happy, too endearing, because the truth is I haven’t felt like that in days. I was experience what my friends and i like to call “frownzing”.

Frownsing: (adj. frown-zing) the act of, or activities related to frowning. Contemplating life, being generally jaded, or driven to watch porn. Facilitates lower states of energy, higher solitary presence at movie theatres and the Taco Bell line. Watching Sex and the City.

So not only was I happy to have met a cutie like Abby, I was happy to scare her away. It justified in my mind that my reality was doing the right thing. I was projecting an air of confidence I didn’t have, even if the cute girl who works at the art gallery MIGHT have given me her number if i had just turned down the man-juice a notch.

Randomly, but not coincidentally, after I left the book store carefully protecting my copy of Lost World, I leaned against a wall and started talking to my friend on the phone. We were talking about the usual madness. Women, success, money, not having either of the three, you know the deal. At some point, Abby walked past–wearing a black shawl or something–but it was her. I saw her look at me, then look forward.

I made no attempt to say hello, or “de-man-ize” myself by saying. “Hey Abby!”. I could just as easily do that by shouting “Hey Abbot!” for no reason, and i’d draw more stares. Abby walked off into the distance, reasonably tall and attractive, gone to probably manically paint in some studio apartment somewhere. Then I turned around and resumed my conversation.

The abbey thing reminds me of something. One of the key features of New York is women, women women. In fact this phenomenon can become a little bit annoying. Not the fact that the city is filled with beauties, but the fact that they walk so bloody fast. By the time you stop a girl to say hello, she’s half a block away. Its that bad.

In the last few days, I’ve been sharing my apartment with super-author Michael Crichton. He’s been in my bed, on my floor and once or twice in my bathroom. I’ve been reading a few of his books. I just read Next and Jurassic Park, and I grabbed Lost World yesterday. I’m not sure if I’m the laziest book reader ever–I don’t like searching through books hoping i don’t find a lemon–or if I’m just in a dinosaur/genetics mode right now. Either way, I need to feed my mind so I can start up my writing process. I need to kick start myself like an aging guitarist needs coke before a show. I need that high.

I think six to eight good books should get me writing again. Earlier this year, I read about fifteen or twenty books in the month of January, and not only did I write some of my most interesting blogs, but I was writing constantly. Ideas came from the depth of my insides, and spilled onto my keyboard into MS word and on dozens of tiny scraps of paper. I need that again. Time to contribute to the creative commons. I can “frownz” later

On a side note, this “scary” side of myself is pretty humorous. I went to a bar on Monday night and some girl started talking to me. A few minutes later the shortest Asian guy i’ve ever seen pats me on the back and tries to tell me to lay off the chick. (I didn’t even know her name). I didn’t find the event funny until two days later, when I remember some random dude asking me about his Russian friend who was visiting town. “You can see where i’m going with this right?” he says to me. It was hilarious. Not only was he cock-blocking me from a girl who’s name I didn’t know. But he was also being semi-threating about this girl, who spoke to ME and whom I didn’t even remember.

.Maybe I really am scary

.Maybe I walk into places and people wonder who the f*ck is this maverick come to steal and impregnate our women! On Karaoke night nonetheless.

I wish.

Cheers to better days and less cock-blocking from dudes.

Cannes Day 1 – Vive La Crepes!   Leave a comment

Okay. So I haven’t been able to blog about a few things recently.

Number one was my Graduation – too tired.
Number two was traveling to France the day after graduation – way too tired.
So the blog starts here :p

 

CANNES DAY ONE – POLICE, SHUTTLES AND CHILLY WEAHTER

 

I’m sitting in a room in the Cot d’Azur airport. I’m staring blankly forward—this is what I do when I’m trying to keep an innocent face—and trying to understand the French customs officer speaking to me… in French.

 

This would be one of my first experiences with the French. The first would be the passionate request of a French man for me to switch seats with him and his wife on the airplane.

“I would lie to sit with my wife.” He says moments after coming to the seat. I was a little hesitant. No, very hesitant because I really wanted to have my window seat, occasionally looking at the ocean while we flew over it at hundreds of miles and hour. Eventually I gave the guy the seat. Not before he mutters under his breath:

Sur incompetente Americans!” after an air hostess gives him a bogus explanation as to why he and his wife aren’t seated together. I tried not to laugh.

Now, I’m back in the office. Not only do I have no proof that I was invited to the Cannes Film Festival (my reason for being in France) I have no copy of my hotel reservation. This is REALLY bad. The lady took one look at my Jamaican passport and immediately started scrutinizing me. (my fellow participans in my program, all Americans went through without a hitch).

It was a fun experience, as I tried to speak in Englsh and broken French to explain my purpose for being in France. I couldn’t’ remember the name of the hotel right away, but I did remember the website that had the hotels name on it, which didn’t help things at all. Then the name of the hotel popped into my mind.

Villa Maupassant.

A young French guy that resembled an actor from a movie I can’t remember was very helpful. He could see the customs lady was breaking my balls. I would find out later that the French officials didn’t even scan the passports for the American passengers, they just took a quick glance at it, then stamped. She kept asking me questions in casual conversational French while the young man translated. I didn’t think I was screwed, but I was very annoyed with myself for forgetting to bring the essential things any Jamaican should when they are traveling: Reasons to show you aren’t fleeing your home country.

After a while I explained to the woman that I was part of a group that had traveled to France and that I was to be picked up outside. The only problem with that was, I had no idea who was picking me up, how they looked or what they were wearing. We walked over to the customs section where I was grilled on why I was in France. 

“I’m going to the festival.” I said.

“Really?” the customs baggage lady (different from the customs lady ) said. 

“Yes.”

“Where is your letter of acceptance?” she asks.

“I don’t have it.” 

I give a sob story about Graudating the day before and being extremely tired which is only half true. I normally have my information printed in duplicated hidden in both suiticases, with a backup on my thumb drive. I wasn’t only tired this trip, I must have been on drugs as well. You travel eight thousand miles and have no hotel address? Come on dude!

I eventually get through customs and go outside. I begin looking around… and see no one even remotely familiar. In the pit of my stomach I can see how more and more I’m appearing like a Jamaican hoping to make a new life in the hills of Cannes with my French Cougar. 

 We eventually returned to the airport police office. The young man who had been really cool with helping me apparently double checked with the Villa Maupassant people and I was good to go. phew!

The bad thing was my shuttle had already left and the next one wouldn’t return until about ten a.m (which ended up being about Eleven a.m) either way. My entrance into France like many things, was with a bang.

It’s a chilly day in the Cot d’ Azur aiport, but I like the look of the area. Many of the buildings are tan and dot the hillside in a contiguous way. When the plane landed, for a brief moment I thought of Montego Bay—until I saw some massive mountains in the distance. I’m at the Villa now taking a break. I’m tryin to stay awake for the rest of the day to stave off the weirdness Jet lag can give a traveler, so I think I might get something to eat nearby.

Reflectionz 

I’ve just graduated from University, and I don’t have time to really relish the idea of being a working professional, I just am. A colleague of mine ( who also Graduated just a few days ago) goes on a walk with me around the local area. We are trying to find out if we can get a phone, or a sim card for cheap, but the best price we find Is a store that sells them for 20 euros. The man doesn’t speak much English and my French is horrible, so I can’t figure out. I decide against getting the SIM for the moment, but as time passes I realize I might need a way to contact people.

 

I’m fighting against the effects of future Jet lag. This is a process that requires a person to stay awake in the manner you would on any given day, but you are technically staying awake for an extra six hours. When my friend and I stop at a stand to by some crepes, I am made all to aware of this fact. While I’m eating my phone alarm goes off.

For 8:30 a.m

French time is 12:30 p.m. I groan to myself because I have to stay up till at least 8 p.m  that evening to trick my mind into getting into the new cycle. I spend the rest fo the day walking around a lot to get my bearings. Cannes is a scenic town, with sweeping vistas of nice mountainous regions, and lots of teeny tiny cars. The occasional Bentley or Ferrari drives buy pretty regularly, but many people have cars that can fit in a shoe box, or ride a bike.

 

I end up taking a long (possibly 5 mile) walk to the Palais Des Festivals which is the main area of the Cannes Film Festival. On my way there I run into a girl who was in my Cinematography one class. Small world eh? She tells me about studying abroad and how creepy French men are. (The rumors are true!)

 

I hang out for a bit, looking at huge Yachts on the Mediterranean and trying to stay awake. I’m sitting on a bench somewhere, I watch another monster Ferrari with a soft top roll by like a Lion chasing his dinner and I head home. Earlier in the day I bought some bread and cheese and its my saving grace. I haven’t had the opportunity to go to a supermarket yet, and for now I will be eating “du pan au fromage”. I’ll report on day two as it comes. You can also checkout my video blog. (whenever I can figure out how to set that up…)

 

 

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