Archive for the ‘washington dc’ Tag

Washington Places and CreateSpaces   Leave a comment

dcmetroaug03

It’s been really interesting being back in D.C for a day or so. Doing the book reading for Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chicken, walking around Chinatown for a bit, having dinner with a few friends and seeing old faces and places was an exercise in remembering what’s out there. Whenever I travel I tend to get this “reset” where I remember that out there in the world, there are entirely different ways of being and living. People I run into are doing things they want to do, whether it be at a non profit organization, or working for a big film company. I feel more and more like i need to be in a place with enough creative flux that I can meet and see the people I want. Either way, I got my books today and they look pretty cool. Hopefully I can offload them in the good old NYC if I do a reading. But i’m trying not to worry about it all, i’m just gonna hop on my bus and see what happens.

SDJChardcopies

Presently I’m not sure how to feel about the books. I mean i’ve made that step into the real world of publishing, but the way my mind works i’m always processing and nitpicking so I’m reserving judgement for the moment. BUT… at the very least, the cover design came out okay, and i’m pleased with the eye grabbing nature of it. The pages feel “okay” and i guess with time they will get softer with exposure to heat and air. The formatting seems to be okay as well, though the text is a tad smaller than I expected. I might have to adjust that somehow when i do my next run of books. Either way I have a tangible product that I can do stuff with like giveaways and show them to people, etc, so it’s an interesting step. I mean, as i’ve said many a time on this blog i’m not a person who gets easily excited by things, but i’ve been practicing more and more how to feel like what i’ve achieved is “something.” It’s hard to rejoice all the time when you are figuring out all the details about marketing, public relations, interviews and so forth at the same time. Anyhoo, this is step one to hopefully a much bigger step. Next destination is New York!

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Thanks for the support!   Leave a comment

ONLINE BOOK LAUNCH: SEX DRUGS AND JERK CHICKEN   Leave a comment

I’m happy to announce my first novel, Sex Drugs and Jerk Chicken which will be available worldwide on Amazon starting July 22nd, 2012. I’m doing a Campaign to boost first day sales, so please watch the video and join the mailing list to get your copy on day one! You can go directly to the mailing list site here:

wwww.sexdrugsandjerkchicken.com

Thanks in advance,

– Marcus

Losing Christmas….   2 comments

rainydaycentralpark

Its raining outside, and somewhere my family is looking up at sunny skies, sharing smiles and eating a delicious breakfast. I won’t be with them anytime soon.

I’ve lost Chrstmas.

I don’t know how much people know about the stilted lives of those who aren’t American living in the U.S, but let’s just say, its not always pleasant. Details of why I’m forced to remain in lovely ol’ DC for the rest of the year are irrelevant.
I’ve lost this time with my family and a few friends, but I feel I lost Christmas a long time ago.
Tomorrow will be the fourth year anniversary of my Grandfather’s death. I can’t even believe it, it still feels like yesterday, like the way I feel when I forget my keys as I’m stepping out of the house, or the way I feel when I have something to do that’s on the tip of my tongue. It feels close, as if it’s a breath away, an arm’s length. But its not. Four whole years have passed since I visited the quiet hospital room with its green, ugly walls, where everyday I would greet my Grandfather with a smile and hug, feeling his bones press into my skin because he had lost so much weight. The staff loved him—he’s just that kind of guy—and I followed suit. Even though he was at the last stages of being eaten by cancer, he never showed much pain or anger. He would always entertain conversation if he could manage it. He was always laughing with the staff and telling me: “Mr. Marcus, good to see you.”
I only had two weeks to spend with him, and there were nights that I was falling asleep after spending the day there with him, and he would tell me to go out and have fun.
It’s hard watching someone with one lung breathe. The day before he died, one of his lungs collapsed, and watching him was heartbreaking. When you have one lung you are forced to exert all your efforts into breathing. Sucking in life-giving air is no longer something you do effortlessly awake or asleep, it becomes frightfully real. I watched him heave awkwardly for hours on end, while nurses stood by, their faces dark brown masks of death.
On the day he died, we were all standing around him, most of his immediate family, and we were there to see him go. His last words with his arms outstretched were “Sing for me”. Sing we did. His pastor was there, singing a quiet hymnal, and we stood by, our eyes filled with tears and our hearts in our mouths. As soon as he said those words, he wilted, and we knew he was gone. My mother grabbed us and rushed us beside him. “Tell him goodbye.” She said between breaths.

Tell him goodbye.

That was four years ago, and tomorrow a gathering will take place at my Grandmother’s house in Jamaica. People will play dominoes, eat Christmas cake and drink Sorrel (a yearly drink we brew) and talk about good times. I will be here in DC, watching rain pour from the sky like tears from my eyes four years ago.

In a way, I lost Christmas then.

A year later, I was in love. The worst kind you can be in, the unrequited kind. That Christmas I was unable to sleep, and I lost my appetite. The days went by in a blur, and all I could think of was a person I couldn’t see or touch. I couldn’t hear her voice or smell her hair, but at least, I had my family. I had the kind, consoling words of my Grandmother. She with her powerful hugs and sweet kisses. She calls me Marks. Then there were the outings with my father, the endless stream of Heinekens and staying out at bars until the sky becomes a purplish blue. I get to hear my father say, “This is my big son. Marcus.” To numerous people I’ve never met. Then there are the idle conversations with my sisters; joking about esoteric things you learn over twenty odd years of living with each other. The jokes that only you will ever find funny, the ones that pop up from the recesses of your memory in the same way your name does when a stranger asks you what your name is. You immediately go back in time, and you are ten and she is five, and you are both sitting with skinny arms and legs, calmly watching a Disney movie on the brand new VCR. I didn’t have love, but at least I had that. I had those memories around me to stymie the effects of my loss.

The next year, I lost a friend.

This also changed Christmas. No longer would I run to his house and laugh and recap the year, or traipse about Kingston, laughing at how well we were dressed, or more esoteric jokes. No more would we reminisce about riding through the hills during the summertime on our bikes; no more playing video games and crashing on couches. These memories were gone, wilted away like the moment my Grandfather left this Earth. We might think life is mundane and often empty; that the little things around us are the things we dislike the most. The little things family and friends might say to annoy us, the meals we used to hate, the little trips we didn’t like taking. But when those are gone, we are left with nothing but silence, a cavernous raging silence that we can’t escape. It stares at us from the heavens, drowning us in its malevolent laughter.

Treasure the moments.

A year after this one, I made sure to make Christmas what it should be. I relished the moment, hungrily went to all the parties, I went to all the dinners and I laughed at all the jokes. Losing love, family and friends makes you do that. It turns you into a leech for good emotion. Dammit, if I have three weeks out of a sad year to feel good, I will use them like an addict’s last hit of coke before rehab.
Today, that’s changed.

There is no love twittering about in my heart, no painful memories of someone nearby. There is no friend to call and laugh about esoteric jokes. There is no family nearby to hug and giggle with, no sisters around to laugh about old Disney movies and catfights when we were kids. All I have is the rain around me, the humming of my space heater to keep me company, and my thoughts.
It is said that we die alone, that when we exit this Earth, we do so the same way we came. I think this is true, but I also think we live alone. We may occasionally see people and go to places were others dwell, but in our minds we are forever by ourselves. We never completely open up to those around us, and our reality is uniquely our own. Time might pass and we might love and lose it, get married or have children, but in some way, people never truly know us. We spend most of our lives being trained not to tell people about ourselves, and then worry as we get older and experience states of undesirable disconnect. Thus, if we die alone, and we live alone, is dying like living? Are they one and the same?
I don’t know. But as I head out into another rainy evening and the wet drops soften my hair, mix with the salt on my skin and burn my eyes, I might have my answer.

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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QUANTUM OF SOLO:   Leave a comment

quantumsolo

Tonight I have a date with James Bond.

I haven’t showered, my breath smells like Ginger cookies, and I’m sitting semi-excitedly at our meeting place. I’m in the absolute best seat in the house at the Regal Gallery theatre, in Chinatown. It is Thanksgiving Day, and so far, its been a very quiet affair.
I’ve gotten very good at tuning out holidays; seeing people smiling and laughing as they gather with family and friends, happily sharing anecdotes and saying “Wow, you’ve gotten taller!” This happens to me a lot with my family. I swear, if I had actually been getting taller over the years, I’d be Shaq size now.
I haven’t taken off my coat yet, because I’m allowing myself to warm up. I’m by no means cold, but I’m not warm either. The chill outside followed me like an annoying little boy, up two escalators, past the ticket guys, down two hall ways, up a few more flights of stairs, and then to my seat. I haven’t been to a movie in a while, and already I’m feeling the tingle in my stomach.
I love that movie theatre smell. Whatever it is they use to clean the theatre carpeting has become synonymous with the exciting introduction of new films, of booming noises from the speakers and me, sitting with bright eyes in the darkness. I don’t smell popcorn—yet, but it will come soon. Its ten minutes to movie time and there is no one in the room but me, and I wonder if anyone is going to come. I wonder what the odds are of me being the only person to sit and watch this new James Bond movie—Quantum of Solace—by myself, undisturbed in complete privacy? I secretly wish it happens. That way I can pretend I’m sitting in the back room of my mansion, as I wave to my manservant Manfred to turn the projector on. In three minutes, this fantasy disappears with the appearance of a young Asian couple. They are holding a humongous tub of popcorn, and the man (they are a straight couple) looks at me for a few seconds. I can see that he is silently cursing. Dammit! He beat me to the good seat his eyes say. I acknowledge this telepathic declaration of defeat with a wry smile. He takes the next best seats, the two drivers seats in the middle of the theater aisle.
According to the engineers(I presume), the two seats that are just below the railings should technically have the perfect alignment with the screen, but in my experience, the seats directly above them are always better, especially if the theater is small. More people stream in as time passes, and a few more give me that look of defeat. Dammit, I’ll have to watch Bond a few degrees out of alignment!
I still haven’t’ taken my coat off yet, and I’m sitting with a bemused expression on my face. I am completely calm, and I’m probably even smiling. In my ears, I’m listening to the voice of Deepak Chopra talk about the Seven spiritual laws of success, but his Indian lilt is being drowned out by the Regal Cinema’s “First Look” promotional videos. I decide to take the headphones off.
Now its feeling more like a movie theater. People are filling up all the seats, and the smell of popcorn is wafting through the air. Conversations float back and forth, but I don’t really hear any of them.
As a screenwriter, a few years ago I felt a unique excitement at the thought of eventually producing a movie and seeing it in a theater. Whenever I got to the movies, I get that feeling of fantasy, when I see my film appear in a trailer, with an A-list cast and a five star review of the script from Rolling Stone Magazine. When I’m in the theater, for two to four hours (depending on which movie I sneak into afterward) I can escape my thoughts, and disappear into a world of film.

For a thanksgiving day, it has been relatively unconventional. I spent the day meditating and listening to Japanese audios. I read a few pages of Atonement, and made some Soy meat for dinner. (You could call it soy stew). In the days leading up to thanksgiving, people kept asking me incredulously: “You aren’t doing anything for Thanksgiving!!!!?????” I laughed as they said this.
Some people simply say, “Oh, he’s a foreigner, he doesn’t get thanksgiving.” This isn’t true. I do get thanksgiving, and why it is so important. But I’m tired of subscribing to the notion of this aspect of Americana; the lonely guilt tossed on single people on massive public holidays. On a boring Monday I get no calls from people to see how I’m doing. On a random Thursday no one is going to text me to say, “I’m happy I know you and blah blah blah!” But when thanksgiving rolls around, suddenly people are concerned that you live alone and you have no pets. I find this awkward.
I remember roaming around feeling lonely a few years ago on a thanksgiving and ended up in a creepy looking Lodge somewhere in Ledroit park. I ate some questionable looking Turkey and cranberry dressing that looked like human blood. You can guess I’ve never done that again.
The streets were quiet today. There was virtually no traffic anywhere, and I took solace( solace! I said it) in that. For a day, the city felt more empty, a little lifeless and in a way, it felt like mine. Everyone I knew was far away, with their families, sitting in warm houses, drinking god knows what and catching up. I’m sure my family was doing the same thing, the people in New York and elsewhere.
At 9 A.M in the morning, I received a text message from a number I didn’t recognize. It was a text message that read:
Happy thanksgiving! I am thankful you are in my life! Eat some turkey and enjoy your day! :p
I texted the person back to tell them they probably sent the message to the wrong person by accident. The person responded.
Accident? No, this is your roommate Christine.
(I have no roommate named Christine).
Either way, this sort of thing happens all the time. I might have actually felt bad if my parents hadn’t called me shortly before the message came. Then I would bemoan the fact that the only person to send me a well wishing thanksgiving text on the day was a stranger who sent me a message accidentally! Then I would have probably wept openly, happy to be going to the movies later on to live vicariously through James Bond’s sexual exploits.

At this point I decide to take my coat off. (the previews are about to start and I’m the only guy fully dressed: coat scarf, the works). I run to the bathroom awkwardly ( my knee is acting up) and head back to the theater. The screen slims down to wide screen, the lights dim and the movie starts. For two hours, I disappear into a world of car chases, bright lights and supermodels.

I enjoy the movie, and I hobble out of the theatre, ready to leave. I accidentally follow an EXIT sign into another movie, and I realize I don’t want to watch that new Vampire flick, Twilight. I sneak into Four Christmases and enjoy myself thoroughly. It is the first romantic comedy i’ve watched in a while where I didn’t leave the theater saturated with memories of past relationships. I like the plot, and even though the theater was cold, being in the company of people laughing was good.

I headed outside, and caught the bus home. In my jacket, resting under my seat, is my phone, which is set to silent, and digitally contains the message I got earlier from Christine. I look at it for a second, and smile.

http://cruftcomic.blogspot.com
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From Russia House, With flubb   5 comments

207977215_ed94bb97cb1On Thursday night I went to Russia House with a girl I met recently. I tried out some dark Russian beer, and chatted about life. Before I left, I saw my ex-girlfriend downstairs sitting with a group of people at a table. When I saw her, her face was animated and she was obviously talking about something of importance. It looked like she was at the tail-end of a campaign speech, or in the middle of proving a major point. Either way, I walked over, and waved at her. In her peripheral vision, she noticed me, but she looked shocked. Actually she looked exposed, but I don’t know why.
“What are you doing here?” she said.
“I can’t even tell you right now.” I said with a smile.
“We’ll talk later.” She said somewhat abruptly.
I left, and ended up partying in Dupont for the rest of the night. But the next day, her statement knocked around my skull like a loose screw in a car engine. We don’t talk. We don’t even gchat. I’ve probably received one unsolicited call from her in the last two years. Why would she talk to me after running into me at the Russia house? Her expression weirded me out a bit. She almost seemed frightened to see me.
This made me think about the nature of things people say, and what they mean. We are so tied up with the way we communicate; people act weird around people they like, most women are afraid of the men they love, but an interesting stranger is always a good bet eh?
This is on my mind for a little bit on Friday night as well. Its cold and I don’t want to stay home. Staying home alone on a Friday night reminds me of too many past relationships. Too many winters were I had someone warm to keep me happy as bitter cold raged outside.
Earlier in the evening, I had another awkward moment.
I was near Howard University, eating a chicken sandwich. For most of the day I’ve felt light-headed, and the sandwich isn’t helping. I’m sitting there, watching a re-run of Smart Guy on a flat screen a few feet away, and my phone buzzes. It’s a text message from a girl I know, Q.
We were supposed to go to a bar for some early drinks, but I guess the cold killed that plan. The text reads:
Why don’t you come to my house. I have Gin, but no Tonic.
.This request seems reasonable, because its God awful cold outside. But moments after I arrive at the house, I realize a few things were off.  The first thing she asked me was if I’d been to the house before. I said no (her roommate is a friend of mine). The second thing that happened was said roommate, D, came home roughly eight minutes after I arrived. When he saw me in the kitchen drinking a gin and ginger ale with his roommate, I could see he didn’t expect me to be there.
As time passed, I didn’t even feel like I was there. They talked amongst themselves about little things; a missing sponge, some smoky chicken that was cooked a few days back; getting drunk on a Thursday, typical stuff.

It was almost voyeuristic, watching the cute yet intimate interaction of roommates on a Friday evening. Occasionally I tried to say a few things, but I didn’t think I had much to contribute. I started to wonder if I was intruding in some way. Even though I was invited into the house I felt as if I had strolled in of my own accord, loud and insistent, violating space.

My social intuition told me to leave (by now I’m sure D assumed I was trying to hookup with his roommate, but later I’d find out he didn’t even care) but the cold kept me inside. I popped out my laptop at some point and diddled on the internet.
D started watching the Jim Lehrer news hour and Q started using her laptop. I was a few feet away, sitting in the kitchen.  Then I also realized I’d never seen Q in a calm social setting before. I had only seen her at wild parties, where we gave each other drunken hellos and sprinkled random statements over the moment like beer foam.

The evening progressed into a strange dialogue that made me feel as if I was spiraling into and old yet  familiar place. Even though we chatted about normal things; something wasn’t clicking. Whatever good intentions had brought me to the house, it was backfiring fast. Conversation lagged, and I tried a little harder to make things work. This didn’t work;she look bored and a little frustrated. With all my life experience, for a little while I fell back into a childish naiveté. I wanted to know where the dark cloud came from, what was happening and why the early evening was quickly slipping into darkness. This didn’t happen, and I sensed it was time to leave.

“I have to meet someone else pretty soon.” she said.

I nodded. I felt this was an indirect (albeit polite) way to say it was time for me to go. This didn’t bother me. As adults when we are in socially awkward situations, we don’t have to talk about them, we just nicely tell the person to leave. Problem solved.

I started putting my winter gear on. I was still curious about what happened. I paused in the doorway for a moment as I headed out. (Like I said, childish naiveté). Like a young psychologist, I wanted to know what was happening. Was it bad energy? Body language? Something else? I asked her. So I said, “I feel awkward. Is something wrong? If so, please tell me. I’m very curious.”
She stood up for a moment, and sighed.
“You are a cool and interesting and all that, but maybe I’m just not a nice person.” She replied. I paused for a second. I would have scratched my head but I had my gloves and a hat on.

I didn’t really know what this meant. I’m not sure if anyone has ever told me something like  that. I thought she was cool, the statement made things a little more fuzzy. I thought she was a nice person. We were supposed to hang out at a bar. I think it was the house. Something about being there made things weird. Bloody cold weather!

As I turned to leave, I felt slightly worried. I wondered if my friend thought I was trying to hook up with his roommate, and what the subsequent fallout would be. As I walked down some cold dark steps towards the street I heard her voice behind me. “ Have a good night.” She said.
I walked towards Georgia avenue, heading back home. In my mind I wondered, “what just happened?”
I wasn’t upset, because I know that some groups of people just can’t communicate. They are like fire and ice. Oil and water. We must have been like that.
I thought about how happily D and Q had chatted to each other. It was like watching a sitcom, minus the Prague laughter. I thought of my living situation. My house is quiet, and my roommates are all but invisible. There is no happy morning greeting, no laughs about a missing sponge or a smoky pot, no outings on a Friday night. The house like many in DC; large, empty and cold. Every now and then I might hear laughter upstairs, or the sound of a television from a room downstairs. Sometimes, there are breaks in the silent moments. I might play some music, or I’ll hear the blare of a siren outside. If it’s windy, the shutters will rustle. My space heater hums. When my micro fridge resets itself, I hear a little clink. That’s about it.
Maybe at D’s house I had stepped into that little comfort space that people normally don’t see. That intimate side of people who live together, only seen by the clock on the wall. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to see it. Maybe that caused the cloud.

*  *  *
I go home and drop asleep for a few hours. When I wake up, there is a text message on my phone.
Its from a friend, Liz. My roommates and I are going to Wonderland, the text reads. I see it as a good sign. I head to wonderland, doing a light jog in the freezing weather to the metro station. I have a six minute wait at the train station. When I reach the bar, as usual its packed. I go upstairs and grab a drink. I’m still mulling over a few things in my head. I’m worried that I’ve somehow put a dark smear on my relationship with two people I thought were cool, and I keep thinking about what my ex-girlfriend said at Russia House.
.Its possible she saw the girl behind me and felt awkward, or maybe one of the guys at the table was her boyfriend and she didn’t want him to see me, I dunno. But something about what she said seemed rushed, and dismissive. I wondered why she looked so surprised to see me. I do live in DC after all.
.I grab a beer and stand watching the crowd. Tonight is not a night for dancing. The makeup of the crowd is a little odd. Mostly guys and girls with short hair cuts dressed like guys. It dawns on me that it’s a gay night.
The lesbian couples are semi-obvious. For the most part there is one girl dressed like a guy, then a cute (more “standard looking”) girl dancing with her. On nights like these, I feel as if I’m doing something fundamentally wrong. These women are happily making out, hooking up and going out. A girl who dresses like a man can get laid, but a guy who is simply a guy has to fight and cajole and twist things around to even get a half decent hello.
I feel like leaving, but Liz sends me a  text. (They actually went to Local 16 on U street). We are coming to the Wonderland now.
I chill for a bit and the music gets better. Somewhere on stage, a person hits the light switch, and the entire dancing area is cast into shadow. On cue, people start making out. A tall mocha-looking guy is making out with a short brunette beside me. On stage, a girl dressed like Andre 3000 is making out with another girl while they dance. More girls are kissing girls, and couples are kissing each other. I feel empty watching these people embrace. I would leave, but it’s so cold outside, and all I have is my quiet room to go to.
The DJ starts playing some reggae music, and I amuse myself by singing along. A scruffy looking guy comes over and hands me a flyer. “This is my party, we’ll be playing a lot of 70’s reggae music. You should check it out.” He says. I smile and say “Respect.” But I can’t bear to tell him I don’t really like 70’s reggae music. I find it depressing.
Liz and her two roommates arrive. They are both gay. It fits the theme of the night. They dance energetically to the music and disappear into the folds of the crowd. I see a girl come upstairs. I recognize her as Anna. There was a night last year she was all over me then gave me her number. I saw her the next day at a house party and she pretended not to know me. She is with her boyfriend. He looks like John Heder.
Guys in the bar are working hard to get laid, but I see that most of them will go home alone. We are such awkward creatures; we go to tiny spaces to consume chemicals that dull our senses, then stand in close proximity to other people to get a sense of community.
Freaky.
At some point, someone touches me. It’s a girl I recognize. She says a quick hello and disappears. A part of me wants to dance with Liz, but she’s betrothed to someone else, so I leave her alone. Her roommate is dancing very intimately with her, but he’s gay, so that’s cool.
After standing by the water cooler for ten minutes, I decide to bounce. I tell Liz goodbye and head downstairs. I see my friend. “I could really use a cup of tea.” I say to her. She lives a block away. “I have a long walk ahead.”She opens her mouth and makes the sound you hear when someone is feeling sad on 70’s Tv: “Whaap, whaap, whaaaaap.”
“You don’t have any tea?” I ask her.  She nods no. “No coffee?” she nods no again.
I realize she thinks I’m asking her to come over to her place using tea as a bogus excuse. “Hey its not like that, I’m just cold.” I say to her.
“Whaap whaap whaaap.” She says again. “I’m going to find my friend upstairs.” She says, and walks away without saying goodbye.
Whatever, I tell myself.
These things don’t sting me anymore. I don’t think people are inherently mean, confused or bad. I just think that as you grow older you care a lot less about things. Everyday you hear that people die, get shot, are raped, murdered, starving, bankrupt, homeless and ill. Can you really spend time caring about a negative statement? A random run-in? Or even think about someone you once loved? Probably not.
All you want on a cold night is someone to snuggle with. Someone to wake up naked with and smile at in the morning while you make tea and eat waffles after morning sex.
I walk back home, and surprisingly its not as cold. The wind has stopped and the blocks go by in a blur.  A few weeks ago on a night like this I would feel as if I wanted to escape, as if the events around me were a representation of who I was, but I know this isn’t true. Its just one of those Friday nights, when you have a few drinks, listen to a little music, and think about life.
Then you go home, crawl into bed and sleep.

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