Did anyone notice that the Sunday Top Ten didn't include an actual Top Ten of anything? I honestly didn't. I asked: "Haviland, why did I name this blog 'Sunday Top Ten' when there's no top ten in it? At all? Whatsoever? Did you notice that?" and she was like "Well, it was Sunday? But I did notice that." It's true: it mos def was Sunday, published just as the clock struck Sunday. I mean, I apply the term 'Sunday Top 10' to Tuesday Top 8s, so it's usually half-a-lie anyhow. But this week, it was just a different half doing the lying.
ii. What I Did For my Birthday.
I decided I needed to walk it out. Ghost-fighting, maybe, taking stock -- sort of. Whatever it was, it just came into my mind as what I needed to do on my birthday and so I did it.
I subwayed to South Street Seaport, then walked home. Yes, item #450 on the "Why Riese Is So Cool It Hurts" list: I spent my 26th birthday walking from the South Street Seaport to Harlem, listening to an audiobook of Alice Sebold's Lucky, reading text messages, listening to voice mails, and occasionally stopping for food/Tasti-D-Lite. [Other items on the "Why Riese is So Cool It Hurts" list include: "Owes Visa her first-born child," "Has no marketable skills," "Listens to the 'Spring Awakening' soundtrack in the shower," "recaps television shows for fun, even though she apparently despises all of them," "Is attracted to Will Smith and Amy Ray from The Indigo Girls."]
I've done the midtown-to-Harlem or Harlem-to-midtown walk many-a-time, as well as a midtown-to-downtown --- with Natalie, Haviland, TB, etc. When I was younger and hungrier I used to think if I kept walking, I could make everything else inside of me stop, and when I left the city I'd itch to return just so I could walk and walk and I thought maybe eventually evaporate, or fly; weightless. That's one of many reasons I loathe summertime; the heat prevents this pastime. That's also one of many reasons I hate my life; my life prevents all pastimes, allowing only room for present-times. I just invented that word, it means "things that are efficient and conducive to productivity right now."
See map: I walked a little over eight miles.
I wish it'd taken my Mom like, 10 days to give birth to me, and then I could've had a 10-day long birthday, and I could've walked past everything that's ever happened to me in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn [I've never been to Staten Island, though I saw a great MTV True Life documentary about it, and I've only hit up The Bronx once -- to get a filing cabinet they didn't stock @ the Manhattan Staples]. Unfortunately I only had the time and leg/foot/back-power to canvas about 15% of my ghosts.
[Also, I'm JKing, I know how birthdays work.]
In retrospect, I realise that I shouldn't've worn Chuck Taylors. That was a Bad Call. But if I'd worn my Nikes, then I would've felt like I was a mall walker or something. My Mom used to go walking in the mall. Sometimes I'd go with her and try to cut the corners and she'd get really annoyed with me and go "REEEEE, Get back here!" and then I'd be like "OK, can we go to Godiva now?" and she'd be like "O.K."
iii. "This is what I remember." (First line. Lucky, by Alice Sebold.)
So I left the Seaport, heading north, went through Soho--nerve offices where I interned [Winter 05], Apple Store, site of many-a-mental-breakdown/cash drop ['04-'06] -- and then I was walking through the East Village, where I lived at Third Avenue North [Summer 01] and a pretty girl rode by on a bicycle, and then I saw her, she saw me and then she stopped and got off the bicycle.
Janet: Isn't it your birthday today?
Me: Yeah, it kinda is.
Janet: Happy birthday. What are you doing?
Me: Walking home from South Street Seaport.
Janet: Oh, that's cool.
Me: Where are you biking to?
Janet: You know. Nowhere really. We should probably get a lottery ticket.
Janet: Nice hair.
Janet: You know who else I saw today, besides you? Danny Bonaduce from The Partridge Family.
Also, Janet lives on the Upper East, so both of us were literally miles from home. What're the chances? The big drawing is tomorrow, I'm probs gonna win a million dollars. Wanna know what I'm going to do with it? Two chicks at the same time, man. Seriously, that's still one of my favorite dumb jokes from any movie ever. Last night I couldn't sleep, it was like 4 A.M., and apparently I rated like 550 movies on facebook. That wasn't exactly on my to-do list, but you know those things you do when you can't sleep are never things you should be doing. I mean, you've gotta go easy on yourself at 4 A.M. I was thinking of that because I was thinking of my other favorite jokes in movies, which made me think of "Super Troopers" which I gave five stars, obvs.
Janet was a perfect person to run into, 'cause she doesn't disrupt my energy. Perhaps she's on it, maybe that's the thing ... but you know what I mean? How most people kinda shake you up a little, or pull you into a different version of yourself, or deject or elevate you in some way? Or you feel you've gotta perform a little for them, or just be present in a way that demands something of you -- which can most defo be a good thing, of course, that's the idea of hanging out with other human beings after all. But when you're in Wandering Hermit mode; if you're going to run into someone, it best be someone who's already riding your inevitable vibe. I sound like a stoner right now, I'm talking about vibes and shit. Or I guess I sound like movie versions of stoners.
As I write this I keep thinking about how crazy people (literally crazy people) spend days just walking around this city. I am not one of those people. Or am I? [I'm not.]
Union Square: where I met Stephanie in person for the first time in '04. Where I spent weekends escaping Sarah Lawrence in '99; Meg & I'd get produce at the greenmarket, make soup in her Carlye Court dorm, go drink at The Mexican Village 'til it got busted for selling crack. The Barnes & Noble I'd write at when I lived in a closet [both literally and metaphorically, actually] in the West Village in '04. Forever Fucking 21, where I've spent the best most beautiful years of my life waiting in line to buy tank tops that're like, 30% cotton and 70% crap, where I met up w/Haviland after she'd been out of town for a week (June 06) and then got on the L train! To my Williamsburg apartment (Jan-Aug 06).
Past Flatiron; the MoSex where I had that panel (June 07), Garment District; the lit agency & Mina's old office, past Bryant Park where I made out at 3 A.M. under the summer bar-service tents with the Puerto Rican boxer with the stab wound (July.01), Bryant Park where Stephanie and I went ice skating (Nov.06), Bryant Park where that Live Through This and You Won't Look Back story happened (April.07).
I avoided the Times Squareish area--it's too much, and people walk too slow there, and then I want to kill them, and it would suck if I killed someone on my birthday.
Past Rockefeller Center where I'd wait Friday nights for Lo to get off work (Winter 05), before we moved in together, in that sweet part of a new something where you don't know yet exactly how it's gonna fall apart or even if it will, because ideally it so often doesn't -- the part where it's still just super-sweet, and hopeful. That's the best part.
I hate how that part gets less sweet as you get older because you're already scared, anticipating, and consequently killing or shying things too soon, lest they get too sweet. But also: you make up 'cause that's the point, right? To go for it, anyhow.
Columbus Circle -- Haviland and I call The Time Warner Center "The most romantic place in New York City" and often meet up outside it: a mutual friend recounted her husband proposing to her at Per Se on their wedding website (April 06), and I was like, dude, you cannot start your engagement in the Time Warner Center, that is lame and un-romantic. Carly and I outlined out two episodes in that park (Aug 07). All the stores and restaurants/cafes I'd frequent to pick things up before visiting hours at St. Luke's (07), and how I'd feel afterwards, walking back to the train, long longing.
The Upper West -- my first NYC apartment, 74th & Amsterdam, where Ryan and I slept on a bunkbed (Winter/Spring 00). All our boarding school friends lived up there: Julliard, Columbia, Manhattan School of Music. The corner where Marc kissed me and then told me to think about it (Feb.00). The restaurant where I'd worked and met Jeremiah (Summer 04), his Mom's apartment where he stayed when he left his wife (Winter 04), that spot on Central Park West where I fell on my rollerblades (May 00) and went home bloodied, the restaurants I'd eat at on dates with rich Jewish boys who bored the fuck out of me (summer 04), The Fairway where Krista and I flirted our way into getting groceries delivered to Sparlem (Sep.05). Ryan's non-air-conditioned apartment (summer 98) -- the site of that "mind-over-matter" ice cold shower torture procedure I talk about here. My ex-gym (06-07). Where Cameron and I rode our bikes right in the thick of traffic and I learned how to let go (summer 05).
This part of the walk is when my legs really started throbbing. But I kept going, like Odysseus.
Then up to Morningside Heights, where I lived earlier this year (Sep 06-May 07). Too much there to even begin. All this stuff is just tips of various icebergs too, obvs. Then up. Higher up there're less people walking, but instead there're people sitting on milk-crates and stoops or just standing in the street, hanging out, or whatever.
iv. and did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?
By the time I got home it was dark out. I had emails and phone-calls and other such things. Blog comments!
I called my Grandmother. She told me to tell Rosie that she never liked that blonde-headed girl and asked me if I had any men in my life. Erum. Lozo? Also said she tells everyone in Wilmington, Ohio all about her fabulous granddaughter the writer, and I said, urm, maybe you shouldn't do that. Because then what will you say when I decide to work at Duane Reade? Also, I'd like to work at the Wilmington Gold Star Chili.
Haviland came over. Asked if I wanted to meet her at McDonald's, she wanted Soft Serve. I said OK! I said I wanted dinner. She said, silly, I would've brought you a nice dinner, we can order something good, I said I wanted McDonald's for my birthday because you know why? It tastes really good. I'm a cheap date.
Monday, Haviland & I went to Bliss for my b-day and now my tired feet are beautiful. Also my skin is radiant. That's good news for my roommates and the Dunkin' Donuts people who get to see my radiant face all the time. They had my two favorite flavors at the Tasti-D place, peanut butter and cookies 'n cream.
v. The Places We Retreat To, the Places We Can't Bear to Be Found
So I wanted to walk and do some thinking and I wanted to do this without worrying about anything, like having to be someplace, or having to talk to people, I just wanted to walk and think and so that's what I did. I don't know, still, if I want to stay here or if I want to leave. I'm always leaving, you know?
I don't really know how to slow down or stay anywhere, I don't even really know how to grow up, and every time things stop working, I walk. I've got a long history of long walks, sometimes in serious inclement weather or super-sketchy neighborhoods.
That's my gig: I can walk away. That's my top tenth skill, walking away, I can walk away all my life, I'll walk away from anything, because when you walk away from something you get this extra-credit wind beneath you like almost flying and you can ride that for a long time. But like -- what are you walking TO, you know? I'm 26, that means nothing, I'm alive, 26 years later, still walking, still wind, still leaving, still still still rounding corners.
[It was perfect.]
who knew the virtue
of both distance and close quarters, someone with a
corner person's taste
for intimacy, hard won, rising out of shyness
-Stephen Dunn, "Corners"