Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Birthday Girl/If You Go, You Go

i. Top 26 Years of My Life

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.
Me: Totes.
Janet: Nice hair.
Me: Thanks.
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.]
I've sat in corners at parties hoping for someone
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
and desire.
-Stephen Dunn, "Corners"


stef said...

ok i want to get this gem from google adsense out of the way:

We Have 200+ Girls' Pants. Girl Wearing Tights on Sale!

that made me laugh. a lot. like the girl wearing tights is on sale as an afterthought.

i will have real thoughts on this later (maybe).

Jo said...

holy crap, that's a long walk.

This renewed my desire to live in NYC. I've always wanted to live there, but when I moved to the horrible, crappy city I go to school in now, that dream died a little. This post refueled the fire.

Lozo said...

as the man in your life (btw, this post was a totally wasted chance at giving me a label) i want to say this post was depressing. i know, it was meant to be reflective and intro/retrospective. but you seem down about your current situation. and i feel like unless you haven't blogged about finding out your ovaries are dried out, this shouldn't be the case.

which is why we need have our little trip to a strip club THIS WEEK. i'm thinking thursday or friday. what'd ya say? you can bring haviland as a chaperone. we can bring stef, too, because we both like her chest.

i think i spelled that incorrectly.

riese said...

stef: You shoulda seen the adsense gmail created for the email notification of that comment. Also, Lozo wants to go to a strip club to look at your chest.
jo: I bet NYC's a lot better than where you're at. We have longer walks her.
lozo: You seriously didn't read the post about my busted ovaries? I read about the ingrown penis.

Crystal said...

I noticed the top 10 thing. Was that rhetorical? It was, wasn't it...

You know what they say about rounding corners.

riese said...

I don't know what they say, but I was just thinking I could put the "oh" back in rounding corners?

Wasn't rhetorical. Ideally everyone will answer the question, like "get to know your reader" boardgame, which can be shipped internationally, unlike the l word board game.

Crystal said...

Would you really ship it internationally? Because if it were me, I'd make the promise but then take 9 months to deliver on my deliverables.

I don't really know what they say about rounding corners either. Except that as I read it, I was listening to this song that said "I'm rounding every corner without you now".

And so I felt I needed to say something about rounding corners.

I'm going to put the "oh" in emo.

cait said...

definitely noticed it not being a top ten, but like you said, usually it's tuesday top 8, so ya get what ya get and you don't get upset, also it was 26, which is way more exciting than 10

time warner center is crazy. i imagine people coming up those subway steps and being like hello world, this is me.. then i usually go downstairs and get a jamba. also twc is home to the best j crew in the city, or so i have heard, if you're into that kind of thing.

what's with you and shipping things internationally? how much to dubai?

[you are not crazy, i am glad you had a happy birthday]

rocketdyke said...

i noticed it was not a top ten, but somehow, i still felt like it was. but i think for me the sunday top ten is more of a state of mind than an actual list of ten things, so there wasnt really anything missing, you know?

also, happy birthday, belatedly.

also, taking such long walks in new york city is how a lot people here cope with themselves, i think. its sort of like telling yourself one of your favorite stories over and over - comforting, reinforcing your belief that these things happened, the world you remember in your mind is actually real, etc. in recent years, though, ive noticed that i stopped taking the old walks repeatedly and instead, when i need space in my head, i go for completely new walks in neighborhoods that ive never been, long bike rides to beaches that one forgets exist here on these islands on the ocean. funny how its so easy to forget about that. i think the new walks have been really good. i think its a good sign for my overall mental state, but im not sure what it means yet. because even though its a new walk, it still feels like the same comforting story. hm.

Birdy said...

"It would suck if I killed someone on my birthday."

Best line ever.

Jaime said...

Belated: Happy Birthday. You're wonderful.

Rebecca said...

Happy Birthday!

I am coming to NYC for an unknown amount of days next month and my whole plan is to walk. And then get back on the plane. Or the train. I haven't decided yet if I am going home afterward or not. But I am walking everywhere I can while I am there.

I was awake this morning until 4:30. I was fixin' to get up at 5:00 and just go to work when, dammit, I fell asleep. And when I woke up 45 mins. later I couldn't feel my arms. It's like the sleep drained into my arms for safekeeping. They still feel a little detached. Oh, I am taking such a cocktail of ambien/zyrtec/benadryl tonight.

btw, i say this with love, I was watching some Debbie Gibson videos from the 80s on YouTube and I thought of you while watching because a parody of "Foolish Beat" would be an awesome photo shoot.

janet said...

i wondered where the rest of the day might take you. and, again-good hair. xo

laurrrrita said...

a) i didn't notice the lack of ten acutal things

riese said...

crystal: I'd like to make that promise and then deliver it half-finished immediately, with um, construction required. What's that word? Assembly required. And OH you do put the oh back in Emo. I'd like to put the OH back in obvs.


cait: Yes I totally bought a bikini at that JCrew. Howevs the top is orange and the bottoms are pink because they didn't have both in my right sizes. I'm putting the "oh" back in post office.


rocketdyke: I like that. "The Sunday Top Ten is a state of mind." I agree totes. And I like what you said about the walks too. I agree, and would like to say you are very Wise.


birdy: I try.


jaime: aw thanks!


rebecca: Yeah I got rid of my ambien but I'm having second thoughts. And by second thoughts I mean "I am going to CVS and getting more asap" because the unisom/tylenol pm/elavil combo isn't working.

Obvs anything with Debbie Gibson is said with love, because I used to have a ridic crush on her. I'll look into this. We do love a good photo shoot. I'd like to put the "oh" back in Foolish Love.

Sounds like a good plan with NYC. I love the train, too. Like, long distances.


janet: thanks. xo.


laurrrrita: the TITLE, THE TITLE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Abby said...

Sounds like an awesome day to me. Every city I go to I spend a lot of time walking around, mainly because I'm usually on a tight budget but also because I think it's the only way to really get to know a place. I have a visual memory so I have really strong images of all these different places in my head. When I was in NY I was staying in a hostel on Amsterdam Ave and I wanted to go to all the museums on the other side of the park. Because of the blizzard there was only one really long way around to the other side. I was like screw that I'm going straight through. LOL, knee deep snow and a long time later I got to the other side. I still have the memory so strong in my mind, I was in the middle of the park knee deep in snow with my camera around my neck thinking, the only advice I got about going to NY was don't go to central park when there is no one else around. I had this hilarious visual of some one trying to get to me through the snow, I figured I would at least see them coming way before they got to me...

caitlinmae said...

i missed the birthday, but it sounds like it was happy, or at least cathartic.

I think I may like your celebration this year even more than the lovely debauchery of 25 girls for your 25th. this seems properly reflective, honest, investigative of self- taking inventory is never a bad idea, and I think you captured the significance of the walk quite well.

When I worked in Hell's Kitchen I used to walk home to the UES where I was living, and it was one of my favorite parts of the day- watching the neighborhoods change, speed peoplewatching, the park in the midafternoon. I would make about six diet coke stops a day. And I hate to admit it, but I've never had tasti-d. It kind of overwhelms me... all those choices.

Mercury said...

I really like this one.

I do the walking thing too. Sometimes I talk aloud to myself while I walk. As far as I can go and then back.

I also do the walking away thing too. Like, i am The Born Expert of walking away. I've decided it's good, you know? Because I don't walk away from everything just most everything and you walk away because you have faith there's something better or at least something else and do you know what? there always is, it's never really over, the world never really ends, so we win. how else would we do so much and live so much and be so much, if we stuck with everything we picked up we'd never get to pick up these other things that turn out to be radiant and beautiful. happiness is transient. happiness ends. we need to get over thinking that it can last forever, that if we find a happy time and then just keep things the same forever we'll stay happy forever, we have to stop thinking like life is fragile somehow. everyone should be less afraid.

although do you walk away because you're afraid of holding on or hold on because you're afraid of walking away?

I'm confusing myself. I really should've gone to sleep, before, when I said I was gonna.

Madey said...

It was brave while it lasted.

This, in honor of your birthday celebrating:


And cause it seems like you need it.

riese said...

abby: I think I know that hostel you are talking about, I think it was right by my old apartment. I have your memory so strong in my mind now too.

caitlinmae: It was cathartic I think. It didn't involve as much tongue, but still. I liked walking and speed peoplewatching too. I will take you to get tasti-d one day and you will love it. I will guide you. I made about six coffee stops.

mercury: By the time you are my age, you are going to be unstoppable. I'm serious. Your writing? And everything? Unstoppable.

I walk away because I'm afraid of holding on, or being walked away from.

madey: (thanks) To be honest, i rarely follow youtube links when I get them but I followed that one and it was fucking brill. Thanks for that.