Spinning Like A 45

Old record shops line the most charming of New York streets. From Bleecker Street to Bedford, vinyl records from David Bowie to the Velvet Underground adorn shop windows bringing a sense of cool from eras gone by.

A different kind of spinning happens 24/7 in the City. Laundry mats keep knickers, socks, delightful t-shirts and vintage jeans smelling and feeling soft and touchable. The primary challenge with a laundry mat is enduring its many hours of rinse cycles and drying.

In New York, where patience is often tested, most urbanites pay someone to do their laundry. It is then presented to the customer, beautifully folded and in signature multi-colored laundry bags.

As one of those New York boys, who’s always on the “go.” I opted for the more expensive route. With a looming tight budget, I decided to gather up my coffee trust fund (my collection of quarters) and do the job myself.

After putting in the first load, I felt overzealous. When I went to put the whites in, all the machines were in use. Like a seat on the subway, the machines go fast. So, I decided not to fret and went out for a Cuban (the sandwich). After eating a Cubano sandwich, I returned to the laundry mat. Finally, there was a place for my whites.

As I sat there, boredom kicked in. I felt antsy and just wanted to go out to Central Park for a walk. However, the dryer didn’t wanna go at New York speeds. So, I sat down and read about famous authors with loose screws. Instead of concentrating on the eloquent words of Sylvia Plath, I kept looking at the machine, which was spinning round and round.

Seemingly half of the day went by, when it finally finished. I nearly pulled out my hair from doing laundry. After I folded clothes and it didn’t look as nice. Walking out of the laundry mat, I decided even if it would cost me a few extra bucks; I would just pay to get it done forever and ever.

Homo-Neurotic

The usually upbeat sky looked bleak and depressed. As tears fell from above, I was drinking too much Dunkin Donuts coffee. As a fan of shit weather (i.e. snow, rain, grey skies), that particular day just felt gloomy

I called my dad in California. He didn’t answer. I called again and he still didn’t answer. Even though we have a continent in between us, our phone calls always make him seem like he’s just around the corner.

In order to alleviate my nerves, I went for a walk in the East Village (O.K., I do that everyday). Rain poured on the Bowery, which was emptier than usual. My dad still didn’t pick up the phone. I grew more nervous, since I couldn’t fly to California to check up and feared something had happened.

Instead of playing in the sand box of neurotic thinking, I knew the one way to solve my problem was through art. So, I headed to one of my favorite art museums. Lucky for me, there was an exhibit on obscene art from New York in 1993. As I wondered into a world where breasts, graffiti, dildos, living rooms sets and arty videos equated art, I slowly felt better, but nerves persisted.

Then the unthinkable happen. Boom, shit, fuck, shit. I ran straight into a glass wall. The whole museum went silent. My first thought was “shit, I broke my nose.” As everyone looked at me with mouths open in shock.  I felt mortified. The following words came from my mouth “I am a genius.” I laughed then everyone laughed with me.

The museum curator walked up to me. “Excuse me sir, I have to take down your information,” he said. “Why?” I asked. “We have to take down the info of anyone who walks into that glass wall,” he replied, while taking out a notepad. “Could I get free tickets to your gorgeous, but edgy museum as compensation?” I asked with a smile. ” No, sir” he replied. “Oh,” l said, looking quite disappointed, I proceeded with giving him my information.

My dad finally called. “Where have you been? I was worried sick and I almost broke my nose,” utilizing guilt and a worried tone made him apologetic. So, I was worried for nothing. Therefore, I learned to say no to the neurotic voices in my head, since it only creates fear.  When they do make a comeback, I will delve into art instead.

Snowman

The snow in New York falls gracefully like (legendary French actress) Catherine Deneuve strolling a Parisian sidewalk. It beautifies the grittiest sidewalk and gives birth to snowmen. Many of them, resemble Frosty the snowman’s hip West Village cousin.

In films, New York snow is a truly dazzling experience. What directors from Woody Allen to virtually any indie filmmaker don’t show is the aftermath. While walking down lower Fifth Avenue after a blizzard, the sidewalks turned into mini canyon of melting snow with rivers of ice. “Oy, why did I decide to take a morning stroll?”

Soon, walking Fifth Avenue turned more into an obstacle course. The goal was to make into Washington Square Park without slipping or damaging my shoes in the ice-y waters. As I galloped down, my shoes looked like Jackson Pollack splashed white out and made a great painting out of my walking instruments. I prevailed, walking past the many blocks, dodging the slow walkers and their beloved puppies.

As I reached Washington Square Park, my mission was accomplished. The park was covered in powdery and charming snow. I didn’t have to worry about the miniature cliffs made of icicles. My shoes were dirty, but it’s always cool to be gritty in the Village.

My victory led to me walking more. Even in the midst of possibly falling and unstable terrain, staying in my apartment didn’t seem as exciting as people watching on the Lower East Side or enjoying the glitz of Park Avenue South.

The Magical Flute

A Seed was buried in dirt.

It was insignificant, on the fringe and awkward.

Other plants sprung from the ground.

Growing flowers of yellow hues, Kelly green leaves and exotic vegetables.

The little seed was still buried in dirt.

Then came torrential rain and the seed disappeared.

A magical rainbow accompanied the seed as it grew into a modest plant.

As seasons passed, the plant was pregnant with lemons.

The growth spur continued.

Soon, the plant towered over all the vegetation and lemons wouldn’t stop dropping.

As years passed, people died.

People were born & the plant kept growing with more lemons

Soon, the modest seed morphed itself into a bean stock, towering over the village.

It hid the village from the sun and caused sunny days to fade into black.

The bean stock stood still, not even heavy winds could make it dance.

One day, it heard the sounds of magical flute.

It finally wanted to dance with the rhythm.

Thanks to the mesmerizing flute, the bean stock revealed sunny days again.

Noodles And Chocolates

Grand Central Station at the morning rush hour is an organized zig zag of commuters. On most days, they barely crack a smile, until that special moment when they line up at Joe’s coffee stand. One special day kept commuters smiling sans the java. Maybe, it’s the chocolate? Or the thought of fancy French restaurant reservations on the Upper West Side? The city melts like a Hershey’s kiss in summer during Valentine’s day.

I frown at Valentine’s cards and yellow tulips lining apartment windows. However, it was on a special train in those most jaded of places, Grand Central Station, which would make me crave love letters.

On a typical busy rush hour night, I decided to treat myself to some after work Chinese. It was there on the 4 train going downtown that it happened, a Valentine’s day miracle. ” Oh my God, I got a seat on the express train at rush hour.” I was overcome with emotion as I sat down and secretly hoped that not one elderly person would walk in needing my precious seat.

This guy sat next to me. I didn’t pay much attention to him. While I had another nightly dilemma of figuring out, which hipster sounding song to listen to, I heard a voice. ” I can’t believe it, I never seen people smile so much at Grand Central.” I looked beside me to a smiling and very handsome face. “Hello handsome man, how you doin?” This is what I thought internally, of course.

“Look of Love” played in my head. We chatted. Every time that awkward silence came about, I pressed on with the conversation. We talked Valentine’s plans. He was going home to cook pasta and I was going to have Lo Mein for dinner.

Suddenly, cupid’s arrow was about to strike as it aimed for my head. The announcer (obviously) announced, this is Union Square /14th street. I didn’t go for it.

I could hear Cupid’s voice in the background. It sounded like Woody Allen. “Oy, you yutz!” There was the perfect man, handsome, witty, and bright and you just walk away. Enjoy the damn Lo Mein tonight.” I walked away feeling the pangs of not going for the attractive man in the subway. Yet, my voyage to Chinese restaurant heaven led me to the most unexpected of places, Whole Foods.

I stood in line to the bathroom, when Cupid re-appeared. ” So, I am playing you’re yenta, you like coats, right?” I nodded my head. ” Well you’re gonna love the fella I have for you. There stood a non-shalant guy wearing the world’s most beautiful trench coat. “Is this the line to the bathroom?” I (of course) replied, yes.

He then looked at my special accessory. ” Those ear phones, how do you like them?” I pulled them out of my ears and said “why yes, bought them at the Apple store. He then replied, ” I am in the market for ear phones.”

Woody Allen/Cupid’s voice re-appeared. ” Don’t be a yutz, earphones are code for something else.” Randomly, we kept talking about earphones, until I peed. Then, I walked out of Whole Foods with Cupid not really saying much. “I am gonna smoke a cigarette and do something productive, since my right arm is sick of holding the damn arrow,” said Cupid.

My Valentine’s date was my laptop. Lo Mein & scallion pancakes were served. At the crowded Chinese eatery, I spotted a group of gay men. There he sat eating beef & broccoli. Cupid tapped me on the shoulder “notice four guys, that means double date. I’ll see you next year” and Cupid was gone.

A Lullaby And Snowstorm

Traffic horns and yellow cabs flooding Central Park South.

Steam rolling from a power plant. It paints a scenic landscape on East Fourteenth Street.

Fur coats rushing through the frenetic pace of Grand Central Station.

The Upper East Side retaining quaintness as it slowly fades into a steel and glass world.

Pigeons flocking to gourmet bread crumbs on a bitterly cold East Village morning.

The car horns, loud conversations and sirens collide with inner peace.

Snow falling! It creates slush, floods the sidewalks, reeking havoc & developing quirky memories.

Welcome back to the city, where boredom comes to die.

Ketchup In The Eyes

Frustration lies in a thin bottle of ketchup.

The agony to drench French-fries in a tomato-y heaven.

Only drops of watery ketchup fall from the fogged in bottle.

In a perfect land, ketchup would fall like water from a fountain.

It would replace the mighty rivers and ocean.

Tomatoes must then grow in abundance to keep the land lush.

Bringing the potato to its knees.

Unibrow Diaries

Frida Kahlo is one of my favorite painters. Seeing her work takes me away into a dark & treacherous place, which I rather enjoy. The only similarity, I have with the revered Mexican painter is the eyebrow. Naturally, I do mean one eyebrow.

Growing up, I had one funky looking eyebrow. Everyone used to tease my unibrow. It made me look sinister and as far from the handsome man  I could be. My mother always discouraged me from plucking my eyebrows. She plucked them off and it left her longing for full beautiful eye brows.

However, I decided to take the plunge one day. I was curious to see what it looked and felt like to have two eyebrows. Strategically, I started plucking. Pain didn’t equate beauty. Therefore, I took a more dramatic approach. I took my electric shaver and went down the middle. There it was my face with two eyebrows staring back.

Since I didn’t get them professionally trimmed, the eyebrows were uneven. Then my mother noticed the difference, while everyone fancied the new look. She wanted me to look like Frida Kahlo and complained that it was a simply awful idea. From then on, I had two very bushy brows and lost my sinister looking man title.

Arty Farty

“What do you want to do, when you grow up?” was a question, I was asked often as a kid. My answer was simple ” I want to be a writer in New York.” Often, I would get a sarcastic grin and have the same annoying question, “Why, would a nice boy like you want to live in dirty old New York?” Feeling a great sense of confidence, I smartly replied “Cause the suburbs are stupid. I hate clean & detest conformity.”  Even at the tender age of thirteen, I knew my ideal life path.

As I sit at the New York public library contemplating my big plan, my dreams are becoming a reality. When I finished my copywriting portfolio and moved back to the city from California, a strong feeling accomplishment accompanied me. Although, my portfolio was done, I had to make the hard copy look like a charming collection of paintings at MOMA. Therefore, I went to the arts supply to buy the binder and necessary material to make this arty vision, a reality.

The art supply shop was an unexpectedly delightful journey. The blank sketch books, paint brushes, kitschy notepads, art magazines and sea of other creative types running around with their portfolio binders made me feel right at home.

However, my artistic utopia was tested. As I glanced into the hard copy of my ads, there was white lining at all ends. In order for it to blend into the black portfolio page background, the white needed to be cut out. Fear raced across my right brain. “What if I make a mistake?” “What if I cut too deep and leave the edges uneven?” What if I accidentally cut through the middle?”

Then it hit me “if I am going to be creative, I need to take risks.” Creative life like the real world isn’t always cut in a perfect straight line. Sometimes, a little unevenness makes life more interesting. So, I started the snipping process, which was nerve wracking. Surprise, I did cut one end of an ad unevenly.

Utilizing a little scissor magic, I quickly fixed it. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but it survived. From then on, I lost fear and became universally creative in the most intense situation.

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