Open Letter to the Important Guy from Down the Hall
I see you in the bathroom in my office every afternoon at about four o'clock. I think we're on the same cycle that way. I think you're a VIP in your company judging from the deferential reverence in younger men's voices as they talk to you at the sinks and urinals. You respond to in clipped, quick sentences. It's obvious that your words are almost as precious as your time, and given just as sparingly. You've got decisions to make, places to be, and barely enough time to take lunch.
This afternoon you strode purposefully into the bathroom, robotically munching Cheez-Its from a little bag. Without wasting a single motion, you unzipped, pulled EVERYTHING out and started pissing away a good two feet from the toilet -- using both free hands to keep eating those Cheez-Its.
If you're that busy, you're in heart attack territory, man. And then where will you be? Dead on the floor, lying in a puddle with your piece out and Cheez-its on your lips. That's no way for a man of industry to go.
Going to the bathroom is important, and so is snacking. Nobody is so important that they have to do both simultaneously. That's not efficient, it's just nasty.
Take a little time to taste the Cheez-its. Get outside, get a little air, some sunshine. You're building a world and that's great, but take some time to enjoy the world you're in. It's a hell of a mess, but there's some beautiful stuff if you stop and look.
You can't conjure up resonant, universal truths on purpose. They just have to happen, right in front of you or dribble out from between the lips by accident for someone else to discover.
There was this discussion on Metafilter today about bacon salt. Not that it wouldn't have caught my attention anyway -- who wouldn't want to learn more about bacon salt -- but having just read about bacon ice cream in the Post, I clicked a little faster.
The chat itself was okay, pretty good by Metafilter standards (read: nobody got crapped on), but this comment from a guy called Divine_Wino slapped me in the face like a big cold carp made out of universal truth:
I don't know about bacon salt, really, but just think about this for a minute:
You cook up some of that thick slab bacon, slooooowly. Then you take some fresh sliced sourdough bread and toast it lightly. Then you cut up one New Jersey beefsteak tomato (wait till you get a good one!), you need four thick slices because you are going to end up eating two of these, then one (ONE) piece of red leaf lettuce or Romaine (you need about 1/3 stem/thick end to leaf ratio), not too wet from when you rinse it under the tap. Mayo, fresh ground black pepper ...
Here is the amazing thing about this amazing sandwich, really, really, anyone can make it and it's fucking delicious, it's the most democratic thing in the world a BLT, with a BLT every man is a king, every woman is president-for-life, every dog is a pony.
Drink ice water while you are eating your BLT's and then quickly go wash your hands and face and lie down on a freshly made bed in an airconditioned room, read sci-fi paperbacks from the seventies, take a little nap.
That's about as good as being a human being gets, I'm pretty sure.
That's summer afternoons at my grandparents', trips to my aunt and uncles' farm, long slow weekends with plans for later but nothing much to do right now and the splendor of simplicity all in three paragraphs. Try pulling that one off on purpose and see how it goes.
I was just sitting there on the L train back to Brooklyn, trying to come up with something to post today when it fell in my lap with a bow and a smile.
A middle-aged black guy wearing a hat with a big old peacock feather in it, sunglasses and a fanny pack got on the train and stood right in front of me. As soon as the doors shut, he let out a warbling war whoop and launched into a series of bird calls. What was really fascinating is that he had no discernible facial expression at all -- this was TOTALLY normal, as normal as reading the ads on the train or checking out the subway map
Here's a video:
What I really loved the most about the whole experience was that nobody paid any mind to him at all. They just looked at the floor or their watches or something as though this happened all the time.
Then I realized that in New York, it DOES happen all the time.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: once you really, truly don't care if other people don't think you're crazy, the world is yours.
Rachel was standing next to her bed when I got to the hospital this morning. I mean, she still had her IV in and everything, but she was standing there, her same old self except with a big old bandage and no weird lump.
The surgery went off just fine. As it turns out, Rachel's rods were sticking out far enough that her body formed a giant bursa around the ends. Bursa are fluid-filled sacs formed where muscle or tendon slides across bone -- or titanium, in this case. Her bursa was pretty enormous and filled with all kinds of revolting bacterial goop. It grew steadily over the years as the rods moved away from her spine, according to Rachel's mom.
Extrapolating mentally, I envisioned Rachel at 55 with a hunched back full of gnarly pustulent poison. If that nasty sac detonated under pressure, like on a roller coaster or something, it would have killed Rachel immediately and probably anyone within its blast radius.
But now it's over, the rods are clipped and the sac is drained.
Pardon me with an aside here, but: is the word sac nasty or what? It's so strange -- sack is just fine. Groceries come in sacks. Santa Claus carries a sack, and you can get a sack of burgers, which are delicious.
But sac. Ew. When I think of the contents of a sac, I think of pus, testicles, and spider eggs.
Rachel's fine though, barring a surgical opening that needs to heal shut. She's certainly well enough already to clown around with the medical equipment by her bed:
This is a real conversation that we overheard this morning between her hospital roommate, a doctor and a nurse:
Doctor: "How are you feeling this morning?" Patient: (Replied in Spanish, which neither the Doctor or I understood.) Nurse, in Spanish: (How are you feeling today?) Patient: (More Spanish) Nurse, to Doctor: "I think we can let her go this evening, she's much better." Doctor: "Well, that does us no good, we need her bed by noon!" Nurse, loudly to Patient: "Congratulations, pack your things, you're going home immediately!"
Luckily for Rachel and the nurses -- who were probably preparing to dump her in a grocery cart and shove it onto Fifth Avenue -- she's already home recovering. Me, I'm back down from nervous to normally neurotic and heading out to her parents' place this weekend with a bunch of Sopranos on DVD.
Thanks so much for all your concern and comments, too -- we both really appreciated it.
It always started the same way: I'd get up from my chair, push it in and set an "away" message that said "Gone to the moon motherfuckers, see you when I see you."
Then I'd carefully step up onto my desk and elbow-drop my cubicle-mate into slumberland, his eyes and mouth opened wide with disbelief until I connected with his temple.
I would make my escape by swinging away Spider-Man style, gripping the space between ceiling tiles and cupping my hand to my mouth to better broadcast my victorious hooting.
When I wasn't having that particular workplace fantasy -- that one usually occurred several hundred times daily, but only after lunch -- I'd have this one, flawlessly illustrated below by some mysterious genius. Be forewarned: cartoon nudity appears below, may not be safe for work.
This also shows up with the subhead "Step 1 - flip your desk ... 2 - block all exits... 3 - smash everything in sight... 4 - set fire... 5 - get naked, reproduce... 6 - hippies" which isn't too bad, either. If anyone knows who did this originally, please let me know in the comments.
First of all, credit where it's due. This cartoon seems to come from the Centennial Society, who produced it to put in postage-paid, business-reply envelopes that come with junk mail offers. That makes it just that much funnier, if you ask me. Here's the original link. You can't link directly to this cartoon, but it's under "Business Reply Pamphlet." "Welcome to Geneva" is pretty solid, too.
Also: welcome, Digg readers! Chances are you just came here to see what all the hoopla was about. On the off chance that you're thinking "gosh, I bet this guy does more complex, 'artsy' posts. If only I could see them," well, here you go:
Now there's a couple new rungs in my digital hamster wheel: Ectoplasmosis aka Ectomo, "a wonder closet of fringe art, culture and ephemera." This catchall phrase really refers to robots, comics, Cthulu and more octopus/squid themed oddities than you can shake a slime-coated tentacle at.
Ectomo's co-editors used to run Wired's now-deceased Table of Malcontents, a former fave of mine. Right now it's a ghost ship floating the electronic seas -- pillage it while you can, before it gets yanked.
John Brownlee, co-helmsman for both blogs, had the good sense to link to me a month or two back. While I'm all about the virtual reacharound to return the favor, this blog's really, really cool. Even if I thought Brownlee and Eliza Gauger (his partner) were the sort of weasel-minded shit-sniffing remoras that pass for pros online these days, I'd have to begrudgingly admit they've got a good thing going here.
So check it out, readers -- leave a comment and tell 'em I sent you.
This is Rachel, my girlfriend. She's beautiful, sweet, loving, and endlessly patient with my constant mood swings. She's also sort of bionic.
When she was a little girl, she started developing scoliosis pretty badly. Doctors eventually opened her back right up and fused two titanium rods to her increasingly unruly spine.
"That oughta teach it a thing or two," everyone thought. Rachel healed up, and life proceeded normally, with flawless posture.
Now, though, there are some new problems. See that bump right beside the scar there? That's not her shoulder blade -- that's the ends of her titanium rods, bending away from the spine and sticking out. It's causing some problems. Her back is sore, there's some numbness.
Tomorrow afternoon, Rachel's going under the knife again. This time the surgeons are going to go in and saw off the ends of those rods, get 'em to lay down a little bit. For some reason I envision her doctor using bolt cutters, those big clippers people use in the city to steal bikes. I doubt those are in the toolbox, though.
They say it's no big deal, she's only going to be in the hospital for two days and will be up and around in a week. If you ask me, two days is an eternity in an age when heart attack victims are all but shoved out the door in a shopping cart after their surgery.
I know this is no big deal, and that everything's going to be just fine. But man, I'm worried all the same. Say a little prayer for us, please?
Maybe it's just 'cause I'm new here, but I'm amazed at what New Yorkers will steal: anything that's not cemented into the earth. In broad daylight, too.
This is the life-size 3-D promotional display for the Simpsons movie in the Loews' on Union Square. Hundreds of people shuffle past this thing at a time, all day long. Which means that sometime in the not-too-distant past someone with balls the size of Bart's eyeballs up and stole Homer Simpson's arm off.
What do you even DO with that thing? It could look pretty cool sticking up out of a grave at Mount Zion ...
Three Days a Brooklyn Resident: Thunk, Thunk, Thunk
I'm settled in now, mostly. I'm living out of garbage bags and boxes in my friend's sublet ... but the truck's been returned, the storage shed filled and I've managed to make a tub of hand-cranked ice cream in the new kitchen.
Here's a tip for all you ice cream makers out there: if you're making coffee ice cream, never, ever flavor it with espresso. The results are cold and creamy, yes, but suffused with a black grit that triggers the bowels while destroying your bedtime. The taste is not unlike eating the sweet sludge from the bottom of a Turkish coffee.
My farewell party was better than I could have hoped. All the folks I loved the most in DC came ... along with a mysterious emissary.
Suicide_blond has been a regular reader and frequent commenter here over the past year or so. She's always had a few kind words for me, punctuated with vigorous ellipses. When some of the DC blog scene's egregious rotten twats have had a good go at me, she's stuck up for me. I've never met her in person and I'm not sure I ever will.
After the farewell drinks had flowed for a few hours, a tall, grey-haired man in sunglasses and a suit walked into the bar. He immediately began shouting my name at the top of his lungs. All the patrons around him followed suit, until finally my friends grabbed me. He said
This card's from Suicide_blonde. She wants to stay anonymous
He handed me a card, addressed to my name at And I Am Not Lying, For Real. It read "Dear Mr. Simmermon: Enjoy the Big Apple ... or die trying!! Put some Johnny Cash on the jukebox & have a round on me ..." There was a twenty dollar bill inside.
The man in the suit took a photo of me with the card and us together, then walked out into the night.
That's class right there -- weird, story-worthy class. It's better than meeting in person, if you ask me.
Moving day was clear, cool for July. Every other time I've moved, it's been a hundred degrees out. The one time I moved in December I was in Australia, so it was still a hundred degrees. I had plenty of help packing and cleaning from some incredible people, and the day was pretty painless, all around.
I got up early Sunday morning, well before the alarm. I was heading up to hail a cab to the U-Haul facility (never, ever use U-Haul), when I just had to freeze. The street was completely quiet except for the trees whispering. I was just absorbing it all when I heard this sound all around me, from inside and outside my eardrums -- a sort of THUNK, THUNK that shook me to the mitochondria.
I've heard that sound before and I love the way it makes me feel. It's the best feeling in the world.
I got the truck, we loaded it up, ate some pizza and swept the apartment out. Me and my friends stood there in the empty place, swapping stories and toasting from a warm bottle of ouzo. Our laughter rang out in the empty apartment, and the stories started to fall flat pretty quick. It was time to go -- two hard dude-hugs and I was out.
I was driving the truck down 16th Street, taxidermied owl in attack position strapped into the passenger seat and lucky ram's skull on the dash with "Like a Rolling Stone" blaring when I heard it again: THUNK, THUNK, THUNK, louder this time, and feeling better with each THUNK.
I heard the sound at 16, as the theme from "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" announced the Ramones' imminent performance. I heard the THUNK an hour before landing overseas with 3 grand and nowhere to live, heard it when I flew to LA this winter to pitch a TV show.
It's the sound of my life as a giant roller coaster, THUNKing its way up that first big hill with me in the car up front. I can see the track curving away up ahead and I've got no idea what that first drop's going to feel like, but I know what it is. It's the wild ride of the rest of my life, fast and full of turns. It scares the crap out of me and it's the most exhilarating feeling in the world ... and every time I feel it I say "hello, old friend. Didn't think I'd see you again, and I'm so glad you're back.
I've been living out of trash bags in Brooklyn for the past three days. Haven't got a job yet, but I've got some leads and I can't think of anything at all that I'd rather be doing.