Sunday, February 19, 2006
I Found It!
When you're looking for something, always check the cushions.
I found this out the hard way on Sunday when I managed to lose just about everything I needed in quick succession.
It's been cold here in the Northeast, colder than it has any right to be. I went out Saturday night and the freezing air just ate right through my gloves, to a point where my fingers were hurting and visions of frostbite danced in my head.
I'm happy to report that this did not occur and I'm hitting the keyboard with all ten digits.
But the rotten weather has a way of making things worse. This is also a holiday weekend, which I have noticed tend to be more strssful for me than a normal one, and it gets to the point where I almost miss the office. Almost.
Friday was nice, as my sister and I took my auntie out for a birthday dinner. We found a French restaurant on Atlanic Avenue, walked in without knowing a thing about the place and had a great meal and a great time.
It's so strange to see how that area has changed. When I was a kid my father used to drive down to the main Post Office building, which is a few blocks away from Atlantic Avenue, to mail all his various order forms to his company's headquarter's in Albany.
I think he did this because the main building was opened at night and he thought his mail would get upstate faster if he sent it from the home office. For me it was an excuse to go for a ride and I could never say no to that. A 30 minute round trip in the car was an adventure for me at that time.
We'd go down the BQE and pull up in front of this huge, medevial-looking builing with these high towers on either end of the block. My father once asked a guard about the building's history.
The guard said the building was either a courthouse or a jail and they used to conduct hangings one of the towers.
It's hard to imagine someone being executed up there. I wonder if the prisoners were forced to wear a black hood as they stepped up to the gallows or did they look out at that growing city below them just before they died.
When I was a kid that part of downtown Brooklyn was poor, black and crime-ridden. We used to drive up Atlantic Avenue or Third Avenueon the way home and it just felt dangerous, like something ugly was going to happen any second.
Prostitutes used to gather on one of the side streets off Fourth Avenue and they'd try down to flag down the drivers of every passing car.
I remember one summer night a rather large lady of the evening came walking up to my dad's car smiling and greeting us with the line, "fellas, fellas, fellas..."
...lend me your ears? I was rather creeped by the whole business, but my father would go on about how he felt sorry for these poor women. Once he went around the block a second time to get a look at them and I wanted to kill him.
I had one of my high school friends with me and while my father was declaring his concern for his fellow human beings, he sort looked like a horny old goat.
One night on Atlantic Avenue, not too far from where that French restaurant is today, two men were fighting right on the street.
Actually one was fighting, a very angry Hispanic man who bounced on his toes and threw punches at a rather meek man who was clearly not interested in mixing it up, throwing down, getting busy or taking it up a notch.
"C'mon," the Hispanic man shouted, and hit the other again. "C'mon!"
My father stepped on the gas and both men were gone from our lives forever.
Now the neighborhood is yuppified, and I'm sure, driving poorer people out to who knows where. I like the idea of a reclaiming a neighborhood and making it safer, but there has to be away to do this without banishing the original residents.
Bay Ridge, where I live, has changed a great deal over the years as well. It was once home to so many Norweigans that supposedly you could walk the streets here in the 50's for blocks and never hear a word of English.
Now it is becoming so heavily Arabic, some people call it "Beirut." You like to think you're home is going to stay the same, but cities don't remain still, like some vast painting. They're always changing and being re-born.
Cut And Run
Saturday was the last day of my film class and I finally saw the footage I shot two weeks earlier. I was a little disappointed as I found that I had poorly framed a few of the shots and one shot I just didn't take at all. I had a list of the shots and apparently I didn't consult it.
Since I came up short on the shooting end, I had to make some magic happen in the editing process. Luckily I had shot some additional material I thought I wouldn't need, but it came in handy, and I finished editing my film.
"It looks like you'll get the Oscar after all," my instructor said.
Yes, well, maybe not this year. But I see now that it's one thing to bloviate about the art of film and quite another to get in there and actually make one. It's a lot closer to building a house than painting the Mona Lisa.
And then it was Sunday and I started losing things. It was like a "Twlight Zone" episode. I got up to go to my gym and I looked around for this novel, The Corrections that I've been reading. I pretty much do all my reading on the subways and I can't get on the train without something to read, even if it's some giveaway weekly newspaper.
Only I couldn't find the book. It was nowhere to be found. I'm running late, I had to get my father dressed so my brother could take him to breakfast, and I have no idea where my book was.
I should mention here that I'm not that crazy about this book, even though it won the National Book Award. But I almost done with it and more importantly, I don't like the idea of just losing stuff. Since my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's I get a little freaked out every time I forget something.
So now I can't find this book that I don't like and that I didn't finish, so I say, the hell with it, I'll take a few hunks of the Sunday Times.
Naturally I miss the R train as I'm entering the train station and naturally I freak out because I just know that the trains don't run worth a damn on a Sunday and I'll never make it to my gym class on time.
Less than 10 minutes later, another R train comes roaring into the station. All right, I figure, my luck is changing.
It Ain't Easy Being Me
I come home and find the TV is on and a Rodney Dangerfield DVD is playing. My brother had put it on for my father, who went to bed a short time later. And the remote is missing.
I start looking all over and I'm getting angrier every second. I call my brother and demand to know what he did with the remote. He claims he left near the TV and I'm telling him it's not there. I hang up, cursing and fuming to point where my father got up from his lunch and tried to help me look for it.
Now I felt like a rat, disturbing my elderly father while he ate. I recalled one of Rodney's old jokes that seemed to fit the situation.
"I put my shirt on this morning," he said, "and the button came off. I picked up my briefcase and the handle came off. I'm afraid to go to the bathroom!"
Then I checked the cushion of my father's favorite chair. And there's the remote.
Okay, I can recover from this. I had planned to tear apart my bedroom and search for The Corrections, but I had enough sense in my head to back off. I was just so tense and angry that I knew I wouldn't find the damn thing, even if it was sitting right in front of me.
I go out to meet a friend for dinner and a movie and as I'm leaving, I realize I can't find my favorite Italian pen. This is important because it's a nice pen and I may need to write down my great thoughts and the phone numbers of all those super-models who throw themselves at me on an hourly basis. (Can I go on Oprah now?)
All right, I say to myself, screw it. Take a normal pen and look for the Aurora on Monday. But between this and the book, I'm really getting upset.
What the hell is going on here? The logical side of my brain--which, admittedly, doesn't have much say in things--tells me this is the result of being poorly organized and that I have to literally clean up my act.
But my whacko side wonders about black holes and evil curses and all other bizarre things. And when I search for something, I get angry and dredge up all these bad memories that have nothing to do with the missing item. It is an unhealthy way to live.
I was raised a Catholic and was forced fed all these images of hell and damnation, but I see now that hell isn't a place with demons and flames and pitchforks, it's a state of mind. It's a place where you can send yourself by giving into rage.
When I was growing up, I remember seeing these bumper stickers proclaiming "I Found It!" I think it was some Christian group proclaiming their love for Jesus and I believe the bumper sticker geared so you would ask them what did they find, whereupon they would give you the whole routine. Luckily, I never asked.
But when I lose something I'm jealous of anyone who has found anything. And I don't want to hear any routine either.
So I meet my buddy for dinner and a flick. I'm riding home on the subway and I happen to reach into my back pocket to find...my Italian pen.
Okay, clearly I'm insane. I admit that straight up. My anger and frustration is blinding me to the the minor things in life and I can't help but wonder about the important things in my life--goals, career, relationships? What am I not seeing while I'm running around in circles complaining and reliving the past?
I got this morning and said my prayers. This is Monday and I'm going to relax, but I really must find The Corrections. If I don't, I suppose I can go the library or order a used copy on line, but that's more effort than I feel like putting out and it doesn't satisfy my fears about my crumbling gray matter.
I get up, turn to go make breakfast and I stop. Could it be...? I put my hand down at the end of the bed, in the gap between the mattress and the headboard, and I pull out, yes, my copy of The Corrections.
I found my stuff, I've got the day off, we're expecting a warming spell this week. and there's not a pitchfork in sight.