Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Here’s a small ensemble piece I composed for the Cygnus Ensemble performed in 2008 in New York. Enjoy!

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I feel like a grown up now that my apartment has a washer and dryer without coin slots.


I once found an old library card in New York that someone had dropped.  I put it in some journal at the time.  I recently found it and slipped it in my father’s wallet, in there with the other cards.  He’ll be ruminating over that one for weeks.


I remember going into my grandmother’s basement for slide projector shows.  My uncle would put the curtain over the window and my grandfather would point out everyone who was dead.

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I visited Gen in her half asleep Carolina town and as many times as I could flick her ear while she cooked some down home sweet potatoes for me, or woke up to tea already made and house slippers she let me borrow lined up next to the bed, as many times as I half saw her in a fog of semi-consciousness in an early morning getting her shirt on for work as I fell back to sleep, I couldn’t help but to be anxious to get back to New York.  

The night I left, she opened a bottle of wine and we talked until we lost track of time and ran to the car, and she stick shifted us however fast she could to the train station.

We pulled up just as the train 10:55 train was pulling out.

“You ever been to Richmond?” she asked.

“My roommate said it was terrible.”

“With any luck, we won’t be there long,” and she sped off down late night roads, brights on saying You can’t miss this one, right?  

She went 90 for 180 miles in a 1989 Ford Tempo with no rear view mirror racing north parallel to the tracks.  

“It’s got a next stop, right?”

“No idea.”

We got there as the same 10:55 train was pulling in, I jumped out, grabbed my bag from the back, started running.  She grabbed my hand, pulled me over and kissed my cheek, flicked my ear, and told me to get out of here.  

I got on the train and watched her leaning against her car waiting for the train to pull out of the station.

“This girl’s all right,” I said.

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writing hasn’t been happening much lately which has a direct correlation with my state of unrest.  summer is coming and i’m leaving paris soon right at the moment when i gave my first completely unselfish hug.  i watched a lecture today about living forever and the developing the technology to do it.  and people asked, “wouldn’t it be boring?” and out of all the things life is, i don’t know that i will ever again find it boring.  arthur, the nine-year-old, says often the same thing in the morning when I tell him he can’t play the computer before school.  he says, “but it’s so boring here.” and i don’t get it, with the books on the shelves, the light coming in through the windows, my own two feet on the ground, bones, muscles, standing up, lying down, sitting and waiting and watching.  yet for me, living forever, or at least, for another hundred years requires a garden.  and odd to me still how things grow.  i don’t grow with sunshine and water and i don’t know why.  

it’s a few days into spring and i feel like summer is coming soon.  and that’s a big deal.  

kate used to talk about legitimacy.  “i want to achieve legitimacy,” she’d say.  or maybe she never really said it that way.  and i once thought that the only way to obtain that was through world travel and a constant melancholy and thought that somehow, happiness was a lesser emotion.  i had hemingway’s “happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing i know,” in my head.  

and now, no.  happiness is happiness, and it feels good.  it’s worth chasing.  it’s worth forgetting things over.  it’s worth letting rest anxieties and fears to let happen.  and melancholy, too, is worth those moments of reflection, looking out at how it all is, and thinking that either it is here to stay, or that you are quickly losing it.

i just know for now, i am leaving Paris.  i am disquieted and comforted.  there will be more projects and more stories, so many more stories to come.

i have an assignment to sleep under a texas sky.  i have an assignment to start a lemonade stand outside a chicago subway.  i have an assignment to jump into a murky pond near the abraham lincoln memorial museum in southern illinois.  i have an assignment to hike through southern colorado to a place that makes more sense to both of us, wherever that is.  and new york, the upper east side to brooklyn, and chocolate, and long white white hair with big eyes.  i have an assignment to grow some eggplant, to sundry some tomatoes.  

jeremy said today that we’ll pitch a tent in our new living room.

and i’m going to love hard and breathe and eat lots and lots of bitter greens,


nice hearty ones, the greens i mean.

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I worked myself to dark circles for half a year before seeing Pennsylvania road after Pennsylvania road up and over the Poconos slight moonlight reflecting off Sunday’s snow and onward, onward icy road and neon signs saying how many miles to wherever and wherever after.  We stopped for toilets and coffee and asked the waitress questions about her life and how she lives it.  Josh won three stuffed animals out of the claw machine and left them all at the booth with our empty cups.  “A present,” he said, “for whomever comes after.”  I was falling asleep passenger side after almost falling asleep driver side and Josh went on and over again about his new theory on why things are the way they are.  “It’s like, who listens to the radio anymore?” he said to me and I was almost out then and I heard something like, “…so many lost art forms” and I was in and out for the rest. 

New York to Chicago and I saw more winter cornfields that day than an entire country could eat.  And every waitress had her one line she liked to use with customers, “We just starting serving these Chinese stir-fry dishes and I dunno why.  Grilled Cheese, simple and right, does you good.”  And another, “You get folks coming down from New York and I tell them to take 78 on out the city instead of 80 because you can see the National Forest down there and now with the snow and all… I’m just saying, it’s not always point A to point B.”  And that was her line.  She spent her entire life barely leaving the same small town and her line was on how to best get to and from places.  I think we’re all like that. 

Later on I was falling asleep again to some band out of LA playing about house parties and backyards always waiting for a touch of freedom.  Josh went on and on about Jenn Matthews that day talking about her big blue eyes and bikini tops on Coney Island.  “I mean, she speaks Russian for chrissake,” he said.  I was still in and out but he was fine talking and I was fine listening and more road signs 120 miles to Columbus, 70 miles to Columbus and Josh said he was in the mood for Thai food. 

And I was still falling asleep through even more corn, and Josh was bouncy as ever, wondering what’s next and how and how many Jenn Matthews to come and I was left sleeping off the past four months. 

Josh stopped, worrying about what he called, “caffeine angels,” and I don’t know what he meant by that, but I took over and the drone of a dark road the same bump every two seconds for 50 or so miles put Josh down and I was left humming James Taylor songs to myself.  I’d pass cars every so often and the nice ones would slow some and turn their brights off and then there are those they didn’t and each time I had the thought through my head that they were a little too anxious for that point B.

And for the first time, I was in between.  Did me good.

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As the days get longer and the sun peeks out more every day, as socks get thinner and sleeves get shorter, my head goes to last spring in New York.  This was the view from my bed out my window as the smell of warmer air snuck in and i began to breathe deeper for the first time in a long time.

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Apartment in Bronxville.  Cory and Ellen.

Apartment. New York.

     In the past five years, my mother has had both knees replaced and thwarted two different cancers. When she comes to visit me, she does not get a room. She brings a sleeping bag. This is something I will always brag about.

     My mother likes to take me grocery shopping. In previous visits, she has insisted on filling my cupboards. She knows the grocery store is a mile-walk away for me and insists on packing as many heavy items into her car as possible. When we get to the health food store, I start rummaging through the organic juices. I pick out pomegranate and carrot ginger. She picks out orange.

     I read the ingredients on tea-tree essential oil skin therapy soap. She finds one that claims to be, “Ayurvedic Soap.” Its box is ma and pa. She opens it to smell.

     “What is that?” she says.

     “It must be the Mala Inchi, wild ginger.”

     “No, I mean Ayurveda.”

     “Traditional Indian medicine, ma.”

     “Let’s get these.”

     As she closes the small soapbox, she finds a thin sheet of paper. She hands it to me.

     “My Sanskrit is only so-so,” I say as she turns the sheet over.

     She reads the English translation, “‘Instructions for Usage: Apply the soap through out the body and the arms and the legs. When finished, wash all of it off. Try not to eat.’” She folds the sheet of paper and puts it into my breast pocket.

     “You’d better hold on to the directions,” she says, “for later.”

     After we park, she struggles with the hill up to my apartment. I insist on carrying the bags full of bottles. She resigns herself.

     “You’re not so big, you know.” She stops to catch her breath.

     “You go ahead.” “I can wait.”

     “No, go ahead. I like to check out that rump of yours.”

As I walk ahead to unlock the door, I military-press the juice bottles over my head and lift them over and again to prove that, indeed, I am so big.

     “You remember, boy,” she says, “you came from me.”

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