Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Crash into You.

So I got back to the city from another round in the 50th-ranked state in the Union for tourism, and boy, was I tired. My legal father hijacked my cancer-ridden grandfather to prevent him from seeing me; I only know my biological father well enough to talk about baseball and Italian beef sandwiches; Kansas is, well, Kansas, and ironically enough I've always been allergic to sunflowers so I was hacking and sneezing through most of the trip. By the time C. and I got back, all I wanted to do was go to bed, and spend a few hours crabbing on the docks off Fire Island in the morning.

I was dreaming that I was on the bridge to Fire Island and couldn't see the end of it until I realized that there wasn't an end to it. I was holding onto some railing as my car plummeted when the alarm clock woke me at 3:30AM.

Throwing my bucket, traps, and chicken legs in my Honda Civic, I made my way down the road to Dunkin Donuts for coffee and donuts, and continued onto the Long Island Expressway. It was drizzly with periodic outbreaks of actual rain - I hadn't been crabbing in the rain yet, and I figured at least there wouldn't be any other crabbers on the docks to disrupt my solitude.

I exited onto the Cross Island for a few miles, then onto the Southern State. The yellow lights were flashing on the 25 MPH sign, and it's a pretty tight curve, one of the clover-type exits they have so much of back in Kansas, so I started to slow down. I turned the steering wheel a bit to lean into the curve, and the car continued going straight. I remembered Mr. Gilliland in Driver's Ed talking about cars hydroplaning when there's only a film of water on a driving surface, and pressed on the brakes to slow it down and get things in order. The car just slid, first forward, then sideways, into the wall and/or guardrail (it was dark and I can't remember, even in slow-mo). I heard one of those sound effect-type crash sounds - hard thump, shattering glass, and silence. It was still between 4:00 and 4:30 so the silence was especially loud. But not so loud as to block the realization that my car was blocking a limited-visibility curve, and the driver's side door was the only thing between me and an unsuspecting manslaughter - I put my hazards on, backed up as quickly as I could while dragging my front bumper, shifted into drive, and got off the exit onto the Southern State.

I pulled off the shoulder to dial 911 and ran over my bumper. After getting out putting it in the backseat, I explained my situation and waited for the state troopers and Nassau County precinct to decide what to do with me. I heard a whistle from the sidestreet, then a "Hey! Mister!"

A shadow was motioning through the mist at me. "Hey, you hit the wall back there?"

I hung up on the indecisive emergency rescue unit, and called back to the figure, "Yeah."

"Happens alla time." The guy walked down to me. "You gotta get off dat tru-way, man," he said with a slight island accent, "One guy got a contract on da 'ole stretch, cost you tree time as much as if you get off dat nex' exit."

"What do I do when I get off the exit then?" I asked.

"I got a freind, good guy. He give you a ride. I meet you up off de exit."

I waited for him to go back to his car, got back in my car, and followed him off the next exit.

"I gonna call my frien' now," he said, pulling his cell phone out of his pocket. "You lucky I foun' you. It supposed to be illegal to help somebody onna tru-way, guess they afraid people try to take advantage of a situation, say like, 'Oh, I can fix dat f'you,' you know?"

While he talked to his friend, I surveyed the damage. My beloved car's front end looked like a Transformer mid-transformation.

"Where you goin' dis time a' night?"

"Is was just going crabbing," I replied.

"Oh yeah? Where?"

"Out near Fire Island."

"Dat so? I use to go fishin' out there, right by Captree State Park."

My face lit up in the morning dark. "That's where I was going!"

"Now I go out Magnolia Pier, off Long Beach. It got lots more fish. The tide bring 'em in."

"Where you on your way out there?"

"Nah," he said, looking tired all of a sudden. "I work at the hospital down a way, late shif'. Onna way home. I be out there later inna week though."

We talked for another half-hour while waiting for his friend with the flatbed to pick me up, and I didn't once wonder if it was strange to trust this guy more than the state police.

So the rest of my day after getting home has been spent haggling with Geico, which, truth be told, wasn't that hard really. They're paying for everything except my $500 deductible (so that's what I worked those extra hours teaching at CLIP this month for), and my car waits sadly outside my window for the adjuster to get it back in shape.

Next week, I'm trying out Magnolia Pier.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Immerse me in it.

I finally finished a piece I've been working on for a decent chunk of the summer - it's not necessarily my most, well, literary work, but an important piece I think, about a non-standard language learning program at CUNY.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

In New York City, every building is a library...

...and every window is a novel.

I've looked out from my own half-written pages onto the fire escape cold and wet with rain, into the shadow of a lampshade, over to a refrigerator littered with magnets holding up crayoned papers and to-go menus, into laced curtains hiding lovers holding each other warm against the chill outside, and I watched the rain come down, lightning illuminating all then leaving it dim and shiny on the edges of each small window, and I wanted to crawl in each window, know the stories each of them held behind them.

This is how I felt the first time I read a book, looked in the mirror, had sex, got my ass beat - when I realized (or was it remembered?) how big the world is, how welcoming and indifferent it could be, and how I wanted it all to open up to me, take me in, bruise me, leave me gasping and wanting more.

Downstairs, my girlfriend's 60-something neighbor is waiting to hear our dog bark as her grandson sleeps; she likes hearing it, says it reminds her there's someone up here. The grandson says hello to our dog when he sees it, then cries about his mother's boyfriend who hates him and makes him stay with his grandma. His grandma says he's cuckoo because he talks to the school psychologist, and points to hear own head. All this Mary, the grandmother, tells us in parts as she pets our dog on the stoop, but she won't talk about why the cops were there last night after her daughter's visit.

It's raining and my girlfriend is asleep. But I can't crawl in bed yet, because I know I won't be able to sleep. And I hate that. I hate to lie in bed alone, even when she's there, and remember that every good story I've ever read has had an end, and the best endings are usually the saddest.

Friday, March 16, 2007

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

So I, along with 29% of the U.S. population, am officially incapacitated for the next 3 weeks. As shamefuly as it seems to an avowed intellectual and all, I got NCAA fever. Ah, what the hell, I'll say it - March Madness.

I've really gotta hurry actually, as the first games of the day are about to start. As I've been told a handful of times in the last day, "You're such a boy."

But before I go, a quick thought on one (or more) of the teams playing today:

Arkansas, at 21-13, was perhaps the last team chosen for the field, and the whipping post for fans of many teams who didn't make the cut. But I can't wait to see their game, if only for the chance of more postgame guy-on-guy action like we witnessed in the SEC tourney:

Gary Ervin hit a floater to push Arkansas to a 72-71 win over Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals, so the Hogs are still in the running for an NCAA Tournament bid. But that's not what was crazy about this game. What was crazy was the celebration that just wouldn't stop. Ervin and Patrick Beverley rolled around on the court near press row until Stan Heath approached them. Then they all hugged, Heath left and Beverley and Ervin went straight back to the floor with the former laying the latter down ever so gently. They had their arms wrapped around each other, and Beverley was crying and on top of his teammate with his legs spread, and it was the most awkward thing. Understand, this was not like a baseball pile where 20 guys jump on each other. This was two guys -- Ervin and Beverley -- just, for lack of a better word, dry-humping on the 50-yard line of the Georgia Dome like Ludracis always fantasized (yes, I just quoted Ludacris lyrics). Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if Ervin needed a cigarette. Or a morning-after pill.
I've included a photo of the postgame pre-tune (note the hand placement):

I also added a tender moment between Texas All-American Kevin Durant and his "favorite" teammate, and invite everyone to count the semi-erotic moments shared between teammates; I'd bet the number will only be eclipsed by the amount of time Dick vitale calls a large group of predominantly men "Baby."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

First entry

So the journey is complete. If you know me through MySpace, welcome to my new home. If not, you can catch up at

If you don't know me, here's a snapshot of my morning today:

“You Irish?”

Being as it’s a mere 2 days until St. Patrick’s Day, I thought this random comment by a random woman on the street was an offhand pre-holiday greeting.

“No,” I said without looking at her, and continued on my way to the corner bodega.

“You must be Polish then.”

I just kept walking. Only about 10 steps left.

“Excuse me,” she said right as I was on the threshold to buy milk and seltzer, “I’m sorry to bother you, and don’t take this the wrong way” – to which I always want to ask the person to clarify the right way to take it – “but would you be interested in some, uh, sexual gratification in exchange for a little cash?”

I finally took a good look at her – a black woman who could have been anywhere from 40-55 years old, with a not unpleasant smile on her face and a bundle of folders under her arm.

“I work for the housing board,” she said. “These are my files.” She continued looking at me, veiling her desire for subsidiary income in a kind, welcoming smile.

“I, uh,” I stammered, “I’m not really into…”

“Oh, times is hard for you too?” She looked at me almost like a mother would. “You a student?”

“No, I’m a teacher,” I said.

“Oh,” she sighed pityingly. “No wonder you ain’t into it.”