The man in the Moon looks down on me,
he looks down on me and cries.
The tears he sheds aren’t salt but red,
and the tears he sheds are lies.
The man in the Moon looks down on me,
he looks down on me and cries.
The tears he sheds aren’t salt but red,
and the tears he sheds are lies.
Is less of a spiral
More a stumble, trip, and fall
A moment’s disorientation
Then you’re not
Not where you’d meant to be
And the way up is never simple
Not one step, three, or two
But journeyed hardships wandered
Back to your path once more.
It was a Tuesday like any other. I was a sophomore in High School. During 1st hour Physical Education whispers started among my classmates …
… plane crash
… world trade center
… two planes
… another at the pentagon
By the time 2nd hour started at 9:07 am (Central), it had been four minutes since the fourth plane crashed in the field in Pennsylvania and I heard the word ‘terrorist’ for the first time.
I’m sure I’d heard it before. I mean, I knew what the word meant but I’d never broadened my awareness enough to notice until it came to me.
My Spanish teacher was in tears. She took us all to another classroom where three small classes were all squished together in front of a television silently watching in shock.
It was probably the first time 30+ fifteen-year-old ever watched the news.
The bell for 3rd/hour rang at 10:43 but none of us moved, transfixed.
We started to make our way to lunch around 11:17, but nothing was the same as it was the day before.
We’d witness true horrors for the first time in our young lives.
Over the coming weeks our eyes opened, our hearts broke, hardened, and broke again.
We watched as our country went to war that would last 15 years and counting…
Waking up on the morning of my 30th birthday in a city 1,364 miles from my home was exhilarating. I didn’t want to eat breakfast because we had an hour long train ride to take into Manhattan and I was not going to risk the bathrooms on the train.
We take the 8:28am train out of Oceanside and head into the city. When we get to Penn station Michelle shows us how to get a Metro card, we eat breakfast at McDonald, (woots for healthy living and who knew they had little pancake biscuits called McGriddles … not this guy) wave bye to our train companion and head for the F train to take us to the Museum of Natural History.
After a brief mix up (going the wrong way for about 4 stops on a pee smelling, AC lacking subway car) we get going the right direction (with AC and sans pee smell).
Entrance into the Museum costs $22 dollars and we could have spent all day there. We paid an extra $5 to see a super neat I-Max style presentation called ‘Dark Universe’ narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson and other than the brief moments of vertigo I enjoyed it immensely.
*Side note on Dark Universe: it is 20 something minute long visually stunning presentation on the expansion of the universe and all the kewl new things we are learning about Dark Energy and Dark Matter and Gravitational Waves (contributions of which were made ten minutes from my house, check out LIGO in Livingston, Louisiana). My absolute favorite part of this presentation was the almost painstaking assurances the narration took to explain that this is all new, that we know next to nothing about these things, that this is a new and exciting frontier that the next generation of physicists and astronomers will no doubt make many observations and discoveries about. I say all this to end with a theists chuckle as the conclusion of the presentation (after the 20+ minutes of drilling in the as of yet unknown and currently unknowable nature and specifics of our Dark Universe) the steady voice of Mr. Tyson states that this MUST be the answer to many of our questions. I chuckled to myself at the irony it takes to admit we know little to nothing about a subject, then boldly proclaim something MUST be the answer even though we barely understand the question. Woots for a theist who thinks Science and Faith support each other in a world insisting they are mutually exclusive.
But back to New York!
Right before the Dark Universe presentation I spend $23 on a meal of chicken nuggets, fries, and Macaroni and Cheese <– worth it! And right after we watch a super short (like 3 min) presentation on the Big Bang narrated by Aslan himself … I mean Liam Neeson 🙂
After a brief stint in the gift shop (Flux got some neat shirts) we exit the Museum around 2:00pm and walk across the street to stroll through Central Park a little ways. It was cool in the shade and slightly breezy, so this pasty fat kid didn’t die outright. We walked about 6 blocks through the park before deciding to go ahead and make our way to Coney Island.
We take the Subway at 74th street and the F train an hour or so and we’re right by the Boardwalk. After a brief pit stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for an afternoon caffeine pick me up and a sugar rush (Cuz who can pass up chocolate glaze?) We make our way down the boardwalk past all the shops and roller coasters that I’m too afraid to ride, much to Flux’s exasperation and my chagrin. We reach the concert venue about five hours too early.
If I haven’t said before, this entire trip was planned because it was my birthday and the Dresden Dolls were getting back together for the first time since 2008! ON MY BIRTHDAY! It was meant to be.
I go into the ticket booth to make sure my mobile tickets are acceptable (they are) and they say that they will start seating at 7:00, PWR BTTM will be opening and will begin around 7:75pm, Dresden Dolls wont take the stage until closer to 8:45-9:00 *pant pant* we’re soooo early.
We walk the boardwalk a few times, buy head gear and sunglasses to evade the unrelenting sun and finally find ourselves standing in line (still two hours early).
This fat kid needed food, so flux grudgingly agrees to go find something to eat. We leave the boardwalk (I don’t recommend this) and find a little Chinese place two blocks up and two blocks over. It is so hot in the little building (smaller than my bedroom to be honest) and the food is so hot to the touch that it is a miserable experience eating in the small space.
Never the less, we sit by the window scalding our mouths and watching the passers by.
Almost the entire time we’re there a man four feet in front of us on the side walk is pacing around a motorcycle … circling, circling, squatting, circling, taking pictures, using his flashlight to see under it, searching online for stuffs, circling, looking, touching… then finally he puts a leg over and starts to tip toe walk the vehicle off as the alarm chirps away.
All over the city there are signs that say ‘SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING’ … well I saw, and looked around me and absolutely no one was concerned. Even flux says she didn’t notice this event, but regardless, I want to get out of the area and we leave immediately … I finish my food while waiting safely back in line.
We’re not back in line for 20 minutes or so when they start to let people in. We’re psyched and grinning like idiots as we wait another 45 min in the merchandise line before finding our seats.
I got 3 autographed CD’s, 2 T-shirts, and I forgot to buy me a button bundle, I’m heartbroken.
Flux got her an autographed poster, 3 autographed Cd’s , and a neat Tote Bag to hold it all.
PWR BTTM started to play as we reached the merch table and they were splendid, and fun, and to quote their song ‘House in Virginia’, they were Handsome, Gaymazing, and Nice!
Dresden Dolls took the stage and three short hours later they left too soon. Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione are quite possibly the most gracious and talented two performers this side of forever. I’m going to nerd out when I say Neil Gaiman and Olya Viglione are possibly the only two people on the planet that I’m slightly envious of their relationships.
True to form, they were inspiring, engaging, promoting local performers and artists (including but not limited to a girl dressed as a bird and a blindfolded girl holding a sign ‘Tell my your secret, I’ll keep it safe.’)
Exhilarated and inspired, we found ourselves back on a midnight Q train to Atlantic Ave. Once there we just had to wait an hour or so to take the Long Island back to Oceanside to get back in bed by 3:00am, or somewhere around those parts.
There was going to be a day 3, but honestly, it’s just us waking up, getting back to the airport, landing in NOLA and driving home with a brief pit stop at Taco Bell.
So I hope you enjoyed the story,
Friday the 26th I woke up at 6:15am with a hollow dread in my stomach. In almost exactly three hours I would be on a plane out of New Orleans headed to JFK international. I’d flown 24 times previously but that did nothing to alleviate my fears of immanent death.
Disney, Miami, Houston, Costa Rica, Germany, Los Angeles, Vegas, Newark, Ecuador, and now New York.
We ate breakfast at the Airport, Flux had a veggie wrap that smelled like cleaning supplies and I had a turkey sandwich that probably didn’t smell any better, before the flight and after an almost uneventful pass through the Touch Someone’s Ass checkpoint…Flux had this nifty knife she kept in her wallet that folded up like credit card … alas, now it’s gone.
The flight left early. We were on row 2 so there was very little lift and thrust effects to be felt and no turbulence to speak of, so I didn’t have any mini-heart attacks along the way. My nervous laughter did echo through the cabin a few times courtesy of Jet Blue’s inflight TV service and a 2008 episode of Saturday Night Live with Ben Affleck and John McCain.
We landed a little over two hours later (we made great time) and met Flux’s grandparents outside the terminal. A short twenty minute drive and we pulled up next to the cutest little house I think I’d ever seen. Built up on a little hill on a trapezoid shaped corner plot, basement and second story, with a pool and screened in gazebo on the side.
They set us up with an air mattress next to the couch and fed us lunch meats on bagels with pickles and olives on the side.
We caught up on the status of how they were faring after Hurricane Sandy and how we made out after Louisiana’s recent flooding and learned all about their house and neighborhood.
After a few hours spent outside under an umbrella on their patio I was taken around to the garage and shown their prized possession, a 1969 Hurst SC Rambler. One of only 512 produced. Amid old photo’s, car parts, accumulated junk, and scantily clad women in various calendar’s around the garage sat the blue and orange racing vehicle: ‘Lil Terror.’ After a brief (2 hr) info session, it was time for dinner.
MY FIRST NEW YORK PIZZA!
They said I needed to fold it longways, but I’m a rebel and like the crunchy crust with each and every bite, so I folded it crust to tip and it was delicious.
After getting shooed out of the kitchen when we tried to help clean up, Flux and I went down into the basement and played ‘RAMPAGE’ on an old cartridge arcade machine (I won! I think … it was hard to keep track of the score)
Then it was time to plan our next day’s events and figure out which trains to ride. If you’ve read Train Ride With a Cat Lady you’ll know that a very nice lady taught us how to use the MTA. Stay tuned for love affair day 2
Like my very first memory of being rocked on someones shoulder,
… eating horseflies out of the window sill,
… the feel of mud pies between toes, fingers… and other places,
… sleeping bags and watching a meteor shower on the trampoline,
… hurricane roller-coasters using the front porch swing,
… playing red rover, and sharks & minnows,
… watching an eclipse through special glasses,
… cutting Savannah’s hair.
Like meeting that first friend I’ve know forever,
… Alisha Boone putting me in a trash can,
… crying in the bathroom so the bullies couldn’t see,
… seeing the first naked people who weren’t my parents,
… not getting to see the simulated moon landing, cuz I wasn’t in my seat,
… being heart broken when she danced with “her cousin,”
… Brandy copying off my homework and getting me my first zero,
… Bridge to Terabithia, “You Lie…you LIE!”
Like holding hands with a boy for the very first time,
… bonding over books and magic in the back of the library,
… waiting for a kiss that never came on New Years Eve,
… seeing her face contort in disgust when she found out about Brad,
… reading a story of my own creation in front of class for the first time,
… finding out my uncle had been shot and killed,
… sitting in Spanish class, watching the plane hit the 2nd tower,
… running a con to get the principal and graduate coordinator to let me have cornrows.
Like moving out of my parents house for the very first time,
… skipping math class to go watch the Nanny,
… having my very own campus stalker,
… wearing pajama pants to class each and every day,
… meeting the girl who would become my wife,
… having the professor (in a class of only 5) let us all sleep through a lecture,
… sweating bullets over my thesis paper… neuro-psychology is neat,
… looking over the balcony, wondering how much it would hurt.
Like that first plane ride to Disney World,
… getting lost in Berlin,
… praying for rain in Mexico,
… zip lining through the treetops of Ecuador,
… watching the volcano puff smoke in Costa Rica,
… quitting my job after the boss sent me home with essay punish work,
… walking down the mountain because snowboarding sucks,
… watching a motorcycle get stolen and the Dresden Dolls rock on Coney Island, NY.
These are the things I’ll always remember.
These are the things I’ll never forget.
They’ve molded me since childhood…
… shaped my past…
…merged into my present …
… and are directing me towards my future.
“So you want a Round Trip Off Peak ticket if you’re just going into the City for the day.”
Michelle rapidly punches multiple keys on the screen at a pace that is hard to follow.
“It’s not very hard, you just gotta read the instructions.” She says, her New York accent thick with intermittent clipped and long vowels. “See my parents they don’t know how to use these machines. It confuses them, so they think it’s scary. But it’s simple, you just have to read.”
We sit in the station as we wait for the 8:28am train. It’s only 8:15, and after a brief comparative discussion of Hurricane Sandy and the recent Flooding in Louisiana we make our way to the very end of the platform.
“I like to walk all the way to the end in the mornings. It’s only a twenty minute walk from my house. And I get the last car usually to myself. Just me and my coffee. It’s almost an hour to Penn Station.”
The train pulls up and we take our seats. She gracefully allows me to pick where we sit since riding backwards would wreck havoc on my inner ear issues and I don’t want to be a nauseous mess with vertigo.
We settle in and the train pulls away from the station.
“I’m glad you guys picked me up today, means I didn’t have to see any of my neighbors. They called the cops on me again. I have cats you see. Twenty Seven inside and more than thirty five outside, most feral. All my inside babies have names, this is Cow.” She pulls out her phone and scrolls through pictures showing me first a black and white spotted one, then an orange tabby, then a calico, and another black and white, then a big grey, naming each as she shows me the tiny image on her ancient flip phone.
“I work two jobs you see. My Monday – Friday on Long Island and then I ride into the city every Saturday for a few hours for my spare change. $300 every Saturday, helps pay the bills. Sunday’s are my only off day and I spend all day cleaning up after the cats. I do what I can every morning and then again at night after feeding time. Can you imagine, a kitchen full of 27 hungry cats every night? And you have to clean the litter boxes daily, cuz their cats ya know. They want a clean space. If you don’t clean their space, they’ll let you know. You’ll come home to a few piles of poo right there on the floor. I mean it’s right there by the box, so you know they’re sending you the message, ‘hey lady, my stuffs dirty, fix it!’.
“But yeah, my neighbors call on me all the time. I’ve had the Long Island police out, the health department, the local shelters, the ASPCA, you name it. I put out food for them. And I’m not the only one, there’s two or three of us down the block who aren’t going to let the ferals starve. And I put out traps so I can catch the ones I can. And it’s all clean. They have their sturdy little shelter in the back. Their sand box where they can go. I gotta clean that out every once in while, cuz ya know, 30 something cats all going in the same place it’ll start to smell. And that’s why the neighbors call. That and the wild one’s poo in their yards. Like I can do anything about that. Just last week I got a little baggie with two inch long poo’s in it with a note on my porch, ‘your cats leave this in my yard every morning.’ They’re not my cats, all my cats are contained, but like I said there’s a few of us who put out the food.”
“But I’m always like, how is this my problem? You have a feral cat on your property, you can go out an buy traps and catch him and do whatever you want with the cat. I’m not responsible for them. I let them out, I don’t catch them, he’s on your property, you catch him and that’s on me, but if you’re not going to do anything about it, how is it my problem? So anyways, this last time, they called the local shelter. And I knew they were watching when the van pulled up. Expecting for them all to get taken away. But these are my babies, I take car of them. They’re clean and taken care of. No diseases, no nutrition problems. They’re all healthy animals, my kitties are all healthy. No abuse, no trauma.”
“So here I am with the shelter telling me they’re on their way and I get most of my inside babies all out to friends and relatives, cuz I know they’re going to see my outside cats and see that I’ve got everything under control, but to see all my inside’s on top of it, I just know, they’re gunna take my cats. So by the time the shelter comes I’ve only got a few left inside and I walk them through and there’s no ammonia smell making their eyes water. I’ve cleaned up, as usual, so not hair and feces everywhere. They see that all my cats are healthy and that I take good care of them, but they are concerned about the number. So I’m on the phone with the director of the shelter, and her guys are poking around seeing that their enclosure is sturdy and they have water and the sand box and it’s half shaded and half sunny and they all have their little boxes to hide in, and nothing is rotting and there’s no big mess. And the lady, the director, she tells me, ‘Look I like you, and I don’t want any problems to arise, so here’s what I’m gunna do. I’m going to fix you up. I’m going to send out my guy, my mobile vet guy and he’s going to spay and neuter all your outside cats for free.’ So that’s what they did. They spent like 9 hours taking them out to the van on the road 1 at a time and giving them the once over, fixing them, and bringing them back. My neighbors were furious. They thought for sure they were going to take my cats, but I still got them all.”
“Well not all of them. I get home one night and I see some of them creeping around from the back and into the yard, and I throw my stuff down and call my son, and say, look Deej, the cats are out come help me. So he comes out and we get all but 5 of them back in. And can you believe it? Someone slashed my enclosure. Took a razor blade right down the side of the mesh. Someone wanted them to get out. I couldn’t believe it. We called and made a report, the cops know me, the neighbors call them out so often, and we get back mended, but now I’ve got five cats loose. And their the big feral ones, that don’t like being cooped up. So it’s taken me almost a year to catch them all back, but I finally trapped the last one a few days ago. Now we’re all back and one big happy family. But this is our stop. Here, I’ll show you how to get a Metro Pass, make sure you don’t step in the crack…”