Is anyone in love anymore? Hello out there? I don’t mean people under 25. I’m talking about grownups. Have we thought our way out of the experience? Replaced it with nonattachment? Dried up? Died?
I’m sitting here tonight, wondering what’s the thing to accept and the thing to reject: Love ends, love hurts, love doesn’t work out because even if it does, it doesn’t. But does that mean that we shouldn’t make the gallant attempt, go all nine yards? Be really, really, really kind to each other.
Where is love? Does it fall from stars above? Is it underneath the willow tree, that I’ve been dreaming of? Fuck Sex in the City. Fuck Gossip Girl. Fuck Law and Order and Seinfeld and the Seventies. Fuck open marriages, and Hip-Hop, and Tom Cruise. Fuck greedy leaders. Fuck you all. Give me back my my butterflies, my weak knees, my love poems, my midnight summer drives, my silent forest lapses into sleep, my sweet kisses. Give me back my old-fashioned love.
The trend began about three years ago, with a trickle of boutiquey places like the Pod, the Ace and the Jane — which offered a patina of style without the premium prices. It has accelerated in recent months, with a raft of new hotels promising cool design, nods to local flavor and wallet-friendly rates of about $200 to $250.
Let’s call this the Abu Ghraib syndrome. A group of people, together too long without perspective from the outside world, agree on a set of truths and ethics that a person coming in from the outside would be appalled by. What’s wallet-friendly about $200 or $250 a night?
Who stole our wonderful, artist-friendly city?
I know: We know who stole our city. I just feel pretty upset that I can’t afford to live there anymore, and I feel disgusted with the Times for being complicit in this Republican, rich man’s perspective.
Here’s my latest category, which I’m guessing I’ll be using a lot: It’s called Duh.
I’m thinking about why there’s so much to do, and not enough time to do it in. I liked it better when there was more free time—when you did your job, and then you had time for yourself and time for your friends and family. I understand that because I have less time left in this lifetime, the minutes seem to go by faster; the years do not seem go on forever, anymore, the way they did in the old days when I was younger and deadlines fewer and less pressing. But I don’t think relativity of time is it.
People are more anxious all around. They seem more desperate about what they need, and they all need it at least soon, and often now. Maybe that’s it: maybe I am pressuring myself to meet other people’s deadlines in a time frame that makes it impossible for me to have a more restful life (and, in turn, do better work).
Yeah, phew. I think that’s it. Maybe we all need to slow down. (Maybe if one of us starts, another of us will follow, and we can build what used to be a given—time to do nothing—back into our culture.) Maybe we need to make more realistic schedules for ourselves and others, and when we assign jobs (and take them), we could do it with the understanding that time and space are a necessary part of a happy life. This doesn’t mean, though, that we pay and get paid less.
I feel stupid saying this, so I’ll cover that over by saying duh.
This is what I was contemplating this morning, before I took Scooby to the park:
My faults are as large as a mountain, but I conceal them within me.
Others’ faults are as minute as a sesame seed, but I proclaim and condemn them.
I boast about my virtues, though I don’t even have a few.*
Then Scoob and I went for a walk, and I immediately got tweaked because a runner blew his nose onto the road right in front of me. I thought, “You wouldn’t do that while you were carrying your briefcase down Madison Avenue in your Barney’s suit—why here?” And, really, why do people blow their nose in the street while they run? Is it, like, a biological thing? Because it looks more like a macho thing—like you’re in your running bubble, all high and self-righteous, and you think, “I’m such a healthy stud that I’m sure this dog-woman wouldn’t mind a little of my snot on her clog.”
So, anyway, others’ faults are as minute as a sesame seed. Trying to get back to that, I thought back on past times when people did gross things in the street, and, because of the benefits of hindsight, I can see that they were just things—not good, not bad. Like, one time I saw a homeless man rummaging through a garbage can with one hand, and with the other hand, holding a Dixie Cup around his dick so that he could pee.** That doesn’t bother me now. (Actually, it didn’t bother me then, either).
Anyway, the point is 1) my faults are as large as a mountain, but I conceal them within me; others’ faults are as minute as a sesame seed, 2) I have a real hard time not judging people based on my own likes and dislikes, 3) wouldn’t it be great if no one blew their nose onto the street?, and 4) either way, our lives are dreams that pass quickly, so whatever it is, maybe it’s just a little bit sacred.
*From Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye’s “Crying to the Guru’s From Afar.”
**This was in the old days, before Giuliani took all the homeless people and turned them into dog food.
I moved into this particularly tiny studio apartment in January, and got an electric bill a month later for $90 (for that kind of money, don’t you think?, I should be flying to the moon and back on my desk lamp). The next month, the bill was for $185. I called Con Ed when I had a free moment (i.e. three weeks later), and the Indian woman on the other end (whose lights were probably flickering in her Delhi office while the garbage was smoldering outside) told me to go read my meter.
So I did—I went down to this hidden room in the basement full of dials and water bugs on glue boards and discovered that, according to the meter, the number of kilowatts used, as of that day, was hundreds of kilowatts lower than the number Con Ed claimed had been on the meter before I’d even moved in (emphasis mine). The guy on the other end of the line at Con Ed laughed when I told him this. He said, “We’ll send you a new bill in the morning.” That new bill, for two months, was for $62.
The same thing happened with my cable bill—there was a mysterious $100 added to it that I politely asked them to remove. (“Oh, shit,” the cable woman from Brooklyn said, “this is all screwed up.” “Uh-huh,” I said, “right?”)
Not to get too conspiracy theory-ish about it, but are these errors intentional? Are the utility companies overcharging people, figuring that some will notice and some won’t? Isn’t that illegal? Think of how many people don’t look at their bills, and just throw their dough at Dr. Warner and Mr. Con.
(Excuse me while I go to the corner of my tiny apartment where I keep my tiny shrine and do my healing mantra by battery-powered flashlight: yes we can, yes we can, yes we can, yes we can, yes we can, yes we can.)
O.K., I may not be smart in the same ways that Rick and George and Amy are, but I know this: I used to live in a nice apartment on Sullivan Street, in Soho, for $220 a month, and my first semester at Queens College cost $68. And, believe me, it wasn’t that long ago. So what the fuck happened?
Those men back then who did this, they were old, and I’m guessing a lot of them are dead. If they’re not, they’re almost dead. So why are we still living like this? It’s like we all voted to fuck ourselves, and then kept voting yes. Yes, yes, yes! Another thousand bucks a month for rent, yes! $2000 root canals, yes! $3.50 a gallon, be my guest! Reality TV—whahooey, let’s watch a girl with no self-respect give a hot-tub blowjob to a meathead on a 46-inch-TV! Fun!
We did that. We’re doing that. And in a hundred years, when everyone alive on this planet today is dead, we’ll have left this legacy. Every time we turn away from doing something about the harshness of this life—from even being aware of it—we’re creating a terrible future for people that are so innocent they don’t even exist yet. (First we screw our children, then we give birth to them.)
We need some relief from the burden of these crushingly expensive lives that keep us up at night and go on through the weekends. We have so much priceless culture to protect. Wine is not enough—we need real peace. I believe it starts here, with our own private selves.