The hardest thing to know what to do with this blog is how honest to be. What do I edit, and do I edit at all or merely let the momentum take me? I wrote something today that I instantly deleted, in part because I wasn’t happy with it. But looking back, there aren’t a lot of things that I am happy about so far. I saw today that the other people on this page had left posts. I’m excited about this whole experience, and curious as hell to read what they wrote, but will put it off for now. I’d rather get comfortable with this format. I don’t think this will work unless I remove my filter (in everything I write, the best, at least to me, always comes when I drop my internal censor and let fly), and the what geeked me up the most about this experiment is to see if honest—brutal, naked, all exposed, nothing held back honesty—is as compelling as I think it is. This might piss off my friends (I hope only temporarily), or surprise my family, but the wheels come off if I hold back. I won’t post until what I’ve written is what I want, but I won’t edit myself either.
My Day In Two Acts:
Act I Today was one of those ideal New York City days, the kind that remind you why you live in this city in the first place, what it is that makes this probably the greatest city in the world. It also happens to be the day that the September 11 Commission saunters onto our block and conveniently passes off $100 bills of excuses for what New York could have done different. On the R train into Manhattan I was standing next to a firefighter. This is not a coincidence. In my world, there are no coincidences. Symbolism and metaphorical meanings are read into everything.
The man on the subway had an FDNY hat on with the accompanying T-shirt and a tattoo on his right calf of the World Trade Center, wreathed with the words "We Will Always Remember." Firefighters bring out the best in me of late; leave me at my most empathetic.
There were a slate of news stories and newspaper articles in the city concerning instances of drinking on the job recently. But no shit. What do we expect, really? Why this news was so shocking is a bit beyond me. It took over a year before I felt back on solid ground after Sept. 11, and I merely watched the whole thing happen from my roof. These guys lost their brothers, their Chozen Families, and picked the remains of people they didn't know and people they loved dearly from the detritus. I'd be drinking too. Probably smoking and snorting and chopping and anything just to flip that switch that Brick talks so lovingly of in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
The purpose of today’s hearings was to question the city’s top level government agents from Mayor Giuliani and Mayor Bloomberg's administrations. They will undoubtedly uncover the exact truth to what happened that day. It’s out there somewhere. Has to be, right?
I stared at the man on the subway for my entire 15 minute ride, stared at his tattoo and thought, What happened was someone fucked up, but not someone in this city, not one of the first responders and not any of its citizens. I wanted to shake this man's hand. It would have been awkward, but I wanted to hug him and just say thank you, even if he wasn't with the department back then I still wanted to thank him. It's been almost 3 years, and I still feel that way towards cops and firemen. Inexplicable. But it leavened the day for me, tiny doses of perspective.
Act II Outside, grabbing my afternoon coffee, temperature in the 70s, I sat down as the people scattered by. I love doing this, people watching, and it was one of those days. Can we have class outside? I drank coffee, I smoked a cigarette. When I don’t have to work I’ll do this at coffee shops near my apartment, play a game where I sit there with my iPod in and graze gazes with everyone who passes. The pretty ones attract my attention, of course, and don’t they always. But everyone is fair game. I watch their mannerisms, how they move, how they approach or respond to the things around them. I make up identities, lives that are better or worse than the one they have for themselves. Sometimes I think they’d probably love to trade; sometimes I’m pretty sure they’d take their chances with what they have. This game is New York perfect. People don’t make eye contact in this city. Usually. Sometimes I’ll get busted, someone will glance up, but I never look away. If the person tenses, slouches their shoulders, becomes self-conscious, those times I hope they don’t think I’m like a dirty old man, but usually they don’t seem to. More often than not they don’t seem to mind.
(By the way, I’m aware that this post is pretty damn earnest. That’s the thing about this blog, if I want it to be truly unedited, then I may not be sure on how it comes off.)