chef's salad


Yesterday I went to my first organizing meeting in many months. The sun had mostly set, and an overcrowded F train spit me out onto the corner of Madison and Rutgers, where I made my way to Seward Park. Vanessa's red hair alerted me to where the group was sitting on the pavement outside the NYPL building, and when I sank down next to her she gave me a small pat on the shoulder. I felt an unexpected sense of homecoming--there was a guy who I hadn't met before and exchanged brief introductions with, but everybody else knew who I was and I them. It was proof that I really was a part of this group, that despite the minimal overlap in our personal lives I somehow had continued existing in their minds, and that when I mentioned them in conversations about art or artists it wasn't totally one-sided, I *did* really know them. Vanessa scribbled our meeting notes in her notebook with dark blue marker. A row of grandpas speaking in Mandarin were loitering on the benches behind me, still chatting when I left, while another group of old Chinese men played ping pong next to the library by the light of a single fluorescent bulb dangling over the ping pong tables. Later that night I wandered through the San Gennaro festival for several blocks on my way home from dinner in Chinatown. Soon the festival will be over, another year in which I've failed to properly attend and realize my dream of winning a giant stuffed teddy bear. At drinks with Ariel on Tuesday, huddled in the back room of Local while heavy rain surged outside, I tried to focus intensely on the present. Somehow September is already almost over, another month has flown by.... Some moments to remember: - September 1 was a good day through and through, beginning with a fun morning dancing to Le Tigre, then being greeted by a cool breeze when I stepped out the door, then hearing Bob on the speakers when I walked into Daily Provisions, then listening to Twin Fantasy with Katie, ending with yoga and dinner and a long walk through Prospect Park with Pau. - Sitting at the Croton Harmon station as the train idles, seeing the light tumble in sharp angles over the iconic shape of the Metro-North station. I feel so happy and lucky to be alive--"hopeful about the future," as Claudia says--I never could have imagined at 17 or 19 or even 22 that my life would one day look and feel like this. - Inhae sitting on the bench outside Porto Rico as we meet up to go to a Wework for the day. Wordlessly I hand her a banana upon seeing her. - Basil gelato + cantaloupe sorbet swirl from Leo. - Pistachio + concord grape gelato swirl from L'Industrie. - Dan makes ratatouille for dinner with me and Pranab. I bring some seeded sourdough from DP and Pranab a bottle of red wine. After many years of friendship, being together is easy and familiar. - Chungking Express with a random, fun assemblage of people: Inhae, Alex, Christian from Porto Rico, Claudia. The movie is funnier and more tender in a real theater. - At the Metropolitan screening, Joe and I are seated in the front row and we have to recline almost fully in order to see the screen properly. - On a rainy evening, I stop by Claudia's to drop off moon cakes and lounge in her mansion. - Straddling the bench outside Court St. Grocers as Xander and I split two sandwiches. - Olive and I wait an hour in line for the dosa cart in WSP on a Friday afternoon. - Alexa and I dance into oblivion at the DJ Voices set, and for the rest of the weekend my body feels satisfyingly worn out. - I run into Lance, Matthew, and Ashley having brunch with the twins' mom at dim sum on a rainy morning. The couple who shares my table interrupts our conversation to discuss nightclub culture at Nowadays and Unter with us. - Joe and I share my wired headphones to listen to Pavement on the train home from Park Slope. - Catherine and I Facetime while I stand outside the combination Cinnabon/Auntie Anne's at the final 2 stop in Flatbush. - At Katana Kitten on a Wednesday night, I survey the crowd and think, everybody here is trying to get laid. - Inhae makes me dinner on a Sunday night, complete with basil ice cream. - Ladybugs keep showing up in my apartment. - Crush #2 asks me whether I'm a dog or cat person. You've gotta be fucking kidding me, I think when I read that text, what is with my crushes and asking this question. - I wake up to a late night text from Juhi - "I miss women." - As Katie, her pen pal, and I wait for the G, a violinist and a cellist are playing duets from opposite platforms in the Lorimer-Metropolitan station. A slow, stately piece elongates those four minutes as everybody stands, transfixed. - After hiking at Breakneck Ridge/Cold Spring, we all meet up at Xander's new place for a barbecue. The food is delicious--grilled pineapple! hot dogs!--and there are candles on the table, and I think about the vision Xander once had of a night dinner party in Prospect Park. - I finish Other Men's Daughters in WSP one morning before work and start re-reading it from the beginning later that day. - Ashwin's breakfast collides with Inhae making coffee for us in the kitchen. He pours too much granola into his bowl, and I repeatedly scoop the surplus into my mouth. "Ok, stop now," he commands. - Reading Either/Or is full of synchronicities: (1) "flaneuring", (2) "good on a sentence level", (3) Turkish pepper candy. I feel inspired to travel and have a string of lovers. “So it was true. There really was a whole country where people spoke the language from Eugene Onegin, the recombined components of which now rose up around me, on highway signs and license plates, on the sides of the prehistoric, post-historic, exhaust-spewing trucks. And I had willed myself into it. In the past, I had been in one country or another because of other people: my parents, Svetlana, Ivan, Sean. But I was in Russia because I had looked at the literatures of the world and made a choice. Nobody had especially wanted me to come—indeed, the customs officer who stamped my passport had left a distinct impression of wishing me to be elsewhere—yet here I was.”