shivery's guide to new york #5: 7th avenue books
it seems that i have an expensive habit (beyond the smokin' and the boozin' and the whorin'): books. in a world where i spend a minimum of two hours a day in passive transit, books have become a necessity. like many new yorkers, i devour a minimum of one book a week. now, given that literature has become exorbitantly expensive, the habit adds up ($15 a week x 52 weeks=more money than i want to think about in the christmas season), thereby putting a bit of a damper on the whims of this underpaid young professional. given that i'm not going to stop reading on the subway, i am essentially left with two options: ransack my friends' prodigious lending libraries or go used. still being essentially a cheapskate, i try and stick with the former option as much as i can. but, sometimes i covet a volume that i can't source in the library network. and when that happens, i go to 7th ave. books. located (appropriately) at 300 7th avenue in the heart of park slope, 7th ave books is housed in what used to be a video store; the mystery paperbacks live where the pornos used to go. it's a veritable treasure trove of secondhand wonders--well-preserved books from private collections, reviewer's copies, discounted first-run books and more. it's inexpensive (i have yet to see a paperback clock in at more than $7, and most are $5 or less), friendly and full of esoterica you won't find anywhere else. two blocks from the F, i recommend it highly to any impoverished commuter who doesn't look forward to opening a vein for barnes and noble. check back often--they're constantly getting in new shipments of fabulosity.be sure to check out...
the "just in" trolleys; the pantheon of brooklyn-themed literature near the till; the bulletin board behind the door; its sister store, 7th ave kids, just down the block; the new releases shelf, in case you JUST CAN"T WAIT for the used paperback to touch down.
writ at 12/4/2003 11:34:04 am by shivery
scenes from purgatory's bathroom
my long-misplaced boss of infinite evil (she of the maternity leave) is returning next week to sit in on our 'weekly meeting,' so that she might prepare herself to give an accurate assessment of our job performance in the last three months. while she's been on maternity leave. suffice it to say, while we are all sharpening our claws and preparing ourselves to reveal to her in the most tactful way possible exactly where she can stick her annual reviews, we are also secretly dashing about in a mad frenzy so that we might satisfy her more arbitrary whims, the ones we've been assiduously ignoring in her absence in favor of projects that are actually relevant. because, naturally, the arbitrary ones are going to be the ones she rails on us about. they always are.
thus, the flavor of my day is going to be heavily perfumed with a detailed trawl through our company websites, finding places to put more pictures and pull quotes. for the sake of having more pictures. not because we have such glorious points that they require the thousand-word thunderbolt of an image to appropriately convey their gravity, but because the brass said -- and i quote -- "we want more pictures. all that text is boring."
all that text is boring.all that text is boring.
while i'm not disputing that fact, i still feel rather emasculated (so to speak) that my job of late has been reduced to finding holes where i can paste irrelevant pictures because my employers have grown bored with their own product. well, that and writing about swaziland. but mostly cutting and pasting.
in other, news the troika is once again complete! after a month-long eternity, the glorious kate
is back among us! WOO-HA!
writ at 12/4/2003 10:04:08 am by shivery
my stepmother always used to tease me that i appeared to be getting younger as i got older; the first few times she said this to me, it made me crazy. "i'm not getting immature in my old age," i would say. "i am a mature and poised human being." of course, after a while, my retort started to make me dissolve into paroxysms of laughter, because it's utterly absurd, and she was absolutely right.
when i was a child, i was so blindingly serious about everything. i'm not sure if it's because i'm the youngest daughter, or a child of a divorce or what, but until...well...a couple of years ago, i really had something to prove, though for the life of me i can't imagine what it was. everything was a question of accomplishing the task at hand, and doing it better than anyone else. get the best grades, speak at graduation, get the roles in the local theater, get into the best college, be the best best best! it was all very strange, because it was never my parents pushing me; it was just my own pathological desire to live up to my own absurdly high expectations.
as such, i found myself having trouble relating to my peer group. in high school, i was lucky, because i had an extraordinary group of friends who just accepted my insanity, even loved me for it. then i got to college, where i was looked upon as an alien being. i didn't drink. i didn't do many drugs. after a while, i didn't eat. i didn't have indiscriminate sex. as far as the other students were concerned, i had no business being there in their world. and so i became even more serious. i got internships. i threw myself into my work. i traveled abroad and started dating a man ten years my senior. i dedicated my life to getting through college and settled into the next leg of my life, the next defined target.
and then i got there. and i realized i'd run out of finite targets. the track i'd been on had suddenly stopped. the life i'd catapulted into was a wide playing field with no top and no real rules.
so, once i'd gotten over the shock, i decided to start having fun. 'fun,' of course, being a relative term as viewed through the eyes of someone who didn't know much about the actual meaning of the word. the 'fun' started with dumping the older boyfriend and falling rapturously in love with someone who could not have cared less. whizz-bang.
but then i figured it out, this 'fun' thing. i got friends, i got my music thing going, i got a life. i started eating for the first time in about three years. i started drinking (socially. i did not become an alcoholic, thanks). i started engaging in normal social activities. i started doing the things that i should have been doing in college--forging friendships, having fun, living my life. all the things i'd been far too serious to do.
and what did it get me? some broken hearts. a few extra pounds. some stunning headaches. a pack of friends i'd lie down in traffic for. a loud, ringing, melodic laugh that i'd never known i possessed. a certain amount of peace with my appearance (particularly the belly). some sleepless nights and some wonderful stories.
all that is hardly befitting a properly serious and studious young lady. so i decided to become less serious about certain things. i still smoke a lot. and i do worry more about my finances. and my health. but i'm not afraid of my life anymore. i don't feel a need to spend two and a half hours at the gym every day. i don't need to punish myself for being interested in frivolity, or being more interested in my social life than in my job, or being myself. i don't need to be smarter, or better than everyone around me anymore. i don't have to date men in a different age bracket so that i can prove i'm an adult.
i just have to be me.
and interestingly, it turns out that i'm kind of fun to be around when i'm just being me. actual, silly, goofy, loyal, ridiculous, crazy, sensitive, non-absurdly-serious me.
writ at 12/3/2003 4:40:21 pm by shivery
everyone's your friend in new york city.
before i moved to new york city, i was under the indelible impression that it was a huge, faceless place, where the sea of faces constantly changed like the water in the river and all were doomed to fade into obscurity and eventual consumption by the legendary subway rats, or possibly the mole people. i was utterly convinced that i was doomed to be lonely in the great faceless metropolis.
tragic, tragic lies, kids.
for those of you who have a fascination with new york but are laboring under the same mistaken impression i have detailed above, let me tell you a little secret: if you want new york to roll over and expose its underbelly to you, you have to stop thinking about it as one giant, seething entity, when what it really is is a collection of microcommunities, gathered round the warmth of a world-famous name. life in new york is all about neighborhoods. because neighborhoods are far friendlier than cities. cities want to eat you; neighborhoods want you to have a beer and put your feet up.
the neighborhoods in new york each have their own distinct flavor; people flock to them because they want to find the other people in the city who will understand them. they want to forge a community with like-minded people, so they don't feel so alone in this wide, wide jungle. the hipsters go to williamsburg (along with my derision). the beautiful people go to soho. the bohemians and the rock stars go to the village. the muscle boys go to chelsea. once people figure out where to go to find echoes of themselves walking the streets, they're halfway to feeling comfortable in this city's skin; once they have a destination, it's only a matter of time before they insinuate themselves, and eventually feel comfortable as a part of a part of the city.
in my neighborhood, i see the same people on the subway on a regular basis. i see the same guy with frizzy red hair every time i go to the tea lounge. i am recognized by the bartenders at all my favorite haunts and my optometrist will pop out of his shop when i walk by to say hi. many of my friends live within walking distance, and the guys in the bodega downstairs always tell me it's been too long since i've been by. the teenagers working the till at the local polish grocery have a special scowl reserved just for me. in a nameless, faceless city, i have carved myself a life that i am an actual participant in, as opposed to an observer. i am that redheaded girl on the subway. i'm the one who is always wearing that stupid scarf. i'm the girl who always orders the spicy tuna. i like knowing that i'm someone's vague reference point, as many others are mine, that i am an interactive member of my community. of my city.
and that's how we all do it. that's how we survive; we plant a flag in one small part of the metropolis, and that's what allows us to hang on to the rest of the city for the wild, wild ride.
go find your neighborhood and claim it.
writ at 12/3/2003 10:22:54 am by shivery
it's snowing. it looks as though the sky is reaching down, trying to absorb the very city. i hope i get to see it before it turns to sludge.
writ at 12/2/2003 11:05:49 am by shivery
assess, consider, cogitate, lather, rinse, repeat
i remember this feeling.
this is power.
how very intriguing.
writ at 12/2/2003 9:08:18 am by shivery
jason: I STILL need to apply for my new one
shivery: yeah, wouldn't be a bad idea.
shivery: it's always a good idea to have one on hand
shivery: you never know when you're going to need to bust away from the fuzz
jason: right. best to have six or seven of em
shivery: including one with a non-western alphabet.
shivery: i favor ukranian.
shivery: no cold war commie stigma, still totally incomprehensible
jason: yes, just to confuse people
shivery: gotta cover your tracks, man.
shivery: the stuff we get up to?
shivery: for sure.
jason: no rest for the wicked. Only asylum.
writ at 12/1/2003 2:47:46 pm by shivery
so, to explain.
i'm having one of those days where everything just feels wrong. the subways were working against me, i was out of rhythm with the pedestrian ballet and as such was nearly knocked into the street a few times this morning. everything i say is falling like an anvil to the floor, and my patience with the world at large is nearing an end. i'm snappish and having difficulty carrying on conversations.
today, this body, this persona do not fit into this life. and to be perfectly honest, it's irritating the living hell out of me.
again, stay tuned. perhaps this mood will burn off with the wind.
writ at 12/1/2003 12:04:12 pm by shivery
i am in such a vile temper this morning, there aren't really even words to describe it.
please stand by while shivery stops loathing everything on the face of this planet.
we will return to our regularly scheduled programming shortly.
writ at 12/1/2003 10:42:59 am by shivery
it would seem that, unbenownst to me, somewhere along the line i learned how to play a pretty wicked game of pool.
it's good to keep surprising yourself.
writ at 11/30/2003 9:37:17 pm by shivery