Tag Archives: new york

Taxi Driver.

I am terrified of public transportation.  With three trembling fingers left over, I can count the amount of times I’ve ridden in a taxicab.  It seems as though, in the name of convenience and adulthood, I should be able to overcome my fear of chaufferism, but when I actually think about my past experiences, it doesn’t seem too strange to me that I’ve ousted it as an option.


Cab Ride #1:  I overslept one morning in my Freshman year of high school.  My mom took this as an opportunity to teach me a lesson about responsibility, so instead of driving me to school, she made me call a cab and pay for it myself.  I’ll spare you the details about my stuttering and inability to remember my address while I was on the phone with said cab company.  When the taxi arrived, I stumbled outside, close to tears.  I had a giant guitar with me since my music teacher wanted us to bring random instruments to fill up the space created by her failure to concoct a lesson plan, so I’m sure the cab driver was amused at the juggling act I performed all the way down the sidewalk.  I approached the front passenger door and wriggled my guitar, bookbag, purse, armload of texts, and loose papers full of shitty poems about dragons and medieval wars (a “book” I was “writing”) into the seat.  The cab driver snorted a little and asked me if I wanted to put my shit in the back.  But I did not trust this man, so I told him no.  It wasn’t until halfway down my street that I remembered a movie I saw where a whore flagged a cab and put her spangled, spandexed butt in the front seat.  The driver said, “You know what it means to be in the front seat, honey.”  And she proceeded to give him a blowjob while he drove through the rainy meat-packing district.  I spent the remainder of the ride with my face plastered against the window, my plaid skirt bunched up in my fists and dragged down to cover my knees while the cab driver attempted to hurl pleasantries at me.  Every word out of his mouth, I construed as a proposition.  I still feel bad about this.


Cab Ride #2:  Fast-forward twelve years.  My parents were living in New York, and at the end of one my visits, they accompanied me to the airport via taxi.  It was 4am and we hailed a cab and (thank god) piled into the backseat.  The driver was a very foreign man, and, peering at us in the rearview, said, “VAIR?”  We said, “JFK, please.”  And he looked at us again and said, “VishTirg Nu Plmbbrklq.”  Assuming he was asking us to repeat our destination, we responded in over-enunciated tandem and at a higher decibal, “J. F. K. AIR. PORT.”


What happened next has haunted me for years.  The man looked close to tears as he screamed at us, “YOO STOOPEED FUCKS!  I TRYING TO BE NICE MAN, ASK YOU HOW IS YOUR MORNEENK AND YOU YELL.  NO HALLO, NO GOOT MORNINK.  NO RESPECT, FUCK!”


My dad immediately responded to the man as though I was eight again, and he was protecting me, which I loved.  “STOP THE CAB, SIR, WE WILL NOT BE NEEDING YOUR SERVICES,” he said in the whitest way imaginable.  We exited the cab like a load of sleepy clowns, and the man sped off without asking for payment or even waiting for us to close the door.


The reason it haunts me is I keep getting flashes of the cab driver readying himself in the darkness of 2am, thinking of his family back at home far away and all the dollars he’s going to send them, combing his hair and straightening his collar, and practicing English in the mirror.  “How do you do?” he asks his reflection.  “Goot mornink,” with a little head bow.  And then he gets to work, and the first white family he picks up responds to his salutations by yelling the name of an airport at him.


While I realize that this is simultaneously an unbelievably compassionate and fantastically racist way for me to imagine the situation, I still cannot seem to shake this image, and I’m pretty sure I’ll feel bad about it forever.


Anyway, I feel like I can, in fact, go through the rest of my life without riding in a taxicab again.  Maybe someday I’ll tell you the story behind the reason I will never subject my future child to schoolbus rides.  It’s a really harrowing account, and it involves genitalia and substitute drivers.  I bet you can’t wait.


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Readying for 8/29

Dear Nathan,

I sort of have a habit of clutching that key around my neck, the one that goes to a Brooklyn P.O. Box we no longer share, and that shirt you’re so fond of, it says, “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” and you were never not wearing it.

I cannot shake the image of your backpack, the posture developed from lugging heavy equipment dangled from rappel hooks, a mess of half-curls, a trail of dark beer. You see a picture in the most mundane objects, you’re always constructing, calculating, formulating. I recognize you in other people, they are all pieces of you that have been disassembled, glued together, ripped apart, sewn up, rendered into other personalities. I can barely stand this. You send me notes that say you flew over Chapel Hill, and you waved from the jumbo jet, and it’s not enough. You would love it here.

The alleys. . .all the alleys are painted with murals of turtles and violinists, royal blue puzzle pieces and bits of graffiti splayed, huge ochre necklaces and skylines, mirror image renditions of the bell tower painted on a certain wall in town so if you stand in the pay lot behind the old Miami Subs and Grill, you can line up the painting with the actual bell tower on campus. . .you would love to see it all, I just know it. I know it.

“They shoot horses, don’t they?”

There are underground restaurants, so dimly lit, with brusque waiters and expensive cheese bowls and rooms with themes so that one night you can eat in a train car with passengers painted on the walls, and the next day you can eat in the Lautrec Room (because it’s “Too-Loose”) with its low ceilings and Irish toasts painted all over the stained wooden booths.

Outside there are trees that grow with less rain than you’re accustomed to out west. You’d sit in the shade they create on stone steps and you’d stare at the deserted picnic tables, the parking meters alongside Technicolor foliage, and wonder why you didn’t arrive sooner, why you didn’t trust me before. Out in that amphitheater you could sit, and you’d know that’s where I’ll get married one day, if I ever quit leading the trek up Spinster Mountain.

“They shoot horses, don’t they?”

Down the street within walking distance is one of America’s Top Ten Art Towns. You’d love it there. The dreadlocked peaceniks pulling their stray dogs on rope leashes, singing Bob Marley songs loudly, incoherently. The cigarettes piled innocently next to wooden benches and left there by pocket philosophers, the myriad of pubs with rows of taps gleaming in artificial light. The bars with faux-rock walls, the rooftop terrace string quartets, the indisputable nuance of jazz flutes and snare drums floating past Zen Masters who dance though there is no discernable music. The vintage clothes, the shoe stores, the ubiquitous organic produce. The recycling programs, the literature festivals, the ability to meet beautiful, wild-haired, bathing-suit-clad descendants of poets laureate, the boys who know about the best parties and the best mountain bikes, the girls whose minds are like Tiramisu, delicate and layered. I can provide this for you.

You remember everything. You make references to the time of day it was that you left me, references to sad stories that should have kept you there, you talk to me about my old neighborhood in New Orleans, and you tell me that you saw it on one of your photography trips, and it was ransacked and ruined, and you got it all on film.

You took pictures of motels completely ravaged by the rain, paint peeled and mud-streaked, sad little husks of homes. I can’t even identify pictures of my old city, and it burns me up that you were there and I was not, that I am here and you cannot be. That you got to see what was left of Rock-n-Bowl, of Camellia Grill, of Carrollton Avenue, and I’m here with Village Lanes and Mama Dip’s Country Cookin’ and Franklin Street. And then you went to Florida, where Dave and I used to hang out at the beach condo, and Dave said last time he went there after the hurricane, the interstate ramp leading to the seafood restaurant where we would always eat. . .it was broken in half, the ramp leading up and up and stopping abruptly in midair, its metal support brackets jutting into the sky, making the brackets look like cardboard tubes that held cotton candy clouds.

“They shoot horses, don’t they?”

I do not think I would recognize you if I saw you now because you’re so ethereal to me at this point. You’d smile with your entire mouth hanging open like you were in the middle of a huge laugh and you’d be all, “Listen to this heartbreaking story! Here’s a quarter for the jukebox!” and I would have to turn around and go back inside and smash my face against the wall, rattle the framed photos of millipedes and Boy George and make the Pixies poster fall down and I’d have to kick my roommate’s kid’s shoes out of the way and move his girlfriend’s Clorox disinfectant wipes off to one side and I’d be out the door, running past you and hurtling towards the kudzu meadow out back.

And the obstacles of mosquito bites and ghetto blasters and tripwires in the form of naked shrubs, they’d all move aside so I could drown in that snake-infested pit of weeds that comprises the end of my dead end street.

And behind the kudzu I’d sit, and let it choke me, while I peered from behind the twisted metal of the “No Parking” sign stuck inconspicuously in the grass, and I’d watch you walk away with a bewildered look on your face and off you’d go, back to the Big Bad West, and I’d have lost my chance to resurrect the spontaneity and clamor of what we had.







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Idle threats.

Dear Adam Roth,

I am at the Scooter Shop right now. It is raining. It will not stop raining here. It has been raining for days and days. I want to go away from here. For a week I have waited to see if you are going to New York mid-month, to hang out with superheros and crash on Ryan Lee’s couch next to the downstairs bathroom, one of two couches next to one of two bathrooms. Which is important, I know.

I do not know if I will still go if you’re not going. I mean, I love it there, but I’d rather save the money and go another time if you’re staying home. I would gladly shell out the bones if I knew we’d be able to hang out and go to the Creperie, the Bourgeois Pig, the Time Landscape park, the Cupcake place, the Cake Shop.

An inch makes no difference to me when a mile is what we’re closing in on.

Traipsing down 5th to that organic cafe, or the Russian Vodka Room where the drinks are smooth and the mafia men talk shit about you in their native tongue and they have sour cream even a vegan can eat. Giant sunglasses, cameraphones, sketchbooks and Sharpie pens, trains we don’t understand and construction scaffolds like nobody’s business, whatever the City throws at us, I want it.

The Comicon? Fun, sure. But only a tiny piece of three days when there are bridges to cross and little Lush pins with which to stab the absolute most hidden part of conceit. I have this weird feeling that you may back out of this trip because you are unsure of my motives and you don’t want your suspicions to be confirmed or unconfirmed. Maybe you are scared that I care more about this plane ride than you do. That would be awkward.

If that’s the case, I understand. You’re wrong, but I understand. I know that through the communications we have had, my excitement has vastly surpassed yours. That’s okay with me, but I don’t see why it would be okay with you.

I will tell you:

See the thing is–

I mean,

It’s like this–


I actually don’t really know what to tell you. I don’t know if it’s your art or your worrying or your habit of being elusive in the most mind-numbingly infuriating way or the way you talk when you’re in a good mood and you’re asking interview questions about public transit and drifter lodgings in Norf Cak, but for one, or all of these reasons, I keep hanging on and waiting for you to tell me whether or not to book a flight. Since when do I let boys dictate my vacations?

You’re the closest thing I’ve got to a fakebestfriend next to J Waves.

That’s pathetic, right? We’ve never even met and I consider you one of my closest friends? What is that? I SUCK at talking to real people in person. I fake it as much as I need to, but then there’s nothing left, no substance.

Okay I’m starving I have to go. Here’s hoping you NEVER find this, even though there’s a link to your website in my blogroll. That’s what we call “passive-aggressive.”



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