I pulled my “ID” out of my wallet, casual as usual. The Belmar is our usual spot on Fridays and they hardly ID at the doors before 9. Tonight was different; the bar was packed for a Thursday. The bartender squinted down at the ID, looked at me, looked at the ID, looked at me again. The double take is always a bad sign. I tried angling my face lower to match Julia’s in the picture.
“You got anything else with your name on it? Credit card or something?” Shit.
I looked dumbly down at my wallet.
“Uh, no, just my debit card…yeah, no, that’s all I have.”
“Ok. Well, I can’t let you in.” He handed the card back.
“Alright. Sorry dude,” I said to my friend, who had his valid ID out and ready. I glimpsed a few of our friends sitting inside at the bar. “Damn.” The feeling is not unlike the time in second grade I was told I couldn’t go on the far cooler, bigger wooden playground with the monkey bars and tire swings because it was only “for big kids,” when I knew I could use the monkey bars just as damn well as any fifth grader.
We walked back to Chestnut Street, Adrian stopping to pick up a six-pack of Saranacs from Cavanaugh’s. I pouted about the bouncer most of the way, trying to rationalize why I got bounced. Honestly, my “ID” isn’t all that great, but the rejection felt like a weird sort of personal insult. There were several college students milling around Leroy Street near the package store, making some final purchases for the final night before everyone vacates for Spring Break. Our break comes later than most of the other U.S. colleges for some reason, meaning we go 6 straight weeks without any sort of long weekend or day off. There are worse things out there, but it’s enough to turn a lot of students into apathetic sleep-deprived zombies.
That night I just wanted to drink, honestly. Not get shit-faced, but the pleasant sort of floating-above-everything feeling that comes after a few beers. The Belmar is my choice place because the beer is decent, the crowd is older, and it’s designed to be a sit-and-sip sort of place. Not like the bars downtown on State Street, which are always overrun with rowdy college students dancing or looking to hookup.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy dancing. That’s why the one or two beers in a relaxed setting are an important pre-requisite. They let you shed just enough of yourself to dance without that inkling of dread that comes with sober self-awareness. Perhaps I’m too methodical when it comes to all this.
“Awww you look, like, 10 years old!” Yuki shouts at me when we walk into the Chestnut house to meet up with everyone. After splitting the Saranacs, we headed downtown to catch the drag show at Merlin’s. Two beers in and I had cultivated a decent buzz. Outside the bar, we ran into Zoe and a guy who’d been in my Israeli-Palestinian Conflict class last semester. I hadn’t seen Zoe since freshman year. Zoe was a crash course in college radicalism: president of Democracy Matters, ardent feminist, agendered, chain-smoking, tall, androgynous, argumentative and extremely well-spoken, she (actually, I think she preferred ‘zher’ as a pronoun but I’m not sure) was the exact opposite of everything I’d lived with during my 16 years in the suburbs. She scared the shit out of me freshman year. And yet I felt this strange psychological need to impress her, or win her favor or something, because she was completely uninterested in me. I was just another white girl from the suburbs to her. And she was right in a way. I am just another white girl from the suburbs. And there’s a part of me that fears and resents it.
When we ran into her she’d been out bar hopping with a friend and was wearing a tight blue crop-top and had her black hair straightened. Her ectomorphic frame is intimidating in itself; she towers over me by at least six inches, her exposed stomach was hard and lean, she’s both strangely sexual and not-to-be-fucked with.
I was drunk and surprised to see her. “Zoe, wow I haven’t seen you in a year! You’re so tall!”
Even just being around her seemed to bring my stupid, know-nothing suburban kid out. Hell, I couldn’t even get myself into the Belmar before.
“Hey. Yes, that is my favorite part about myself,” she responded cooly, not making eye contact. She has never made eye contact with me. Her gaze is perpetually fixed somewhere over my head, which maybe contributes to the strange psychological need to gain her attention.
I think some of the more psychologically fucked-up nightmares I’ve had mostly involved people refusing to acknowledge me or look me in the eyes for some reason or another.
We get into Merlin’s, my ID works just fine and I get the honorary 21+ wristlet. The drag show was just getting started when we walked in.
“I need to drink,” I said and made my way to the bar with Adrian. We got a pair of bitchy pink cosmopolitans, which I was near-ready to chug if not for Adrian telling me to take it slow lest I hit the drunk-wall.
A few years ago I realised I wanted to be a writer while sitting on a sofa, having a warm cup of black coffee and reading musings from the night before. Now, years after and thousands of miles away from that place, I sit on a chair made by New York State prisoners, reading the same words I read…
A very nice article by Amelia Mason for Boston’s NPR station, 90.9 WBUR.
“I think when you grow up and you happen to be queer there’s gonna come a moment in your life where you have to sit back and reflect on your identity, what it means to you, and how you wanna carry yourself through a world that may or may not treat you with enormous amounts of hostility,” Paternoster remarked recently over the phone.
“The ground fog tends to get more intense by the second until it seems that the whole world’s just what’s in your headlights’ reach. High beams don’t work in fog, they only make things worse. You can go ahead and try them but you’ll only see what happens, all they do is light up the fog so it seems denser. That’s kind of a minor paradox, that sometimes you can see farther with low beams than high.”—David Foster Wallace, being right about everything again. (via jazzmonroe)
“…We enter a spiritual puberty where we snap to the fact that the great transcendent horror is loneliness, excluded encagement in the self…. The U.S. arts are our guide to inclusion. A how-to. We are shown how to fashion masks of ennui and jaded irony at a young age where the face is fictile enough to assume the shape of whatever it wears. And then it’s stuck there, the weary cynicism that saves us from gooey sentiment and unsophisticated naivete. Sentiment equals naivete on this continent.”—Infinite Jest, pg 694, David Foster Wallace (via same-as-it-ever-was)
It’s not as bad as I thought. New Jersey. It’s like anyplace else, U.S.A.
The decaf I can’t say much for, although at least it tastes vaguely like coffee, which is enough for now.
I checked the bed for bed bugs. None. It’s quite comfortable, white and soft. I should sleep soon.
I’m 19. I’m reminded how that’s pretty young, comparatively.
Jenna and her friend are 29 turning 30 soon. They’re out of college, working, living with boyfriends or in Jenna’s case, recently married.
The good ol’ U.S. of A does a good job keeping us landlocked in whatever state or small town we come from. Call it ‘networking.’ Call it ‘comfort’ or security. Some call it the Garden State trap.
People from New Jersey wear shirts that say New Jersey on them. I guess it’s no different than people who wear shirts that say New York in New York. But it seems different. In Syracuse everyone wears ‘cuse orange all the time. Orange city. I remember it all covered in snow.
I think I broke somebody’s heart real bad. Sometimes I have dreams where my teeth fall out.
Maybe it’s all just tired indifference. For now. My body’s weak and tired but you know, I can’t just stop now. No, not here. Not in New Jersey with a cup full of decaf. That’s too depressing.
I’m not depressed or anything. I’m just here, at the crosswalk of why and how.
Am I gonna write a book someday or something? Who knows. There’s a weird human taboo surrounding the future. The more you talk about it, the more likely it seems that you’ll fuck everything up. So I don’t.
I want to look forward to visiting your house in new jersey or wherever you are, and spend hours just doing small things but being happy, and feeling needed or comforting, maybe. I know you’re a figment that won’t exist in time or space, probably, there’s something unreachable but appealing about it all. I like to cling to my fantasies because they’re easier for my tired mind to digest.
I have to make a choice, sometime down the road.
College houses smell like warm booze and weed and human muskiness and I remember them in shades of red, blue, and white
Humans are all at once so beautiful and full of promise and so incredibly wretched and disappointing.
I loved the sunporch we had at our old house, even though retrospectively it was ugly as shit. Though I remember the pleasant rainy days and English textbooks and wicker chairs.
In America at least you can choose what chemicals you want to poison yourself with.
Just a reminder to you tumblr folks: tomorrow morning at 4:20am I’ll be giving away a pair of tickets to see Small Black at The Haunt in Ithaca on April 10th! Tune in to Sounds from the Void from 3am-5am on WHRW 90.5 FM Binghamton or stream us online at http://www.whrwfm.org/listenlive/ to hear some awesome music and have a chance to win those tickets!!