Yelping / Chinese / Eyeballs at Xmastime

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Kip woke on Monday morning in a kind of yelping terror that lasted only a few seconds, which he has done on a few other occasions. This time, due to the cat–the one that normally sleeps on my head all night–dug a claw into his arm. Not aggressively, not out of fear. This was the cat’s strategy for getting his attention. Thinking: If he wakes, he will give me food. The yelping makes me wonder what deep ravines Kip was wandering when the clawing occurred. How dreadful to be jerked awake like that. And of course, as he was, so was I. (These are the new horrors of the otherwise lovely co-habitation.)
Later I ended up at M. Shanghai in South Williamsburg for dinner. Who knew that there was really, really good Chinese food to be had in a weirdo bar-ish joint on Grand Street? Apparently, the whole n’hood, as the joint was hopping on a Monday night. If you go, have the scallion pancake, the chicken shumai, and the crispy chicken in ginger and spicy sauce. Dang the food was good. Drinks came cheap-ish, too.
I met a woman there, she had recently lost her father, and I recognized in her the kind of unmoored openness that sort of grief imparts. Or maybe I didn’t, maybe it’s unfair to presume that I could “see” anything in her. But…We begun the evening making small talk about small talk. We talked about what happens when you meet a stranger, how inevitably someone will say “Nice to meet you,” and we generally want to ask “Really? Is it really though?” We decided that even small talk has its charms, even if both of you know how meaningless it is in terms of context, the ritual is meaningful. And, of course, you can have wonderful meetings like this one. We remarked on that as well. How it actually was nice to meet each other.
What does it mean that I am attracted to this kind of grief, or, more precisely, that I want to return to it over and over in my work? Does it mean anything? There is a certain clarity in the madness grief creates, a kind of obsession that fuels and comforts my obsessive nature. The ability to return to images over and over, the overlapping of feelings, the outsiders perspective, amplified. I guess this is what interests me: the translation and transformation of the otherwise standard experience. And I think it reflects what I believe to be true, that we are all so very, very close to the edge.
I’ve discovered, in my not that many years writing, but enough to know what I’m talking about, I think, that I keep returning to loss over and over. I write about things leaving us. People, objects, memories, families, previous selves. This sounds a bit morose, maybe. I don’t think of it that way. It’s just where I am lately.
Tonight I am taking my friend Robert Maril (AKA DJ Executive Realness) to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. I saw it a few years ago, and I think we decided at the time that we would go every three years or so. The time is now. Robert has never been to see it, and I am excited to have the same experience relived through someone new–another thing I am obsessed with. (Does this reveal something about my control freakishness?) I told Robert: “Are you ready for your eyeballs to be raped by the spirit of Christmastime?” He said he was. Hooray.


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