Saturday, September 16, 2006

It's the End of the World, as I know it--- or is it?

Sylvia Plath to Richard Sassoon (her ex) on March 6th, 1956:

This part of the woman in me, the concrete, present, immediate part, which needs the warmth of her man in bed and her man eating with her and her man thinking and communing with her soul: this part still cries to you: why, why will you not only see me and be with me while there is still this small time before those terrible and infinite years; this woman, whom I have not recognized for 23 years, whom I have scorned and denied, comes to taunt me now, when I am weakest in my terrible discovery.

For, I am committed to you, out of my own choice (although I could not know when I let myself first grow toward you that it would hurt, hurt, hurt me so eternally) and I perhaps now know, in a way I never should have known, if you made life easy and told me I could live with you (on any terms in this world, only so it would be with you)--I know now how deeply, fearfully, and totally I love you, beyond all compromise, beyond all the mental reservations I've had about you, even to this day.


Four months later, she married Ted Hughes.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

To Slope or not to Slope

As I was sighing and fretting through the crowd of people today at Bed, Bath, and Beyond on 6th Avenue, I thought to myself:

Why would anyone ever leave Brooklyn?

When Manhattan is like a piece of sweet bread constantly being devoured by wild, angry, and insane fire ants, why, why, why would anyone leave the comfort that is Park Slope?

Park Slope. I can't tell if it's the newness of our relationship that makes it so wonderful, or if it's a genuine attribute of this lovely town. Here I can go to CVS. There will be a cash register, with a credit card machine. Or, I could rent a movie at Blockbuster. Fuck, I could even buy a $70 purse at Brooklyn Industries, $20 Shampoo at Aveda, or a $567 Stella McCartney dress at this boutique down the street! This is fucking amazing! It feels just like home (i.e. suburbia, only more expensive and with attractive twenty-something married people). But really, I've upgraded from Bushwick and I couldn't be happier. Bushwick and I, we had some good times. Homeless people hiding in the dark, dog shit everywhere, insane crack-head roommate....late night ice cream runs, the projects, eight year olds out at 3AM, just chillin'. I don't want to idealize our relationship, Bushwick. You and I both know: it wasn't perfect.

Here I can be surrounded by 22 year old mothers of two, taking a break from their incredibly successful bead-making business to pop out a couple of brats that in ten years will be standing on the corner at 2AM, yelling "you are so over-reacting" at each other in matching miniskirts. I can watch these women and their astoundingly attractive indie rocker Chris Robinson look-alike husbands parade their bundles of joy in high-tech strollers. I can think to myself: and I thought I had a lot on my plate!

Don't get me wrong. I love Brooklyn. I love the ability to actually WALK, not SQUEEZE down the street. I love the quiet. With the exception of my pot-smoking, indie-rocking neighbors. (But they're great, really, remind me of the good ole alma mater). I love the nice Indian family that runs that magazine shop. Most of all, I love the behemoth on 6th Street that is....Barnes and Noble. Oh, and Starbucks, right across.

So today as I walked through Bed, Bath, and Beyond, otherwise known as time square, I thought to myself: Brooklyn VS. Manhattan: there's no real winner here. This Gore v. Bush all over again: except instead of a money-grubbing, idiotic, drug addict, Manhattan is just New York...

And the ants are the icing on the cake.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

"The Keep" by Jennifer Egan

I purchased this novel impusively this afternoon, around 3pm, and I have just finished it.

Most definitely a page-turner, Ms. Egan is attempting to do something here with narrative and point of view that many other contemporary authors shy away from: the unreliable narrator (or unknown, or changing narrator). I'm a big fan of this technique. As "The Keep" is a gothic novel, there is not only one but two surprises to the ending of the story this way- the big bang ending, and the identity of Ms. Egan's characters.

"The Keep" is the story of a prisoner's story he is writing on for a creative writing class in prison. The story is that of Danny and Howard, two cousins forever connected by an unfortunate "traumatic" event from childhood. Ray, the author of the story, claims that he didn't make it up, but rather that "some guy" told him the story. There are several loop-holes already in the plot- who is Ray, and what is his connection to these characters? Do they truly exist? This is what makes this novel a page-turner. Ms. Egan is unwilling to give the reader any sort of respite from wondering what will happen- is this really a ghost story, or simply a story of human evil?

Ms. Egan's most unique stylistic choice is her dialogue, written as such:

Danny: What do you mean? He felt strange.
Howard: Looking at him intently. Nothing.

The structure of the dialogue forces the reader to blend the character's thoughts and words, as if the two cannot be separated. The reader wonders if everything on the page is spoken, or perhaps if nothing is spoken at all.

"The Keep" is certainly not brilliant by any means, but it is certainly adventurous and well-written. My only complaint is that Ms. Egan spent more time on the history and nature of the castle, but this remains a mystery.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

On Friendship

As I get older, I find it harder to make friends and even more difficult to keep friends.

Why is that?

I suppose by the age of 25 or so, one is supposed to have carved out a life for oneself. At 25, you're either still in school, or working, possibly married, maybe even a parent. Life starts settling down. People take sides, move to the suburbs (or get rich and stay in the city) and start living.

But now people get married later, stay in school longer, move more- all of my friends from high school are still in school- my friends from college still in college. I have several friends here in New York, luckily, but what is the chance that everyone will return to the same place?

Maybe I've been spoiled by those four ladies on Sex and the City, or the close friendships I had in high school- always having a best friend to turn to, either in person or a phone call away. But people change. Their priorities change. Relationships take a first seat, sensibly. But I keep calling and trying because I want it to work. Friends are invaluable. They are essential.

At the end of the day, all you need to survive (if you're me) is someone who knows you, understands you, and accepts you for who you are. Sounds simple, but these people are extraordinarily hard to find. These friendships require time, effort, and commitment.

Because when everything goes to shit, knowing someone's there, behind you, proping you up even though you feel like you don't have two legs to stand on-- that support is the best connection between two people: greater than passion, or love--it's understanding.