Sick and the City

I discovered the cure for insomnia–it’s waking up!  So here I am. Totally tired, but unable to sleep. Go figure.

I’m writing from the luxury of an aerobed in the living room with New York City rain slanting down our windows. There’s something about New York that makes me feel connected–which is funny because it’s a large city of strangers who don’t know or care about me, but on a walk outside I feel like an absolutely intrinsic participant in life and that things are as they should be. Even inside an apartment, on the third floor, behind shades..the pulse beats in. I like watching people walk down the sidewalks, enthralled with their busy lives. I like seeing every breed of dog and owner pass in front of our building. And I like seeing a light go off in one room and on in another. No one seems to notice me at the window, but I smile at them if they do.

It’s funny how at home I feel in NYC. And I sortof cheated at New York. I lived and worked here for two summers and spent a few months here last year when I was sick and jobless. My first job was an unpaid internship at GLASS Magazine in Brooklyn. It was unpaid, so my brother let me stay with him for free, and he gave me the bed. The next summer I came back and served drinks to tourists and New Yorkers on a sailboat called The Shearwater that toured the Hudson River. That job seems way too cool for me to ever have had, but my brothers friend got me the gig and I took it. That job paid but Nick let me live rent free anyway. I say I cheated at New York because as most New Yorkers will tell you, it’s a hard city to sustain in. Not just financially or career wise. It can be a dark city too; isolated, unapologetic and relentless. Most people here have gone through some sort of struggle tied to the city in order to get where they are. I on the other hand never really had a struggle to overcome here, because Nick did that for the both of us. He moved, worked hard, met cool people, found all the best spots, and then just sort of shared them with me when I came. In that way, New York has always been glamorous to me. It’s the New York in the movies. All my attachments here were temporary and I never owed anything to it–except those $600 in parking tickets I accrued that one summer. Shit, I still need to pay those.

I’ve spent the last week making art, listening to music, and wondering what’s in store next. I’ve started to become a lot more comfortable with the uncertainty of my life. There is no plan. There is no “mine.” And there’s not much money or organization. I don’t even unpack my suitcase when I go home anymore. But that’s something I think I needed to go through. There are no certainties in life. Even the most promising plans aren’t resilient to fairness or the universe. As much as I used to think there was, I see now there are no rules, and no fair or unfair. There just is and I just am.

I always have this fear that when I sit down to write or draw that what I create will be terrible. I guess the fear is that if I create something terrible, then I haven’t succeeded with the purpose, and then I’ll be cursed and everything I create from then on will be crap. But I see now that not only is that fear irrational, it’s useless. I know this sounds a lot like an after school special, but the real failure is never sitting down, and never giving voice to the things that move you. When I was here last spring I was strongly considering doing stand-up comedy at a comedy club run by my friend Mark. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, at least once. Because the thing is, if I bomb, then I’ve got this great story: I did stand up comedy  in NYC when I was 27 and got booed off the stage. WINNER. And if I succeed, then I’ve made real New Yorkers laugh–and that’s a hell of a story too. I was speaking with my mom about it and admitted I was nervous to try and she said “What’s the worst that can happen? You get on stage and no one laughs?” “Uh, right. Yeah. Exactly that.” That was the worst that could happen, and that scenario is kind of a nightmare. But I think going for it is a success in itself. The very act of braving the audience and swallowing the risk of humiliation is half art in itself. One day New York..I’ll tell you jokes one day.

Anyway, I’ve decided I’m just going to keep trying things. I’ll keep drawing even though I’m not very good and I’ll keep writing even though I don’t really know where it’s going. There have been few certainties in my young life so far. But I do know that every person I look up to has continued and persevered  even when they didn’t quite know where they were going. They took risks and they didn’t always play it safe. So I’m going to keep creating. Even when I’m tired, even when I fail, even when I have no idea what in God’s name I’m doing, I’ll just keep going. And hopefully along the way, it will happen one day. Whatever it is I’m looking for, I’ll find it. Something tells me I’m close. Or maybe it’s just begun. Either way- like the struggles and people and persistence of  NYC, I won’t spend so much dissecting everything–I’ll embrace change as it comes and forgive all the plans I had. There’s just no other way to do it.

Here’s the most recent drawing. It’s titled: “As You Can See, I Don’t Have a Job” 8.5 x 11. I’ll post the rest tomorrow.

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Health and Happiness and 

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9 thoughts on “Sick and the City

  1. Pingback: The Plague. | Fibromy-Awesome

  2. I love NYC, it is an amazing and amazingly inspiring place. As an aspiring writer I understand and connect to this. My mentor once told me that he is scared that I’ll miss my shot, waste opportunities, because I will be too busy thinking I am not good enough. That scares me every day. I sit to write, and I can’t because thoughts that it will just suck and no one would ever want to read it fill me. But I gotta keep pushing. Know your post has inspired a fellow writer.. best of luck !

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    • Glad to hear that. It can be painfully scary to sit down and make something–I face it every time. But the alternative is an hour spent at a desk with no end product and a head full of bad thoughts. Not cool bro! Push on. Hope you’ll be back. All the best..

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  3. I love that you talk about how you just keep going on, writing on, etc. no matter what. There’s an awesome book by Julia Cameron called The Artist’s Way, and she talks about writing through anything (she had a problem with addiction, health problems, and just a ton of stuff happen to her). Write even if you don’t think you have anything to say, write first thing when you wake up, right before you fall asleep, on napkins during the day, JUST WRITE. I love that her book, which I’m reading at the moment, coincides with what you’re saying (whether you know it or not).

    Your sister in Fibromyawesomeness,
    Anna

    Like

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