"The regulars?" I asked
"Yeah, some people come here all the time. I know most of them."
This surprised me, because this is a huge bookstore the size of a small mall, and I had never heard of a network of regulars at Barnes and Nobles in New York City. He asked me a little about myself, and I told him I was looking for work. At this point, a young, pretty woman comes up to him and says hi familiarly and sits down. He introduces us as fellow unemployed bretheren and she offers to connect me to the U.N. In the middle of this conversation, the first guy asks her to leave so he can ask me a question. She walks off, clearly offended.
"I'm trying to get at what your sexual persuasion is, and I didn't want to ask in front of her. So...are you...?"
I tell him I am "..." and he says that he is a landlord, and one of his tenants works at the Harvey Milk School, and would I like to e-mail her on his e-mail account to ask about meeting with her. I do, stating very clearly that I only met him today, and as I'm starting to feel pretty good about this new connection, a new side of him seems to emerge. For the next hours, he talks at me, completely without interruption, about everything that's wrong with the country and why it is contributing to my inability to find work.
This would be okay, or more okay, if it weren't for the fact that most of what he sees that's wrong with the world is that we have deviated from a free market economy. He starts to say really horrible things which make me think he might be suffering from mental illness, like "The reason people in Africa aren't afraid of getting AIDS is that they get free drugs."
I hope that me sending an e-mail to this Harvey Milk employee dropping his name, doesn't make her think that I share his politics!
Other than having strange encounters in Barnes and Noble today, I went to the lower east side to sign up to volunteer at Bluestockings. I decided that, in order to familiarize Sarah with New York before she gets here, I want to go around to neighborhoods I like and take pictures. That way, she can make a more informed decision about where she might like to live. Since I was on the Lower East Side anyway, and I do happen to love the Lower East Side, I decided to start here.
The Lower East Side will be prohibitively expensive since it has basically lost the gentrification battle, but there are still radical roots, and to me, it feels like history. Here are a few pictures I took:
|Bowery Poetry Club|
|sign outside Bowery Poetry Club|
|bench outside Bowery Poetry Club|
|steps inside Bowery Poetry Club with Pablo Neruda poem|
|old-fashioned burger bar|
|cute cupcake shop on lower east side called sweet sunshine or something|
|sign for prison abolition/pro-ice cream event inside Bluestockings|
|another flyer for an event at Bluestockings|
|bench outside Bluestockings|
|cute old-fashioned bar I want to try out|
|inside cute bar|
|great Mexican restaurant|
|inside Mexican restaurant|
So, 4 days in New York, and what have I done? Since my last post I have, had a job interview, seen some fellow Smith grad friends in the city, applied to jobs, saught housing, gone to the facebook movie with family, and went to a play which one of my fabulous friends from Brandeis was in.
New York, at this moment, feels like an odd conglomeration of all my past lives, with a little bit of new life thrown in there. Before graduating, New York represented one thing for me: childhood. Now, since many of the friends I've met since high school are also graduating, I go back and forth between former selves. It's hard in some ways, because I have this weird (or maybe it's not weird) need to fullfill people's expectations of who I am by continuing to interact with them as I have in the past, so I find myself code-switching between groups of friends. On the other hand, after just coming out of a period of time during which all of my important relationships felt very complicated and fraught, having different groups of friends reminds me that things have not always been complicated and life usually returns to a stable state.
I went to see the play "13 Ways to Screw Up Your College Interview" which my friend Lauren was in, and had dinner with Lauren and some of her closest friends from Brandeis last night. The play was great, Lauren was great, and dinner was great! Some of the faces of her friends were more familiar than others, but I was quite taken aback by how friendly and warm they all were almost immediately. This is one of the aspects of Brandeis I missed most when I first transferred to Smith after first year. Everybody is just so nice. Of course, not everybody, but there definitely is a culture of niceness and inclusion at Brandeis that I have not felt very many other places.
My plans for the near future include meeting the new baby nephew of a friend from high school, going for a bike through Central Park during the car free hours, continuing to apply for jobs, going to a trans porn event with some friends, and starting to volunteer at Bluestockings (the radical bookstore in the city.) Oh, and probably checking totallysmittenmama.blogspot.com like a million times - where did you go?