Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Time flies when you're with a redhead

I've been overtly neglectful of my blog, but who cares... I don't think the world stops revolving if I don't post something. In fact, I would think it odd if I had actually taken time to post over the past few days. After the CBGB gig, I was pretty much focused on one thing... the arrival of John, the Great Red Affliction. God, I love that boy.

On Thursday, the 13th, I went about my day as well as I could... went to class, feigned interest admirably, then scurried home to make sure the place was presentable. Which, of course, it wasn't. Not only that, but I'd been heartlessly jilted by one of my great loves of late, the cable guy. I may not have a television yet, but, by God, I was going to have cable. I had an appointment in the afternoon to have cable installed, and he never came. Like a child at the window, searching the skies with large, innocent eyes for any trace of Santa's sleigh, I clung to the window sill in the living room... waiting... waiting... until I grew so impatient and aggitated that I called the cable company, during which I did a bit more waiting, this time clinging to the phone with my shoulder pinched up against the side of my head. At long last, I came to terms with my grief of being abandoned by my sweet, sweet cable harbinger, then rescheduled for next week. After such unabashed betrayal, I don't know if I can ever trust again.

I received a call from John at around ten or so in the evening; he'd just arrived at JFK, and was going to catch the shuttle to Grand Central, followed by the Metro North train to the Fordham station, then a cab to my apartment. I didn't think much of it, but he seemed to find it a daunting task. Ah, the strangeness of slowly becoming more and more of a New Yorker... when three or four transfers are just another day's typical travel. Anyway, he finally got to the apartment, and I can't say I've ever felt happier. It was raining, so he was damp and cranky, but it made the hug so much better for me. He had a guitar slung on his back, in a bag identical to the one I already have. "I brought your electric, " he said, and I thought the gesture very sweet. My electric guitar and I have a sort of love-hate thing going... try as I might, I can't get good sounds to come from it. Ah, well... this might give me a chance to work on it a bit more. We trecked up the stairs with the guitar and a couple of luggage pieces, then settled in and started unpacking things.

My actual birthday wasn't for another four days, but we decided I'd have my presents early. I got a new guitar tuner, a guitar modeler for the electric, and a stand for my keyboard... oh, and he brought my keyboard along, as well. Finally, I set out to get the guitar out and place it among the others... and that's when I realized that this wasn't my guitar.

Like mine, it's red. And it is, indeed, an electric. That, however, is where the similarities end. For one, this is no Ibanez. It's a Squire Stratocaster. And it not the shiny, acrilic red of the Ibanez... it's a wood-finished red, a deep red that I couldn't love more. All of the tuning pegs are lined up on one side, and the knobs and switches are all a bit different... she's beautiful... it was love at first sight, as true as I've ever known it. John saw how affected I was upon seeing this wonderful little beast, and he smiled broadly at his job well done. I didn't have an amp to plug it into, but that would come in time. At least I have the guitar.

The next day, I had to teach at Lincoln Center, so I made the quickest work possible of it before going back to the Bronx. When I arrived at the Rose Hill campus, I went to the psychology office to pick up my check, during which I happened to see the back of a familiar head, attatched to someone who was sitting in Dr. Wertz's office and talking to our esteemed department chair. I inched a bit closer, and was elated to find my friend Azizi, a fellow student from my department at UD, sitting there, chatting away. Dr. Wertz saw me and invited me in; we then talked about the program, the trends of existential phenomenology in psychological academia, and the prospect of Azizi joining our program. A half hour later, Azizi and I were leaving the office arm in arm, catching up briskly with one another. We stopped for a bit in my office (I couldn't help it) and talked about the state of the department at UD, then I walked him to his bus stop while we talked further about his possibly coming to Fordham. Marvelous time... great guy, Azizi... definitely hoping he can join our ranks, as we could certainly use another e.p. freak in the mix.

I finally got back to the apartment, where I met up with John. We decided to make a shopping trip to Target and Marshalls, hoping to round off the birthday buying, as well as to pick up one or two things for John. I couldn't have cared less where we were going, as long as I got a chance to be with him; two and a half months since I'd seen him, and I felt suddenly as though we'd only been apart for a day... we seemed to have picked up right where we left off, and that felt wonderful. After having done some damage at the stores, we went back to the apartment, made my room an even bigger mess by strewing our shopping all over the place, and called it a night.

On Saturday, I had a chance to finally show John the campus, and he seemed to like it very much. This, of course, is a good thing... with any luck, it'll be further incentive for him to end up at Fordham (yeah, John... I know you're reading this... but whatever, you know I'm dead set on holding the Fordham torch until you're here). We then took the "Ram Van" from there to the Lincoln Center campus (during which we were forced to endure these frightfully insipid undergrad theater majors sitting in front of us... our strength of will knows no bounds, and now there's proof), and we met Jane there. She was busy at running the medieval conference taking place there, so we said hello, grabbed some free sandwiches, and went off to survey the city. I had made reservations at the same hotel that Chuck and I had stayed at, so we checked in and left our things in the room (oddly, the exact same room as Chuck's had been), after which we headed toward Times Square to stroll around and play "dodge the tourists."

Here's John, orchestrating the gruesome torture and heart-removal of a poor, defenseless teddy bear, a couple of blocks away from Times Square. John's tiny teddy bear henchmen look a little too eager to cut into the poor thing, and John looks a little too pleased with their work. I made sure, just after taking the picture, to back away from the scene... slowly.

Again, beautifully pleasant. We had dinner and people-watched, popped into a few stores... we watched "The Constant Gardener," which ended up being a very well-made, very beautifully written, very well-acted, very boring movie. We also bought a couple of DVD's we'd been wanting, then took the leisurely walk back to the hotel, very pleased with the day. The one damper to the night was the discovery that, upon our arrival at the hotel, the elevators had all stopped working. We mustered up our adrenaline, then made the hike up the stairs to the eleventh floor. Suddenly, my five-floor walk up at my apartment building wasn't looking so bad anymore.

The next morning involved sleeping in and ordering breakfast-in-bed... and we're talking about some serious breakfast-in-bed. He had waffles, I had French toast... eggs and bacon, orange juice... life was good. We checked out of the hotel, then set off to meet up with Russ, who'd be meeting us at Central Park. Once we hooked up with him, we went to the Central Park Zoo, where we took some time to look at the penguins and polar bears and such. From there, we went to the Metropolitan Museum, particularly for the Egyptian exhibit, the arms and armor, and the Greek and Roman art.

Here's John making himself at home in a reconstructed Egyptian temple at the Met. (John: "Oh.. this is actually real, and they brought it over here? Wow... okay, this is really cool, then." Savage. That's okay, though... we put him to work by making him translate a bunch of hieroglyphs while he was in there.

And here I am, in that same temple, looking around for my lost innocence. I gave up the search early on.

Let's see... long hair, goatee, the goddess Ma'at emblazened on his chest... we may have found the sarcophagus of a long lost ancestor. That, or John's tattoos are a little pretentious. You decide.

For John and me, there's really no way for us to have a bad time whenever those interests are involved... and the fact that we were able to enjoy them together, and with Russ, made it all the better. Following the museum, we went to Russ' apartment for a spell, then had dinner at an Indian restaurant before parting ways with Russ and heading back to the Bronx. We spent a little time socializing with Jane and Josh, then settled in to watch our new DVD's and drift off to dreaming.

I typically love my birthdays. Hell, I'm happy to still be having them. This one, though, wasn't as welcome, only because it meant John would be leaving that day. I dreaded every moment of getting ready to leave that morning for campus; John was going to leave the apartment with me, then head for the airport at a leisurely pace and wait around for his flight. We got to the corner where we'd part ways, and I almost came to the decision then and there that I'd skip class and accompany him to the airport, just to spent that little bit of precious extra time with him. I shook it off, though, coming to grips with logic and realizing I was on the verge of being late for class. We said our goodbyes there on Fordham Road, and we were off to our separate worlds. Happy birthday to me.

During the day, I'd received phone messages from lots of my friends back in Texas, who I was especially missing. These were the people I was accustomed to celebrating my birthdays with, so being away like this was a little strange, and perhaps a touch depressing. The calls I got lifted my spirits, though. After class, a couple of girls in our program, having earlier promised to take me out for my birthday, asked, "Is today your birthday? Oh... well, happy birthday. Sorry about that." Fun times lie ahead, folks. Anyway, they actually made good, for a chage, and took me to a bar/restaurant in the city, Muldoon's (one of the girls is Irish, so we figured it would be apropo). Dinner and a few beers later, I was feeling good about the outing... it was simple, borderline- celebratory, and yes, I had to pay for my own order (they're young and a tad inconsiderate at times... what can you do), but it was a good enough outing nonetheless. By the time I was back in the Bronx, I was determined to get to bed as soon as possible, not to reflect on my bitter-sweet, lack-luster birthday. I walked into the apartment, and Jane greeted me. "Hey birthday girl... how was your day?" I played it as cheerfully as I could, but I think Jane picked up on my ruse. "Well, do me a favor... look in the fridge."

I figured there'd be something cute in there.... a cupcake or something, maybe. I opened the fridge door, and I saw a familiar sort of box... Artuso's Italian Pastry Shop is right next to our building... attatched to it, in fact. This was a box from their store. In red marker, on the lid of the box, was written: "Emily... open me!" I cut the string holding the box shut, doing my best not to knock the contents around too much. Inside, there sat a beautiful chocolate-covered cake (shown here), on which was written "Happy Birthday Emily" in yellow cursive letters. What a joy, to have a great roommate! I sat in the living room and shared some lovely chocolate cake with Jane, who had more than earned it at that point. Then, while we were rolling our eyes back into our heads in chocolate ecstacy, she pointed at some pages on the table in front of her. "Just so you know, you've inspired me," she said, grinning. "I've actually started writing a song! See? Here's a verse, a bridge, a chorus... an actual song!" I gasped, jokingly, but congratulated her genuinely, and told her how proud of her I was. And I am. I actually inspired somebody? Weird... And Jane, of all people... I mean, this philosopher, who I admire for her sheer bulk of knowledge that she can instantaneously call upon on a whim, who can play guitar chords (real ones, mind you, and not my silly, made-up ones), and is a generally cool-as-all-hell person... I inspired her to write? She could have skipped the cake ( I mean, I'm glad she didn't, but she could have)... knowing she'd written a song would have been birthday present enough.

So, okay, yes, I miss my boy desperately. How can I not? Still, there's hope... I've got Jane to keep me sane, my work to keep me grounded, music to keep me motivated and inspired, and the city, this marvelous city, to remind me of how lucky I really am. I'll feel all the luckier in a year, when John's finally living out here with me. For now, though, this'll do. Guess I'll get to work on this, the last year of my twenties, ever on the verge of new everthings every day. Happy birthday to me, indeed.


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