Friday, February 1, 2013

12. In Which Carter Transforms From A Living Human Being Into A Zombie And Then Into A Living Dead Human Being

            You're walking along the river, eating a Big Mac sans pickles, when your heart stops.  Hardly noticeable in and of itself, considering it starts right back up again.  A lot more noticeable is your sudden hunger.  The Big Mac, now forgotten, falls to the ground, the upper bun rolling lopsidedly down the bank and into the water.
Your brain, having stopped at the same time as your heart, is not so quick to reboot.  The brain stem starts working first, keeping your heart pumping, keeping your lungs moving.  Instinct kicks in, recognizes your body's hunger, seeks to satisfy it.  
Your vision is connected to the cerebrum and has not yet begun to work again.  Same with your hearing and your memory, stored in the temporal lobes of the upper brain.  You stumble about, moaning unintelligibly.
            After a few minutes, the blood pumping through your brain manages to conduct an electrical charge to the occipital lobe of the cerebrum, and your sight comes back online.  Your eyes, by now nearly glowing they're so bloodshot, begin to work once more.
            Food!  Motion ahead of you indicates life, and even in your moronic state you recognize an animal as your quarry.  You spring forward, loping toward it, hoping to catch it unaware, confident that speed and surprise are your best weapons. 
            The animal, just about a match for you in terms of size, walks unwittingly into your path.  When you jump on its back, it crumples to the ground, and you ecstatically dig your incisors into its shoulder meet, struggling to rip flesh with teeth long unused to such fresh and unwilling food.
The animal is making frantic, piercing noises, your first indication that you can hear once again.  The electrical charge in your brain has made its way to your temporal lobe, where hearing and memory are controlled.  The first twinge of doubt creeps in as you begin to realize that this animal you're attacking has a body shape all too similar to your own.
Your hypothalamus comes online next and your hunger drops sharply away.  You are looking down upon the human writhing in pain, clutching her shoulder as she bucks and twists in an attempt to escape your grasp.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Back of Alex

The potential energy of a spring. The dip of a lower-case m, flushed and tight and ready. A collection of bolts, strung together one/two/three/four/. The abstract curve of a parabola. Full of intent and yet still, intense but without motivation; toy ships caught in a frozen bird bath.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Gap Statement

So much time to cover! Quick synopsis.. I "crashed" with some super-accommodating friends on 17th St until Sara got home and we moved on to Whitney Place downtown in this blue fix-me-up. I wanted to fix her up so bad but we ended up moving out when there still wasn't heat by October. Now we're on York. West Side represent :)

It appears that I unwittingly ceased work on this blog as soon as I got a second job--and came back to it as soon as I quit the second job. No joke, today was my last day at the liebrary. Feels good knowing I have a year and a half of city work, with a year of it as a supervisor, on my resume. And a clean reference.

A sample of what I did there: reviewed whatever I wanted (Silas Marner, 13 Things That Don't Make Sense, SuperFreakonomics, Logology, Street Art, and Getting Up), routed in some Children's books (I recommend Adventure of Meno, for one), and pushed carts full of books and movies all around the place.

I had to get out because we were forbidden from shushing.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Live In Buffalo

Apartment hunting for Sara and I. I've been narrowing it down by city section. Now I've got to start looking at what's actually available in those sections. A great resource:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chapter 11- Trip Home

Two places the leg-touch is prone to happen--in front of the TV, and on an extended bus trip. And every time it does, I can hardly breathe. Is this guy hitting on me? Please let him press harder, or at least not move away.

The slightest touch like that, from a complete stranger, and I get so. turned. on.

It was a long bus ride. I had plenty of opportunities. I've never worn worse shorts for a bus ride--far too tight.

I still have no idea when the time is right and the leg touch is just the natural way of things in that situation. Personally, I always make that extra effort to avoid being the toucher, or even the passive-aggressive touchee. Like, if I'm already sitting there, and he sits and his leg is against mine, I'll move out of his space. Or probably further into my space, if possible, if he's crossing that invisible halfway divider line already. Because, let's face it, the leg touch happens naturally only when you've already made at least a minimal effort to have personal space. And it doesn't happen naturally for me at all.

Which is why I was intensely aware of his leg, through his jeans, pressing heat against my calf.

When we pulled in to the Southern Bus Terminal, I intended to go inside and then play it by ear. Would there be a bus to the airport? Patrick Nihimla was certain there wouldn't be, and gave me the name of the nearest subway station so I could take a taxi just to there and cut down on costs. Didn't even come into play, though. As soon as I stepped off the bus, a woman in a blue vest asked where I wanted to go, and then piled my bag into a cart and took me over to a taxi. Super unsure of myself, I haggled with er for the taxi before I even considered the fact that once I start haggling, I'm destined to buy. So no bus.

The taxi driver seemed nice, kinda tough. Young. Slick hair. He said he'd only been in Bangkok 3 weeks, though that was after I'd already said I'd been in Thailand 3 weeks. His English was rocky.

After we'd gone far enough that I was lost, but only about a two minute drive, he started asking for money for the highway and I started getting worried. Started flashing back to the two times I've gotten ripped off when a pre-negotiated and pre-paid price started going up.

"Eh," he said, "eh, she, she," and here he hit the back of his head, like, 'Come on, English.' "She got bad price, eh... Didn't ask me, highway toll thirty-five, no, twenty, no seventy-five... You just give me 100, I take care of you, OK?"

My face started getting hot. My stomach didn't drop, no lead ball, but it tightened, and started making some extra acid. Wonder what it was expecting.

"You said 500," I said, not even feeling bad yet that this was only like $17. After all, I gave him two possible destinations, the subway or the airport, and he could'a just been taking me part of the way. I only had 400baht left to get me home, which wouldn't stretch very far once converted to any other currency.

"Eh-eh-she... Just 100, for the highway. She didn't get good price!" He started, then aborted, trying to tell me how low his cut was.

"I don't have enough," I said, probably talking too quickly, a tiny bit louder. Slightly strained. "I need 150baht for the subway. If I give you 100 I might not have enough to get back home."

"Back...home?" he said, sounding for all the world like a human E.T.

"Can we just go a different way, not the highway?" I suggested.

"OK," he said, but he didn't get it. Instead, he got this real sullen, stony look on his face, and after about a minute he handed back the 40baht I'd said was all I could afford to give him for the highway.

"It's OK," he said, smiling again. Nicely. "I take care of you."

"OK. Thanks."

I was sure I was actually grateful until he pulled over and started hailing other cabs.

Maybe he just needed directions?

The first cab that stopped wasn't having any of it. The second was better, said OK to whatever Thai my guy was speaking.

He turned to me. "OK. He take you."

I was out of the car by this point, obviously, trying to keep abreast. No money had changed hands between the cabbies.

"Wait. Why don't you take me?"

"OK, OK, OK," he said, and walked back to our cab. To the backseat. Where he started picking up my bags.

"No, I already paid you. Why don't you take me?"

"OK, OK, OK," he said, carrying my bags.

I took my bags. "No. I paid you. I'll give you the 100baht. You take me."

"OK, OK, OK," he said, opening the second cab's door for me. "See? I take care of you."

I don't know how many times we went back and forth. Not many more. Eventually he gave the second cabbie 300baht, that cabbie nodded when I said the name of the airport and repeated it back to me, and I got in.

With a sigh. "How much?" I asked.

"Hmm..." He spouted some Thai. "200?"

It wasn't an offer, just an estimate. I settled back in my backseat, resigned to the deal. Mad I arranged to come to Bangkok. I never wanted to be in Bangkok. I don't think I'm up to the challenge of Bangkok. Crazy busy, people living in squalor, dirtiest nightlife possible, corruptest cops in the world.

Obviously, I've visited it in fiction.

This driver spoke zero English. Didn't stop him from starting a couple conversations, though. Asked me where I was coming from, I assumed, since he mentioned Phuket and Surat Thani, so I said I'd just spent 3 weeks in the southern island town Phuket.

Then I realized he'd named the only two places in Thailand I'm sure they have airports, other than Bangkok. Was he asking my destination? Would he take me to the old Bangkok airport that only did domestic flights? I'd read somewhere that you had to be sure to say the new one, because cabbies sometimes took unwary travelers to the wrong one.

"I'm not going to Phuket," I said, anxiously, and when he glanced back as I spoke, I made the X with my forearms, the universal (Korean) negation. "I'm flying to New York."

He smiled and said a short phrase he'd used earlier that I'm positive meant, "Oh, I don't speak that."

Watching the street signs carefully, I noticed one for an airport. I pointed and spoke but he just shook his head. The whole road in that direction was at a standstill, so I hoped, hey, maybe we're taking the back way.

Looking back on it, I realized it was the new Southern Bus Terminal you have to be careful to specify. There's only one Suvarnabhumi Airport. I just googled them so late and so hastily that I mixed them up in my mind. Real comforting in retrospect.

Because then we drove very far, for about an hour, going through different districts. We kept passing police officers, or now and then a tuk-tuk, the Thai open-sided taxi carriages, and I wanted so badly to roll my window down and ask if we were headed towards the airport. I didn't want to embarrass or piss off the cabbie, though I knew Aunt Margaret could'a finessed it. Woman's got a gift. She can probably just turn around and walk back if she realizes she's forgotten something, rather than peeking around the corner first, like that was her mission, just in case someone's watching.

I want to tighten the scene, zoom in a little bit, but on what? We got to the airport, I breathed a prayer of thanks, tipped the cabbie (just over a dollar, now that I think about it, but at the time it seemed sufficient and I was nearly broke!), struggled into my backpacks, and started reading the departure gate signs.

Thomas was waiting for someone to bum a cigarette offa. Attractive American guy, long-time world traveler, meeting up with an ex-girlfriend from whom he expected to learn Thai massage. When he heard I was headed to Buffalo, he brought up the movie Buffalo 66, which I've never seen. He mentioned over coffee that India is his favorite place, because it's so unapologetically dirty. I commented on the uniformly attractive Koreans and how the sometimes-sloppy Thais were a refreshing and prefered contrast. We got on well, and then he caught his connecting flight and I dawdled through the hours waiting to start the trip out of Thailand. I had a microphoned interview with a Thai student, asking me all about how I liked Thailand and how the culture compared to that in my home country. I had a chicken sandwich, honestly momentarily forgetting that I was vegetarian, and good thing too since it was all I could afford at that point. I did my best to stay awake, hoping to sleep on the planes. Writing kept me awake in the last hour before I could check in. And then, as a matter of fact, I was writing this account and held up the entire plane because I forgot to go through security until like 10 minutes before the departure time.

There's more to the story, like the 12-hour layover in Narita, or the guy who sat next to me on the flight to Chicago, and then there was the woman who had a first-class ticket from Chicago to Buffalo but didn't speak English and sat in my seat by mistake. My only first-class flight so far. And my bag didn't arrive on my flight, but I got it a couple hours later. And I stayed with my mom for a month, looking for jobs, eventually heading back to cashiering at the Co-op. Moved in with my friend Brandon til Sara makes her own way back from Thailand and we can live together. More to the story, but it can't be written right now and maybe never will. Suffice it to say that I'm back in Buffalo, cobbling together a life and enjoying the cold.

Heat is for passion, for the inside. Heat from the outside suppresses the heat that glows within. Stupor and languor and vacationing deserve Thailand. Real life deserves real neighborhoods, antiTourism. Buffalo is for the ghetto tourist in all of us.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In Da Beginning, God Made the Hostel. And he saw that it was Good

Night the First in Thailand. Sweet tours that we won't be able to afford. The hostel is very cool, good social room and def nice staff. Can't wait for Jessica and Sara to get here (don't be mad about which one comes first--every time I type those two names I think, which one goes first? and there's no clear Louis and Clark kind of ring to the names. So it's really just arbitrary and I've been trying to switch it up). We'll probably rock the neighborhood but I haven't actually been out and about yet. Only got in about 4 hours ago, 3 of them spent on sleep. Happy to find 20cent beers available in the lobby. Let's see how far this money can stretch! If we actually stick to the hostel, in 3 weeks over half of my money will be spent on rent alone. Bum bum bum... But that's just a reference point, not an intention.

Today at the Malaysian airport, there was a guy working with a shirt that said, in the fasion of I <3 NY, "I <3 DOME." Ballsy! And then as I was wandering around trying to kill 12 hrs in the airport, (beautiful airport by the by, very good spot to have to kill a few hours..maybe not 12, but you know) what did I hear but "you know I can't right now so baby KISS ME THROUGH THE PHONE"

That's right. Soulja Boy in Southeast Asia.

Much love, from both Soulja Boy and yours truly.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The View From Saturday

I'm nervous! Think not even going out on a Saturday night (albeit rainy) because I'm scatterbrained. Think scatterbrained like Ben can be.

Things change quick and then you move to the beach for the summer and lose touch with the internet. I'm headed to Thailand on Monday (about 29 hrs from now). My friends Sara and Jessica will get there 4 days later.

Trip plan:

Leave Buffalo at 6am, arrive in Newark, NJ at 4pm. Leave USA at 10pm.

Get to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at 6:30am. Stay 12 hrs.

Hop over to Phuket, Thailand at 6:45pm and find a bus to the hostel in Phuket City.

Stay for 3 nights and then go meet Jessica and Sara at the airport.