Scrapbook #9: NYC

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Spent the long weekend in New York City — flights from Burlington, VT were cheap and we wanted a little vacation. We arrived late on Friday night and made our way to Shake Shack for the first meal of the weekend. Two Shake burgers, cheese fries and a black and white milkshake. It was fortifying.

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Food is obviously a huge part of a trip to NYC, but I sometimes find myself faltering at the choices. There are so many places I’ve read about and the city is so big and how much do I want to structure my time around the perfect food choices? So I pick and choose. I wanted to try Shake Shack because it seemed sacrilegious that I hadn’t yet, and I wanted to try one of the Momofuku restaurants, but in the end just settled on baked goods from Milk Bar. Andrew wanted to have BBQ, and I couldn’t argue with that. I love brunch, but didn’t want to sacrifice a morning to weekend brunch waits, and besides, I have an overwhelming fondness for bodega breakfast sandwiches. So, that’s essentially what we did, and the other spots filled themselves, which is how we also ended up having amazing pierogies in Greenpoint and take-out sushi in Central Park and a huge, greasy pizza slice somewhere on the Upper West Side. Because they fit into the day, easy, but still good.

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We rented an apartment through Airbnb in Harlem. We used Airbnb when we were in Paris and I had been charmed by the little touches of staying at a real person’s apartment. There are disadvantages too (for instance, the bathroom was weirdly covered in fake grass?), but they’re easily ignored. There’s something satisfying about pretending that, for 3 days, you have your own little home in the city you’re visiting. This apartment had high ceilings, big windows, and was conveniently sandwiched between a subway station and a delicious fish and chips place.

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It also helped that the owner had a fantastic book collection. She even had a copy of The New Yorker from 1943 that had J.D. Salinger’s A Perfect Day for Bananafish published in it. I picked up the magazine gingerly and read it, amazed to see it like this in the magazine. I also couldn’t help reading her copy of the I Ching. I’d never looked at it before and am aware at the flakiness surrounding it, but every morning I would toss three coins six times and look up the hexagrams and by the second day I threw all yangs or changing yangs, and thought that it must mean something bad, but it actually meant that I had creativity flowing through me like a mad, gushing river. Excuse my flakiness, but that’s totally what NYC felt like. I was like, inspired and shit.

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At the MOMA we saw the Cindy Sherman retrospective and a fantastic Taryn Simon exhibit. There was also an exhibit about language, and one of the installations was Dial-a-Poem. When you picked up one of the rotary phones, a random poet would recite a poem in your ear. I got Frank O’Hara, and that felt like some kind of sign too. I mean, my favourite poet! Speaking of coincidences, the next day at the High Line, Andrew and I were lounging around in the sun, and I looked up and saw a co-worker from Montreal stroll by. We had joked about seeing each other in NYC, and then we did. (If I got too into happy coincidences, the universe or whatever set me straight on Monday when our Airtrain to JFK broke down and we came this close to missing our flight.)

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One night we ended up at the waste water treatment plant in Greenpoint where there was an interactive art exhibit and an interpretive dance. Not exactly my first choice of evening activities, but it jived a little too well with Andrew’s underground photography interest to pass up. We got there too late for the dance, but we met some friends, ended up accidentally wandering into the control room of the plant until we were shooed out (not before getting out onto the roof and taking a picture). After catching up in a Polish restaurant, instead of taking the subway back, we got dropped us off at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, where we walked back into Manhattan.

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I’m such a sucker of night views of NYC. On our last night we ended up walking along the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis reservoir in Central Park, and it felt surreal because everything was so quiet, and there weren’t any people around, but we could see the tall buildings in the distance, hear the water of the reservoir. We ended up somewhere behind the Met, and peeked into the huge windows. We had been there that afternoon, but at night the museum was still, dark, and even the statues looked like they were at rest.

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There’s never enough time to do everything I want to do in NYC, but we made a good go of it. I have some new books, some new clothes, these pictures, and I’m still tired. Always a good sign.

Scrapbook #8: Fragments

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Moving back to a city I know well fooled me into thinking that moving – not just the move itself, but everything that comes with it, all the emotions and saying goodbye and ending routines – would be easy because I knew what I was getting into. It’s been confusing, then, that, duh, of course it’s still hard. I hate goodbyes, I hate endings, I like routines. We have a little more than a month left in Montreal and I’m suddenly distinctly aware of time.

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I feel a little scattered these days. I do things in fragments.

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I did a little reading at Drawn & Quarterly as part of Andrew Hood’s launch for his newest collection of short stories, The Cloaca. There was also cake for Invisible’s 5th birthday. I ate a slice with my hands. Afterwards, Caro and I went a few doors down and ate burgers at Nouveau Palais, drank red wine, talked. A few days later I was in Toronto and went to that launch as well because I like The Cloaca a lot and the Invisible folks too. This time Samantha was my date, and we ate pho and it was good.

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I’m doing another reading on June 6th at Drawn & Quarterly with Angie Abdou and Mark Lavorato. The reading came up because Angie mentioned on Twitter that she was going to be in Montreal, and I asked her if she was going to read and she said, “No, but do you want to do a reading?” and then we were organizing it.Twitter can be useful. You should come. Angie is great. And even though I don’t have anything new to read, It will be my last reading as a Montrealer.

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I forgot to post a link to this article that John Shoesmith wrote for CA Magazine about accountants who are also writers. So, yeah, I really am an accountant.

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Did you know you could go surfing in Montreal? You can.