Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

- Run more often
- Save my money for traveling
- Cook myself breakfast and dinner (read: buy groceries)
- Actually learn how to play the guitar
- Organize a battle of the bands
- Actually prepare for an audition
- Be environmentally friendly
- Be better dressed

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Running Commentary on "It's a Wonderful Life."

Notes on Watching It’s a Wonderful Life.”

I’m watching It’s A Wonderful Life and I realized that I did in fact work for a building and loan corporation and that perhaps the field of work was not actually evil. This movie makes me really happy. “I don’t want Mrs. Bailey, I want my wife. Wait, that is my wife.” I love old movies because they’re the only ones that introduce us to the main characters without having to give us their internal monologue or slap us in the face with their characters. We begin as strangers and stay that way for a while. I like that in a movie.
No, don’t do it, George! Don’t accept Potter’s offer! He’s evil!

Oh, good. He realized it when he shook his hand. “You’re nothing but a scurvy little spider!”

You want the moon? I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down for you.

Oh, Uncle Billy, you are a silly, silly man!

George, you, however, are an angry man. You lash out when you are stressed. I think you need some sort of anger management. Maybe you should do some yoga.

“I’m not sleepy. I want to look at my flower.”

Oh, no! George, you are so sad. Noooooo! Don’t jump off that bridge. Goddamit! Commercial break.

Oh, how I love Canadian TV. They have the “Doncha put it in your mouth” commercial. Wow. That’s the most horrifying looking lion that I’ve ever seen:

I’m here to introduce the Lee Majors Bionic Hearing Aid. That’s so depressing. Dear Lord. He’s so old. WHY IS THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN ON AN INFOMERCIAL? This is so upsetting. Commercial break, obviously.

“We don’t need any characters around to give the joint atmosphere.”

“Every time you hear a bell ring it means that some angel’s just got his wings.”

I missed the first half hour of the movie. What? The old man was going to poison a child? Why?

Oh, no! Now that he wasn’t born, the town has turned into a den of sin! Why doesn’t it snow anymore?

Oh good, everything is saved. And now I’m crying. This is beautiful. What a wonderful film.

Que sais-je?

I think I have pinpointed the most important philosophical question there is: que sais-je. Albert always said that the most important question is whether or not one should kill oneself when faced with the misery of absurdity. Now, I won't disagree that his question is indeed an important one, but it certainly can't be the most important question. You see, the absurdity of our situation is not that life is without meaning, but rather that we don't know whether or not it is. If there is a meaning, it's completely lost to us. Now, to all you ontological thinkers, I appreciate the effort, but the fact is that at the very end of the day, a leap of faith is required. One can't just say "God is this, and for this to be true it must exist in reality." Necessary existence is certainly an interesting concept, but not very wise.

To say that "God is this" in itself entails a leap of faith. How do we know that existence is a predicate? How do we know that reality actually exists? How do we know that infinity and eternity exists outside of their concepts, and how do we know that to say something exists in reality makes it so? How do we know that it doesn't? I think Pascal was right when he said that nothing can be proved without faith, which is really the only real indication of everything. One can say "I know," but the only way of doing that is through faith, and how can we judge the reliability of faith itself? Surely it's possible that what we "know" through faith is in fact Freudian garbage that we feed ourselves in order to survive. That would, of course, leads us back to Al's question, but the fact is that we don't know that it is. He presupposes that it is, and that's a rather unfair judgment. We don't know, and this is the most disconcerting and alienating thing of all. We want to trust things like reason and faith and mystic experience, and yet we tear them apart over and over again. We're so afraid to be wrong that we're willing to destroy everything we've built just to be right.

I know that it's perfectly rational to be a skeptic, perhaps the only rational thing to do, and yet it's possibly the most boring thing to do. There is no passion within skepticism. There is no power to my argument. Wolterstorff said that the greatest and most powerful reasons we have for anything are those that we found on our beliefs. I'm not even passionate enough to be an atheist; atheism denotes disbelief. To be agnostic is considered fence sitting. No fence sitting, said Pisani. It's apathetic. I'm not apathetic. I just don't want to be wrong. And I know that I am human, and I am not the first that has deconstructed her own life so vigorously in order not to be wrong that she's destroyed all truth. What do I know? I wish there was an answer, but the answer itself is a paradox, because the only thing I know is that I do not know. Well isn't that peachy? Socrates had it right in the first place! So why do we keep searching for answers?

Maybe our misery lies not in that we do not know, but that we crave knowledge that we cannot have. Celebrate the mysteries, we say, but then we search for the truth. We want to know. But secrets are fun, said a rather mysterious lover of mine. He had me there, but the truth is that they hurt us so terribly. We wonder whether things are so much worse than we ever imagined. We wonder why we cannot know. We wonder whether we are being punished, whether we all did something wrong and now we're banned from that knowledge and spend our time ruminating in our own guilt. Hell, we've made it a tenet of the Christian faith, haven't we Augustine?

That’s why it’s the most important question.

Maybe I have been thinking too much.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Travel Blog

Dear Albany Bathroom: Please Don't give me AIDS
Never try to Write after Nyquil

I thought about publishing this while at the Albany bus station but that would entail connecting to the Albany bus depot wifi and I feel like that's about as safe as sitting on the toilet here without squatting. Seriously.

In light of my inability to sleep on buses I decided to take a little Nyquil in order to sleep. Good choice, but I think I might be slurring my words right now. I certainly can't type properly.  I just wrote "publishishing." Right.

"Last call for 202," says the bus driver.

I almost just got on the wrong bus. Fantastic. I'm happy though. I met two travel buddies. Mark from Ottawa (who did the carpentry program at Algonquin in Perth) and the girl standing in front of me in line, who is quite nice, though a little butch. Mark has been living in New York for six months working as a bicycle messenger.  That is super cool. I wish I could do something that exciting.

I've discovered that the best bus music is that of The Decembrists. Maybe it's because I don't know any of their endearingly mellow music, but the fact is that I did finally fall asleep about half an hour ago, only to be roused from my slumber to spend half an hour in this hellhole that is Albany.

I was thinking about something while travelling through the Lincoln tunnel. It may have just been the hallucinagenic effects of Nyquil (of which I hold there are many), but I feel like driving at night is something that perfectly mimics the flow of time. All you can see are the lights rushing past the window and suddenly you feel as if you're perfectly static in a rushing stream of light. Kind of like retro renditions of time travel. I feel like that about time when I'm on the bus. I can see the destination, I know where I was, and I feel as if I'm in a state of limbo until I get there - how terribly surreal.

* * *

At three a.m. I am woken by a screaming child. I may or may not have been sleeping, I don't really know. Really? Really? Who gave this child chocolate? Who decided that the candy bar was a better choice for a snack than the bag of chips? For God's sake, people. Let's think before we wire our children up, shall we? No!I see you at that vending machine! NO! For the love of all that is holy, do NOT give that child that chocolate bar.

Alright, he's pretty damn cute. He just tried to eat his little sister's face. That's almost cute enough not to be killed by me. He and his sister are half asian. Little half asian girls with pigtails are the cutest ever. (We're at the border, by the way. Perhaps Dad should take the kid outside and let him run around in the freezing cold for a while, hmm? Yeah, that should do it.

* * *

It's around 5am. We're arrived in Montreal in time for the Ottawa bus only to learn that there is, in fact, no 5am Ottawa bus. Good thing I have my handy-dandy netbook so that I don't go loco and take out my rage on anyone... Where is that little boy, anyhow? Seriously, though, people, control your children.

A man has just fenced us off from the doorway. Does that mean we have to move? My bag is quite comfortable and I would be very unhappy if I had to move at all. WHY IS THIS BUS STATION SO SKETCHY? We're standing. I see it is time for standing now. I don't want to stand. Why are we standing? You know, if  we all choose to sit, we can be all in this together... hmm? How does that sound, Mark? What about you, handsome fellow sitting behind me? Alright, we're sitting. Peachy.

I hope you all like this flow of consciousness thing because it's the only thing I can do without screaming at five am. Also, thank you to Zack for your music. Nothing cheers up the Montreal bus station in the wee hours of  the morning like some Benny Benassi. Mm.... I can pretend I'm out having a good time rather than stuck in a bus depot doing nothing. I wonder how these people would feel if I started an impromptu dance party. *Looks around* They do not seem like the dance party type.

I wish I could elaborate on my whole "Flow of time" thing. It's just a wierd feeling, you know? Back in the day I used to wish the things that I was doing could just be skipped. As in, suddenly I could be forward in time and could  have no recollection of the boring things, kind of like in that Adam Sandler movie. I THINK I HAVE SUBCONSCIOUSLY BEGUN TO DO THIS. I am so conscious of the fact that these memories will be practically erased from my consciousness that I pay them absolutely no heed. Almost eight hours have passed and I have neither recollection nor memory of this passed time. 

Methinks the Nyquil takes its toll.

Okay, Benny Benassi. You need to be turned off right now.Ah, a little Coldplay. How calming. Oh, hey. I'm right at the start of the line. Huzzah! I think I'm going a little bit stir crazy. Look at that, people. Look at that clock. Thirty six minutes have passed since I have sat down and I have absolutely no recollection of this time passage. There is something wrong. I know that in what feels like a moment (or it will once I'm there) I'll be coming back home to  school. A few minutes after that and I'll be done the school year, and then college, and then a few more and I'll be old and I'll die. This is very disconcerting. With every minute that passes my memory is condensed further and time, relative time, is ever so much shorter. When I was younger everything took forever. Now it is gaining speed exponentially.

Of course, this begs the question: does time exist at all? Trippy. I haven't learned the answer yet. Perhaps one of my classes this year will tell me. Dear Mr. Professor: does time exist? Why yes, dear student. Time is a dimension. Great, problem solved. Wait, what the hell does that mean for me? I know, I'll go and watch that ten dimension education video again. That will tell me.

The time is now 8am and I am sitting in the Ottawa bus depot waiting for mother. I managed to sleep some on the way here so I may not have to kill myself in four hours when it's time for work anymore. Funny story: I  picked up a bottle of vitamin water when I rolled in just a moment ago and imagine my surprise when I realized that it's sold as a medication here. Go figure.

Alright, time to go home. I hope you enjoyed my sleep deprived ramblings. 


Monday, December 15, 2008

A Tale of Two Creepers

I originally posted these stories on Facebook, but they received such a good response that I thought I should share them with the rest of you.

I'm not sure why I seem to pick up creepers wherever I go. I have this feeling that my level of friendliness (aquired in the forest with the happy woodland creatures) is inappropriate in the big wide world of New York.

First Creeper: Creepy Russian Guy

Dear Creepy Russian Guy,

This is why you're blocked.

First, some back story. I was sitting out in front of Lerner with Claudia and Irina, and a series of events caused us to meet two grad students. I was having a lovely conversation with the Russian one from BU, so when he asked if I'd like to accompany him on a walk, I was quite happy to do so. We chatted Russian lit and translation for a bit, and then parted ways. First, though, he quoted me a poem and asked me to dinner, but I declined gracefully as he was a bit odd and told him to just "look me up on facebook or something." The following ensued.

September 6 at 4:49pm
Dear fair lady, please accept my query of friendship. Practicing my own freedom of speech I have written many lovely poems for the notes on my profile.

I did not.

September 9 at 12:14am
What was it that Augustine said about faith?

Some good thing for nothing,
Some thing for everyone:
God, is this above you?
From what you say it's not.

A little bit of patience,
A bit of self-control:
Man, is this so painful?
From what you say, you're strong.

Some good cause for panic,
A reason to feel through.
Poet. Can't you take it?
From what you say, you should.

A touch of understanding,
A little less disdain:
Woman, can't you spare it?
Is "yes" so hard to say?

Yes, it was.

Side Note: The fact that this poem, which he quoted to me as his favourite poem in person when we first met, was his makes it even creepier.

September 9 at 11:55pm
You are such an interesting person. A few days ago in your picture you were looking down and to the left; now - up and to the right. And I didn't at all get the impression of someone who is intentionally aloof when we met.

Why don't we meet again? you know, instead of this lovely monologue of mine.


We did not. I then ran across him loitering on the corner of 113th and Broadway and feigned ignorance.

September 13 at 8:04am
Hi lady, I propose that we go and nullify our brains at the movies this weekend.

My Reply
September 14 at 11:34pm


I apologize if I gave you the wrong impression, but I'm really not looking for anything right now romantically or platonically. I'm in the middle of a difficult breakup and very busy right now. Again, sorry if I gave you the wrong idea, and I hope you have a good semester in new york.


September 19 at 9:53pm
Oh yes, no worries. But check out my notes, you should. It's by far the best part of knowing me. See you around.

End Conversation.

All was fine and dandy then, except for the fact that I continued to see you everywhere, which gave me the impression that you were not only Facebook stalking me. Also, you gave me nightmares, in which I frantically searched for people to walk me home because you were out there waiting for me.

Then, two days ago I get a message. No subject, just a random "Hello." It freaked me out. I defriended you, because I was content with THINKING you were creeping me, but knowing that I still existed in your consciousness freaked me out a lot.

THEN I get a message asking me why I did "such an unreasonable thing."

These things, Ilya Gutner, are why I did such an unreasonable thing. It all boils down to a very legitimate reason. YOU ARE A CREEPER.

Now, why couldn't I have said this to your face?


Creeper #2: The Spaghetti Rapist

People seem to have liked my story about the Creepy Russian Guy, so I thought I'd post the Spaghetti Rapist story. Spaghetti Rapist (aka Brooklyn Guy) is the pièce de résistance of creepers and a story I simply must share.

NB: He is not actually a rapist, unless you count unsolicited spooning, in which case I am also a rapist. But I don't spoon strangers!

Back story: I met this fellow at a Renaissance Fair. Now, he seemed fairly nice and fairly normal, and we made plans for a date. Well, my rehearsal ran long and, because I was feeling a little dangerous that week, I made plans for a date at his apartment in the wee hours of the morning where he would cook me spaghetti (a cream sauce by hand). He assured me that there were people staying over from france and that he had some extra rooms, so it seemed legitimate enough to deal with and, lo and behold, it was.

Well, the date went well, the spaghetti was great, and we were chilling in his room. Now, I've dated gamers before, so I ignored the everquest posters and all other indices of social ineptitude.


We're hanging out, and he asks me if I'm seeing anyone. Always the honest one, I tell him the truth. "Yeah, a couple of people," I tell him. S.R. freaks out. "Oh, I can't take this shit anymore. I mean, I'm not looking for marriage... *grumble grumble*" I awkwardly evade the subject, and sooner or later things are back on track. THEN he pulls out the Warhammer RPG for computer and shows me the war boar he rides (who knew there was such a thing)... Aaaaaand I procede to bed (in the other room).

Now, I'm not hating on gamers. But KEEP THAT SHIT HIDDEN. Or, if you're proud about it, just understand that inside, deep down, I am losing my shit laughing at you.

So, off to bed. Enter Spaghetti Rapist, who asks me if I have everything. He then proposes that we sleep in the same bed together (no sex or anything, he assures me, it's just been a while since he'd had the chance). Well, the spaghetti was good, even despite the warhammer the date had gone well and the fella was cute so I agreed. I'm not exactly naive, but I figure the boy could use some makeouts before bed, and then I could go to sleep. I go to brush my teeth, come back and find him changing in the dark. Bad sign. The following conversation ensues:

Him: Don't Look at me!
Me: Wha... What?
Him: Stay there. Don't look at me!
Oh, fuck. Goddammit. I knew this was a bad idea. This guy is going to eat my skin. Thankfully there are people that are not his close friends in the other room so if I do scream, they will come a runnin'. Okay?
Him: Just get into the bed!
Oh, fuck.

So, we get into bed and he starts spooning up on me, and then takes a big sniff of me and goes "Mmm... you smell delcious." What. The. Fuck. I'm lying there shaking a) because he's going to eat my skin and b) because I am paralyzed with laughter at how absolutely ridiculous this situation is. I am being spoon raped. And smelled. Never a stranger thing has happened.

So, I give him the ol' "Right, so I'm pretty tired," desperately escape a kiss and then finally make it clear that the line between makeouts and no makeouts was crossed (really, it was crossed the moment he screamed "Don't look at me!"

So THEN, realizing he is getting none of this he gets all pouty and the following occurs:
Him: Why do you find me attractive?
Oh, Goddammit I dunno. Because you're cute?
Him: Is that all?
Me: Well, you're nice?
Him: Nice enough to get me into bed with you?
Me: Well, you did make me dinner.
Him: And that lets me sleep in the same bed?
Me: Apparently.


Him: Why would you have sex with me so fast?
Oh, fuck. I wouldn't have.
Him: But you made it seem like...
Me: Well, you said you didn't want any.
Him: So if I had asked you if you wanted to, you'd have said no?
Me: ... Right.
Him: (Rolls over in a huff) I HATE women.

I am now terrified. This is mad creepy. I mean, there's awkward, and then there's this. I just don't even know how to react, especially when I few minutes later he leans back, gently touches my leg (as I am shaking in fear and hilarity and desperately feigning sleep) and goes "Oh good, you exist." He then goes back to sleep. WHAT THE FUCK? I finally kicked him out, and then spent two hours lying with one eye open.

Bright and early he walks me to the subway station, passive agressively complaining that no one will touch him and that everyone changes around him. Right. I avoid the topic, and when we hit the subway I assume that this is it for good.

Then I get the messages.

heya babe,
Sorry about the other night, i just wanted to get to know you better. You're a really interesting person and i want to hear more about you, including both the Canadian woods and the runaway barnyard characters that populate them..
The fact is i just don't come across chicas like you very often and i would love to see you again. Perhaps in a more nuetral setting? A museum like the Met or MOMA or perhaps central park, its lovely with the changing of the leaves.


Is he insinuating that the fiasco occured because he wasn't into it? Let's find out.

Hi Karl,

I had a great time the other night, but I just wasn't feeling the chemistry. It also seems that you're looking for something more serious than I am, and you mentioned several times that you were rather disturbed by the fact that I am by no means monogamous. so I don't think we should see each other again.

Well, this is true, the chemistry is lacking and this is something ive found a problem with myself lately. A lack of chemistry with everyone, perhaps why im looking for something a bit different. Yes, i was a bit turned off by your polygamous lifestyle, but thats only because im struggling with the same thing myself. I saw in you what i dislike in myself.

Im a bit of a nutter and i just came back from a massive euro experience involving more then a few bottles of wine or shiny cans of beer. ive screwed and whored to a degree probably unparalleled to most people my age and im sure we could swap some good stories.

Im sorry you feel that way. I was talking to a friend the other day and she said exasperatedly to me, well, what did you expect? Thats when i took a moment to think and sent you the letter.

Again, im not looking for mariage, and im not apart from doing you in a parking lot surrounded by a circle of cheering onlookers, but im testing the waters of something i havent yet experienced, a comfortable monogamous experience. Soemthing i envy you for having had, the warm feeling of someone familiar next to you as you wake up each morning.

Um, what? Cheering onlookers? WHO ON EARTH would be into that? And how does "I'm seeing a couple of people" turn into whoring? I decide not to respond.

Listen, ill send you a message when my libido returns. We'll see how polygamous you really are, call your friends, guys or girls. :)

Um... no? I again do not respond.

Cmon, stop being so conservative, now you got my blood boiling, my heart racing. Gimme another shot. This time no well-planned dinner, no well planned anything.. Just whatever, the normal stuff i do. Bars, drinking, live music, a club or something. One of my new tenants works the bottle service at webster hall, we could go check it out on a banging night.

You gotta understand, im a fool and terribly abusive, i always try to probe out weak spots and poke them till they bleed. I'm game for fun, lets have some fun. no thinking allowed.

Terribly abusive, eh? That's a real way to win a woman. Wow. I should not have mentioned dating gamers in the past. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was just going through some rather tough times. I myself have a past filled with awkward messages. Finally I respond.

Hi Karl,

I thought I was being clear when I said that I really wasn't interested in the same thing you are. It seems that you might have misinterpreted me, so I apologize for that. I'm not looking for anything right now, and I think you may have misunderstood my character. I'm firm in my decision, so I would appreciate it if you would stop sending these messages or I think we should cease all communication whatsoever.

End Conversation