Wednesday, April 17, 2013

mental inventory

Something I know about myself is that I tend to be very methodical. This whole recovery process has followed my path of obsessive order- a must be done before b, b must be done before c, c must be done before d. It is on the one hand the way I have to work and on the other a source of frustration. I consider that if I could fly around and jump from d to g to f, I could be more free. Not that I always work in a linear fashion- in fact I really like jumping from task to task. But when it comes to order and cleanliness, I'm one of those people who needs all my materials set up before I can start doing anything creative. So given that all of my shit was agitated in a giant, salty washing machine, it is taking seemingly forever to get it back in order. Something else I know about myself is that I like to know what I have. I can't stand the thought of not knowing where things are- I could never be a hoarder. If I have too many things, I shave the collection down. I like living in small spaces, and so I like to get rid of things periodically.

You know that thing about being alll...mooost...done? Well yeah, I'm still almost done. Only now I'm really almost done. I've made some good headway in the last week or so. So as I'm starting to see a clear work area on my desk, combined with the fact that I'm dying to create something, I browsed through some of the little hardware bins where I'm now keeping my pendants, large beads, watch parts, keys and the like. Holding some of these things in my hand earlier tonight, they were suddenly unfamiliar to me. I know I have them and I know they're there, but my brain can't comprehend that they're there. It's like I've lost my mental inventory. All of my knowledge of what I have and I don't have is kind of lost. The last several months have been all about what was lost and was was saved. Maybe it's too much for my brain to process. I do have a lot of little bits. When you build a collection of these things over many years, you get a chance to process the collecting of these things at a rate your brain can handle. Or at least that's how my brain works. I've seen people who have lots more stuff than I have- but it's likely that these people don't process everything they own. Maybe they're okay with not knowing what they have. Maybe they're comfortable shoving their excess in the back of a closet. But that's not the way I operate. So naturally I've been focused on what was lost. Because it's difficult to lose your things all at once, in a hurried state to clean out a space that is no longer yours. It's upsetting and you want to get a handle on what's no longer there. Or you want to look for something and determine if it exists any more. Or you want to try to find something, in hopes of recovering something your brain tells you is missing. It's what woke me up so many early mornings, after getting to sleep so late the night before. The other reason for knowing what was lost is for more practical reasons- to provide a list for FEMA, for SBA, and for the IRS. And the list just keeps growing. The list I provided the SBA grew by the time I filed my FEMA appeal, and the list will be longer when I file my taxes this year.

So now that I know more or less what has been lost, I start to look at what has been saved. And it's not that I haven't looked at these things before. These objects have been in my hands countless times since the hurricane, as they have been moved from apartment to back yard, some of them rinsed and sorted, binned up and placed on shelves back inside the apartment, moved over to storage, periodically sorted through in the storage unit, boxed up and placed in a truck, moved to a second storage unit, unpacked and moved into our new apartment, cleaned, and possibly cleaned again. And yet these objects are unfamiliar to me. I don't expect them to be here. I expect everything to be lost. It's a hard thing to wrap my head around.

Hearing about the bombing at the Boston Marathon yesterday was maybe a little too much for my brain to process too. The Newtown shootings happened pretty soon after the storm, and at first I couldn't pay attention to the news reports at all. I was still too raw with the facts of my own devastation. It was a few months before I could start to read the accounts and get a handle on what happened. And now this. It's too much. I'm only now starting to understand what it must have felt like to live in New York City when the World Trade Center was attacked. I was living in Los Angeles when it happened and visited the city a year later, when my dad passed away. I made a point to visit what they were calling at the time Ground Zero, a big, empty pit. I followed the plywood walkway around the whole perimeter of the site and cried along with other visitors. My tour guide, an old friend from Richmond with whom I've since had a falling out, was emotionally detached from the scene. He rushed me along to see the renderings that had been submitted by world-renowned architects for a building to replace the twin towers, which were displayed in a building nearby. The night Hurricane Sandy hit, as we watched transformers blow and sections of the city go dark, the construction lights for the new Freedom Tower remained on. Then they, too, lost their power and faded.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

eats in kingston

In late December we were in a rush to move the contents of our two storage units out of Brooklyn and into one that would cost us less money. We had already been renting a unit in Red Hook when the storm occurred, as we had extra items from the closing of our store that wouldn't fit into our apartment. Our goods were housed on the second floor of a five-story industrial building, which shared space with a Chinese- owned wholesale business, and a collection of artist's studios. Throughout the summer the storage company had been adding more units outside, in the form of metal sheds. As the hurricane ravaged the neighborhood, they recognized the need for what they offered, and hauled ass to build more units. As they were offering 50% off these units for the first two months, Bryan reserved one for us. The end of the second month was winding down, and like apartments in nyc, rental on storage units ain't cheap. We weren't positive where we wanted to move, but we didn't have much time. So we packed up a U-Haul truck, drove north to Kingston, and unloaded our haul into a much cheaper unit right off the Thruway. Bryan did a little research and found a couple of places he thought I'd like to eat at.

The view across Fair Street from the window counter at Yum Yum Noodle Bar.

Yum Yum's flattened, fried, vegetable dumplings. Outrageous.

The dish I get every time: noodle bowl with miso-dashi, udon and pork. They fry their shredded pork into a patty. It's crazy good.

Yum Yum's communal tables and shadow guests.

The Hudson Valley mini-chain of natural food stores Mother Earth's Storehouse has a wonderful cafe inside its Kingston location. After eating so much takeout and microwave food (bleh!) I was happy to dig into this healthy sandwich and salad. I had a portobello burger on gluten free bread, Bryan had turkey breast, and we shared a kale salad.

Monday, April 1, 2013

brooklyn weekend

I have to say that trying to deal with so many government agencies, to so little avail, for months on end, had left me quite depressed. On top of that I've been feeling lonely in Kingston. When we moved from a city of 8.3 million people to one of 25,000 Bryan and I discussed that fact that neither of us had lived in the country before, but were interested in trying it out. I'm glad that spring is here and I know the Hudson Valley will emerge from its slumber as the weather warms up. But given that we arrived just as winter was starting, it's been tough. Businesses here close early- like 5pm early. We're used to the pace of Brooklyn, where we would wake up at some not-too-early hour, get some work done, then mosey out in the late afternoon or early evening for a walk and maybe some dinner. Add to that the fact that I was still in the throes of my nearly nine-year love affair with New York City when we left, warts and all. So when our buddy Derrick told us he'd be taking out the video equipment to again participate in the Red Hook Criterium, we decided to take a trip to Brooklyn.

Pamela and I walked out to the harbor before the race. This is looking southeast at the former warehouse everyone calls the "Fairway Building," which houses the popular supermarket on the ground floor and apartments and work studios above. Fairway is at the end of Van Brunt Street, the main drag in the neighborhood, where we used to have our store.

Sunset from Liberty Pier, looking west towards New Jersey, and I think that's the edge of Staten island on the left.

The artwork of, projected onto four trucks. The Crit takes place in the asphalt yard of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.

Cyclists fooling around during the awards ceremony.

Pizza Moto brought their mobile oven to Van Brunt Street the night of the Crit. Good eatin'!