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There was a lot mumbling and muttering (or whatever the equivalent is in written form) about NYC during the Das Boot section, and whether or not Jay would end up there next. Well, sure enough, in these pages we find out he did. This section takes up almost directly after leaving the boat, and tracks his efforts during the first months to navigate the city and find a job and, maybe, love. Continues for several months in this fashion.

Hello, NYC! i (22/26)

April 7, 1991

Choose a different dreamscape

Today proceeded to proceed w/beautiful warmth and clarity. After lazing ½ right here in bed, I journeyed down to Chinatown and weaved amongst the bustling mass of confusion… arrived at the river, on the east side, directly between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. If I could draw or paint, I would attempt to capture that beauty. So indescribably sunny + clear and warm but not too warm with a periodic hint of cooler breezes from the ocean. Group of young Chinese men (recent arrivals? Speaking only Chinese) photographing each other, the day the massive bridge as background. At one point I actually rose to offer to take a shot of them all, then balked, unsure. Another, burly-looking chap had been sitting on the seawall drinking from a paper bag (as was I, both the sitting and the drinking, tho I think my drink was probably different from his – a red grape cooler). He appeared to be on lunch break, perhaps from some nearby construction site (although now I realize it was well past lunch hour). I imagined him irritated by the 5 young Chinese guys as they chattered and laughed in their own language and postured in this foreign place with the international NYC monuments behind them (the twin towers in the other direction) but no! When he got up, I thought he would complain (they were clustered right around him) I heard his voice and saw his gestures (the exact same motions that I would have mimed, international photo-taking, point-and-click…) and instead:

“If you’ze want… to all together… I can take a picture of all of youze.”

Motioning, whispering, then furious nodding of heads. They hand over the camera. Brooklyn Man steps back… but no! Camera had broken? He hands it back, says, “Sorry,” and leaves. More gesturing and scratching of straight, black-haired heads. They laugh. It matters not! The land of opportunity and the water all brown but shining beneath the two bridges both gray but shining and warm in the breezes that drifted from the sea. And I sucked on my red grape cooler and studied the shimmering shards of broken glass around my feet and considered my contentment.

So the crux of all that is thus: I do appreciate solitude. Love the freedom to just BE without being FOR (if that makes sense). I want someone to share thoughts and bodies but I love being able to walk through Chinatown w/out, for example: “…had to choose a feminist as focus for the essay.”

“Oh? Who did you choose?”

“I chose Madonna. It fascinated me to think about the message she gives women that it’s okay to be a slut. I mean, they don’t have to, but if they want to they can, and it’s okay and they shouldn’t be categorized or labeled.”

“Wow, neat!”

“I sort of twisted the assignment somewhat. And my teacher said it was publishable.”

“Whoa! Neat. Madonna. Wow!”

And gag. I want to just walk + listen, but I confess I also want to lie w/a naked body on sweaty nights and whisper intimacies between bouts of furious love-making… hmm, the inherent paradox therin.


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