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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 (24/26)

April 9, 1991

Choose a different dreamscape

Uneventful day spent waitering, although my journey to the Met was anything BUT uneventful, including (within its scope) a brief but nasty encounter with that particular demon known as Bike-Breaker. All of a sudden… pop! Like that, and no shift, or shifty shift, just wrackpuppuppup and I looked down to find my chain lodged somewhere north of its usual spot and wedged quite firmly between chain stay and brake arm and also (I think) the front derailleur was somehow involved. So I pull up to the sidewalk, there at the corner of, like, Broadway and, say, 95th, and I struggle and sweat to extract the chain from its place of encampment while the exhaust fumes from the buses rose with the heat from the street on a day already hazy and hot at 10:45am. Can you hear the buses… hissing as they rise from kneeling posture, gearing up as they pull away from the curb, across the intersection, torquing to heave the massive load of steel wrapped around twitching flesh wrapped around an even bigger weight of duty, pain, worry, mixed w/a dash of hope to keep the whole concoction churning? Can you hear that?

And I twist the chain loose and continue on my way, aware now of both an inability to shift AND a marked drag extending from the rear wheel to the muscles in my thighs and calves which tried heroically to produce the juice necessary to still run this thing! Stop. Dehinge the rear brake entirely, continue w/only my front callipers functioning. Dangerous? Hell, yeah.

I’m subsequently in a bad mood at work. It seems EVERYONE is… disgruntled by the heat and by a collective ineptness which fed off itself. I can’t find my leather-book. I forgot dark socks, and gritted my teeth against the inevitable chastisement that never came.

It was not busy. No stress, at least.

Fixed the brake part of my bike. Pedaled to B-Way where I bought rad Chucky Ts high tops (gray/olive/drab, my favorite), pedaled to 125th library, got Kesey book, home, read Kesey book, back pedaling to 86th entrance + ballfields where I found out that I have been (yes, apparently true…) hired as future teacher for this SAT prep and such stuff! I admit that a success of this type does something to elevate my sagging self-esteem and confidence in the category of group poise. So that may start next fall if as expected. Training sooner.

Then played softball as a member of my new Princeton Review team. Shared a beer or two with Liz who, like me, enjoyed the companionship. Home to NOT type but to finish Sheltering Sky which rose in pitch + tension toward a brain-cracking denouement. So that’s over and now I can turn more fully to Kesey for further insights and entertainment. 

Oh, when Ken told me that I was hired, it’s true, a slight damper on the enthusiasm is that he did mutter, while turning away… “We owed Eliza that much.” Ken never did think much of me, that was pretty evident, and I don’t think my audition swayed him much. This further indicated here that my hiring was due as much to “favors owed” variety as the “you’re fucking awesome” variety. Oh well. Still, out of 120 others (and I witnessed some VERY confident and engaging speakers/teachers, probably actors) I’ll take what I can get. What am I going to do, turn down the gig in righteous principled indignation? I think not!

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