Saturday, March 28, 2009

March 28, 2009

There is a real sort of lonely misery that gradually builds in the packed, smoky atmosphere of a frat house during an ear-ringing concert. The cops are outside and the marker scribble on my hand indicates that I am not an underage individual, though I am. Which is quite fine, as I will not be drinking anyway.

People I rarely ever speak to in my day-to-day movement across campus high-five me, shake my hand as they walk by. Some linger for a longer, slurry chat.

I don't know why I'm here.

Then the red light hanging from an extension cord above the makeshift stage brightens. The voice of the band's front man grows louder, climactic, as the drum-dominated beat of their current selection drives harder on. I stand in the corner and exchange a tense glance with a former friend, looking equally as rhythmless as myself, who stands at the opposite corner of the room near tone-distorting speakers. I am comforted by the fact that someone else in place is as disconnected as I am.

The dancing grows wilder. Burning cigarettes rake against flailing items of clothing. Three women from my English class grab annoyingly at my jacket, attempting to remove it, to bring me in to the gyrating ring of spaghetti-strap-top-wearers. A couple leaves no room for Jesus 20 feet away from me.

The girl in orange faux Ray Bans and pearls spills her Keystone on my shoes.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 23, 2009

Five beers and three hydros in:

I have no idea what time it is until I glance at the clock and realize that three hours have passed since last I wondered.

I have deduced, from what seems like hours of pondering, that all I ever want in life is one good, well-preserved photograph. One that depicts me as the absolute eptiome of contentment, of glorious youth, ample confidence, and ecstatic happiness. I want to manipulate the assumptions people are going to make about me and my life by presenting it to them with such an image. Hopefully they won't have read Susan Sontag.

I have got to stop drinking alone.

March 22, 2009

I arrive back in Sewanee, 7:11 PM. An hour and a half-long car ride with friend and fellow Courts resident John has just been spent bitterly recounting individual incidents of other people having sex in the same room as us when we were just trying to sleep in.

It's nice. Sewanee. Breeze and friends with new haircuts.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March 12, 2009

I have never been hit on by as many men in such a short time span. Then again, I had never been to Philadelphia before this week.

Philadelphia, PA - Day 1

1. SEPTA regional rail. College Station. The train is late. I make eye contact with a man who is reading a local newspaper, the only other person waiting for the train. At Sewanee, I make eye contact with people on a regular basis. A passing eye contact+head nod in lieu of The Passing Hello. Dude One asks me what I'm reading. I tell him: Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children. Dude One then asks me for my number.

2. I buy coffee from a guy in the large market downtown. I tip him because the sign on the plastic tub says "Tipping Is Sexy" in purple marker on orange construction paper. I want to be sexy. And I have change. So why the hell not? "You're not from here, are you?" Dude Two, the barista (is the male form "baristi" or "baristo?"), asks. I shake my head. "Tennessee." I pour skim milk in my boiling brew. I have just read an article on the increase of esophageal cancer due to too-hasty too-hot liquid consumption. I am now taking precautions. "What are you doing tonight?" Dude Two asks.

3. In the Philadelphia Museum of Art, my eyes are glued to Bill Viola's video piece, "Silent Mountain." I tune out the parade of teenagers visiting from some out-of-town highschool. A trio of 16 year-old girls, heavy on the eyeliner, crowd my peripheral vision. They "ooh" and "aah," shifting their personally-altered Converse All Stars every few seconds, fully aware that I am standing there trying not to judge their statements about the legitimacy of this work or that "as art" versus this work or that "as bullshit." The girlies get bored and wander off elsewhere, making notes in their cell phones about artists to research upon return from Philly. A man in his 30s in too-tight jeans approaches from my left. We both watch in silence. He sighs. I can hear the changes in his exhale as he shakes his head slowly from side to side. That kind of god-I-can't-believe-work-this-good-exists-or-at-least-I-want-you-to-think-I-think-this-piece-is-super-impressive-and-understand-whatwhy-about-it-etc.-please-be-impressed-by-my-exaggerated-interest-in-visual-art sigh+head shake. "So striking," he says, like Ebert. Or Roper. "Just extremely compelling." Best movie of the year! Two thumbs up! I nod my head. "Can you believe that something so simply done can be this..." he says, abso-fucking-lutely overwhelmed. "Viola is genius," he says, pronouncing poor Bill's last name "vy-o-la," like the flower. And then-- I shit you not-- Dude Three says: "D'you come here often?"

Philaldephia, PA - Day 2

4. Riding the train into Philly from Swarthmore. The man sitting directly behind me taps my shoulder. "Is this a local train?" he asks. I nod my head "yes." "Thanks," he says, "I just rarely take it this late." I nod again, smile cordially, and return to Rushdie. Around 20 minutes later, we both get off at the same stop. As I walk up the stairs that lead to the street, I hear quick footsteps behind me. Someone catches up and tugs the sleeve of my sweater gently. It is Dude Four. "Are you rushing off to work?" he asks. I am wearing Jenn's TAFT flip flops, a pair of jeans, and a too-big sweater. I am obviously not going to work. I tell him so, but nicely. "Well," he says, "I...just wanted to give you this." He hands me a folded piece of newspaper. I take it. He scurries off in the opposite direction. I do not open the paper until I am out on the street. Across the smiling face of a woman in an ad for online bachelor's degrees, there is pencil scribbling. It reads: "Hi! I'm Joe. I just wanted to thank you again for your help on the train. You seem like a pleasant and affable person. I wouldn't mind getting to know you a little bit better, maybe over tea some afternoon. Here is my contact information..."

5., 6., 7. After 8 hours of trekking around Philadelphia from Benjamin Franklin's old stomping grounds to Benjamin Franklin Parkway (trust me, they are fucking far away from each other), I am sweating and dehydrated and my left foot is bleeding. I decide that I need to go ahead and change for dinner at the Pyramid Club, an unfortunately pretentious establishment 52 floors above Center City. Knowing that the Club has a dress code and that I look like shit, I convince the guards at the door to give me the key to the employee bathroom in the basement so I am not intruded upon during my extensive clean-up. I splash my face with water, strip off my sweaty clothes and exchange them for The Black Dress. I paint my toenails. I doctor my bloody foot. I apply lip balm, step into high heels, and feel like a new person. I then take the elevator to floor 51 and the stairs to floor 52. I want to watch the sun set. And drink an entire pot of coffee plus a gallon of water. There are hors d'ouevres in the bar, where I choose to watch the city begin to turn in. I order a coffee and watch businessmen file out of tall office buildings, ties flinging over their shoulders, bluetooth devices in ears like little blue neon roaches. I take a few grapes and a raspberry or four from the cheese platter. An older man, Dude Five approaches the hors d'ouevres and asks me if I've tried the mini beef wellingtons. They're in the chafing dish. I reply, "No, I haven't." He smiles and makes no effort to stop his eyes from wandering up and down my form. "They're good for your figure," he says. I return to my chair and side table. I chug my first mug of coffee. More comes. The same Dude Five approaches me, this time accompanied by three friends. "I just gotta tell you," one of the other two, Dude Six, "You're givin' Bobby ovah here a heart attack, ya so goddamned byootifull." Dude Seven, who seems to be the oldest of the three and also the one named Bobby, says, "Nah, I'm so old I prob'ly would'a had one anyway, but you sure are just..." "Gorejuss," Dude Five interrupts. The three laugh among themselves. They extend their hands in turn and I shake them. "Nice ta meet ya, honey," Dude Six says. They exit.

8. and 9. I acquire yet another cup of coffee at the bar. A voice behind me says, "Don't you want Bailey's in it? Celebrate St. Patty's a little early?" I shake my head. "I like your shoes," Dude Eight's sidekick says. "They're just great." I thank him politely and sip my coffee before departing the bar for my chair by the window. Dudes Eight and Nine proceed to follow me, ice cubes clinking in the glasses they hold. Both of them, in their Sleek Young Businessmen Clothes, sit down in the chairs facing mine. I feel as if I am holding court. Moderately Hot Chick Court. We then have an entirely pointless conversation about me. They ask absolutely ludicrous questions like, "So what's The South like?" ... To make a long story short, Dude Nine ends our conversation rather abruptly by saying, "Y'know, I've always wanted to visit The South. I think I have some family down there." I nod. "It's scenic," I say, though I don't know why I do. "Tell me, Sarah," Dude Nine says, "Would I get some lovin' if I came down to The South?" I take a gulp of steaming liquid to keep myself from laughing. I singe my tastebuds. Dude Nine cocks his head and squints his left eye. "Would I?" I excuse myself. Dude Eight hands me his business card as I leave.

Temporary surge in pheromones caused by plane travel. That's what I'm chalking it up to.