BFA (the band) played at Mercury Lounge last night.


My friend Michael and I, college seniors and of course a little tired of life, stood amid other young, hip listeners that looked like they appreciated Broken Bells and Crystal Castles and maybe PJ Harvey sometimes. The crowd chanted “Toddlers, Toddlers” because the Toddlers from North Carolina had just finished playing. We wondered whether Michael’s Sierra Nevada and my glass of vodka were worth our commute to downtown Manhattan on a Sunday night – neither of us were huge fans of the Lower East Side.

Then BFA came on, and it was hot in the room. I took off my jacket. We knew the guitarists and the singer were suffering under blue lights on the stage, but we bobbed our heads and swung our hips from side to side.

“This is really good,” Michael said. “Thanks for taking me here.”

You’re welcome, I told him – and yes; it was good. The guitar line was captivating. The vocals sent out the energy we needed to get through our night; the vocals paid our bills. I was grateful that the lead singer had unmistakable passion – he admitted his enthusiasm, even. Yet there was no scratching at my ears. BFA’s music had a velvety edge, and I wanted to dance.

Two songs into the act, the lead singer told us to leave if we had come to “get mellow,” to leave after the next song. I thought: slow song is coming, all right. An instrument made a short appearance; singer said the word “eighties” like he was stretching it out to dry. The next word was “night,” and then I knew that these guys had talent. They put together all five of their instruments, with the voice, into one moment, and I felt goose bumps everywhere scattering around Mercury Lounge like a pearl necklace broken on the UWS.

Forget my glass of vodka and the scorching blue lights of the Mercury Lounge. I hope these guys have their songs played atop a tower of ice. Given the right audience and the support they deserve, they would melt it all down with their drive to create.


leave new york immediately. live in a forest.

This Harvard PhD student I know, Guy, wished me as we left the banya yesterday:

Good luck deciding what you want to do in life.

That pinched my conscious. These days I think about leaving New York. Going somewhere with blooming fields, and sunshine, and trees that don’t look suffocated. Of course, I’ve had periods, multiple periods in my life, when I was dead sure of my aspirations. They all went to shambles, and I’ve not even turned 35 yet.

ImageMy ex used to be pretty harsh with me about this whole reluctancy to stick to my opinions. But now I need — I should learn how to live with this. Maybe if I accept that I will be doubtful, I will be more accepting of my decisions, too.

Maybe all I need is to graduate and be intellectually free. Have my head to myself. What is life like without these chains? Without the constant nagging of self to leave the clouds, the sad insane people, the intellectual torture of college. Is life without these happy? Or does it simply become boring, and you want to be back in New York, in the urban prison? I wonder if it’s actually possible to be in the moment, a unit — a small part of the Appalachian Trail. Can I blend into a pine so that a satellite or a passerby wouldn’t be able to tell my existence as a human?

My dreams of being a minor public school teacher


I daydream about being a person whose name kids don’t remember because of how basic the things I give to them will become.

Sure, it’s great to be the big teacher in people’s lives. Be the 11th grade English teacher who recognized my functional illiteracy and tutored me so well that I ended up majoring in lit and spending all my leisure time reading and writing.
But even more important is the health teacher whose name I don’t remember. The 6th grade health teacher who taught us about the need to shower. Only in sixth grade did I begin to take daily showers. The great part about how bad I imagine I smelled then: I had joined a basketball team in third grade and still didn’t notice that hygiene was part of the deal. No wonder my classmates avoided me on the playground. Health is unglamorous, but way more unglamorous is life without it.

Food, of course, is crucial to health. My family for years did not notice that I couldn’t read or that I didn’t know better than wear the same pair of stockings every morning. So, I understand what it means to grow up in a food desert, constricted to malnutrition because you don’t know that better food is possible.
It’s a childhood in the prison of your educational poverty. You’re a kid. You don’t know better than eat the things you’re fed. When you gain too much weight, your parents tell you to eat less at dinner. “Estas gordo. Come menos frijoles, mi hijo,” I once heard an acquaintance say to her son at dinner. So you go back to school and sneak some more tater tots (chicken nuggets if you’re lucky) from the cafeteria because you know you’ll be hungry at home.