Anatomy of a Weird Day

Taken on the ride home.
Taken on the ride home.

This is going to be a bit of a weird post for me.  Then again, yesterday was a pretty weird day.  And I can’t really put my finger on why.  Nothing wild happened.  It was just odd–as in, something significant, however small, happened in each step of the afternoon.  So I’m going to write about it.  Because I have a blog, and in theory I could put a daily picture of a cat riding a skateboard and no one could tell me not to.

Oh and it’s a tad long.  Grab some tea.

The Cat

The day started out normally–the weirdness really started out with a cat sitting on the railroad tracks.  I was crossing over the street and reading that sign that tells you not to walk on the tracks, when I saw what I thought was a rabbit.  Turns out it was a big white cat, totally chilling out, just being a cat that enjoys laying on warm things.  So now I’m ignoring all the signs , and I’m running along the tracks like a crazy person at a cat that just keeps transferring where it’s napping–usually a few feet down the track each time I yell at it.  This is like a suburban railroad station, not like the subway or anything.  In other words, I was in no immediate danger.  Anyway, the cat finally books it under the fence and across the neighborhood, but the people at the end of the station clearly had not seen said cat, and think that I am a wacko.  Good good.

The Train

The next funny part was running into an old friend on my train, but being too spastic of a social being to find a way to say, “Hey friend!  You’re on my train!”  You know what’s great about NYC?  You could live/work in a city for 6 years and never ever run into that stinky ex of yours but somehow you continuously run into the people you do enjoy.  I always think it’s a way of NYC saying that it’s secretly not all that bad.  Anyway, we get off the train and he’s just far enough away that I can’t scream his name without scaring everyone on the platform.  So I decide that the least socially-awkward thing to do is to run up behind and lightly body check him.  Nailed it.  We walk for a few blocks, part ways, and as usual, assume that NYC will probably send us bumping into each other in the obligatory two months or so.  He comments on how, in the good old days, when you just move to NYC, you wander around NYC, amazed by everything– and this sticks in my head for the rest of the day.

Wine.  And Lunch with my Dad.

This, as usual, is where the day takes a turn toward tipsy-land.  Because my dad and I always order wine with lunch when we go out, and since I’ve cut back on my drinking, I can get accidentally drunk on very little wine.  I always seem to forget this.  Anyway, toward the end of the meal, we get talking about the stories from the beginning of his career which involve working at the Fernald State School in the 70’s–a then-terrifying, unregulated home for the mentally disabled.  He and his coworkers were part of a movement that turned around the state regulations required to protect those with developmental disabilities.  I only learned that he was a part of this a few years ago, and am still amazed by it. I kind of think it needs to be turned into a movie (if anyone would like to give me a whole bunch of money to produce a movie…).  But anyway, we get rolling on the topic and he directs me toward a book that was written by another coworker who worked at Willowbrook Hospital, a similar home with similar, terrible issues. We part ways and I go on a drunk hunt for this book that I am going to apparently start adapting into a movie on a Friday afternoon in midtown.

No one knows I’m drunk!

There’s a fun game I like to play after accidentally day-drinking and heading out into NYC on a day off.  It’s called “No One Knows I’m Drunk!”  I assume that every cashier I come in contact with assumes that I’m just eccentric and perpetually red-faced.  In the moment, I think this secret is hilarious.  So I stumble down to my favorite coffee/hot chocolate place on 18th street, order a cup of delicious but overpriced hot chocolate, and sit down with my laptop.  Turns out the wifi is down, so my movie script will have to wait.  Instead, I sit there–still tipsy–drinking my hot chocolate and watching a snooty, touristy woman berate the cashier about why she doesn’t know if the chocolate penguins have ever come in contact with an almond.  Crazy-pants storms out and I try to shoot a look at the cashier to say, “Bitches, amiright?”  I clearly do not succeed in making this face and probably just looked like an odd-ball.  I stumble out into the daylight.

Spider plants.  Hipsters.  Nora Ephron.

Now this is where the day starts to feel like fate.  I’ve had a hard time writing lately.  Everything I write sounds like a high school English paper.  So I’ve been on the hunt for a book by a strong female voice to shake my brain up a bit.  I look up nearby movies (It’s important to mention that I’m staying in the city just in case I win the Hamilton Lottery) and find that at 3:00, in exactly a half-hour, there is a documentary playing on 12th Street called Everything is Copy about Nora Ephron.  Perfect!  Strong female voice!  So I stop over at the Union Square farmer’s market, drunkenly debate with a salesman about whether I should buy a spider plant/bring it into a movie theatre, and finally decide to come back later and I run for the movie.

Quick note about hipsters.  Although I always knew this would happen, their style has completely taken over 20 somethings in NYC.  Wide-rimmed glasses, oddly-fitting pants, jaded expression.  But if this fashion movement was supposed to be fighting the norm, and now it is the norm, does that make me the different edgy one?  Are my cotton-y dresses and safe haircut the anti-establishment thing to do?  Hooray me!

Anyway, I pick a seat in the movie theatre.  It is completely silent, because this is a no-frills indie theatre, where introverts like me can go for complete solace.  Also, everyone else in there (all ten of them) were over the age of 70.  I’m not exaggerating.  Just before the movie starts, an older women is brought in by her caretaker.  The woman turns around, looks at all of us, and says, “Look at them all here!  They must all be friends of Nora!”

Oh, I’m gonna cry during this movie aren’t, I?  Because NYC always has a way of reminding you that the world is small.  And when a celebrity passes away, someone you know most likely knew them-knew them, like, walked-their-dog-knew them.  She went on, “Nora lived in that gray house by Barnes and Noble!”

The movie begins, and proceeds to emotionally wreck me.  All I asked the universe for was a strong female voice to read, and now here she is, speaking through home movies and years of documentaries, a few years after her passing.  I knew she passed away, I remember when I found out in 2012.  But it was like watching Romeo and Juliet and hoping, maybe this time Juliet would just wake up in time, and the story wouldn’t end sadly.  I knew it was coming, and yet I still did not expect to be so emotionally involved by the end of the documentary, or that I’d oddly be sobbing like she was a friend like the lady said.  At least I can pretend I was that lucky.

Maybe it was the wine, maybe it’s because writing essays has become such an important part of who I am, or maybe it’s because I cry whenever I see Tom Hanks sad.  But at the end of the movie, she reads through the last part of the last book she wrote, I Remember Nothing.  The last chapter is a list of things that she will miss when she passes away (note that she hadn’t told anyone how sick she was).  The list goes on, wrapping up the film, as I, of course, am losing it.  The final thing on the list that she will miss is…pie.  If you know me well, you’ll know that this broke me.  I have a thing for pie.  My friends and I had a weekly party dedicated to its existence my senior year of college.

The lights go on and I am left crying in the theatre.  I did not win the Hamilton lottery, which honestly, was fine.  I don’t think I could have handled it.  The woman in the front stands up and says to her caretaker, “They never talked to Max, I wonder why!”  I love New York.

A Book, Two Burritos, and a 5am Essay

I leave the theatre and it’s started to rain in a beautiful warm-spring kind of way.  The type of afternoon rain you want to nap through with the windows open.  I stumble to The Strand, still puffy, past the hipsters, and by a $7 copy of I Remember Nothing. I meet up with Ben, who has just gotten out of work, explain why I’m a hot mess, and we get burritos for the train and laugh the whole ride back about funny passengers and by imitating Mrs. White from Clue.

I get home, read 75% of the book, and just before I go to sleep, receive an email from the editor I’ve been working with on a new website.  My essay idea I had submitted this morning (before the cat) had been approved, and I had until Monday at 9am to write it.  I try to sleep with the words of the essay starting to structure themselves in my head.  After many dreams about Ben blowing all our money on a Basketball bracket (Dream Ben is the opposite of Real-Life Ben), I wake up at 5 with the essay basically written, and climb out of bed to get it on paper.  I write the outline, finish Nora’s book, and fall back to sleep.

I’m not sure why what could have been seen as an ordinary day effected me so strongly, but it has.  And I haven’t been able to write like I did this morning at 5am in months.  Or like this really–without caring if anyone will like it.  I get up at 9, covered in cats, and know I have to write this blog post.

Perhaps I can thank Nora Ephron, or the cool conversation at lunch with my dad, or the wine, or bumping into old an old friend who reminded me how special it is just to wander about NYC, or even the cat doing whatever the f*ck it wanted on some train tracks.

But either way, I’m thankful for it.  And thankful for you for reading this far.

Have a weird day, everyone:)

4 responses to “Anatomy of a Weird Day”

  1. I LOVED this post! I love lunch with your (very accomplished and humble) dad, love that you two drank wine leading to great conversation and the added bonus of your mid-day game, love that you wanted to protect that track-sleeping cat, love “hooray me” for being the true anti-establishment gal in your cotton-y dresses who notes the ill-fitting hipster pants (ha!), love that you are indeed a friend of Nora’s who was open and could absorb her words while hoping the end of the story would somehow magically change, love that Real-Life Ben is the keeper-version. You have a great voice that captures small-world NYC with humor, humility and a forgiving, self-deprecating approach that is immensely appealing. Plus you love pie.


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