A Brief Run

I uninstalled Magic Online from my computer last night, somewhere around 1am.

It felt kind of liberating, to know, well, that you were liberated from a K-Young Adult online card game on which you’ve spent the majority of your disposable spending for the past month.

As liberating as it could I guess under the circumstances.

After all, it was 1am on a Friday (Saturday morning?) and I had spent the whole night in, doing nothing but staring at my screen.

In the morning there’d been a rush of activity. Eva had been coughing all night long and when she woke up I told her we should go to the emergency room. She had Medicaid and there were some questions about whether it was appropriate or if she would be able to pay, but after looking online for walk-in clinics and calling the number on the back of her card, we were told it was best just go to the emergency room.

We went to the New York-Downtown, since I thought it wouldn’t be crowded and it would let Eva get her cell-phone charger, since hers was dead. It wasn’t crowded and I ended up only meeting and talking to one person: a heavy-set Latino man with an eyepatch and crutches who told me that he had run straight into some low-set marble seating, while running to catch the bus in Atlantic City.

“It’s cause of this, you know.” He said, pointing at his eyepatch. He had already had his leg treated, but it was still hurting and I felt a little bad when Eva and I got to go ahead of him.

“They’ll fix you up.” I told him.

“Man, but there was some liquid coming out of my leg…” He replied.

And then Eva and I were called in.

I was worried that something bad was going on with her. Eva’s a smoker, unlike me, and her cough had stuck with her for what seemed like a couple weeks.

What if it was bronchitis? I wondered. What if it’s emphysema? That just happens to old people, I thought, but it happens to smokers too, what about all those New York State-sponsored posters?

“Allergies.” The doctor told us. Eva had told me she didn’t believe in allergies.

“Well they don’t believe in you.” I told her.

The doctor started prescribing a decongestant and an antihistamine when I took a Zyrtec-D out of my census bag and gave it to Eva.

The doctor took a look at it quizzically, putting down her clipboard, asked me a couple questions (“Is this over the counter?”) and approved.

When we waited for a nurse to come with her discharge papers, the nurse said “The doctor recommends Zyrtec.”

***

The previous night, that Eva was coughing, had also been eventful.

In fact I hadn’t been able to sleep, but that wasn’t even really related.

I had gone to a talent show run by ex-Mormon comedienne and Rob/Nandan friend Elna Baker.

The talent show happened every month, but I had never been and this time Rob-o had a piece in the show, a video montage he was asked to make of famous break-ups from movies and TV. It was funny and had some good clips, though I wish it had been even more disjointed and “Malonely”. At the end while watching the scene from “Annie Hall”, where Woody Allen reimagines his relationship with Diane Keaton going well in a rehearsal for a play and talks about art correcting life, Rob splices himself in, a rye commentary that the audience, I think, read more as Rob splicing himself into the montage shirtless.

But a shirtless Rob Malone isn’t news to me and it isn’t why I couldn’t sleep.

I couldn’t sleep because I had pitched a “This American Life” episode to Ira Glass and I had the distinct feeling I had fucked it up.

Ira Glass had been at the talent show to support Elna Baker, a sometimes contributor to his “This American Life” radio show and Dave Hill, another contributor and a tuxedo comedian.

There had been a lot of acts at the show: a few numbers by the house band, some short-short stories, adult-twin sisters playing “All the Single Ladies” on accordion. Dave Hill had eaten a lot of hot peppers on stage to try to show his cure for heartbreak. Ira Glass had told a story from his life about stalking the girls whom he had decided to break-up with.

There was even a “Buddhist Ms. Lonelyhearts”, whom I got the feeling my friend Langston (who spent the previous weekend building a shamanistic sweat-lodge) would have enjoyed. She made me feel very uncomfortable both by her repeated invocation of the Bodhisattva and the extremely personal nature on-stage of the gay co-host whose break-up she was discussing.

Also, I mean, as someone who has found some happiness in a relationship, it can be a little awkward to keep hearing about how sad others are during break-ups. It’s safer to be in a form of denial, or at least procrastination, ignoring that those feelings could happen to you again, or deciding you’ll deal with them later.

After the show, Ira Glass was standing in the lobby of the venue, talking to fans. I went up to him with some trepidation, unsure if I had anything to say. It was strange, as usually I do say the right things in these circumstances. I was even known for it in school, where the chair of the department would make sure I came to the Q+As so at least someone would ask a decent question. But I get flustered when I go up to talk to him, though I’m not sure why.

“Hi,” I tell him. “I’m Nicholas. Uh, before I start I should probably tell you that I applied for an internship with This American Life a while ago and I didn’t get it, though I think I got some sort of level of consideration.

“Well, it’s very competitive.” He replied. “Do you have any sort of journalistic experience?”

“Well, I worked on some documentaries.”

“That’s journalistic experience.”

“And I graduated from NYU-Film School.”

“I had some friends graduate from there.

“Oh,” I said. “Are they marginally employed too?”

“No.” He said quizzically. “They’ve gone on to make movies.”

“Oh, well. I just graduated. But I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to be. You struggle when you get out of school. Then struggle through your twenties. Then struggle through your thirties. Then struggle through your forties. But I guess at that point it’s a different kind of struggling.”

“I don’t think it’s supposed to be so hard.” He replied.

And it was at about this point that I began pitching him my idea for an episode.

He told me he was flattered, that people are usually too shy to come up to him. He told me he liked the idea but that he “didn’t see the story yet”.

He gave me his email address and told me to send him an email.

On the walk home, I couldn’t focus on the ground. In bed, I couldn’t sleep.

I stayed up all night, writing my pitch.

I sent it in.

I bcc’d my parents.

And I woke up. And I had an email from my mom that it was “brave” but “lacked humor”. My dad on the phone said the same thing.

No one was around on Friday night.

So I stayed in and played Magic Online.

Until I uninstalled it.

***

I watched Deconstructing Harry last night, on Netflix Instant Watch, after I uninstalled the game. I had never seen it (embarrassing, I know) and I figured it was the sort of mental enrichment that all the other ex-film-schoolers engaged in, that I had been potentially missing out on.

It was fun and I fell asleep half way through, but in time to pause it. I woke up and watched the other half.

Today, I don’t know what I am doing.

I’m going to work for the census, I guess, a job which left me sweaty the other day, with a handicapped woman questioning my right to knock on her door and telling me I was “terrible” before repeatedly asking me to leave.

I got that interview, but it took its toll.

I later went down to a new lunch-spot called Rabbits over on Sullivan St. I had gone there before and the people had light-heartedly taken a shot at me for being a “census man” at which point I had sighed heavily and left.

I went back there and ate a Jerk Chicken Wrap with some “vinegar-soaked fries”. They were very good and I think there was some mango chutney somewhere in there.

While I ate my dinner, I counseled the woman next to me, who appeared to be going through a bad break-up with a stalker-ex who turned out to be cheating with her on his fiancee.

She started telling me it was her fault and wondering who would want her now.

“Don’t worry.” I told her. “Just know what you want and keep asking for it. Eventually others who want the same thing will come.”

She seemed heartened so I sent her the trailer for my movie, paid my tab and went home.

I was done with census work for today.

***

But what do I want?

I have a job that I don’t know if I’m better having or not.

When the producer I’m working for asked me about what I was doing throguh September, if I could stay with the film, I told him:

“I don’t have any plans for my life.”

I’ve been checking my email frantically seeing if Ira Glass would get back to me, only to find emails from Bulgarian film festivals and from my boss both demanding and deriding my work on accounting documents I am thoroughly unqualified to tackle.

What am I waiting for? What am I doing?

Suddenly, everything seems urgent, though I don’t know what that “everything” is.

I’ve got a throb in my throat and my stomach and I’m not sure how to handle it.

Well, I think Rabbits has a “Chicken Parm” sandwich.

I’ll try that out, for now.

***

RABBITS

Jerk Chicken Wrap with Vinegar-Soaked Fries- $15.00 (incl. tax and tip)

Sullivan St bet Houston and Prince Sts.

1 to Houston, CE to Spring St.

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