I awoke one morning to taps, squawks, coos and the sounds of fleeing flight.
In other words, I awoke to this.
“Yeah, I noticed it awhile ago.” Eva told me, as we sat on a pier in the Hudson River Park.
“There was the one pigeon in the nest. And then there was– well, I guess it must have been the male pigeon on top of your air conditioner guarding it.”
“Strange.” I replied, sidling up to her along the ledge-bench we sat on.
I decided the circumstance called for some role playing.
“Coo.” I stated plainly and began pecking Eva’s ear.
“Gross.” She replied, pushing me away.
“Think I could eat pigeon eggs?” I asked her.
“No! Then the pigeons would attack you!” She stated plainly.
I started to laugh.
“What? That’s my worst fear!”
I kept laughing, tears.
I gasped, gasped: “Pigeons…”
And then we made out for a while.
I didn’t know my neighbor across the way, whose air conditioner had been appropriated by the pigeons for their nest.
Eva later suggested that maybe they’d moved away.
I think she said this because, really, who would want pigeons living on their air conditioner and wouldn’t they just do something about it?
But I think the state of things in New York unless disturbance occurs is more live-and-let-live.
In most cases.
My movie theater training not withstanding.
“When you go to rinse the soda machines out, you have to use Windex when cleaning the drains.” I was instructed.
“For one, it loosens the pipes, helps make things run more smoothly, keeps things from breaking down, that costs the theater money.”
“For another, if you don’t use Windex, use have a bunch of sugar and water down there so you get gnats?”
“Gnats?” I asked.
“Gnats,” My supervisor told me. “It’s happened. They go there cause there’s sugar water and they lay their eggs and get pregnant and then we got gnats flying out of the soda machine.”
“Kinda intense.” I said.
This was only one of many steps of learning how to close out the movie theater, a process that only seemed more daunting to me since I hadn’t been formally trained in it.
It was a Sunday and all I kept thinking was what I was told: that it was the closing usher’s responsibility to make sure everyone was gone, everything was clean, everything was ready for the next day.
It was all on me, all of this responsibility.
“And after that?” I asked.
“Then you do what you do.” My trainer said.
“Your life. I don’t know man, that’s on you. Get your drink on, get your girl.”
“Whatever you’re gonna do, do it. Because this job takes some stamina and so you’re going to want something nice to keep you from snapping.”
My training supervisor was tired. He hadn’t slept. He’d gotten home at 4. I was off at 1 that night and despite the anxiety, I spent and hour or so reading a magazine, waiting for the last shows to get out and it seemed like everything was ok.
I’d had my first semi-rush time at the movie theater and it hadn’t been bad, only a little stressful.
“The customers will piss you off here.” My trainer told me. “And your coworkers will piss you off worse, cause you got deal with them hour after hour.”
I was getting hit with so much information, I just nodded after nodded as I heard all the stuff about what I was supposed to do.
I got my first taste of this later though, when one of my coworkers requested my break be pushed back by half-an-hour to 10 o’clock, calling the assistant manager to make it official.
She was worried about getting theaters ready, but I was just thinking about the food I’d ordered sitting upstairs for going on 2 hours cold.
It was tense then, but it was better by the nights end and I was surprised how I bounced back at the end of the evening.
One of my co-workers, an energetic girl, came down in the middle of the night to tell me she “appreciated my personality”.
“Thanks,” I told her. “I usually don’t know if people appreciate it or if they’re actually just secretly pissed off.”
The joke was that by the time she came downstairs my personality was running thin, between theaters getting out and bathroom checks and the rush of all that training.
When I saw my bouncy co-worker out of uniform 30-minutes after her shift, hanging round the theater, I took a heavy-eyed look at her, proclaimed her crazy and went to sweep.
The last thing I noticed on Sunday when I was leaving were the aspirations people had in my job.
They were young, 19-21 mostly, and they had plans for themselves, careers.
One girl wanted to be a sound engineer, another a journalist, another a singer. One girl wanted the air force.
A manager was an aspiring cameraman.
My trainer wanted to know how to get into film school.
One person even asked about my movie and I showed it to them, to the usual mixed response I had come to expect.
As I looked over my schedule for the upcoming week, I realized that I would have to switch it around if I wanted to do my writing group this week.
And I thought for a second: “So is that the end of me as a writer? What more do I have left?”
The truth is I have more time than ever now to write, now that I’m free in the mornings.
I helped Eva bounce off some ideas for her script the other day.
But I guess I don’t have that certainty anymore.
I don’t know what I’m good at, what I should be.
I feel like all the people I meet want to go somewhere.
But I’m not even sure where I’m supposed to be.
“Foursquare sucks, bro.” Rob told me over Facebook.
And according to Facebook, Blake LaRue and Jason Lee agree.
I’ve been using it lately, as I’ve discussed before, to find places and to mark off where I go. It seems a natural extension of my usual random tweets or inner-outer self-dialogue.
How it works is I “check-in” somewhere and write something about my experience, short.
If you check-in somewhere more than anyone else, you’re the mayor of that location.
I became the mayor of the Angelika pretty fast.
I tried to show my boss this, saying maybe they could use Foursquare to drum up visits to the cafe with a promotion, like some places do, but who knows.
Maybe it was just an excuse for self-publicity, much like Foursquare.
It did do me well, reminding me of some places I hadn’t been though, that I’d wanted to try.
So on Sunday morning, I went off to Quinto Quarto, an Italian joint in the nieghborhood, for their $14.50 “reduced menu”, a prix-fixe of an appetizer, an entree, a cup of coffee and a glass of wine.
I declared myself at least a little perplexed by the last item.
Why, I wondered, would someone want a glass of wine and a cup of coffee at 12-1pm on a Sunday morning. Would they negate each other?
Or worse, cause an upset mind and stomach?
So I ditched the wine and went for the coffee, which was an excellent and Italian, a cappucino.
I told the waiter: “Bring me whatever’s good”, which is what I tell waiters on bleary Sunday mornings.
(On a side note, from my supervisor: “Working here has made me more conscious of people in the service industry. I will endeavor to be nicer to them.”)
Anyway, here’s what I got:
“Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe” I was told.
Spaghetti with cheese and pepper in a butter sauce.
It was rich and thick, and Pecorino-coated.
The pasta was al dente, as it should be.
As noted by my sophomore year roommate, a crypto-Italian: “Americans overcook their pasta.”
I could eat half of it though, staring at the bottom of the bowl.
When I woke up this morning and looked outside my window, the pigeons’ nest was in shambles and the birds themselves were gone.
Reduced Menu Lunch (app/entree w/wine+coffee)- $14.50 (available 12-3 daily)
Bedford St. bet Downing St and 6th Avenue.
1 to Houston St. CE to Spring St.