I started talking to myself in my room this morning, even though the Nigerian was here.
I know she can hear me. I thought of Socrates and his daimon, but still, I might sound crazy by our modern standards. And yet, wasn’t it Janet, now sitting out at the curb, who served that purpose? I wave at her every day, but only visit twice a week, to move her and warm up her engine. I enjoy uncensored venting during these visits, that is for sure. The Nigerian went on the offensive with me the night she moved in, and I resisted. Sweating in bed in my thin-walled room one night, I wondered if I might really have a nervous breakdown from the hyper-vigilance this war was causing. This led to me asking for a ‘house meeting’ between the Brooklynite, ze landlord from Martinique, the Nigerian, and me. Once assembled, the Nigerian surprised all of us, I think, with her agenda, which was to have them be her witnesses so she could sue me in NYC Family Court for ‘harassment.’ I said very little, for a change. I had recently become convinced there was little to no point in establishing areas of cooperation. Ze landlord and the Brooklynite did not choose to partake in the opportunity to help her sue me, and that turned out to be the most fruitful outcome of the whole thing, to me. She ordered me not to speak to her, and I said I didn’t think that was realistic.
And so if she thinks I’m in my room talking to spirits, that might be just as well. In fact, sometimes I am talking to dead people.
New York has lost some of its joy since I last lived here. Its people are suffering, and they don’t understand–from Brownsville to the Upper West Side–how they’ve been turned against each other. This is an unnatural state to a New Yorker, scrappy as we can be.
The Nigerian doesn’t have a green card. She listens to Amy Goodman on NPR most mornings. She doesn’t listen to music. She has a lot of important business and puts our common area to her use.
It’s been over two months since I wrote an essay on this site. My reentry euphoria carried me along, and now I’m at a new crossroads. For two months over the holidays I worked very hard and mostly happily at a large bookseller in the Upper West Side. I commuted over an hour each way to work, and arranged my schedule to tend to Janet. I needed to be around each Tuesday and Friday to move her promptly to the other side of the street–and back, before all the spots were taken. Alternate Side Parking rule, for ‘street cleaning.’
One day, since I was the first back over that day, I deliberately chose the spot next to the fire hydrant, just at the edge of the no parking zone, to give the neighbors space to fit as many cars as possible down the rest of the street. This defense, plus photos showing Janet well away from the hydrant, did not impress the NYC Dept. of Parking Violations–they pointed out that I did not prove that I took the pictures that day.
The corporate headquarters of the bookstore chain gave orders to slash the payroll this month, as the NYC minimum wage went up the first of the year. I don’t have a job now, but least I got to work for two days at $15 an hour. Took two days work to pay that ticket. Looking at the picture gave me a sudden urge to jump in and make Janet my home and partner again.
I feel that some adjustments are in order. This is still an adventure isn’t it? And I still am afraid to let you see me fail before I know the end.