Looking for niches in all the wrong places

searching for niches

Okay, that’s it, I’m done with the niche thing. This is supposed to be the first thing you do if you want to build a following online. Find a niche first. Do your homework. Check out what your community needs and see if you can fulfill their needs.

Aarrrgghhhh!

Nope, I’m done with it. Because, for example, while I’m fascinated with digital marketing and still follow lots of cool people in that area, and I love technology and podcasts and politics and all these amazing ideas that are easy to dive into on Al Gore’s internet, I am either not an expert or not able to talk about the area publicly for various personal reasons.

‘Hold on now!’ I hear the coaches say. ‘You don’t need to be an expert. You just need to be a few grade levels up from the folks you want to reach. For them, you’re an accessible expert, with knowledge they want.’

Sigh. Yeah, if I were trying to coach people, or offering a service, this would be supersensible. I would be able to find my audience by being where they are online. I could delve deep into what would make their lives better in this specific area and double down on reaching them in the ways they feel comfortable with.

I watched a free webinar the other day, focused on people who want to create online courses. Now the facilitator was high energy, a Black woman (always a plus in my book), and clearly skilled enough to get me to go all the way to the end of the webinar. The (pretty large) price for the course made sense to me. If I had that kind of money I would probably consider it. But, as impressed as I was, it was easy not to sign up, for reasons that had nothing to do with my wallet or her worth.

I am not selling a service. The very last thing I’m interested in is having people need my help to figure something out, yaknow? In my non-work life, I mean. I did customer service for years in my 20’s and while I learned a great deal, and have above-average skills, this is not something I want to do in my creative business.

Let me tell you a story: for many years, one of my best friends and I were business partners in an artist management company. When I say the company was tiny and we were hands-on, I am in no way joking. We were working with a young band, who, to me, was pretty much Japan’s answer to Radiohead: serious, endlessly creative, a prize in the rough. There was so much joy in working with them! And so much wild and unneeded mess too, mostly music-industry related, but some coming from just the fact that they were a band of young friends, and everybody was still growing up.

Anyway, at one point, we were touring clubs around Japan in a van, as you do. The band was playing a solid set, when suddenly, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Now, I have asthma, but this was different. This was like my whole body rejecting the experience of being alive at that moment. I stumbled out of the band area on the side of the stage, and managed to make my way to our rental van, which was parked outside.

And I wept. Like a heartbroken child, I couldn’t stop crying. When I finally started to hiccup the unusual episode to a close, it hit me like a ton of bricks: I wanted them to be up there, on stage, performing their own music, exciting their audience.

And I wanted to be up there, too.

Not with them. On my own. Doing my own music. With an audience that felt that I spoke to them and with them, with that aching sense of joy I got(get) when I write a song.

I was an artists’ manager and had been for many years. But what I wanted to be was the artist.

I pulled myself together, wiped my face, and greeted the band when they came outside to smoke. They could tell something was wrong (we were all pretty attuned to each other by that point), but they wanted to give me my space. Which was the right thing to do. I wasn’t a crier then and this was an unusual experience that I needed to absorb.

From that point on I knew I wanted that creative part of me to come to the surface. Dopey self-rebellion and useless perfectionism are how the Resistance manifested to stop me and still does to this day. That’s why some weeks I post here multiple times, and some weeks I can only seem to manage one.

But that’s okay. I’m writing. I’m drawing. I’m even working on a song I wrote a few weeks ago. And in addition, I’m working on getting healthier, and treating myself gently. All I need to do is think about what I would say to my artists when they were ‘blocked’. We’d take a look at their overall condition (if they let me), come up with a few little things to do, and treat their creativity as a gentle gift, worth nurturing. Not a business, not a primarily commercial entity.

So, that brings me back to the idea of ‘finding your niche’. I thought at first that I should write for baby boomers because after all, I’m a boomer myself. But the communities I found online that catered to baby boomer women were not speaking my language. Not to take anything away from people who lived a more conventional lifestyle. But that doesn’t describe me at all, and never did.

Then I thought: well, I’m an older digital native, so perhaps I should forget about age and focus on people who enjoy the same podcasts, essays, alternative media that I do. That’s not exactly right, either: it’s too broad a group of people, and there are way too many tech bros. Some of them have interesting things to say, but a preponderance don’t think diversity and intersectionality are important, which turns me off. If the P. Thiels and E. Musks of the world are your jam, we are not in the same community.

So, rather than worrying about my niche, I’m focusing on writing, making my art and publishing. I’ll do that consistently for a while (no definition to ‘a while’). I’ll see who follows. Keep making more things. Share the tools that help me do more, because they may be helpful to other folks.

I’m starting to get comfortable with the idea that I’m the product of my creative business. And I serve joy, understanding, laughter, the joys of a humane world: all the values I appreciate in others, and in myself.

I have to say thank you to Austin Kleon. I re-read his books just before writing this: . These are affiliate links, btw, from my little Bookshop shop. It’s more of an experiment than anything else. You can find these in just about any bookstore or library:

The Steal Like an Artist Journal: A Notebook for Creative Kleptomaniac

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

So yeah, I’m going to be practical and let my niche find me. If/when that happens, you gentle reader, will be one of the first to know!

I made my own font, and I’m thrilled!

Picture 1964 me. Actually, a few years after this picture, in another house, but not yet 10 for sure.

As part of my acute sensitivity to my family’s dilemmas, I understood that my Mom was unhappy, in part because she wanted to start her own business. Lots of reasons why the little sewing shop she had closed. One of those reasons being my Dad not being comfortable with her being by herself in the neighborhood. I don’t know if things were getting boisterous at that time, but Daddy would have been worried, regardless. He was hours away, upstate New York, being a butcher. If anything untoward happened, he couldn’t protect her.

And yet, protecting her mental and emotional health was most likely relegated to the hands of Jesus. So, yeah: her shop had to close down. And my memory of that time is that the lack of independence, freedom, etc, sent my Mom deeper into darkness. But, like many poor people, there was no choice but to persevere. So, she trained to become a nurses’ aide.

Sigh.

Anyway, here I was, not yet 10, realizing that money was too tight to mention and the source of enormous pain and nonsense in my family. It occurred to me that perhaps I could help. I vaguely remember making little notes in childish overloopy script, making stories in my little diary, and just basically really loving seeing my own handwriting on the page.

Then I got the idea to start a greeting card business. How hard could it be? I’d use paper and make little drawings and make up little quotes, then sell them to my elementary school friends.

I can remember the feel of the construction paper and crayons and the box I kept my intellectual property in and the whole sense of excitement that I was going to change our lives for the better through creating a business, something my Mom wanted so desperately to do.

I made enough to fill a shoebox. I took them to school. I don’t remember one sale. And since my memory is a sieve, you might say: “but you must have sold one!”. I think not.

Fast forward (so dang fast) to my hippier days. I loved making my loopy script. It mattered less whether anyone else liked it. It was for me. This tendency, this love of the loopy font, continues to this day. I have been starting my art practice with my face and my sayings (yes, I have a little narcissist in me, probably. but I’m hermit enough not to hurt anyone). What was I saying? Oh right. My art practice is illustrations of my face with various emotions and a saying that goes with it. The saying was always in the loopiest script imaginable – barely legible without a lot of time, and not what I wanted in the end, although I published anyway.

Then the thought hit me: what if I could create my own font? Slurp it into my devices and apps and use it as my go to? I did a little digging and found this:

https://fontsinuse.com/sets/5244/african-american-designers

And then digging around further I found this:

http://2ttf.com/

And after a very small learning curve, which will of course not be the same as the many experts who study this stuff, and you should hire them or buy their fonts post haste, because mine doesn’t adhere to design principles, just what looked good to me, I present:

Which I used in today’s piece:

Someday I will get behind the mic again

illustration of Terri behind a imc

I love love love being behind a mic. Seriously. It’s liminal space, a place where I can feel celebrated and be more of my full self. Unfortunately, I’ve been letting my podcast and musical partners down. all 2020 and 2021, and I’m still mired in a combination of shame and disinclination to get started again.

It’s crazy, because I was so proud to get my gear set up, all on my own: my Shure Mic and my Focusrite Scarlett Interface. Now of course, for my pro audio friends, this is like before breakfast – pre baby steps. But I was very proud of myself anyway!

But I do keep writing lyrics, and singing songs, sometimes all in one go while washing dishes or walking under trees. I’m still recording them. So, there’s nothing to stop me from figuring out a beat and singing a polished-up version.

Nothing to stop me, except me.

I’ve been thinking deeply about how I hate taking one creative step. If I don’t get to the destination immediately, my dopey brain says the effort isn’t worth it and I stop myself in my tracks.

One of main reasons is that nothing I make is even close to the thing I have in my mind, and I wallow in the disappointment.

I don’t have a great big pronouncement here like: I’m fed up with myself and not going to let Resistance win anymore!

Because come on, be real: it’ll happen again. In fact, my ever-present Resistance isn’t mine. Here’s one of my most important invisible mentors (meaning he has no idea I exist, and it doesn’t even matter, lol) Steven Pressfield:

So yeah, my dream, which I find hard to articulate, is getting a little bit clearer. And my motivation, while wibbly-wobbly still, is asserting itself more often. That’s why there are multiple posts on this blog. My focus now is to go, and keep going!

Some days I think art is just around the corner

sketch of Terri smiling saying 'Creativity Counts!

I just finished listening to Daily Rituals: Women at Work by Mason Curry. This excerpt of the book description says it best:

“…exploring the daily obstacles and rituals of women who are artists–painters, composers, sculptors, scientists, filmmakers, and performers. We see how these brilliant minds get to work, the choices they have to make: rebuffing convention, stealing (or secreting away) time from the pull of husbands, wives, children, obligations, in order to create their creations.…”

So many of these women struggled with balancing the needs of family, lovers, etc etc…and yet they were pulled along, by something internal, to create. To express. To make their singular mark on the universe.

I think that is utterly cool. And it’s what I want to do as well. Not so much for the universe or posterity, when I won’t be around to see it. But I want to create for now, right now, and the near future, and whatever future comes after that. I want to make way for the surfacing of joy.

So much of my writing on this blog has been about rage, American rage at horrific people in power and the complicit citizens who elect them. This morning, I was looking back at my posts and thinking: but, what about creativity, which is my first love and likely to be my last? What about the fact that, when people ask me what my purpose is in life, I tell them: joy bringer. I’m here to bring joy. In all its random, unexpected forms.

So, I’m taking gentle steps to dial back on the rage (which is completely justified) and refocus on joy. That means that you, dear reader, will get to enjoy my attempts at all kinds of things, from art to music, to writing to video. It’s actually so liberating! I still care deeply about my wounded, dopey, oblivious country. But, I can support great efforts to change things in progressive directions, and I can fulfill my own joyous ambitions as well.

I believe that making art is both a blessing to yourself, maybe to others and a blow against the Empire. They don’t want a world in which there is an internet we can use to learn and grow and create. The generosity of that is anathema to them. I like the idea of being that powerful and doing what I want to do anyway, lol!

So, make something you’ve been putting off. Get it out there. Don’t get too caught up in the tools. So much of the time I’m more focused on what tools to set up to publish…what? To publish nothing because I had it the process backward. Make it first. Share it next. Onward!

Trying to listen to conservatives

I don’t, often. That’s because conservative/right wing/Republican thought has been, in my lifetime, so filled with hypocrisy and religiosity and virulent racism, that I just figured – okay, no point in making an attempt to understand where they’re coming from.

But ya know, while my life experience confirms my reasons for disdain for this kind of thinking, which so often seems but a thin mask for white supremacy, I had a minute, so decided to do some listening.

First up: this podcast episode from the excellent show ‘Our Body Politic’ produced by Farai Chaideya

Listening to the guest, Ms. Cabrera, describe her background and why she clings to Republican politics, was surreal. It’s like there’s an empty space where human empathy should be. It’s like she floated, content, on the surface of right-wing thought, and couldn’t even crack open the door to admit that other people might see it differently. She started out liking Reagan. And right there, that requires a blindness to the racist, plastic figurehead he really was. The fact that it was Black people and gay people and others who weren’t of her tribe who suffered at his hands was irrelevant. I have to hand it to Ms. Chideya: she did push back gently, but mostly she let Ms. Cabrera incriminate herself.

Then, I picked up on this 538 interview:

Where does the Republican Party go from here?

I’m not normally a big 538 fan because of their lack of Black voices. Ms. Chideya talks about working at 538 here and it’s certainly not a place I’d invest my time:

But I’ll use 538 as a resource when there’s something worth considering. Listening to ‘Where does the Republican Party go from here?’ reinforced my sense that there is an innate callousness in right-wing thought. Henry Olsen clearly prides himself on being a data guy, yet at the same time, he promulgates the big lie that poor misunderstood right-wingers feel that their religion, for example, is not respected enough. What America does that guy live in? You can’t get away from the Christian religion in America. It pervades supposedly secular life like perpetually enraged kudzu.

At least Pres. Biden, in his approach to religion, has the self-awareness and grace to say that he doesn’t speak for others, but prayer works for him. I can respect that. But I don’t respect the constant hum of faux victimized right-wingers, whinging about the fact that everyone isn’t them, and enraged that they need to share a country with people who don’t think religion is important. I have so little respect for their complaining: tt’s performative nonsense that sometimes turns lethal.

So, that was my attempt to listen to ‘the other side’ – not the raving lunatic right (no time to waste on them), but the ones who can speak in reasonable tones so that you can actually hear the message and judge for yourself. The US is in whitelash trouble, and mainstream white Americans need to wake up and take their local racists out of power, besides voting Democratic up and down the ticket. The ugliness will not go away on its own, because it’s been ignored for too long. Now, the racism, sexism and general allergy to the truth has to be exposed, and taken out of power. Everywhere.

And I’m not the only one who gets it:

How about we thicken the line between what’s real and what’s for show

I get that this is probably the complaint of an older person. Except that, I’ve never been one for putting my body or my business out ‘there’. Everyone has the right to do with their bodies, relationships and daily lives what they will. This is just my story.

Let’s first talk about where ‘there’ is. Especially in the age of the internet, ‘there’ is multidimensional. I am fairly comfortable publishing the little bit I do online, because it feels controllable. Of course, I know that even these little musings can be misconstrued. Or, perhaps, understood all too well.

I was listening to Radiolab, the episode that dives deep into the Candid Camera phenonemon:

Smile My Ass

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/smile-my-ass/id152249110?i=1000354249864

What a story! Now, I remember laughing with my family at Candid Camera’s antics, when I was a very small kid. Heck, I even laugh at some of these now!

But. listening to the who’s origin story, as Funt and his team took the concept through iterations that irritated the audience’s concept of the importance of privacy, one phrase kept popping up in my mind: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

With the benefit of hindsight I am not proud of enjoying the humiliation of others, even if it seemed ‘all in fun’. Then, the idea that Funt’s own twisted project made an admittedly dopey and shallow and scared group of people turn on him (you’ll have to listen to the podcast episode for the details): that seemed, in some way, payback.

There’s an idea that’s been popular for decades, that one way to assert female power is to own our bodies and do with them what we want. While I believe in that in principle, I think I’m a pedestrian thinker when it comes to the necessity for near-nudity. I am probably a victim of Black respectability politics, and I’ll own up to this distaste being driven by some of that.

But dang, there’s something so satisfying about somebody using their creativity without needing to eschew clothing. And this is coming from somebody who spends most of my non-work time at home in comfortable just-about-nothing. But that’s in the privacy of my home! Where I pay the rent and make the rules, such as they are, lol! It wouldn’t even occur to me to give the gift of my altogether to everyone all together.

This also comes, I suspect, from my memories of the long ago Rainbow Gathering at Mount Shasta, a hippie event to which I drove cross-country with my then-hubby. I adopted the community’s nudity culture for a bit. But then I felt like: what the hell? I don’t need to be nude to contribute. So I slipped back into my jeans and teeshirt and went on about my business.

Anyway, even with this sense of mild irritation at this ongoing pop culture trend, I enjoy a good bop and well-crafted video as much as the next person. I just want to elevate the folks who can radiate creativity while wearing clothing too. With that in mind, here’s an adorable video by a new artist, Sunny War: looking forward to her debut album!

Sunday morning struggle upwards

I have no idea who you are. And that’s more than fine because if you’re reading this, you’re human. That puts us in a collaboration, where I say something and ask you to respond, if only to yourself. I think that’s utterly cool. Even invisible conversations have power. 

So what I’d like to know is:

During the pandemic, has staying in bed, hiding here, sometimes reading, sometimes writing here, not wanting to get up despite various calls to action-has that been happening to you like it has to me?

The inertia is like a hard fog. The effort to move seems not just out of reach, but subtly hostile. There is a quiet rebellion in staying put. 

But, at least in my life, it’s a false rebellion. The sun beckons from my apartment’s wall of windows. I admit that I haven’t planned for fun. But at least if I’m up and moving, fun might present itself for my consideration. 

Tokyo streetflowers

So that becomes the objective: get up so fun can find me.

The first fun thing is the food framework I’m in right now, which is Intermittent Fasting(IF). I’m using the most basic version, through the app Simple: Fasting and Meal Tracker https://apps.apple.com/us/app/simple-fasting-meal-tracker/id1467720176

So I got up, happy to whip up a super simple meal of eggs, tofu, avocado, veggies, spices and my favorite sesame sauce. Yummy, easy, and all the healthy food I’ll eat today.

eggie stirfry

I had ‘get ready for the work week’ on my must do list. Not fun, but necessary for a reasonably relaxed start to the work day.

In the meantime, I worked on getting more stuff outside on my balcony – wrap it up, tape it up, and get it ready for the big garbage haul at the end of April. This is decidedly not fun. The process feels never-ending. I’m in the stage where there are boxes all over the little floorspace I have. It’s easy to forget that this needs to be a one step at a time process. So yeah, not fun, but very necessary.

Back to fun, darnit! I listened, while moving through my chores, to the awesome Trymaine Lee’s podcast: ‘Into America’. His Black History Month episodes are about Black art and culture. This episode, which I’d been saving for a time I could savor it, is about one of the key places in my life growing up in NYC – The Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture. This place, and the NY Public Library, and the Cloisters and the Weusi Yuumba Ya Sanaa, were cultural touchpoints for me in those formative years.
The episode is called: Harlem On My Mind: Arturo Schomburg Part 2: How a little boy from Puerto Rico helped shape a global Black identity.

https://embed.podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/into-america/id1499906821

Highly recommended for the deeper dive into the wonder of art from the diaspora, and Trymaine’s obvious joy as a collector, of both the art and the stories behind it.

I plan to find some more fun with my short stint on the treadmill. Very slowly and deliberately building up to 45 minutes a day. While I walk, I’ll watch some Youtube videos I set aside for the purpose:

Get Cute while Quarantined with Felicia Leatherwood, Teyonah Parris and Sandra Nakawunde https://youtu.be/SxQKKGa_Z58
Beau of the Fifth Column on Cancel Culture https://www.youtube.com/c/BeauoftheFifthColumn

茂木健一郎Ken Mogi https://www.youtube.com/c/kenmogi/videos: this is the brain scientist who wrote ‘The Little Book Of Ikigai‘: I’m forcing myself to listen to him in Japanese, as part of learning, which is decidedly not fun, but feels like an accomplishment if I get even a little bit of meaning within the incomprehensible:

I also remind myself to smile. I find my smile is missing a lot of the time these days, and even a fake smile can help lift my mood. Such a small simple thing! I recommend it.

This Black man made himself bait.

This is the story that has made me erupt in tears and rage and sorrow and just about all the gigantic, unwieldy, jagged feels that come with being a Black American.

A Black officer faced down a mostly White mob at the Capitol. Meet Eugene Goodman. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/goodman-capitol-police-video/2021/01/13/08ab3eb6-546b-11eb-a931-5b162d0d033d_story.html

Bait. For racists who had decided, egged on by their horrific leader, to attack the government. I remain horrified. Enraged. And then when I see that this officer is ambivalent about the attention because the threat of white racist retaliation is so real, that brings me further down the rabbit hole. Because this is not a first. Racists who were stupidly angry about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reasonable response to a global pandemic where planning to kill her, to make her an example. To make Democrats of all kinds live in fear. And on back into the history of white terrorism in America, from the founders on.

There’s no coming back from this. There’s no unity with people who have the impulse to kill as their first resort. There’s no false equivalency with Black Lives Matter that anyone with good will believes. These wretched right wingers keep trying to turn the zeitgeist of public opinion to their side. They truly believe they are the majority, in one part of their brain, and yet they won’t stop whining about being overmatched by what they see as ‘leftist’ culture. In fact, they are trying to take over a culture that is rejecting them, and it is driving them mad. Again.

You have religious people overstepping their boundaries on everything from my right to do with my body what I will, and your right to stay out of it, to insisting that schools need to inculcate religion into the mix. Never mind people like me, who see religion as the tool Black people needed at first because it was the only place white people allowed us to control our lives, and now many of us have caught a habit. I’m not a fan of that tool now, and you only have to open your eyes to the hypocrisy of religious word and deed to at least question it. But I’m not an angry atheist; I generally don’t give a darn what you do, although the constant declarations of religion on social media (the public square) are a tiny bit irritating. Y’all do you.

But the right wing religious apologia is a bridge way too far. It’s a flimsy shield for overwhelmingly putrid behavior. And that, in fact is what is most important. If you hate me because of my dark brown skin, that’s in your mind. It’s stupid, and evolution will probably leave you behind, but that’s your problem.

It’s when actions, behaviors, deeds are rooted in racism that the line must be drawn.

It’s a line white America hates drawing, because that’s your auntie and your grandfather, and your boss’s boss, and maybe even you. But that is where the line is, whether you like it or not. And I know and love a good group of white Americans who live with the knowledge of, respect for, and actions dictated by that line. Some grew up in explicitly racist families. Don’t tell me it can’t be done.

Everybody in America grows up in a racist culture. It hits Black Americans differently: some few take on the self-hate, many try to be aware and fight it. But we don’t have the systemic power to make racist actions stick: only white people have that.

I know I need an objective to this rant, so my objective is: please check the line. Do you think it’s okay that this Black officer needs to be afraid of white supremacist backlash. Are the folks who are white backlashing living in your neighborhood? What power has your neglect of this truth given them? How do you join with folks like you to take them out of power? I mean down to the school janitor.

Anyway, in the midst of my rant, I saw this John Amaechi video about white privilege that may make it easier to understand. So I’ll end with something gentle, and go have a big glass of Tansan.

Watching the Senate trial of former Pres Trump with a lump in my throat

Just like 9/11, I find myself in Tokyo watching the results of hatred befall my deeply dopey country. On 1/6, I watched in horror and absolutely no surprise, as white supremacists, urged and arranged by trump and his group of racists, entered the capital, killed people, and looked for more people to hurt.

No surprise at all. I wish I didn’t have to say that. But, as a Black American with even a cursory knowledge of history, America seems to always be ready to prove that violence, for many people, is the first resort. But then, I read (paraphrasing) ‘well, these people were brainwashed. if you thought the election was being stolen, wouldn’t you have resorted to violence? They didn’t think they had any choice and they saw no reason to doubt that the election was stolen. After all that verdict came from the president.”

Then there’s the usual insistence on false equivalency as if any event (usually police or inflitrator-driven!) at Black Lives Matter marches is equal somehow to the terrorism of white supremacy on 1/6, when of course, these events are not equal in any way. Black people and many in the coalition marching for equity in this country is a cause that ought to be common amongst Americans. Athough it seems to have dissipated.

So, I’m reading Julian Shapiro on writing (https://www.julian.com/guide/write/first-draft). He, very reasonably, suggests that my pieces need to have an objective. Well, my objective here is to point you to a tweet that fairly succinctly lays out how Republicans have damaged the country:

And, as the start of an antidote, here’s a heads up about a presentation by Mike Monteiro:

I got up at 5am to watch the first presentation. It was very honest, and deeply felt. Mike’s a Bernie guy, which usually raises my hackles immediately, as I’m one of the supposed ‘low info voters’ who had so much unnecessary strife with many of those folks. But, I do have a few that I still respect and learn from, and when it comes to design, and being open about white supremacy, he’s moving towards being a good egg.

So there. My objective is to get you two to read two tweets, reflect, and maybe join me on the next actually multicultural iteration of Mike’s talk.

One point I took from the presentation this morning: discomfort is inevitable when it comes to dismantling white supremacy. But discomfort isn’t the point – it’s the price paid to get somewhere so much better!

part 2: Tracking life changes, one apartment at a time

continued from: https://hellohumanshow.com/2021/02/08/tracking-life-changes-one-apartment-at-a-time/

I missed a couple of spots! Or possibly a few: this ‘apartment memory’ thing is confusing when your memory is as unbothered as mine is. Somewhere along the way, I was living, I think, in a small place in the East Village, with a bunkbed and pretty much no space at all. And I had decided I wanted to be an audio engineer, music being as essential as breath to me at that time.

I went to a kind of adhoc engineering school run by a studio owned by a guy named Moogy. While I was hopeless at signal flow, I ended up falling in lust, and then love, with my instructure, the long lanky and delightful Tim. We moved into an amazing space (or was it his already? don’t remember) in Washington Heights. Tall ceilings, pretty good amount of space. Merge that with youngish love and it was sublime. Later, we moved to Park Slope, in Brooklyn, where we were loved by and loved two of the worlds most ineffeable cats, a Maine Coon named Langston Hughes and Tuxedo named Joyce Katchaturian.

We had this wobbly notion of getting married, sort of. Tim wasn’t super decisive, and I had had a sneaking suspicion that I just wasn’t someone who would be comfortable being married. Not that I was interested in any of the current sets of pairings that seem to be popular now. I just have severe hermit tendencies, and do best if I can spend the majority of my time alone.

Anyway, on the basis of this wobbly notion, we bought an apartment in Clinton Hills. it was a lovely place and a great neighborhood, near the food co-op, etc. But I still wasn’t settled, and neither was he. We gave up the space – to this day I’m not sure how the mortgage got handled. I was super neglectful of any of that stuff, and I’m grateful that Tim was such a mensch that there wasn’t negative fall out.

Here’s me on our bed with Joyce.

We had lost Langston in the awful way of probably him being poisoned-found his earthly body on the sidewalk after coming back from a movie or something. That was super awful. We lost Joyce a few years later – also bad news in every way. I decided to add no pets to my no kids inner mandate, and have never regretted either decision. It helps that my chosen family here in Tokyo have a dog I consider a part of the family, who I sometimes take care of, and who is willing to allow that I’m part of the pack. So doggie kisses are available – or will be when the pandemic…moves into history.

Lets see…at some point along the stretch, I had a lovely narrow brownstone apartment in Chelsea. One room after another. Not huge, but nice ceilings. I indulged my decorator gene and put up photos, my own art, found stuff…it was delightful! Not enough sun, though, Had some difficult family situations there. But overally, I think it’s my favorite place to look back on from a ‘I really made it my own’ point of view. Fresh flowers, great take out – there was an Indian restaurant that delivered and made delicious dinners. Interestingly, I didn’t create much there – not much writing or art. In the more constrained places, where I wasn’t on my own, I found time to write wretched poetry and song lyrics. Most of disappeared, thank goodness. But, I think the apartment itself was my art.

And that’s the last place I had before I loaded up 13 cartons, including a bicycle, and moved myself to Tokyo.

////

Oh! I forgot one more out of the timeline: the tiny space on 7th St in the East Village where I did some very ill-advised comestibles to distract from the pain of finding out that John Lennon was dead.

Here’s how I was the night after: