Post no. (0, 0) from the fuck-off view on Riverside, whilst reaching for the Nietzsche
... continuing from where we left off, in Singapore, in layover from Indonesia to NYC .. as we repatriated ourselves to America. As mentioned, we'd gotten through 2 of 6 hurdles in our quest to make a new home:
Discovered the airport in Singapore has a gym .. which is like the coolest thing since sliced bread. Every airport should have one, along with free wifi (which most airports outside of the U.S. & Europe seem to have, even Dili). Worked out with these two fat Indian guys, who exercised with no shirts on.
Singapore to London was the longest leg .. watched a bunch of shitty movies & tried to sleep with little success. Then a short layover at Heathrow, doing that whole switcheroo thing on busses, which blows. Finished The Price of Civilization, which i talked about in the last post, so needed another book. The only thing worthwhile i could find at these crap airport bookstores was Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil (tempted to get a post-mortem DFW book, but it was in ridiculously large print & as Blake Butler articulated well in Vice: «... somewhere in all of this what’s being altered is not only worse for the author’s legacy, but worse for us: for art and understanding, for going forward, for preservation of spirit beyond cash, for exactly the kind of nameless shapeless turmoil that seemed to be coursing through Wallace’s late blood.»
I think i read Beyond Good & Evil once before, but it's been a long time & it surely doesn't hurt to read it again. In my mind it gets jumbled together some with Thus Spoke Zarathustra .. though Zarathustra is the more memorable (perhaps since it has more of a narrative structure). He's all over the map in BG&E, mostly as it relates to morality & the 'noble' man, which i'm still not sure i totally get, or relate to. Chalk it up to living in a different world (Germany in 1886), but perhaps Nietzsche was too embroiled in morality to see through to what matters (IMHO) .. knowledge, or the drive to seek such knowledge (in regards to the root of philosophy). But to see into the human pysche (to see beyond good & evil) perhaps this is necessary.
More on Nietzsche later .. back to the story at hand, our flight to NYC was on time, which was our final worry (aside from the plane being diverted or crashing). J started to get progressively sicker as we got closer to NYC .. almost like it was a psychological purging, or release .... or food poisoning from shitty airplane food, or an accumulation of all the weird Timorese/Indonesian shit we've been eating (of which i'm as always immune to) .. or some sort of Asian avian stomach flu, who knows. But when we landed at JFK we had to hit the ground running ....
After dropping our bags off at our hotel, we went straight to the Columbia housing office to sign our new lease on life. When we were in NYC back in early November, we sort of put our feelers out for housing .. as we always do, we said to ourselves that we'd take our time & find the perfect place. We knew in theory that faculty housing was a possibility .. but until then we were told it was iffy & unlikely (unless you wanted to live up in Riverdale or get on a long waiting list). But someone pulled some strings & we met a person from Columbia who took us to see some 'sample' apartments .. the first of which was in a tall building at the end of Riverside Drive.
Whenever i used to run up in Riverside park (my favorite place to run in NYC), i used to look up at the buildings along Riverside Drive, especially towards the end, (Manhattanville is what the neighborhood is called), & think 'how does one score an apartment there?' Maybe it's baked in our genes, as someone once said, but j & i seem to gravitate towards rivers. So when we pulled up to one of these very buildings i was already feeling a strange sort of déjà vu. I've felt this feeling a few times before in my life when you see a house for the first time & you get a premonition that you'll spend a good chunk of your life in it. We walked into the apartment & looked out the window (see above) & j & i looked at eachother & said 'we'll take it.' But the apartment was just a 'sample' of what we'd get if/when the time came down to it. But we said 'no, this apartment, we'll take it' .... & after that, the whole interaction has been over email as we've been traveling .. but ends up we were able to get the particular apartment we looked at after all. So as always, we said we'd take our time & look at a lot of places, but then we took the first place we saw. Call it fate. Or genetic programming.
For NYC standards, the whole process was so easy it was kind of scary. J (still sick) signed on the dotted line (or half a dozen dotted lines) & then we went to the building manager & picked up our keys .... no credit reports, no tax returns, no references (which normally we're okay with, but our last two living situations have been with sketchy illegal leases with coo-coo unreliable landlords). So still jetlagged with nasi goreng on our breath (& j still ever on the verge of thowing up), there we were with the keys to our new apartment in hand, scarcely a few hours after landing at JFK.
Not that the apartment itself is anything special (your cookie cutter one-bedroom in an austere eastern-bloc-looking building) .. it's more about the view & the location. Since j will be splitting her time between both Columbia campuses, it will be an easy commute for her, either walking or biking along the river. We're near the 125th stop of the 1 train, where it comes above ground. We're right near Fairway (seriously 'like no other market' in the world). And it's great for running, along the river through Riverside Park or up north across the GWB, or even south through Morningside park to Central Park. The one concession we made was that it's not a top floor (it's the 18th floor of 21) .. so we can only hope our neighbors above us don't play volleyball at 2 a.m. ....
Once we had keys in hand, the reality set in that it was freezing cold & we had no jackets. I went & got a stash of stuff we left at a friend's, including our winter jackets (we have a few more stashes we've yet to retrieve, the packrats that we are) & then ate a burrito & brought j back some chicken soup. Then some much needed sleep, though we had to wake up early the next morning for the movers, who came at 9 am.
As always, the movers were three dudes who remind me of Larry, Curly & Mo .. only these guys were from Uruguay. The Italian counterparts of Larry, Curly & Mo on the other side of the Atlantic did a crap job packing our stuff .. not that they broke or lost anything, but they threw everything haphazardly into boxes all jumbled together & wadded in reams & reams of paper, with no rhyme or reason. So when the Uruguayan Larry, Curly & Mo finished dumping out the boxes, we had all our stuff, but it was in jumbled piles of seashells & devices & underwear & pens & beads & spices & wires & bric-a-brac. The important thing is we were situated & reunited with all our 'stuff' (including Singha, who readers of this blog might remember from past moves) & we could breathe a sigh of relief behind a closed door that was ours .. & our bed was assembled so we could crash & sort everyting else out in due time.
The problem was that we didn't have anywhere to put our stuff. In Rome we had loads of built-in shelves & drawers. No such luck here. So the first order of business was getting furniture. Moving was just one of j's preoccupations, being off in the field for months she had lots of work to catch up with & oh yeah, she was staring her professorship at Columbia, so i was mostly on my own, the reinvented casalingo turned interior decorator (i'll spare you the details, suffice to say had a sort of fever-inducing panic attack at Crate & Barrel that left me so fatigued i could barely stand on my feet (that were already about to crack off from the abrupt transition to such cold dry weather) .. even came home & tested myself for malaria (why not, we had the unused kits)).
Once the furnishings were in place, it was all about making order out of chaos. Shifting things around in piles & sorting until they eventually found their right place. And i'm writing this as i'm unpacking & organizing, organizing my thoughts likewise. Preparing for the next phase. Making a conducive environment for whatever is next. First i was writing this on my laptop & now (as of this paragraph) i'm back on my iMac (which reblew my mind wide open after being off it for three months). I'm still somewhat outdated, so wasn't living synched up in the cloud .. so manually had to transition between my home & satellite computers. Until yesterday had to go outside to get internet, now we finally got hooked in (to the Columbia ethernet which is fast as hell).
I learned the term 'fuck-off view' from our x-neighbors in Rome, who left Rome just before we did for a house with a fuck-off view in Naples. So D & A, if you are reading this, we'll take your fuck-off view & raise you one .... 18th floor to be precise, looking down on the Hudson & Grant's tomb & the gothic Riverside church. I've got my desk near the window looking down like some sort of roosting peregrine falcon or mountain goat. I like the idea of staying in one spot & not leaving .. at least for a while. And this is a good a spot as any.
I haven't gone out really or looked anyone up since we've been back. It's like the scene in The Godfather after Michael's exile in Sicily & Apollonia dies & it cuts to a black car pulling up next to Kate on the streets of NYC & Michael gets out & she asks, 'Michael, how long have you been back?' & he answers, 'a year, maybe longer.' The thing with me though is that i'm not sure who noticed i was gone. Our favorite sushi restaurant where we ate last night thinks we've been living in the East Village (where we lived circa 2007) this whole time .. since we eat there every time we visit. When we were here in November they asked how we fared through the hurricane. Most people i see just as often, regardless of whether we are in the same town or not. In any event, if you are interested in exchanging words in real time & place (outside of 'normal' social networking channels), here's where you can find me (though i'll likely take down that info once the entity that required me to put it up—to prove i (Cal A. Mari) am who i am—is satisfied).
So here i've gone on & on & never got back to Nietzsche. Readers of 5cense may have noticed that as of the New Year i have abandoned my almost daily quotidian micro-blogging. I'll still be macro-blogging here, but i'm not sure in what direction & to what end. I imagine (hope) there'll be less travel writing. In lieu of photos of distant lands maybe i'll just fix my camera on a tripod pointing out our window & take the same photo over & over & see how it changes over time. Whenever i read a book i feel compelled to have a pen in hand or to dog-ear pages with passages i like. Often i spend as much time blogging about a book as i do reading it. And while i think this is an important process (for me), i'm not sure who else gives a shit. Make up your own mind about Beyond Good and Evil .. don't let me be the one to tell you. Discover for yourself what it means for you or how it applies to your own situation. The only passage i'll quote, in parting, as applies to my current mindset, is this: