“Sleep is the cousin of death.”
– Nas, NY State of Mind, Illmatic
I was probably transgressing some New York law by calling people to hang out right before a Mets game. By the time I realized this, which was 3 phone calls later, I was already on the train into the most proud city of the world for basically the first time (*). I took a long nap to Imogen Heap, whose music seems oddly fitting for any occasion, and woke up right at Grand Central, ready to rock.
Manhattan people sweep through the streets, as if in unison, although each one is actually keenly aware of his or her own sphere of New York Personal Space. You Do Not mess with New York Personal Space. I saw a photographer try to take a snapshot of a lady’s dog, only to be spat upon with a lesson about rights and liberty and privacy in the United States (the photographer was audibly European). I learned my lesson and decided to avoid angry, busy-looking people, which unfortunately seemed to include everybody. People were always going somewhere, and made it clear that if you talked to them they would punch you. This was a slanted contrast with Tokyo, where people were also always going somewhere, but only made it clear that if you talked to them they would avoid you.
I called W to meet up at around 4PM, and decided to explore The Strand to fulfill my book dose, which I haven’t had for a while now.
It did not disappoint. I had to willfully leave my wallet in my checked bag so I wouldn’t walk out with forty pounds of books on my reading list that I would never get to. The most painful part was seeing Borges’ Collected Fictions going for $12. Luckily, at this point W already got to Union Square, so I had to grab the bag and go. Next time it will not be this easy.
I hit Forever 21 with W and quickly realized that the men’s section was only about one tenth of the store. W promised me she’d only take 15 more minutes, which in shopping girls’ time seems to mean about an hour. That’s what I realized after I browsed through all of Virgin nextdoor. At least I heard some sickly good music. Nothing prepared me for what was waiting for me right outside Virgin though:
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Playing Balicky Bon. It was love at first listen. I instantly walked up to buy the album when they finished playing, handing out $15 of the $100 I brought into New York (yes, I only brought $100 to New York. More on this stupidity later) to buy a CD off of a band on the streets. This was not just a CD though, this is music running through your body like if it were your blood.
Before I start breaking out moves, W finally gets out of Forever 21 (…) and we are in Chinatown. A random walk (every block one of us’d pick a direction) later, we end up at a Shanghainese restaurant and dig in. I get a cocktail called the ZOMBIE. It was awesome. Zombie. W is outraged that I have never been in Times Square, so we fix that. It felt like Shinjuku in Tokyo at night, just with more people. Sweaty like hell, we make it a quest to go to a cafe that was not Starbucks (there were like 5 Starbucks in Times Square), succeed, and I somehow get hot tea while W gets iced coffee. We reminesce and look at walkersby through the window. Everybody is going somewhere.
Back in her apartment, W challenges me to a drinking contest which we defer (though we both took about 3 shots of gin). I meet W’s roomate S who knows more about sports than I will ever do, watch the last part of Remember the Titans (S knows every line!!), and crash. Zzz. Zombie.
After waking, we meet up with A and six other friends for dim sum in Chinatown. I feel much older, even though I wasn’t.
After saying bye to W, who went to the museum with the rest of the crowd, the only-bringing-$100-to-New-York thing really hit me. I realized I had almost no money left. After some quick thinking, I concluded that desperate gambling was the only way. I took $2 out of my last $4 and went down to Brooklyn to meet P. After talking about the sketchy neighborhood and musing about poker, finance, and life, P laughed at my stupidity and took me into his “work office” (his room where he plays poker). He bought 50% of me and let me go crazy playing $1/$2 NL online. I win $180 somehow, with greatly played 7To several times (much to P’s chagrin), and take $90 back. Now I can go home to Stamford.
Back, exhaustion, bed, death. Zombie. Sleep is the cousin of death. Pretty fucking Illmatic.
(*) Not counting the one trip last week, which was only for dinner. This was Cafe Mogador, where the lamb tagine was amazing.