Ok, so I haven't been doing that much that's touristy, mostly hanging out with friends and friends of friends. I did go see Grant's Tomb, however, so I'm being a tiny bit touristy. I've been spending a lot of time in coffee shops, cafes, and food establishments, especially ones that serve coffee. I've heard local types talking into their cell phones about hosting activists. And I've seen signs in restaurant windows that say "peaceful protesters welcome." The city of NY is not happy that the republicans are coming and seem to be welcoming activists, such as myself, which I'm happy for.
There are police all over the place however. Jess reports that they've been doing drills all over the place. She says she's seen cops running around in riot gear and that there have been way more sirens and cop cars racing around than normal.
I went by Madison Square Gardens today (pictures will be forthcoming) and the place is already a zoo. There are no parking signs everywhere for miles around. The arena itself is surrounded by police barriers. Despite massive crowds of pedestrians, the sidewalk was made fo narrow that we had to walk single-file. There is a covered, opaque pedestrian bridge from the parking garage to the arena. Jess says that it was specially installed so Republicans didn't have to see any part of the city. It does have a temporary look to it. Lanes of traffic have been taken up by modular units (aka trailers) parked in the street. I don't what they're for, but there are a lot of them. Beyond that, news vans everywhere. And more police officers than you can shake a stick at. I asked one of them where the "free speech" zone was going to be and he said, "gee i dunno. You'd better ask your congressman." gee, thanks. I don't know what's going on with demonstrations, except that United for Peace and Justice is being allowed to march past the convention site, but not being allowed to gather in Central Park. There's a big grassy area called The Great Lawn. It's lovely. Apparently, the city just poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into makign it the lovely lawn it is today. They do sometimes refuse permits to events where the lawn may be trampled. However, they usually allow stuff when the groups plannign stuff have an alternate rain location. UfPJ thinks the refusal is politically motivated. They're probably right.
I'm staying in Harlem right now, the neighborhood is called Spanish Harlem, probably because of the amount of Spanish one hears being spoken. The nieghborhood is maybe a tiny bit sketchy, but basically ok. It's only at 136th, which is just a short block away from the 137 metro stop. My hostess is a friend of Jess. I'm very grateful.
Last night, Jess and I walked around the West Village. Today, we walked around Chelsea and then went to dinner at the Brooklyn abode of school housemate, Aaron. He has a very nifty new house. It was nice to see him after a summer away.
Things are going basically ok. I've been stressed out after several conversations with my lawyer. I spent a bit of time freaking out and I've been storing stress in my jaw, a new location for me. It's driving me nuts, but I keep finding myself holding my jaw muscles tight. I think this is going away though. It feels better than it did. I've been exchanging emails with Cola and how grown ups shouldn't freak out about stuff, and she correctly pointed out that I'm involved in an unpleasent legal action, I've moved far away from home, I'm in a strange city right now (which is a city as stressful as San Francisco), etc. And what it meant to be an adult was not to avoid being freaked by stuff, but to sit down and take care of what needs to be taken care of. (Like Ratty posted: it's not my fault, but it's my responcibility. v. wise.) I don't know how well I'm doing on taking care of stuff (kind of ok, I guess), but I was thinking about the adults I know and admire and whose blogs I read and they all kind of do freak out under stress. So I don't need to be a hero of stoicism. I don't know how desirable that even is in an artist, such as myself. Although, maybe it would be nice if I could be totally rational all the time and put all my angst and whatnot into musical endeavors. Totally passionate music. Totally passionless self. Maybe this wouldn't be good. The problem with people who try to be rational all the time is that they think that they are. Even when they're not. It would be better to let myself freak from time to time and know that I'm doing it.
I want to be the kind of person that my cousin was. I admire/d her tremendously. Losing her hangs over me. I have an idea in my head that she was not the type of person to freak. But thinking now, I remember how she was when her brother was dying. She was so worried that whenever he got worse, she would have a small stroke. It was terrible. We weren't sure that she would outlive him. But when he passed on, I won't say she was acting rationally right away, but she accepted it. She beleived he went to heaven (he was a priest, she was a nun) and was releived that his suffering was over. I remember that she used to watch videos of speakers talking about mindfulness. I remember watching one with her where the speaker said to go ahead and feel your emotions, but to be mindful: to be aware of what you felt and how you were acting. A mindful person would still get angry, would still freak out, but be aware that she was freaking out. She would give herself room to experience stress, but she wouldn't fall into the trap of thinking she was behaving rationally when she was not. Maybe all that mindfulness is good for jaw unclenching.
So I just need to be aware of what I'm feeling. Not easy for somebody as spacy as myself. And while I have a bunch of things to feel stressed about, I have many thing to be happy about. tomorrow, I'm meeting with a Columbia adjunct professor to ask questions about the program. George Lewis is going to be teaching there, which is a good draw. And I'm in NYC, a city that I'm find of, and, if I go to Columbia, a city I would spend a few years in. Nicole is coming out Friday, which is exciting. We're going to participate in Critical Mass and go to a Bell ringing Event which involves Pauline Oliveros. Maybe we'll go to an opening at the Kitchen. And, of course, the big march. It's very exciting. And I'm starting to really look forward to the semester and doing more work at school and hearing what people have done over the summer. I live in exciting times.