I relish the ten minutes of each working day when I get to smoke a Justin hand-rolled cigarette and watch the sun set over Dumbo. Even though I don’t really smoke.
The top floor of our building is a construction site. It’s dirtied with man-spittle and condom wrappers but it’s quiet and it’s mine. Sometimes Justin and I have HR meetings. Mostly, I stare out the window and pretend I’m Francie from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (meaning I imagine I have two thick braids that wrap around my head) and think about life. I hear a precocious 13 year old girl asking:
*Why is it unexceptable to talk to ourselves when we all think to ourselves?
*Should I blog that Dick Chaney looks like The Penguin from Batman Returns?
Today’s roof time was well-earned. Earlier, I botched a UPS shipment. That is the technical term for what I did. Then I knocked over Lemon Lift Hot Tea and drenched my keyboard. I had hoped I wouldn’t have to tell anyone even after the spacebar stopped working and my emails started to look like this:
(My replacement keyboard is dark and not Apple. You have to attach it to the monitor, too, which makes me feel chained.)
Anyway, up on the roof, slightly buzzed from my cigarette, patting-down a fictional braid, I had a wordless thought. Its rough translation would be: I am an adult. This wasn’t the first time my adulthood ever occured to me, just the first time in awhile that I had felt it so profoundly. I don’t like to attribute any insight to Jewel but after writing about her I had music on the brain and what it takes to feel successful as an artist and an individual in a city where everybody sees through Liberal Arts colored glasses with black frames.
I’m almost thirty, pretty happy, and finally figuring stuff out. Stuff that isn’t shipment labels.
(taking a meditative drag by the window)
Allow me to better illustrate my point with The Sound of Music. When I moved here from North Carolina five years ago I was all Maria–
–fresh faced, musical, twirly. I could pull off wearing a Snuggle Fabric Softener tank top. I smiled too often at strangers on the train. I told a man just how much I liked him after our first date. I kept a journal of light and hope. I was a Poet, capital P.
By the time I had turned into The Baroness, the tank top was too tight and the journal, well, that was filled with blank verse entries like: My Stuff Is Still At Adam’s When Do I Have The Time To Pack It Up?!! and: Matthew Had A Fiance That Month? What The Fuck? Like most good little girls, I grew up hating the Baroness. Then I became a New York Woman. I probably had what I call My Baroness Awakening, or MBA, on the midtown roof of a banker bar.
Look at her! Sophisticated and beautiful! Guarded for a reason! Along came a singing nun–a young nun– who stole the Captain away from her, the emotionally unavailable Captain the Baroness loved. What woman wouldn’t have wanted to ship those children off to boarding school (or summer camp) so she could parade around the grounds in flattering cocktail dresses and have sex with an angry Captain?
(taking another meditative drag by the window)
Where was I going with this?
Oh OK, the point being that my “Ah-ha! I’m an adult!” moment happened as I was thinking about Jewel, and then music, and then my friend John’s show, and then how hard it is to stay positive and maintain that Julie Andrews attitude but how you need to be Baroness, too, because cynicism keeps you sharp and stylish and fun. And I feel lucky, because I’ve learned that. I think I’m a more interesting person and artist, and certainly more of an adult, than I was five years ago. Most of my friends are the same way.
Like my friend John McGrew.
John is an amazing singer, songwriter, keyboardist, and trumpeteer. He also has the grown-up ability to be innocently cynical. This picture of us toasting shows that quite nicely. It’s saccharine but we’re drunk, which is oh-so-Baroness.
John’s performing 8PM Wednesday, January 31, at the Crash Mansion (199 Bowery @ Spring Street) and you should see him. Have a listen to his music