First moment of consciousness. Feel blasted by heat and light. Get rid of duvet cover and the pillow that was still between my knees, a rarity, as I usually kick it away during the night. I fall back asleep. Sort of.
Wake up from intense semi-lucid dream where I was a teacher at a small British boarding school surrounded by horrifically abusive fellow teachers. It lasted hours within the dream’s time. Some rules of magic seemed to apply in the dream. I had powers. I used them to try to help the students I think. I look at the clock on my phone specifically to see how much time had actually passed. I notice that I had forgotten to plug my phone in last night, and the battery is dying. I still do not plug it in, and go back to sleep.
Wake up this time and think that it is for real. Actually feel my body. My hamstrings are still sore as fuck from doing this one not-that-hard exercise, Romanian deadlifts, that I hadn’t done in a long time but did on Thursday. I only recently started working out again, and when I wake up I always am confused by whatever muscle groups awoke in my sleep and are suddenly pressing against my bones. I read a tweet from my friend Gita, who writes a lot about video games, about a video game trailer that I haven’t seen. I watch it. “Am I the only person who thinks the deus ex trailer was overstuffed and sloppy?” Gita says. “Really good action movies have a weird grace to them, like a beautiful, natural, relationship to the camera. I know this is a videogame but it’s sucking cinema’s dick and doing a terrible job.”
Gita teaches me about these things. In the last week she also taught me about anime, cosplayers, and what goths in Chicago are like in 2015.
Sitting with my laptop in bed. I start to read the things I read every about every morning. I read about the decline of British air power first.
I answer a phone call about helping get a friend a job. I listen to Big Sean.
I get dressed in order to go out and get an egg and cheese sandwich. While putting on my shirt I debate whether to completely abandon the book I am trying to write in favor of a different idea. I also decide I can’t wear the sneakers I’ve been wearing anymore. As much as I like Air Max’s, feel an obligation to wear something with my name on it, I feel naked without skate shoes.
(As I’m sure my fellow NYC EnormousEyers will attest in their entries) it is a beautiful fucking Saturday. The sidewalk is already covered in emerging-from-hibernation pedestrians. The line at the bagel place is long. A dude is wearing shorts.
On the way back, I pull an absurd jaywalking move to beat the countdown on the crossing light. I push off from my right leg and suddenly my left sole strikes the ground with more force than I’ve exerted in a while. The soreness in my hamstrings disappears. I am accelerating. Fast. I remember how it feels. I cross Bergen street diagonally between two cars, and then I cross the six lane avenue between when the “don’t walk” light flashes 3 and when it flashes 0.
I read about Jay-Z calling up random Tidal premium users. About violence in the CAR that the press have largely stopped covering. I email my best friend Ian a sarcastic tweet about the stock market and press hyperbole. We email 5-6 times a day on average. His life is like George Clooney’s life in Up in the Air. I never know where I am reaching him. I check some stocks and financial markets that I missed yesterday.
I think about cleaning my apartment. I appraise the situation. It is a temporary apartment, and so almost none of my things are here. I calculate that roughly 1/59th of my books are present. I look at realer apartment listings. In Manhattan. In Greenpoint. I think about if I will need to learn how to cook, if I will need to get a bicycle, a motorcycle, about where the hell I should move. I think about the girl I have a crush on for a second, and then stop myself. I delete promotional emails.
The NBA playoffs start today, so I get my crap together to travel to my mother’s apartment, where there is a television (and a lot of my stuff in boxes waiting to move for real). The playoffs are important. I text my dear friend Durga the word “PLAYOFFS” three times.
“oh I know” she texts back.
I research computer graphics video cards while putting on my shoes and putting my laptop in a backpack. I check to see if the box of trix cereal I impulsively bought at Duane Reade on Tuesday has any dregs left. It doesn’t. I take it out with the rest of the trash.
On the way to the train, I pass one of the best looking men I’ve ever seen in my life. He looks like a professional soccer player crossed with some sort of legendary 19th century general. I think about how last night, my friend Chloe pointed out, “you really value beauty Max. And I don’t mean that in a shallow way. Like you always point it out, doesn’t matter who it is, what gender, age, anything. Most people don’t do that because they’re afraid of seeming shallow.” I wonder if she is right, about me, or about other people.
On the train, there is a screeching sound going around a turn that makes many of the subway riders cover their ears. I don’t, and wonder if it’s because my hearing is worse, or because standing in the middle, the bodies around me are shielding me from the noise. I am insulated. Going over the bridge, Durga texts me a picture of her family dog Willis, with whom I am totally obsessed. Willis lives in Canada so I have never met him. Willis is my #1 celebrity crush and he is just a friend’s family dog. I would rather meet Willis than any famous actor.
Out of the train, checking Instagram, my friend Lauren, who was the publicist on my book, tells me I should write an essay about my collection of saved newspapers (I posted a photo of some of it earlier). So I start writing that essay on my phone while picking up my favorite ham and cheese sandwich on a buttered baguette.
Arriving at the apartment I turn on the TV to watch the second half of Wizards vs Raptors. 37 year old Paul Pierce is doing well, and he happens to be Durga’s all-time favorite player. She texts me to tell me she’s wearing his jersey.
I look at all the boxes I have sitting here, and debate whether to try to get rid of things today. I spend so much time managing and worrying about my own physical crap. The truth is, I enjoy it. I enjoy dealing with all my books. Organizing. Purging. Rearranging. Debating which to keep and which to give away.
I decide not to text the lawyer on Tinder who gave me her number.
Paul Pierce goes down clutching his shoulder but I know he’s okay. I can tell. I have a nice catch-up phone call with my literary agent Lolo and then watch the rest of the game while opening mail. The mail includes New York State finally admitting they were wrong for attempting to incorrectly limit my 2013 tax refund. I do a little victory dance and send a VICTORY note to my VICTORIOUS accountant.
I open the box that has the two new tennis racquets I ordered last week in it. I have been considering starting playing again. I tear off the cardboard and plastic and feel one of the sticks. I shake hands with it. Remember its weight. It’s the new version of the same exact racquet I played with for most of my college career. Wilson Six-One 95 with a 4½ grip size and a 16×18 stringing pattern. I don’t miss a lot about life when I was 19 or 20. I operated mostly out of fear then. Closed off while I was desperately and intently trying to make myself a real human being. Maybe I should have been more wild and unbound.
But I do miss being out on those tennis courts, especially with my doubles partner and best college friend Dan. I miss that home those spring days and nights just like today, and those rare times things were going well, where I was at net and Dan was serving, unleashing holy hell from his racquet, and I was volleying and smashing the feeble replies to smithereens. I miss watching the ball and feeling like it mattered. Wanting to watch it fly onto the strings. I miss how it smelled.
The first basketball game is in overtime. Paul Pierce hits a big three pointer. Durga texts “PAULIE OT THAT’S MY GUY” and then “BASICALLY” and then “I LOVE BASKETBALL”. It makes me happy that Durga is happy. The Wizards win, despite having the worst team name in the history of sports team names. But now it’s time for the game I really want to see, the game I travelled to this television for, to watch the Golden State Warriors play the New Orleans Hornets and watch Steph Curry be Steph Curry. They showed a shot of him entering the arena (like they do) in the middle of the last game. His hair looked killer. The baby-faced assassin looked out for blood. I turn up the volume to hear the Golden State crowd, which even on TV, you can feel. People were worried that the crowd had gotten worse, now that the team was good, that rich quiet people would replace the rowdy masses. And during the regular season that may have been a little true. But it isn’t true now. It is LOUD. Maybe the rich people learned to be loud. The arena is exploding on the screen. I burst out laughing when Curry casually hits a three from 31 feet out to put the warriors up by 6.
During a commercial break I text the girl I have a crush on, that everyone knows I have a crush on, including her. I hold out hope.
I continue to watch Steph Curry do Steph Curry things, Draymond Green do Draymond Green things, Andrew Bogut do Andrew Bogut things. I do not mind that I am not outside.
Still watching the game, I start doing 20 push-ups every commercial break while listening to Cyndi Lauper. I talk on the phone with my godsons while they’re at their own basketball games. The older one, Elijah, is 14 and 6’3”. A young giant. He is also super artsy and reads weird books. He is very quiet and brooding. The younger one, Roane, is tiny but a freak athlete and full of energy. He rages when something goes wrong on the court (or in life). He reads even weirder books. Sometimes he tells me “send me weird books Max.” We talk about me coming out there and turning him into a little skater kid.
The game on TV gets a little closer at the end, but the Warriors win.
I take a shower and shave my head, something I fear I will never get good or fast at. Maybe if I had a better mirror. A crazy 360 degree mirror. While I’m shaving, the girl I have a crush on texts me back. I try, once again, to have hope. I do not text back.
I make myself try and write for a few hours.
And then I succeed.
There’s a Verso Books party tonight. I say why not.
The 6 train is beyond fucked with construction, so I take a cab. I pick at the calluses on my left hand. I almost accidentally pull some skin off at one point. I game out life strategies. Moves upon moves. Do this then this happens. Action, reaction. I add up the totals of things I need to buy, the cost of projects I want to create. I like doing the math in my head. In fact I love math. Too bad every math teacher I had was a total asshole. I fantasize about confronting every asshole math teacher I ever had with how good I ended up being at math, especially as it applies to the financial markets. I want to show them my bank account. I become vengeful.
Right before we get onto the bridge Ross, the mother to my godsons, calls me to tell how Elijah’s basketball tournament has been going. He recently started playing against kids older than him, some of them the best in the country, and is struggling for the first time in his life. I chaperoned him at his tournament in Virginia last weekend where he played very badly. It’s going a little better today, but the game is still too fast for him.
At the party, I see my friends Hermione and Michael. They are new friends, but I adore them. I have a big giant couple crush on them actually. It’s that high school feeling of really wanting to be someone’s friend. I make a joke to Hermione about writing fan fiction about Michael, which then a party guest Hermione was talking to previously turns that into a great idea about couples writing zines about each other, and even a great/awful idea for how to do wedding vows, handing each other zines, which then I say we should write a fake trend piece about it, which Hermione tells me I should pitch to The New York Times. I see Michael and hug Michael. We talk about how I’m going to teach him how to use turntables. I eat a slice of pizza. I talk with my friend Nick about video games. Hermione and I go on an adventure to find water for us to drink.
Hermione and Michael are about to leave the Verso party to go to a record release party, where Andy Stott, one of my favorite artists, will be performing in between two edgy metal bands. Hermione and I debate whether or not I should go with them. Ultimately I decide not to, because they will be biking there, and the show is likely sold out from what we can tell. I don’t really like going to live music anymore, with a few exceptions. Having spent my entire adolescence and college years performing on stages like that, I just hit a wall with it. But every once in a while, I let the opportunity come to me, and it is life-changing. This is not that night for Andy Stott I decide. But it will be someday.
Hermione and Michael leave, but we agree I may see them later at a party they have to go to near my apartment.
So I say hi to Meredith, who is a freaking rock star. Two weeks ago I saw her and her band perform at one of those very special spontaneous live music nights, the first I had had in years. The girl who I have a crush on was there. We watched Meredith sing together. My ears rang for days.
Meredith and I talk about laptop DJing, friends, music, her awesome boyfriend who I heard her read about before he was her boyfriend, and what it is like to write an EnormousEye. Meredith is one of the most charismatic and beautiful people I have ever seen or had the courage to talk to, and when she is on stage, she becomes something else, a powerful and divine creature. Whenever I have a normal conversation with Meredith, it reminds me of what it’s like to see a fully armed jet fighter on the ground. A killing machine resting.
At Meredith’s show last week, seeing her start to sing her first song was one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen. After that show, the girl I have a crush on and I talked about what it was like witnessing Meredith transform and become her stageself, this avatar of power, light, and noise. But right now Meredith is just trying to DJ this party off of a laptop. So I feel bad distracting her (I’ve been there), and I say goodbye. I think about how if I ever have a daughter, I want her to meet Meredith. To meet someone who is so herself, this incredibly kind generous person, but also powerful and a total badass.
Ross texts that Elijah had a really good stretch in his last basketball game. I think about his dopey 14 year old boy slouch.
I leave the party and decide to take the long way around DUMBO to the 2/3 train that will take me to the subway right under my apartment. I walk for a while, thinking about the book I’m trying to write. On the way, I see a cab. I grab it. When I get out, I go to the little market that is still open instead of going straight home, and buy cookies and tortilla chips.
My apartment feels warm for the first time without a heater. I turn on the projector I have set up, which is connected to a PS4, but don’t actually play or watch anything. It acts as a strange light. I strip down to boxers. I eat cookies. And I just sit for a while. I read an essay from Eula Biss’s Notes From No Man’s Land.
I try to play this frenetic skateboarding video game OlliOlli to maybe stay awake. I’m used to playing games on a desktop computer, but do not have one in my temporary apartment. My little two dimensional skateboarder rises and falls over Mayan ruins and California movie sets. The board flips in all the ways I know it flips from real life. I elect to do fifty push-ups. Do fifty push-ups Max! In between levels, I do a set of ten, then a set of twenty, then a set of twenty, then a set of ten. I quit the game, consider going to sleep. I play a game of FIFA instead, because I know my younger godson wants to play me at it next time I see him, and will likely beat me if I am not careful. I think about how these are really not the types of games I normally play, usually grand affairs of strategy or narrative exploration. Hermione texts that she and Michael are about to go to their next party, which is only four avenue blocks from my apartment. I rally. I put on clothes again.
Viciously jaywalk again across Flatbush Avenue, this time in darkness. I do not get hit by a car. Energy surges through my limbs. The party rumbles with people, both inside, and in the large backyard. I find Hermione and Michael, and marvel at how much they’ve biked all over the city today. As Hermione and I talk in the courtyard, someone they all know arrives, and the part of my brain that must control facial recognition electrifies when I see his face.
“Oh, Jamie is here!” Hermione exclaims.
“Wait, what’s his last name.”
“Jamie Martin,” she sees me mouth it as she says it.
Jamie Martin, eighteen years ago, was the super cool dude a few years older than me who inspired me to become a skateboarder, thus shaping the rest of my life. Starting to skate was big for me. It not only gave me an identity, but it also launched me on a whole set of adjacent subcultural explorations. Skateboarding was a vector to music and art. But even more importantly, skateboarding taught me how to learn things. Before skating, I didn’t really understand how repetition was everything, how much time simply doing a thing mattered. Skateboarding thus taught me how to learn. How to get good at things. Skateboarding was the hinge moment in my life. The greatest counterfactual. Without it, my whole evolution changes.
Thus, Jamie Martin changed my life. Back then, he was growing up in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and I would go there for part of the summer, because that’s where you went on vacation when you had a lesbian mom in the 90s. Jamie was not just this very cool skater. He was smart. He was an intellectual. He and I, even at ages 11 and 13, would talk about history and politics. Jamie, in a sense gave me permission to be a skater and still be myself.
I see him. I tell him who I am. He remembers. It has been at least 15 years. His mind is blown. Everyone who knows him who also knows me, their minds are blown. I give him a hug. I thank him for changing my life.
I see Amy Rose at the party, and I tell her how incredible it is to write an EnormousEye. What it feels like to track your own every move, even for just one day. How amazing it is that the important characters in your life seem to materialize.
At one point, Hermione and I stand against the wall, and I tell her all of my secrets. I joke about how much of my EnormousEye will be me talking about doing push-ups, and somehow this ends with me outside doing one-armed push-ups as a party trick. I barely do three. They are ugly. My back cracks when I do them. A girl I have just met takes this as a challenge, hands me her jacket, gets on the ground, decides one armed push-ups are too hard, and then does twelve normal push-ups. She does them with authority. It is impressive for after 2 AM at a party. Hermione then does some push-ups. This is our group activity. I feel less ridiculous. I am less alone.
I realize this is one of the rare parties where the fact that I don’t drink at all isn’t utterly annoying.
The fuse in my apartment’s stairwell must have blown. I turn on my phone’s bright light. I clear the corners up the four flights, like there might be someone hiding. And for a second, I think of it that way. I rise, sneaking through this building, trying to not make a sound, and so is my enemy. And we are both scared. Both terrified. Both silent need the other destroy us. And we are both thrilled. Hide and go seek, but it matters. If your elbow brushes the stack of books on the table, if your foot sets down on the wrong floorplank, the lead comes. I tingle. I fear. I reach my door without coming across anyone in the darkness. I turn on the projector again. I am not tired at all. I play another game of FIFA while eating tortilla chips. I must beat my godson when I see him. I score goals. I play another.
Curled up, my cover exists only as a something for my legs to wrap around, saving the stress on my knees.
Solar radiation rises from the ground.
The apartment is still warm.