Brenda Cullerton is a creative nomad, writer, and wannabe comic. She lives on the ‘other side of the river’ in lower Manhattan.
8 36 am: Lie. Total lie. It’s 9 38. I’m awake. Why do I feel guilty? At the computer, Googling myself. Again. It’s not conceit. It’s the hope that something’s happening to me out there I don’t know about. But nope. Nothing. Two cigarettes, down. Half a cup of black coffee and Ronnie Brook plain yogurt, gone.
10: 14 am: Teeth brushed. Face wet. Off on pumped up speed walk. Fifteen years, tearing up the blocks between 11th St. and 33rd. Always on Park. Leggings, ancient Chinese red silk padded jacket (oh how I miss Pearl River) and a pair of beat up Merrells. (very popular shoe for those born 80 years before Pokemon.)
10: 58 am: 21 St / Broadway. Walk into Maison Kayser for a baguette. Chew off the crispy end. Watch a guy across the street, ripping at the two lonely strings on his guitar, shrieking some tuneless song. Do people pay him to make him stop? What brings him here to the same corner of 23rd and Broadway every single day? Guess he’s a creature of habit. Like me. Does it give him a sense of purpose, this tuneless shrieking?
11: 16 am: 10th St./ University. Stop at Mad Man. Order my daily dose of iced cortado.
What’s the hardest thing in life to kill?
Not a riddle, a fact.
11: 23 am: Share the stoop at Argo Tea with a homeless woman. A local. Her face deflated/crumpled in on itself. A thousand wrinkles. And every one must tell a story. All wild eyes and filthy mouth. Polish, in other life, I think. “Spare Change! Motherfucking, cunt, bitch,” she chants. “Spare Change! Mother fucking etc.” The guys from the Audio Institute are grinning. The Institute is a rip off for wannabe rappers. Our hood has gotten pretty uppity these days. So I revel in their self made rhymes and verses. Full of curses—an echo of the homeless woman next to me.
11: 46 am: Run into Peter in the elevator. Equities trader. 4th floor. (Like I said, our hood has gotten pretty uppity) What IS an equities trader, anyway? He’s flying out (private, of course) to Montana with a client.
“Cast and blast, Brenda. Can’t wait. A whole weekend of cast and blast.”
“Huh?” I say.
“Fishing and hunting,” he says.
“Jesus, Peter. I can’t believe I actually like you. ” He gives me a wolfish Republican grin.
12: 10 pm: Back at the computer. Check my e mails. Junk. Junk. Hit unsubscribe, unsubscribe. Go to Ebay, Type in RIC and up pops Richard Grand cashmere. Love how the bots know what I like. Not. But it’s true. I am infatuated with these 3 ply button down (or is it up) men’s shirts. The most beautiful on the planet. 2 K retail in Paris. Only $125. IF I click Buy It Now. I click.
12:23 pm: Swing open window for a cigarette. The windows are what sold us on this place four hundred years ago. 14 ft. floor to ceiling, wood-framed glass on a pivot. Thus the swing. I smoke and look at the view. Our old Kinney garage where we used to park the Passat. 200 bucks a month. Now home to Leo diCap, Deepak Chopra and other rich vagrants. It is New York’s very first Wellness Building. Spare me oh Lord! 30 mil for Vitamin C and aloe enhanced showers, reflexology flooring and circadian lighting. Rumor has it, Leo is OCD. He uses this pad for partying then leaves the mess behind for the Tribeca loft downtown. Bimbos and bears, bimbos and bears… This is all I think of now when I see diCaprio.
12: 35 pm: At the computer. Email from Richard. Click the link. “Russian official charged with stealing roadway”. Holy shit. No wonder I am addicted to Russia. Some guy literally ripping up huge chunks of pavement? Who buys whole chunks of pavement? For what? Reminds me of those roads in Italy. The twisted ribbons of elevated concrete, highways to nowhere, that suddenly just STOP. Nothing but precipice and perilous edge. Such poetry in that, I think. A metaphor for aimlessness.
I email R. back. Tell him, sorry ‘share’, that I just finished reading Former People, all about that desperate exodus of Czarist aristos. Hiding pearls in the lining of uniform pockets and diamonds in teddy bears. Will this happen to our 1% when the revolution comes? Will Peter’s wife be making shoes out of felt pulled up from under the carpets? Will I? Will she be stripping the soft brown suede off books (Books? What books? They don’t own a book) and sewing them into coin purses and bill folds. Hah. In my dreams. “The edge is always meandering.” Who said that?
12: 50 pm: Late morning/early afternoon stroll around the house. Dishwasher, laundry, bed making. Shall I paint the floors? No. Cuz this is when everyone knows I’m lost/marooned. When I start to re paint the fucking floors. Not today.
1: 15 pm: Landline rings. YES, landline! When those catastrophic solar flares finally hit earth and wipe out the entire Northeast power grid—no cellphones, iPads, laptops, Fitbits, nothing— I will be the only one chatting on my telephone in candlelight. This call is from a newborn Buddhist, a friend and architect. He talks to me about his latest trip to Bhutan. “We’re renovating their monasteries,” he tells me. Seems a little precious to me, But hey! Who am I to judge?
1: 30 pm: LUNCH BREAK. Peanut butter and jelly on a baguette.
1: 50 pm: WORK. WRITE. I howl to myself. Which makes me laugh. I remember this note written by the boyfriend of a young girl next door. Get Up. Chew some Adderal. Get a fucking job, it said.
2: 31 pm: Bell rings. It’s the mailPERSON. (even tho he’s a man) Hi. Got a package for #4. Can you buzz me in?
I buzz him. EVERYDAY.
This is how Peter’s wife kills time. She shops. J. Crew, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Amazon (never books). R. says we should stage an intervention.
Who am I talk? I just clicked Buy It Now on E bay.
2:48 pm: Tightening up my 6 minute set for an open mic at The Stand. I love living life backwards like Benjamin Button. Abandoning a fairly lucrative career in branding (once known as advertising) and ghost writing . All for another impossible dream. I used to think paying people to make you laugh was like paying people to make you come. A short cut. But it’s harder, a lot harder, to make them laugh. Anyway, working on a riff about tossing the salad. Gotta be one of the stupidest euphemisms, ever. I mean, what the fuck does arugula have to do with a sex act? Or kale?
3: 34 pm: The bell. Hallajujah! It’s H., a lovely young Brit friend/journo. She could probably write her way out of handcuffs., this woman. She’s THAT good. Lending her the apartment while we’re away. I take her on the tour. “It’s old school, “I say. “As idiosyncratic as I am. “ I show her all the ‘work arounds’ for running toilets (jiggle the handle), broken Toast R ovens (dial broil not toast), and sticky keys. (just keep trying.)
4:15 pm: Conversation about Joyce Carol Oates (I’m not a fan) interrupted by the voice of my FAVORITE street ‘poet’. A short, afro’ed elderly gentleman, dressed in a very large pin -striped suit, he parades down the middle of 11th St. lugging a suitcase sized amp, microphone in hand.
“Hey, you with the husky (addressing a ‘professional’ dog walker) It’s not about the sex, man It’s not about getting laid. It’s about –PAUSE—ISHTAH yogurt. (inspired by the studio sign in front of him.) Me, I got my Caddyac. No, I had my Caddyac. Now, I’m into jogging. “ He bows. Chuckles. Moves on down the road.
4:20 pm: H. heads home to Brooklyn. Ah Brooklyn! The promise land.
Question: What are two of life’s heaviest burdens?
Answer: Poverty and promise.
4: 40 pm: Out to buy stuff for dinner. Too BORING to report . Boycotting Whole Foods, too much ink over there or me. Sticking to Gristedes. And Agatha.for fish. Oh dear.
5:20 pm. Time to BATHE. YES! We didn’t do much renovation, four hundred years ago. My tub is a white, one piece, fit-in the wall travesty, in plastic. But who cares? Well, except maybe for Deepak and Leo who float in their Roman marble tubs across the street. I fill mine with hot water and new lavender bath salts from Aesop. Named after the fairy tales? A gift from my new daughter-in-law who obviously knows me. I soak and read Submergence. Appropriate, right? And NOT A LIE. Really. God, can this man, Ledgard write! Story of a journo held hostage by Yemeni jihadists who relives his hotel love affair with an oceanographer. The pages about the hotel are so luxuriously vivid in their descriptions of seediness and broken glamour that I’m gonna Google it later. This is my fantasy…To live the rest of my days in some fabulously ramshackle, once grand hotel. With great service. Now, THAT’s what I call assisted living. But I prefer the seedy and the ramshackle to the stingy, small-minded minimalism of new ‘boutique’ hotels. It is the vast, uninterrupted, emptiness of wasted space that is true luxury—that gives the imagination room to roam.
Enough mental derailments… The bubbles are gone.
6:45 pm: Martini time. One a night. Since forever.
7:15 pm: R is home. He cooks. Like a god. If gods cooked. Which they probably don’t/didn’t. Tonight, it’s fennel/celery root salad, grilled salmon, potatoes au gratin. Pity I don’t know how to use my iPhone camera. I’d ‘Gram it, as my daughter says. Not. Like never. I talk about our last of the lonely cities tour: Trieste, Genoa, Venice. All water cities. In the dead of winter. I’ve always made a point of taking a bit of time elsewhere in the winter. It isn’t perversity. It’s the pleasure of being in a place that has returned to itself. It’s also cheaper.
9:00 pm. I am re reading this. It is mortifying. I sound like someone who should DEFINITELY end up making shoes out of felt pulled up from beneath my carpets. Long live the revolution! So to bed and to binge on belated discovery of Narcos.
11:21 pm: Cocaine overdose. I’m an insomniac. Just seeing that much fucking cocaine on screen has me clocked out. Maybe I’ll paint the floors, after all.