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The Journallers Do New York, Part I

I arrived unfashionably early, even for myself. I told everyone, "I'll be there starting at 4:30" on the off-chance that one of our out-of-town journallers was stuck in the city with nothing to do and needed company. So, I arrived at Cafe Sha Sha at 4:10. I could only distract myself so much with window shopping and I was getting sick of checking my watch every 2 minutes, paranoid that I would accidentally lose track of time and be late to my own meeting.

I've been known to do that.

The owner of the cafe, a guy named Vlodek (I have no idea if that spelling is correct. I don't know his last name. That's the only name that I received.), was there to meet me and I shook his hand warmly. He asked if I wanted to set things up in the very back of the cafe since it was open. The cafe has three parts: the front third has the counter and coffee machines, the second third is raised and has entrances to the restrooms, and the back third (open only in good weather) is a sort of mini garden with hanging ivy everywhere. I looked up at the grey sky and asked to be placed in the second third instead of the very back, because it looked like rain.

"No problem," he said with his thick eastern european accent. "We can set up here for twenty and we can make more tables if there are more of you as long as you don't mind the waiters coming in and out to serve the people in the back." He started arranging tables with an assistant as I stood there, smiling and nodding my head. I tried my best to keep out of their way as they were moving things because I wasn't really good for anything else.

"Separate bills?"

I thought about it a moment and decided that it would be best if it was all in one bill. Easier for them and for my own personal sanity of finding out how much of the deposit we've spent. "One bill, please."

"Okay good. That's better for us."

As the assistant finished off arranging the chairs and tables, Vlodek informed me that he had forgotten which weekend was our get together and accidentally arranged the tables for last weekend. I was so embarassed for not following up on it! I apologized for not calling him about it, but he said that it was okay. He's been busy with a number of people booking the place for a few hours, so the tables were set up for the next party the previous weekend. He did mention that the party of thirty that was to arrive last night never showed up. I murmured something about how awful that is and sat down to await the arrival of the mob.

Empty chairs at empty tables

I wanted something to record the event, like a group picture, but Sara requested no pictures from me a while back. So, I decided that I would have everyone sign a piece of white cardboard paper and I could scan it in lieu of a "group photo" (that's the conspicuous white piece of paper on the table). As I sat and waited, I tried distracting myself with Return of the King. When that didn't work to calm my nerves(who would be calm when the most exciting parts of the book were coming up?), I opted to sketch and draw a large "NYC" on the paper, to be filled in later with computer graphics or have my sister draw something there. I might be good with the mouse, but not with the pen.

The first of the journallers to arrive was Felicia. I've never read her journal before and was one of the people I didn't know on my "I'm going to read something." list...

The rest of this entry is not going to be in chronological order but instead, is composed of small vignettes and observations that stick in my mind from the day.

FeliciaFelicia was the first to arrive and keep me company. She didn't look threatening or "out of my league so much so that she would never talk to the likes of me, a geek" so, I felt more relaxed and calm about the meeting. She was funny and she has a great laugh and smile. In a number of ways, she reminds me of Melanie Lynskey (which is a Good Thing(tm) for those of you unaquainted by Her Genius) especially the way her nose crinkles up when she laughs. It's very cute. She's young, just graduated from high school and is interested in web development and design as a future career. She read two somber pieces during the reading and although she read very quickly relative to the other readers, I could understand what she was saying. She elicited a very hearty chuckle from everyone when talking about, I believe, an exboyfriend in her entry. I could never say that in public about any of my exboyfriends, but I can say that I've thought about it.

Sara Astruc was the second to arrive and a few things juggled around in my brain.

  1. She is as good looking as Ray says she is. Blonde. Thin. Very "All American Girl"-ish. Vivacious with a good balance of curves
  2. She is one classy looking woman. Well groomed and carried herself in a very poised manner. She reminds me a bit of Marilyn Monroe. I can imagine her wearing a number of Ms. Monroe's outfits and wearing them extremely well.
  3. She wasn't overly dressed but I got the feeling that she could really work many different types and styles of fashion. Like, I can imagine her in a very elegant going-to-the-Oscars type of outfit... at the same time I can see her in a baseball cap and shorts at a game, most of the male fans distracted by her shapeliness as she stands to yell something at a player or umpire.
  4. She seems full of Southern Charm, with bright eyes full of enthusiasm and excitement. That was cool. She smiled not only with her mouth, but her eyes and all of her gestures. I like people like that.
  5. She reminds me a lot of my superiors at work. Very good at talking and being diplomatic and civil and reasonable. She seems careful with her words (something that I see in older rather than younger people), which is a trait I find cool in many people. I know I have a tendancy to let my mouth run away with me and I've been better as I've gotten older... but it still jumps out of control once in a while much to my chagrin.
I'm sure you're quick to notice that she is one of the people at the reading that I didn't take a picture of. Well, she asked that I not take a picture of her a while ago and I forgot to ask her until halfway through her reading if this was okay. Ugh. In any case, her reading about love and previous love was very fascinating. As she read, I could hear the words from the Beatles' For No One drift into my head.

Your day breaks
Your mind aches
There will be times
When all the things she said
Will fill your head
You won't forget her...

I love that song because it's a mature look at love and relationships. It's not fake. It doesn't promise anything except the hopefulness that after a relationship is long past, we would gain a sense of perspective. That's what Sara read about. That sense of perspective she's gained. I love that. No sugar coating. Sometimes, no regret.. well, maybe a little and it's almost always fleeting. For a short while, I had to grit my teeth a little. Hearing For No One, even in my head, makes me tear up and listening to Sara didn't help matters. Luckily, I pulled myself together and Iko doesn't go down in the record books as "emotional".

columbineColumbine was a lot taller than I had expected. I guess the pictures that I've seen of her (either of her face or her legs.. wowah mama!) don't suggest a particularly tall individual (leggy, yes, but I've seen leggy people who aren't tall). Colubine towered over little Iko. I loved her deep electric blue nail polish, a color that is far more daring than I would ever wear (although you could be impressed by the shades of green and purple in my collection). She chose a seat at the head of the table, curly hair framing her sleepy eyes (and perfect eyebrows!) and amused expression. Columbine asked me how I got a spanish sounding last name and look Asian. All I needed to say was "I'm Filipino" and she understood. I asked if she knew Eri, Mike's exgirlfriend. She didn't and I explained how similar we were before the conversation drifted to the insular nature of Cambridge in terms of social circles. Columbine's first piece had us all howling. I can totally relate to what she wrote about shoes. I haven't worn heels in years because everytime I do, disastrous things happen. She then read a wonderful piece about the frustrations of email and "lowest common denominators" and I wiped a laughter tear from my eye. To add emphasis to the reading, she gestured for emphasis and I happened to capture one highly expressive moment with my camera.

Molly ZeroIt was very cool to meet Molly Zero, especially since she keeps a journal that "got lost in the shuffle" when I was discovering new journals to read and I flagged hers as "let's read this some more" but for some reason, it fell off the truck. It was nice to meet her and get her journal back on my reading bandwagon (where it belongs, dangit!). This is a completely unflattering picture of Molly (I'd say that all of the photographs I took today were really bad). She's well poised, funny, and one can easily tell that she's deadly intelligent. She's definitely an urbanite, fashionably clothed and modern. She makes me feel like I'm in my fourties and that I'm just Really Out Of What's Cool(tm). She read two amazing contrasting pieces about relationships: the older piece reflected on her relationship with a past female lover was very touching and hard to hear; the more recent one was, "Molly on Prozac" and very happy and contented. It's always fascinating to see these two contrasting faces of one journaller -- it gives legitimacy to my own multiplicity.

PatrickPatrick, the last of the Boston contingency (containing Molly Zero and Columbine) was completely 100% not at all what I expected him to be. See, I've been following his journal and have seen pictures of Patrick on his site and whenever I read his stuff, the voice in my head returned a very British, proper accent. I imagined him to be just like Pierce Brosnan. Suave. Debonaire. Aloof. Sophisticated. I expected to smile meekly at him and have him give me a little smile back and that would be about the extent of our interaction. It's not that I thought he would be a snob or anything... it's just that I got the impression that nothing of what I would say would be any interest to him. I'm glad when I met him, he's not that! He was really sweet and hilariously funny. He reminded me a lot of a number of friends I had back home in Illinois, so I felt very comfortable talking to him. He's very "wide eyed" and he always has an inquisitive look on his face, contrary to the cool sophistication that is present in his pictures on his site. It's like a model. I've got a few model friends and they are really warm and funny and smiling all the time in person but get them in front of a camera and boom, out comes the pouty lip, the staring eyes, and the generally detached look that you see in glossy magazines. I think I made him jump slightly in his seat or something when I first called to attention and used my projecting voice. I saw him twitch a little bit. His reading is the ever infamous "I like string" entry. Before he started reading, Kymm asked him which entry he decided to read. He mentioned the string one. She gave a delighted laugh and commented that she had printed it out for him just in case for him to read if he didn't bring a copy. He positioned himself between Columbine and Molly Zero while reading and gestured appropriately to one or the other as he read. We were howling! Molly kept her eyes on the table as he read, so she completely missed his gesturing as he read "And Molly is very nice and very cool." When we exploded with laughter, she looked up, surprised and curious and we all planted innocent "we have no clue" faces.

I don't think she was convinced.

The exciting adventures of "The Journallers Do New York" will be continued next exciting episode!

© Copyright 1999 Eileene Coscolluela