Here's how to make love stay.

Labels: By Jessie Fey on Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I finished Still Life With Woodpecker a couple weeks ago (Grant, if you're reading this, thank you).  I enjoyed it so much that I thought I'd share some of my favorite parts. It's extensive.  Yuk!

"Life is like a stew, you have to stir it frequently, or all the scum rises to the top."

"'I no longer know what love is.  A week ago I had a lot of ideas.  What love is and how to make it stay.  Now that I'm in love, I haven't a clue.  Now that I'm in love, I'm completely stupid on the subject.'"

"No, and it's not an easy time to be an outlaw, either.  There's no longer any moral consensus.  In the days when it was generally agreed what was right and what was wrong, an outlaw simply did those wrong things that needed to be done, whether for freedom, for beauty, or for fun.  The distinctions are blurred now, a deliberately wrong act - which for the outlaw is right - can be interpreted by many others to be right - and therefore must mean that the outlaw is wrong.  You can't tilt windmills when they won't stand still...But it doesn't really bother me.  I've always been a square peg in every round hole but one...I guess love is the real outlaw."

"Who knows how to make love stay?
1. Tell love you are going to Junior's Deli on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to pick up a cheesecake, and if love stays, it can have half.  It will stay.
2. Tell love you want a momento of it and obtain a lock of its hair.  Burn the hair in a dime-store incense burner with yin/yang symbols on three sides.  Face southwest.  Talk fast over the burning hair in a convincingly exotic language.  Remove the ashes of the burnt hair and use them to paint a mustache on your face.  Find love.  Tell it you are someone new.  It will stay.
3. Wake love up in the middle of the night.  Tell it the world is on fire.  Dash to the bedroom window and pee out of it.  Casually return to bed and assure love that everything is going to be all right.  Fall asleep.  Love will be there in the morning."

"There is only one serious question. And that is: Who knows how to make love stay? Answer me that and I will tell you whether or not to kill yourself.  Answer me that and I will ease your mind about the beginning and the end of time.  Answer me that and I will reveal to you the purpose of the moon."

"Don't let yourself be victimized by the age you live in.  It's not the times that will bring us down, any more than it's society.  When you put the blame on society, then you end up turning to society for the solution.  Just like those poor neurotics at the Care Fest.  There's a tendency today to absolve individuals of moral responsibility and treat them as victims of social circumstance.  You buy that, you pay with your soul.  It's not men who limit women, it's not straights who limit gays, it's not whites who limit blacks.  What limits people is lack of character.  What limits people is that they don't have the fucking nerve or imagination to star in their own movie, let alone direct it.  Yuk."

"The bottom line is that (a) people are never perfect, but love can be, (b) that is the one and only way that the mediocre and the vile can be transformed, and (c) doing that makes it that.  Loving makes love.  Loving makes itself.  We waste time looking for the perfect lover instead of creating the perfect love.  Wouldn't that be the way to make love stay?"

"Love is the ultimate outlaw.  It just won't adhere to any rules.  The most any of us can do is sign on as its accomplice.  Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet.  That would mean that security is out of the question.  The words 'make' and 'stay' become inappropriate.  My love for you has no strings attached.  I love you for free."

"When we're incomplete, we're always searching for somebody to complete us.  When, after a few years or a few months of a relationship, we find that we're still unfulfilled, we blame our partners and take up with somebody more promising.  This can go on and on - series polygamy - until we admit that while a partner can add sweet dimensions to our lives, we, each of us, are responsible for our own fulfillment.  Nobody else can provide it for us, and to believe otherwise is to delude ourselves dangerously and to program for eventual failure every relationship we enter.  Hey, that's pretty good.  If I had pencil and paper, I'd write that down...When two people meet and fall in love, there's a sudden rush of magic.  Magic is just naturally present then.  We tend to feed on that gratuitous magic without striving to make any more.  One day we wake up and find that the magic is gone.  We hustle to get it back, but by then it's usually too late, we've used it up.  What we have to do is work like hell at making additional magic right from the start.  It's hard work, especially when it seems superfluous or redundant, but if we can remember to do it, we greatly improve our chances of making love stay."

"They glared at her the way any intelligent persons ought to glare when what they need is a smoke, a bite, a cup of coffee, a piece of ass, or a good fast-paced story, and all they're getting is philosophy."

"How can one person be more real than any other?  Well, some people do hide and others seek.  Maybe those who are in hiding - escaping encounters, avoiding surprises, protecting their property, ignoring their fantasies, restricting their feelings, sitting out the Pan pipe hootchy-kootch of experience - maybe those people, people who won't talk to rednecks, or if they're rednecks won't talk to intellectuals, people who're afraid to get their shoes muddy or their noses wet, afraid to eat what they crave, afraid to drink Mexican water, afraid to bet a long shot to win, afraid to hitchike, jaywalk, honky-tonk, cogitate, osculate, levitate, rock it, bop it, sock it, or bark at the moon, maybe suck people are simply inauthentic, and maybe the jackleg humanist who says differently is due to have his tongue fried on the hot slabs of Liar's Hell.  Some folks hide, and some folks seek, and seeking, when it's mindless, neurotic, desperate, or pusillanimous can be a form of hiding.  But there are folks who want to know and aren't afraid to look and won't turn tail should they find it - and if they never do, they'll have a good time anyway because nothing, neither the terrible truth nor the absence of it, is going to cheat them out of one honest breath of earth's sweet gas.  'Maybe he was an insane bastard, but he was a genuine insane bastard,' said Leigh-Cheri, 'and I loved him more than I've ever loved anybody - or ever will.'"

"'The pyramid is the bottom, and the top is us.  The top is all of us.  All of us who're crazy enough and brave enough and in love enough.  The pyramids were built as pedestals that the souls of the truly alive and the truly in love could stand upon and bark at the moon.  And I believe that our souls, yours and mine, will stand together atop the pyramids forever'...'You're better equipped for this world than I am,; she said. 'I'm always trying to change the world.  You know how to live in it.'"

"When the mystery of the connection goes, love goes.  It's that simple.  This suggests that it isn't love that is so important to us but the mystery itself.  The love connection may be merely a device to put is in contact with the mystery, and we long for love to last so that the ecstasy of being near the mystery will last.  It is contrary to the nature of mystery to stand still.  Yet it's always there, somewhere, a world on the other side of the mirror (or the Camel pack), a promise in the next pair of eyes that smile at us.  We glimpse it when we stand still.  The romance of new love, the romance of solitude, the romance of objecthood, the romance of ancient pyramids and distant stars are means of making contact with the mystery.  When it comes to perpetuating it, however, I got no advice.  But I can and will remind you of two of the most important facts I know: (1) Everything is part of it. (2) It's never too late to have a happy childhood."

And finally, find a boy to read this out loud to you.  It's my favorite.

"Yes, and I love the trite mythos of the outlaw.  I love the self-conscious romanticism of the outlaw.  I love the black wardrobe of the outlaw.  I love the fey smile of the outlaw.  I love the tequila of the outlaw and the beans of the outlaw.  I love the way respectable men sneer and say 'outlaw.'  I love the way young women palpitate and say 'outlaw.'  The outlaw boat sails against the flow, and I love it.  All outlaws are photogenic, and I love that.  'When freedom is outlawed, only outlaws will be free': that's a graffito seen in Anacortes, and I love that.  There are outlaw maps that lead to outlaw treasures, and I love those maps especially.  Unwilling to wait for mankind to improve, the outlaw lives as if that day were here, and I love that most of all."

Just read the book already.


Labels: By Jessie Fey on Monday, March 28, 2011

You’re born.
A few years go by and you don’t remember much, but you know you have a mother and a father and a big brother.  He’s two years older than you and he knows everything about dinosaurs.  When you’re older, you see a video of you two together.  You’re a baby.  He’s gathering rocks and dumping them into your pink overalls.  You don’t even notice.  You’re mom is filming it and she’s laughing.
You get older, and so does he.  You think he’s cool, and you’ll think that for a long time.  You do a lot of things because you want to be like him.  Like play Pokémon.  He has a folder that he keeps his Pokémon cards in, and you let him keep yours there, too.  He challenges you to Pokémon wars, and he makes the rules.  Because you’re so young, you don’t realize that his rules aren’t fair.  He plays with his best friend, two against one.  You lose every time.  You cry, they laugh.  You never say ‘no’ when he asks you to play.  Because you want him to think you’re cool.
Your mom takes you to get a pack of Pokémon cards.  Blastoise, one of the best Pokémons, is in your pack.  Your brother and his friend offer to trade you both of their packs just for your one card.  You trade them, because you still think that quantity means more than quality.  You cry, they laugh.
Every winter, your dad and brother put you in an empty Duraflame box and spin you around the living room.  Then they pin you down and tickle you until you almost start crying.  You’re happy.
You and your brother make as many forts as possible, using every blanket and pillow you can get your hands on.  You’re convinced each one is of architectural value.  After you clean up, you take the two red sleeping bags and you sleep on your Mom’s floor together.
You start playing sports, just like your big brother.  He plays tackle football and you go to all of his practices and games.   You think this is cool, because hardly anyone at school plays tackle football.  You try his helmet on.  He’s the best at sports, and you want to be the best, too.  Every day after school you play touch football in your backyard and basketball in your driveway.  You and your dad versus your brother and one of his friends.  It’s your favorite thing in the world because you’re better than his friend, so your dad laughs and you think he loves you even more because of it.  Your brother gets mad, and you’re finally at the age where that’s your favorite thing, too (even though this is the only time it happens). 
Your big brother goes to high school, and now you think he’s even cooler because he always has something to do on the weekends.  Everyone likes him.  Everyone.  This is also the age where he realizes that you are human, and that time spent with you isn’t all that bad.  You’re cool because of that.  You read a book that he was supposed to read for school about September 11, and you write a seven-page paper on it for him even though you have a fever.  You don’t even feel guilty because you finally had something to offer him.  He gets 100% on it, which you believe means that you are, in fact, a genius.
All of a sudden, you notice that his friends are cute.  He goes to winter formal with a girl you don’t know, and all of his friends sleep at your house afterward.  Volunteering your bed for them to sleep in (OMG, you think), you fall asleep at 9:30 in your mom’s bed, only to wake up when they get home at 12 to act like you’ve been awake all along.  You go downstairs to get a glass of water just to see what they’re doing.  You’re still in junior high, so they don’t pay much attention to you.
Turns out, you actually are a decent athlete.  You win the “Athlete of the Year” award at school, just like your big brother, but you win it two years in a row (seventh AND eighth grade, when it really matters).  For the rest of your life, you’ll brag about this.  After you won it the first year, your brother patted you on the back and said “good job,” which was better than the trophy.
For your high school application, you have to write about someone in your life who has character.  You write about your big brother because you are still under the impression that you want to be just like him.  And, at this point, he hasn’t made many mistakes.  You tell the application-reader that he has always had to work hard for everything he’s earned, and that’s true. 
Then you get into high school.  Lots of people refer to you as your brother’s little sister.  You think you’re hot shit because you know all of your brother’s friends and they actually say hi to you sometimes.  A couple of them have little sisters that are your age, and you unite and talk about your brothers’ hot friends and who you think is the hottest.  Eventually, the thrill will fade and you’ll walk around the house in sweats and no makeup in front of them (can you believe it?). They become your big brothers, too. 
You play sports until your sophomore year.  You sprain your ankle one night and your brother has to carry you to his car.  You think he’s going to carry you like the princess that you are, but he throws you over his shoulder sack of potatoes style.  Then you quit sports because they aren’t fun anymore.  Your brother doesn’t understand because football is the equivalent of oxygen to him and because he hasn’t developed empathy when it comes to you.  He tells you you’re wasting your talent, and that he wishes he had the natural ability that you have.  He learned these backward compliments from your dad.  You’re fifteen, so you don’t see that yet. 
You come to realize that there are certain moments that you and your big brother have together that you’ll never forget.  One night, he’s driving you home and you notice that he’s crying.  You ask him what’s wrong and he mentions something about your dad.  You understand that you’re seeing a broken man.  You’ll see more of them as you get older (you fall in love with a couple, too), and each of them is the saddest thing you’ll ever see.  He leaves, and you learn what it means to want to go to war for someone.  That night, you write your dad a letter and read it to him out loud about how he’s fucking up his own life, which in turn is fucking you and your brother up.  Nothing changes, but it will be the bravest thing you’ll ever do, and you’ll be proud.
A couple years go by and football is still your brother’s life.  He becomes the team captain and his team wins the first state championship.  Your whole family goes to his games.  Like, everyone.  You tell him you’re proud of him, holding back tears because you mean it.  You’ll never see him happier. 
At some point, you start to tell your brother that you love him.  He starts to say it back.  You always say it first, but you don’t care. 
Your brother graduates high school and goes to college.  Even though it’s close to your house, he moves out.  You bring him lunch a couple times and stay for five minutes because, well, all he really wanted was lunch.  A new school means new friends, and you’re happy about that.
In your junior year of high school, you throw a party at your house and you get drunk for the third time.  Your brother finds out about it and invites his friends, too.  You propose to one of them.  You get too drunk, and your brother carries you upstairs.  Sack of potatoes.
It’s time to start applying to colleges, and you swear that you’ll go away because you just have to get out (everyone is so over Orange County).  You get a scholarship, and you go to the very same school that your brother goes to.  Secretly, you’re happy about it.  You get him and his friends to come over by making them food.
You and your brother don’t have much of anything in common, and you don’t like a lot of the things he does.  In fact, you spend a decent amount of time bitching to your mom about him.  You wonder how he can think that the world is made of rainbows and that everything will always work out, la de da.  Sometimes this makes you jealous.  But, you come to the conclusion that he’s the prodigal son, making you the older brother.  Shit.  Well, this helps and you bitch a little less but only a little.  No matter how hard you try, you’re always happy to see him.
As you add up the years in your head, you can’t help but laugh.  You start to think about what you’ve learned from your big brother, and they’re all good things.  When people ask you about him, you always say the same thing.  You tell them that he’s the most likeable person you’ve ever met, and they’d be hard-pressed to find someone with a purer heart.  Or with a deeper knowledge of dinosaurs.  

June and January.

Labels: By Jessie Fey on Sunday, March 27, 2011

The buzzing of the fluorescent lights above provided sufficient background music, one long note.

“Did you?”

“Yes. Very much. I hated him, too.”

I avoided this as often as possible. It made me homesick. But the kind of burning homesick that leaves you wanting to go home to a bed that isn’t yours. Hell, maybe it never was.

“But, damn, he was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

This led to a series of images I stayed away from most days. I remember the first time I heard him talk. I wanted to write down every word he said, and I imagine I’d still feel that way.

“It’s like in the movies sometimes. When you walk out and you don’t feel anything at all. Like maybe they forgot the ending.”

“He wanted to be a cowboy, honey. A girl like me never stood a chance.”


November 14, 2010.

Labels: By Jessie Fey on Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A letter written, never sent. 

This weekend hasn’t treated you well. You haven’t told me everything that’s happened, but it seems like it’s just been one thing after another. It also seems like your whole life has been that way. I don’t know everything about that, either.

I went through some of our emails from the summertime tonight. The world seemed a lot lighter to carry then for some reason.

I’m not sure why I felt the need to write this. You’ll probably never see it, and I really don’t have much to say. Maybe that’s why, because when you called me tonight I kept wishing I had those magic words that would suddenly make things perfect for you. Manageable, even. You weren’t looking for that, but still. 

I guess I just wonder who gets to take care of you, you know. I know you tend to get through things on your own, and you don’t want anyone feeling sorry for you. I get that. I love that. But everyone needs someone that can pick them up off the floor once in a while. Even you. Maybe you’ll let me be that person one day, or maybe that spot is already taken. I don’t know. I’m rambling, and this probably doesn’t make any sense.

It sounded better in my head.

Unfinished, Still.

Labels: By Jessie Fey on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This never took place, but it should have.
“We should talk like this more often,” he said.
“I know, dear.” She traced his face, her favorite picture, and put it in her pocket.
“I was thinking about rules today,” she said.
“Yeah.” She was looking away from him now. “They’re always broken at night. The biggest ones, anyway. I think it’s the moon.”
“Of course it’s the moon.” She was staring again as she pulled the covers over her shoulders.
“So, I’m asking for your permission.”
“My permission?”
“Yes. To love you.”
“That’s the rule?”
“It’s the one I’m breaking.”
“Is this about summer ending?”
She looked down and replayed the last three months in her mind. Emails were the new love letters, and she kept them all as proof.
“You love me now,” he said. She wasn’t sure if it was an insult or not.
“That’s the sad part.” Her voice was shaking. “I keep trying to. You won’t let me. You keep fighting back and I don’t know if you even know you’re doing it. I thought if I asked it might make a difference.”
He stared up at the ceiling. She was looking at his bedroom door, gathering the location of her belongings in her mind in case she had to leave. She knew she wouldn’t, so did he, but she had to give herself the chance.
“You still have a lot to learn. Maybe you’d be better off without me.”
She had heard this before, but this time she didn’t believe it.
“I wouldn’t leave unless you made me.”
“There’s a lot you don’t know, darling.”
“What are you so afraid of?” she finally asked, knowing he wouldn’t tell her. He stopped to think, and she thought she may have surprised him.
“If I left, would you call?” he asked responsively.
“No,” she answered.
“Why not?”
“I’ll think it’s because you don’t want me anymore,” she said, already believing that it would be true.
“And if I called?”
“I’d answer.”
“Because I’d still want to be the person you’d write about for the right reasons.”
She kissed him, wondering if he’d be there in the morning.

Food Diary

Labels: By Jessie Fey on

     “I would like a human stomach for lunch,” I request.  My subordinates look at me as though I were a lunatic, which always bemuses me.  “Yes.  As you all know, I’ve traveled the world and am somewhat of a food connoisseur, as they say.  I think a human stomach would put my diary in a ‘fully saturated’ sort of place.  I have eaten frog legs, pig intestines, cow tongue, veal, sheep eye, polar bear liver, whatever it is Spam is made of, and all other sorts of animals.  But a human stomach I find would complete the anatomy of my personal diary, don’t you agree, Watson?  I also find that eating it for lunch would make it a more meaningful affair as I would ingest it solitarily.”

I call my assistant, whose name is Frank, Watson, both because I find Frank to be a generic name lacking any sort of charisma and because he helps me solve my own personal mysteries. 
“I suppose that’s true, sir, but the stomach of a human?” Watson asks.  “It can’t be done, sir, and…”
“Can’t!  What have I told you about using that word with me, Watson?  It is never a matter of whether something that I wish can or cannot be done.  The matter at hand is that I want it, and I ask that you exhaust all possible means of attaining of my want before you tell me that it cannot be done.”
“I’m afraid I won’t be able to assist you in this matter, sir, as my conscience won’t allow it.”
I scan the faces in the room and see that they are all looking down in compliance with Watson.  From the desk in the center of the room, I look out at my view and notice that my office is right in the middle of town, and that it is the tallest building in sight.  Remarkable. 
“Alright, then!  This will be my own venture.  Don’t worry, lads, I won’t hold this against you in the least.  In fact, I imagine that if I succeed in this feat and, at the end of three hours, I find myself putting someone else’s stomach into my own…well, it will be something like that of poetry!  Now, continue with your tasks for the rest of the day.  Watson will direct you in my absence.  Wish me luck!”
I exit my skyscraper and look left, right, left again, knowing both ways are paved for my success.  Left it is!  I walk swiftly and smile at those who pass me.  I’m also enthralled to feel the sun beating down on the top of my head as I rarely get to enjoy the outdoors.  I make a mental note to relieve Watson of taking my mail to the post office every day because it is just the perfect distance to enjoy a brisk walk.  As a businessman, I am no stranger to suits.  Today I chose my best grey one, complete with my favorite purple shirt and a tie that pulls it all together.  Nothing lies in my pockets but six hundred dollar bills and a matchbox, which I take out to light the cigar I snatched from my office.  I decide it’s best to go door-to-door with my request. 
I walk toward the nearest neighborhood and notice something else: a billboard displaying my face next to a caption that reads, “Meet the heir of the Duerny fortune.” 
“Thank you, billboard!” I exclaim aloud.  Now, people will recognize me and my hope is they will take my personal visit as an honor and aid in my quest.  I knock on the first door, a meager house.  A woman of short stature, around my own age, answers and gives me an honest smile.
“Hello, miss, how are you doing today?  I myself am swell and I first would like to thank you for opening your door on such a beautiful morning.”
“Of course, Mr. Duerny!  So unexpected to see you standing in my doorway as I’ve seen your face on that poster downtown,” she replies.
“Yes, I do seem to be more recognizable!  Now I won’t waste your time so I’ll cut straight to it.  You see, I wish to have a human stomach for lunch this afternoon and I have come into town and to your door to see if you could help me.  Do you know anyone who is scheduled to die this morning?” 
Just as soon as I ask her an earnest question she slaps me in the face and slams the door.  Truly puzzled, I persevere and decide that the hospital is the best place to find my main lunch course.  I walk the mile or so to the hospital and make my way to the morgue, which was conveniently located one floor below.  The key is to act like I know where I’m going and what I’m doing.  I have proven several times that people are much less likely to question my presence if I carry myself in this way, as I will prove again today.  I rehearse my speech on the way to the hospital and it really is admirable. 
I throw open the swaying doors of the morgue to find a young doctor removing various body parts from a carcass, taking notice of the pure magic of it all.  Just as she begins to say, “Excuse me, sir!” I start my speech, which goes like this:
“Mam, I would first like to tell you that I think you are really very pretty and whether you can help me or not I will still believe this to be true.  Before you have the chance to remove me from this room I ask that you let me give you my reasoning on my coming down to your morgue and a request that I deem simple and I hope you will agree.  I woke up this morning thinking about all the wonderful foods I have had the pleasure of eating throughout my life.  I have eaten every animal imaginable, except for one.  I have yet to eat any part of a human other than my own fingernails.  As I discovered this a few hours ago, I knew that I needed to discover the taste of my own kind.  So I request that you remove the stomach of the character that you are elbow-deep in, and donate it to my lunch for today.  If you were to ask me why I would like the stomach out of all the organs, I would tell you that the stomach seems to me like the gas tank of a car, the ink in a pen, and other kinds of fuel holders.”
Ten minutes later I am a half-mile away from the hospital carrying a human stomach!  As it turns out, organs that cannot be donated are simply thrown away after careful analysis.  My speech was unnecessary, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
I was correct about the experience equating with poetry.  As for the stomach, I found it bland.  

I'll Post the Rest When It's Not Complete Shit.

Labels: By Jessie Fey on Saturday, March 19, 2011

“We should talk like this more often.”
“I know, dear.” She traced his face, her favorite picture, and put it in her pocket.

Labels: By Jessie Fey on Thursday, March 17, 2011

An exercise we did in my writing class ended like this.

The honey was sap
Dripping down her face and slowing down the clock
The ribbit of a toad would last for hours
Bread clogged her throat. She choked.
I scooped my fist into her diaphragm and pumped it out


Labels: By Jessie Fey on Sunday, March 13, 2011

“You talk about the world like you’re looking through a kaleidoscope.  You see something you hate, truly despise, and with one twist of your wrist or a couple beats of your heart you’ve suddenly turned it into something explainable and beautiful and worthy of being understood.”

“And how do you see the world?”


“And yourself?”



“I’ve seen horrible things.”


“I’ve been horrible things.”

“As have I.”

“Says the girl who can’t keep from smiling at a stranger.”

“Also true.”

“So, answer me.”

“It’s quite simple, really. Though I see the world, and I do see it, I don’t belong to it. I don’t own it, nor am I trying to. Ignorance or, in my case, innocence. Far from intelligence. Maybe so, but I like to think every rebel has their reasons.”

“You’re infuriating.”

“Yet, you’ll still kiss me goodnight.”

Spring Semester.

Labels: By Jessie Fey on Friday, March 11, 2011

          Five hundred square feet, if that.  You can’t be picky about arm space living in Greenwich Village.  Toward the left of the studio apartment is a shining stovetop.  Next to it a bottle of cleaner and a spotless, crumpled-but-not-thrown-away paper towel, like the stove didn’t need cleaning to begin with.  Two eggplant purple plates, two pigeon grey cups (coffee cups, not glasses), one pan, one pot, and an ancient meat cleaver, all hoisted by hooks that would give the Lost Boys night terrors and maybe even unnerve Peter Pan himself.  No cabinets.  Instead, the naked hinges lie fixed and useless on the cave-colored wood.  The storage space has been transformed into a personal library, hand-crafted like an artist molds a piece of clay.  Textbooks and novels.  Though, just like the tenant, the fiction (science-fiction, specifically…other dimensions with eight-eyed aliens and world peace) is losing the war on room to breathe.  The books are all bound and in alphabetical order.  Looking closely, the textbooks are worn and tattered, beaten by piercing eyes and violent memorization.  They are separate from the novels, who occupy exactly ten and a half inches of one of the four shelves.  The rest are some books on business basics but mostly books on stocks, economics, and also a documentary on the New York Stock Exchange, which isn’t too far of a walk from here. 
            The calendar on the chest-high refrigerator tells an evolving biography of a person who must work at “The Club” from eleven p.m. to five a.m. every night but Sunday.   Yes, “The Club” is a place of work because it ‘s written in black and there’s a color-coordination chart to the right.  Every box is decorated with at least three colors, except for Sundays because they’re blank (invisible ink?).   At the center of the room lies the body-molded bed just big enough for one, ironed and tucked to perfection.  No throw pillows or fuss.  Blue sheet, blue comforter, folded down at the top to look like a hotel room bed, just cleaner.  On the bed lies what appears to be a costume only it’s nowhere near Halloween.  Sequined, jet black thong.  Next to it, a black, full-length cape, facedown, closely resembles the cape that Batman wears except across the back it reads “Lapman.”  Ha. Leather boots breathe on the unpolished wood floor. 
            Further to the right stands the doorless bathroom.  Not a splash of color but the stained-yellow glass covering the light bulb, and nothing on the sink but a toothbrush and a razor.  A yellow Post-It sticks to the mirror, displaying an upright equal sign and a “C” that’s been knocked over: a smiley face. 
            As I begin to move to the also doorless closet (where I expect to find hidden treasure), I start to wonder if this man is as put out with his front door as he is the rest of them.  Just as I reach for the doorknob, I’m haunted by footsteps and nowhere to run.
“You lost?” he asks.  He has an NYU I.D. card around his neck, and another stack of textbooks in his arms.
Still enthralled by my thorough yet unfinished analysis of the studio, and taking note of my most recent observations, I reply, “You’re the ‘Lapman?’”
“From eleven to five, Monday through Saturday,” he says without hesitation.
I know. 
“School isn’t cheap.  Neither is rent, even when you don’t have arm space.  You probably noticed the bathroom and the closet.”
“And the cabinets,” I add.
“They came like that, actually.” 
“You could wait tables or something,” I suggest.
“I could, but I’ve always wanted to live downtown…”