The Complexity of Existence in a Single Day

I'm sitting at my desk looking at my poster depicting dandelion anatomy and listening to Beyoncé. I stayed out today much longer than I had planned, and so it goes in New York City for me. I'm grateful for dandelion posters and Beyoncé. Also brie, kombucha, kitty cats, art, and live music in the park.

Most of my day was fabulous, and I will get to that momentarily. But first, I want to write about the sickening display of toxic masculinity I witnessed on the subway on my way home. It's one of those situations where realistically I was never in danger, but nonetheless leaves me shaken and dirty even half an hour later (thus the Beyoncé). I want to get it out of the way so I can move on to the more pleasurable moments of my day. And I want to write about it to help people understand why these kinds of situations are so frustrating. It is likely that many people will still not understand.

I'll be honest: I have qualms about taking pictures of kids and posting them without parental permission. But, this is so sweet and I want to include an image of what the douche-y dudes interrupted. 

I'll be honest: I have qualms about taking pictures of kids and posting them without parental permission. But, this is so sweet and I want to include an image of what the douche-y dudes interrupted. 

I was on the 6 train heading from Union Square to my home uptown. The first few stops were fine. The train hadn't yet filled up and there was an adorable little girl across from me falling asleep on what I presume to be her mom's lap. An older woman sat near me reading an Asian newspaper. I had just finished reading the letter President Obama had written for President Trump and was in the midst of reflecting on Obama and how Trump probably couldn't understand the complexity of that letter. 

Then, a horde of men got on board with one woman in tow. They were white. They had taken off their shirts. They all wore matching white Nike headbands. They had low-rider pants. Initially, I just thought they were comically obnoxious. But, then they made the older woman move because the girl they were with "had" to sit down. They said to the girl they were with, "You have to sit down." 

Let me interject some talking points on bodily autonomy. A woman doesn't "have" to sit anywhere. She can do what she wants. Benevolent sexism is still sexism, and can even be more confounding than hostile sexism. 

Then they starting shouting and swearing and taking up space. "We're going to a rave! It's going to be f**king lit!" They got on the floor of the subway car and did pushups. They did pull-ups from the subway bars. They gathered for group selfies, taking up so much space and making "gang" signs with their hands. 

They epitomize what it means to be a douche-y white dude entrenched in his white and male privilege. They believe that because they are male there is no problem with taking up all available space, even if that space is on a subway train.

I have only been here a month, but so far it seems there is a general understanding among subway riders that you are considerate in terms of space. You keep your backpack on your lap or at your feet. You move aside to let people on and off. If a pregnant woman, sick person, or senior gets on the train you give up your seat for them. It's an easy way to take care of each other.

This horde of douches got on at the 23rd street station. After a few stops, and after hearing them say they were getting off at 125th street (they were basically shouting at each other), I finally put on my headphones and tuned in to Lemonade. 

Why does this situation scream to me, "Warning! Warning!"? Well, in all honesty it's hard to explain. Their toxic masculinity dripped off them, as evident as their lack of consideration for those around them. Their coopting of "gang" signs; their enforcing benevolent sexism; their need to peacock in a disgusting manner. It was grotesque. It left me feeling shaken and disturbed. When I finally got to my stop I left the subway with a jog and burst into the sunlight of the ground level shuddering in an attempt to shake off how gross I felt. 

Again, I've only been in New York for a month. But, this is the first time I've felt threatened. I've been catcalled. I've been out late in the dark. I've walked past groups of loitering people (I don't know why, but groups of loiterers always make me nervous--is that Utah talking?). I've been lost. But this is the first time I have felt unsafe. 

They just looked and acted like the frat bros who think a woman's body is theirs for the taking. 

(Watch this trailer for The Incredible Jessica James and keep an eye out for the subway clip. It says so much.)

Anyway, I'm going to move on and focus on the delightsome aspects of an otherwise lovely day. Don't be douche-y bros. 

I went to MoMA today. My press pass gets me in for free, which is lovely. 

Full disclosure: I have mixed feelings about art museums. Obviously, I love them. I am not an art expert or art historian, but I am an artistic soul and love art museums. But, I hate the crowds. Even as I hate on the crowds, I recognize that without them, art conservation and study couldn't happen. But, I still hate them. Mostly I hate crowds in general, but I tend to view art spaces and sacred spaces. And people are so loud! And boisterous! And obsessive about taking photos of paintings that look better in an art book anyway, so why don't they just buy an art book? 

I totally judge people when I'm in art museums. Anytime I see someone snap a photo of a painting then walk away looking at the pic on their phone instead of looking--really looking--at the actual painting, I want to scream. 

In lieu of screaming, I listen to music to help block out the bustle and shove of crowds. I work really hard to pretend no one surrounds me as I gaze at The Starry Night. I write down artists in my notebook to look up later. I aggressively stand my ground looking at a work of art that catches my attention and soul, regardless of people who want me to move so they can snap a picture to post to Instagram. 

I told you: I judge people in museums.

And, after all that, I did take a picture and video of a bubbling, muddy exhibition. It was just so neat. But also more dynamic than a picture of a painting. So it goes.

Child looks at projected art. 

Child looks at projected art. 

I had never been to the MoMa before today. I knew works by some of my favorite artists resided within, but didn't look up what pieces specifically or where. I just embraced the wander. I didn't know that works by Frida Kahlo were there, so imagine my gleeful surprise when I rounded a corner and there was one of her self-portraits! 

And I was introduced to Robert Rauschenberg. What variety! What vision! He collaborated with Merce Cunningham, a dance pioneer. I haven't been engaged in dance in any meaningful way in so long, seeing footage of Cunningham and his choreography stoked an excitement while also bruising an empty wound. 

(The clip below is not what appears at MoMa, but it is Cunningham choreography.)

I made my way to Greenwich Village today. I love Greenwich Village. Washington Square Park is full of live music and busy people lingering for a moment of peace. Art vendors lined one of the streets feeding into Washington Square Park. And, when I ventured to Smalls to reminisce, I found a kitty cat named Bix. I believe he belongs to Smalls. At any rate, it's the first kitty cat I have been able to pet since moving here and I looovve kitty cats. 

This Machine Kills Fascists. 

This Machine Kills Fascists. 

My awesome shoes on a cobbled street in Greenwich Village.

My awesome shoes on a cobbled street in Greenwich Village.

Bix.

Bix.

It was rainy earlier in the day, but the rain stopped and eventually the sun came out. I was able to shed my awesome Italian leather jacket (admittedly, because I love that jacket I would have been fine keeping it on all day). The museum was full of French and Italian travelers, which enabled me to listen to those beautiful languages I sort of speak when I was in between songs during my iTunes listening. I found an advertisement for a Twyla Tharp performance in which she dances to the music of Bob Dylan.

All in all, it was a good day.

*I will soon be moving the contents of this website to a different one and using this domain for my graduate school portfolio. Stay tuned for more info when I have it. 

Tamsen in NYC: Brief Commentary

Running tab of NYC favorites: Murals on city walls

Running tab of NYC dislikes: Crowds.

Crowds

Obviously, New York City is crowded. The population is over 8 million residents, and that number is constantly in flux with tourists and daily commuters. But in this instance, I don't mean the general crowded nature of Manhattan. What I mean is, sometimes you're out and about and the crowds are unusually obnoxious.

Most of the time, even though the sidewalks are full of walkers and vendors and beggars and dogs, one can meander about with relative ease. People generally leave you alone and you can embrace this feeling of anonymity amidst the maelstrom of the city's current. 

However, on occasion (and this occasion might present itself more frequently depending on which areas of the city you visit with regularity), a seemingly immovable crowd will interrupt your anonymous reverie. People will walk slowly. People will stop suddenly. People will, in every manner possible, get in your way. At these moments I have to ask, "Who comes to New York and goes slow?" 

Recently, in pursuit of various kinds of adapters, I found myself at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue and 59th Street. This is a corner across from Central Park. This area of 5th Avenue boasts fancy, schmancy shopping such as Tiffany and Co. It's down the way from Columbus Circle. It is full of people--many of whom are tourists who walk and mingle like they are headless chickens. It's annoying

Murals

I didn't take this pic, but it is on my street in East Harlem. :)

I didn't take this pic, but it is on my street in East Harlem. :)

Today I was in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. I walked beneath an overpass and saw a mural on each side of the street, both depicting some aspect of the neighborhood.

On my way home, I took the 4 train to 125th street and Lexington. That walk boasts a few murals all its own. 

There are murals everywhere in this town, and I love it. 

They range from abstract to culturally or historically relevant to educational to neighborhood specific to representing the city at large. Vibrant colors, exceptional patterns--designs that cast wonder upon a newcomer like myself. 

Some of the walls upon which are painted murals are textured--corrugated cement; ridged brick; bumpy coatings. The texture of the canvas adds texture to the finished piece of art. 

It's a free museum. 

A Sunday, Up & Down

I did a lot of walking today. Some of my walking was in Harlem, other walking was downtown near the World Trade Center. With that, came a lot pictures (all taken with my iPhone and edited on Squarespace).

Today was interesting because Harlem is way Uptown, while the WTC is way Downtown. The same island, but they almost seem worlds apart. 

Those Windows!

Those Windows!

Pardon the fuzzy nature of this photo...

Pardon the fuzzy nature of this photo...

There is art everywhere in Harlem and East Harlem.

There is art everywhere in Harlem and East Harlem.

Dogs

Dogs

Flowers indicate it's a victim's birthday

Flowers indicate it's a victim's birthday

This is a crappy picture, but it kind of gives you an idea of the shape of the memorial. There's one for each tower. 

This is a crappy picture, but it kind of gives you an idea of the shape of the memorial. There's one for each tower. 

Trinity Church (Alexander Hamilton is buried here). 

Trinity Church (Alexander Hamilton is buried here). 

9/11 Memorial inside Trinity Church. This church only had one shattered window from the attacks.

9/11 Memorial inside Trinity Church. This church only had one shattered window from the attacks.

Trinity Church was a staging ground/resting center for first responders, as well as a place for support 24/7 for nine months following. 

Trinity Church was a staging ground/resting center for first responders, as well as a place for support 24/7 for nine months following. 

Eyeball tile mosaic at Subway station--there were several along a passageway and each eye is different.

Eyeball tile mosaic at Subway station--there were several along a passageway and each eye is different.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

I don't know about you, but I'm about ready to wake up from this nightmare that is our present epoch. From nuclear war on Tuesday, to white supremacy and death on Friday and Saturday. 

This guy terrifies me.

This guy terrifies me.

I wrote a poem. I often write poems, but usually keep them to my notebooks, creative writing classes, literary journals, and my siblings. I usually don't put them online--I don't know why. But with today, I wrote a poem and it is below.

Saturday, 12 August 2017
Where were you?
When the Other cried
and warned. 
When history said 
beware.
When fear and sorrow
drifted,
as thick
as the blood
spilled on the streets.
 
Where were you?
 
Where were you 
when the grin 
of hate--
like maggots it crawled--
spread across your
TV screen?
Did you condemn?
Did you extend
a branch of peace
to the Other?
Or was your branch
to that maggot-like grin?
 
Where were you?
 
Where were you?
When I walked down streets
in fear.
When my neighbor begged
for help,
for love,
for acceptance,
for security.
When the threat of
division,
danger,
and a cloud of injustice
enveloped the land.
 
Where were you?
 
Did you rise up?
Did you decry hate
and embrace the
Other, who is not
like you,
but just as human?
The Other with the same
blood
spirit
hope
beauty.
Did you embrace?
 
Or did you
light a fire with your eyes,
scorched freedom in your wake?
Did you decry the
"many sides"
without seeing
the truth of hate?
 
Where were you?
 
The illusion of your
ignorance
flickers.
You wave ignorance
like it's a
white flag
of innocence.
 
But I see the
blood drip
from its seams,
the dust of
hatred past
freshened like a
daily potpourri.
 
Where were you?
 
You were there.
You were on the other side.