Where in Middle Earth is William Puck, or, What is PUCKWORKS?

Some kind of phenomenon is happening.  Something–TRANSIT related.

I don’t know why (not that there needs to be a reason), but someone has decided to periodically tape Tolkien-related paraphernalia redressed as common MTA subway notifications in subways across our mighty land. 

Let’s take a Gandalf, I mean gander, at one, shall we? (insert horribly embarrassed chuckle and groan here).  When you’re walking up to this one, it looks like a business-as-usual shitty service change announcement…

ImageBut, you know, just before you really start to panic and wonder what fresh new hell the MTA is serving up on a crusty, petrified turd platter THIS weekend, when you really look at it, you kinda start to notice that Gollum is perched on the top left of the notice there.  And then you remember, hey, the MTA might hire people that look like Gollum but surely they wouldn’t recruit the real deal.  Seeing as we live in the unfortunate world where Gollum is a fictional character and all.  This line of (not)reasoning led me to take a closer look (sorry about the picture quality):

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Everything about this is magic.  Right about now I should mention that one of the first books my father ever read to me was The Hobbit.  I searched for the website listed on the above notice (puckworks.blogspot.com) for “travel info, travel tools, widgets, app and more…” and discovered a blog featuring many similarly constructed bits of delicious nerditude.  The perpetrator’s name is listed as William Puck.  I have no idea who he is, I’ve never heard of him.  A bit of research led me to his profession (“artist”) and place of employment (“self”).  Okay, color me interested, pal.

The completely humorless MTA took the Underground Lake announcement down within one day, unfortunately, but I am going to keep my eyes peeled and document any new notices I find.  I hope he decides to hit the Astor Place station again!

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Can anyone draw a circle around the carcinogens?

On Wednesday, I went to Astor Place to take the 6 as usual, and saw a really bizarre collection of circles drawn on the ground around one of the station entrances.

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It didn’t take a whole lot of effort to figure out that someone went around and drew circles around cigarette butts on the ground… sometimes they were around individual cigarettes.

ImageAnd other times the circle was drawn around a large collection of cigarettes.

ImageThat’s in front of the Mudtruck… the full circle is implied, of course.  We can’t expect our fearless chalker to move a truck.  Anyway, what could this be about?  An art project?  Or just a schizophrenic homeless person off his meds who found a piece of chalk and became convinced that if he used it to circle cigarette butts on the ground they wouldn’t come alive and try to dance the waltz on his face and subsequently burn him.  Or whatever horrible nightmares schizophrenic people’s brains conjure.  It fascinated the hell out of me, I’ll tell you that much.  I guess what intrigued me most was how everyone else around me just went about their business.  Nope, nothing weird happening here.

Just some regular, everyday East Village shenanigans.

(Sort of) knowing why the (semi-)caged bird sings

I’m at the tail-end of a really rough migraine right now.  At least I hope it’s the nearing completion.  Last night I dared to have a number of potential trigger foods/beverages (items I haven’t tested yet to ascertain the impact they have on me) in the same evening.  I deviated from my diet, I failed to follow my own rules.

Other than dealing with the migraine from hell, there are no real ramifications.  It’s not as if all my data goes to shit now.  But I do feel a little bit like a moron.  Why’d I do it?  Do I enjoy pain?  Was I hoping to get a migraine?  What kind of asshole invites the devil into their home after cursing and fighting him for so long?

Yesterday my boyfriend’s old college friend was visiting us from L.A.  We had some of the old gang over in honor of his visit.  I wanted to eat and drink like everyone else, I didn’t want to be “that person” who has dietary restrictions last night.  I didn’t want to have to explain–again–why I had to say no to so many things.  It’s embarrassing.  That’s why I did what I did.

Self-analysis is both taxing and almost impossible to execute objectively, but upon initial reflection, I thought the real crux of the problem was that I’ve not fully accepted the person I am becoming.  And I do think that’s somewhat true.  Part of me is someone who really needs to watch what she eats and drinks.  When she sleeps, when she eats, and what activities she engages in.  Another part of me can be a person who occasionally explains the reasons why she does the things she does (e.g., “I am not drinking red wine because I might get a migraine”), but can also simply be a person who generally drinks white wine.

Let me explain (Irony!  You’ll see…).  I’m a dangerously honest person by nature so I am inclined to feel like a liar if I don’t explain my actions to people, particularly if I’m going outside of my own comfort zone.  It’s a bizarre social tick, I suppose, that I haven’t been fully aware of until just now.  If at a party and presented with white and red wines (and I know red wine may cause a migraine for me whereas white is pretty safe), I’m liable to say, “Oh, I’ll drink the white because red might cause me a migraine.”  And I will consequently feel isolated.  “Now everyone knows I’m a migraineur freak,” I’ll think to myself.  This is because I’ve yet to learn that people don’t need to know the reason behind every god damn thing I do.

Back to last night–I didn’t want to “have” to say why I couldn’t have red wine (or the few other things I shouldn’t have eaten).  Now I know, I didn’t have to say anything!  I feel like a fucking idiot, I really do.

On some level I must have known all of this already.  I must then begrudgingly conclude that maybe the real real reason I deviated from what I should have been doing is that I wanted to seem normal to myself.  To clarify: I wanted to be my old normal self who could eat whatever she wanted and drink whatever she wanted without giving thought to migraine-related consequences.  Otherwise I feel like a bird in a cage.  Singing “with a fearful trill/ of things unknown/ but longed for still,” (“Caged Bird” from Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? by Maya Angelou, New York, Random House, 1983).  My chubby little fingers wrapped around “bars of rage,” clipped wings, feet bound.  Drrrramaaaaaaaaaa!  I hope you read that in your head with buckets of Broadway-vibrato, because that was my intent.

I’m not quite a caged bird, not in the way Angelou meant (i.e., I’m not of African descent and have certainly not been held back by society because of my skin color–I’m a privileged white woman***).  I get to occasionally unclip my wings, if only for the briefest of moments, and I shouldn’t be too stubborn to use those tools.  And I also need to nix the self pity.  Of all the things I’m going through, limiting my food and beverage intake isn’t exactly the end of the world.  By limiting this one freedom I gain another–to occasionally push open my little metal door and take a flying lap around the room.  That’s worth it.

 

***There are few people I can imagine who inspire more respect in my heart than Maya Angelou and I am not attempting to draw a parallel between my plight and hers or that of the U.S. or diasporic black community.  The situations are almost laughably incomparable.  But with her great talent she wrote words that spoke intimately to me about my own suffering.  It’s a testament to her artistry that she reached me even though, I believe, she wasn’t speaking to “me” at all. I’m very grateful to her for that and can only hope she would be contented to have reached an unintended audience via an unforeseen alternate interpretation of her poetry.

Anti-masturbatory restaurant?

You know, St. Mark’s–especially between 1st and 3rd avenues–really exemplifies the height of East Village class.  I spotted this yesterday in front of a restaurant:

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(Sigh)  I don’t know if I should be ashamed for finding this hilarious.  Those boxing gloves must really chafe.  Hm… I like the placement of the ellipsis, also.

The Life of Ipecac

“People that talk in metaphors oughta shampoo my crotch.” –Melvin (Jack Nicholson) in As Good as It Gets

My name is Ipecac.

I do not have many friends.

People don’t seem to like me as they like the facial moisturizer or the tylenol or the vitamins. Called upon in the worst of circumstances and remind others of illness and pain.

But I know I am necessary.

Without me, people can’t survive.  I am a reminder of the precarious balance between life and death, happiness and sadness.  Poison and elixir of life.

Maybe it’s not so much that I stop death that helps other to live–maybe it’s the reminder of the preciousness of health.

We all have a purpose.

One’s purpose is to moisturize, another is to freshen breath.  These are trivialities.  Nobody is so important as those motivating us, being the comparison by which people measure themselves to feel better about our own lives.

I used to envy the toothpaste.

Better that I should lie precariously in the back of the cabinet under the bathroom sink, rarely seeing the light of day, dust and spider carcasses my only companions, the loneliness only ceased during times of emergency or my own expiration.

I am Ipecac.

I am alone.

I am vital.

The Echoes of Hurricane-Turned-Tropical-Storm Andrea

The Umbrella Graveyards.  Piles of broken umbrellas, twisted cheap metal and torn fabric, strewn angrily into (and around) public garbage cans.  I adore seeing umbrella corpses in my neighborhood during and after storms… I don’t know why.  Maybe dead umbrellas make me feel connected to other people.  “Arg, f$%king umbrella, f$%king storm,” people say.  “I HATE LIFE,” they add.  That’s what I imagine whenever I see a dead soldier.

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I’m not what you’d call a cheery person.  I try to be optimistic or at least not pessimistic… the best I can shoot for is occasionally hopeful.  But no matter what I do, hypothesizing about another person’s minor misery, getting completely soaked in a downpour because their piece of shit umbrella manufactured in fill-in-the-blank-poor-country-outsourced-sweatshop-most-likely-in-the-far-East turned inside-out, fills me with glee.  I think to myself, HEY I hate the world today, also!  We’re all connected!

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It’s as if for just one day, a disproportionate number of people know what kind of irritation I carry around on a daily basis.

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A few days from now when the raining ceases, the masses will smile up towards the clear sky and shining sun while I will cling to my crotchety nature.  Oh Tefnut, Egyptian god of all things having to do with rain and moisture (thanks Wikipedia), I implore thee, vanquish Ra so that I might remember again what it is to connect with my fellow man.  Until then I revert back to my true nature.

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……IT’S a METAPHOR, get it?  😉  (sigh)

Tompkins Square Mosaic

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This is one of my favorite Mosaic Man pieces, affixed to a traffic light post on the East side of Avenue A and 9th, I believe.  It marks our infamous Tompkins Square Park.  But 30 years ago a den for heroin users and an encampment area for the homeless, it is now a site for a weekly farmer’s market and clothing drive.  My how things have become sanitized!  As with many changes in our urban landscape I think this disinfection adds to the sense of security to those of us living here while chipping away at the foundation of the area’s personality.

On Medications (good advice for everyone)

I recently read a story about someone with occipital neuralgia (a chronic pain condition that has to do with an irritation of or damage to the greater or lesser occipital nerve) whose previous neurologist prescribed them Cymbalta, which is a seratonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI).  This person took the medication for two years before seeing another doctor who informed them that Cymbalta generally treats depression.  She then proceeded to go off the medication without researching the withdrawal problems.  I did some research and found that Cymbalta has been approved very recently by the FDA for treatment of musculoskeletal pain so I suppose the neurologist may have been at the bottom of the barrel, trying anything.  It’s possible.  Nonetheless, it seems like a slightly irresponsible medication to prescribe to someone without depression problems or arthritis.  I have to say, however, that I wasn’t surprised–doctors prescribe medications inappropriately all the time.  The shock on my end came from the ON sufferer’s fury at the doctor–she never bothered to look up what this medication was for.  Two years of shoving pills into her face, and she had no idea what she was taking.

There may have been a time long ago when doctors were to be uncompromisingly trusted but we no longer live in that world.  We live in a world where there are a few exceptional doctors whose strength allows them to navigate through the nightmare of health insurance dodging payments (which hurts them just as it hurts us…well not just as it hurts is, but it isn’t a great situation for them), and watching people suffer while trying to do their job, working exceptionally long hours in many cases, while still maintaining a sense of determination and sympathy for their patients.  Others are worn down by the present system, which punishes the weak.  Still others never cared to begin with and are only doctors because mommy and daddy told them to do it because they’d make lots of money.

A precious few of us manage to find the good doctors.  I have found a couple after years and years of searching.  Regardless, any time one of them thinks I should try a new medication or go off a previous one I ask a lot of questions.  I don’t give a shit if they’re rushed or irritated by my questions.  This is MY FUCKING BODY.  I’m not going to just eat pills because a doctor tells me so, I’m going to take them if and when I feel satisfied that it is a good idea.  This is in no way insinuating that I think I know better than any doctor about pharmaceuticals–I don’t.  However, I am an intelligent, proactive person and know I am capable of understanding what words like “contraindication” and “side effects” mean.  Frankly I don’t know anyone with a chronic illness or pain condition who isn’t intimately familiar with the various pharmaceutical terminology well enough to posit informed questions regarding medications they’re taking.

I think you’ve figured out where I’m going with this.  Be informed about what’s going into your body, whether that be another person’s phallus, food that you’d prefer not be covered in pesticides, or potentially life-altering medications.  Nobody–including your doctor–cares more about your body’s well-being than you do. Be. Your. Own. Advocate.