Like "Movement Salon," the above two words could only be wedded together and accepted without prejudice in New York City. Howls of derisive laughter at this kind of alternative word-marriage - well that's for other towns, such as Brisbane Australia.
I'm glad I no longer live in a town in which saying, "I'm doing some apartment therapy right now, can I call you back?" would be grounds for a beating, or a drive-by egging of one's apartment. Where I come from in Northeast Philadelphia eggs and loose shotgun shells would definitely be thrown, or left in my mailbox as a warning. And then, most certainly, if history is any guide, I would hear the word "faggot" a lot. Believe me, it's common there. If you're there, don't mention apartment therapy, or express your admiration for Stephen Sondheim while walking through a hallway, or mention anyone British, whatever you do. That is, unless you're okay hearing "faggot" chanted at you while you pull up to a gas pump.
I'm really glad I live in New York City, because only here could I have come across the concept of Apartment Therapy. It couldn't have entered my life at a better time.
Circumstances bring out certain desperate actions. Let's say you're unemployed, your girl's just dumped you, and one of your parents in another town is seriously ill with an unpredictable disease wreaking havoc on your family every day and filling you with worry and despair.
(Yeah, that's me - but I'm not just saying that to get attention. I'm saying it to get attention and maybe a grant of some kind?)
Well, darn it, if this is you, pick up a book called Apartment Therapy, and then pick up your girl's leftover toothbrush and start cleaning the inside of your oven. With those two simple steps, you're well on your way to fixing yourself.
And that's what you want, right? I sure do.
Okay, so in the three weeks I've been on the Apartment Therapy home cure, my Prospect Heights apartment has undergone the following changes:
1. It is 8,000 times cleaner than it was before. I have cleaned the shiz-nit out of this bitch. I have spent much of the last three weeks on my knees.
2. There are now life-forms in this apartment that do not include me and my roommate. (And I'm not even going to acknowledge the mice that we USED to have, but which have been shut out by diligent hole-caulking and cleaning!) I have put three groupings of fresh flowers in three different rooms in this place, and have been replacing them weekly. Never before apartment therapy have I bought flowers for myself. Hmm... is this a sign of growth or a sign of a new level of self-obsession? Am I courting my home or am I just dating myself?
3. I got rid of several big broken things, including a bookshelf that I sat on and destroyed, and a desk with a very gammy leg that I used to use for 90% of all home activity. They are both gone. I bought a new desk a few days ago, made of solid wood, not of compressed particleboard. Got it at that vintage furniture garage on Houston Street, near Elizabeth? It has changed my bedroom into a room room. The old one was built by me and an ex-girlfriend from really shitty cheap desk parts in a box. We broke up immediately after it was finished.
4. Did I mention the apartment was clean as a motherfuck? I can't stop talking about this, mainly because of the sheer labor that went into it - but also 'cause I need to know that scrubbing the inside of the stovetop dials and ridges of the baseboards was somehow IMPORTANT to the rest of my life. Please tell me it means I will have a successful relationship or a job soon! The apartment is clean!!!
5. The place smells of cooking, when before it only smelled of Cheerios, Campbell's Soup, and my flatulence. This week alone I cooked a roast chicken with pine-nut and raisin stuffing - and a giant meat loaf with onions, peppers, and loads of Ritz crackers in it. I don't cook unless a book commands me to. And apartment therapy commanded me to make that meat loaf. (Actually, it only commanded me to find a recipe and make it. For some reason the Edith Bunker in me lighted on a recipe for Meat Loaf in a Paula Deen cookbook and decided that was the perfect thing for me to eat with my roommate.)
6. I measured every inch of my living room and bedroom and made scale drawings of each. I then focused on making a floor plan of the living room, filling in imaginary furniture I don't have. Yes, I did this, 'cause the book told me to. I like doing what I'm told by a book. But, now there's a problem. See, the living room right now is barely furnished. Like, nothing.
An old ugly couch and a paint-chipped coffee table. A TV that sits on top of a stool and a DVD player/stereo that sits on the floor. Yes, on the floor, children! Wires every which way. It's awful. This place could be a palace. But now, see, I don't know what to do because I made this very nice fantasy design of all the furniture I would love to have in my living room, and then, like the book said to do, I made a list of all the items I would need to make this design come to life, accompanied by an estimated price list. Looks like, including tax, my new living room will cost me 5,500 dollars. And I think that's a lowball figure.
Did I mention I'm between jobs right now?
This is where my Apartment Therapy kind of stalls. It's like that moment in psychotherapy, after the first few weeks, when you think, "God, what is the point of all this? Are you even listening to me???"
What should I do about this? Among all of the sample clients described in Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan's "Apartment Therapy" - I have yet to notice an out-of-work actor, or anyone whose unemployment benefits have been cut off. Hey, Maxwell, what do you do about this? Like, I have some savings that I'm living off of right now from a series of car dealership commercials I did last year, but right now - I'm not making anything. Should I wait? Or should I take out some kind of loan? Should I just sink everything I've got into making this place into the palace I've always wanted it to be, believing that the positive repercussions of investing in my dwelling will pay off tenfold in ways I could never imagine?
I have noticed that you kind of only talk about rich people in your book. Which is fine, rich people don't get in my way (probably because we are NEVER in the same places), but what does the average Joe six-audition do? Someone who's definitely not broke as dirt, someone who's got more than the shirt on his back, but someone with limited recourse to renewable funds???
Anyway - my thanks go to you, sir, for distracting me from the many horrors of my day to day existence, and directing my attention toward this second-floor shell I hide in 95% of my week, due to said horrors.
Friday, November 14, 2008
I got all dressed up tonight but didn't play.
I went to the city but didn't stay.
The slot they gave me was far too late.
For what, I wonder? Shit, let me think a minute.
Well, I mean, I have a place and I feel I need to be in it.
And now I'm home and I've folded all the towels
That were balled up in a laundry bag in the corner
And I've put away, or rearranged, all the mic stands I pulled out yesterday
And sang into all day today
I looked up a recipe for roasted chicken
It's good to be in my place.
I know some people who are in pain
Literally, in pain, pretty much every day.
Not pretty much, but really every day. Every day there is a day.
In pain. All over. Above, below, behind.
I get a sore throat for a week and I curse the day I was born.
'Cause that week's ruined. I can't do anything. I can't sing.
I can't hum.
I can't croon.
I can't shout.
I'm reduced to checking out MySpace profiles all day.
Checking on people I've met who are more successful than me.
People who look like nothing, I've met them in clubs, (similar to the one I left tonight) - people who clearly don't fold their towels like I do, or dust their window sills, or, you know, do squats at the gym, or even go to the gym at all - well, I check them out, and listen to their music online, and see when and where they're playing, not because I'm ever going to go - but just to know for sure how far I've fallen behind. I'm into measuring now. I'm no longer into catching up. I'm just into measuring exactly how far behind I've gotten. It brings me a certain satisfaction - I'm not making that up - it's brings me a certain pleasure to know I was right. That not sticking with things leads to having no tour dates and no significant increase in "plays" on my MySpace music player, and other such vitamin deficiencies. And that sticking with things and putting oneself out there every night leads to the kind of man I dreamed I'd be when I was a kid, back when I knew deep down that I was smarter and cooler than every single person in my school.
Look at me now.