it seems so glamorous for both me and boyfriend to be jetting off to different cities for business. except that he was headed for houston, and i for las vegas.
both cities with upstart museums generated on wealth, but completely lacking in vision. art 101 for places with no artistic culture, or, more precisely, for places that do not have the cultural predisposition to challenge what art is. one Picasso, two Legers, a couple of impressionists, and perhaps a Van Gogh if you are lucky.
there was a Monet exhibition in the Bellagio from the MFA. MFA is in boston, not las vegas. at least the show was all-Monet, not the dabbled artness of the other musettes. and its curatorial idea matched the Bellagio's italian fin-de-siecle aspirations.
the casinos were very crowded. yet i was in a sea of unfamiliarity, with almost every sense overloaded with alien sensations. oversalted food, multiple songs playing at once at every point (call a goddamn sound engineer already!), blinking lights on everything, fake marble (could feel the paint job when i couldn't see it), and the smell of cigarettes everywhere. i would have killed to talk to a beautiful person, or at the very least someone as lost as me. someone could have filmed lost-in-translation with us.
one of the reasons i dislike travel alone, to places i find overwrought and dull, with means boring (coach to dulles, buggy transfer to coach to vegas, fly back through hideous ORD, a place i think hell will be remodelled after. "once the capital for architecture now feasting on its own remains staid style"), to say nothing of the terrible hotel my office booked me in, and bizarrely enough, no car though i'm a mile from the strip; all this, yet the reason is that the moment i am looking for is fleeting, like the sensation of relief one gets after a long crying session. once one is aware of the sensation of relief, a sensation parallel to great pleasure, that sensation entirely disappears, replaced by awareness. and the moment is exponentially more difficult to find on my own. so much easier with a co-protagonist.
i am aware that i needed to cry that week, the week i went to vegas, and that i am relieved to have done so. but i feel no relief. there is too much work to do, the most of which is telling you, dear reader, a great deal about it.
i had spent the last twenty four hours in las vegas, meeting contractors in an unfinished shopping mall done up to look like roman baths (a striking resemblance, i admit), in a hotel, in a casino, seeing the strip in the morning, eating terribly oversalted meals at all price points, seeing the strip at night (the second real pleasure on this trip), learning everything i could, as cryptically instructed by my employers.
things i learned in Las Vegas
1. complexity and contradiction. i get it. because of value-engineering, or simply stupid design, it so easily falls into wasteful kitsch. when done well it is unconscious and invisible: it creates new connections, and lives. urban.
2. there are unhealthily obese people everywhere in america. they all come out of the cracks when i leave my little borough. or cross the mississippi. and mostly white, though not all.
3. almost no visible homos, in a place with enough drag to keep anyone from noticing the actual gays are not in sight.
4. wow, but when they do show up all i wanna do is screw.
5. blinking lights. layering. senses in pain. including haptic, glitz, and now virtual. all in one single gaze. gambling is hypnosis, of course, but is the breakdown in normal reasoning and judgment because of sensory assault? is it that easy?
6. gambling is dumb. read it all ways.
6a. my employers are not going to be happy with this list.
7. there are beautiful shops here, just like new york. but i still want new york!
8. no water, except for some beautiful fountains. this creeps me out. i'm from a state with a great-lake.
9. the casino hotels mask the surrounding mountains. this is both annoying and sublime.
10. people spend baffling amounts of money on crap.
having been so instructed, i looked for a cab.
i had given up finding the moment i was looking for. i was being lazy, and just assumed that it would or would not happen. my life has been like this lately, in case you didn't read the last couple of posts. just lazy, and assuming that life-would-happen, or not, and that i was just here to watch it. see: lazy. this means i was ripe for fate to have me cross paths with the moment. but wait, what moment am i referring to? the one that brings a person, who is a true embodiment of the place i am visiting, to my attention. i know that truth is never absolute, just as i know that nature is a constructed notion: deal. the moment i'm looking for is not like looking for a messiah or anything: not a search for a specific person, or even a single experience. it's whoever is serendipitously available, from a set of special people who love their city with a direct passion. what frustrates a direct search for this person is that there is no correlation to how well i actually like the person. but i've learned to recognize them, because their passion disarms my like/dislike switch (which is more of a dimming dial for me anyway) and puts me into "listen to them" mode. they speak directly to my soul, teaching me about their city's soul.
others: in london with L, in the bar a young asian kid, flirty and not-my-type, yet showing us the sights in a way i could only dream. in miami: andrew. in new york, before me: jonno, or choire, or jennie.
in las vegas: drug dealing cab driver. he was in the middle of the call when he picked me up. i didn't know it until he'd started the conversation with me. after a pause in our conversation, a conversation i initially resisted, fatigued and looking forward to the terrible hotel i was going to, he just started talking into his phone again, without dialing, without saying hi again. his half of the call was about where he'd left the cash. in a car. after "the deal". his conversation with me struck directly to what was on my mind: the importance of loving what one does. he immediately asked me personal questions, like where i was from, what was i doing there, and where had i gone to graduate school.
the new yorker in me was offended at such brazen attempt to know personal information. yet the questions engaged me, because he was instinctively using an innate talent for giving me a lot to think about, as a way of distracting me from his cel call. it was masterclass work. after i told him the completely unfiltered truth about why i love what i do, including having the job that also brings me so many troubling emotions, he started talking about how it's important to do what one loves, because he watched his father kill himself by owning a business he was not passionate about. i had no idea whether this was the truth. it was partly beside the point. yet because i had given him subtle clues that i was willingly being taken by his distraction, i got the impression that he began to indulge in the conversation even more truthfully that before. and, he had not attempted to conceal the drug-talk, simply to talk about something else at the same time. very vegas.
he talked to himself after a time: said it was a fact that there are six or seven service jobs there that will net one six figures, and so one is never trapped in an office job. which is why people like him love it here: never trapped, always liking life. his self-speech made it clear. it is possible to do what one loves. however, it is not arrived by watching it show up. one is already in it, or near it, and only has to convince oneself, beyond any doubt, what that work actually is.
thank you i thought as i got out of the cab. i have finally learned something new.
gold star advice of the week from another continent:
Have you considered adding him to your spam filter? It's a proactive form of upgrading your Rolodex.
i woke up happy, filled with joy for life. little power was helping this mood gel. yet in the elevator, up to my office, i sighed deeply. i was alone. you were not present to share my morning's mood, the sunny bounce i get when the amps, gary numan, and the future bible heroes reflect off my sunglasses. i realized that you've not even been gone a week. i miss you. i want to hug and kiss and spend time and be fucked by you.
there are all these components of the house that are not put into motion without you. the office is quiet and still, with the exception of an occasional visit to the laundry drawer. the papers remain partially read, if unwrapped at all. most of the mail is for you. no freshdirect yet (i've barely been home to eat anything but breakfast). no coffee is made (i'm totally unwilling to make a single cup of coffee). packages arrive and are unopened. the tivo is almost full of smallvilles and sopranos i am not willing to watch or prematurely delete without you. the dog is a little bored with me, but so far no poop indoors (i leave the door to the deck open).
there are also weird little things that i'd normally not mention to anyone, except you, that i don't think to mention to anyone else. i lost a couple of pounds. i found an old book i adore. i found my old star wars cards. a blogger sent an annoying message berating me for not updating my weblog, without expressing any consideration of what i may actually be doing with my life. endless articles and conversations with old friends about the disturbing darkside of confessionalism mode (everyone is only watching me), and its cousin, content-on-demand (everyone is only for me to watch).
there is more miscellanea: i had a terrible client presentation on tuesday but a very thoughtful post-mortem with my employer afterward. i watched television. i had a fantastic client presentation wednesday, with my other employer displaying renewed confidence in my project managment duties. bolstered by the fact that i found a HUGE mistake in the "local" architect's code calculations, which gives our client a lot more square footage to work with. i scheduled my MRI. nothing groundbreaking, and hardly worth putting keys to ascii for, but i suddenly feel like i'm on quiet-mode at home. this has its advantages, to be sure (it puts these things in perspective: none are really that important, and it's good for my Being to only talk about things that are important to me) but it is enough of a difference from my usual M.O. that i notice it. happy and fulfilled and naked and quiet.
perhaps it's the natural distortion caused when my love is thirteen hours in the future.
ps all work in this domain is copyright chad the minx.