Jun 28, 2006

The Science of Cognitive Everything

My acquaintance, Ross Bender, used to have a blog called "The Science of Cognitive Everything," which he's now pared down to this because blogging apparently took up too much time. That phrase is the kind of phrase that makes you want to say it over and over again in your mind for no reason. The Science of Cognitive Everything. Ross has sent me some of his recent writings in which St. John the Divine Cathedral in Washington Heights plays a prominent role, so I've been thinking about the Cathedral and therefore of stone carving, and therefore of the summer I spent living in New York.

I think my official title was "Intern for the New York City Parks Outdoor Sculpture Restoration Group." In reality, we did restore outdoor bronze sculptures, including repatinating with oxides and blowtorches and repointing granite bases and other skilled things. But we also spent a lot of time waking up early and erecting, un-erecting and re-erecting the same aluminum scaffold system from off the top of the van. It was a million degrees and humid, and we often had to wear respirators and rain gear when we were torching or pressure washing. A strange amount of the job had to do with "removing" "guano" (a.k.a. cleaning bird crap) with a "special anionic detergent" (soap and water).

My time that summer was a very romantic time in my life in general. I was living in Amanda's small apartment with Zach Berman, who I didn't really know at the time, but we were practically on top of eachother in that little space (not sexually, just geographically). There were roosters in the backyard even though it was Greenpoint. Did I mention is was a million degrees? The kids from upstairs would come down and ask for Amanda, and Zach would try to tell them she was in Laos for the month. They didn't know where Laos was, so they colored while Zach tried to show them on the atlas.

You know, it was summertime, not much to do but sweat and walk around. My friend from the crew was a stone carver. He took me to St. John's and showed me the newest figurative sculptures there, which are strangely phantasmagoric and evocative of contemporary themes. He told me how stone is carved, in general, not in the way that most boys will tell you about what they know but rather wholly without boasting. We looked at the places where people left plastic flowers next to the dead entombed in the walls. We sat in the apse and watched everyone, and then got Hungarian pastries and ate them with hot chocolate.

Sometimes I feel guilty when I think of past adventures because I'm married now, and perhaps TJ would feel left out if I spoke about them too much. I get the feeling he doesn't reminisce as much as I do. I spend a lot of time in my brain, day-remembering. I think TJ lives more in the present. Why do I feel guilty being nostalgic about how I felt about myself and the world at that time? I was younger, more confused, less settled in my daily life. I was open to more, and now perhaps I'm not. Maybe I miss the old me a little, even though that person suffered more than I do now.

Anyway, I'm enjoying the memories evoked by Ross's stories. If TJ should stumble on my blog (I haven't really told him I'm writing this yet), I hope he won't be put off by the fact he hasn't been informed. I will tell him, but right now -- it's like this is a private diary so far, except that strangers and friends can read it. Weird, I know. But anyway, I will tell him and I'll probably be surprised by his lack of curiosity in reading it.

Ok, so he's not as curious and he's as not nostalgic as I am. He likes to watch the World Cup games and play Oblivion on the X-BOX. Still, somehow, when I wake up and see him, I know he's the only one I want to spend my days with. When he does that thing where he picks up the cat and brings her over to the mirror so she can look at herself, my heart becomes like a cupcake, all moist and crumbly. And he puts up with my crap with grace and humor. Last night he cooked me a lovely dinner of spinach and lentil dal with mango shrimp curry, and we fell asleep looking at kitchen and bath magazines...

NB: If you're reading this entry for the second time and notice that it may have been, er, edited -- I think that had something to do with the Patriot Act, but I need to look into it further.


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