Monday, August 04, 2008

La la la

This is the best thing I've read in a while. From David Remnick's "Lenin's Tomb" about the fall of the Soviet Union:

At the Kazan Station in Moscow a wanderer named Alik said he'd talk my ear off if I'd only buy him a bottle. I suggested we go to a store and join the vodka line. When he stopped laughing, he said, "Just give me thirty rubles." He snatched the bills from my hand and set off down the sidewalk. We walked ten feet before Alik found what he was looking for. A ghostly woman in a ratty coat reached into her pocket and the silent exchange was done. Alik quickened his pace and we headed toward a place marked CAFE. Three feet inside the door, he screwed off the bottle cap and downed the entire liter bottle in a few magnificent swigs. "Usually, in the morning, I like some potatoes," he said and then stormed out the door, singing.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

A change in perspective

So over the summer I moved from one apartment to another about a four blocks away. I was hoping that the move would provide a change in mood as well as perspective, but it's really done more than that. It's made me reevaluate all of my presumptions about Syracuse.

When I first came here, I was living in a slightly-run down neighborhood, across the street from a scary park that I had to walk through to get to school. I was driving several miles to the big box stores &mdash which are nice, but faceless &mdash to get my food. I didn't know anyone around me, and it was cold, and dark, and snowy. I ended up getting terribly depressed, drinking and smoking a lot, and escaping town whenever possible to see Karen in the city. Basically, my life was this book. (which, admittedly, is better than if it were the other book).

Since moving, the weather has improved considerably, but also I'm suddenly in a nice apartment, on a nicer street, with great downstairs neighbors, and a friend living across the street. I found a faster, safer way to walk to school, and it turns out I'm only five blocks from the local co-op, which means I can walk there whenever I want. Suddenly, it feels like I'm a part of a neighborhood -- a community. One I want to be a part of. I'm reading more, I'm getting out a bit. I stopped drinking in the evenings and I quit smoking.

What's curious to me is how much just a few things have really changed my whole world. It feels like I moved from a foreboding, slightly dangerous cityscape, where day-to-day life was unpleasant at best, to a happy neighborhood, where it's possible to make good decisions about living well.

Four blocks. You think it's possible that minor changes can have such drastic effects most of the time? Like, stopping a downward spiral? If I'd known, I would have changed spaces a long time ago.