The events of the past 24 hours have been rife with life lessons. Observe:

Last night Rebecca and I went to hear our favorite band play. When we first came to know this band, we called them The Only Band In the World, not realizing the homage to the Clash we were making in the process. We began referring to the leader of this band as Our Leader, not realizing that this too was an homage, to the Woody Allen film Sleeper. After the show, when we went to greet Our Leader, he introduced us to his friend as “The Zen Twins of Wiliamsburg,” an homage to one of the band’s own songs and the one with which they’d closed the show. I think that’s what postmodernity is, but I was never quite sure.

We were in fact the Zen Twins of Williamsburg. We were both wearing the same black crocheted tights, identical except for the quarter-sized hole in the right thigh of mine. I knew I would rip my tights if I went into the pit, but when the band was playing the song we know as “Zen,” a song whose chorus is “Pirates and bankrobbers/not lawyers and CEOs/Stockbrokers ain’t your heroes” I could no longer remain on the sidelines with the other old people. Into the pit I went, and snagged upon the metal parts of a teenaged punk’s clothing my crocheted tights became, as well they should have. In the rock-paper-scissors of subculture, punk rips hippie every time.

I didn’t care. I shoved my way up toward the front of the crowd, and for one glorious chorus I was jumping on an invisible trampoline under the outstretched hand of Our Leader while we all screamed “STOCKBROKERS KILLED YOUR HEROES!” at the top of our lungs. I require this ritual as often as possible to maintain my sanity in a world in which increasing numbers of people give up on art, anarchy and hedonism and choose law school, liberalism and suburbia.

The show they played last night was on very short notice and yet they packed the house. In New York they always do. This band isn’t really a band so much as a cult, which is why I’ve been to more shows than I can count and there are some people who go to every single show, even the ones in Germany. “I was worried about this show,” said Our Leader. “I myself only heard about it four days ago.” No matter. We, the legions of this band, check the band’s website several times weekly to ensure that we never miss a show. They could announce a show fifteen minutes from now and pack the house.

Since this behavior is youthful and obsessive, many of the band’s other fans are teenagers. I accept and applaud this. I work with teenagers, I am allied with teenagers, I respect and share their lack of perspective and sense of rage toward any form of authority. I like teenagers because none of them are lawyers or CEOs and all of them take their passions very seriously. This band is a punk-ska-cabaret orchestra devoted to the goal of International Smashism and I understand this. It is what makes their music so internationally smashing. But the combination of the teenagers and the punk music leads to an inevitable consequence–the moshing.

In theory, I am very pro-moshing. Chaos! Abandon! The freedom of The Body! Yes! Yes! In practice, however, I am getting old. Sometimes I want to stand up close, hear the music, see the players, smell the sweat, dance wildly and not worry that a sweaty two-hundred pound teenager in his underpants is going jump on me from a height.

I know I have no right to be close to the music if I am not willing to earn this privilege by putting my body in harm’s way. This is punk rock. Most of the time, I do not fear the mosh pit. It is a vigorous but caring mosh pit. For all my worrying, I haven’t sustained that many injuries in the mosh pit. I’ve actually hurt myself worse when there’s been enough space beyond the pit to really dance without the body-slamming. It turns out that my dancing style is so spastic and fast-moving that I can throw out my own neck. The mob actually reigns me in.

Having survived my brief foray into the pit last night in body if not in hoisery, I woke up this afternoon to putter around the house a bit. I climbed up on the edge of the bathtub to readjust the shower curtain. Balanced on the hard porcelain with only the unsteady shower rod to hold on to, I realized I was in a precarious position. I could fall and crack my head open on the tile. (Why did our parents always use the phrase “crack your head open” when warning us about dangerous things? It’s so vivid and awful. They always said, “Get down from there before you crack your head open!”) But I’m an adult now and it’s up to me to stop myself from cracking my head open. Is that why I’m sometimes wary of the mosh pit?

I didn’t fall and crack my head open on the tile. Instead, on my way out of the bathroom I walked smack into the door, earning a nice bruise on my right eye. I’m waiting to see if it becomes a shiner. If it does, I’ll have to choose between the phrase “you should see the other guy” and more risky and unfunny jokes about domestic abuse. All that worry about the naked sweaty teenagers and their flailing limbs, and I give myself a black eye in my own bathroom.

The black eye is of no concern to me. It will heal. It’s the hole in my tights I’m a little sad about. If I were a woman having an illicit affair in some repressed, bygone era, I’m sure the hole would be a source of great erotic fascination for my lover. But here and now it’s just an unseemly hole in my new crocheted tights, or, if you look at it another way, a souvenir from the mosh pit.

Battered but not broken, I persevered into Saturday. I puttered, I bought some groceries. I was a little hungover and not really interested in food, but I knew I should eat so I could go to yoga class. You have to eat at the right time so you’re not too full in yoga class, but not so hungry that your stomach is growling and you are not thinking about metaphorical emptiness but instead suffering from physical emptiness. I couldn’t bring myself to eat and consequently found myself ravenously hungry ten minutes before yoga class was supposed to start, as I was leaving the post office, where I had spent half an hour trying to mail some packages.

I try to see ineptitude on the part of workers as a form of resistence to capitalism and a sign of its imminent collapse, but in the case of postal workers, it really gets on my nerves. I happen to think that delivering the mail is a sacred occupation. The slogan “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” gives me chills, especially the “gloom of night” part. Given my exalted view of the postal service, the actual members thereof tend to let me down. Today was no exception. At the end of our agonizingly slow transaction, the guy who mailed my packages held onto my change for several minutes while he debated his break schedule with two of his co-workers. Then he looked down and realized that he had miscounted my change. Then he slowly, slowly shuffled off to get some quarters. On the way back to his window, he had some kind of revelation and stopped to tell his co-worker about it. The whole time the customer at the next window was yelling, “Please speak up! I don’t hear so good! Please speak up! I don’t hear so good!” It was a typical trip to the post office.

I came out of the post office with a dilemma. I was really, really hungry but I hadn’t been to yoga in three days. Did I say fuck yoga and go get a sandwich? Or did I suffer through what I know from experience could be an hour and a half of teeth-gritted hunger in which I salivated for a sandwich while making little progress toward enlightenment? I stormed up and down the block, making and unmaking the decision. We all know how it works with any kind of regular physical exercise. There’s always an excuse, and if you give into it, the whole thing falls apart. On the other hand, it is really painful to be trapped on a rubber mat stretching and breathing when you haven’t eaten in nearly 24 hours and all you can think about is food.

No, I decided, I’m going to yoga and that’s it. You have to commit to the practice. I’ll feel better afterwards. Besides jumping up and down screaming “STOCKBROKERS KILLED YOUR HEROES!”, yoga is the other thing that may or may not be keeping me sane.

I marched off toward yoga, mumbling to myself about self-discipline and focus and “the practice.” As I neared the yoga center, I suddenly had a thought. I had planned on going to yoga, there was no way out of this. In an anarchist society we all make our own laws. No one will force us to do anything, and so we are responsible to make things happen. I don’t have to go practically anywhere or do practically anything. This is a freedom and concurrent responsibility most people don’t want precisely because they fear they would never get anything done. I have taken it on, to show that it can be done, that you can be free without being lazy, the laziness is an evil borne of forced labor. I have taken it on not so much out of a desire to prove something but out of necessity, since if I were in an office building all day I would throw myself out the window, which is why in many office buildings, the windows don’t open. Therefore, it is incumbent upon me not to be lazy and not to fall apart completely since there is no boss and no law that I recognize to keep me in line. And it all starts with attending the yoga classes which I intend to attend. But my thought was this: what if they were having some kind of party or workshop at the yoga center today? What if it was closed, if the class was cancelled? Then I could have my sandwich. I would have had the intention of going to yoga class. I realized that this was a sneaky way to evade the responsibility of existential freedom, but I didn’t care. I really wanted the sandiwch.

I approached the yoga center and found the usually empty room deocrated with streamers and paper lanterns. The yoga center was having a Chinese New Year party and class was cancelled. My wish had come true! Guilty and relieved, I skipped off for my panini.

After my panini, I felt much better. I realized my postal rage and yoga indecision had been a result of low blood sugar. It was a beautiful afternoon, unseasonably warm and breezy. I walked around, puttering in the neighborhood the same way I putter in my apartment, absently touching scarves and book covers, contemplating eating a large chocolate chip cookie. The L train is out this weekend and we are all trapped in Williamsburg with our overpriced vintage clothing and our panini. Not a bad place to be while we all wait to die of the avian flu.

I decided I would like that chocolate chip cookie after all. I decided to spend the waning daylight hours outside, since in winter my exposure to sun is so limited that it might cause seasonal depression, to go with my undiagnosed adult ADD, subclinical OCD and what I think is a mild case of manic-depression. I headed off toward the coffeeshop with the large chocolate chip cookies, whistling my way up and down quiet, battered side streets that are waiting to die of a redevelopment project.

I was whistling this little song, making it up as I went along, and somehow it became a round and I could not get to the end. Every time I thought it might end there was instead a key change or some kind of musical ellipsis and it would pick back up again. I was walking and whistling quite pleasantly in time and couldn’t very well stop moving until the song was done. Each time a new movement of my tune began, I would walk another block out of my way. The tune was jazzy, a kind of ragtime (the best thing to whistle) and soon I was swinging in time to it. There was no one around on the streets zoned for redevelopment and I was free to conduct myself, pointing at imaginary members of my imaginary orchestra as my song reached ever greater crescendos.

After a while, I found myself at the waterfront. The sun was just about setting and I picked my way through some junk and broken glass to get to the sordid beach where the entire skyline spreads out before acres of unused real estate just waiting to be inhabited by lawyers and stockbrokers. I gathered my coat around me and sat down on a large concrete slab to enjoy the show. The sound of the East River lapping at my concrete slab put me in a kind of trance. Looking out at the city as the color drained away, I felt an exquisite lonliness. I could see so much of the world, so many lights on so many cars and in so many windows, but somehow by seeing it all at once I felt further from it. I couldn’t really fathom that each of those lights was a person, whistling a meaningless tune that never ended, that no one else would ever hear.

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