Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Upstairs Gwen

I think I’ve only actually seen and spent time with Gwen less than 20 times.

In my seemingly insignificant amount of time spent with her, for a lot of reasons she had a very significant impact on me and our loss of her has struck me in ways I wouldn’t have expected. A lot of what has come out of this is, I think, very autobiographical but that by no means makes it less about Gwen.

I grew up in New Jersey in a suburb of New York City, and I’ve lived in the city more than 3 years now. That is to say, I am by no means a transplant who has any tangible reasons to have not established a group of friends that I’ve met and accrued from my time living here but still, the fact is that I haven’t. I tend to not move forward after “hellos” and that’s just the way it’s been and the way that the routine that I’d found myself settled into has made it so.

But I’d seen a young, excited, exaggerated bleach blonde crew cutted, big eyed, cute girl outside of the door of my apartment on 11th street. I had politely and quietly said “hello” to her just as I would to any neighbor and building mate, but she was very excited to say “hello” back. I came home from dinner with my mom and sister and this was the first time I’d seen and spoken to Gwen, and after a quick greeting, she asked if I wanted to come out with her and her friend. I said that I couldn’t but still, it was more than I’m used to and further than most people tend to extend themselves upon first meetings.

I’d seen Gwen walking her dog Baby a few times outside and had small talk but really it was the first or second conversation I’ve ever had with her, in the bodega down the street where she was buying breakfast, that she urgently brought up that she was leaving for a trip to Europe in a few days and needed somebody to watch Baby. I agreed to watch her even though I thought it was very strange that this person whom I’d just met had enough trust in me, and enough of a freedom of spirit and confidence that things were going to be OK. So I thought alright, I’ll sort of have two apartments for a couple of weeks and I’ll have this cute dog to look after even though its probably going to be a pain in the ass.

Alright, what’s your number…OK, I’ll see you a little later, I put you in my phone as “Gwen Upstairs”, talk to you soon.

Gwen was leaving New Years day for her trip. New Years Eve has been notoriously depressing for a lot of people and this year I joined that group. I spent most of the night trying to fall asleep but with a drunken sadness and heartbeat thumping that I couldn’t sleep through. When I finally was able to catch a half hours worth of sleep I heard a knock at my door at around 8am.

Gwen didn’t know that I was on the verge of tears combined with no sleep and a full NYE worth of hangover, and it’s not that she didn’t or wouldn’t have cared, she just didn’t know.

OK, lets see your apartment / show me where the dog food is/ where does Baby like to be walked / when are you getting back again? / where are you going? / it’s ok, everything is going to be fine, I’ve had dogs my whole life and I promise I’ll take care of her, just go on your trip and have fun. And we walked around the block a couple of times and the streets were quiet and we talked a little and I found myself to be more open than ever and I stopped and told her “I’m really glad I met you, I think we’re going to be friends”…and it makes me smile now to think about that couple of seconds, and it makes me laugh to think that if any of my friends ever read this they wouldn’t believe who wrote it because these aren’t necessarily the words of the person they know. I just found myself to be very open and able to share vulnerabilities and wild thoughts and theories and there was something freeing in that. I’m even writing this all as a sort of pieced together stream of consciousness because I don’t think anything more organized or structured would be apropos.

Gwen says lets go wake up Michele. “Michele is my gorgeous Israeli friend, you HAVE to see her, she’s absolutely beautiful and…I have a huge crush on her, you will too.”

OK, lets go see Michele. Michele opens her apartment door, tall, beautiful, blonde curly hair, just woken up, in a thong…

Alright, maybe my day isn’t so bad…maybe last night wasn’t so bad…maybe things just aren’t so bad…I expected to be alone today but now here I am, with a cute new puppy for 2 weeks, a new friend in my neighbor, and a beautiful Israeli friend who I’ll be able to ask for help watching this dog with me, and in doing so, see her myself.

So we went for coffee down the street from our apartments and sat in a little corner of the shop and talked about Gwens plans.

Gwen flirted with Michele / I flirted with Michele / I was hungover but in that good way where you just feel calm and confident and say yes to everything / we took pictures of each other in funny poses and in serious poses and with our coffee…and we told each other some of our secrets about our lives…In this 40 minutes of having coffee with strangers I opened up and told these two girls things that I’ve never told anyone before / I told them the reasons for that day sadness / I told them who I wanted and what has happened / they told me who they were in love with, and why they can’t have them…and then our coffee mugs were empty and it was time for Gwen to catch a cab to the airport.

Gwen’s luggage must have weighed more than she did and I wasn’t going to let her carry it. I had already felt somewhat of a big brother role after such a short time, so much so that I was conscious of and surprised by it. But not in a way that I resented, but in a way that I was proud of and happy about.

I’ll carry your bag, this thing is bigger than you. Lets get you a cab and listen to me, everything will be fine with Baby. I’ll feed her and walk her and spend time with her and make her wear that ugly black jacket when its cold out and we’ll be here when you get back…go have fun.

And Gwens cab came and she thanked me 10 times and I put her suitcase in the trunk and Michele and I walked back to our street arm in arm and I came home and called my big brother to wish him a happy New Year and to tell him that I didn’t have much fun last night, and that I woke up in an awful mood…but that he wouldn’t believe the morning that I had had and that it made me feel so much better and brightened my day and my spirits and made me forget about the girl that I wanted to like me as much as I liked her. None of that mattered anymore at 11am even though it kept me awake and was beating out of my chest 3 hours earlier.

Gwen knew her parents would be mad if they knew she was going on this trip, but she felt like she had to go. Her excitement about everything at times seemed like naivety, but I think now that it was more of a manic mixture of youth and optimism and spirituality and enthusiasm.

So I fell in love with Baby in a day and she spent most of her time sleeping on my belly and making my cat Alabama wonder what she did wrong to deserve this new creature in her home. But we all got along and got used to our new situation…even though I had to find out that Baby was barely house trained. That’s ok though, that’s part of what comes with agreeing to watch a dog for 2 weeks for a friend you had just met a couple of times and at least she was partial to shitting in my shower, which sounds bad but is actually about as convenient as it gets.

I was back in my apartment with Baby sleeping on me and Gwen texted me from the cab. “Thank you again so much. You are partially saving my life J

The text is still in my phone.

Gwen wanted to help me redesign my apartment and teach me to paint, and introduce me to all of her “hot friends who I could totally get with” and brought me back a gift from when she went to Korea, and showed me pictures from Stockholm and told me about the ghosts in the haunted bars she went to and so on. She showed me some of her art, and spoke about her favorite artists and musicians and I knew immediately that this was her lane. She really knew how to create, and how to create beauty and to be inspired and to inspire. That’s where focus became a part of the room and a part of her face and voice, this much was obvious.

And I was always happy to say just enough get more ouf of her and to sit around smoking cigarettes with and listen to her theories on things and her plans and have music on that I hadn’t heard before. She was just a lot of fun to be around. A couple of days after I met her I told my sister in law that I had just made this new friend and that she was the most interesting person I had ever met.

While Gwen was in Stockholm she had this girl Sydney staying at her place for a while but when Gwen got back she ended up wanting Sydney to leave and they argued and fought and who really knows why. But there was that knock on my door again early in the morning, me hungover again, climbing out of bed, but because it was her I wasn’t mad I was just kind of, alright, relax Gwen, let me put my shoes on and then tell me what’s going on, I’m sure everything is going to be fine, we’ll figure it all out.

Sydney had to come get her stuff out of her apartment immediately. Gwen put me on the phone with her Aunt to reassure her that everything was ok and then I was talking to Sydney, and still, I really don’t know any of these people but I just felt like that was my role there in that moment. She knew I was happy to help out and maybe she knew that for me it was almost in a selfish act of good deed doing for the sake of upping my spirits, but either way, it was what it was. Everything turned out fine and we saw each other a few more times and I got to see Baby and Michele a few more times but my social sort of avoidance got the best of me and I slowed down on my calling and texting and reaching out and I flaked on plans and etc.

I had texted Gwen to see if she could “return the favor and watch Alabama for a few days” while I was out of town, to no response. I texted her “happy birthday!” too. When I saw a new picture of her posted on facebook by her mother I found out that we had lost Gwen and I left my office and just lost it on the way home and for a few days and now whenever I think deeply about her. For some reason I feel guilt about Gwen’s passing. Guilt that I should have checked in more to see what she was up to, or if she wanted to hang out for a minute…I think the one thing I can pinpoint is where the guilt is coming from. It’s from a wish-I-could-have-spent-more-time place more than anything else.

A stranger reading this is likely going to see it as a jumbled rant about me and the way that I react to certain situations and I realize that. I don’t know what it was exactly, and I can’t accurately put a finger on what exactly it was about Gwen that made such an impact on me but for some reason, even before finding out that she’d passed away, and after spending only such few times and short amounts of time with her, there was this strong, heavy, impact.

We always hugged when we said hello and told each other “I miss you, lets hang out soon” and I think there was just a lot of simple things that I learned from her about how to respond to opportunity of spontaneous new friendship and about how to make sure that you don’t miss out on spending more time with the people that you find yourself smiling with. It was kind of like she was the first real friend I’ve made in New York. That’s an alarming fact for me to realize, but I think it really speaks volumes about her character.

I live right by the front door of our building and there was a period of time after Gwen got back from Stockholm when each time she’d walk past my door Baby would stop walking and sniff the door of my apartment and I’d hear her collar jingling. It’s jarring a bit each time I hear the door still, I hear the door slam, and peoples keys jingling and it reminds of Baby’s collar and Gwen walking by, and I catch myself and just shake my head a little and smirk.

Hopefully some of this resonates with other people that knew her. I think that some of the more pronounced aspects of her personality are recognizable through a few of these anecdotes and to further instill my selfishness in writing this, I’m partially doing it so that I can look back have some happy memories of the times we hung out and talked and smoked and laughed and listened or just walked by and said “hello”.

-Dustin Marucci

downstairs, apt. A

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I've moved to Tumblr.

Click here, it's still Dustinternet.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Haruki Murakami: On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning

One beautiful April morning, on a narrow side street in Tokyo's fashionable Harujuku neighborhood, I walked past the 100% perfect girl.

Tell you the truth, she's not that good-looking. She doesn't stand out in any way. Her clothes are nothing special. The back of her hair is still bent out of shape from sleep. She isn't young, either - must be near thirty, not even close to a "girl," properly speaking. But still, I know from fifty yards away: She's the 100% perfect girl for me. The moment I see her, there's a rumbling in my chest, and my mouth is as dry as a desert.

Maybe you have your own particular favorite type of girl - one with slim ankles, say, or big eyes, or graceful fingers, or you're drawn for no good reason to girls who take their time with every meal. I have my own preferences, of course. Sometimes in a restaurant I'll catch myself staring at the girl at the next table to mine because I like the shape of her nose.

But no one can insist that his 100% perfect girl correspond to some preconceived type. Much as I like noses, I can't recall the shape of hers - or even if she had one. All I can remember for sure is that she was no great beauty. It's weird.

"Yesterday on the street I passed the 100% girl," I tell someone.

"Yeah?" he says. "Good-looking?"

"Not really."

"Your favorite type, then?"

"I don't know. I can't seem to remember anything about her - the shape of her eyes or the size of her breasts."

"Strange."

"Yeah. Strange."

"So anyhow," he says, already bored, "what did you do? Talk to her? Follow her?"

"Nah. Just passed her on the street."

She's walking east to west, and I west to east. It's a really nice April morning.

Wish I could talk to her. Half an hour would be plenty: just ask her about herself, tell her about myself, and - what I'd really like to do - explain to her the complexities of fate that have led to our passing each other on a side street in Harajuku on a beautiful April morning in 1981. This was something sure to be crammed full of warm secrets, like an antique clock build when peace filled the world.

After talking, we'd have lunch somewhere, maybe see a Woody Allen movie, stop by a hotel bar for cocktails. With any kind of luck, we might end up in bed.

Potentiality knocks on the door of my heart.

Now the distance between us has narrowed to fifteen yards.

How can I approach her? What should I say?

"Good morning, miss. Do you think you could spare half an hour for a little conversation?"

Ridiculous. I'd sound like an insurance salesman.

"Pardon me, but would you happen to know if there is an all-night cleaners in the neighborhood?"

No, this is just as ridiculous. I'm not carrying any laundry, for one thing. Who's going to buy a line like that?

Maybe the simple truth would do. "Good morning. You are the 100% perfect girl for me."

No, she wouldn't believe it. Or even if she did, she might not want to talk to me. Sorry, she could say, I might be the 100% perfect girl for you, but you're not the 100% boy for me. It could happen. And if I found myself in that situation, I'd probably go to pieces. I'd never recover from the shock. I'm thirty-two, and that's what growing older is all about.

We pass in front of a flower shop. A small, warm air mass touches my skin. The asphalt is damp, and I catch the scent of roses. I can't bring myself to speak to her. She wears a white sweater, and in her right hand she holds a crisp white envelope lacking only a stamp. So: She's written somebody a letter, maybe spent the whole night writing, to judge from the sleepy look in her eyes. The envelope could contain every secret she's ever had.

I take a few more strides and turn: She's lost in the crowd.

Now, of course, I know exactly what I should have said to her. It would have been a long speech, though, far too long for me to have delivered it properly. The ideas I come up with are never very practical.

Oh, well. It would have started "Once upon a time" and ended "A sad story, don't you think?"

Once upon a time, there lived a boy and a girl. The boy was eighteen and the girl sixteen. He was not unusually handsome, and she was not especially beautiful. They were just an ordinary lonely boy and an ordinary lonely girl, like all the others. But they believed with their whole hearts that somewhere in the world there lived the 100% perfect boy and the 100% perfect girl for them. Yes, they believed in a miracle. And that miracle actually happened.

One day the two came upon each other on the corner of a street.

"This is amazing," he said. "I've been looking for you all my life. You may not believe this, but you're the 100% perfect girl for me."

"And you," she said to him, "are the 100% perfect boy for me, exactly as I'd pictured you in every detail. It's like a dream."

They sat on a park bench, held hands, and told each other their stories hour after hour. They were not lonely anymore. They had found and been found by their 100% perfect other. What a wonderful thing it is to find and be found by your 100% perfect other. It's a miracle, a cosmic miracle.

As they sat and talked, however, a tiny, tiny sliver of doubt took root in their hearts: Was it really all right for one's dreams to come true so easily?

And so, when there came a momentary lull in their conversation, the boy said to the girl, "Let's test ourselves - just once. If we really are each other's 100% perfect lovers, then sometime, somewhere, we will meet again without fail. And when that happens, and we know that we are the 100% perfect ones, we'll marry then and there. What do you think?"

"Yes," she said, "that is exactly what we should do."

And so they parted, she to the east, and he to the west.

The test they had agreed upon, however, was utterly unnecessary. They should never have undertaken it, because they really and truly were each other's 100% perfect lovers, and it was a miracle that they had ever met. But it was impossible for them to know this, young as they were. The cold, indifferent waves of fate proceeded to toss them unmercifully.

One winter, both the boy and the girl came down with the season's terrible inluenza, and after drifting for weeks between life and death they lost all memory of their earlier years. When they awoke, their heads were as empty as the young D. H. Lawrence's piggy bank.

They were two bright, determined young people, however, and through their unremitting efforts they were able to acquire once again the knowledge and feeling that qualified them to return as full-fledged members of society. Heaven be praised, they became truly upstanding citizens who knew how to transfer from one subway line to another, who were fully capable of sending a special-delivery letter at the post office. Indeed, they even experienced love again, sometimes as much as 75% or even 85% love.

Time passed with shocking swiftness, and soon the boy was thirty-two, the girl thirty.

One beautiful April morning, in search of a cup of coffee to start the day, the boy was walking from west to east, while the girl, intending to send a special-delivery letter, was walking from east to west, but along the same narrow street in the Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo. They passed each other in the very center of the street. The faintest gleam of their lost memories glimmered for the briefest moment in their hearts. Each felt a rumbling in their chest. And they knew:

She is the 100% perfect girl for me.

He is the 100% perfect boy for me.

But the glow of their memories was far too weak, and their thoughts no longer had the clarity of fouteen years earlier. Without a word, they passed each other, disappearing into the crowd. Forever.

A sad story, don't you think?

Yes, that's it, that is what I should have said to her.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010


New Chiddy Bang mixtape. No way, get real.




Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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