Sonata

After a year of residencies and travel, I find I do not want to leave New York, not right now. Sometimes I do not even leave my apartment. It was all I could do to agree to see my family over Thanksgiving, and I love them, dearly. But there is some deep-seated thought process that does not want to be interrupted. Being in New York is part of it, with Dustin, being home, in a place both new to me—our apartment of the last year and a half—and the city in which I’ve spent the majority of my life. I can say I grew up in Maine, but it seems to me I didn’t leave childhood behind until I came to New York.

I feel as if I grew up in New York. Or perhaps more specifically, Brooklyn–Fort Greene, Williamsburgh, South Park Slope. The East Village, the West Village. Harlem. The Upper West Side. In the first few years I lived in New York, I moved between sublets. I’m writing about it now a little as well. But it’s also the case that the unpacking of my boxes after all this moving around has me uncovering file after file of unfinished work, some of which I abandoned, some of which I set aside to return to later, all of which is calling me, a little choir with songs about my future. I created a filing cabinet in my desk at home, with projects in a row for me to work on, and as I’m ready, I put them in my bag and take them to my writing office.

For now, though, I am still finishing this novel.

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I often take the trains now from our apartment to my writing office, sometimes my bike, and the journey feels too short, which is how I know I wish I still lived in Brooklyn. Or wish the apartment I had with Dustin was in Brooklyn, or something of the kind. We talk about Brooklyn, specifically Bushwick or Williamsburg, but sometimes other neighborhoods too. The other day, we were nearly ready to move to Sunset Park.

Perhaps I will begin to take long trips on the subway to read, with no particular destination.

It’s interesting to me that part of what drove me to distraction on my travels was the noises I heard from other artists inside of the various residencies I was in, and yet I think part of that was the cleanse I was on, which can make you feel, well, sensitive. But cleanse or no cleanse, I can get on a New York subway train and descend into a level of concentration I rarely find anywhere else. It’s almost cruel, or it would be, if it were something you could argue with or understand.

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When I get out of the train, I am in the FIT neighborhood. The office is 2 blocks east of the C/E trains. Think whimsically dressed kids with plans on being the next big thing in fashion. One more block and I am in the flower district, another, Koreatown, still another, Chelsea.

By my office, then, outside on the street, I am surrounded by baby fashionistas, flowers, Koreans and gay men. This seems exactly right. Also a short stretch of bike messengers who smoke what seems to be a bale of weed on the sidewalk every day around 6PM.

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I am also writing a science fiction novel, a young woman says to me last night, interested in possibly studying with me. She shrugs, as if she has admitted something embarrassing. Oh, I have plans for one, I tell her. We laugh. Me in part because of the long row of things in my filing cabinet at home.

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“You’re writing a piano sonata,” Joshua Furst observed to me last night at Franklin Park. I’d just given a short preview reading to the audience out there in Prospect Heights, a part of a group of readers on the theme of Nocturnes. Joshua did me the great favor of coming to both this reading and another, the week before, an invitation only private salon in Williamsburg, and so he and had a long view of a kind on what I was up to with the novel, as I read distinct excerpts. Today I looked the reference up—he was speaking, I assumed, of Beethoven, but in any case, I found this, in a simple check of Wikipedia, and experienced something between an idea and a moment of recognition. Sonatas of the classical period and after are typically considered to have four movements:

  1. An allegro, which by this point was in what is called sonata form, complete with exposition, development, and recapitulation.
  2. A slow movement, an AndanteAdagio or Largo.
  3. A dance movement, frequently Minuet and trio or – especially later in the classical period – a Scherzo and trio.
  4. A finale in faster tempo, often in a sonata–rondo form.

What has been hardest in writing this is understanding the structure I wanted to use for it. It may be this is it.

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