conflicting changes

words ahmad diab

Drown yourself in the aromas of an East Village cafe. Domesticate the public noise with your private Spotify playlist. Resist the urge to pin imagined lives onto the faces and chatter of fellow customers and start your New York story. Sketch your paranoid transplant protagonist. Camouflage the paranoia with a light lisp she struggles to hide/overcome/forget. Intimidated by the jungle, reduce her to an Avenue D Tiffany's-box-sized-and-priced studio.  Give her some gentrification guilt, an expiring visa, and a love for all things Brooklyn – well, except for her Williamsburg music-blogging hipster ex, and she is already alive. Make her a mulatto, the kind dreamable only in a place like this one. Why not half-Indonesian, half-Croatian. Throw in a budding yet troubled hook-up arrangement that starts in the translated fiction section at the Strand. Compensate for the never-attainable "born and raised New Yorker" status with heaps of detail about the geography of Manhattan . . . perhaps by highlighting how culturally Jewish her bagel-eating, candle-averse agnostic self has become during the last few years in the city.

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