Friday, June 30, 2006

Summer State of Mind

When I was smaller, I regarded the Fourth of July as a benchmark. A hard and fast entity, that, while always promised the sizzle of the grill, wet feet slopping drops from the pool to patio, and the fireworks at Limerock, first and foremost, the holiday meant one thing.

Half of summer gone.

I’m still small. In stature and in mind. Because even with the advent of Summer Fridays, the unrelenting pour of rain (that really shouldn’t tally, as it cuts back on useable warm days), and a vacation planned in August, before this moment, I’ve suffered from the idea that summer is a marked man.

An unshakeable feeling that his death is near.

Perhaps my gloominess is not entirely unfounded, just misdirected. It could very well be that the end of summer for me is pending, looming. Though not exactly because it’s Independence Day Eve. Maybe it’s because my summer job is actually my real job, trading the contraband crème brulees and cigarette breaks of a bus girl for the matching accessories and fountain pen of a worker bee.

No longer do I ride my bike to the little grill in town, I take the subway to a monstrous building cookie-cut from the mold of so many others.

No longer am I paid in cash, wrinkled bills stuffed into a maroon apron without counting, then shoved into a drawer, retrieved only for dime store lip-gloss and the cost of entry to a kegger. A paycheck arrives, already deposited into a bank account, full of columns and numbers and taxable subtractions. Depending on the week, it goes straight away to rent.

My parents say that they really don’t have a summer any more. Each day of the season cannot be distinguished from the last, save for the humid weather and weekend barbeques.

I find that heartbreakingly depressing. I refuse to become an adult about this. I see the error in my maturation and need to stop it. Not to remain young at heart, but because I know, deep down, I just will never be able to fully give it up. The memories of summers cascade through me.

Sleepovers, cooking fireside, mosquito bites, the community pool.

Swim lessons, day camp, packed lunches, pickles, juice boxes, shorts and scabbed knees, my bike, the sky, the porch, the burst of sparklers, Frisbee with my dogs, the ice cream truck, playing dodge ball in the dead-end street after dinner, the walk to the sticker store, the passenger’s seat of my parent’s car.

Field parties, his parent’s house when they’re in Europe, the drive between, the trampoline, red cups of beer, the backyard, Tiki torches, tank tops, popsicles, the sundeck, the evening.

Now glasses of white burgundy, the shore, beach towns, weddings, parties, walks around the block in search of gelato, counting the handful of stars visible in the city, taking those days off of work, ice coffee, her homemade desserts, his friends and their cigars, the garden in the back of the bar, the rooftop, paper lanterns, votive candles, the exclusive pool somehow within reach, Coney island for the concerts and hotdogs, the parade, shifts and linen.

Summer does alter as we age. But not in a bad way. Maybe it’s that summer does change tunes, but never quality.

For me, I just won’t let it. This has always been my most beloved time of year. And this year, I’m regarding the Fourth of July as the beginning of summer, not the middle, because I haven’t noticed it until now, haven’t slowed down with a belly-breath and a Sno-cone until now. Because now that I'm older, what I've lost in freedom, I've gained in choice.

So this year, I choose summer. Summer as a state of mind.
And it’s only just begun.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

East Village Elitism

The softer side of St. Mark’s is invisible from the view between Second and Third, obscured by the longish bi-hawks of aging punks, kitschy sunglass kiosks, and t-shirt peddlers famous for black attire emblazoned with ‘edgy sayings’ (most of which seem to crazy-font-shout ‘Have a nice fucking day’).

It’s a mini wunderkid land, calling out to teenagers, tourists and upper-direction-siders alike. For those of us who live within a stone’s throw, we look on with a short sense of dread, a perennial reminder of our failed rebel youth, healed tongue piercings, and regrettable tribal tattoos. For me, the bounty of polyester pants and gas station uniforms overcomes the attraction of the crowded dive bars and Chipotle, usually in heavy rotation.

Luckily, walking east, it morphs slowly; dotted by bistros, jazz bars and eateries. The brick buildings emerge, the planted trees in full leaf sprout, and wrought iron no longer indicates prison-barred windows.

Between First and Second, and then from First to A, a nightly sway drifts in the air. Jule’s Café’s sunken patio and intoxicating French conversation pair well with the raspberry coulis Bellini, especially when served to the sultry stylings of a live band. A place I’ve never found the name of is abuzz at every hour, beautiful people stretching their legs alfresco as they dine on exotic salads. Further on, the date spots continue with many like Yaffa Café, under a striped awning and the famed mural. Beyond that, incredible drunk food in throngs: sushi, The Dumpling Man, Crif Dog.

Finally, there exists an Australian ice creamery with gooey concoctions that put Tasti D-Lite to shame (though I am a fan of the whipped air). The cold cups are rich and velvety on the tongue. As they scoop up your order, it’s fun to survey the vast offerings of gourmet chocolates, gilded with designs and infused with teas and other subtle flavors.

Last night, that was exactly what we intended upon doing. Sampling a few on wooden spoons and then insisting our flavor of choice be in a children’s cup, which comes with a hidden toy in the bottom, usually a bouncy ball, perfect for throwing in traffic on First. A few feet before the storefront, we passed two, skinny hipsterettes, apparently pecking at white plastic cups. It was an awkward passing in which we had to dart one way and then the next to avoid the outdoor diners and then again to avoid a perfectly grunged street performer. So we slowed, letting the girls pass. It was then that I realized the thinner one, the one with the pretty, bulging blues and delicate high forehead, was Heather Graham.

In a flash they were gone, and we started gossiping. We just saw Heather Graham! Sure, it didn’t seem she’s been getting much work since Scrubs, and she was a dead ringer for a startled cousin of Elijah Wood's, but it was a celebrity sighting nonetheless. Right near our favorite ice cream place. And even better, it looked like, just maybe, she had just been there.

We lightly continued on our journey. At the door, two workers wouldn’t let us in. They were closed at 10:20. Apparently they had been closed since ten. No. No exceptions.

But then…? How did…?

Though our sighting was admittedly quick, and I couldn’t really tell what she was holding, if anything at all, and she was merely walking from the direction of the place, not out of it, circumstantial evidence leads me to believe…. oh, right. They let Heather in and not us. Duh, ice cream only for the famous.

Got it.

Even still, we felt a little stiffed. Telling from her lanky limbs, we would have at least finished ours…

Kidding, kidding.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


At the inevitable intervention, I see events playing out as this.

I know I need help, okay? I know it. And I’m sorry. But that’s why I’ve been getting therapy since the tender age of thirteen. And I know, I know, this immersion technique is somewhat controversial, plopping me right in the middle of temptation only to have me dabble in the destructive behaviors anyway. But still, I believe in it. I believe in therapy.

Retail therapy.

Nothing heals my soul more than a cashmere blanket, wooden bangles, creamed eye shadow, floral bath products (oooh, sugar scrubs), shirtdresses, crisp denim or sultry sandals.

Unless it’s heavy, hardcover books, starched linen, sea scallops, obscure CDs, glossies (Money, Vogue for the ads, Glamour, Real Simple, Newsweek, O, The New Yorker sometimes, Fortune, New York), air spritzers in colored tea scents, broccolini, boxes of stationary, socks, swatches of fabric, scraps of ribbon, bundles of bright wool yarn, notebooks and note cards, toilet bowl cleaner.

Hell, I even snapped up a drill once to install some shelving, and floated all afternoon on the wave of my new purchase.

Not that I didn’t need all those "trinkets".

Not that I precisely did need them, either.

But I had use, or made use for them, and out the billfold came. I love the passing of items, the boxed clothes, the new-anything smell. I love finding vintage, the tinkle of delicate jewelry, amassing painted glass. Buying presents for family and friends just because. Reverse shopping double-thrills. Flipping these wonders a few months later in plastic bags full, freshly laundered and gently used items handed to the Salvation Army reclaims the rush. *

Some would tout shopping in New York as better than dating in New York. I’ll steer clear of weighing in on that with one comment off the record.

The shopping-for anything-is really, really good.

Though I’m not quite sure if I’m being cured of or merely exposed to a contagious strain of the gimmes.

*Echoeing the soul-soothing are the donated portions of each paycheck to the Wild African Elephant Fund, a rape center in Salt Lake City, and a children’s refugee charity. Or spending a Saturday in Queens painting murals at an underprivileged school. Though, admittedly, none of this is nearly enough for one person, and I realize I should be giving much, much more in return. And I plan to.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Debauchery, please...

Be afraid, men. Be very, very afraid.

Before Friday, the last bachelorette party I stumbled through was in the dead heat of last July’s Vegas.

The pool at the Hard Rock existed only to quench all thirsts: it soothed our bar-battered bodies, its icy, green, plastic contained beverages calmed our sore throats (self-medicating our hangovers with a bit of the hair of the dog), and our curiosities and libidos were alleviated by man cleavage, dental floss thongs in all flavors, and sun lotion greased hardbodies.

Glittery chains, dark roots, gel-tipped nails. Buoyant breasts bobbed in the water at the south end, butts in the air at the north. Weaved cowboy hats and writhing coeds everywhere.

Versace sunglasses nestled between impressive boob jobs and tucked into the thin sides of banana hammocks.

Everything they said about Vegas…it was all too true. This was not just Sin City; this was lust on a gold-plated platter.

Just the place for us—a motley crue of jaded city girls from the east and sunburnt consultants from Seattle, with high tolerances and money to blow. Just the place for us to play a three-day long game of dare, no truth involved.

My personal favorites:

Me, squawking and flailing as a chicken overcome with bird flu, around the pool, nearly halfway, as strippers in hot pants and 'roid-raged men looked on in a mix of horror and bemusement.

Me, at the high roller table, faking a terrible impression of a thick Strong Island accent, practically yelling my wager of five dollars at three silver fox-type businessmen.

Lucinda jackknifing onto a six-foot long inflatable phallus, which we dragged around with us in the pool, soliciting most frequently the following two phrases:

“Hey, they used my mold!”


“That’s right, work your way up to my size!”

We weaseled bottle service at Pure, dodged sleazebags at Ghostbar, took an unforgettable trip to the top floor of Olympic Gardens (our favorite was the cop who reprimanded the bride-to-be for “violating penal code 6969”).

This weekend, the group of girls was different and the venue was closer, though the penchant for debauchery was virtually the same.

This time around, with the theme of “undercover”, the highlights included:

Me, in a platinum wig, sporting a nametag that proudly proclaimed, “Hi! My name is Candi (spelled with an “i”, dotted with a heart)” and a ruffled dress with leggings and heels. And the four guys who asked me if that was indeed my real hair, and indeed, my real name. And who refused to believe me when I told them the truth.

All of us, drinking only from the requisite flesh-toned straws (replete with a Map Quest worthy network of snaking, highway-like veins, and asymmetrical testicles).

Games, lots of games. Card games with instructions for the night. The one I pulled? Get a guy to give you some of his pubic hair; ten extra points if it’s blond, twenty if it’s gray!

Poor Brian (I think that’s what his name was). He hurt himself trying to help me win, bless his giving heart. But after his third attempt, and possible permanent damage to his family jewels, I convinced him it wasn’t worth it and pointed him towards the next So-Co and lime shot.

Later, I was saved from an awkward conversation with another guy (this being the part when I tell him I have a boyfriend and he either walks away as I stand there like an idiot, or he stays, which is even worse) when he tried to impress me by emptying his Amstel Light onto the crowd below the balcony, immediately before he was forcibly ejected from the bar.

The next day, the future bride spent the afternoon with her head in the toilet.

No better way to ring in the celebration of nuptials, I suppose.

Share your bachelor/bachelorette stories, please. I want to think that my friends and I are halfway normal, even if it's far from true...

Friday, June 23, 2006

What day is today?

I’ve locked myself out of the apartment. Defeated and wilting, I’ve taken cover in a coffee shop. Corner table. Against the pillowed window seat. Large iced black tea.

And the bags. The purple canvas hides a pair of red slingbacks, a bottle of fine and gently tasted wine, swimming change, errant Fidelity statements, a folded and smashed packet of Splenda.

The other bag is stuffed with girl goodies, not the least of which being a dark olive shirtdress, nearly identical in cut as the one I am currently sporting.

As I write this, a sleeveless, dreadlocked man asks me a startling question.

“Excuse me, do you know what the date is?”

I stop mid-line, mid-sip, my hand faltering cold from the cubes in the tea.

“Pardon?” I manage.

“Today. What day is today?” He motions to his newspaper, indicating an event listing with his pointed finger.

I want to chide him. Joke with him. Why today is Christmas Day, Mr. Scrooge…

But I can’t. I gulp, swallowing the words whole.

“The 22nd.”

He attends back to his paper, his rhubarb muffin, his ratty backpack. I face the glass, the street, listless.

What day is today?

To not know the date, to be blissfully unaware of one’s surroundings, one’s lack of obligations? This man, at least for this moment, lives within that realm.

I cringe. This man out-ages me by thirty years, yet I’m the one burdened by time. I’m painfully aware of everything. The cost of the dress and the tea and everything else backed out of my strained, quote-unquote budget. The position of the sun as it beats down on my chapfallen back, my borrowed minutes in the cool of this shop, the number of days it’s been since I was purged from the protective womb of college. All of it. I’m so tuned in, I am too engrossed.

I have an 18th century poetess moment. O, to be unaware!

The caloric contents, the manner of shoulds, guarded laughter, business casual, the price of freedom, the limits of experience, the blaring trill of the office phone, the barking orders of parents, bosses, elder siblings, speed and credit limits, blood pressure.

O, what I may find if only I didn’t know even the tiniest self-imposed weight of neurosis, lust for privilege, now-or-never, what could I become?

This man.

This man, at nine o’clock, growing salt and pepper coils in lieu of hair, a sprinkling of freckles across his nose, thumbing through the Voice, opposite his ukulele—yes ukulele—and singing off-key to “Comfortably Numb.”

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Some people have it. Sometimes I’m one of them. Most of the time I am not. Every morning like clockwork, I’m reminded with the buzz. The bleep bleep bleep. My flapping hand blindly finding the snooze once more. Not before I get a quick (left) eyeful of one half-finished art project, the pile of still-folded laundry that I’ve been treating as an invisible dresser, the stacked paperbacks that were must-reads a mere month ago, the sloppy outline of my dream, debut novel.

Is routine the parent of motivation? Maybe it’s guilt that incites action. Either way, I’ve found nothing to be fail-safe thus far. I need a life coach, I need self-help, I need a jumpstart. Or I just need to start sucking it up and stop looking for an external kick. Take a moment and slide out my driver’s license. Still Connecticut (as I haven’t found the motivation to switch it to New York, even after three years here). And look at myself in the picture. Shining, smiling, rosy-cheeked and with bangs (hey—they were in, I swear). Twenty years old. Just four years ago. And what have I done, really done, since then? Relationships don't count. Vacations, deviations, distractions don't count. The four year journey of high school seemed like flying through a wormhole. The years of college catapulted me into a depraved reality, a jam-cram of information and frenetic travel that was pure joy. But the four after? Hmmmm. I’m three-quarters through and I'm only as far as the first few learnings of a one-year newbie. Since then, I couldn’t tell you what’s happened. Jobs, apartments, more questions, less answers. Oh, and I lost the bangs.

I want something to happen. Specifically, this: To be plucked from the internet by a sharply dressed agent. One that sees me as a diamond in the rough, strips the mediocrity, slaps on a coat of paint, and tosses me on the market. He/she’d believe in my sale. But, who’s buying?

Would you buy it? Would you buy me? If I could pull it off, would the world think I was pulling wool over its eyes? Could I mix my almost literary style with something delicious, salacious, top it with a bing cherry and serve it up for your consumption? Would anyone flock to snag an edition, would anyone touch it with a ten foot pole, would anyone (besides my mother) care?

I may never know. But I have to try.

I have to find the motivation. Somehow.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Out West

Time away, not off, broadens the perspective without fail.

I am constantly reminded.

The world is simplified, not the space and air around me. It is not in the steamed-plump bubble of New York City, within the confines of the 9th floor in midtown, the 3rd in the East Village, the pizzeria, the bookstore, the coffee shop on the corner. It pulses and sways continuous, oblivious to locations, coasts, lives flit, loves lost, movement cannot be contained.

Out west, the rolling expanse of night nearly fogged with clarity. The white lights littered to infinity. I have never seen the stars as this, the chill of June after ten, the navy ocean above.

A place exists, dubbed the “horse heavens”, a vineyard on the red mountain. Back in the city, merely legend, but here, grounded real.

Perennial ice shifts, fat slabs stripe the drive. Old mining towns sprung in crops of painted wood and flat roofing.

Bricked paths, dancing fountains, pricey boutiques, patioed bistros and taverns, all swathed by pastoral, swept green, blue and white.

Blond, implanted women are young from behind, but as they swish direction, their leathered facades divulge decades frying under the western sun.

Peekytoe crab, shaved summer truffles floating in a tarty, creamy, Meyer lemon sauce. The chef smiles and asks my name, and as I respond, he dismisses his approaching sous with a chop of his hand. He thinks he can prey on me because in his world he is a rock star, and in this moment our worlds are one, but I am only interested in his craft, his divine offerings, and so I lick my spoon and turn away in search of the next decanter.

This is summer in a wintered paradise, the new car smell of so much wealth colliding with the refuge of nature. The gorged indulge, feeding ravenously on all around them. The tastes, the freedoms, feet arched and eyes to the endless glare.

This is the world around me for a shortened week, and I am amazed.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Divide

Never before had I felt genuine jealousy towards a child until this moment.

From behind, her small, shiny head snaps with each syllable.





Colored pencils fling down, a half-scribbled page of the picture book hangs, limp on the ledge of the serving tray, pushed aside by an intrusive slice of yellowed French toast, piped and speckled with brown, flanked by jeweled strawberries—oversized rubies really—growing thin, emerald stems.

A smile stretches, whitened teeth, an updo.

“Would she rather have an omelet?” The long neck in loafers asks.

This is a caste system, I’m merely a visitor, the rear’s bathroom line snaked long through the butt of the plane.

The front line’s wait is roomier and offers a snapshot, the other half’s idiosyncrasies.

The family knows nothing of meritocracy, preferring instead a blanket reaction for want of this and want of that.

The omelet appears simultaneous with the burnout of the “occupied” light.

Inside the bathroom, blue swirly water and florescent buzz, scratchy facial tissue, the weak, lukewarm tap.

Out, to borrow another moment from first class is an impossibility, as impatient passenger full of diet soda stand in wait, and in the way.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The things I don't (know)

How not to take myself so seriously, the proper way to iron, where my money goes each month

Impenetrable obstacles, laziness, immobility of thought

The truth about anger, politics, and stretching

What’s good on T.V. right now, which film to rent, how to bargain for that book, the name of the magazine I wrote down this morning

Two of my grandparents, four coworkers, my newspaper guy’s first name

The gauge which informs me, which shade of navy to choose, what flavor the candles are

When enough is enough, how to be sated, why dark beer fills me up every time

Why I’m neat in spurts, why in winter I’m always cold and never thirsty

Needlepoint, where the button was lost, how to mend a hole in my heart

If facials work, if squinting begets wrinkles, how bad washing hair every day is

The taste of persimmons, the smell of the Pacific Rim, the leather seats of a private plane

Where the jelly jars go, how to make dilly beans, the best way to cultivate the tomatoes

To warm up the car even in summertime, the schedule for clipping the dog’s nails, to stop pressing “snooze”

Where I put my CPR card, what the third rule of CPR is

How to tell well-preserved vintage, when the melons are ripe, if the salad greens have been washed

Why I bought that black and white skirt and never wore it, why I need a new one

To ask for a raise, the justification for paying dues, glass ceilings

Where I’m going, how I got here, the way home

A tried and true way to stave off a cold, when to starve a fever

French-braiding, dough-kneading, straight-sitting

Which way is up, why the firefly glows, how deep the pool is in the dark

To make it impersonal, to keep the enthusiasm down, that I can’t

What’s so great about baseball unless you’re in the stands, why fall seems so sad, why spring is so short

How much sleep I really need, how much space is left on this disc, our square footage

The speed limit, the time limit, why the daily has to grind

Off to white-capped mountains in the west, back on Monday with stories...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Almost Reality

Today marks the beginning of the highly coveted trial-internship that is the MTV/Rolling Stone project. What better time than now to hurl myself into a shame-spiral of denial, given that I was one of the 85 other losers that almost made it on the show?

I’m no stranger to living the life of a reality reject. Oh, no. Would you believe it if I told you, dear reader, that I made it to the final round of the Real World Austin? Well you shouldn’t, because I only made it to the second round. But still, I was sort of proud. I figure first cuts devastated around a few dozen thousand, so it was validation that I was semi-interesting at the very least. My stellar video included the sound effects of a faulty shower drain spectacle in my boyfriend’s apartment, sucking the water from the tub with a terrible, ripping noise while I sat Jenny-McCarthy-does-Candy’s-ads-style atop the john, demurely crossing and uncrossing my stilletos, moaning, “Why did I eat the whole burrito. Why?!” and jerking my body each time the tub made another hideous “pffffffftttt.” Then the camera panned away from me, over to the tub and the drain, revealing my little joke, the soundtack punctuated by my uncontrollable giggles. I mean, I really thought it was funny. I guess you had to be there, because as I recall it now, I’m nothing short of horrified.

One gray morning after, I was blessed with the “long application”; a big, fat, textbook of a form which requested that the piles upon miles of blanks be filled out comprehensively, legibly, and within 24 hours. This I got in the third week of a new job. Right when the work starts to get really bad because everyone figures you’ve had enough time to “get up to speed” and commences throwing projects at you, though you still don’t know anyone’s name or what you’re supposed to be doing and are far too embarrassed to venture asking. The short of it is this: I filled it out half-heartedly, over-thinking, tossing off prickled barbs like they were lollies* and faxed it in without the final two pages. Suffice it to say, I was never contacted again and they picked that odd-looking, gossipy virgin to fill the “kooky girl” spot instead of me.

So when I was perusing craigslist a few months ago and stumbled upon the MTV/Rolling Stone Project audition info, I was a bit wary of the process. But still, incredibly bored of winter-thawing-spring, broke-ness, and lack of response to, "so what have you been up to?", I thought it might be fun just to apply. Besides, it was an avenue for breaking into writing. And I need(ed) all the help I could get. The perk of marinating with a bunch of hipster bands was just the delicious cream-cheese frosting.

This time, I filled the application out with a pure heart, devoid of gimmicks. I love music, I adore writing, surely I would excel within the realm of writing about music. I offered some ideas for the magazine. Some tongue-and-cheek thoughts on Brooklyn beards, Seattle then-and-now, a “really big” re-shoot of iconic rock photos utilizing artists and influencers of today as the bands and supermodels as their groupies, stuff like that, knowing full well that I was probably signing away the rights to all these pitches, never again to be credited to me. But hey, I had the chance to actually do something with myself here, prove to me, mom, and anyone else that I was worth something, so off the rights went. And for the video, I did it right this time, abetted by many a friend certain of the perfect equation for reality success.

Clear lighting + low-cut top = callback.

Perhaps that would keep me on the monitor for the first thirty seconds while I shook off jitters and morphed from insecure to immanent intelligence. Besides, friends assured, TV is for looking, and we all know you have to be marketable eye-candy to some degree. Show your “talent” now, show your brain later. Cry in the corner because you sold your soul much, much later.

I said my piece; hopes and dreams, how I grew up with Rolling Stone and Kurt Cobain, whom I admired and why I needed this chance, how I’ve lived thus far below expectations, doggy-paddling in a pool of disappointment and hackneyed quips. I dropped it in the mailbox feeling pretty good. Somehow it felt like an espresso-sized shot of confidence, even without any real affirmation.

A few days later I got a call from MTV(!). They had, in hand, my application, but couldn’t watch my video in its current format. Mind you, this video was on a regular, small DVD/VCR tape that fits into any camcorder made in the last ten years. And was nothing special, and the ONLY thing I could have bought at K-Mart in Astor Place. Apparently, the casting kids at MTV are getting some sort of raw deal where they have equipment that can’t handle that format. So after much confusion, I duplicated it and mailed it back, past the deadline, and hoped for the best.

Lo and behold, the prized email came. I was a semi-finalist (!!) and wanted (!!!) for a two-hour taped interview. All I had to do to get on TV was to bring another idea along with my butt to the hotel on time.

At a quarter past eight, I entered an empty hotel room. The beds were leveled vertically up against the walls, the lights were bright, the blinds drawn. A camcorder blinked red at me from its three-legged perch. A barefoot girl politely asked me to please come in. A guy closed the door behind me. They quickly apologized for the shadiness of it all, and I cracked a joke about how they needn’t worry, I’d been filmed in hotels worse than this (tee hee), and we commenced.

Here’s where I’ll gloss over, not to protect the innocent, but to protect you from getting bored to tears. They were really quite nice, I talked about my life, and I signed something. Somehow I went off into this long diatribe about my family and writing history. I was literally irritating myself, so I can’t understand how they managed to look engaged the whole time. These people are well trained. I left feeling like a total moron, knowing that I had jabbered on, not being terribly interesting, adjusting my top and nervously licking my lips the entire time. It had crawled on, and then it was done.

And a few weeks later, so was I. They had a round of hopefuls fly out to LA to get their final screen test. I was not one of them. I had a nagging suspicion that I was done about five minutes in, but still, reading that final no was a bit of a knee-cutter. Then it was a warm wash, clean and total relief.

It’s still frothing around my mind. The what ifs. The goods. The bads. I would have had to quit my loving job, give up my summer, and become a slave to a horde of cameramen. Throw in the kicker: an evaluation by none-other-than Jann Wenner. Televised. And if I didn’t sustain until the finale, I would have emerged bitten and torn from the experience with no job to speak of, no money, and probably zero credibility if I ever dared to try something else. Then I got depressed at the notion. Do people on reality TV become productive members of society afterwards? Can they shake the crushing shadow that people have seen them at their worst and judged them for it? I’ve got to be honest with myself: I’m not sure if I have the spine for that. In fact, I’m starting to think I don’t have the spine for anything.

Blogging certainly is the reality TV of the internet, but somehow it’s safer, nestled close in a cover of anonymity and space between you and your attackers. True, no one cuts you a break, just the same. They happen upon your life via linkage and then think it normal to call you worthless and talent-less based on a blurb you wrote for a select few. Mud slinging and the like on your home turf, skipping out and leaving you to mop up the mess. It’s a blast of harsh wind, and I’ve seen it get nasty on sites. But I have got to believe that it’s worse for those on TV, because the angry rash spreads so deeply. People seem to genuinely vehemently hate actors, celebutantes, reality pawns. And they are quite vocal about it. At least with blogging, you can maintain a shred of ambiguity...

Then again…part of me thinks that it would have been mighty cool…

Something to write home about…

I guess I’ll just have to watch the show to know for sure. And while I’m at it, try and guess which role I would have fulfilled, if only, like so many times before and so many times after, I had just been more of whatever they were looking for…

*Question paraphrased: MTV has a strict, no-tolerance policy against drugs. If you were picked to be on the show, could you go without using for TK days? To which I answered: Dood, totally. Well, okay, no synthetics.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The things I know...

nutrition, contrition

limited astrophysics, Italian grammar, Australian politics, English literature

when to smile and say thank you, and when to just smile

lawn maintenance, to lift from the legs, how to pack

two sangira recipes

that noxious people often win

where the sidewalk ends

laughter spreads by epidemic waves

formal dining room etiquette (salt cellars, dipping bowls, fish forks)

the correct way to cast a line, unhook the catch, and grill it whole

the dogs will sit still for brushing only if chicken-flavored toothpaste is used

to pinpoint an emotional problem, to contain a meltdown momentarily, to hold a seat

the joy of cooking

to read the summer stars

love, fear, and finite sadness

organic embraces carbon

all the Teflon presidents

how many three-cent stamps in a dozen

pets and bed-warmers are one and the same

partial catechism from childhood sunday school, protocol for bat mitzvahs

moss should grow on the north side of the rock

that now is more important than then

when I close my eyes and pull my hands tight to my body, the monster under the bed goes away

tomorrow never comes, yesterday always always fades, today will end if you just let it

all mothers are beautiful

skies are better blue than white

outside voices sometimes come inside

to awake, to breathe, to be alive is divine

in a perfect world, vacations would cycle through our schedules as regularly as the tides

to chew with my mouth closed, sit with my back straight, and hug sincerely with both arms

two wrongs never make it right

butter makes it better

there is such a thing as too much

to not forget the baseboards when dusting, the wine when housewarming, the cushions when key/wallet/remote searching

how not to fall out of a tree, off of a skateboard, in my heels

that there is more for me to learn in this life than droplets of water in the sea

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Cause I'm a Boss

I think about the future in slippery waves; small ones as though I am running my fingers through a streaming fountain. No big, bold, crashers, brimming with outrageous plans.

I wonder about the times after now, my wishful thinking leading me, twisting and turning in the dark until I arrive at a small door, one branded faintly with “what if” and I turn the knob.

Sometimes I start conversations with, “when I’m grown up”. When I’m rich, when I’m powerful, when I’m a boss. None of these things has happened yet. At first I thought age was the key. But as I round the bend to twenty-five, I’d like to scrap that. Please, let age not be the answer, the means. Because I’m officially out of the early 20s and into the “mids”. And not a thing has become clearer since the day I was seventeen, stretched out on the ground, my head on the grass, my body on the drive, eyes on the moon, and falling from my mouth the clichéd and ludicrous conclusions that every teen before me and every after came upon..."If only X, and then maybe Y, the world would be a better place. Why can’t everyone just chill out and intellectualize and move on?" The only difference between then and now? I’ve lost my Doc Martins and I realize how silly I was. Though that makes things no easier to reconcile now that I’m where I am. Or where I’m going.

What I do have is still a blank slate and the inconsistent ego to believe that I can draw on it what I like. That I can pick one of a myriad of favorite things realized or not and chalk it on there. I do know a thing or two about what makes me, me. But as for the rest, I’m just changing my mind every day. And I don't know what it takes to make it, even in a small way.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to strive for the brass ring. I may change the ride I’m on, but never the goal. The goal is to grasp, even if it slips from my grip, even if I lean too far and fall on my optimistic face.

Here's hoping that it pays off. If nothing else, so that one day someone will ask me why I do what I do the way I do it, whatever that may be, and instead of shrugging my shoulders, I’ll simply smile and reply, “Cause I’m a boss.” Because I'll have gotten somewhere, gotten clout somehow. I'll be overseeing something, master of my own universe, reigning over my life.

(And then, because I heart Kelis, perhaps I'll run my tongue over my bejeweled grin and sing the rest, “Diamonds on my neck, di-diamonds on my grill.”)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Tonight I’m going on a first date, and I’m going on it blindly. This morning I perfected my makeup, fretted over earrings (big, tacky gold or small, simple Peridot?), and slipped on my go-to jeans. We’re going to Pegu Club, where fabulous cocktails abound, and I already plan on getting tipsy to offset the guaranteed awkwardness.

Though decided upon last week, this morning I’m second-guessing my choice of venue. Sure it was great when I was there in December, but is it still good now? How much has the crowd changed? Will it convey the right vibe?

As an aside, this is not how I normally act. But this is no ordinary date. This is a friend date.

I’ve found in the city that girls have more traditional dating relationships with each other than we do with the opposite sex. Perhaps because hooking up is so easy, and dropping relationships even easier, we tread more carefully when selecting our girlfriends, the ones to penetrate the inner circle of our lives. Guys we try on as though they were dresses, snatching up ones we think might work for the moment, compiling notches, piles on the closet floor. Girls we try on more like undergarments; we want them perfect. They can’t pinch, they can’t pull, and though they are quite assorted as only a few match, some fit only for certain occasions (sober won’t mix with wild nights out, young mom won’t fare well with perpetually single, best road-trip buddy won’t love the long hikes so dear to sandal-wearing tree-hugger), each singular one we’re lucky enough to find must be great.

Too bad shopping for friends is far more limited than shopping for clothes. Work is the easiest arena if you’re surrounded by a gaggle of girls your own age. Friends of friends, randoms met at parties and bars, and at the gym are slightly more difficult. And even when you’re that you’ve managed to finagle the perfect group of friends, the city ends up finite, and great people leave for far off, open spaces. Filling their void is particularly hard. The city can be synonymous with lonely at times because we’re all in so much of a hurry, our heads down and bags bouncing, heels clicking furiously to get to wherever we’re going. So as girls, sometimes we’re left exposed, indulging in this strange ritual, seeking each other out, trying each other on, and hoping we’re liked equally in return.

Oftentimes, we eye each other in the office, first complimenting each other’s shoes or handbag, then working our way up to, “Oh, I’m running out to grab some lunch, want to come?” After breaching that boundary, we tread upon more dangerous ground: happy hour. If we’re really lucky, we can translate that into a Friday night pre-party, and only a very select few make it to Saturday shopping or Sunday brunch status. The number dwindles even lower when we enter stupid-movie watching, dream-sharing, soul-baring, daily-emailing, helping-one-another-move territory. Those friendships are the ones that feed our imaginations; the girlfriend equivalent of wedding fantasies, where the groom takes a backseat to a group of phenomenal bridesmaids.

Seems like it’s best if you approach any coupling, friend or otherwise, with the barest of expectations. Easy, breezy, if it happens it happens, if it doesn’t, oh well, there's always next time. That is how I feel about most things in my life, but deep down, everyone wants to be liked, whether it really matters or not…

So tonight, a friend date. With a very famous blogger. And I need to adhere to the rules of etiquette, composure and class. Because, like all friend dates, this is an evaluation, a test.

And I want to pass with flying colors.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Week's End

The staticky twang of Muddy Waters.

Sated by cups of tea and plates of crab soup dumplings.

Enveloped by the cloud of the bed.

Monday seems far, far away.

A square tin of bag balm rests on a glass edge. Soy candles burn soundless, emitting the sweet odor of milk.

A blind contour drawing tacked to the ceiling. Sepia-toned photographs align my walls. Below, the interlacing wood floor.

An unopened package of gourmet coffee grinds. Wicker basket brimming with snaking scarves, silk and cotton bands of color.

Low drumming of the rain. Pewter and gold figurines; one a rabbit, the other a painted Limoges.

Floral prints, striped pillowcases.

Clustered shoes, a family of keys, a pair of empty leather journals.

It’s only Sunday night. It’s just the warmth of my room. But right now, there’s no place I’d rather know.

With my toes peeking out from under the covers, I remember the feeling, the one I’ve bent by since I was a little girl.

As long as I keep the sandman at bay, my head under the blanket and feet jutting over the mattress’ end, I will prevent the passage of time. The night will unfurl forever as a carpet of black velvet, studded with diamond stars.

And the week’s end will live on. And Monday morning will never bloom.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Is it okay to...?

Suddenly and by a slapping jolt, fall head over heels for my gay Pilates instructor? Nevermind his sinewy stance, the reverse triangular of his shoulders, or his ever-so-slight-and-perfectly-crafted-East-Village-Mohawk. Give that to the other girls and boys. I’m in love with his attitude. The words he said were just so unexpectedly heavenly, I couldn’t help it. He's a modern-day take on my favorite children's story. The one of the girl who was rewarded for being kind to the disguised fairy by forever having an enchanted mouth. Every time he spoke, roses, pearls and gems fell from his lips.

Exhibit A: a smattering of what he said during my first class last night:

I want to make you comfortable.

If you feel stressed or tense, just breathe, and we will calm down together.

There is nothing more important than how you feel.

Are you a dancer? You are? I can definitely tell.

If you ever need to take a break, just tell me. Whatever you can do is amazing.

I’m so glad you came.

I want to see you again. Next week, same time.

(Best. Boyfriend. Ever.) (Sigh.)

Next time I’ll suggest he start a class catering only to newly heart-broken women at $20 bucks a pop. He’ll make a fortune.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

First access...

As I was ushered past the velvet rope at the opening of the latest club, promoting the latest exclusionary lifestyle, in last season’s suede, a forty-dollar haircut, and a re-gifted pair of Nicole Millers, it suddenly became Cristal clear.

Not labels, not cash, not a lofty business card nor lofty businessman, fabulous apartment nor pack of model friends.

The only thing I needed to succeed in New York was access.

And the swiftest route to that throbbing vein was a job. Just a silly, simple job where I was an assistant, and I wasn’t even assisting anything terribly important, but all of a sudden I was lusted after, because I possessed the power, or was at least close enough to a generator, where I could whisper in the ear of a rainmaker, and I could change the course of the world. Well, the worlds of a few people anyway, and those people had big, fat, corporate accounts ripe for buying my, and my colleagues, affinity.

So they came in droves. And their arms were full. Cirque de Soleil, ski trips, massages and treatments at New York’s best (read: most expensive) spas, US Open boxes, Fashion Week, concerts (David Bowie, Arcade Fire, Joss Stone), booze cruises and sailing in the harbor…

Magazine parties where lugues spang vodka, models bowed to our demands, and avant garde artists splashed paint on canvases to the rhythm of a cheering crowd.

And the free stuff, oh the free stuff. The bags of designer make-up, tickets, certificates for pedicures, hair products, books, music. So much free alcohol. And a free bout of alcoholism to go along with it.

I wasn’t yet 22 and I was selling my soul for the free stuff. The job wasn’t for me, the hours were long, the pay was bad. But that stuff, I couldn’t tear my arm away from the IV that bought my social status. Putting me close enough to brush against celebrities, drinking at night as though I was a flashing socialite, it pushed back the drapes and plunked bottles on the table like I was a millionaire. At times, my life felt like it was Page Six. And I loved each thrill because it somehow meant to me that I had made it, I was good enough to be treated this way, and my time had come. I was validated. This was my New York and I could do whatever I wanted with it. No matter who it stepped on. Everything and everyone was expendable. Trade up. Move on.

What I didn't realize at the time of course, was that the easily replaced, that relationship with a stamped expiry extended to me.

First access, then excess.

The bitterness, the vacuous nature, the nasty attitudes. The "what can you do for me?" that lurked beyong every BriteSmile. The ugliness found its way in despite my conviction and I slowly but surely began taking it all for granted. It’s true. The scene has a way of changing a person, particularly when all you have is an illusion of acceptance by it. The snapping pictures, the gold-plated parties, the slick veneer of a façade.

You are not one of them. Not quite. Not ever.