Sunday, July 30, 2006


I remember high schools, plural, because I went to more than one, though it wasn’t by my own choice or even fault.

My parents are die-hard subscribers to the (somewhat unpopular) belief that bearing children is no excuse to stop living and breathing an independent life. So because of that, we moved to my mother’s whim; her falling in love with a house here or there, my father’s need to pursue other jobs, other towns, other chapters.

I have no roots. You’d think it was unfortunate, but I’ve found it’s not. It’s liberating, not lonely.

I have been able to rewrite the story of my life, or really, have it rewritten for me, but who doesn’t want to have a new chance every once in a while?

The drawback is, my thoughts of my younger years are choppy, and though they mellow with time, perhaps they do so untruthfully.

Instead, spots are crystallized. Anxiety magnified, sadness overblown, happiness positively manic.

So I think of high school in a strange way, not as four fluid years in my life where I saw this and did that and boy, I was so young and wow, I didn’t know what I had. I think instead of these parts of me which can’t be sewn together because they existed singular, even, in different states.

At one in Connecticut, after most had gone each day, a girl no one really ever saw sat in the east hall and played her violin. Its sound was a beautiful, low haunting that permeated and echoed, past tacked art projects, soccer cleats and the smoker’s corner. Like it was big, alive and slithering, you could feel it everywhere. I remember that, and almost only that, in regards to September of my freshman year, pacing the linoleum tiles as I waited for my ride.

Even then, I was dimly aware that this was a wonderful and rare moment that would never be duplicated and still, I did not close my eyes and let the music pass through me, maybe because I was fourteen and the idea to sit and meditate/love/feel anything seemed so lame and so what my parents would have done, or even worse, what they would have wanted me to do.

Instead, I scowled and wondered why whoever was so late was so late. I said to myself it was weird that the girl played for no one. I said to myself it was annoying because I was trying to talk to a friend. This wasn't the soundtrack I'd picked for my life, yet here it was. I thought, I wish she’d stop. But really, I just didn’t want her to, and I didn’t want anyone to know.

That was the first, I think, I experienced panged duality of appreciation and wistfulness, and how maybe one was not really either, but both.

I’m not really sure why I remember things that way, or did what I did, or even still, do what I do. I just think that maybe because I felt then, as I do now, my lack of roots equated a lack of obligation, only disposable responsibility which could be taken or not, and what I should have done was walk to her and tell her she played well and that she brightened my day, when instead, all I did was pretend I didn’t like it, and then, like so many other times to come, packed up my belongings and moved away.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Tomato Lust

A good mood is back.

I’m going away this afternoon to the shade of Bucks County, the slate-lined pool, the orchards, the infinite meadowed lawn, the yippy dogs, unfamiliar pillows, the pantries lined with red pepper jelly in jars.

I’m sloughing off the city despite the car’s broken air conditioning, the mish mash of bubbled heat and tension closing in. No more week, this is the weekend.

I’ve got my bathing suit, my latest read, my unquenchable thirst for summer and inspiration to keep me cool.

There’s even something to look forward to beyond the present. The dead of August brings an upcoming vacation to the west coast for scoping unfulfilled dreams, but also the harvest of fat yellow tomatoes from the garden. That’s when we make a chilled, chunky gazpacho from scratch, loaded with herbs and heavy with vegetables. It’s sublime with a sloppy BLT made with fresh-picked arugula, toasted grain bread from a local bakery, and thick slabs of crunchy bacon.

We take them to the water and eat them under the sun with popped Frescas, our legs dipped in and our minds empty with ease.

Until then, iced tea and naps, floating and slipping on the grass, will do just fine.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Stress and other inconveniences...

When I am somebody, I vow I will negate stress with a plunge pool replete with pool boy fanning me with a banana leaf, French lemon soda, and deep tissue massages, perhaps given by said pool boy.

Because I am nobody, I negate stress with an electric fan, the mailroom guys shouting “Juancha” as I slump past, and warmed Diet Pepsi.

I’m feeling stressed. This job stuff is nuts, but it's out of my hands nuts. I worry too much, I absorb it all, I shake off too little. I don’t like that part of my personality. My better half has this incredibly infuriating and enviable manner about him, which I’d give my future pool boy for. This, “What? Me worry?” attitude, this “If I can’t change it, then I don’t think about it” countenance.

So much so, that when he gets a parking ticket, it bothers him for minutes, his flashes of road rage are contained in the moment, and he has a perpetual golden retriever grin.


He gets it.

I do not.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Life has never been fair.

But since when has that stopped anyone from whining?

I’m sick, sick, sick. An upper respiratory infection that I don’t know how I contracted (I’m looking at you, Jersey Shore) has left me hacking it for the past few days.

On top of that, I’ve gotten slammed with news at work that puts my position in a weird place, me in a sticky situation, and all sorts of fun stuff. Oh, and I ripped my favorite jeans. Like, really badly ripped them at the knee. No, not in a cool way.

But at least I’m on page 30 of my novel. And I wasn’t the one that passed the dinosaur. (Hooray!)

Okay, life is not fair, but still, it’s pretty great.

If you like, I’ll start posting bits of the book?

Sunday, July 23, 2006


The Jersey Shore is a dangerous place.

Not only for my Japanese sandals, this morning found burned and battered, as though by acid (very well the sludge I danced through all night), the leather cherry leaves peeled off.

Not only for my head, pressed in a hangover vice, not at all soothed the night prior by the cheese fries at the beach (nor with the brilliant discovery of one housemate to roll the cheese fries inside a piece of mushroom pizza).

But most of all, dangerous for this:

A birthday celebration caused immature revelry, multiple hookups, and pirate’s booty from Party Central.

Within the treasure trove were sheriff’s badges, shrimp squirt guns, giant pixie stix, temporary tattoos, golden medals and coins, plastic paratroopers, blow-up parrots and one sword.

Something else, too. Those little sponges that look like nothing, then expand tenfold with a few drops of water to reveal a dinosaur or exotic animal. Though, these were in pill forms.

In my inebriated state I thought it would be funny to toss a pill into the top of the birthday girl’s yet-to-be-funneled Miller Lite. I think I imagined it would immediately absorb and clog the tube or get stuck in her mouth and have her spitting out bits. Because when you’re drunk, things seem like a good idea, and things seem like they’re going to be funny.

Except, the pill didn’t immediately dissolve and the sponge didn’t immediately appear. And because she couldn’t finish the beer, because we had already done so many, I finished it off for her (this, as a reminder, was not thirty seconds after I had dropped the pill in).

When I was done, the pill was gone.

A moment later, I realized what had happened. Someone’s brother beat me to the punch.

“Where’s the pill?”

Where was the pill?

It wasn’t in the funnel. It hadn’t stopped up the tubing or fallen out or stuck to the side. The pill had been sucked down with the beer, was either in me or the birthday girl, and when it sloshed inside a stomach it was going to expand.

The only question was, which of us had been so unlucky? I posed this to the group, as the birthday girl grew mildly hysterical and everyone else doubled over in laughter.

“No,” the brother said, between fits of giggles. “That’s…not…the question!”

I felt my stomach flip, probably self-induced by my overactive imagination.

“The question is…” he said. “The question is, when is one of you going to PASS it??!”

Oh right.
Will keep you updated…

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bella, Mott

If ice cream solves all, then gelato can save the world.

At least my world, at least my bad mood. Gelato can save an evening bordering on the brink of argumentative, or boring, or ordinary.

Ciao Bella (a phrase I never thought I could hear again without cringing after a semester in Florence) might just become my go-to treat for hump day, a bad day, any day.

On Mott, it’s someone else’s New York, my dream city’s quiet, shaded streets and brick fronts. Little boutiques behold leather belts with burnished hardware, big-beaded jewelry, and military-inspired puff-sleeve dresses. Tiny, bustling restaurants emit a happy din, a warbled note or two of individual soundtracks, and the bell tinkling of wine glasses. And, then, there’s Ciao Bella’s gelateria.

Two samples are afforded for each customer, so I try a pink gob of rose-petal, and a chewy taste of hazelnut biscotti. My game is to try two flavors, then select two others in a small cup, so that I will have sampled as many tastes as possible.

A rich chocolate paired with pomegranate sorbet is too delicious and sweet too soon, and can’t be finished. My eyes have always been bigger than my stomach, and even with the smallest size I have to ask the boy to finish it for me. Soon he’s double-fisting twin cups as we meander down the blocks, hearing the call of two kids on a stoop twice (on the way there and on the way back) selling their mountain bike for a mere sixty dollars.

It’s odd, it’s off how tactile and tangible things can cover disappointment and malcontent. But also how great, that a hurdle can be overcome, at least momentarily, by a common pleasure.

And that even a peon like me, grasping for a slice of talent, with roommates and no savings, with powdered soup and worn soles can partake in a little luxury like the inhabitants of Mott.

That, and your kind comments of course, picked me back up again...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

REVISED (or Class Foil)

The idea of class is a blast of fresh air, until you’re actually there, in the thick of it and realize.

There’s required reading, required writing, and a sacrifice of a weekly summer night. There’s the rush from work to get there, and the darkness of night when you leave. There’s being thirsty, being tired, and the obligation of being there anyway. Of course, there is all that, but it’s countered by learning, and empowerment and inspiration.

And then there is that one person in class who with or without your permission, becomes your foil.

We had to write outlines. So I threw mine together in about an hour and a half, sort of fleshing out my half-baked novel idea. After it was written, no one could say it was the world’s greatest four pages. Even I looked at it and thought how poorly it captured what I was trying to convey, the sympathies, the struggle, the raison d’etre of my main character.

When I saw the other outlines in the class, I felt all right about it. Many of us had bones with only partial meat to work with. Some had stories that had been told many times, others had stories that I questioned why they would be told, or how it could be possible to breathe fresh life into them. Mine was one of those, and I’m hoping that just because the themes are exhausted, the style and content don’t have to be.

We coddled each other. Ideas that would not make prize-winning books were offered, and we joyfully encouraged each other, with gentle suggestions. When my turn came, I thought I would get the same treatment.

But the first comment, from a girl that I had, not three minutes earlier, smiled warmly at and passed her a genuine compliment, shot me square in the knees.

To paraphrase: “Well….(long pause)…I mean…..maybe it’s because I’m thirty-five, and you’re so young, but…(big sigh)…your protagonist is just so obnoxious and self involved and entitled, this is just not something that could ever be interesting to read.”

The sound of crickets and sucked-in breaths. The other protagonists were on a search for love, money, contentment. Mine was on a search for self, exploring what made her who she was, and that apparently had made her, above all others, a spoiled bitch.

Then, as I prayed that I would not cry, not over this, not over her, not over something that I hadn’t yet put my heart and soul into, but it had been such an awful day already for various reasons, and this was supposed to be my nurturing time, that I had paid for (paid for!!), the teacher said:

“Well, can you say anything positive about the outline? Because there is actually a lot here to like.”

And the girl, well, thirty-five year old woman rather, looked down in exasperation at my outline, her lip curled in disgust, and she exhaled sharply. “No”.

No matter that the protagonist is, of course, based on me.


I heard but did not register the rest of the class’s compliments. Only this detractor. After hearing everyone else’s thoughts on the outline, perhaps overly kind because of her knee-jerk insult, she amended her own.

She told me the blanket statement that eliciting any reaction, is a positive action, even if the reaction is positively negative. Then she dared me to prove her wrong with my opening chapters, due in a future class. As if that could inspire my deflated ego.

Wow, I was wrong, so, so wrong about wanting the negative reviews to come from someone else. I am not there yet.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Self Hate

Some girls can wax on all day about their vibrators, pedicures, and other luxuriant forms of self love.

Not me. Not today. I'm being punished.

I’m watching Hell’s Kitchen, rubbing green goo onto my legs because I was foolish, like I am every summer under a cloudless sky. I take care of parts, and not others. Sometimes my mind, others my body. Most of the time not entirely either. I didn’t pay attention to what was good for me as a whole, I was lazy, and I didn’t take care enough. The mental beating follows the physical burn.

Why can’t I just get it straight?

I have been accused of being too introspective, of trying too hard, of coming off as pretentious, too loud at parties. Not smart enough, as a fraud awaiting exposure, of being silly, and a worrywart. Bad with money, avaricious, slothful, bossy.

These accusations don’t come from my enemies (that makes me pause--who might they be? The blonde girl whose boyfriend I stole for a day in junior high? The boss at my first job who said I reminded her of herself and, reflexively, I grimaced?).

So where do those words, those nasty, slinging insults come from? Me. They come from me.

I say things about myself that are so horrible, so blown out of proportion and context, that if someone heard my inner monologue, I am certain they would immediately chastise me for being so cruel.

But nobody hears them, except my own beaten esteem, and that bruised wimp won’t stand up for herself, because taking a stand is too hard. The other option is easy and indulgent.

Why is it so tempting to participate in self-flagellation? Why is it so incredibly common to beat ourselves up in a way that we would never tolerate from our families, significant others, our friends?

I am not saying that my thoughts have not been correct at times, because they certainly have. But to have that define who I am seems so counterintuitive. Plenty of critics in the world are at the ready, must I really be one of them? At times I feel I own my world, others cause me to realize that if nothing else, I am undeserving of not only my current life, but all aspirations.

Positivity is so scarce, maybe not because it’s ridiculous and cheesy and overdone, but because it’s precious and important. It doesn’t grow on trees; it hides under rocks like moss, and needs to be sought out to be found.

I already have a mother, a boss, a disciplinarian. I’ve got plenty of naysayers, and if I go where I want to, God willing, I’ll have nothing but more…

That gives me a strange goal then. Trade the self-doubt for negative reviews from someone else. The notion of multiple people talking about my merit, discussing my worthiness and my worth is pretty exciting. Bad light is still theoretically light.

A forum of strangers publicly commenting on why I’m no good. That’s my best case of a worst case scenario. As inspiration, it’s nothing short of bizarre.

Maybe that’s why it seems so right for me. I'll conquer second thoughts by forcing my criticisms to fall from someone else's lips. It might mean more that way, so I'll grow. Or it might mean less, so I'll prosper. Either way it will lift my self hate, which leave more room for that self love everyone keeps talking about.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


This weekend, I was fortunate enough to be far from the overcrowds of the Hamptons, though still freeloading in a separate oasis, where the scene was not, but the spots on the sundeck were for the taking. And I took, for multiple hours, for laying, for splashing, for nothing.

We welcomed the blue sear of Sunday because Saturday was spent overcast and downcast, flicking lines into the creek and missing each lurking fish. So, this morning we bounded down to a carved out spot, beyond the tennis courts, and on the hill, with a full, clear view of the mountains, and dragged our chairs to the grass at the edge.

SPF, check. Sunglasses, check. Trashy novella exposing the sexy trysts of Washington wives, check. Deciding the swiftest route to money and power is bedding a senator, check.

Between pages, a thought. Hers was a fantastic idea, far better than any I've had this summer. Icing the market’s sugarplums, and stowing them underneath our borrowed beach recliners. As the sun bathed us in UV waves, we’d pluck a plum from the crinkly bag and relish the cold, the sweet, the tart. Then we plunged in the pool, sideswimming happy children and their 'noodles'.

I felt very William Carlos Williams, very much transported back to the assembly that started our high school Mondays, where the assistant principal would read us a poem at the podium, her voice husky with weight. Otherworldly, for some reason that I do not quite understand, devouring something so foreign to my day to day, and so oddly perfect because of just that. I had never tasted that amazing taste, but many before me had. I was struck by that, I am still discovering all the time the limits of what I know at odds with what I think I know. In my mind, a broken, beautiful record of poetry that I did not pen.

“I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold”

And then, as my shins burned unbeknownst to me, a repeat of my own sugarplum dreams in which I fantasized about my future as near as tomorrow, and what it may bring, or rather, what I may bring to it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Instead of being productive...

Time-killers, for when I should be doing something else:

MSN’s money and career sections, respectively.

Peeling quarters from inside drawers to purchase white cheddar popcorn from the vending machine.

Furiously scrolling through my DVR for something recorded other than The Simpsons and Medical Incredible, both of which I thought I would want to watch all of the time until I actually had to.

Misting the plants on our balcony. Pinching the tomato stems and inhaling the fresh scent on my fingers.

Creating folders of fun, city stuff to do from magazine and newspaper clippings. Then losing it.

Gap Body, imdb, Yahoo Radio, lipgloss, Papyrus, the windows on Fifth and Madison, re-reading, lying on the grass of Bryant Park.

Regarding the pile of dry-cleaning that needs to be hauled across the street, then shoving it to the bottom of the hamper.

Un-bending plastic-coated paper clips.

Looking up recipes, before realizing the actual cost of saffron, scallops, or baby bok choy.

Trying to decipher post-it notes to myself, the ones scrawled with the bands the kids, you know, the kids, keep talking about.

Spritzing the counters with disinfectant and wiping with paper towels, taking out the garbage but not taking it downstairs until I absolutely have to.

Blogging about nothing, buying too much yogurt, sitting on top of the blanket, bothering him, finding my cell phone, wondering where I put that monthly fashion check.

Lusting after others’ dogs. Every single one.

Flipping through the real estate section, skimming the course offerings, languishing for art supplies, bemoaning success while secretly coveting it.

Advising friends on relationships, editing others’ “Dear John” letters and shamelessly getting excited about it.

Thinking about going into Starbucks, wanting to like coffee more, pretending to.

That’s what I’ve got so far. Any suggestions to add?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The First

Even as an “adult”, the first day of class brings me back, way back, to all the others.

I remember the carpet inside Mrs. Cloake’s classroom, the cushioned book corner and hardcover The Indian In The Cupboard, resting on a chair, poised for reading aloud. The manila-colored, pencil-smeared desks pushed together, sprouting orange and blue plastic chairs. The wall of windows that overlooked the jungle gym and dodge ball court. Then, the entrance of Danny Tavano, and my silent count of the identical number of syllables in our names (five!) and knowing at that moment we were meant to be (though, of course, we weren’t).

Later, the first welcome assembly at prep; pearls, grosgrain and elitism at its finest, for sure, but more, a playground for kids whose parents didn’t want them. As we nervously tugged at our forced uniforms of blazers and khaki skirts, we scanned the auditorium for faces we could relate to, and by graduation had learned to chose advisors, coaches and roommates as confidantes instead of our friends from home, as they were the only others that understood our domed existence.

Now, the familiar groan up mediabistro’s stairs (the Soho outpost). Novels on the fourth floor, wedged between the four-week news anchors and stiletto boot campers, hanging above intro to journalism. A white room with a slatted skylight awaits me, a rectangular table of budding hopefuls, of which I am only one…

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Doin' it, and doin' it, but doing it well?

I finally did it.

I signed up for a kick in the ass.

Tonight marks my first novel writing class, one that purports to arm me with the skills (namely the motivation and discipline needed) to bang out one hundred pages by the end of September.

The prospect of possessing—actually creating! Gaaah!---a novel, possibly, maybe, before I turn the ripe old age of 25 is so…amazingly…far away…distant from where I am now.

Cube, grilled cheese, flip cup, my parents’ disappointment---these are the things that are organic to me in this stage of life. But in three months? Dare I think? Organic could be a sophomoric, un-salable novel stuffed in my nightstand. The possibilities are endless.

Maybe I’ll switch to quarters, maybe I’ll add tomato to the grilled cheese.

I did write a full-length screenplay my sophomore semester, and got an A plus, the only A plus I ever got in a college course, and a cute, jokey award for the best “drugs, sex, and angst” screenplay in the class, though most others had written love stories so the prize really didn’t count. I did do that. So I bet, factoring my slightly more burning desire to do this and my increase in age (hopefully maturity too) that this will happen. For. Real.

Wish me luck for tonight and every Tuesday after…

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Going to the zoo on a Saturday is enough to bring out whatever inner child my cube had crushed long ago, but going with boys pushes me even further into the depths.

No day at the zoo can start before we’re armed with everything we weren’t allowed as kids. We start with a game plan (we’ll skip the birds, except the birds of prey, we’ll ride either the Skyfari or the monorail regardless of the line, we’ll order beer at the themed café). Then we think sustenance.

We stop south, at the most amazing donut shop. From outside it looks small, nearly dingy, flanked by other small, dingy storefronts. But inside, it holds two types of treasures: yeast and cake. The yeast donuts are more aptly described as doughnuts; they’re fat and chewy and slathered with sugary glazes. Monstrous cinnamon buns and their pecan counterparts sit sticky, side by side on wax paper. Jelly-filled are large and square. The cake beauties are smaller and denser. Lavender-scented and fresh blueberry flavors are flecked, blue-hued. The round triple chocolate is a surprise: it’s holed, yet with each bite seeps a rich, deep chocolate pudding.

Just as when we were five, we arrive in the Bronx with chocolate teeth and crumbs on our shirts. I had forgotten that this zoo is unlike most others. It’s no mishmash of sad cages, but a forest cut by a paved pathway.

We navigate first to Tiger Mountain and oooh and aaah at the orange and black cats lazing in a deep pond, flipping their tales and yawning at us, but the crowds are tremendous, so we move on.

Next, the polar seems like the luckiest bear in the world. Instead of fishing through frigid waters and slipping on ice shafts, he’s splashing in his own pool, flopping and balancing on a toy shaped like a chunk of the Artic. To see a bear better known for its ability to decapitate a human with a single swipe, acting like my dog is discerning and wonderful. I stand there with my mouth open, as he floats on his back, limbs outstretched, mouth open in an almost smile. Kids in front of me squeal as he tosses the toy to the rocks at the edge and then attempts to retrieve it without getting out of the water, his butt half exposed as he struggles and then captures it. He jumps into the pool, on top of the toy, and then down under again. It’s hard to pull away, but as I see a little girl behind me, stretching on her tiptoes to glimpse the bear, I know I have to leave.

In the World of Darkness, a long-tongued bat hangs in a glass box across from a fat-tailed dwarf lemur. Further on, a bush baby sleeps inside a Trader Joe’s bag. How that bag got in there as a double for a hammock is beyond me, but I hope aloud that it’s only temporary.

Outside, my eyes are bleary, slow to adjust. They fall upon roaming peacocks on the grass. The peacocks are unafraid, just like the ones at the southern estates my mother would drag me to on family vacations to view the structured gardens.

We see a white-faced saki monkey, a duskie titi, a red-handed tamarin. When we stop for drinks, the boys let their minds wander. They talk of the cocaine craze so frequent in “olden days”, when Coca-Cola and pharmacies touted the benefits of the “wonder drug”. They talk of weird sexual fetishes, and how foreign they seem, and then, somehow, wonder if anyone has a homeless fetish (where one would be aroused by dirty rags instead of lingere), spurred by an unsavory sighting near an art gallery on our block. I giggle and hope no one hears.

After that promised ride on the Skyfari, a slow and breezy trip on treetops above the park, we’re done for the day.

It was silly, unstylish, childish, carb-loaded. It was walking, and dirtied our flip-flopped feet and hot in the sun. There were screaming kids, and drippy ice cream pools to sidestep and public bathrooms.

Still, the perfect city Saturday. The best one in recent memories.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Trader Joe's: The Hipster Smack

In ninth grade, because I fancied myself a badass, and because I was utterly wrong, I had many (what I thought of as) hip tees. Hip like “Funkin Go Nuts” spelled out to the Dunkin Donuts logo, or “White Trash” to the Oscar Meyer wiener logo. My favorite of all was purchased in London and red with the words, “Ketamine: The Techno Smack”. The draw to this one was twofold. First, it showed the world that I knew what Special K and raves were (thereby proving what a badass thirteen year old I had become), and the second was that my mom believed me when I told her it was a band, therefore enabling me to wear it.

As I clutched a bag of prized Peruvian rice and whole-wheat waffles, I was reminded of that shirt for the first time in years.

The past few months have not tamed the beast that is Trader Joe's. Oh no friends, no they have not. First of all, at certain times, there’s still a line to get inside. Inside! And with a friendly, bearded treehugger at the front, cracking jokes and kicking an invisible hackeysack, not letting anyone in while simultaneously singing the praises of his employer’s establishment. Nice guy, but really not in the mood for it as I’m waiting in the crushing heat. As I stood seven deep in a line…to get in…a grocery store…I could almost hear my mother cackling with a really clichéd accent, “Ooooonly in New Yaaawwwk!”

Once inside, one line is traded for another, the newest snakes past dairy, around the produce, and doublebacks near granola in an ingenious way. Like one of the rides at Six Flags where they bundle in tightly woven gridlines so you can’t tell how long a wait you actually have. A guy in glasses holds a cutesy, cartoony sign that beckons, “Line starts here!” instead of “One hour wait for morons right here!” to lift the mood.

To circumvent delay and maximize shopping, some couples have formed systems in which one will wait on the atrocious line, empty-handed, while the other races around the store, haphazardly grabbing items and tossing them at their partner in a makeshift version of Supermarket Sweep. Who can grab the most trade-free items first before the line is at the counter? All you got was organic asparagus and fruit leather? Too bad! Times up!

What makes this event even better is that people can only run in spurts, since it’s more crowded than Sheep’s Meadow on a Summer Friday. Everywhere you turn, you bump someone, or an old lady steamrolls over you. Everything is nearly sold out, and that frenzies the masses even more. Give me that edamame you bitch! I was here first! The hell you were! Okay, fine, I’ll trade you for this jar of almond butter. What do you mean, “Maybe next time??” Screw you!

There are mommies, hippies, respectable homeowners and teens. But most of all, it’s a sea of hipsters, with a few scattered yuppies in the mix. Everyone is strung out on branded pitas. People are grabbing pseudo-Terra Chips like it’s moonshine. It’s pure, unadulterated mayhem.

And highly addictive. I'm drawn to it like no other, engaging in this ridiculous activity regardless of how obscenely difficult it is. More violence than your average bar crawl, more eye candy than any club, and more half-grown mullets and mustaches than Williamsburg.

It reminds me of that time in ninth grade when my wardrobe was dictated by obscure, irreverent sayings and logos. Hmmm. Kind of like it is now.

Trader Joe's: The Hipster Smack.

Someone ought to make a T-shirt.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Tonight in Nia we're instructed to become withering ghosts on the moor, a wriggling attempt to be fluid. Haunting music moans as I stifle giggles. I accidentally wore an orange T-shirt with black yoga pants, and with my ensemble, the Halloween theme is complete.

The class is a soul recess. And a recession.

Then the teacher says something strange, though he always says something strange, and does something strange, this time it sticks with me.

“Take your masculine energy and throw it! Just pound it into the ground!” He stomps his limbs vigorously to the African drum.

“Become entirely masculine!” He growls over the song.

I’m awkward, a bit too flailing, exaggerating my so-called strength by slapping the balls of my feet into the shiny wood. Flop. Flop.

I’m distracted and taken. The thought of being masculine, entirely masculine is a bit stunning, if not philosophical.

If I were a boy (was a boy? I can never get that tense right, and it makes my English degree roll over in its grave--wherever that may be, hiding in the barn), I know my name would be Colin, but not much else.

Would I be the opposite of what I am now? Would I be complacent? Would I be big and athletic? Would I be a small boy with slender wrists and a sensitive disposition?

Would I burn through women, wooing and dropping them with every fleeting mood? Or would I pine after one girl at work and myspace-stalk her and write her weird songs and scare her away?

Would I have the same brain with a different body, taking in all the things I know now just the same, but experiencing them as slightly taller, heavier and with a stronger stomach?

Would I have told that bully boss at my last job what the real problem with our team was, would I have yelled at Mrs. Peroski to stick it in third grade when she yelled at me instead of Danielle (who was really cheating), would I even be concerned with woulds and would not haves?

Would I be better, would I be worse, would I be further along than I can see now?

The slight man at the front of the room catches my eye; I’m supposed to be bending my body, not just my mind. I hurriedly put a scowl on my face, as if that’s the definition of maleness.

Then I have a show-stopping thought. If I was born a boy, and somehow still existed as a girl, would both of me like each other? Could they stand to be in the same room? Would they want to be friends, or even more?

That snaps me out of it, this line of thought is one of the ridiculous ones, the ones where you feel for a moment you’ve gone off the deep end for sure, that this is the onset of either brilliance or schizophrenia, and not knowing which, if possible, you have tear back to reality.

When we move on to alternating imitations of kung fu masters and sea urchins, I’m in the moment.

I come home looking for water and the ice tastes like freezer; slightly astringent, burnt, and reeking of plastic.

And my male version drinks it all, and bothers me while I try to write, and cleans the dishes I dirtied, and flips through our Australian photographs, complains that he needs to use the computer, and blasts indie music, and draws cartoons instead of writes, and I see.

What I would be.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


After blowing my proverbial stash, (the weekend’s ration of dollars didn’t drip out so much as gushed, fast gone on Blue Owl’s bootlegged cocktails and salumi pairings) I skittered off as always to the refuge of the countryside.

The Fourth of July at home is quintessential, magazine-cover-story great.

My father’s lemon chicken, the fennel flecked slaw, German red-skinned potato salad, and peach cobbler, bubbled and wafting a sweet spice throughout the kitchen.

And the preparation of the meal is as delectable as its consumption.

The cold water cleaning and trimming of the drumsticks, a generous pour of yellow pepper, heaping gold and black hills.

The chop of scallions, cabbage, chives in strips.

The best is our refreshments; chilly lemonade, fruity wine, lime-drenched gin and tonics.

On the porch I can gaze upon the day lilies, the hydrangeas, the iron gate above the hedge, the lion’s head fountain flowing into the stone sink, the sun dial, the white brick and pebbled path that bisects the lawn. My mother's garden and home is in full bloom.

Further on up the road, beyond the miniscule art gallery, the yellow building with white shutters that houses the town architect, and the weeping willow, is the pond. That’s where my dog bounded oblivious around the edge, and then right in, the top camouflaged by an overgrowth of algae, suddenly finding himself chest deep in water, and with a panic, jumped out and shook himself vigorously and on me.

When the light has gone, my mother burns tapered candles and we ladle ice cream and espresso as my father and brother prepare the contraband. The cats snooze.

An enormous package screaming colors, fat cones and sticks with wicks, shooters, sprayers, shreikers, streamers. We celebrate the birth of our nation’s independence as the Simpsons do—by blowing up a small part of it.

Soon our lawn is ablaze, popping flashes and long slips of white and purple. It glazes the sky, filling it with billowing fog.

The snap and crackle of sparklers is no match for the boys’ grand finale, the whistle piercing my ears, drawing celebratory honks from the occasional car that passes, a fresh round of barks from the dog, applause from us on the porch.

I love this holiday.

Happy Fourth of July!