Thursday, September 28, 2006

Last, Before

A last moment of summer before it gets dark and cold around here...

The Hours

Tick. Tock.

I can nearly touch it. The creak of a rocking chair on a painted porch, the background a bayou, a sweating glass of water and an old man’s raspy voice. He’s talking about time, the choices he made and didn’t make, he’s a composite of everyone who ever has and ever will give me advice and he’s saying to follow my heart. But the rhythm of the beats is confused and off, it keeps changing, stuttering, I think for a flash that maybe I have a problem, a murmur, but really it’s just jitters, and I feel that instead when I shift to listen. His voice croaks when he says things happen for a reason, then he says they don’t, he says things just happen, and we grow up and our bodies get old. And then he’s done talking and I haven’t heard a thing.

Isn’t always just like that? The moment something is in jeopardy I realize how much of it I squandered, took for granted, let slip through my fingers.

Time. There is so much and so little of it. Always time for work, for cleaning, to work out, to fret about the future. But there is never any time for the things I find I really need; family, friends, just being by myself, writing.

Now I may have a choice. Give up time, even the illusion of it, for something else. A timeless experience, maybe, but is it worth giving up my life for the promise of another?

Decisions are hard, particularly for a Libran, of which I am, and nearing the culmination of my quarterlife crisis, also known as that landmark birthday of twenty-five, wanting a change, but not wanting it really and truly, to give up this for that, no matter what that may become.

Still the idea of putting in more time, paying dues of which I’ve already paid, and maybe they weren’t paid to the exact right people, but they were paid just the same, the idea of going back into a pit for the promise of a future opportunity, to switch it up, to control my time on earth by giving up a few years of my twenties…

I don’t know what my time is worth, and where it should go, and what to do, and really I thought I had come far, but I’ve shuffled just a few steps. Because if anyone were to ask me what I learned since any time before it would only be a shrug of indecision…

Could I take an opportunity right now that I wasn’t looking for and not prepared for just because it could pay off with a big splashy sort of ending? But I would give up my life now in many ways I think, even if it’s just spent sitting in the apartment and gazing out on the balcony at the flicker of lights in the other apartments and wondering who turned them on and why…

I’m lost in introspection as always. I don’t want to make a choice that ends with me not having a choice later. I want to choose right, but of course, I want to choose easy, convenient and with plenty of time…even if it’s just for window and navel-gazing…

And maybe I don’t want to choose at all…

Message from Argentina

A friend from afar sent an email this morning that I needed to share with you:

"A student of mine relayed the following to me last week and I loved it.

'There are two things children should get from their parents: roots and wings.'
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe"

I'm that busy bee again, fluttering off to strange and bizarre corners of Manhattan, publishing, and would-be glamour. Wearing uncomfortable-fabulous shoes and practicing my diction, licking my lips nervously and under duress, but I'll be back soon, I promise...

Friday, September 22, 2006

Upper East vs. Lower East

I’m an east village inhabitant, bordering on the LES; I have leggings and ironic shirts and for a time had a semi-hipster-mullet with bangs. That last one I’m not proud of, but you get the idea. My closet is stuffed with plastic heels and bird-printed bags. I'm a lame, overused cliche.

So allow me to continue using them...

Glamour seems different below 14th street. It’s skinny, big necklaces, off clothes and PBRs. It’s smoking weed on the street and tattoos and Japanese gangs on skateboards. Ugly-beautiful. It’s American Apparel. Pretty girls with bruises. Uncomfortably sexy, doe-eyed advertisements that you see and you just know…the teen on that Houston billboard has been missing for three years and counting…

It’s not bad, not necessarily good, it just is. It’s a personality thing maybe. I like it there. It suits me more than the other neighborhoods. Midtown is where I work. Downtown is home.

But for all its bars and gorgeous transvestites and hustling homeless, my neighborhood has been categorized as lacking the sophistication and the polish of uptown.

So when I had the opportunity to experience the epitome of it all, where the ladies who lunch go to ‘relax’, I did.

Last night I fronted as an Upper East Side deb, with golden straw for hair and a too-taut neck. *

The first obstacle is not to giggle at the doorman as I teeter in heels and fall into the elevator.

The second is, after, disrobing in a gleaming, marbled bathroom, to work up the courage to ask the stern Russian woman handing me slippers if I take off my bra (this is, after all, a Thai massage, which is fully clothed in pajamas, and also in the fabled Cornelia, the rarified air, high and clean, momentarily allowing bleached patrons to imagine themselves in a sweeping retreat on stilts, not Manhattan).

Ms. Borscht says no. I leave it on. Still giggling.

In the Relaxation Library: leather club chairs, rich drapes, and skewered berries in geometric patterns. Champagne flutes, forgiving light, cashmere blankets, and long like apocathary cylinders containing spiced teas warmed by the flame of candles.

The third obstacle is pouring the tea into a small highball glass without trembling hands, as there seems to be no spout to speak of.

A pleasant Thai woman is upon me as I take my first, burning sip. It’s time to go. My crested pajamas are too long and they drag on the floor. We walk up a winding staircase, past a cocktail party in the spa, and onto the cool breeze of a teak roof deck.

I’m led into a gossamer tent, told to lie down on a pillowed mat flanked by orchids and aromatherapy accoutrements and she begins.

She’s unusually strong I think. Not that I know, but I can’t stop thinking that. She kneads vigorously and stretches my body deeply and for a time we are in the strangest rocking-horse position, like a reverse airplane, that game my brother and I used to play with Dad when we were small and he held our arms and his feet lifted us in the air.

It’s amazing, mind-blowing, by far the richest experience I’ve had this month. Seventy-five minutes and it’s over.

I walked out of there floating, giddy, and weird. This is what the privileged women of upper New York do on a Thursday night, I think. Then they go home and sink into plush bedding. They sip Campari and soda and let their cats nibble salmon…

Me? I went to Taco Bell, and then I watched Grey’s Anatomy on a pixilated television.

This morning I feel like a punching bag. My girl was strong. So much so that I’m sore, and tender. Last night is a million miles away and I’m back to zero. On today, because it is a good day, I may never be more than a ‘pretty’ girl with bruises, if that…kind of just how I like it.

*I won’t apologize for the fact that I might be slightly looking forward to the day when my soul is fifty, but the sum of my thousand dollar cremed face and lipoed elbow parts is twenty-five.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Blahs

You know the feeling right? The one in which you're sitting at your desk or on your couch and as you look at that paper/script/homework to read for the tenth time or as you flip through the channels or look at your empty wallet/purse/online bank statement and sigh, you suddenly just shout out, "BOOOOOOOOOOOORIIIING!"

I'm feeling that. So much lately. And of course, for no good reason. When I am overcome with thoughts of blah, I like to plan. So below, my course of action.

The fabulous things I will do to combat tedium, boredom, and a rare form of cabin fever that involves my cube, a view of the next building, the interior of the same restaurants, clubs, and classrooms:

-Take a trapeze lesson on the Hudson River. I just signed up.

-Have lunch at the Mermaid Inn in the middle of a weekday. Because it’s right next door to my apartment and I’ve always wanted to blow off a Thursday just to putt around my neighborhood.

-Go to Miami with my girlfriends for the weekend. I want/need/have to have a girl’s vacation full of shoes, tanning oil, and white wine by the pool.

-Blow any extra money this month on perishables and temporaries: avocados, champagne, pedicures, meditation techniques, martinis with blue cheese stuffed olives, plays, indie concerts, art exhibits, flicks at the Sunshine theater.

That’s what I’ve got so far, but I could really use some more. What do you do to make life interesting every day?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What I Want From Autumn

Apple cider, cold over hot, with the lip of the jug iced

Cashmere and wool blend blankets strewn over couch cushions and laps

A hissing fire outside in a pit, spitting sparks

Blue-yellow beginnings and orange-brown nights

A new backpack, or, really, the need for a new backpack and fresh notebooks


Cream-based soups in heavy crockware

200 almost-perfect pages

Scarves, boots, sweatercoats with crossed leather buttons

Halloween decorations, preparations and too much candy

Fuzzy socks with bottom grips to pad around the house

Drives though dappled-jewel afternoons

Overzealous pumpkin picking, Indian corn and gourds

Sensations of the wind whipping slightly against ruddy cheeks

Watching pick-up rugby in layers

Planning the Thanksgiving menu, then eating the spoils

Orange water boiling on the stove filling the house with fragrant fumes

Tea with milk

Scenes sketched with sepia charcoal

Photographs grinning wildly as we run to catch each moment before it fades

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Fall

Weather of today careens me back to the brink of the private school year…

Me, rolling out of my single bed, tossing aside a floral duvet, scavenging through a pile on the swivel chair of shared nubby wool sweaters, and flying out the door, far past seven.

Me, running through the hills of the rolling campus in my roommate’s Birkenstocks, to hell with proper dress code, the buckles painted with sparkling blue nail polish, scrambling up the steps to the dining hall and under the lowering metal grate indicating service for breakfast was now closed.

Me, insisting I didn’t want pancakes, just hot water for the satchel of lemon tea I brought from my room, and every morning, me, plunking the bag into the sugared liquid, swirling it in my Nalgene and burning my tongue, late for class and mismatched, but complete…

Now me, wandering the streets, single for the day, the Birks replaced with flip flops, staring into the clouds and breathing in, over and over, just a little too much, because I am still here, and more than that, really alive, and I am sipping lemon tea and burning my tongue, but no one is expecting me now since I have nowhere, not one place that I know, to go.

In fall, every day is a Sunday, low and long and too beautiful to last…

Friday, September 15, 2006


From the first draft...

Avalon hung up the phone. At once, she felt faint with newness, ready to burst, like the first few times she had seen Kyle, met his friends, met his family. She regarded the apartment. Palatial sprawl it was not, but really, it was the best the place had ever looked. Avalon gathered the trash in a bunched plastic bag and took it to the open dumpster outside. She poured herself a glass of water in the kitchen and tasted metal. Avalon wasn’t sure how she felt about Kyle coming now. They truly had not touched each other in three months. And if New York was any gauge of how gorgeous the women of the real world were, Avalon wondered if Kyle had touched someone else in three months.

The women of New York were so lovely, that Avalon, once told she was the crème de la crème of Blackwell (or as Kyle had jokingly put it, “Top Five”) she couldn’t help put feel entirely off-put at any given second. They were just so…together. After all, this was not the land of cute girls at keggers, flip-flopped with mussy hair in their eyes, bleary as they studied in the library stacks. This was the land of modeling, drastic plastic women. Avalon saw, for the first time, the difference.

They danced, not stepped, into bars with streaming hair shimmering from street lamps and headlights. They were always pointy-toed, designer denim clad, slim-waisted. Their legs never swished corduroy, sinewy thighs magnetically drawn away from each other, held static by the power of the gap between them. Their cleavage was sublime.

In the cold snap of early winter weather the week prior, Avalon saw the girls grouped together like prized spring colts, cashmere scarf flags flying in the blustery nights. When Avalon chattered in a lightweight jacket, traversing through the park, she saw them, jogging in leggings and blinking long lashes, never once shivering or bucking at the prospect of a gray day. On the streets of Madison they pranced along in tobacco-colored boots with ease, tucked into their slim pants, tasteful jewelry tinkling slightly, like a chorus of dainty silver bells...

What's in a Name?

It’s raining and I’m trying to title my novel.

Yes, okay, I’m only a hundred pages in, but I still want to give it a name. I want to call my book something as it bobs in my mind’s primordial ooze. It doesn’t matter that it’s not finished; for me, it’s real.

Of course everything I’ve come up with has been utterly shameful. Titles that sound dynamic, memorable, intriguing, outrageous at first mention. Five minutes later the luster's replaced with a fine patina of desperation.
Stay strong, damnit! Not too hokey, not too gimmicky, not too long…

First a flirtation with the idea of using the title as a blanket statement about the world as I perceive it around me. (Example: “The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things”—I love this title, though never read the book and am fairly disgusted with the whoring PR behind it, though most likely I’m simply jealous I can’t work a crowd in the same vein.)

Then I imagine something actionable, something simple, classic, and grand. (Example: “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, “To Kill a Mocking Bird”—these really give me a sweeping sense, roll off the tongue and implant me into a world where I'm enveloped by the belief that true literature has truly literate titles.)

Next is the possibility of a one-word, maybe-double entendre. (Example: “Art” –one of my favorite plays and oh so succinct. But the thought is squashed when I try to come up with one of my own—and think for one horrible moment that I’ll call the novel “Something” as in “What are you reading?” “Oh I’m reading ‘Something’. It’s really good. You should get ‘Something’.”)

The pattering of raindrops lulls me deeper into the bed, but I still cling to the chance that at an early morning hour, as I curse my obligations, divine inspiration will strike me in a by-George-I’ve-got-it way, and I’ll spring out in my pajamas, running through the halls yelling, “It has a naaaaame!! It’s aaaaalive!”

No such luck. The alarm shrieks in my ear and suddenly I’m padding my way to the shower, towel under my arm, and that empty, blank canvas that was my mind is suddenly full of mindless thoughts for the day at hand.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It's Not Easy Being Green(stone)

Dee Snyder, Gloria Steinem, and green champagne make for one inspired evening.

Last night’s launch of Greenstone Media, a sparkling new approach to talk radio (think less hostile, more humor and open forum, or as I like to think a la NPR Fresh Air), was a bustling soiree in Midtown, held amidst canapés and celebrities at the Museum of Television and Radio. (As in Jane Fonda, Diane Sawyer, etc. to name a few. And for a minute I thought Vincent, recent Project Runway cast-off, but really, it was an intern. An older intern.)

First off, if you’re wondering how I got invited to such a thing, well, so am I. I was included with a group of ten jaw-droppingly prolific bloggers who had a private call with Gloria to ask the hard questions last week prior to the party/launch.*

Two glasses of green champagne later (get it, Greenstone, green, eh, eh?) and I was laughing too loudly at co-hosts Mo and Shana’s jokes and getting my picture snapped with a button on my shirtdress undone (Wooooo! Cooooooollege!) alongside wave makers new and old.

Unfortunately, the party collided with class, so I traded the former for a few hours of me laughing too loudly at my own terrible jokes with a button on my shirtdress undone at the latter. (Wooooo! Cooollege!).

Snafus aside, the whole evening gave me a fresh perspective. Changes are happening all around us, and for our generation, it’s easy to think that the milestones are finite. That the world is as perfect as it will ever be. And while it is possibly today, the best it ever has been in the very, very grand historical scheme of things, the endless realm of could-bes
for the future has barely been seen.

Sure we regard these older pioneers making the strides we hope to someday. But even us, just a bunch of kids really, are making a difference. So much so, that I was included in the launch of this new media. And I think it’s because the things we do as semi-young’uns, the trails we blaze on the internet, our myspace pages, buying power, furious opinions, and our grassroots marketing of our dreams not possible ten years ago, are altering the world.

That’s what I’m believing today, anyway. That we’re waging our own subversive revolution against journalists who may believe we’re worthless, parents who think we’ll never amount to anything, bosses who don’t see our potential…

We’re fighting the good fight and most of us don’t even realize it.

*My question was “I’d like to address the term ‘feminazi’ which you so aptly described in your Keynote address. Why do you think it is that those still pushing for equal rights for women have gotten somewhat of a bad rap in that they’re perceived as searching for sole dominance, even in today’s educated society, while activists for other equality movements such as civil rights have not?”

A little heavy for lunch hour, but we talked it through, and Gloria was, as always, an absolute model for understated brilliance, grace, and brazen hilarity at once. And she was so amiable, she asked us to follow-up with more questions via email. This woman, living legend, wanted to learn more from us, because she thought we had the pulse on today’s media marketplace and future. Us!

This was, by far, one of the coolest things I’d ever been involved in, and I’m counting on you not to blow it by telling anyone that I didn’t deserve to be either on the call or at the party (once I sell my book, er, make that write and sell my book, I’ll give you a dollar in exchange for your silence).

Monday, September 11, 2006

Spirits, Furious

"Rogue angels chiffon my nights, twelve arms flailing,
Those long whispers of limbs that curl a pale blood around my throat.
They are maddened by my breath, as constant as God’s bare foot.

I saw their burning flesh drop and felt the slow vibration of death,
A hum-drone known to the ages.
Jet fuel streamed under the lime-stripe of a firecoat, poof!
Then I ate them, I swallowed their stardust exploding on glass,
One hundred freight trains crashing.

Come tonight, I’ll cream your skin and feed you cowfoot and beans.
There will be a love song, then you could find my keys and my checkbook and maybe
In my room everything would feel new, like a red birth or a
Muscled and panting fish gill, or just green grass that serves as a bed
For dragonflies.

If not, we'll talk about it when I get there."

By Karen D. Rickenbach

The above words are not my own, but then again, today is not for me. Today is not the day for waxing trivial, for assuming life is no bigger than what I might contain, to huff over work, burnt coffee, sloth-like commutes, relationships, an infuriating family still here.

But too, it’s not a day solely of ash and dust, twisted metal and anguish, hollow thoughts and partial dreams.

Today is a day for remembrance, for love, for change, for hope, for us.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Take Back the Weekend

Dear Time Warner:

My old, undying foe. Well, well, well. We meet again.

Oh? You thought after last August, when I moved into my new apartment in near boiled heat that you had smote me? Because you teased me with appointments you would not keep, hardware that would not take and messages you would not return?

You thought because you had momentarily given me service, but not the ability to watch HBO-on-demand at-will or have my poor man’s Tivo record, and because you made it so impossible to fix that I was going to just be complacent about it?

Then you know me well, I suppose.

You are a worthy opponent. But I’ve got news for you. I was not raised to give up so easily.

You may break me, but you will never take my spirit. Because you’ve got New York in a vice, our veritable necks in a head lock, forever grinding your knuckles to our scalps in an ever-increasing fervor, you may think that you have my soul. Well you don’t!

Yes, you’ve robbed me from the last three Project Runways with your flirty little pixilation, your teasing of the opening credits of SVU only to go gray in a matter of minutes, your menu screen clearly indicating that you had taped Primetime Medical Mysteries when you had not.

You may have won one round last night, as us roommates drank too-sweet wine at a too-small table over jerk duck legs and boar sausages in blueberry sauce, we were giddy with our rage over you at Ivo and Lulu’s.

And this morning when my Fashion Week plans were postponed, because the prospect of slipping on ankle boots and skinny jeans before eight at night seemed impossible in the day-of hangover, I found myself face to face with you again.

Though I’ve got a weapon of my own today. It’s a sun-drenched afternoon. And it’s mine. From my balcony, shadows dapple the brick facades, boughs sway under the weight of a beautiful day, and I am getting my strength back. I am going to take back the weekend with my own little protest. That means sniffing basil at the market in Union Square, that means taking my notebook outside to create fresh pages of my novel, visiting the flower shop and fingering low boxes of wheatgrass, and giving Trader Joe’s the old college try.

You like that? Do ya?

That’s what I thought. Smug bastard…


Friday, September 08, 2006

Muzak Share

I’m loving music these days. I snagged the boy’s iPod (mine’s one of the og versions, therefore it’s melting in a five pound puddle somewhere beneath my bed) and blasted it the whole walk this morning.

It’s probably because last night we caught Junior Boys in all their electric glory at Bowery Ballroom.

It was awesome, reminiscent of a childhood I’m too young to have. Synthesizers, white suits, that melodic sort of whisper. It really was fantastic.

Even more so was the dancing. Horrible and incredible, born from jerky elbows and swooping head movements (is there any way else to dance to nouveau eighties?).

I promised myself for the hundredth time to go to more shows. I always float out of there, half-skipping actually, and I hear myself saying, “I want to only do this with my life.”

That temporary shot of being a creature of the night, giddy past my bedtime, slithering the streets of New York in a shadow-pack, where all we care about is being young and beating up our bodies in the name of being young and beating up our bodies. We’d smoke all the time, sleep where we’d fall, and dance horribly for the next six years, until we’re thirty I’d think, and then, all of a sudden, we’d clean up, slap on some Banana Republic and resume lives as productive members of society.

Today, I want that more than anything. I just want to keep floating, forget the inevitable sink. I keep repeating that saying.

Life fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse…

That damn iPod. Giving me delusions of youth…

As much as he wants to deny it, I’m dating a bonafide hipster. The downside is the collections upon collections of neon sneakers I trip over in our room. The upside is the music.

Right now, I also like Islands, Rogue Wave, and repeating the Panther video over and over again (please turn up the sound on this last one, and just try not to wet yourself laughing).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Meet The Hygienist

Today I got my teeth cleaned at (REDACTED). I had never been to the office, given an insurance change and a low startle point previously realized in the East Village when a scrubby dentist (with flecks of something in his beard, mind you) cackled at the woman haphazardly brushing my teeth.

So (REDACTED) it was, as it was assigned to me through work. The first thing I noticed was that the interior was a dentist-slash-optometrist (optician? opthalmologist?) office. All right, odd, but with no reason for me to hightail it out of there given I’d already okay’d the morning absence from my cube and I actually really enjoyed getting catcalled by different construction workers for a change so all was still fairly right in the world.

Some paperwork and a gaggy x-ray where the technician seemed to think that the extra large mouth clamps (near doubles for props from Saw) fit only for the Hulk were actually the exact size for me, later and I found myself meeting the dentist. A flash later and he was gone; I was ushered into a corner room with rust on the floor and made to wait.

And then it happened. I met her.

To protect the innocent, let’s just call her, oh I dunno, how about Stabby McGougeFlesh. Stabby for short.

So Stabby looks none too please to be there, even though if I do say so myself, I said hi rather brightly.

In fact, this seems to gloom up Stabby even more. Stabby clips on the bib and lowers the chair. Then she pulls from the depths of a fiery, torturous hell what can only be described as an electric drill with a pirate’s hook affixed to the end.

Then Stabby does what she does best. She starts a-stabbin’.

Let me break here by saying that I understand. It’s not the most glamorous job in the world, looking into a bunch of rotten mouths all day. But I hear the pay is good and the training is comprehensive and while you do need to wield the tools artfully, nature has already provided hygienists young and old with a guide:

White, hard squares = scrape
Pink, soft, surrounding tissue* = do NOT scrape

*Note, when said surrounding tissue, aka gums, begin to gush red, halt and desist! Even just momentarily, simply to gauge whether special care should be used or technique should be changed.

Apparently, Stabby had not learned this. Or maybe, Stabby did not care.

Either way I was caught in a human size mousetrap, with the wires from the various tubes she keeps shoving in my mouth crisscrossing my body, leaving me in a tangled seatbelt of sorts. And I’m trying to politely cringe. By the time I released my third pained yelp and tasted yet another fresh coat of blood she stopped.

“Oh are you feeling pain?!” In this way, like I was sensitive and a baby and no one else in the world ever cowered as she clipped and chipped away at their gums.

But what could be said? I didn’t want to piss her off. Oh, no, I did not, under any circumstances want to do that. So I said, “Aah. Well, just a little.” And I smiled pathetically as best I could, considering the devices in my mouth.

Did this stop Stabby? No it did not. She actually looked happy for the first time since we met. The rest went something like this.

“Wait—no, wait. Stabby, please. I beg of you. Nooooooooooooooooo!”


“Gaaaaaah! Mother of all that is holy, noooooooooooooooooooooo!!!”

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!! (She may have shouted out during this, "I'm gonna make you squeal piggy!!" but honestly I think I have already blocked it from memory)

The rest is between me and my therapist. However, I will tell you that the gentle touch of my hygienist did not stop there. I left the place with flecks of gritty toothpaste in my hair, on my cheeks and on my dress.

So, if you’re into pain. You know where to go…

Otherwise, cover your children’s eyes and run far, far away...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Words of Wisdom

Everyone has a token list of what they would have told to their younger selves. Softer, simpler axioms. Little leaves of wisdom to be peeled away with a comforting caress.

Take time to notice the smaller things, inhale the fragrant petals of a rose, nuzzle a puppy in his scruff. Don’t judge yourself so harshly. Take a frothy, bubble bath. Hug mom. Hug yourself. Make pizza, not war. Love, love, love.

While those are all well and good, and they are, to be sure, I never could really get behind them with any heart. Because my younger self would have rewarded my older self bearing the secret of time travel and carefully crafted notes crammed with neat penmanship with a quick roll of eyes and a shuffle of my Doc Martens.

My younger self would have looked through pink bangs and rubbed the sleeve of her ratty Akira shirt and would have scoffed, “Who the hell do you think you are? You’re wearing pearls and heels for God’s sake. You’re a preppy joke. You don’t understand anything except what it means to be a cog, dude.”

That’s why I want a list of what my younger self could school my older self. The things I believed in then that I lost along the way (like Manic Panic, the mall, and boys with skateboards)…or things the me in freshman year of high school would shake into the silly me in the sophomore year of my life:

1. Lose the contemplative sigh when asked how your day was. Going to work and sitting on your hands all day while you daydream about advances, break for coffee and computer eyestrain relaxation exercises, then heading to class all night where you daydream about advances, then going home and posting your musings about life while you daydream of advances is really, really not so hard. At least not nearly as hard as it was to write bad poetry, skip crew practice and whine about being a semi-privileged kid from Connecticut because “nobody understands”.

2. Quit thinking you can drink hard on Thursday nights. You’re not the young, carefree K anymore, the one that could sneak out in a contraband Jeep, and then sleep through study hall undetected, head wedged into a binder that stank of clove cigarettes. Besides, the idea that Friday is actually a “fake day” at work is not quite true, and no matter how hard you try, no one is catching on.

3. Do not, under any circumstances, let anyone know that you kinda, sorta, just a little bit enjoy watching Antiques Roadshow. I don’t care that our parents are antique dealers, in fact that makes it 100 times worse. Put MTV back on, and put it on loud. While you’re at it, think about getting a platty grill and a thong that spells out in glitter, "Future MILF."

4. Ban the following phrases from your vocabulary: I really shouldn’t, can we status?, I’m just going to stay in and maybe run some errands, no I don’t need another drink, I have a boyfriend, maybe we should get some drapes, and how many calories do you think is in that? You never said one of these before, even if they were true, and now you’re getting pretty darn comfortable saying several of them. You know which ones.

Too bad swapping the side of advice doesn’t continue to promote that feel-good feeling of the old standby...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Thought for Food

It’s nights like tonight—I’m munching an “egg in a hat” for dinner—when I remember other times...harkening back to proper meals that wouldn’t make my mother cringe like the aforementioned pan-fried toast and over-easy yolk would. I cap off this unbalanced nutrition with a half glass of apple cider. No vegetables, no marbled meat, not one thing to prove that I could cook something—something good even—if only I had the spice cabinet and some chicken stock…

Our vacation was not so long ago but already it feels like an eternity (don’t they always?). The chill in the air (perhaps the onset of fall, but the more likely culprit is a well-working central air button meeting my overactive trigger finger) has me wearing a dress with flannel pajama pants underneath as I rummage through my closet, kickstarting September with the annual purge. I’m forging a path for the new by ditching the old. My arms full of mismatched socks, a dustbunny on my sleeve, I come upon my travel bag and find the menu from our unforgettable night at the artisanal table, flanked by silver foxes and good ole boys, them tinkling their fine crystal and singing oil tales; us trying not to gulp our wine.

It’s too good to keep to myself, far from vacation in a shoebox room with a closet bursting of nothing to wear:

First Course

Heirloom Tomatoes, Herb Sauce, Burrata

Fried Okra with Homemade Ranch Dressing

Pates and Terrines

Mikpa Organica Easter Egg Radish, Organic Butter and Sea Salt

Main Course

Sablefish with Crispy Proscuitto, Lemon and Caper

Porchetta, Rapini, Peaches, Romesco Sauce

Braised Romano Beans

Roasted Carrots with Macadamia Nuts

Cheese Course

Humboldt Fog with Chino Farm’s Strawberry Figs


Olive Oil Dolce Cake, Poached Stone Fruit, Mulberries

Good, right?

With consumables like those, I couldn’t help but force my brain to surrender the details of each captured, forgotten bite. The crisp fried okra was drenched with creamy spiced ranch. The roasted carrots were small, organic and bright orange sprouting little green shoots. The strawberry figs were called so because of the deep red flesh and the sweet, mellow tones of the fruit. But the olive oil dolce cake…that was by far the best.

I think about the experience then, as I sip the end of the cider, muddled with sediment. I make a bitter face to match the thick sludge and think about that cake instead; light, golden, the dissipating melt of the stone fruit…just one more moment before it’s back to the task of the closet and an eternal sigh for washing the dishes of a youngish, poorish New York hopeful who needs her rest…if only to wake up tomorrow and daydream some more over a Luna bar, a cup of sub par coffee, or if I’m really lucky, a packet of instant oats…