Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Don't Be Like That

Blog,

You’re right. I haven’t been there for you lately. Not like I should have been. No, no, you’re right, seriously, I’ve been too busy and I’m sorry. Come on baby, don’t be like that. I still love you. Give me some of that sweet, sweet html.

What’s with the cold shoulder?

Oh great. Here we go again. Now the guilt trip. No, no, I’m listening. Go ahead. No, I am not making a face at you! I’m just thinking.

Well, if you must know, I’ve got a lot going on, is all. I’ve got classes and practice tests and applications and work and going home for the family and all that un-fun stuff.

No, that’s not all I’ve been doing. I’ve been doing other things.

Like what? You know, just stuff.

I already told you, stuff.

You want to push me? Fine. Here’s the truth. Right now, someone else is more important than you. That’s right. My writing sample. There, I said it. Happy?

Oh boy. Here come the waterworks.

Look, it’s not that Writing Sample is more important than you, I misspoke. It’s just that it’s more timely than you. It’s just that I need to get it perfect right now. You know, for school. Cause when that’s all over, I’ll show you all the love and affection you need. Promise.

Seriously, it’s different this time.

No, I do not love Writing Sample more than you. How could you even think that?

And it’s not even like Writing Sample has taken up all my time. I promise.

What? You want an example?

I'm thinking, okay?

Well, okay, here's one. I should have been working on Writing Sample yesterday and spent two hours spearing scallops and sipping wine with a married man instead. So you see, I’m treating Writing Sample like crap too.

What do you mean that doesn’t make you feel better? It wasn't even dinner! I don't even have time for dinner.

Oh come on. We talked about you for part of it, it’s not like you were completely out of the picture. He likes you, too. Well, maybe he was just saying that since the way to a girl’s heart is through her blog.

Come on…that was a joke. Don’t you like jokes anymore?

Jeeez, you used to be so much more fun. Now it’s just nag, nag, nag.

Wait.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it.

Aw come here you. Let me give you a hug. I’ll be treating you better soon. Promise…

As soon as the writing sample is good enough, I'm back to you, better than ever.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Training

I’m on a rickety train. It’s one of the older Metro North cars and it lurches, leaving my stomach behind, hurtling through stations and schedules.

I just came from home, and the remnants of a head cold (my parents joke that I must be allergic to them; every time I come home I start sniffling) and now I’m flying back to the big, bad city with all the obligations I’ve avoided successfully for days.

At home-home, though I sleep in a guest room long converted and very clear telling of my state of belonging at home (loud and clear, I’m to have moved on, apparently I needed a tangerine room to tell me this) I feel protected there still. Feelings at home negate responsibility, animals abound, everything in the town and every light in the house switches right at 8 PM, from bright to dim, and things are quiet without exception.

Home, and the years I spent under the tutelage of my parents, with their chores on the fridge, summer reading lists, far-too-strict (my friends agreed) rules on staying out later—all of that was to prepare me for something else. The truth of reality beyond our yellow painted door.

Jonathan Franzen told me, and told an auditorium, that fiction is a deliberate dream.

I filled in the completes as he said the phrases. Our truth lies in our family, and when you finally leave home your friends become your family.

Maybe your friends are more important, potent and meaningful. Because they are your chosen family.

This chosen family, and only this singularity, makes it bearable to be a human being. As everything else: spinning that deliberate dream, cutting teeth and cutting a paycheck, loving hard and wrong is all too much of what it means to be alive, and it’s that all too much which makes it so burdening.

I wonder if, instead, our chosen family should not be regarded and revered over our born family.

It’s my family at home, only, which knows we are bound together. It’s that family, alone, that will never stop trying. It’s that family who holds firm the unseen belief yet monstrous importance that we share the same blood strains and therefore must love each other, at all costs.

We together are indeed the only ones who try, every day, to make it work, even when it shouldn’t, because we are a unit. This is the family that cannot walk away from one another, because this family will not accept defeat.

This was my noble training for the real world.

Was it right? Maybe not.

In life we walk away instead of stand and face and fix at every turn.

We switch jobs, friends, roommates, fianc├ęs, advisors and states as often as we change our clothing. Possibilities are infinite; families are not.

Today I wonder if this training belies what things should really mean for all of us. If the ability to flip outweighs the character to withstand change by staying strong at what has always been and always should be.

We have it all, because we hold nothing, own nothing. Without attachment, we have nothing to lose, and nothing to gain.

Our choice to commit to something makes it important, we think, since our own accord sought it out. Yet it also makes it transitory, because all of us can, and will, change our minds eventually.

Still, I would not trade my training for the world. It’s simply too bad it did not prepare me for such.

Tomorrow is operation number two, the defining one, and it will be that we will survive whatever the day and the knife will bring. This is only because I see. I finally see.

My born-in family has been my chosen family all along—a choice, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, that cannot be reversed. Dear Lord, I am married to these people forever.

Panic subsides, gratitude flows in, one more round of positive thinking and we could be done with this year, never to look back...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Give Thanks

For me Thanksgiving signals the onset of many things. Uncomfortable memories of trash turkeys, slices of pumpkin pie for breakfast, picking out all the sausage from the stuffing, leaving the mushy bread leftovers for the next poor sap who rummages through the fridge.

It means the table is set amidst the aubergine walls, carved urns and brass planters of my parents’ antique shop (only on special occasions of course). Tapered candles, lavender in small copper pots, classical stylings billowing through the downstairs speakers. It means the cheese and salumi plates, shrimp cocktail and many, many whiskey sours as guests arrive bearing viscous pearl onions and cranberry concoctions.

It means early Christmas gifts from my French great-aunt, whose taste is so impeccable and expensive that a clutch or scarf from her, when worn with anything of my own choosing or purchase power, looks incredibly out of place and semi-ostentatious.

It means rolling to the sofa before the sun’s rays even set, too full to continue on as bottles uncork and talk turns to politics.

This year we’re keeping it small, as it’s just the four of us because my father won’t be able to eat the meal. He’s stuck slurping a goo for weeks after his surgery. We’re paring down the menu and putting away the clippings I’ve amassed months ago so not to rub salt in the wound and to keep it kind, not bloated. No crispy peas with crumbled bacon, no multiple desserts and absolutely no drinking other than a glass of burgundy. It’s small, it’s simple. Because for Christmas we have hopes of a blowout, when everyone’s on the mend. Browned bits of butter, extra garlic and cream in the mashed potatoes. Warm apple cake and oozing vanilla bean ice cream. Small spoons in softened brown sugar and salt cellars. Everyone’s invited. The more the merrier.

This year, it’s just us. And for that, we are so thankful. We’re celebrating it by not indulging in excess for once.

I couldn’t be more excited.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Like Love

I’m thinking a lot about love lately. The good. The bad. The horrifying.

Sometimes I scoff at it, it seems trite and unmeaningful, like a label we assign to any feel-goods crossing our receptors. We throw it around, exploiting its importance.

“I love that shirt on you, I love kung fu movies, I love that girl—she’s so much fun…”


We even toss it around when we think what we’re saying is true and paramount. Could that be even worse?

“I’m in love with you, I’ll love him forever, she’s the love of my life…”


We use it, and in doing so, dilute reality, because words with such gravity should also have permanence. Sadly, they don’t. It’s fickle, blind, and all the other things they say. It does not respond well to logic and lists of why-shoulds and why-should nots.

That’s the thing about love from what I’ve seen, it’s powerful at times, destructive at others, but so often it is not enduring. It’s trying to capture light in a box. It seems so clear and tangible and real at times, and you close your hands around it to find you’ve just mashed your palms. Together but empty.

It’s enough to make you feel pretty small, a sort of how-dare-you-try-to-keep-it mentality, cause then it’s not yours…

I’ve seen it happen to people far more deserving than I. So what chance do the rest of us have?

I wonder today if there is someone out there for everyone. And if we’re so lucky for that, can we push our luck even further? To imagine that there are several someones, and we may have the opportunity, privilege even, to meet more than one in a lifetime? It’s asking a lot, but we’re humans and we’re selfish and demanding, so I have hope for that too, like so many other things in this world, because though today it’s raining, and it’s Monday, and we’re sighing into winter, all is not lost…

The Game

What is it about the game of dating that is just so...you know…? It is not like riding a bicycle. Don't believe the people who tell you that. It's far more fun but far more dangerous.

Back in the saddle, I’ve been privy to one of those conversation stoppers in conversation starter clothing that rears its ugly head at every girl’s night out and every first sip.

Friday was a handsome doctor, great on paper, and pouring Chianti. He told me that after my extremely late decision to read his copy of “The Game” (yes, I know I’m a year and a half past the fact but I’ve never been very cool or hip to what the kids are doing), I’d want to become a lesbian. Guys were just horrible beasts, he went on, all dogs. It was enough to make anyone jump the bench and make way for the other team apparently.

Huh. I looked at him sideways. Was shooting himself in the foot part of some unspoken appeal? He was undoing the fact that he used to be a sponsored skateboarder before medical school with every breath. (Kidding, kidding).

Then, realizing his rookie mistake, he retracted.

“Though you’re way too hot to be a lesbian.” Nervous smile. Riiiiiight.

I finished the bottle before I palmed the book and kicked away in my boots, earrings flashing, eyes to the door as a joke.

“How about a lipstick lesbian?” He went to Harvard, I would have thought he’d be a little more PC. Oh well.

Off to read some more pick-up secrets. So I can deflect cheesoid lines from a mile away...cause it’s been a little while…but, don't worry...I'm already cringing at myself...

UPDATE: Blogger's not letting me post a comment but I wanted to qualify this: just kidding around--thought what he said was funny considering the subject matter...I'd never run out based on something someone said, especially with my own case of foot-in-mouth disease...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Math is, like, hard and stuff

Remember the talking Barbie that caused all the commotion a while back? The one that rallied important motivation to the burgeoning female leaders of tomorrow with such gems as “I love shopping!” and “Math is hard!”?

Well I hate to say it, but Barbie my dear; you hit the nail on the head…

Last night I embarked on my very first GRE crash course. Cause I’m in a productive frenzy. Some people break down in a time of crisis, I fly into a flurry of activity when I’m not weekending the slack at home.

I slosh too many cups of beer, I toss the plastic down for anything falling into the slinky category, I drink coffee and sweep internet searches in lieu of meals and I burn off days at the gym. I amp up the page writing for my novel (at 175 and counting) and with five weeks until the first applications are due, I decide, for real, that I’m applying to graduate school.

That means I have to take the entrance exam. And I haven’t taken a math class since junior year. Of high school.

So back to last night’s class and the diagnostic. Under the florescent buzz of times past, a preppy, peppy and slightly mean instructor cheerily tells us that this will be the gauge on which we are measured. I fly through verbal, stumbling minimal times (Integument is to animal as…uh…I guess I’ll go with…rind is to fruit?…cause in my mind integument, at that moment, is incorrectly interpreted as some sort of cage…is offset with the opposite of thwart is cause…easy!).

The feeling does not last.

Oh quantitative. Why do you mock me so?

We start off all right. Not too shaky. (What’s bigger, 20 percent of 15 or 19 percent of 16…okay…not too bad…hey maybe I’m smarter than I thought…three questions in a row and four minutes into the section…I’m not weeping yet….)

Then we get to the meat. (What is the least prime number greater than 200? (201, 202, 203, 205, 211). Okay, let’s see. So we’re looking for the least prime number here. Okay I understand the question. And it needs to be greater than 200. So far so good. So uh, yeah…uh…teacher? This is a little embarrassing…but you told us to be honest so…ah…what’s a prime number, again?)

For shame. Yes I graduated from a decent school, and even got a good grade or two along the way. But hell if I remember complicated fractions, algebra or prime numbers!

Where the creative writing section please? Can’t I recite a poem to get out of this? A limerick? Nothing?

"There once was a man from Peru
Who fell asleep in a canoe
He dreamt of Venus
And played with his p*nis
And woke up with a handful of goo…"


I resorted to filling out the scantron to making a pattern with my shaded dots. D hadn’t been used in a while, so there you go. Right there. Oops, looks like too many Bs in a row, let’s change one to an A. What? Time’s up?

Will find out on Monday how far the mighty have fallen.

Math is hard when you purport to have an English brain…

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I didn't even have to use my A.K....

The weekend was rough but we’re pulling through with style, so an enormous thanks to everyone for your support, prayers, etc. They meant a lot. Looks like they also worked for now and that’s incredible. My dad’s by no means out of the woods, but the first operation went okay, and he’s feeling okay, all things considered.

I got to say it was a good day.

I’ve got that Ice Cube song in my head. Last time I did, I knelt under the domed green of Massachusetts in Andes Van Syckle’s English class and tried, quite hard, to pay attention instead of closing my eyelids to the sun. It was warm, and the lyrics flew from my right from two kids: one from Bermuda, the other sporting a tie made entirely of duct tape.

Those were the days of mud sliding, blindfold campus crawls and sandals in the snow. Stolen cigarettes on the mountain and Sunday searches for all the hidden shacks built by students looking for a dry place to get high, drunk, and make out. I only made it to the peak for one sunrise in the dark, though that’s all I needed. The rest of the time was spent acting like I didn’t care that I was cold when we shivered on the empty baseball field after lights out.

Back then my advisor “Jen-Jen”, a very pretty and very new teacher, passed on to me the best advice she could think of at the time, to always “pee after sex, before cuddling”.

All us privileged brats had laundry service or care packages or late-model cars or parents that cared. It was camp year-round. But shorts were against dress code.

It was full of good days. Here’s hoping for some more…

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Good Vibrations


Tonight I drink citrine wine at English is Italian amidst tepid conversation and incredible butternut squash spiced pasta. This is work, but it's also play. Everyone sparkles, dancing in candlelight, except me. I've got other things on my mind.

We’re toasting, anticipating a motivational speaker’s big moment. She’s here to invigorate sales figures, and maybe a few personal relationships as well. I’ll get to hear half tomorrow, but then I’ll be gone in more ways than one.

I'm off to slip a penny into the crack of the Liberty Bell when the guard's not looking and silently say a prayer. Then I'll scold my brother for not doing his homework because they asked me to. Friday morning at 7 AM my dad has a very complicated, very scary surgery. The rest is up to whoever the rest is up to.

We need all the help we can get. So if you believe in that sort of stuff, if you can widen your mind and open your heart, send some his way. I’d appreciate it…but mostly, that kind of thing is important these days, the last remaining thing that is…