Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sour Grapes, Moot Point

“Listen, New York is like Joan Didion says, for the very young or very rich. Anywhere in between and it's miserable. It's cold half the year, the other half it's pouring rain and that's supposedly during the fun spring months, and then summer is a hot blast of humidity and stench. All year long it's dirty, it's overcrowded, it's overpriced, it's a pain in the ass just to go grocery shopping (and that's a disappointment in itself, and why do you think Fresh Direct didn't originate out of California?), rents aren't just expensive, they are *inhumanely* expensive, I mean, the $1200 studio is looking like a bargain. Going to the deli, squeezed next to 12 people waiting in line for your $3 gallon of milk is itself a depressing and exhausting experience. I get catcalled on the street by men even if I am wearing a full length coat and scarf that covers my eyes. You can get nearly every great thing that New York has in other big American cities--fine food, the best art house movies, top bands, and even some yes, art. (And when's the last time any of you went to a museum or a Broadway play--bet it was when your friends from out of town were visiting.) There are plenty of places in America you can live that allow you to have access to all of the great things New York offers, minus the bullshit. L.A. is not perfect and has many of the same problems as New York, but the weather makes it all better. You can live a rich, creative life in Seattle, Portland, Austin, for a fraction of the cost of what you pay here. No small minded Republican towns, those. I don't understand why New Yorkers get so upset at the mere suggestion that where they live isn't paradise. It's not. The reason I stay--and the reason many people stay--is opportunity. The media and publishing center is here, so I hold my nose and swallow the good with the bad. But I think many of the anti-NY haters don't want to admit that maybe working your ass off for that 2x5 $1500, or more likely $3200 apartment, isn't worth the New York zipcode, and that maybe just maybe, we all got sold on the mythology of New York. Rose colored glasses make everything look better.”

On a Gawker thread full of self-love and self-loathing about living here, and the only thing offsetting my scared-as-hell attitude to leave the city, if I do get into grad school…

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I don’t have it. I don’t even want to have it. I’m a now girl, I like to bring it all, wild-eyed, screeching, in the moments of moments. A fling myself head on into the problem, jump the fence into the neighbor’s pool, bemoan the lost, celebrate the good, drink that bottle of wine, cry in the bathroom if I have to, now kind of girl. I laugh when something is funny. I let my expressions take over because I don’t want to face the limits and control of the rest.

But this waiting game (much of my life pattering by on this waiting game), the acceptance in a form of a packet, rejection in the slimmest of envelopes, the future asks where I am and I can’t answer for the next few weeks, months even. They stagger their yeses. Will I be one?

I am waiting on my life, not to begin, but the chosen part to really start. I have applied myself to apply myself. I am waiting, not patiently, for the answers. I am ready.

No I am not.

Let the rejection letters roll in over the next three weeks and hopefully I will know then, what may come, what August may bring…

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A guy in my yoga class had a boner, and other things that happened this weekend...

-The pervasive thought that I could, and maybe should, become a tattooed vegetarian at Kate's Joint midway through a chickpea burger

-A game of Catchphrase that lasted a tad too long, though I think our team won

-Almost all of Season Two of Project Runway and yes I did feel a little pathetic that I watched it on Friday night (but then remembered I'm on the list, thanks to my roommate, for the Season Four finale, so let's pretend it evened out)

-A date on which I saw "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" and felt so weirded out afterwards, I killed any magical mood possible

-Tossing the sheets and jumping out of bed too early for no good reason at all and the absence of naps

-Writing the biggest check of my life, then promptly forgetting to mail it

And the final point; I now look like I did when I was five years old due to training day at Bumble and Bumble. Free haircut would be a deterrent for some people, yet it for some reason beckoned me...why oh why do I have to be so freaking cheap--er--adventurous?

Next up, a low-key brunch and a low-key Oscar party, because somehow it's already felt active enough...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What's owed...

Consider this symptom of a sinister, underlying disease.

(begin scene)

6:50 PM…event begins at 7.

“We’re going to be late to the rodeo/rubber convention/ Hungarian movie if you don’t hurry up! You always make us late!” Hands on hips, eyes rolled, expression disgusted.

“No we won’t, stop nagging me! God, do you ever stop bitching?” Slowing down, glacier movement of putting on socks.

7:06 PM arrival time. A long line waits. It’s cold and outside.

“See!” Scrunched up madface. Superiority.

“See what? The line?” Playing dumb yet annoyed tone, exaggerated gesturing.

“If we had left when I was ready and not had to wait for you to change shoes three times, we would be sitting inside right now.”

“You are so wrong on that one. No way is that true.”

“Yes, it is! We’re late, and I told you so.” Beaming correctness at being right.

“No, we would have caught this line anyway.” Defensiveness at said correctness.

“Okay whatever. Like you even know.”

“Like you do?!”

“You always do this! If it weren’t for me, we’d never get anywhere!”

“If it weren’t for you, I’d be on the couch playing Playstation with my pants off instead of at this stupid rodeo/rubber convention/ Hungarian movie.”

“Do you have any idea how much I put up with? I’m a saint to take this crap from you!”

“Do you have any idea how much I put up with?”

(end scene)

There is such a thing as relationship debt, and we carry it around at all times, slipped into handbags and tucked into our winter coats; more accessible than our cells and crackberries. We call on it; slap it down with more vigor and frequency than our debit cards (and we’d use our debit cards at the Laundromat if we could…).

It’s always at hand, like a favorite icebreaker at an uncomfortable industry event (Love your necklace, have you heard the speaker before, where’s the bar?). It’s an extension of us and we see no wrong in how we use it. Or whom we’re used to using it with. It’s the “remember what you put me through?!” mantra.

It’s against the person we’re supposed to love the most, and we find ourselves asking how we got here. When did this happen, or more importantly why? Why did this shift turn us from a relay team to individual competitors—was it a moment where we realized the flow and actively did not swim against it or was it imperceptible while still being significant and awful, a poison building—and why was it able to change, to defeat us? It morphed into a cloud, a gray frown of a feeling that someone else, and we all know who we are, owes us, at all times.

This is the moment we may find ourselves bargaining for a bad cause, for this debt that we feel must be collected and must be collected NOW. You’ve done this and that for a person in your life. You supported them through art school, you moved to Death Valley for them, you gave up this dirty-haired hipster gathering, that regatta, whatever for them, them, and, while we’re on the topic, how dare they not thank you for your benevolence at all times, and you feel as though because of the act or succession of acts, acts that should have been borne of kindness and not of reciprocity, that you are allowed, no—required—to cash in said favor whenever. In fact, as soon as possible.

Whenever means whenever. The middle of a party, the Superbowl, the really important branding brainstorm at work. You want to cash it in because you think it’s all about staying even, measuring what’s owed on both sides.

Life isn’t fair, you think. Work is work. School is work. Working out is work. For the love of all that is holy, your relationship shouldn’t be work, we say. We know we’re wrong, but since when has that ever stopped us? We're ready to cash in, and our count is completely different than our partner’s. We all end up empty-handed, and yet the count continues.

With tantrums, come no teams. This is a brawl, this is about being righteous, not right per se, because of a skewed thought that is what which matters, no thought to who is decimated, steamrolled, along the way. You can or cannot remember what it was like to impress this person before you, this person who does not appreciate what you do because this person does not tell you every second of their life how grateful they are that you are in it…and then you stop. You’ve heard there is a fine line between love and hate, and now you’re sick to your stomach because you finally understand what it means. And ignorance was bliss, truly.

Relationship debt is a problem that’s hard to shake. There is no such thing as starting over. There is only moving forward. And in actuality, we owe relationship debt to ourselves. There is no one that can pay it to us, but us. There is no one who will pay it to us, but us.

Turns out this isn’t about debt or owing at all. It’s about owning. Owning your own faults, owning your life and your problems and fixing them without purging them onto someone else. This isn’t about who is right and righteous, this is only partially about winning as we see it. What it is about is winning back peace, dissolving conflict, smiling until it’s true. There is so much owning to do in a relationship and in a life, and owing has very little to do with it. There is no fairness, there is no judge to cut your debt in half and make you both pay your shares. You put in what you can, and you leave what you do not want infecting you, and that is the best that you can do, and the kindest that you’ll ever be. If you can let it all go.

It’s lonely being right and it’s lonely being owed. It’s my new goal to be neither. Not ever again.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Take that, V.D.

I had two different “we’re single—woooo!” girl dinners planned, and both fell through because of the snow and schedules and desires to nap on the couch and watch American Idol (all more important than trekking uptown to down wine this time, we agreed). Even the backup backed out, and I went to plan C, going to the gym on Valentine’s Day.

There is no justice in this world.

Okay, I went out afterwards to impromptu dinner at Chumley’s and he brought white tulips, which I held as he jumped across the street to push a Mercedes out of the snow, and when it finally worked, with the aid of another passerby and the victim's girlfriend's incompetent driving skills under the waft of burning rubber, they hugged him and yelled their thanks.

Is this is any indication, a forecast for this weekend: a planned country with a capital C whirlwind of bottling wine, a fireplace to warm toes and seeing what could be…if at all…not to mention, oh yes, a colonial town. Does anything bring star-crossed lovers together more than candlemaking? I think not!*

*No dipping wick jokes, please, besides being utterly tasteless and utterly untrue, this is a family establishment...

Monday, February 12, 2007

La Douleur Exquisite

Saturday was a day for indulgences and because I chose to outdo it, I split them between two friends to avoid an open shame spiral. Hey, it’s Valentine’s week, and valentine--for the first time in a while--I have not.

Open wallet, retract overdrawn debit card, and attempt to make up for it.

First I prepared myself with a rigorous Pilates class on Friday night, from which my ribs are still sore. This was my “oh-let’s-pretend-we’re-earning-it”. And it almost felt as though I had when I ordered the buttery, creamy, ooey-gooey sweet potato mash smothered in parmesan to accompany my fat turkey patty at the newly-opened Stand. A generous sip of the brunette's homemade ginger ale (which she said went great with her cheeseburger and onion marmalade on brioche), and we were off in the freezing wind to cash in on one of the city’s luscious spa deals for such an occasion (a chamomile soufflé facial and Swedish massage).

If the workout felt great while I was eating, it didn’t serve me as well during the massage. It felt like the culmination of six months of exquisite pain as she used her elbow on my back. But nothing prepared me for my Russian masseuse’s clinical style—at one point I found myself on my stomach noticing a cool breeze to glance around and find I was sans towel—well actually, the masseuse had pulled it clear off! I asked the brunette—did this happen to you? (Her massage was by a man, and sadly, she did not get the same treatment…how unfortunate, we joked).

That night I braved the weather again, for the good of mankind, or for the good of crispy rosemary chicken, truffle-fries and vanilla gelato at Cafeteria with a blonde (I have had more than a few weekend dinner dates with girls, brunette and blonde, and no, I am not ashamed, not anymore). And cocktails. A white peach margarita, a lychee-grapefruit martini, by the time we nuzzled up to the open pit fire at Aspen with some delightful alcoholic blackberry puree, I was full, buzzed, and wanting a nap.

On Sunday I was exhausted from all my pampering, my self-serving, totally selfish Saturday and spent it cleaning, doing laundry and paying penance in the form of vegetables and folding and watching my beloved college basketball team let another win slip away. My roommate brought home an advance copy of Factory Girl and we watched it on the HD projector and surround sound to cheer ourselves up (we didn’t love it, good acting but I’d advise against paying the money to see it in the theater), which didn’t work because the biopic and subject remains pretty darn sad.

Tonight it’s back to Pilates, tomorrow Westville East with a different girl. I like this cycle. Since I’m single, and all my applications are in, and I pay my taxes, I’m considering continuing. Rinse and repeat. Working through any exquisite pain until my life is simply exquisite…

Friday, February 09, 2007

Rock Steady

I’m convinced. There is no permanence; there is no normalcy. In twenty-something relationships, all bets are off. My friends and I seem to run the gamut with ours: a beautiful wedding *ahem* after an announced pregnancy, a five year couple back to square one, an engagement broken, a bi-coastal courtship with an *ahem* gentleman in his mid forties, a “friends with benefits” understanding which only exists in South Beach/the Hamptons/his apartment/cabs, an illicit affair with an *ahem* twenty year old, a burgeoning romp involving a boy who will one day be famous, we’re sure of it…

This is not just what it means to be single and in a city of any size, this is not just about vodka martinis and clichéd musings of stilettos and highlighted hair, yet here we all are: confused, in our good jeans, lost, swimming, stirring fodder, finding…what?

There is and there isn’t anything steady about sparkling rocks on fingers and whispers on Sunday afternoons, I love yous, daydreams and texts. I’ve seen it happen to people less than…and sure it is exciting, and sure it is our *ahem* dare I say, pliant youth…we’ll take it while we’re still svelte. We’ll talk forever, but we will not have wasted a moment.

What is it worth, we find ourselves asking each other. Does he like me, do I like him, why do we always care? The heartache, the imbalance, the shame—we are in love with that and not him. We are addicted to such rushes, we want to be liked best so we can turn them down for doing what we’ve asked for all along. We’ve got party tales at this juncture, most of us, arguably, not much else. The few of us that have found connections find out we eventually lose them, left with our unfulfilled expectations and our prettiest top stained from spilled Sangria.

But then, the mornings that make it all worthwhile, stuttering in the freezing cold and getting your sneakers made fun of until you buy new ones, close vicinity on a corduroy couch in a crowded room, a plan that just might work, if everyone, well okay, just you, back off and just let it meander the direction it wants to…whether that’s toward us or away…

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Censure Censor

Today I’m thinking about censorship. Not because of the Superbowl, though really I was hoping Prince would wear my all-time favorite stage outfit of his (the yellow buttless pants and matching headwrap) but more like the sanitation we all go through to act appropriately and to spare feelings at the cost of hiding our own.

I’m not that great at it, clearly. I swear and I cringe because I know it’s vulgar and unbecoming to a girl. At work I can’t laugh too loud. At home when guests come over, I scurry to peel off yoga pants and look more presentable. It’s not that as I am I am a crude, slovenly, mess…or is it? And if I am, am I doing the world a disservice by such posturing--that I am a put-together creature of this city instead of an incompetent child? Or is it that I improve myself by the act of pretending, in the effort that one day I will really attain such goals?

There’s too much there to wrap our heads around right now, maybe.

And then there’s the worst kind of censorship that I can partake in, right here on this very site. My friends have fake names, my feelings are fine until they hurt someone. My diary is less than that really, because my name is shrouded. I used to think I wanted to be famous, now I just want to be.

A friend gave some intrepid advice about the words you’re reading now. He thought maybe my ex-steady wouldn’t like reading what’s here since we’ve made like a banana (namely my renegade cocktail-swilling, sushi-eating and heart-breaking, in that order). He’s right of course, but to change me, my life, which I find to be semi-fabulous, for someone else?

I’ve done a lot of dumb things in my life, but that won’t be one of them.

I am who I am and with each day that passes, I become a little more okay with it. People read this, people don’t, but if I can’t say what I really feel or am doing, on almostliterary, of all places, then there is no point whatsoever. Besides, if I don’t speak my mind here, it will boil over in other places and I’ll find myself in a fashion spread stock meeting, adjusting my headband, eyes glazed, toes turned in, and when my boss asks me what I’m thinking about, it’ll come all out…

“Summer shade, the feel of grass, how they make ribbon candy. How funny it seems when horses in France respond to native language commands. Bare feet on carpet, the hiss of fire seeping through cords of wood, my grandpa’s surfing abilities. Monogrammed stationary, heartache, the science of being hungover, dreams never met, love lost and the meaning of life…you?”

Thursday, February 01, 2007

What a Girl Wants (Or Doesn't)

There are good dates and then there are bad dates. I present to you the following evidence…

Good dates may or may not include the following:
-shared sushi
-teak décor
-lip gloss re-applications
-one too many “Ginger Smash” cocktails
-hysterically laughing at a terrible joke I made
-a giant, and I mean GIANT, waiter
-the worst movie either of us has ever seen
-a dangerous cab ride that included the running of red lights and possibly hitting a garbage can

Bad dates may or may not include the following:
-forced salsa dancing
-as an addendum to the first item; aggressively swiveling male hips in any form
-his “forgetting” to bring any cash at all
-his cash issue expressed mere moments after he tells me he’s buying a condo in L.A.
-holding my bag hostage until I “give him a kiss”
-breaking said bag when I nervously laugh off the uncomfortable demand
-sweating, inexplicably, when the wine comes
-asking to hold my hand yet making me hold his coat all night

I pray to the dating gods that I get more from Column A this weekend than from Column B…you guys owe me after Mr. His Name Shall Not Be Mentioned, No, Not Ever Again.

Seriously, come on!