Monday, January 29, 2007

Personal Statements

My roommate and I are on the cusp. She, an MBA admission, me an MFA admission. One little letter makes all the difference between suits and martinis, flip-flops and espresso. These are where our lives may diverge as we usher ourselves into the realm of adulthood. We’re picking our careers; we’re doing it, finally. We think we’re making the right choice, and if not, we’ll make it right. Or maybe that’s just me. I can only ever speak for myself.

I’ll go out on a limb and say what we do have as a commonality in the entire application process is our forced demeanor. It’s when the dreaded interview crops up, that personal statement.

Everywhere wants a personal statement. The applications are an overbearing date; a needy girlfriend. Tell us what you like. Tell us what you’re like. Tell us what’s good, what’s bad, tell us a secret. Tell us what we want to hear about what we want to hear about you, but really, just tell us about us and why you can’t wait to be with us. Tell us the truth; tell us a lie, as long as it’s complimentary. Tell us you want us above and beyond all others, you want us, we’re the best, we’ve always been. Tell us where you've come from and why you love who has come before you, but you’ll do it better than they ever did. Tell us how you lay awake at night, eyes unblinking, balled fists, staring at the ceiling, wishing and dreaming and hoping that one day you’ll get to touch us, get to associate with us…

I want to tell them, I will be working on my personal statement all my life, and the moment I understand what it is, surely that will be the moment I cease to breathe, because if there is to be any point to my little life at all, it is to find the words that encompass everything important to me.

I stare at a blank page and vague instructions. I move forward by a hodgepodge of strewn phrases, I capitalize something that should not be and I wonder if leaving it in will make me any different in the eyes of a faraway selections committee. Who are you, they ask, and I want to say, Precisely. You’ve hit the nail on the head. They want the mantra I live my life by and I want to jab them in the arm playfully and say, Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse? Eh? Eh? No one?

We joke on the couch the three adjectives to describe ourselves: nervous, anxious….and….uncomfortable doing this exercise?

They want the truth so they say, but the truth is I don’t know who I am yet. I’d like to say I will by the time I graduate, but I’ve graduated twice before and it hasn’t happened yet, so if I was a betting girl I might say, Stay clear, the odds are against us on that one…

Is there no extra credit for honesty to the point of stupidity? I think, Not here. I can’t tell them what makes sense, what they want from me. I wonder if I can just point to this blog*, show them a picture I painted when I was ten, whip out the only shadow puppet I can (a distorted gorilla), a mediocre cartwheel, a pretty good tomato sauce, a passable bed-making job (no hospital corners), a perfect cursive z, a life not fully formed and tell them even though they don’t understand that I’m glad for it, because if I knew anything about anything now, there would be no point in tomorrow and the day after.

Two more personal statements and then the waiting game resumes, the one where I sit un-patiently and try to control my universe from a shared apartment and a gray desk to call all my own …

*Admissions, if you’re reading this, please don’t read the parts where I’m hungover, my heart is broken, I’m angry, I complain or I’m lonely, unless of course, that somehow makes me more artistic in your eyes, and if so then I’m drinking from a flask of absinthe right now to abate yesterday’s gin, my beloved dog ran away, I’m so mad about it I could spit, but there’s nothing I will do but bitch and that very act makes me feel more alone than I’ve ever felt in my life…Eh? Eh? No one?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Red Kind

Chipped polish and hair-too-wild, I knew the slick veneer put on for a wedding this weekend wouldn’t last long. I have been fronting as an adult for dozens of months now and whom have I fooled?

Maybe a few employers, possibly an admission committee or two, I won’t exactly know until April for the latter.

Until then, it’s licorice for lunch (the red kind) by the warm emit of my desk lamp and texting under the table…nothing can keep my attention because today could be any day, and I could be anyone and anything.

And so I’m staring out glass panes; something that, if it were socially acceptable, I would call a pastime of mine. (No…er…I mean I like to read really hard books, clean my apartment and work out instead, yeah yeah, that’s what I would rather be doing…)

In another life I must have been a plant, maybe an orchid. Finicky, hardly ever thirsty, always longing for the shine beyond the window…

Uh oh. I’m overcome with bad poetic musings.

I truly am regressing. I better watch it before I end up waxing on about sideways rain, angst, and the scratchy dogma of Kurt Cobain…(and how I loved all of that once upon a time)...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Miss Murder

There was a time when I thought I was a punk. I loved AFI and Guttermouth, my “boyfriend” (could I really call him that? We dated for two months and it seemed like eternity) had a bi-hawk, I thought anime was the end-all-be-all and if I could die drawing it well, then that was truly a life lived.

Then I went to college, life bubbled up, I stopped swearing so much as a courtesy once I entered the workforce and here I am today, as confused as ever. At dinner the other night, a southern belle and I discussed our burgeoning lives, our fake hopes as women of the world, our disappointments that the used-to-be-supporters of us sought to contain our glow, and for me at least, I haven’t even begun to burn brightly for a moment, and yet, it was still too much, too selfish, too weird, too much of New York and small spaces, big dreams, big egos, pressure cooking instead of slow sighing steam.

I thought, that night, that two years might as well be a million miles ahead of me; I can’t even see the speck on the horizon. Then I spilled our white anchovy-laced Caesar salad to the chagrin of our blue-eyed waiter. I wanted to blame it on the wine, but the truth is this instead…I was simply the youngest girl in the room; I am the oldest child there ever was.

Sometimes I want that hard exterior again, not to be so pliable, so Zen, though that’s what I’ve become. All good feelings, all live in the moment if it benefits the world. That’s California thinking, and this is not California. It seems here that attitude I outgrew in tenth grade would benefit me now that I have to make adult decisions: who I am, who I want to be, whom I want to be with. I don’t know how to make the tough calls, and the worst part is, I may never. There are no guarantees, there is nothing fair about living, there never was.


Sometimes I want a retractable shield I can release at will, pink hair that screams I’m different because I’m scared I’m not, a sarcastic smile, that caustic wit which had served me so well, until, of course, it didn’t…

Monday, January 22, 2007

Cain and DWK

I’ve lived with one of my roommates almost as long as I was enrolled in college, for as long as I’ve now been out in cubicled gray. Three years and some change; it’s a far cry from the manicured gardens of the Wa-D---.

Yet a vestigial remains. That prized ability that all young sorority girls possess and their graduated sisters let fade for heavy-bottomed wine glasses and dinner parties. The same one that led to the sandal-melting weekend at the Jersey Shore, everybody’s favorite Wednesday, and now, this. Little sleep, being a champ, boot and rally marathon. A weekend in full force has me sleeping with my head in the crook of my elbow, downing bottled water in between mini-REMs.

That’s where my roommate comes back in, well actually, his nickname for me about that once-prized ability. DWK, or dead-weight-K, also known as when fun drunk turns a little too fun, a shade lighter than sloppy, where all the good stories come in. Like when I wake up to find the following note somewhere in or on my coat:

“Cain…Punk Rock God of Virility and Social Etiquette.” Then a number (Cain’s, I’m assuming?).

Now here I’m in a bit of a dilemma. I’m impressed with this, somehow, I kind of find it to be funny. Not just the words, though they are kind of funny, in that way you pretend to think something’s funny just because it’s weird, meaning it’s obscure and therefore interesting so you must of course get it and you must of course like it. But also this: I have no coat pockets. I wasn’t even wearing my coat for most of the night. And Cain certainly never graced my apartment. So how did he…or someone else…?

Hmmm...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

This guy I know went to the Golden Globes and all I got was this lousy blog….


One of the great things about not being someone who is going places, is having friends who are going places (I highly recommend this as it will enable you to never have the burden of working towards real accomplishments, but still gives you semi-interesting party stories to spin as you scan the room for left glasses of half-drunk vodka). So one friend, because he is going places and is pretty important in the scheme of movies, dolls out perks to us little people. Like we get to see reels before their release dates and occasionally go to parties where Nick Cannon is in attendance and the popcorn is free for the taking (score!).

But even better is hearing the weekending stories of aforementioned guy, one who wears a veritable utility belt of Razrs and Blackberries, one who works fourteen hour days and eats sushi on a private jet, one who now wants to wear a tuxedo when he goes out, because it “kind of feels cool”.

Some of the best tidbits:

Brangelina’s collective waistline is a mere 30 inches, and much shorter than previously thought. (For those of you who don’t believe, a re-enactment including a pair of jeans is available upon request.)

Jessica Biel can bench 350, minimum, with one arm even, we bet.

Michelle Trachtenberg is the new Lindsay Lohan, minus the rehab.

Sienna Miller is lovely, polite and British.

Emile Hirsch is the LA equivalent of the fifty dollar bill slip, when passed to the checkpoint at the door, you sail right in….but not at Hyde.

Paris Hilton still thinks she’s a star.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Dear Dave Eggers,

I read it once, but not like this, no not like this…so I was flipping through the pages and I kept seeing the words all jumbled together in this furious anger and it was cool, dude, it was just cool, imagine me saying that and having a clove in my fingers or something, and nodding all soft, maybe with my eyes closed cause I really understand, cause that's what people do when they really understand, like you got me there, you got us all, there it is, effin brilliant. I kept reading it and feeling it like I was sucking down espressos and popping pills or something, shaking my heartbeat off the metronome and stuff, but not shaking my legs—only insecure people shake their legs—and I felt it too, my fast, ugly youth, a disease spreading its branches, infecting everyone, oh it went out and out, man you should have seen it go. I too wanted to shout to adoring throngs, look at me, you just look at me, I exist, I’m amazing, I’m wonderful, I'll live forever if I want, I’m young and it’s terrible, just like you in 1993, but see that’s me right now, and because of the fact that I’m living now, right now, you’re right…

I don’t appreciate it, I didn’t appreciate 21 and I won’t appreciate 23, 25, 28 and isn’t that just the entire point? Me and you and everyone we know, our shitty apartments, our shitty lives, our rage and our pain, it’s all been done, so done before, I’m nearly gagging on the clich├ęs over here, believe me, I’m not so self-absorbed that I don’t see the pure tedium of it all, come on, I see it. But I was talking about youth, and its profound unimportance, and everyone says it sucks getting old cause your body starts to go…forget it, I’ll move on, there’s nothing to add to that except twists of fashion, spinning this old record, your lattice metaphor, going bald, new Sprite commercials, whatever.

I’m just saying, I think I understand. And I'm behind the solution. Let’s bare our faux-souls on the net and get the adoration we need, that look at me, look at me, I’m here, I’m running and it’s amazing, this outside love, an undulating wave, multiple hands, I'll jump on it and be carried out to see, all of it, it’s good, it’s for us, it’s clear it will fix what’s wrong, cause we can’t for ourselves, we won’t cause we don’t have to, not when there’s insta-fame and insta-friends. Us on a blue-green wave, or driving fast through corn fields, that sonic boom, that wake we leave and everyone shaking their heads like what was that? Did you see that? This is us, man, and I’ll say man cause I can, I'm in my twenties, it's a law that I can say man or dude in front of everything half-important I glean, this journaling, this chronicling is not for naught. Oh no, not for naught, it’s here because we’re shells but we’re open shells, leaning, like reeds, bend at the middle, swaying to you, you can fix us, yes you can, if you just look, look, look at us, you’ll make us important, all our stupid crap, you’ll make it important if you just turn your head, over here, envy us, you’ll heal us with that one glace, I promise, and then you can stop, but just look once to take it all back, please, you can, you will, you will, yes you will...
An old exercise revisited...but does angst become my style?

The Joy of Much Too Much...

Two single girls on the town, dear Lord, has it come to this? She getting texted by a man who found a newfound and ultimately inappropriate use for his camera phone, me by the latest affirmation of my new status. Perhaps I will write a book someday, “My life as a Cougar”, or at least a blog post or two…this can’t be good, this can’t be right, this is the stuff of movies, not of real life for seemingly well-bred and well-read girls…

She sipped Sauvignon and we waited for an hour to dine on nouveau clam chowder and a Rocquefort-laden burger, a decadent ginger cake under the gaze of a hipster host, a bratastic waitress who declined, nay, flat out refused to accommodate my friend’s request for tomato accoutrements. I fell home to buy orchids and watch Stossel with my roommate.

The next morning I went west for another single girl, this time in a careening cab that sloshed my gifts of soy lattes all over his pleather seats and my weekend jeans. I carried it all upstairs for her because of many reasons, the least of not is that I mentioned once when I was thirteen and my father said I could get any cake I wanted for my birthday and I insisted on an ice cream cake. When he asked which flavor I said coffee, because it was my favorite, and he warned that no one else would eat it unless I chose something more palatable to tween tastes. I remember, I think, I had not been a selfish child in many ways, like that time my mother got the last doll in town, the one that you wiped with a wet cloth and suddenly she was wearing makeup, blue eye shadow and the like, and she told me that she had secured it for Christmas…and she had secured it for someone else in our family. In our extended family, and she was a year older than I was and I knew she did not want it as badly, but my mother said she’d be giving it to her because she knew that I was mature enough to handle it…and I would be rewarded for my maturity in the future…though she never played with it, she lost it I think, I do remember that…

So I said coffee, I wanted coffee, and I got it and true, no one else ate it. And for my birthday this year under Cuban sounds and the sway of strong cocktails what did the staff bring out but coffee ice cream cake, and let me tell you, everyone at the table ate it, especially me and it was fantastic…that’s why I brought the flowers and the coffee and watched her clean her apartment and perused her impressive playlist for hours.

The rest of the weekend was spent under blankets by the crackling fire, there were never-ending burgundy glasses and slices of Gruyere, movies and cats playfully attacking my feet when I slept, the comfort of being and not leaving a den for chores or anything else.

This is the life I’ve been missing, frenetic, self-indulgent and satisfying. Is it time to go back to being selfish for a little while? I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to do things just for me, because they’re good for me or they feel good for me…so few times do we feel like we can, but really, who will do what’s good for us if not us?

I want to live in the moment, do things because they seem good and they feel good, no precautions because there is no preparation, true preparation for the bad stuff in life. There is too much good to go around without grabbing some for yourself, there is too much suffering to partake in it willingly, there is much too much life to live to do it with tentative steps, whispers and regret…

Friday, January 12, 2007

Flurry of Lost Time

Suddenly I’m busy again, when just days ago I was glued to the couch, motionless with a only a bowl of soup, a GRE book and a marathon viewing of America’s Next Top Model to keep me warm…

Things change and they change quickly. I find myself in a flurry of plans: the Spotted Pig, tickets for an exotic beach destination for finalized purchase, a new dress too skimpy to wear for weeks at least, fresh flowers to be picked up along with a specially ordered cherry pie (that one’s a surprise for Annabella), the last minute changes to two applications which must be out the door by 5 PM or my whole list will be off, wrong, in need of fourth revisions. Long weekends feel so short when you divide between here and Connecticut and out in the night, and it will be the first I’ve been able to enjoy for a long time.

I’m overzealous. I’ve pushed everyone away until after the test and returned all calls at once to find my barren calendar scrawled with blue in mere moments. There’s so much catching up, they say, when really they don’t know I have nothing to add but miss them and their wild updates: their girlfriends, their boyfriends, their condos, their dogs, their babies-to-be, their weddings, their martinis, their adult life while I’ve been nerding out in the library in sneakers, flipping graphite-worn fingers. I’m double-booking friends in excitement…there will be many stories to come and they will be cocktail-laden and carefree…until I max out my credit cards and come back down to reality of course…

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Gestation

Blinking, but here…my life has returned, save for the five or so applications I need to get out the door. Classes have halted, weekends are back, and right now there is the faintest blow of snow on my windowsill. This is a new year, and, arbitrary timepieces aside, it feels like a new chance for viewing the world.

I’m not used to such surroundings. My clothes put away in neat stacks, blood oranges atop the counter, a sparkling chain hanging from a pink perfume bottle… the quiescence is palpable. Lunch plans crop up. Australian movie premieres and drinks. Deciding to like…or not…whatever and whoever…if the mood strikes right. Dark nail polish, olives and a throaty laugh are in season again.

It’s warm inside and the sky slants blue. In 2007 I no longer subsist on heartache and bad coffee. Instead I feed off osmosis of everything around me. Anything can be soaked up as long as it’s good...as long as it's possible...

Friday, January 05, 2007

GRE...gah!

I know I’m needy…always asking for your good vibes…but I’m taking the GRE on Monday, and the pressure is on...and could use some good feelings—once this is done, it’s done for good (hooray)! If you’re feeling generous, I would sure appreciate it…and I’m back to you Monday evening with the results and a premonition on how 2007 will pan out…lots of interesting plans in the making...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Curiouser and Curiouser…

I have a problem with winter. That is to say I don’t know how to dress for it, even with my Connecticut Christmas background. Back in sixth grade I preferred the snooze button to the blow dryer. I waited for the bus at the end of a very long hill and my wet head would freeze into stiff dreads in the wind. I also thought it was cool not to have a coat and to jump out the door unbeknownst to my parents just in my hot-pink Champion sweatshirts, which I assure you were really slick at the time, and leggings. Hey, it was the early nineties. No one said it was pretty.

Today I saw on the morning news that it was forty degrees in the city. I argued to myself that I would spend a total of fourteen minutes outside, tops, in my work outfit jumping from my apartment to the subway to the office and back. I wore a skirt, bare legs and optimism (I’m with Anna Wintour on hose, I’m more comfortable sans, ever since the day I grew out of white tights and a corduroy jumper).

Let me stress that this seemed like a good idea because in the morning I’m in a bit of stupor, everything in the house keeps soporific. My room is a warm little jewel box of pink and blue blankets and antique lamps and does not adequately prepare me for the harsh reality of the outside world. Since I did not want to stumble to work in heels, but rather make the switch once in the lobby, I slipped them in my tote and went, in flip flops, to the train, reading Word Power Made Easy, mouthing aloud “philanderer” as the instructions of the GRE-sanctioned book insist.

On the subway, in the winter, I fit right in…and so the question remains…where is my barometer of normalcy when it’s so hard to elicit stares? I’m a bag lady-in-making, I can see it now…I just need to start accumulating cats and then I’ll be on my way…muttering, ill-dressed and late as always...

Monday, January 01, 2007

Grow Up

I’ve got new, amazing sheets with a very high thread count. My bed is officially a floaty, welcoming cloud. And because of last night, I’m spending most of the day in it. This is the fun stuff. Pillow angels and a cashmere blanket, a new CD on repeat as I plan my year by texting.

2007 will be full of fun stuff, full of fun me. After the re-taking of the test, of course. The new doctor made me promise twice. I will go dancing in the new year. This will be a first, I don’t think anyone’s ever taken me dancing before. It feels so…adult. I have visions of cocktail rings strategically placed over elbow-length gloves. There’s something about being picked up and having reservations, a whirlwind and someone else’s plan. His new year’s was a loft party where an underground supper club passed exotic nibbles; yak and crocodile. His world is something I’m not used to, but could be in 2007, once I grow up. My new year’s was hilarious, cheap champagne and spilling shots on my boots, screaming the wrong lyrics on the street. This is my first January of twenty-five. Someone has mistaken me for a chic sophisticate, so let’s keep the truth between us.

Now I’m back to reading vocab, also helpful in my new role as the younger woman.

I just learned the word for “possessing perfect buttocks”. I pray this will be tested come next Monday…wow, I can't stop laughing...