Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Year of The Suck

I think good years and bad years alternate. For me, they do so not by calendar year, but by school year (probably because all the jobs I start are around this time, all the apartments I move into and out of are then as well, and no matter how old I get I still mark the end of the year by the end of summer). Great snowstorms seem to jump years, the best vacations, fashion that you understand, the good CDs by your favorite band always seem to skip…

Though this isn’t exactly absolute. Fourth grade and fifth grade were overlapping in their radical excellence. Junior year and senior year of high school too. The middle two years after graduation in the city were the ones where I had just enough money and energy to expend it casually and without restraint. But otherwise, it seems cosmically aligned to divvy out one good and one not-so-good. In years, in relationships, in cycles. Maybe it’s to keep us motivated, to keep us thankful, to keep us looking ahead for something better or behind to learn what once worked.

I’m not sure, but over the past ten months or so, I have been experiencing a not-so-great period. It started with a boy and ends with an apartment, and in between there was a job situation, a friend conflict, a family in crisis. It is true what is said about the rule of three, not just that bad things happen in this number, but the really big three: work, boyfriend, home, are never in sync at the same time; can never co-exist. If one is good, count yourself lucky, because the others may very well be bad beyond recognition. If you’re truly hapless, all three will clash violently at once, never to be outdone by the heartbreak of one another.

The solution of course is this: lose that attachment. It’s the expectation of the outcome that keeps us dissatisfied. It keeps us controlled—our own wants and desires mistaken for needs keep us away from our Zen goals. It is our need to grab on tight that kills the chance; that crushes our spirit animals. If we could relax, if we could breathe, we would see that so much of our life has been and always will be in flux, in transition, is uncertain. And yet, we still squirm at the thought, we’re still uncomfortable and we still push against the natural wave of change.

If there were no change we would never have seasons and by that logic, pumpkins. Never experience anything beyond our invisible bubble, never meet new people, grow, find love, get pets, taste edible flowers, upgrade our bed sheets and shower nozzles, get and blow our own paychecks on the adult equivalent of comic books (New York mag, Vogue) and bubble gum (wine). We would not learn a way to prevent past hurt or have memories of why a moment was special between two people, flashes of riding in the backseat of cars at night, knowing all the words to a song currently playing on the radio, and having nowhere to be. We wouldn’t realize this once it was gone without change. It would not be momentary and extraordinary. It would be usual without such an impetus. We know with our most right mind that change is good and always has been. It shakes things up, it drives us and moves us, propels us forward, lets us know that we have meaning even in the smallest of things.

But knowing the solution and being able to apply it, even when the light at the end of The Year of The Suck is within reach, are two completely different things…

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Today I am thinking about a lusted after position: the non-negotiable. I’m wondering how it would be to have a slice of authority over my destiny in this way, one where I could hold strong and shake my head to an inane request in the office, a friend obligation on a faraway subway line, an architectural weakness of an upcoming apartment, a heart-wrenching give-without-take made in several re-relationships.

There have been tick marks for my standstills in the past. It used to be that I would not discuss music with someone who didn’t at least appreciate a little bit or was willing to pretend momentarily that neo-punk was the greatest thing since spiked collars (I was thirteen and full of such ‘important’ revelations). Before then, it was absolutely out of the question to hold my mother’s hand after the age of seven, wear earrings bigger than a ladybug, appreciate European history unless taught in video form, eat brussel sprouts, enjoy a moment of winter not spent sledding and be best friends with Caitlyn Dryer at the same time as Alyssa Berndt (they hated each other in the fourth grade).

Now, I find I have allowed myself less control when I am seeking more. I’ve caught myself making excuses for violations long past considered deal-breakers: friends backstabbing, boys not standing up literally and figuratively, me trying harder than the other party at least 75% of the time in a project, relationship, whatever. These should have signaled the end, and yet they remained just the middle: a continuation of an endless string of concessions.

My wish list of non-negotiables today includes:

Consideration without being told, pled, or asked

Enough time with the blonde’s new French bulldog puppy (only to be determined by if and when he gets sick of me or falls asleep upon which I am allowed to waste all of my phone memory by taking pictures of him)

Pink lemonade every week as long as summer lasts

Now is that too much to ask?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mush Brain, Beard Face

I am no stranger to fake beards. My senior film project practically revolved around one (“You want a beard? Oh, I’ll give you a beard.” Some of the finest collaborative writing I’ve ever been a part of was in that twelve minute short). But last night, during Lost, and mesmerized by Jack’s heavily glued tufts, I could only think of that doctor on Scrubs with the big beard, and everyone always says to him “Get outta here Dr. Beardface!” and he always says “It’s Dr. Beard-Fah-chay, damnit! I am so sick of this!” Leave it to my feeble mind to reference one TV show with another.*

But seriously, for those who still have DVR-filled devices, don’t read further or else I’ll spoil it.

Charlie so did not have to die! That was weak! Run out of there, push Desmond into the water and both of you swim to the surface! Was it really necessary for him to close the door and lock it to take all the water in that enclosed space? Even if Desmond had run in there just because Penny’s face was on the video, there would have been more than ample time to check it out and then run out of there as the water spilled out of that room and into the rest of that station. That thing is monstrous, there would have been at least twenty minutes of time to get out and swim underneath and back to the surface. And what’s with Cyclops having more lives than Jason from Halloween?

And another thing, even if Charlie wanted to contain the water from coming in to somehow save Desmond’s life (not that that makes a lick of sense, but hey, I’ll play devil’s advocate), he already demonstrated his ability to hold his breath fairly long by getting down there, why then couldn’t he have waited for the pressurized water to stop gushing in, and then swum out of the little circle hole? You may say he was too big, but let me stop you right there. I saw Lord of the Rings, and hobbits are only about three feet high and maybe two feet in circumference (except for that chubby one, wow, Rudy has really let himself go). So hobbit Charlie, by reasonable calculations (or not) could have gotten out that way. Otherwise, Lost again tantalizes me with her siren song and minimal payoff.

Better than other season finales, but still I have to say, I thought all that Jack beard filler was nonsense—you’re a drunk who’s addicted to pills and no one loves you, wah wah wah, join the club, dude! You don’t see me whining about it. And if that really was the future (flash-forward versus flash-back), why the heck did you tell the new chief of surgery to get your father down there? The dude’s been dead for years! And also, all that teasing with who actually died was lame. No one showed up to the funeral but it was enough for you to try to off yourself? Yeah, that makes sense. Not! I’m just frustrated because I have to wait three months to find out—or knowing Lost—three years.

Wow, my brain is turning to mush. Thank goodness TV is ending so I can go jump around outside.

*PS. Zach Braff, you may fool other people, but not me. Just because you slapped together a half-decent soundtrack after reading a bunch of Pitchfork reviews (good call SNL) does NOT mean you are the greatest mind of our generation! Now quit acting like you’re under 30 and in The Shins. Plus, your chest is weird, like really, really weird. Please stop showing it all the time. You’re making us sick. Like really, really sick.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Moronical Chronicles

I am not very smart. I understand this, have known it all my life, and am coming to terms with it. It’s okay. It’s the way of the universe. Some things I’m fairly good at, some things merely sub-par, and others abysmal. The finer points of intellect have eluded by grasp for a while now, like the time I threw away my boss’s money or the time I accused a friend of walking off with the downstairs remote as a prank only to find it under the covers in my bed (and no, reader, the remote doesn’t even work for my bedroom TV, is not even close to the living room, and was put there 100% by me, presumably during some sort of blackout period after I arrived home from work, and no I was not drunk, and yes I wish I were because maybe then it would make sense).

I have called people the wrong name to their face immediately after being introduced to them, I have freaked out about losing my novel’s USB port while holding it in my dominant hand, have caused substantial damage by crashing a rental boat into another man’s far more expensive boat while chasing down a pelican. I never purport to be adept at living and so I feel okay in saying this next statement.

Sometimes, other people’s idiocy makes me feel like I am the queen of all geniuses, sitting atop a library-chair-throne with a huge throbbing brain harnessing all the world’s power in an electro-magnetic field while laughing manically (and maybe with a tiny crown on top of that enormous dome-piece of mine). When I feel this, I am usually dealing with the following morons with an unexplained attitude of superiority problem inexplicably accompanying their moronitude:

Verizon Wireless (jerkoids)

Empire Blue health insurance (d-bags)

People giving directions when they have no idea where I’m trying to go (a-buckets), and so on…

Other things that make me feel smart:

Donald Trump, Rosie O Donnell, The Bachelor, The Inferno, My Super Sweet Sixteen, Rachel Ray

Luna Bars (because of their antioxidants growing my brain power as I write this, nothing sarcastic about that one)

Dateline sans Stone Phillips (moms across America are in mourning for this boneheaded move…meow, Stone Phillips is a stone fox! I need to be running NBC right now)

My crappy label maker at work, elevator and ipod etiquette of everyone in my morning commute

Landline calls between 9 and 5, 98% of email correspondence, people who leave the office and don’t turn off their lights

Monday, May 21, 2007

One small step for me...

I’ve gone where all hipsters have gone before me. And I looked upon it. And I saw it was good.

The apartment search is not just a great reason to whine (as if I needed a reason—hey-o!), it’s also a great reason to see other neighborhoods that I have judged too quickly. It’s funny that even though I’m perfectly aware of it, I still let the judgment seep in. I love my hood on the edge of the East Village and the LES. I have this burning notion that nowhere else in this entire island can be a place I may easily call home. Call it displaced assumptions. It’s ascribing good feelings to a location because of the experience which may have been great in any place, but just because one particular location was in the background fabric of said experience, it takes on responsibility for the good feeling itself. Is it just coincidence that the East Village has been my home for the last four years, being the first place I grew to know after college and by some shift of divine intervention I just accidentally chose the place—and the only place—in the city, or maybe nation, that was perfect for me? Or was it really the case that I made it perfect because it comforted me, induced familiarity and remained constant through jobs, friends, boys and even apartments themselves (all in the same ten block radius)?

It seems obvious, and yet part of my brain refuses to understand. All my friends love their neighborhoods and they live all over the grid. Many in the same areas as their first apartments. Is it then the case that all of us have magically chosen the best places for us or is it that we don’t give ourselves enough credit—that we love what we make ours? The parallel continues: we hold close our hometowns, whether they’re in Ohio or California—both places wrought with bias that may or may not be the case, but home is home and the reason they say there’s no place like it is simply because it’s true. The same can be said for our friends and significant others. How convenient that our best friends just so happen to be the ones that lived on our block in a college dorm, or were the ones who got off the same bus stop in elementary school, or our boyfriends and girlfriends are those that just happen to have worked in the cube next to ours. More likely the case that what brings us all together, connection/significance/love into our lives, is convenience and proximity. I don’t mean to negate growing to care for someone as a friend or more by meaning that romanticism and fate are less than, but it has never felt, to me, that there is just one best friend or fantastic boss or anything else for us—there are relationships that we make our most desirable because of opportunity. Same with ‘needing’ to be downtown, or on the East coast, in LA, in Poland, whatever.

So I’m trying to open my eyes, as this next year is an opportunity. Of course, everything in teensy steps. I saw an apartment in Williamsburg, and liked it. I walked around the area, and liked it. Some may say it’s just an extension of where I am right now, and some would be right. Yet, let’s stay positive because oftentimes that’s all we’ve got. As I see it, this is a step forward. I can see myself somewhere else, beyond the imaginary borders of today. Now I’ve got one year from this moment to turn that small step into the giant leap of Hawaii. One thing at a time…

What do you love about your neighborhood, wherever you are?

Friday, May 18, 2007

May Day

Chips, streamers, and a special on Duane Reade beer attempt to negate reality. It’s Friday afternoon in the throes of May, yet it’s dark and cold. Where am I?

Besides at work, besides in the midst of tapping keys and the office din, I am at the beginning of a strange summer and it all feels gently off. Was spring a season that ever existed, or was it always a figment of my imagination—like the Tooth Fairy and when subway cards were a dollar fifty? I’ve sent my winter coats home in hot anticipation and instead I shiver under an embarrassing sweater (hey—it didn’t look mauve in the store). I’m in the purgatory of weather shifts and too from sick to healthy, so the next few steps need to be taken with care…I will beware of excess and Crif hot dogs until I can be sure of them both.

I won’t be sad because my favorite TV shows have neared the end of their seasons (damn you Lost, if you don’t deliver this time, I’m going to…complain even more and still watch you in the fall) when I can be sad at the end of all seasons now that we’re already back to winter…

It’s a far cry from last weekend when the air hung heavy with flowered perfume emitted from green trees, the Roman sculptures at the Met glowed alabaster and the courses at Otto did not end after multiple white pizzas, shining pastas, spiced olives, salty artichokes and heavy glasses of wine. But still, it's the cusp of the weekend and it's May, and nothing could be better than that .

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sick, looking for an apartment, sick of looking for an apartment

I’ve been MIA lately and I’m sorry. Transitions have kept me from the page. I’ve been nursing a bad cold (or allergies? Which is worse? A cold in spring or the thought that I am actually allergic to spring itself? How nerdy of me!) and have been scouring this city for apartments far too early.

You and I both know I have an obsessive personality and though I am not moving until August, I feel as though this compulsion must be tended to now! Now! Now! Now!

Silly me, obviously nothing is open now for then. I know this and yet don’t. It kills me, I am a planner by nature, with the option to float spontaneous only between charted events, and to leave my fate up to fate is just not something quite comfortable to me.

I try to breathe deeply and then I wheeze through a rainbowed “productive cough”. I don’t take vitamins. I don't drink enough water. I don't sleep enough hours. I am stressed because my brain works in mysterious ways incongruent to my body. I slow down in action and speed up in anxiety. I could use a nap, some Tussin, a million dollars as usual.

I have a book to finish, a life to start, a year left to glean what I haven’t in four…now if only I could stop popping Tylenol like Pez...

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I am enveloped by “end of semester” right now even though I am not graduating from my cube.

The end of the school year felt like stolen moments and brief bouts of realization. That these were times I would reminisce about later and the thought if I could just appreciate them as they unfolded, they’d remain perennial. Available for me to call upon when it was cold or lonely or when bills were due. It didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work now.

It feels like the end of an era. People are moving away and moving as the weather warms. I am departing from my one great love, one that I will remember forever, no matter how many or how few come after it, no matter how wrinkled and faded I become…

I can barely say the words. I have to move out of my apartment. The apartment I adore, in the neighborhood I cherish. I sigh with longing for what we shared (last year’s Cinco de Mayo party, the central air that I’ll never know again, the bedroom I can actually walk around in, the window inviting light onto the dresser…). And like all breakups, one party is bearing the brunt of mourning. This time, it’s me. My apartment, or should I say, my soon-to-be-ex apartment, seems just fine with it. It has legions of girls (and boys, as my apartment is free-wheeling and bi-habitat) just like me but a little bit better clamoring for its attention, lines even, girls who are willing to bend more, pay more, but as I suspect, appreciate less.

I can’t make the apartment want me as much as I want it, particularly when its standards have risen far beyond the bonds of my bank account. Not when there is this much competition. The August search for Manhattan housing is one of the most heartbreaking acts I think I will ever participate in. I’ve done it twice and am gearing up for a third. I am worse for the wear.

Last night I began, shoving thoughts out of mind of how no other neighborhood will suit me, how no other water pressure will bead as hard. I talked myself into a stretch of Canal Street littered with trash and wire-locked I heart NY tee-shirt shops. Up the stairs to a surly man and his slight girlfriend who immediately insisted I take off my shoes, that though he knew I could not move in until August and still asked me to come by to look, sternly barked that it was not flexible and that was that. And the room was small and cramped and unwelcoming and it was $1200 to share a little bathroom with three other people and most likely, a type-written list of house rules (no guests, no laughing, no breathing).

Sometimes, change is not good. I wish the semester of my apartment didn’t have to end. I don’t want to graduate.

Any ideas or leads?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Last night I saw The National and Arcade Fire at the United Palace Theatre (essentially this enormous gilded mosque where few tiers provide a great view of the performance). The show was a dazzling display of lights, skewered video, jumping Canadians and frenzied drumming. It looked like the lead singer Win was about to bust an aneurysm on-stage as he kicked instruments, flipped his bangs and shouted at the mike. It was Saturday on a Monday night. It was great. They were, by all intents and purposes, astounding. The entire experience was.



You know…that thing. The thing which we do not speak of.

OPD. Other People’s Dancing.

And the pain it can cause for some.

It’s a weird phenomenon. Everyone looks so normal, so pacified at the start of the show. People shuffle politely, wait in line for beers, calmly locate their seats while clutching their stubs. You’re excited. They’re excited. Together you have something in common as you’re all here to share in the communal youth experience that is a good band in a great setting where the music is too loud and yet it doesn’t hurt your ears and won’t for another four years. If you’re lucky.

And then the lights go down, the speakers kick in and the quiet ones start to stir. Something starts squirming inside of them. Why is it always the quiet ones? The ones that look like they work at Blockbuster and it’s their one night off. It’s always some absurdly skinny, short or heavy drip with frizzy hair and Coke-bottle glasses who starts freaking out in a spastic display of the worst dancing in the world. They pump their fists not-to-the-music, they scream out the words during the slow parts, they hit people to the left and the right of them with flailing limbs, they jump and fall and twist like some bad rendition of an uncle at a wedding. And you don’t want to say anything, because hey, it’s not like you can dance, or like you’re so cool. In fact, you’re just a huge poseur hipster dork who is extremely skinny, short or heavy yourself and you’ve got frizzy hair and suspect vision but damn, at least you’ve got self-denial. You can limit your movements to a respectable head bob and two step. Your insecurity and fear of public humiliation saves you. And if you slip up momentarily, you don’t have to look at yourself and you can immediately right it. These other kids though, forget it. You have to look at them. They’re the ones with the slightly better seats and are blocking the view with their seizures. They’re the ones killing it. Killing the night you looked forward to for the last month.

So you say to yourself, you aren’t going to be bothered. You try to watch the stage, try to pretend things were the same as they were mere hours ago when you sped along on your way to the concert with your iPod at full volume, sure that the band was singing just for you. Of course you knew this wasn’t true, and if it were it would be incredibly clichéd, but clichéd perfection. And in that it felt personal and special and you thought maybe seeing the band live would also feel the same way. You’d meet people like yourself and you’d all sort of mosh happily together as a group of new friends.

But that’s the thing about concerts. Whatever benefit of seeing the band in the flesh can be completely off put by seeing the other kids who are into it (or even worse, 40somethings with bald spots, as last night proved beyond a reasonable doubt). And sometimes it’s unavoidable*.

Personally, I believe that it’s a hazard that has to be tolerated. Not everyone shares this philosophy. Last night, I partook in minimal dancing, cause I can’t dance, and enjoyed myself because that’s what I paid for. Unfortunately, the boy I was with couldn’t contain his annoyance. I’d look over at him to comment on how fantastic a transition was and he’d be staring at one girl to our left who looked like she needed medical attention. I tried to make a joke of it (“Just ignore it!”) and he sighed (“I’m trying but I can’t!”). Finally, between songs, he couldn’t help himself any longer.

Him: “I have to say something.”

Me: “No you don’t!”

Him: “Look, someone needs to tell her. If that were me, I’d want to be told.”

Me: “I really don’t think that’s true.”

Him (in a loud plea aimed at the row below us): “Please stop dancing like that!”

Me: “Shhhhh!”

Him: “Please! Please stop dancing like that! Please!”

Girl: “Whooo! I love you Arcade Fire! Whooo!” (insert flailing limbs)

Him: “Please, this isn’t Rusted Root! For the love of God!”

Suffice it to say she didn’t notice (in fact if anything, she was only re-energized). The rest of the set was amazing. We went home and laughed. Until we reminded ourselves we probably wouldn't have wanted to see us letting loose at our first concerts.

What were they again? Mine (G Love) and his (Type O Negative).

Wow. Okay, no more laughing at OPD. Ever again.

*Ever go to a concert with a person you’ve never seen dance before? It’s agita-inducing. It’s always such a horrifying litmus test for the friendship or relationship. Bad is the overly excited dancing that harms innocent bystanders. Even worse is the kid that doesn’t even move his head the entire time.

Monday, May 07, 2007


Waking up in late spring I am wistful and absurd. I have an idiot’s grin as I jump around a white room in pajamas, appreciating the ceiling fan, clean clothes and flip flops, the ten minutes I am fully awake before my alarm is set to blare.

I can’t explain it; something feels so reminiscent of me at six years old waiting at the bottom of a very steep drive with a quarter meant only for chocolate milk in the front pocket of a navy corduroy dress. Too early for the bus and a little too cold in planned layers, squinting in the bright snap and hearing the birds call with their singsong (the one that sounded then a little like one note and then the other of “spriiing’s here”). Sometimes my cat Cream would wait with me and she would leave a trail of short calico hair on my tights as she rubbed aggressively from one leg to the next.*

Walking to the subway is practically cheery. Full of motion and still happy when I run back upstairs in a panic to clutch tonight’s concert tickets (they were, er, rolled in a newspaper in my other hand all along). Idiot’s grin returns to spread to the people on the streets.

Usually there are so many bad connotations for the weekday morning. The dread ahead for to-do lists that include strict intentions to floss the week before a six month cleaning, as if that would offset four Fridays in a row that ended with copious amounts of Diet Coke to “re-hydrate”. Notes to self. The idea of getting “finances in order”.

But in the late spring--funny because this year the early spring is late and so we’ve skipped weeks of this for rain and for the chill of seasons that should have finished months ago—weekday mornings are something else entirely. They’re hot coffee, blades of grass, birds beyond pigeons. Sideways light and bare legs and the smell of herbs on windowsill gardens. Plans to meet just because. Gatherings to celebrate the purchase of new grills. Changing directions because now is when everything feels right.

Sure, its expiry comes too early. This year, last and the next. But for now…

Spriiing's here.

*She’s been gone for years and I still hope that when she ran away after we got the new dog, the one that got sick and has now passed on, that she found a different driveway and a different girl waiting for the bus and is still around, surely holding an astounding record for the world’s oldest cat, for another spring.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

He Hate Me

The XFL never did get its sea legs, and I might be fine with the fact if it weren’t for Rod Smart’s jersey name, the best I will ever hear.

I have no idea why I just remembered that.

I think it was because recently a friend was explaining, once again, how one played Edward Fortyhands (you duct-tape a forty to each hand and can’t remove them until you’ve finished them both, I half-pray this is just urban legend but I think he's actually completed--and possibly won--this game more than once, this from a highly respectable guy about to get married to a highly respectable girl this summer) and I remembered that and somehow made the connection.

Cause obviously, if there’s anything that goes with Edward Fortyhands, it’s the XFL.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Professional

My writing comes in the most inconvenient of spurts.

Ideas that seem amazing and wonderful only happen when I’m in the dentist’s chair, on the subway without a pencil, in the middle of a conversation with a higher up who is very carefully dictating the dos and don’ts of summer share etiquette (do bring wine, don’t bring red).

When I make it to a computer or the edge of a cocktail napkin, it stumbles out completely wrong. Once astute is now trite, ridiculous, middle school, even. Fragments on old notebooks boast, “power struggles of the culturally defeat, hipster schisms, the sound of one-headed napping.” What was I thinking? Why can’t I think it just a little bit better now?

It comes so easily and it leaves so easily. So much for the next great American beach read. I go back to wondering if my childhood teddy bear, Rosie, comes alive while I’m at work and judges me. (All conclusions point to yes.)

I’m looking at a half-blank page, tweaking something off the cuff so that it can become precise and meaningful, something that could theoretically fit into a publication and ready myself for waves of rejection and nausea, in that order. I wish I had picked something else, something that could be measured with a yardstick. Something that’s either right (write?) or wrong, with less left up to interpretation, opinion and circumstance. The tide and solstice. Interesting characters based on interesting people and my finicky moods.

Some days I’m sort of on—a low way to be sure, but the highest way for me—most I simply am not. And while practicing may make me good, I wonder if I hold the talent to ever become great. That’s the worst part. Some people are blessed, some are not, and it takes our entire lives to find out into which category we fall.

Julius Erving’s quote by way of Halberstam comes to mind. “Being a professional is doing the things you love to do, on the days you don’t feel like doing them.”

In the meantime, should inspiration strike, I’ve got a notepad ready…