Thursday, December 31, 2009

day of firsts

I woke up crying, fresh from a dream in which my acting teacher said working with me was a bad choice, that I was "pretty" and I was while I was okay in this one piece, I looked fat in the other. She was standing in an impressive and sunny kitchen, mixing corn and broccoli together on a large platter to entertain friends. There were a couple of older gents in the corner of the room chatting cattily, sandaled hairy old man legs crossed close. It was summer and I had just spent my whole night dreaming about walking the carnival sidewalks of the city, alone and uneasy. I was wet from a crowd of boys playing in a hydrant; my pony tail was sagging down my neck. I slipped out of her apartment, called the elevator and woke up crying.

I opened my curtains and the world was white. First snow of a new start. Last snow of an old year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

poem of the week

I have not lain with beauty all my life
telling over to myself
its most rife charms

I have not lain with beauty all my life
and lied with it as well
telling over to myself
how beauty never dies
but lies apart
among the aborigines
of art
and far above the battlefields
of love

It is above all that
oh yes
It sits upon the choicest of
Church seats
up there where art directors meet
to choose the things for immortality
And they have lain with beauty
all their lives
And they have fed on honeydew
and drunk the wines of Paradise
so that they know exactly how
a thing of beauty is a joy
forever and forever
and how it never never
quite can fade
into a money-losing nothingness

Oh no I have not lain
on Beauty Rests like this
afraid to rise at night
for fear that I might somehow miss
some movement beauty might have made

Yet I have slept with beauty
in my own weird way
and I have made a hungry scene or two
with beauty in my bed
and so spilled out another poem or two
and so spilled out another poem or two
upon the Bosch-like world

- Lawrence Ferlinghetti from A Coney Island of the Mind, 1958.

(Disclaimer: the text should be formatted differently. Find the original for proof.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

this is what I meant to say

afternoon, new york

Today was one of those rare December days in NYC that began balmy and sunny, but got gradually colder as the day deepened—as if Winter forgot herself for a second, but managed to sneak back onstage by dusk.

I spent my glorious day off doing glorious day off things. I slept late, I made juice, I did an hour of rock n' roll yoga to the immortal noise of Bob Dylan (again, yes) and then I took myself on a Met date to catch the Robert Frank exhibit. Life altering. Holy crap. Wow.

(Kerouac said it up best when he introduced The Americans as "the grey film that caught the pink juice of human kind.")

On my way home, I was inspired to walk the intestines of Astoria, from Broadway to Ditmars on the backstreets, to reconnect to the quotidia of borough life at other subway stops, on other avenues. This is how I noticed the back swish of the temperature whip, schlepping home under the newly christened RFK bridge as the sun sucked up the last of the lingering warmth. But still it was one of those afternoons: the light hit the taller buildings like a beacon and everything seemed to sparkle just before the sun set. Love those.

I came home to heat and cooking gas for the first time since we moved in (on September fricken fifteenth). Joy to the world.

Add a [home cookied!] dinner with Em and a little late-night dancing and that's a day off well done, goddammit.

Monday, December 28, 2009

blue blue blue blue christmas

Another holiday gone. My bookshelves are swollen, my waistband is tight.

I trimmed my little tree, sang my little songs and baked my cookies. I saw the tree in Rockefeller Center, both lit and unlit, I skated at Wollman Rink and, finally, I made it to the lovely candelit Christmas Eve service at All Souls.

This was harder than I expected it to be. I did everything right this year and still, by the time breakfast was over and gifts were half-unwrapped, I was ready to crawl under a rock and cry.

My Christmas this year was found in a few harp Concerti, a string of lights in the dark and a handful of people I love but couldn't seem to get close enough to. Followed by a full-on dead-of-winter retreat into the recesses of solitude. Friday I escaped from embrace to embrace at the Ukranian, Saturday I spent at home stretching and snacking and reading on the couch (but for the lovely rainy evening out that followed), and tonight (after malai kofta and cannoli with one of the oldest and dearest) it's just me and the tree and Bob Dylan b-sides.

One more to go, folks. I may just have to tango my way into Twenty Ten—with or without a suitable escort. Because, hey . . . sometimes it is in a room full of people that we find ourselves the most alone.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

a very merry nyc

*The Pond and the Plaza.

*Wollman Rink.

*The Park at dusk.

Monday, December 21, 2009

gave thee such a tender voice

Nights lately I walk alone in the early dark, listening to choral Christmas hymns and realizing I am something of a holiday masochist. The ornament of my childhood Christmases shattered, I carry the shards of glass from year to year. I have preserved the perfect Christmas eves of Muppet movies, the sparkling mornings of cinnamon buns and der Bingle, the tree toppling with a swish and a tinkle onto the dog. I am the last keeper of those traditions. I put the playlist on repeat and fall face first into a sadness any rational woman would avoid.

Those Magnificats and O Magnums kill me every time. But, as if in defiance, I attempt to locate the same innocent hope I had processing though a candlelit chapel on a snowy night in December, closing my eyes to the suspensions and thinking it would all be okay if everyone were to just listen to Stille Nacht in the dark and try to be kind to one another.

Near the end, I was only ever forcing the point, battling for hours to surprise my miserable parents with a house full of cheer, but I never stopped believing it could work. Every year the day would lose a little of its luster, but if I could fix the harm we all did to each other with one plate of cookies and a carrot, goddamnit, I would try. Those days I would prostrate myself with tinsel and Danish butter cookies until a miniature Santa stared us down from every end table. Now, after all we have done and learned, I am stronger for the wear. I do most of my decorating on the inside.

I know my father reads this. He will say, "one so young should not sound so sad," but he must know by now this is just the way I am. A merry melancholy mess. All alone in my own head.

I was singing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" when we got the call about his heart stopping. Nothing has been or ever will be the same. So I listen to Vespers. And each time it gets a little harder, but it would be so much worse if I didn't. Because that was when I learned privacy. That was when my heart started seeping out into my chest, past its own valves and atria and into the void. I hid a chunk of me—concrete, containable childhood me—in that chapel, surrounded by poinsettias, singing in the cold. I retreated into the music and if I don't go back to check on those missing pieces, I'm afraid I'll disappear. No matter how strong I pretend to be.

So this holiday sucks. Sad that I cannot spend it with my parents, sadder still the alternative. The only thing I can say for myself is this: I did know what I had when I had it.

I don't mean to sound ungrateful. My family, chosen and given, is healthy and well. We will all spend Christmas with people we love and everything will return to normal on December 26th. I have it fairly easy, let us not forget that. Shit could be a whole lot worse.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

holiday party, number ten

And so concludes our segment. Ten parties down . . . and bottles and bottles of red.

What can be said about an office Christmas party at our founder's loft, but that it felt like getting drunk at a museum after hours? We sat politely at clothed tables, nibbled on spiral ham and Carr's crackers and waited to make a break for the bar.

We were given meager bonuses: a nod to the recessive fiscal environs of good ole twenty oh-nine. I received a "not cashmere" scarf in pink and brown houndstooth from my Secret Santa. No music was allowed. We wandered awkwardly through the opulence and then called it a night.

Most of us made a night of it at an NYU pub on Bleecker, but I decided to walk way the hell west in the frigid, skin-ripping wind and found myself (an hour later) on a barstool in the village, sipping a glass of Refosco with D to my left. He had the charred octopus (sensational) and we closed La Nacional. I accidentally decapitated a rose somewhere between the subway turnstile and the purchasing of seltzer.

Friday was a beautiful and much needed escape from the trappings of the daylit world.

Saturday I was back at it, auditioning The Show and staying for a seasonable nibble at the Landmarc bar, watching snow blow sideways up the glass walls of the Time Warner Center. I should have gone home—I did go home. But then it was grab those shoes and trudge back to the subway platform time because—god forbid—I did not want to be that girl who missed a milonga on account of a little weather. By the time I got home, sloughing up a foot of snow on the un-plowed sidewalk before me, it was 3:30 am and the world was white and quiet but for the ice chips flying in my face.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

holiday party, number nine

In which my fearless colleagues and I lugged a whole party's worth of supplies and booze on a hand-truck over eight blocks of cobblestones and I tended bar. Donated chocolate chip cookies from Double Crown were a hit, but the trickle of pseudo-interested partygoers left much to be desired on what may have been coldest night ever.

Three parties over: the mannequin is back in her store, the leftover liquor has been locked in the storage room, and I am pooped.

I wonder: have I worked too hard? Or is this exhaustion rather a byproduct of my recent tango homecoming? (This morning may have been much easier had I gone home at 9:3o last night like any sensible, underslept adult.)

Instead, I donned my stinky, sullied dance shoes and a bag of Goldfish (Hey, a girl's gotta eat!) and headed to the milonga.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

dear santa

Because it's a tired and boring day at the office—and because Santa asked for it.

- Nespresso Aeroccino Plus.
- A Red Sox snuggie.
- A prepaid package of private lessons (any number) with Michael Nadtochi.
- Contributions to a pair of custom-made tango shoes (or, you know... a flight to Buenos Aires).
- Funky earrings from the Union Square holiday market.
- A tweed blazer with brown leather patches on the elbows (size 4?).
- Some sort of brown leather bookbag. The closer it resembles something out of Anne of Green Gables, the better. (You know, something you throw in the basket of your bicycle as you peddle along the seashore in autumn of 1890?) But if that is too complicated, I also like this one.
- An Irish cable knit sweater in one of those great colours like "oatmeal" or "white with natural fleck." Examples: A, B and C.
- Gift certificates in any denomination for Anthropologie, American Apparel or Barnes & Noble.
- Some sort of unique leather case for my iPod (I've coveted Jamie's for years now).
- Also, I kind of want a Roomba, but I think that makes me a wannabe housewife and my alma mater taught me always to subvert the dominant patriarchal hegemony.
- Books (any and all), but especially The Old Patagonian Express—Paul Theroux and The Adams Jefferson Letters—Lester Cappon, Ed.

Some of these things are awfully extravagant, so I will stress that really, I am always happy with books or the funds with which to purchase them (and sweaters . . . and socks . . . and flannel pajamas . . . and things made of dark chocolate . . . and the color grey.)

My sizes are as follows: top: XS or S, bottom: 4, dresses: 4, panties: M, bra: 36A, shoes: 10.5.

Basically, my goals for 2010 appear to include dressing like an Irish paperboy, reading voraciously and dancing tango.

holiday party, number eight

In which I catered an event for one hundred snooty SoHo philanthropists. I did this because our caterers canceled at eight that morning. I did this in under seven hours.

The menu included:

Crab cakes (with handmade remoulade and a flat leaf parsley garnish), spanikopita, mini quiche, pigs in blankets, black olive pastry puffs. A spiral ham with grain mustard, cornichons and multigrain bread points with sliced Irish cheddar. Marinated bocconcini with a grape tomato garnish. Sliced dry sausage paired with gouda. Assorted crackers. Hand-julienned crudité with white bean rosemary dip. Shrimp cocktail.

. . . and three elaborate cheeseboards, which included a triple-creme brie, aged goat with rosemary, Chaumes or Epoisses (depending on the platter), a stinky stilton, a stilton with apricot, Wensleydale with cranberries, a fresh crottin and fig ginger jam—all garnished with green grapes, red cherries, walnuts, spiraled strawberries, apricots and dried cranberries.

Then my Jedi-ninja-waitress training kicked in and I spent the three hours of the party scurrying behind guests collecting their sullied cocktail napkins and plates, teetering around on four-inch heels with a tray full of empty glasses, and replenishing dishes that had been, for lack of a better term, shithoused.

My motley crew and I had at least three job offers by the time I started laying out the cookie assortments and the rugelach.

Were it not for the last minute champagne donation, the evening's end may have found me grumpy, up to my elbows in potwash. Thanks to Costco and B-grade bubbly, I live to tell this tale.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

holiday party, number six (and seven)

In which I adventured to somewhere between Weehawken and Guttenberg, NJ on a Jitney bus with my cabaret crew, stuffed my face royally with all manner of homemade delectable nibblies, bemoaned the awkward state that is my twenties, had a glass of red and some bourbon champagne punch (genius!) and was back in the city by ten pm.

Would have been an exercise in temperance all around, had I not grabbed my tango shoes and run right back out the door for the All-Night milonga.

I will remember the xylophone cortinas, the feel of the floor beneath my suede soles, the blue predawn light, the white grey rainy morning, the clementine, the sweater that smelt like books and a passage from Theroux's The Old Patagonian Express. I dreamed it all and still I'm not awake.

(On tonight's party, there is not much to report—except to say a jolly time was had by all at Carmine's, compliments of an inexhaustible wine supply and platter after platter of hot, cheesy Italian grub. The birth of Peter and the holiday season were celebrated. I went home early, of course, to fall into bed and start The Kingdom by the Sea.)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

holiday party, number five

In which I snuck away midway through for a tango lesson and returned at 9 pm, thereby missing the awkward mingling period and cutting straight to the jovial drunkenness stage. Although, by so doing, I missed the rousing carol sing with the accompanying booklet of lyrics.

Highlights include meeting a former beauty queen news anchor from Norfolk, VA, and her tres riche escort in a plaid suit and paisley tie, the shrimp puffs, and the "part of the evening when we are allowed to put up our feet." (Courtesy of Mama W—)

Lowlights include having to herd the überdrunk Peter Pan into a cab in the wind tunnel that is 57th Street at one in the morning—and having him nearly knock over my dresser in his wasted state.

This afternoon, as I prepare for number six, I'm lying in bed watching the airplanes take off from LaGuardia and listening to Vespers (on repeat), enjoying the cold seeping through the glass of my windowpanes.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

holiday party number four

In which I used my hundred thousand dollar education to ferry rich people up five floors in the penthouse elevator at the first of three (count em, three) holiday events at work.

I also managed to pull off the hors d'oeuvres-for-dinner slash drink-mucho-vino trick again with relative success and few instances of catastrophe. Although, something tells me this is not a sustainable mode of existence, even during the holidays. I am exhausted.

Also, I managed somehow to pop a tiny blood vessel in my eye. For the next ten to fourteen days, I will have what looks to be a very festive freckle in my left sclera. Ho fricken ho.

In other news, you may have noticed a decline in the discussion of my personal life. I assure you, while things have quieted down considerably on that front (read: I am no longer giving my phone number to random aviators on the Airbus320), the sleigh is still flying. I just need to get a grip on the reindeer reins before I subject anyone else to a rehashing of my escapades.

And perhaps I strive for a little less analysis these days. Growing up was a good idea and, while it may seem counter-intuitive to the process, my first task appears to be a flying leap in the opposite direction of my best behavior. I've been a good girl for a very long time.

Maybe that never changes. But, just for now—at least until the holidays are over and we officially enter winter's naturally ascetic backswing—I'm going to cut loose a little. I'm going to muscle through this slew of holiday parties with a delphic smile and a glass of bubbly and—goddamnit—I'm gonna do it in style.

*Footnote on the picture: this represents the sole photographic evidence of last night's event. Worth a thousand words?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

holiday party number three point five

In which we made bath soap and ate potato chips.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

holiday party number three

In which our heroine ate an entire brick of gouda and a plate of cupcakes for dinner, then drank herself silly on cheap Tempranillo with the cast of her cabaret reprise.

There was a moment last night when we all realized how drastically our lives have changed since that fateful weekend in November. And we all seem to have emerged the stronger and feistier for it.

Coming in March to a piano bar near you.

Monday, December 7, 2009

christmas, go

Saturday night, I had a bottle of champagne and a mushroom cap for dinner (the first in a series of holiday parties.) Classy, right?

By Sunday, it felt like Christmas. I'm not sure if it was the wine, the cold snap, the return of the peppermint syrup to my neighborhood Starbucks (also: why does this blog read like a Starbucks commercial lately? I should be getting a kick-back here) or the plethora of light-up Santas and snowmen in Astoria.

I will blame the annual tree-trimming party, which, for the past three years running, has been the inaugural moment of my city mouse Christmas cheer. Tis the season, after all, for shrimp cocktail, champagne and chocolate cookies. And there's no place I'd rather spend it than around that twelve foot tree with the gold ribbons, listening to carols in the key of C and sharing a scotch or two. Or three.

Peter Pan and I were inspired to run right home and buy our own tree, which we purchased from a very convivial Canadian fellow in a reindeer sweater outside the Rite Aid on Ditmars.

I can safely say, now that there is a pine tree in my living room, that I am ready for Christmas. There are candles in my windows (I'm such a Yankee), Santas on the sills, old Vespers recordings on the iPod . . . if only I could bake a celebratory batch of cookies. Curse you, contractors.

Friday, December 4, 2009

helmet hair

I almost regret my decision to make my NY State residency permanent and official.

My new driver's license came in the mail last night and . . . holy god in heaven. Disaster.

I look like the bastard child of Donny Osmond and Darth Vader.

When Peter Pan saw it, his only response was, "Your head is nowhere near that round."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

il pleut

As bad as it is, the rain in New York can be quite special.

Unexpected sideways downpours (and getting caught in them), the sound of water washing down the street and into the subway, rivulets on a cab window, the flat pound of it on the East River from hundreds of feet above . . .

And then falling asleep to the swirl of it, with the wind howling around my little corner bedroom in Queens. Hardly seasonable for the first week in December, but I'll let that one slide.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

december first

Celebrated today with the first of many peppermint mochas.

It's been a slow day. Too much time for web-surfing and self-doubt.

So far the only hour to move faster than the speed of geological change was the lunch hour: genial company, brisk sunlit walk, table by the window . . . and sticking my face into a seven foot Christmas tree.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I don't expect my love affairs to last for long

Maybe it's the holiday lights and the red cups at Starbucks. Maybe it's the trees for sale on the sidewalk, the giant snowflake hoisted over 5th Avenue. Maybe it's the Christmas music I heard a week too early at the DMV. . . but—since Thanksgiving—I've been having something of a love affair with New York. I had almost decided to see other cities, but I think I am ready to commit.

Thanksgiving was almost perfect: the food, the company, the impossibly primo view of the parade, the drunken singalong to follow. Something about hanging out a third story window on a crisp November morning watching float after float, marching band after marching band make its way down Seventh Avenue from the park makes me realize how much this city feels like the center of the universe on occasion. And how lucky I am to live here. Not to mention how lucky I am to have made the friends I have, to be stirring lima bean casserole while holding a glass of champagne, to be presented with a candle-laden carrot cake and a room full of happy birthdays. It really is all in the details.

Those moments, you forget the rest: the commuting, the noise, the ever-elbowing glut of people to fight through... It all disappears and then it's just you and the city and your perfect moment.

Saturday I went on a date—a real one—warranting a dress and eye makeup. And it was lovely. Does it get any better than the Gramercy Tavern tasting menu on your 26th birthday? (Answer: no, it does not. I'm still swooning over the warm Maine crab egg crepe.)

So yes. I love New York. (This week anyway.) I love coming home to my little neighborhood, even if that does mean walking past the drunken hobos outside the OTB—even if someone did steal my newspaper this week. I love the Sunday morning subway ride. I love having to get to the movie theatre a half an hour early.

Most of all, I love the kind of place this city becomes every December. So who cares if I get dumped come January, come February, come Boxing Day . . . I'm gonna love her today as long as I'm up for the task.

view of the parade

Yes, this is Spiderman's butt.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

november, twenty-six

Ah, Thanksgiving. Feast day before the long, cold lonely winter. Fraudulent holiday of subjugation and cornua copiae. Enforced family bonding experience. Apex of the afternoon nap.

Who can begin to explain what a holiday means—or how to catch one in the ether of American commercialism. In the racks devoted to canned pumpkin and cloves? The pushers and shovers in the Whole Foods shit show, elbowing their way to crown roasts and pre-reserved turkeys? The resurgence of the Starbucks holiday lattes?

Truth be told, it doesn't matter. We change, the world changes; nothing stays the same every time around the calendar. Your place at the table varies from year to year, and the only constant is that hidden place you prod around for in your chest, the one in which you keep your secrets, the catalogue of all your holiday histories. Find that button and press it—and suddenly you're eight again, unwrapping a baby doll over Black Forest cake, wearing bright white tights and an idiotic headband.

It never hurts to dress up and sit down together like this, to walk into a kitchen and remember the smell. The people change from year to year, but you keep them in that place all the same. One smell in one kitchen will bring back another. And no matter who you're with, it's always a little lonely. For all of us.

How fancy for me then, to have a birthday that perpetually coincides with such a day . . .

What I will say is this: no matter how isolated I make myself, sometimes Peter Pan is my life raft. Here I am, only twenty minutes into my twenty sixth year, and already he has presented me with a gift and a windowsill full of flowers. Not to mention the emergency grilled cheese night at Sanford's. We should all be so lucky to have such a friend. The kind who knows what you need without having to ask.

So, Happy Thanksgiving. I wish you all a warm and pleasant turkey coma. And, one of these days, I will hope to feel whole and not just full come Friday morning.

Monday, November 23, 2009

official business

Well, now I've really gone and done it.

Effective this morning, I am officially a resident of the state of New York (at least according to the Department of Motor Vehicles). Somehow surrendering my little state of Vermont farm girl license makes this real to me. As if the last four years were merely a fluke.

Anybody can live in this city, but hustling through the early morning crowd at the Herald Square DMV for that official piece of paper makes it serious.

New York and I are no longer casually seeing each other. We've been bumped up to "dating" or—at the very least—"it's complicated."

Friday, November 20, 2009

partial retraction and a note on tone

My apologies if I come across as less hopeful than I intend. You see, I am prone both to hyperbole and melancholy in constantly overlapping cycles. There's obviously more to me than that, but those forces tend to override the quieter aspects of my nature.

I will say this: my philosophy of late—of reading the road map on the fly (and damn the consequences)—means I sometimes have to act first, process later. If ever you think I'm about to stick my head in the oven, chances are I'm merely readjusting to the new earth beneath my feet.

I am learning to love the journey more than the destination. But, by no longer training one eye always on the bigger picture at the end of the arc, I am more likely to stumble on a knot in the road. And I will talk about that knot for lack of a better perspective. Bear with me. I'm resilient as shit and I'll nearly always make it back up the hill on my own overlarge feet.

Since yesterday afternoon, Peter Pan told his parents. Unspeakable relief. No piece of the sky or the mountain fell on my head, and this morning (despite the obvious efforts of the evil Chase Bank Credit Card Services people and the meddling douchebaggery of my friend's boyfriend) the world is once again up the flagpole, flapping optimistically in the breeze.

I'll most likely abandon my genius plan to spend Thanksgiving in bed alone with a bottle of Wild Turkey. Instead I'll bake an apple pie in a borrowed oven and make a holiday offering to the family I have come to love so much.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

net regrets still zero

With the sick thrill of change comes the knowledge that certain things will never be the same. You cannot overthrow your life, go barreling headlong into newness, without sacrificing some things you may have previously taken for granted.

Exhibit A: Although Peter Pan and I have come to tender terms with our transition, his brother very pointedly left me off the list for Thanksgiving preparations this year, a fact I realized only after speaking to his mother (who, to the best of my knowledge, still has no idea we broke up).

I think we expected most everything to stay the same and, for the most part, it has. But maybe I was naïve to think I could still be a part of his family.

Exhibit B: When you kiss a man you've known for eight years and then he disappears on you, your feelings will be bruised. You will no longer know how to interact with his standard wall of silence. You will act out to counter your feelings of powerlessness. I am acting out. (Hence all the dates and distractions and my feet-first leap into the "world of men" as that little Nazi prick once sang to Liesel in The Sound of Music.)

Summary Judgment: I am not the same for all this.

You don't get to run through the sprinklers without soaking your clothes. So here I am, cold and wet. But I'm alive and aware like never before. The only trouble is, someone has closed the sliding glass door and now I can't get back into the house.

Every sign in the Universe seems to be shouting its approval from the rooftops. My choices of late have been dead on balls accurate and I hesitate to apologize for them. So I will not.

But there is a sadness to decisions, to choosing, in taking the other path as just as fair. I am learning to live with not knowing what will happen when the road bends in the undergrowth. You're not supposed to know before you get there.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

pretty in PG-13

Must remember this: Martinis on Tuesday night sap the perky straight out of Wednesday morning.

Must also remember this: a date can be a riotous good time.

Where did that girl go who was living her mother's 50s instead of her own 20s? Perhaps the big Two Six looming on the horizon (with all those turkeys condemned to die) has lit the fire under my proverbial tailfeathers and inspired me to go out and boldly live this questionable period of my life. Perhaps I just need to believe that I am desirable.

Regardless, I have taken Peter Pan's very good advice and gone after that missing 33.33%. Stop me at your own peril.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

fear of flying

Okay, now I'm going to come off as a huge hussy, but frankly I could care less.

Yesterday morning, I sat next to a pilot on my return flight. Yes, I know. My first question was the obligatory, "What are you doing back here?" But he was merely hitching a ride to work and somehow we struck up a conversation that took us through the entire two and a half hour trip wheels up wheels down.

May I just say the best antidote to debilitating aviophobia has to be found in sustained and amicable conversation with a man in a pilot shirt. Something about those epaulettes. One cannot but be comforted.

Anyway, after we chatted circles around books and life—and he showed me what pilots actually carry around in their luggage (I'll never tell), after we shook hands and exchanged names with an awkward smirk, I gave him my card. Ballsy, right? ThanksIthinksotoo.

Brilliant part is? He emailed me last night from Boston. On his way to Austria.

Hot damn. Mama's on a hot streak.*

*Of course y'all know as well as I what's actually going on here. I just prefer to stay on the bright side of the road for as long as it'll hold me. Fair enough?

Monday, November 16, 2009

florida, part two

In which our heroine has to say: I stand corrected.

The Bartender (as I am loathe to call him, but will continue to do so for lack of a more suitable code name) put the Greater Jupiter drinking crowd phone tree into swift action on Saturday and hunted my number down like a bloodhound.

So Saturday night I was back on the bar stool at Nick's Tomato Pie, shooting the shit with Grandpa Joe and trying to defend my mother's honor against her uncouth Quebecois pseudo-suitor. Then suddenly it was back to the Bistro for bundt cake and Irish coffee, waiting for my date to close up shop. I should mention here what a fabulous time I had this weekend. Visiting my mother in her new town is starting to feel like a "home," a place with friends and regular haunts and a routine (albeit one of running ourselves utterly ragged and wailing to Michael Bublé in the car).

What followed was both amazing and unexpected. Highlights include: closing the club in Palm Beach Gardens, dancing to Empire State of Mind, knocking back tequila like a pro with a sweaty, mustachioed man named Justice, late night mozzarella sticks, dog walking, and going to sleep well after daybreak.

I felt alive for the first time in months and, more relevantly, I felt like a twenty-five year old ought to feel. I had fun. It was easy. Drink, dance, kiss. Say yes instead of no. Go out instead of hide. Act before I think. Sing to Irish restauranteurs and the gathered company of line chefs on the way out the door . . .

I was fearless. I didn't let myself overanalyze. I didn't back myself into any corners. I didn't say, "No, you can't do that, you're a big nerd and everybody knows it."

Maybe I'll see this guy again, maybe not. He was sweet and sexy and absolutely adorable and he made my weekend. What's more, he made me feel like a woman (for the first time in years).

So there.

I'd like to thank all involved for these delicious stirrings of Spring. They were more than necessary.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

florida, part one

Sad but true: my mother can party circles around me.

Here I am halfway into my weekend with her, a visit which feels more like a sorority overnight than a relaxing getaway in the tropical land of the elderly, and I am ready to bury my head under the covers and not reemerge until spring.

I landed Thursday at 8pm and we went straight to Nick's. (Nick's Tomato Pie in Jupiter is the best Italian in all of Florida). We had a little dinner at the bar, then proceeded to close the joint (if only because Nick himself kept buying us drinks and, well, I haven't been to that place without closing it since I was eleven years old and it was a favorite stop on the way home from picking my father up from the airport).

Friday we dwindled away in massages and shoe shopping because it was too cool for the pool. We had stone crabs and mustard sauce for dinner (I made a salad and steamed some asparagus and my mother decided that was sufficient to merit the title "domestic goddess"), then gussied ourselves up and tromped through the hole in the fence to The Bistro next door, which--you guessed it--we proceeded to close.

All in all it was a lovely night. I drank far too much Chardonnay, so of course I saddled myself with a headache of epic proportions, but the five hours we spent at the outdoor bar, by the ferns and the frog pond, were passed in genial conversation and bawdy innuendo. How we ended up at the neighbors' house petting ferrets and playing pool with the super cute bartender until three thirty, I'll never know, but I remain convinced of two things: 1. I'm no good at pool, and 2. I remain a total enigma to normal men.

I say the latter because the Bartender and I (names withheld to protect the innocent) spent the next hour on the frigid and sprinklered lawn of my mother's development, staring at the pool making small talk about the restaurant industry. And I either scared him away with all my references to books and baseball (he's not much of a reader and says he's never heard a woman talk that way about a sport) or I'm just not the kind of girl the All-American boy finds attractive. Fascinating perhaps, but not attractive. A sociological study, perhaps. (They should make a National Geographic special on nerdy girls, spare us the trouble...)

But it was good flirting practice, I suppose, even if I failed miserably.He did walk me to my door and kiss my cheek at the end of the night, which was very sweet.

Now it's nearly three and I'm still trying to recover, to muster up the pluck to face the rest of the day, which soon will turn to evening. What tonight has in store, I can only guess. In the meantime, this is why the gods sent us Starbucks.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


"What does joy not want? It is thirstier, more cordial, hungrier, more terrible, more secret than all woe; it wants itself, it bites into itself, the ring's will strives in it; it wants love, it wants hatred, it is overrich, gives, throws away, begs that one might take it, thanks the taker, it would like to be hated; so rich is joy that it thirsts for woe, for hell, for hatred, for disgrace, for the cripple, for world—this world, oh, you know it!"

Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

Monday, November 9, 2009

cross your fingers

It appears living so close to LaGuardia has done nothing to quell my overwhelming fear of flying. Somehow I thought seeing the hundred or so planes sailing in and out every day (just beyond the bell tower of the Immaculate Conception) would temper the gnashing of my intestines at the very thought of boarding a flight. Not so.

Thursday afternoon I fly to Florida. So of course I have convinced myself that—this time, surely—the universal law of averages will claim me and I will crash to ground in a deadly fireball.

Seriously. I wish I were exaggerating.

Have I mentioned I was kissed this week? By a man I've harbored hidden in my heart for years? Did not see that one coming, but I've gotten past the shock and now the overwhelming loveliness has set in. So (of course) I am now certain that, having narrowly escaped the typical trappings of nasty Breakup Land, having outmaneuvered the impossible and kept my ex-boyfriend my best friend, having survived the cathartic crying to feel the frisky wind of freedom on my face, the potential for infinite happiness... and now this moment this week with this man, the gods must punish me for coming this close to happy.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

the return of november

Lately I've been taking my cues from Eleanor Roosevelt, in trying to do one thing every day that scares me. Friday night, I sang in public. It was truly terrifying, yes, but that narrow escape from the hungry maw of failure made me so much the more alive. And just maybe it will change my life somehow.

Saturday I did something much, much harder. I moved the beds.

I did this alone for two reasons. One, I imagined it would be hard for Peter Pan (slash annoying because the bed is heavier than the Japanese national sumo team), and two, I expect I needed to process. It was something I had to do, and in the grand tradition of annoying home-centric tasks in our history together, it fell to me alone.

This breakup is a pillar of the platonic ideal. We have so smoothly downshifted into friendship, that at times it feels as if nothing has changed—certainly nothing has been lost in removing the romantic aspect, a fact which only serves to reaffirm the decision we made. We seem to have accomplished the impossible in branching into the hitherto unknown territory of congenial breakups.

I moved the beds because it was time to move the beds. We should have heat any day now, and I managed to hang the curtains (alone) with the hand drill I borrowed from my landlord. The new mattress pad arrived in the mail. There were no excuses left. I still need to buy a wardrobe and move my clothes from that closet, but that room is now his and this one is mine. The sooner we face it, the better.

I did not expect my own reaction. First, the mattress itself nearly killed me. There I was trying to guide it through tiny door frames, trying to prop it onto one side so I could slide it around the corner, but it kept going limp at my feet, limp like the entire Japanese national sumo team suddenly playing dead. It flopped out into lamps, knocked over space heaters, crashed into bookcases and broke a picture I really loved from Florence, glass shattering everywhere. In grappling with it I stubbed my toes, bruised my arm, cut fingers, tore sheets and broke nails. I found myself hurling all my frustrations at this stubbornly awkward and utterly maddening bed that we shared for nearly three years. Those coils and feathers in the slippery plastic mattress protector became Peter Pan—who wouldn't grow up, who wouldn't participate, who never really helped. Where there should have been teamwork, there was just me, making the one final gesture that will likely villianize me and leave him very sad.

So I started swearing, grunting and heaving and cursing like some woeful combination of a drunken sailor and a woman scorned. The mattress and the man blurred and suddenly I was furious. Then just as suddenly I was mourning. That thing in that moment was my albatross, it was the weight of all of this—the sadness yes, but also the frustration.

So the grunts and curses turned into the kind of ugly cry that makes you realize the violence inherent in the choices we make.

I did this. Perhaps I was selfish and cruel for doing so, but I have no other explanation to offer than I had to do it. I saved myself and if I damned him in the process, I will wear that around my neck. I have been riding this tide of adrenal release, the sweet high of starting each day feeling free, feeling the unknown starting to lap at my feet again, testing the waters of being alone. But this stupid chore drove it home. I chose this. I walked away. There are no take backs.

And all this happened in conjunction with another scary leap I've taken this week. Are you listening Eleanor? Because I am racking up the points here. Yet another risky venture where the stakes are high and there is no guarantee I won't end up embarrassed or hurt, though the deliciousness of it is so very distracting and the possibilities may be endless.

I think there is just so much going on in this heart and noggin of mine this week that I couldn't help but come home last night at nearly two am and do anything but cry.

That said, I slept the best I have in months. And this morning, I've got church bells and sun streaming through my windows. I'm leaving in an hour to go sing on stage again. And, even though there is not one goddamn leaf remaining on the tree outside my window, it's a good a day as any to start the rest of my life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I believe we are more than just bones and brain waves, that there is something more to this—and to us—and perhaps that something eternally recurs. That said, we could all drop dead tomorrow.

Maybe we could all use a little more hedonism. Which is perhaps why I spent last night swigging down house red with my cast on 43rd Street, why I had nothing but a big plate of cheese, delicious cheese for dinner (and Halloween candy for dessert) and why today I am beset by the phenomenon known as the "delayed onset hangover."

Work today is proving to be more excruciating than usual, with one notable exception. I quote here a dear colleague, similarly incarcerated in our windowless office, who paid me the enormous compliment that my heels echo through the office "like freedom pounding on the door of tyranny, reminding us what we lost at 9am and secretly hope in our heart of hearts to reclaim again at 5pm."

Now if that can't get you through the day, what can?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

the minor fall and the major lift

My first Friday night as a single girl and I spend it alone at home with a box of Cheddar Bunnies? Seriously. I treated myself to a twenty dollar bottle of Cabernet and a few bargain bags of Halloween candy, made myself a tuna melt and curled up on the couch with a movie.

It was one of my favorite nights in the new apartment, which is starting to feel like home and not just this big, unfinished project (particularly now that I rid the freezer of that smelly half-defrosted organic lasagna).

Now I will quote Nietzsche, who once wrote, " . . . the greatest events—they are not our loudest but our stillest hours."*

I wake up every morning feeling free. I am finding my own will to power, my own "wholesome, heavy selfishness" and learning to listen to the commanding "I" and "yes" and "no" that come from myself alone.

*from Thus Spoke Zarathustra, translated by Walter Kaufmann, (Penguin, 1996).

Friday, October 30, 2009

two things

One: I dare you to tell me this isn't meant to be a pumpkin cock n' balls. (Some have said my mind is in the gutter.)

And two—to whoever posted the Mark Strand poem: thank you. How totally appropriate. I have the full text taped up at my desk.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

coming attractions, november twenty-oh-nine

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Witness the return of my optimism. Marvel as I attempt the impossible.

  • I will sing in public. (In stockings and eye makeup no less.)
  • I will apply to graduate school.
  • I will put a down payment on space for a passion project that has no business on stage (and that I have no business producing).
  • I will cohabitate with Peter Pan in Chapter Two of the world's Most Amicable Breakup Ever.

Very likely, I will fail at one or all of these things. But you know what they say... journey, destination, blah blah blah...

Do something every day that scares you.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

so I will share this room with you

*Behind the Montague Book Mill, "Books You Don't Need In A Place You Can't Find."

When you listen to the universe, it can surprise you.

Perhaps I am in denial. Perhaps this will back up on us in the none too distant future and we will be suddenly crippled with what could have been. Certainly, when I glance at my left hand and find the tip of my Claddagh heart tipping precariously into the unknown, a hollow wind ripples through my abdomen.

But then I think how we have averted catastrophe and I smile at our resilience, the brave faces we've thrown up for each other, and we laugh together like we haven't laughed in years.

All those doubts disappear. Corners we felt backed into open wide. Seemingly ill-fated choices find new footing. Once again, Odin gets yanked up by his ankles and tied to a tree branch, looking down at the ground as if it were a brand new world.

I'm sure no one will understand this. How pruning the branches made the roots grow stronger. But surely it is no one's business but our own.

Monday, October 26, 2009

and as the nail sunk in the cloud

I don't often reference the title of this endeavor, but nevertheless the ouroboros bites me in the ass from time to time—if only to remind me that life moves in spiral.

From where I sat on my long lost high school English teacher's sofa Saturday morning, drinking mint tea with handmade honey and being vetted by a Siamese kitten named Sigmund, my world began to make sense again. I am not the wholly new invention I think myself every year. I do not restart from scratch each January the first. My selves are spun from the same center locus, no matter how many and manifold they become. And no matter how old I get, I am still the same doe-eyed kid who once stole for him the forsaken statue of St. Francis. There are no beginnings or endings, only cycles.

That said, things change. There may be no wrong way around the circle, but certainly there are sinkholes and wagon ruts to circumvent. There are changes to be made, though the thought of making them may rip your heart right out of your chest.

I have done something so selfish and so scary that I still cower at the thought. It was the right thing to do, but it stands a fighting chance of turning my heart to pulp and rendering it unfit for future use. And I don't know what to say now, really. Is it better to do as I have done? Choosing to hurt now for a little dignity down the road?

Or maybe I have just lost what hope I had left of happy endings.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

pity party

The wolf is gone and I am still sick. I'll spare you the details, but let's just say something is very wrong. It's been four days.

Also, it is 43 degrees and raining.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

my head a moon of japanese paper

My love affair with my new place has come to a rather ignominious end. Raise your hand if you saw it coming.

I still love it here. But we are well into the double digits of October and still have no heat or cooking gas, with no end in sight. And I can't even get mad because not only are my landlords the nicest family alive, the situation is all red tape and city bureaucracy and therefore entirely beyond their control.

I also managed to contract the stomach flu of the century (an affliction I originally imagined—and still suspect—to be food poisoning wrought by the friendly neighborhood Pita Pan...) So I have been out flat since Wednesday night, beset by fever, aches and intestinal scourges. The mere smell of food nauseates me. I'm subsisting on white rice and Saltine crackers alone.

But here I am in bed at four pm on a Saturday afternoon, covers up, church bells in the background, and I'm sucked right back in. The Good Samaritans, my landlords, have already sent up two batches of chicken soup (which I can't eat because I wouldn't be able to keep it down and anyway I'm supposedly vegetarian) plus their son gave me his personal space heater to keep warm.

Really, the worst part is having to give back the Wolf, who has so thoroughly wormed her way into our hearts that the loss of her presence will likely ruin our already tenuous grasp on domesticity.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

what are the odds

Sat next to the same person on the N two days running. Only today he was wearing a jacket and we happened to be sitting on the opposite side of the car (panoramic view of greater Queens instead of the habitual skyline). Odd, that.

Also, transferred to the R at Union Square and got the same conductor...two days running. I know this because he sounds exactly like Pepe the King Prawn from the Muppets. You know, "What do you get when you cross an elephant and a rhino?" Only this guy just says, "Brooklyn bound R train, Brooklyn bound R train," in various shades of hilarious.

Perhaps this was the Universe subtly calling for a do-over of yesterday? I was planning on leftover eggplant parm for dinner. That and accomplishing relatively nothing in the allotted span of waking hours. May the circle be unbroken.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

recession special

This morning, as weary commuters power-walked up 23rd Avenue, this little guy was angling for access to the Zorba's Souvlaki kitchen window and the tough-guy line cook making bemused faces at him behind it.

Because he was so tiny and hungry and collarless, I stuck around. Ready to take him home as a playmate for the Timberwolf and feed him Oreos and milk until he was up to mouse-catching strength and body weight. But I live in Astoria now. So the mustachioed owner emerged (just like the benevolent Woodsman in a fairy tale) and scooped the little fellow to his belly. Just like that. He was no longer alone and afraid on a cold morning.

That's right, bitches. My neighborhood sticks up for kittens.

Monday, October 12, 2009

the new world

I am often accused of being provincial.

Perhaps if I were cooler and more cityfied, I would not be listening to Nina Simone in my kitchen, reading yesterday's New York Times and looking forward to a stroll around the block with the rent-a-puppy for a coffee and some new flowers.

But I am not. And if this is indeed what my neighborhood looks like at seven on a Sunday morning, why leave. I know I keep saying I don't belong in New York, but perhaps I have finally (four years later and still penniless) found my niche.

Thank you, Cristóbal Colón, for being such a lousy sailor and for quote unquote "discovering" an already inhabited continent; this day off is much appreciated. I get to digest yesterday (grand day of sports that it was) in the comfort of my sunny kitchen, rather than hunched before my workspace computer. I maintain, however, what I said in my fourth grade research report: you are no hero of mine.

I would gladly give back this day off. Gladly.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

politics as usual

I don't pretend to know whether President Obama "deserves" to have won the Nobel Peace Prize in the adolescence of his presidency (I'm timing this assessment on dog years, by the way), but I can say this:

For those of us on the left, debating the merits of the committee's decision is futile. And for our chums on the right (if such they can be called), denouncing the president with derisive mocking hardly seems to further the peace dialogue. Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland put it this way, "The question we have to ask is who has done the most in the previous year to enhance peace in the world." And, while there are certainly human rights activists toiling worldwide to fight for this (perhaps making more tangible—albeit less visible—strides), it is hard to deny that Obama did make a global ripple in the pond that touched the hearts and ideals of billions.

I prefer to look at it this way. This award is not based on his presidency, per se (a presidency that is nowhere near complete and therefore impossible to judge on the whole). To quote Bob Kerrey, "It's honoring the country. The Nobel committee couldn't award the peace prize to the voters of the United States, but that's what they are doing. It's an award Americans should feel good about."

I am certainly appreciative of what Obama has accomplished, even if that was little more than an innovative PR campaign for the United States.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


This little beast is in my charge until next Saturday. She's the gentlest, snowiest fuzzy little pig-fox I've ever seen and she has one blue eye and one brown.

She was also up half the night wondering where her moms were (she has two) and why she'd been left in this new place with trains rattling overhead.

Between the click clack of her paws doing laps around the apartment, Peter Pan's incessant snoring (what is this new phenomenon?) and my misguided decision to set my dishwasher to run at two in the morning (it chugs to life with all the subtlety of a freight train), I didn't get much sleep.

However, once the reveille sounded at 6:45 and I cleaned up her puppy puke (poor thing is still anxious), I took her for a long walk. Must say, my neighborhood is lovely in the mornings...

shredding paper

Someone told me once that a day is a battlefield. Today, for example, you take the field—you versus all the gods of Wednesday—and may the best woman win.

Some days are better than others, some worse. But, much like baseball, there are certain contests that cannot decisively be called. Those days are a tug-of-war of minor skirmishes, dull scrapes and lesser victories. No one bothers to keep score until one side guts the other in an unexpected blow. Then your Wednesday becomes Antietam, for one side or the other.

But this was just a Wednesday. My victories were shallow, but they were enough to carry the day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

this from the boyfriend

"Why can't you just be a slutty witch for Halloween like all the other girls?"

la diritta via era smarrita

Last night some animal woke me up. Or else I dreamed up some hideously menacing animal noises, some duet of lowing or growling with a higher-pitched whine building in the background. It sounded like screeching, like pigs being butchered. Or a coyote braying. And it was getting louder and louder.

Anyhow, I woke up in terror, right at the crescendo—presumably to go outside and rescue whatever it was from harm—and there was nothing but dark. Dark and Peter Pan snoring next to me, sinuses straining.

Maybe the red curtains are giving me hellish dreams?

Monday, October 5, 2009

the long, dark teatime of the soul

I know I keep saying I am done with New York. I gave myself a year to make up my mind. But already I suspect I'll need more time—particularly if I continue this love affair with my new neighborhood.

Sunday was a blur. It began with Peter Pan needing to be let in at 6:34 am (Yes, I latched the door on him when he wasn't home by 2 am. Yes, I am a bad and passive aggressive person.) Then there was sheet changing, brunch with my dad and the buying of bamboo for my windowsill vase. But I spent the afternoon soaking in the last flash of summer sun, alternating outdoor locations for the semi-sacred ritual crossword hours between the park and my balcony, where someone started playing godawful acid rock and I was almost chased away by my neighbor's yipping rat dog.

The bloom still being on the rose, I found these things charming.

Most people might take annoyance at the sounds of my neighborhood on Sunday afternoon. It is an atonal symphony of church bells, child squeals, trains rattling over the bridge, trains braking at Ditmars, the reving of muffler-less engines, and the landing and taking off of airplanes. But I find it oddly comforting.

This, my friends, is the pleasure of having your own space. Perhaps too much solitude in said space, but that is another beast to conquer...

Friday, October 2, 2009

write this above her bones

Yeah, so this week. Not the best.

Let me preface this by saying that nothing happened to me. This marks one of those strange moments in life where the world starts sucking chunks for people around you, people who are near or dear to you, but you are expected to hold it together. Because, really, you are fine.

I can be a rock star. I am a twentysomething urban female with all sorts of sublimated maternal instincts. I'm a hair-holding, kitchen-cleaning, cookie-baking, flower-buying coordinator of efforts large and small. I have the luxury of being in a place to help those in trouble (be that a fragile mental state or multiple broken bones and cranial bleeding). So that is my plan. Asked or appreciated or otherwise.

For the purposes of my own sanity, I will concentrate on the fact that October has arrived, heralding my very favorite season with its signature bite in the air, its melancholy and its pumpkin spice lattes. My apartment continues to be an oasis, however sparse, and every night the smell of bread baking manages to waft up to my living room from the bakery around the corner. Things aren't half bad.

[ Sidenote: I never imagined I would be called "boring" for spending weeknights on my couch with a bottle of Malbec and the first season of the West Wing on dvd. And yet? Boring. Net regrets: 0. ]

Sunday, September 27, 2009

cheap tricks

When there is no sun, I will buy sunflowers.

strange how hard it rains now

It's one in the morning and Peter Pan is not at home.

In any other situation in which two parties share an apartment, this would be cause for worry. This would be cause for worry if I didn't know exactly where he was (whether nor not he bothered to let me know.)

I am trying to concentrate on the lovely tapping of the rain on the roof, the sounds of my new neighborhood on a wet and quiet Saturday evening, as I type this thing I should not be typing, as I listen to the Ns and Ws whiz in and out of the terminus. This moment is none of anyone's business but mine because I chose it. So I lie here thinking of baseball games and burgers and beers—and debates about the Quilted Northern bears and the relative merits of Nietzsche's analysis of the Dionysian and the Apollonian ideals. That's where my brain wants to be. Not imagining my erstwhile boyfriend sprawled on his parents' loveseat in various stages of undress, too drunk and selfish to put his shoes on and come home.

Then I think... but of course, you stupid cow, this is not his home. And if he were to show up tonight to this address we supposedly share, he would only be furious that they turned off the water until morning to fix a plumbing issue. (My net regrets remain at zero, in case you are keeping score. I love this place.)

So... rain. And quiet. And Iain Pears. I can do this. Doubt me at your own peril.

Friday, September 25, 2009

question for my generation

What the hell is this new trend of adding extra letters to the ends of words for emphasis?

Seriously. When you type "byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" I see the Avon Lady (or some other saccharine creature in coral lipstick and a skirt suit). When you say your day "sucksssssssssssssss" I think you mean to be speaking in Parselmouth. Similarly, "I wanted to partyyyyyyyyyyyy last nightttt" confounds me. As does, "fuckkkkkkkk" and "butttttt." Consonants just aren't supposed to bend that way.

And I keep seeing this foolishness. Running rampant on the internet. And while I've tried not to judge other people's cyber-shorthand (though I cringe at the "ur"s and other multiple abbreviations for perfectly short—and easily typable—words), this is just too egregious to ignore.

Please make it stop. Or at least explain it to me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

just take my word for it

Con: For lack of curtains—and due to some serious eastern exposure in my bedroom—I have yet to sleep past five am this week.

Pro: I've been woken up each day by the most consistently breathtaking sunrises. I tried to take a picture on my phone this morning, but in my sleep deprivation the results were less than special.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I have this

I'm still at a whopping zero when it comes to regrets about my new place.

Do you see what is behind that windowpane? Do you? It is a tree. A TREE. It may not be a very big tree, or even one tree among other trees, but as my Partner In Crime put it, I'm "one tree up" on a lot of people in this city.

My commute may be 45 minutes, but my rewards are church bells on Sundays and a view into a square of little oblong backyards. I can see the skyline from my roof. My neighbors are old women in housecoats who hang their laundry to dry and host grandchildren in plastic deck chairs in the afternoons. Every morning, an aged yellow lab babysits a golden haired toddler who tries to ride him around the cement playpen.

I should probably put curtains up, since our little alley town offers front row seats into each other's privacy and anyone peeking out a window at night can see straight through my fourth wall, but for now I just hop from shower to dresser trying to shimmy into my clothes before peeping toms notice there's nudity afoot.

So there's that. Now I have only to continue accumulating all of the (surprisingly expensive) items needed to play house as a functioning adult, sort out the minor details (paint the bathroom, caulk the holes, hang the curtain rods, switch the hot water pipe) and wait for the gas to be turned on. Oh, right, and convince Peter Pan to actually sleep there. Right now the only clue to his existence in my life is a shaving kit under the sink. Unacceptable.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

n train to a-town

Hard to regret impulsive moving decisions when this is the view from my commute.

Monday, September 14, 2009

moral relativism

I know I'm not supposed to like the Yankees. I know Derek Jeter's new record is based on a relatively useless statistic. And I know that it is wrong to applaud for a team against whom you've sworn eternal enmity.

But I couldn't help it. You see, it was such a beautiful night for a game, bright and chilly, and the heavens did open for precisely the right at bat, and sitting there in the stands with my buddy, sharing a bag of peanut m and ms, is my idea of perfection. I just forgot myself—and my loyalties—for a moment.

Dear world,
Please forgive me for my conduct last Friday evening. It is my belief that there were extenuating circumstances. It will not happen again.
Repentant Red Sox fan*

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

baseball and bigelow?

Does anybody else doubt the credibility of this ad campaign?

As much as I would like to see these baseball greats swap their gum-cancer chaw for some straight-up antioxidants, I sincerely doubt tea would be their beverage of choice.

Monday, September 7, 2009

with light in my head

To mixed reviews, I have concocted and embraced a new philosophy, a livable creed effective immediately, which is to let the Universe—capitalized here for effect and future reference—make my decisions for me. Which is not to say I relinquish my agency, just that, when confronted with decisions large and small, my new plan requires that I take full stock of the signs around me before leaping. (Or, in my grand tradition: before agonizing and analyzing in a cycle of chronic indecision.)

First example: my rather hasty decision to move back to Astoria. Made possible by several failed attempts to see other apartments in bigger, better boroughs, a fortuitous half-friday at the office, a canceled broker appointment, and the happenstance and serendipity required to have chanced a peek at the craigslist postings that morning (for lack of a more stimulating activity). Without any of these (seemingly coincidental) occurrences, the apartment in question would have gone the next day and I would never have seen it. But I did see it. And I fell in love with it. We cut a check within the hour and now it is ours. Impulsive? Perhaps. Although my new therapist (unwitting champion and muse for this new philosophical roll-out) prefers that I refer to it as "being capable of making an informed and rational decision in the heat of the moment." Translation: I had my finger on the beating pulse of the Universe and I followed its direction? Or maybe just: It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Regrets current: 0 (although there may be doubts). Net regrets: TBD.

Second example:

My Labor Day Weekend—which would have involved a trip to Storyland with Supermom and the cutest kids in the world had not my boyfriend been swept away to Florida on a business venture cum bachelor weekend. Instead, I got to follow the Universe (and salute myself for that decision) on a spur of the moment trip to Gettysburg with my favorite partner in crime, which became a trip to Baltimore, which ended at an O's/Rangers game at Camden Yards and 36 hours full of good music, crab cakes, NCAA football and beers.

Net regrets: 0.

I may be utterly foolish. This experiment may be nothing but overdressed spontaneity. The road may be paved with chanciness and I may be backed into dangerous corners I cannot get easily out of. But it sure beats the alternative.

I am more and more convinced that the data for decision-making is always right in front of us, from who we want to be to what we want for dinner. All I have to do is pay attention, trust myself, and leap.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

do not go gently

I have decided to give my foolhardy youth another chance, to join the throng of directionless twentysomethings chasing their shadows. I will stand and be accountable for my rashness, my boldness in the face of certain defeat. Now is the hour of our bad decisions!

You cannot make these choices overnight. I find myself still haunted by the words of my long lost high school English teacher—not to suffer so greatly under the pangs of uncertainty. And so I have chosen to extend my sentence. Not to run, not to flee—as is my impulse, but to sit in the mire in which landed my boat and let the mud squish between my toes for one more year. To mix metaphors, I've buttered my toast and now I'm going to lie in it.

One year. In which to make some pretty big calls. About people, places, wheres and whats and whos and hows. A final year for New York City to prove itself to me or lose me forever. A final year to sharpen my teeth against the grindstone (there I go again with the metaphors) and figure out—for once and for all—what I want to be when I grow up. The rest, I'm sure, will follow.

But for now there is tango at the seaport. There are pints of Guinness in Irish pubs, leaves falling in Central Park, a new start at an old job and a long list of loose ends to tie. Like I said, I'm ready to grow up now. Wish me luck.

Monday, August 24, 2009

front skies

Perhaps it is as easy as this: quality of life = having a porch.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

je suis arrivée

It all smells wrong. It's jungle humid. And I don't belong here.

I will say this for New York City: it is positively beautiful at five in the morning. Not that I will remember this fact next week once the jet lag abates.

At nine at night, however, everything sucks. The air conditioning is broken, this was my first day back at work, and I can't imagine staying awake ten minutes longer.

Today's highlights include: an extra early cafe au lait, the bouquet of flowers in a windowless office, and having my skirt zipper break in the middle of Greene Street, exposing my lacy backside to the SoHo cognoscenti... and Ms. Whoopie Goldberg.

Yes, ladies and gents, this is going to take some adjusting.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

the garden of last days

Looking at the glot of days on the calendar, you never imagine how fast they will fly. But here we are at the end. This is the last middle afternoon breeze off the water. The last violet and rose ice cream covered in sake. The last bike ride home from the plage. The last stupid advertisement for Marineland or PEZ, pulled by a prop plane across the shoreline.

I'm really no smarter than I was, despite my ambitious plans for self-discovery, for yoga on the lawn, for reading and writing and decision making. Mostly what I've done here is lie around with my mouth agape, grateful and awestruck by the fact that I, twenty-something ex-waitress, got to spend a whole month in paradise. I've settled into being someone I like—for a change. But more than that, I've eaten myself stupid, I've read a dozen plus wonderfully formulaic murder mysteries, and I haven't regretted a single blessed moment. These are my immortal days.

Sure, life will come slapping back as soon as we land. But right now, I'd rather just sit here looking out at the gulf, with my boyfriend playing mournful piano, and crying quietly because I am stupid lucky and I damn well know it.

I've been around most of the globe and I've never found a person or a place that has felt more like home. You just don't give that up, do you?

Monday, August 10, 2009

quarter life crisis part i

It's no good when your nomadic twenty-five year old heart finds a place to worry in its teeth like a mutt with a bone. When your vacations whittle down and yet your surroundings stay lodged like a shard in your heart. When home is such a foreign idea that you belong nowhere.

But this place has started to feel like home. Day trips in the hills wind finally around the corner onto the Bord de Mer and my body sinks back into the passenger seat with relief. The rhythm here has settled under my skin; it is as if I have swallowed the clock and my heartbeat depends upon it ticking. Waking up in the garden of Eden is no longer unreal. Sitting on the terrasse looking out through the frame of a painting is by no means ordinary, but it has become custom. The corners of the house have softened; I can navigate them in the dark.

The person I am here no longer surprises me. I have written all my postcards and taken all of my pictures. I've browned to the deepest shade of bronze my Irishness will allow. We've had all our fancy meals and my palette has narrowed to accommodate only what springs up in the markets. My daily choices are few and simple. Piscine or plage. Sandwich or salad. Walk or read.

I suppose you could—and should—say that I am spoiled. I am the first to admit that queens have had it harder. I am the luckiest woman I know. This month has restored me like a crumbling ceiling frieze. My little pictograms and bas-reliefs are now marching across me in reassuring stone, all telling the same story. Clear and calm.

It's only now that the end lurks around the weekend corner on the calendar that the questions rise like a rip tide and start churning. Who am I really. What am I doing. Where do I belong.

Maybe nowhere, maybe here, maybe I have no business making decisions so young. But the first quarter stretch of my life's relay has been swum; the next swimmer is perched on the platform ready to go. Surely this is a time to take stock. Particularly when people and places and moments have begun to snag on my heart. Memories have started to wash up on my shore like driftwood. Soon my island will be covered—laden—and I will sink from the weight of it.

It's the little things that will kill you. For example: The other night my boyfriend's mother (whom I adore beyond words) loudly announced me to an influx of company by proclaiming, "She's one of us." That simple declaration made me feel part of something in a way I never have.

Mind you, this is the same woman who, in the past two weeks, has twice suggested I consecrate my relationship with her son by the fountain in her Provencal olive garden—and also offhandedly tried to set me up with her friends' son (before she remembered exactly how she knew me and recanted, of course).

I want nothing more than to make this woman happy. (I want nothing more than to make me happy.) So marrying her son in this plot of heaven, surrounded by herbs and bees, then populating its rooms with grandchildren, is my dream as much as hers. But it has become increasingly apparent that her son A) does not believe in marriage and B) does not believe in children. Not to mention the unmentionable C): his Peter Pan complex. What do you do when you have found your husband and he's unwilling to grow up?

I know this all sounds terribly selfish and dramatic (and much more personal than usual), but I'm worried that when next I blink my eyes I will be forty and childless and still treading water. I think I want to grow up now. I think I want to pack my rucksack and set up shop somewhere that feels like home, with someone who feels like home. Which is not to say I want a big white wedding tomorrow. I don't. I have a lot of youth to waste yet, and many more months to pilfer chasing rainbows. But the world is hard enough when you drift along rootless, trying to float your boat along all by yourself. Eventually you want someone on the other oar. Someone who really wants to be there.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

adventures in podologie

I tend to attract the bizarre. Therefore I can be a royal pain in the ass. When I travel, chances are I will develop or contract something horribly inconvenient given my environs. There was the rather hairy tonsillitis in Rome, the Mexican ulcer attacks, the family cross-country pukathon and of course that time I popped a braces bracket on a Friday night in Bar Harbor. Not to mention the frostbitten kneecap incident.

This time I outdid myself.

But in the process I got to visit the podologue, who surgically fished the jagged, half-inch shard of infected toenail from out of my gros orteil then stuffed a gauze pad soaked in betadine into the cuticle.

Seriously. One wrong pedicure and three weeks later I'm muscling around the south of France on an impacted ingrown toenail... braving the surgery of a very nice woman with a whole arsenal of pointy podiatric torture tools.

I now understand why men at war bite straps of leather and then get all post-op silly on whiskey and pub songs. Oh, the sweet relief.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

dinner for ten chez Wood

Champagne and Crostini
( avec des tapenades: noire, pistou, tomatine )

Crema fredda di Pomodori
( basilic, haricots verts, bocconcini, prosciutto di parma )

Raviolis au Daube
( beurre noisette, fresh sage, eschalotes )

Assiete de Fromage
( figue, abricot, cérise )

Sorbet au Poire
( coulis de framboise et fraises du bois )

Perhaps I've missed my calling as proprietor of a Bed & Breakfast. The dishes are dry, the kitchen clean... and I am enjoying the last of the wine and the company, wishing I could make such an honest living and live somewhere by the sea, unmolested by the concerns of the century.