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?