Saturday, January 30, 2010

studiously aloof, chapter one: making other plans

It is a grey Saturday morning in Astoria and after a long night of excess (that began with a Negroni and ended with black truffle pizza), I already feel as though the weekend were over.

Luckily, I should begin preparing for my marathon of tango: workshops, a party and the All-Night Milonga. I should also steel myself against the slings and arrows of girldom by screwing shut my eyes and putting both feet beneath me where they belong. I do not give a damn about anyone, save of course the partner I dance with in any given tanda.

That is all. Admire my conviction. Are you convinced?

Friday, January 29, 2010

end of week

Went dancing last night and lost three hours in a time warp of ocho cortados and Altoid breath. Granted, I was a little wined up from my impromptu date night at Dell' Anima (you will not believe their avocado bruschetta), but that somehow contributed to my subearthly focus on the floor. I'm not saying I was in top form—I am still too often surprised by trickier shifts of footing and that only gets worse after salted caramel almond cake and Friulana vino dolce—but I had some lovely dances and it felt so good to feel that I'm finally finding my way through my own feet. Little by little, dance by dance, one milonga at a time.

By the time I got home, my feet were stumps and it was after two. Fridays are growing increasingly long and arduous given my Thursday night tango proclivities, but we all know I wouldn't have it any other way.

I emerge from my fluorescent rat cave of an office this evening (and into the bitter fricken cold) with a new clarity. May this perigee full wolf moon inform my adventures in these my forty eight hours of freedom from the 9-to-5.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

how to court the nerdy girls, part one

Decide what you want and then be there. Do that.

That, fellas, is it. The nugget of truth. You are no longer permitted to use the "you don't understand women" excuse. Because this is all we want. There is no elusive laundry list of hurdles to clear or lambs to sacrifice at our feet. We're very simple creatures, really.

Man up and state your business. That is all we ask.

I've spent the past week awaiting a clue (any clue) from The Gentleman In Question as to his present intentions. He missed the deadline by twelve hours and now I'm more than contemplating letting him get away with it. What right have I, after all, to set such stringent ultimatums—that is, if I consistently refuse to risk rejection by asking for what I want in the first place?

Proceed with caution, my little heart whines—eyes wide shut. Because you like this man. He talks to you about books and art and does that delicious thing with the nape of your neck . . . He's just different enough to be worth the bother of confusion a little while longer. Right?

I'm not trying to save this one (minor victory: I did learn that much from Peter Pan), but still my curiosity bests me. So perhaps I will ignore the many-headed Voice of Reason after all and do what I've always done. . . which is to say—learn the hard way.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

no amount of whisky, no amount of wine

In which our heroine gives the Universe this ultimatum:

The gentleman in question calls by midnight or I call time of death.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

on partings

This morning I attended a Baptist funeral service in Harlem, a "home-going celebration" for our dearly loved colleague who was survived by the immense group of people that filled the congregation to the rafters. The ceremony was beautiful, but it ran a veritable emotional decathlon, maneuvering between gut-busting grief, reverent sadness and outright booty-dancing joy. This experience was both cathartic and exhausting, so I have spent the day processing at my desk, making no pretense of productivity.

In her honor (this woman loved to point out my idiosyncrasies and slap her thighs laughing at them), I forwent my torturous heels for the afternoon and am now rocking the above-pictured Melanie Griffith look, circa 1988).

The world was a brighter place with her around. To quote her obituary, she "graduated with high honors. She has wings. So don't be surprised if you see her flying around your house one day."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

adventures in gynecology

Is there anything more humiliating than the annual visit to the gynecologist? I think not.

Gentlemen, I apologize for the reference, but surely you can appreciate the sheer awkwardness of being greeted once every twelve months by a brisk man with a handlebar mustache who ushers you (briskly) into his office and asks you simply, "How's it going?"

When you reply that you have since broken up with your long-time boyfriend and are now considering defecting to a nunnery in Asia rather than face the scary world of STDs and baby-making, he merely brushes aside your silly ramblings with one sweep of his manicured hand and tells you to get on with your life.

Then he escorts you to an exam room, hands you a blue frock and instructs you to strip down to everything but your socks because—and I quote—he's "not doing feet today."

I have a particularly pleasant relationship with this guy. Signing on to his practice was a conscious decision, akin to accepting a dare from the Universe. As in: Dear Meg, see if you can handle this mustachioed fellow poking around your cervix and live to laugh about it. I said yes. Mission accomplished. Now our doctor/patient relationship is based entirely upon general medical competence and inappropriate banter.

Example: Last year's pap smear (an altogether awful combination of words, I know). We got through the entire procedure without once alluding to the more clinical aspects of what he was doing between my thighs. I believe the conversation we carried on was related to books—or the mating habits of pigeons. Nothing to suggest there was a diploma-ed man poking a latex-y finger around my womb. Nothing to call attention to the speculum or the giant wire-ended Q-tip. There was only wisecracking. But then of course we arrived at the sonogram part (because they want to make doubly sure your ovaries are cyst-free) and he busts out with, "Now this wand will be inserted into the vagina," and this proclamation, while totally appropriate to the task at hand, just seemed so horrifically out of place that I couldn't help but sass back with, "Well, that's a relief, because frankly I wasn't sure where you planned to put that."

This year was equally frank and good-humored—despite his warnings of (what he termed) a general "gnarly outbreak of the Clap." Does anyone else have this sort of candor with their snatch doc? Is it not refreshing? Are you not refreshed!?

That said, all the pleasantry in the world can't quite atone for the fact that the process is inherently invasive. It's stressful and dehumanizing to let a stranger into your privatest places. You never quite walk out of the office without wanting to cry.

Maybe they should start handing out lollipops . . .

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

full desertness in souls

Last night we lost a coworker to sudden illness. She was neither old nor infirm and she will be terribly missed.

In light of that phone call this morning, the finality and the shock of the loss, the trivial things that usually preoccupy me hardly seem worth noting. You will have to wait a few days before I'll be able to forgive myself for digressing back into the land of idle drivel.

Life is too short to not love hard.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

comme ça

"We work in the dark— we do what we can— we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art."

- Henry James

Friday, January 8, 2010

the tango equivalent of frog kissing

With two noteworthy exceptions, I had terrible dances last night. Whether this is a function of bad leaders or lingering exhaustion from being sick, I can only speculate, but it does bear the reminder to slow down. A tango dancer is only as good as her last dance.

Funny how, when the dreamy, rosy cloud is lifted and it all goes back to foot muscles and axes and the training of sluggish legs, I'm still this hooked . . .

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

read at your own risk

Four days stuck at home with strep throat will sure as hell give a girl the idle time she needs (or rather doesn't need) to process.

So many things have ended. Old years, relationships, decades, delusions. I can hardly keep myself straight among all these endings, and certainly there is little closure to be found in this big, bad world of ours these days.

I am lucky to live with Peter. It has forced us to sit next to each other at night when we might have retreated into our corners to fabricate our own petty revisionist histories. We have managed to maintain our easy intimacy without sacrificing our newly minted privacy, fumbling our way back to a state of friendship that has proven and will continue to be invaluable. For both of us.

I only wish we weren't both quite so analytical. Otherwise we might resist the temptation to till the mutual soil. We might thereby avoid conversations like the one in which he finally confessed he was never in love with me. (A refreshing revelation, however insidious and, ultimately: devastating.) Thus I could have been spared the virulent doubts that now descend, ruffling my hair and telling me to "move along, kid." Chin up.

I'm not discussing this to solicit your pity, please understand. Quite simply, I would like to put forth a hypothesis I have been grappling with—for the further scrutiny of posterity: that I am just not the kind of woman men fall for that way. I've been loved, but not adored. I've been the fling, the pal, the Oedipal enabler, the science experiment, the convenience store, the savior and the saint. I've been just about everything you can be to a fellow without him ever falling in love. They've called me "babe" once or twice and I've been "sweetie"-d and "kiddo"-d all over the place; some have been terribly fond of me. I've just never shaken a one of those trees to their roots. And I know it.

Spare me the buoying band-aid compliments. I am not fishing for them. I have myself convinced and, I suppose, only time can change my mind. So I ask you just this one thing: hold your tongue. Sit still and watch. As the irate tailor in Swing Time said, "I would rather be not wrong than right."

So there you have it, Interwebs: my greatest fear. That I am somehow fundamentally unloveable. I mean, people love me, sure, but it's all pathos and storge and phileo and, while I am grateful for every ounce of it, I was secretly hoping for some eros someday, not to mention agape. The kind of love you close your eyes for.

I said "these days" before, referring to our unfortunate Information Age, this (so far) dreary new century of ours, all profiles and portable devices . . . text exchanges in which conversations never end, one party merely loses interest and puts down their keypad. Punctuation and syntax are all but outdated. In my more dramatic moments, I imagine that we will one day become barbarians, burning books in our wake and grunting out short, abbreviated cybersentences.

heyyyy yo how r u cuming over?? plz tx miss u xxx brb gotta runnnnn u r kewl

This is my version of hell. I already feel that people don't understand half the shit I say. Now I can barely decipher the response (or lack thereof). I am an analog watch in a sea of atomic clocks. Either too much to take or—worse—deficient in some innate, inexplicable way.

Now I am single. Responsible for my own fate again, sink or swim. Risking the big Alone, the No One Cares, the Jimmy Stewart "I wish I'd never been born" nightmare sequence, only in this version there is no difference. When the men I've met count up their greatest loves, I will not number among them, which is not to say I'm not fantastic . . . just not the sauce for their particular spaghetti.

Perhaps it is only fitting that I face this transition while embarking on this Dorothy Parker project, bringing her acid wit and bitter neuroses to the stage and showing the world at large that, all feminism aside, we still don't have it together. Men and women may never manage to communicate with any degree of satisfaction. They (meaning men) survive in spite of this. We do not.

I have become the girl who waits by the telephone, waiting for some boy or other to call.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

and we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet

I'm having a hard time processing New Years.

The facts are easy. I flew solo and rang in Twenty Ten on the tango floor, in some warehouse space on West 35th Street. I had a champagne kiss at midnight, I watched the ball drop via projection screen, I bobbed and swayed awkwardly to Auld Lang Syne, and I ended the evening post argument with the PAPD (over the transport of a split of Veuve via mass transit) sprawled in the 28th St station flipping through Breakfast at Tiffany's and making fun of drunken Jersey douchebags and their funny celebratory hats. Rather, that is how I started the morning. But . . . details.

What really matters here is almost untellable: the dancing. This is where I run out of words. I am a beginner in tango, my one year (minus, of course, the four months I spent running away) ending, the next beginning. In this way, I suppose, I've managed to bookend 2009 in tango, giving my life a symmetry I'm afraid it does not deserve.

Last January I tentatively picked my way through SoHo for Basic Argentine Tango class, Section 1, at the Sandra Cameron Dance Center, a pair of hideous nun-smacking dance shoes at my side. This was just another New Years Resolution I wouldn't keep. I'm sure I had no idea how my life would change. One year later, my eyes closed, my slightly more presentable shoes battered and worn, I had some of my loveliest dances yet.

And there is so much more to learn.