Monday, March 29, 2010

big rainy questions and broadway shows

I have a relationship with my mailbox. I fear it as one fears a large body of water at night, which is to say I respect its awesome power, showing deference at all times by leaving it be, lest I upset the tender balance within. I can walk past for days, too daunted to open it and ,when I finally do, the mail spills out in clumps damp with hallway must.

In the belly of that beast is the constant reminder of my resistance to adulthood. Bills and notices out of sight are out of mind. If it weren't for Netflix, and my schoolgirl addiction to the West Wing, I might never turn that little brass key.

Last night I saw Next To Normal and was reminded, among other things, about forgetting. And sanity. Or, the tenuous grip thereon: to quote the first review in the Times, "The notion that personality is fragile, always on the edge of decomposition..."* First it's the mailbox and the bills, then it's all those lost years, and pretty soon—names and faces. Delusions and dementia. The province of anyone with anything worth forgetting.

Which secrets are we meant to let scab over and which must be dredged and mined before we fall apart? How many catastrophes can we suffer before we find ourselves making sandwiches on the floor?

Then come the sacrifices. The ones we make for the damned and the lost in our lives, with or without hope for their rehabilitation. Who is to blame for these wasted hours and broken hearts but ourselves? We make them anyway, who knows why, out of love? (Valor? Compassion?) It is the basic hand to flame response of the human heart. This hurts. I'll help. Ow. Until every last one of us have burnt and bandaged fingers.

In that moment of decision, do we forfeit the right to complain when our better tendencies take us for a ride we weren't ready for? Or may we layer on resentment until it patches over our wounds like kudzu?

Jeez, world. A little heavy for a Tuesday perhaps?

*Ben Brantley, April 16, 2009, New York Times Theater Review

three days of rain?

A Tom Waitsy kind of groggy drizzle. A cappuccino and a muffin kind of morning.

And everything's alright with me. This week, I'm worried about everyone else.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

the best of you I like more than you think

I have been reading so much. In that way, solitude becomes me: my long commute provides the time and, these days, the inspiration seems endless. I suffer an addict's pull to the written word. Put a page in front of me and I will lose myself in it.

Evenings with the G.I.Q. are spent listening to TMBD fm, as he makes tea and pours wine and puts books and pictures before me in a parade of wonders of the world that ought to be shared. There are dark parts to both of us, dark parts we are not ready to share, but we have this conversation anyway in clippings of cartoons, in catalogues of art, and in the books passed between us, passages read aloud, movies seen (and slept through) in the muted darkness of the Film Forum. Dancing, I continue to fumble, but here I can hold my own.

This affair has been so much of the winter. Pressed up against the icy window of the Hill Country BBQ on 26th Street in December, running for three am trains in a flurry, spiriting champagne onto the PATH train on New Years Eve. And then last night, just when we thought we had cleared the gnarly grove of winter for good, the wind was back on our flanks and the tile floor cold again underfoot. The smell of wool has become a part of us.

The Spring could be good for us, melt the stories we still don't tell each other, coax the buds from my branches, warm the parts I keep on ice. Then again, it could not. But today there was an ease that buoys me. Home tonight, alone in my sweatshirt, candlelight and wine, I smell like him. Which is to say like Lever 2000 soap and garlic and musty paperbacks. And that is nice.

He excites my best sensibilities. And I notice I am listening harder, paying better attention.

Friday, March 26, 2010

waxing optimistic

Oh, exultant night of surprises. Oh, morning of uncharacteristic cold . . .

Oh city of my doing and undoing, where are you taking me?

Pleasantly exhausted today after closing La Na (again) last night. At three am, I came home to my still cold apartment and swapped the new rose for last Thursday's rapidly wilting one, carrying it to the kitchen trash, its leaves and petals in an anti-centrifugal freefall. It is a civilized touch, a rose for every lady at the milonga as she exits into the misty midnight. Something to remember by.

The dancing: a few new fellas, a few embarrassing moments with good leaders (as per the New Shoe Adjustment Phase) and a few surprises. My dear G.I.Q. gave me his most useful criticism to date and we spent a good two tandas laughing at my molinete ineptitude and enjoying the delirium of a week too long in closing. I have lightened up this week (lifting my hoop skirt of little black rainclouds) and perhaps it shows in our new found ease with each other. Lord knows how long it lasts, but disfruta el momento. Carpe the damn diem.

All things being in flux, who can worry at such a fever pitch? For the foreseeable future, I will most likely remain in the red, continue bumbling along with my hopeless taste in men—afraid to death of them like so many tropical bugs—and suffer from every young woman's chronic dysmorphia. But weeks will continue to tick by, whether or not they are enjoyed, whether you be ready or not, skinny or fat, rich or poor, whether or not the leaps are taken, the kisses stolen. In the words of the immortal Dottie . . . "you might as well live."

I'll be the one practicing turns around my desk chair, the one slowing down, squatting in the tepid moment till my fingers prune, smooching under scaffolding and eating my broccoli, because—goddamnit—it's good for me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Then, you know, for all my talk of unconventional choices . . . I ended the evening alone on my couch eating Subway and watching American Idol.

straight up with a twist

Sometimes a martini takes three hours to go down, especially when you're going head to head, downing gin with fearless and underrated legend T.S. and having such a conversation as impedes normal motor function.

I had almost forgotten how passionate I am about theatre theory, and lit and life and making unpopular choices. Funny how easy it is to get lost on the seventh story of a gray-walled office building in New York, stuck in the stagnance of living paycheck to hopelessly acquired paycheck, forgetting what it is to make bold strokes.

Yeah man, I learned to tango—albeit poorly. I walked away from the machine that turns out the factory-issue networking actor wannabes (because I am incapable of promoting myself) and if that means I don't make a career out of bad productions just because it's a quote unquote career, so be it. There's no rule that says I can't produce my own work and sound my barbaric yawp in my own key and cadence. (Sorry, Walt, for the paraphrase.) And in the meantime, I will figure out a way to pay the bills that won't suck my soul out of my nose.

Sometimes it just takes a little "hell yeah" from a lady who once sat on stage in nothing but a bonnet as a naked Mrs. Blake over tea and newspapers.

Monday, March 22, 2010

weekend in review

yes. I didn't slip. Or fall on my butt.

but. With the debut of the shoes, there were wounds. I took a neat little chunk out of my left big toenail at the Saturday morning práctica, and spent most of the evening bleeding from the other in the wake of a poorly led run-in with another woman's stiletto. You learn fast, in open toes, to keep your feet on the damn floor.

yes. I saw the G.I.Q.

but. Said 'yes' to one too many bad leaders who kept finding a way (any way) to careen out of the line of dance and steer me straight into the very man I was hoping studiously to avoid. Mortifying.

We danced.

but. Fatigued, tender-hoofed and battle-weary, I was not in top form. Nor was I emotionally neutral. These trials (bad leaders, bleeding feet and collisions with the love interest in the arms of an embarrassing partner) really dampen the mood. And I, in typical fashion, wore that right on my face.

yes. We talked.

but. Given the state of my countenance and my overall wariness, it was hard to channel the sort of coyness necessary to slog through the general mire of the sex situation (as Ms. Parker would have put it).

I was surly and removed and probably spoiling for the other shoe to drop. I made one valiant attempt to lambast myself when I thought I'd lost a twenty somewhere in my bra, but by the end of the night, my deer-in-headlights schoolgirl passive aggression had got the better of me and I could barely look at him. It was ugly awkward.

So, yes, we talked. But we didn't come to much. Things were said. Things remain unsaid. I was sure it was over, then I woke up in New Jersey.

So how was my weekend? How am I today? The correct answer is: I don't know.

For all my navel-gazing, beloved readers, have I even once gotten it right? Perhaps we ought to face the disconcerting truth that, when it comes to matters of the heart, I am lost in the dark.

In my innocence, I commit to the pursuit of truth. Which is to say: I will figure out what I want based on who I am and I will take the steps to acquire it. Maybe that means humiliating myself in the face of lovers and bosses and fairweather friends, but goddamnit, I'm tired of this. If I don't start asking for what I want, I can no longer whine when it doesn't happen.

Right? right.

"how are you?"

You hear that forty seven times a day. There's been a lot of noise in my generation about this question— Do we ask too often? Do we listen to the answer? Or is it merely an easy merge tool onto the smalltalk superhighway?

My new answer is this: "I don't know."

Which is about how I feel about my weekend.

Friday, March 19, 2010

ch ch ch changes

It's 69 degrees in New York City and the cleavage is out in force.

I am experiencing the disheartening seasonal vertigo that affects me every year about this time with the shift in weather. This never ceases to perplex. Surely there must be something wrong with me—other than my incurable aversion to change. Of any kind.

It'll all sort itself out in a day or two: I'll toast the season with an inaugural iced mocha and, by the time we've reached temperatures favorable to the streetside margarita, I will barely remember how a cold wind feels seeping through my layers. April will happen and, with it, baseball. Things will begin to brighten. Life will get a little easier and a little lighter . . . at least until the dog days roll around and we'll all be praying for a snow in August.

That reminds me of Santa Maria della Neve and she reminds me of Italy and that reminds me of my wanderlusty travelers' ADHD. Maybe this summer I'll stay in one place long enough to dance outdoors and go to the Philharmonic in the park? Or maybe I'll carry my passport and a change of underpants around in my purse until somebody hands me a plane ticket (to somewhere, anywhere).

My grand plans for the weekend include as many as 11 hours of dancing (if I can keep up the morale and not succumb to the charms of my big blue couch and DVR). If I could find a small enough bottle of champagne to christen the above pictured footwear, I would do so, as these shoes mark a significant jump in weight class (closed to open toe, suede to leather sole) and I'm going to need all the luck I can muster not to slip on the milonga floor and fall on my butt.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

amazing powers of deduction

The weather steadily improves, but there is nothing to be done. The city will either turn on our gas or they won't, the G.I.Q. will either disappear or he won't and I will either sleep or I won't.

Everything brightened for a moment last night with oysters and Sancerre in Grand Central, but the third evening of restive non-sleep has made me a bitter, reactive individual this morning, in spite of the Tuesday morning cafe au lait treat.

I'm pretty sure Peter peed in the bathroom sink last night. If he did not, I apologize for besmirching his good name, but the sink smells like a urinal and I sure as shit didn't do it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

temps nuageux, day four

Did not, in fact, dance last night. For better or for worse.

Em came over and between us we put away a take-out Italian dinner, a bottle of Malbec, Love Actually and a whole box of Oreos.

For all the blues that tango can cure, there are some of the terribly persistent variety that may require a stiffer remedy—in the form of dunking cookies into mugs of milk and pretending not to tear up at Colin Firth's proposal skills in português.

This weekend was a hard one. I was sad going into it and sad coming out of it—with intermittent bursts of irrational anger, loneliness and overall tedium. The mean reds plus panic and late onset insomnia. Aren't I a bowl of cherries?

My favorite moment: coming home to shave my legs on Saturday night (on the pathetic off-chance I might run into the G.I.Q. at the All-Night) only to find myself shivering in the shower with a clogged drain and no hot water.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

the dregs before the ides

If tango has given me anything, it has given me the ability to take a suck-ass Saturday night and end it with dancing—just by showing up at a milonga. Tango is the perfect place to retreat, where in spite of the obligatory small talk one is allowed to shut ones eyes and say nothing for minutes at a time and let the hours go by.

And so concludes a horribly blue weekend: one spent ducking the gale force winds and getting rained on, suffering from a lack of communication with a man I fear isn't good for me and spending a lot of sad time by myself. I suppose everyone needs one of these humbling failures every once in a while, but it makes the return to the workweek almost unbearable.

"What did you do this weekend?"

"Wallow in self-pity."

See? Right there. No way to start a Monday.

Meanwhile, I am angry. Angry at my landlord for being incompetent, angry at Peter Pan for drinking, angry at myself for allowing a lack of attention from the gentlemen quarter plague me, and angry at the weather for adding insult to injury, for heaping miseries onto an otherwise miserable weekend and for making it very difficult to sleep.

It is gray outside—almost oppressively so. The wind has stilled and the rain is on hiatus, but I expect it all to come crashing back the minute I try to go outside. But go outside I will, because there is more dancing to be done. And even though (this weekend anyway) tango has become a solitary activity, I am counting on it to keep me going.

Friday, March 12, 2010

on the relative perils of infatuation

In a fit of independence (or was it self-indulgence?), I have taken my rainy Friday blues home to my empty, cold apartment (bumbling slumlord has cut the gas again) and taken refuge on my big blue couch. I've ordered dinner, I'm drinking Chianti right out of the bottle and I'm about to pop in the masterpiece that is the BBC Pride & Prejudice. May it soothe me in my self-induced (or was it the weather?) depression.

The G.I.Q. still looms on the periphery, though his attentions have been sporadic at best this week. I crave him irrationally and often, and while I can't quite shake the doomsday feeling that he will one day—perhaps sooner than I would like—wreck me, I cannot bring myself to stop.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

hear me whimper

Will someone please explain to me the particular weakness of the female sex that immediately interprets two days without communication as the death knell of an affair?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

jane austen on love

"She was humbled, she was grieved; she repented, though she hardly knew of what."

Elizabeth Bennet, Pride & Prejudice, 1813.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

the moon bores of me and starts to wane

Back and underwhelmed with the present state of my reality. As soon as I suck up enough air and start sleeping enough to properly function, I'm sure I'll have plenty to say.

In the meantime, I've got those What The Fuck Am I Doing With My Life/Doesn't Anybody Love Me/Wanna Be Back On That Sailboat Blues.

Brief update for those who may have been paying attention:

  • The G.I.Q. did not forget about me and, while things with him are perhaps as tentative as ever, I remain thrilled daily by the thought of him.
  • My job was not hijacked as such, but I was informed that I am (personally!) to raise $150,000 by December. Or else.
  • Had dinner with The Pilot last night during his 14 hour layover from JFK to LGA. How very strange the dice of the world if you only let them roll . . .
  • I'm singing on stage again in April, hi-ho, hi-ho.
  • And—finally—tonight is Em's belated birthday dinner, the thought of which is all that's keeping me slogging forward through the sleep-dep delirium of today.