Saturday, February 26, 2011

a little "me" time

A few weeks ago, my best friend from college moved to New York. She didn't have a bed, so she couch surfed, sharing beds with friends, relegated to sleeping on futons. By the end of the week, she was exhausted. "Ya frustrated?" A friend of ours said to her. "Need a little me time?" He was jesting at her, but the answer was yes. Yes, yes. I need a little me time. Everyone needs a little me time.

  When I was a little girl, my mom would put me in my room for an hour every afternoon. After she put my brother and sister down for naps, she would lead me upstairs to my little room with flowered wallpaper. We would whisper as she would set me up with a few dolls, a favorite book, make sure blankie was there in case I got lonely. Then she would close the door softly and I had a whole hour to myself, to do whatever I pleased. I loved my quiet time. I like to think it fostered my active imagination. I would spend the hour looking out the window, playing little games with myself, reading my books, brushing my dolls' hair. I was too old for naptime, but quiet time was a ritual for quite a few years.

This was important for my mom, too, because she got a little time to chill out. I still love to go in my bedroom, shut the door, and have it be very quiet. No music, no television. Sometimes I read a book or a magazine. Sometimes I just try to quiet my mind for a bit. I don't like being alone all the time, but trust me, if you just spend a little while every day unattached to anyone, simply reading or being quiet for a bit, you'll be happy.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

my phone is smarter than your phone are soooo cooool.
Just kidding. It really isn't. My phone can basically make phone calls and send text messages. But, honestly, I could care less. Yes, all of my friends (I mean it...seriously) have smart phones. You know, Blackberries, Iphones, Androids, the like. Everyone on the subway has them. Everyone in the office has them.

Not I. My cellphone, which was cool probably three years ago, has a touchscreen that is a bit touch-and-go. As in, it will quit working. As in, no text messages, and phone calls only through voice activation, which I think is a pretty smart invention. Side note: some of my friends are stored as funnily embarrassing names in my phone, such as "God" and "Jesus". It's not so fun to make calls in public using the voice activation for names like that.

Ok, so I'll admit that sometimes I'm a little jealous. Smart phones are pretty. They have cool backgrounds and you always have access to your facebook. They have fun ringtones and take digital-camera-worthy photographs and you can upload your pictures right to your facebook, twitter, blogger...etc. You can look at a map and see where you are. You can play games. You can read your email, or the weather, or the New York Times, and you could probably download porn (but who's asking?). Awesome awesome awesomenessssssss.

But I think that might be part of the problem with smartphones: you can do EVERYTHING on them. Is that what our society is becoming? Our cellphones are extensions of ourselves enough already. Everyone can call each other at any minute of the day, and then be pissed off when the other person doesn't pick up, becauseyou KNOW they have a cellphone that is with them at all times. I get to the point that I'm nervous to leave my cellphone at home, because that's the time when something will be bound to happen, simply due to Murphy's Law. But do we really need all of the extras? Do we really need a porthole to the internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the rest of our lives? Not to sound like a neo-hippie, but can't we just be present in the present moment, with the present people?

Nothing drives me more crazy than going trying to spend time with people only to have them be texting/bbming/reading articles on their effing Blackberries the entire time. STOP IT. I'M RIGHT HERE IN FRONT OF YOU. For the love of all that is holy, LET'S TALK ABOUT SOMETHING! When I was waiting tables, I can't even tell you how many times I would see parents out with their kids for dinner, only to have both parents on blackberries. Is this what we have? Together, separate lives? That's what we've come to? Do we all have to constantly be having 10 conversations while simultaneously reading blogs (but if you are, it's mine, right?), tweeting your location, retweeting the latest Conan O'Brien post and uploading a picture of your cheeseburger to facebook? COME ON.

I'll admit it, I'm bad with my phone. I forget to text back. I won't look at the damn thing for 12 hour stretches. I'll accidentally leave it on silent for a whole day and then wonder why no one has called me. Oh well; I think I'll keep my phone. I already sit in front of a computer for 9 hours a day. Why the hell do I need a second one in my pocket? I'll find my own way around, thank you very much.

That said, you'd better text me back!

p.s. I hope that some of you are reading this post from a smartphone.

Friday, February 18, 2011

New York Minutes: the imagined reality

New York City is a place that captures the minds (though not always the hearts) of ordinary folks all over the country. People are infatuated with the romance of it all: the lights, the taxis, the alcohol, the powerful and the power-hungry. The reality of it is, however, is that the New York many people are so in love with is one they have never been to, and nor should they ever hope to visit. The New York the population at large loves is the one in the movies and played out on small screens. It is romanticized, made to look lovely, and popularized by stereotype.

I'll pick a little example that saddens me to bring up. My beloved Sex and the City is so horrible innaccurate it makes me want to cry. Sex and the City is the reason an entire generation of girls fell in love with New York. Oh, girls. We were so misguided. But living here has really made me watch my favorite show with a more critical eye. For instance, how the hell is Carrie Bradshaw not destitute? Money is simply no object for these women. Let me tell you, people, you CANNOT make a living off of writing one little column in a newspaper and gallivanting all around Manhattan. You would starve to death and then your parents would be forced to pay off your 10 maxed out credit cards and all of your delinquent cable bills and your bounced rent checks. Or you would have to be a high end call girl. Carrie takes cabs everywhere. She's seen in the swankiest bars with the wealthiest of Manhattan socialites. Let me tell you this: if you are in your mid twenties, supporting yourself, that is, paying your rent, working full time, paying ALL of your bills, and still grocery shopping, you ARE NOT taking cabs everywhere in this city. You just aren't. There is only one scene EVER in the entire series that shows Carrie (or anyone, for that matter) deigning to enter a subway station. And as for brushing shoulders with the "elite", maybe that comes from her longevity in the City, but the only time I ever brush shoulders with anyone that makes over 75k is on the subway. And guys, they're all wearing wedding bands (or they're gay...I can tell by the footwear...honest).

Anyway, my thoughts are a little all over the place on this one. But my whole point is that storylines and nice lighting and soundtracks make New York seem so much nicer than it really is. You never think about how big it really is until someone talking about how their friend so and so lives in Brooklyn or Queens and how you know you would never see them because all five boroughs are such different worlds. Hell, even different neighborhoods might as well be hours apart. Maybe the most annoying thing about Hollywood, etc.'s depcitions of New York is that all the characters have great jobs, they wear the nicest clothes, and always went to an Ivy League school.

Let me tell you about the real New York: it's a struggle. Nobody has a job they like. You're always a paycheck away from poverty. There are holes in the soles of your boots because you would rather eat this week than buy another pair. But you're getting by and it feels nice to pay for the roof over your head, to leave work and pop on your favorite tunes and look up at the lights of Times Square and say: Wow, I really, honest to goodness live here. The real New York isn't about living in a movie. It's about real living. The real New York has an intensity and energy that can never be depicted through the careful, trained eye of a camera. New York is gritty, New York is grey, New York is a windstorm. It glows red red red and it's radioactive. You hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait, your heart pounds, your palms sweat. But to be in the percieved center, caught in the honking and the noise, to be with friends you love in the middle of, well, everything, is better than almost anything I've ever done.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

hey, it's ok, valentine's day edition

Because somewhere deep inside that pink-and-red outfit of yours, you hate Valentine's Day too.

Hey, it's ok... tell the girl in the cubicle next to yours that the two dozen long stemmed roses her Wall street boyfriend sent her will be dead by next week. wear black head to toe. And when someone asks you why, you tell them "it's black like my soul." feel a little slighted that your old boyfriend all but ignored you when you saw him at a party in your hometown last weekend. But, whatever. Doesn't he realize how much better your life is than his? Wait...

...that your valentine's day plans consist of drinking a whole bottle of wine by yourself while eating the chocolates your mom sent, watching "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and wondering why you didn't erase all of your past boyfriends. want to roll your eyes when all of your attached friends tell you how much harder it is to be in a relationship than it is to be single. be thankful that your friends care enough to console you, any way they know how.

...that you get tears in your eyes over the card your dad sent you in the mail.

...that your dad is your only valentine.

...that, when it comes down to it, maybe you would rather be single anyway.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

why I don't date

I read a bunch of blogs that girls write about their various relationships--dating, one night stands, flash-in-the-pan boyfriends, longtime boyfriends, and right on up to the mommy blogs with husbands galore. I, on the other hand, am that single girl. You know, perpetually so, never even has "a guy I'm kind of seeing and like to go home with on weekends." I mean, whatever, I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I like having my bed to myself. What? I'm a mattress hog. Seriously.

I did get to thinking the other day, though, about how I became this way. I did have a serious boyfriend back in the day (in high school), but the thought of it now seems so silly and immaterial I could laugh. But back then, I was the other girl. The one with the boyfriend. Funny thing is, as much as I would like to be in a relationship, or be in love, I can't even imagine what that might be like anymore. Really. What's it like to be in love? My high school boyfriend and I would talk on the phone for hours, especially when I went away to college (he stayed home). It baffles me now. What did we TALK about? How was it possible I found anyone that interesting, or anyone found me that interesting? Anyway, it didn't really matter. We broke up and then three weeks later he was in love again...with someone else. AIN'T LOVE GRAND. It's different now, I'm bored by everyone so much faster, it takes way more to have those obsessive feelings that were so commonplace as a teenager. In fact, there are very few men I meet that I could actually see myself with.

Despite this, I've come to find that there are a few distinct groups of men that I'm attracted to (i.e. find interesting enough):

1. Out-of-my-league guy: you know the one. Sexy. Tall. Downright dreamy. On top of that, he's super sweet, loves his momma, has a high paying job, and is SOMEHOW, for some unfathomable reason, SINGLE. That's right, baby, this guy is so good that he's really sticking out for the one. Oh, Mr. Out-of-my-league, you've been waiting for me all along haven't you? And that's where you get snagged. He's out of your league for a reason. He's waiting for the girl that's just like him: sweet, pearl-wearing, marathon running, doesn't fart or burp, calls her father daddy, and probably works at a bank or some other cash cow job. She's got sweet little features, will fit so nicely next to him. Too late, you've already put him on a pedestal, picture yourself moving around the country for him, having a mess of kids and growing old. It takes awhile to realize he'll never be interested in you.

2. Out-of-town guy: you know the one. Really cool and funky, maybe has an ear pierced or dreadlocks (which might be bad on someone else, but so good on him). He's world conscious, wants to see everything, has got a little wanderlust. He's got a great body and a lovely pair of eyes to match. You don't really notice his appeal at first, but it grows on you, and then one day it hits you in the face: he is gorgeous and you would do anything to be with him. Maybe he's a college friend, or a guy you've made friends with over your summer job. No matter, that wanderlust will totally get in the way. Next thing you know, he's moved to Texas. Or California. Or Australia. Or Patagonia. It doesn't matter where, but it never includes you. You would be together but, oh the distance. Poo.

3. You're-really-cool-but-I-have-a-girlfriend guy: you know the one. You get along great. You joke and laugh. He thinks you're a "cool girl". You could talk to him over cereal in the cafeteria for hours, staring into his dark brown eyes. Your heart beats faster when he comes into the room. And then his girlfriend walks in behind him. You wonder: is he flirting with me, or just being nice? If he didn't have this girlfriend, would he be interested in me? Is he interested in me already, but can't do anything, because of his girlfriend? The answer, you eventually learn, is always no. If he didn't want to be with his girlfriend, and wanted to be with you, he would do it already. He is just being nice, and if you take it the wrong way, it gives him the perfect opportunity to take advantage. While not all guys will, some will, and it never ends nicely for anyone. Especially if you're the slut he cheats with.

Maybe someday I'll find someone worth the trouble, someone who will stay interested in me (because, let's face it, I have to be found interesting, too). There's a lid for every pot. I hope.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


This post is named after a photo album my photographing friend Carrie keeps adding to on facebook. Not only do I love her photos, but I also just love that word. L'hiver. Mmmm. It makes me want to shiver with delight. Of course, it means "the winter" in French, but its so much prettier. I think about skating on a frozen pond at dusk, pink cheeks, mitted hands, knitted scarf. It makes me think of "The Mitten"--that illustrated story by Jan Brett that I loved as a kid. You know the one, all the animals pile into that grandma-made mitten to get warm.

Anyway, I was thinking today about how the winter is such an easy time to feel blue. It's gloomy, dark early, cold. The holidays are over, and there's still a long way until spring. You're pasty and maybe even somewhat doughy around the middle. The clothing starts to get boring, especially when all the stores have put out their spring lines--clothes we won't be able to wear for months. All you want is the warmth of the sun on a tropical island and a sunburn (even if it hurts) and your blond hair to come back and a cute boy to look at.

But something's always fascinated me about the deep seasons like this, the mid points of Winter and Summer. In the coldest depths of the Winter, it's unimaginable that you'll ever feel warm again; be outside without the armor of a heavy coat, boots, gloves, let alone wear a bathing suit and flip flops. And during the most oppressive heat wave of the summer, it's equally unthinkable that you would ever put on a coat. Even long sleeves are offensive. I could be a pessimist and talk about the fact that the human race is never satisfied: we're always searching for relieve, and once we get it, we want to swing the other way.

Mostly what I do in February is hunker down. It's a period of reflection where I often discover new-to-me music I fall in love with. It's a good time to be alone with your thoughts. It's a good time to write poetry and other stupid shit I like that (which I like to do). If you can, get out of the city. Go to the mountains and listen to the silence, or even the ocean, which is steely gray and hauntingly halcyonic this time of year. For some reason, the cold frees the mind, sharpens everything. Brings things into focus.

Some great wintertime albums to get into:

Ray LaMontagne: Gossip in the Grain (highlight: Winter Birds)

Cat Power: Moon Pix (highlight: Colors and the Kids)

Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago (highlight: Skinny Love)

Beth Orton: The Other Side of Daybreak (highlight: Daybreaker)

Bonnie "Prince" Billy: Master and Everyone (highlight: The Way)