Wednesday, September 28, 2011

farewells are hard

As I am typing ,my friend from work who has sat next to me for a year and a half is writing her farewell email to the staff. It's amazing how friendships can form out of circumstance but even more amazing how important they become. I think I have spent more time with this friend than anyone else the last year and a half and I have been so sad today knowing that on Monday when I come in, that office will be empty. I suspect it won't really hit me until then but today has been like a punch in the gut. My job is not necessarily fulfilling but what makes it great is the environment and the people I work with. I have shared deep talks, long laughs, a few tears and several cocktails with this friend and come last Friday I realized how important she had become. While I am so thrilled for her new adventure -she is getting married to a handsome Brit and moving to London! - I can't help but be a little bit selfishly sad about her departure. But I am grateful to have had her in my life for this period of time. Of all my friends, I would say she is the only person I know who truly has an active, unapologetic faith, one full of love and light and it has been quite inspiring. So, Sandy, Thank You, Good Luck and Bon Voyage! You will be missed so very much.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In Need of a 90s NO FEAR shirt

[Now called www.xryderz.com/]

Photo from last.fm/music/Pearl+Jam
Remember those? They were the hot jam. I really wish I had one of those to wear around right now. I'm telling you, that Pearl Jam doc really did move me. There is one scene where Eddie Vedder leaps from scaffolding fifty feet in the air. Cameron Crowe shows the leaps in a repetitive montage each one outdoing the last. While there is something to be said for the adrenaline rush and buzz of a crowd of people singing their hearts out to the songs you wrote, watching the images of Vedder's body take that leap and then fall into the hands of people below was beautiful. Stupid, yes. But besides the lack of fear, there is an exhibition of complete trust. Whether it is trust in the universe or trust in love, I'm not sure. But there was something in it that I wanted to grasp. I have been feeling very melancholy since that documentary because it got me to think of my own fears and the fears that keep me feeling trapped. When the truth is, we are only as trapped as we allow ourselves to be. The tricky part is becoming aware of what those fears are. In a group of people yesterday, this woman began to speak and an older woman interrupted her, complained she couldn't hear her, could she come into the circle a little more? The other woman, without hesitation answered, "What I can do is speak louder." She said it confidently, directly, unafraid to make a decision for herself even if it might make the other woman uncomfortable or even the group uncomfortable. I realized if it were me, I would have quickly appeased the woman by moving in closer despite how rude it was for her to interrupt me. Then later I would have been angry and wouldn't know why. It is not enough to know what you don't want. No one really wants to be interrupted. You have to know what you do want and what I want is to be able to state exactly what I need, exactly what I can and cannot give, and without hesitation, even when I am put on the spot. I have been noticing acts of courage lately while conveniently forgetting to acknowledge my own acts of courage my entire life. But sometimes you need to feel like shit to get perspective. After feeling kind of wimpy lately because I am in a working situation I am not pleased with, I was grateful to witness two consecutive acts of courage so closely together. After witnessing Vedder take 50 foot leaps and this young woman tell an older woman that she cannot compromise what she needs for her needs, I continue to feel inspired and happy to know that the quest to live life without fear is very much in my conscious which is perhaps why I am even noticing them at all.  But a NO FEAR shirt wouldn't hurt.
Photo from starpulse.com

Monday, September 26, 2011

Confessions of a Pearl Jam Addict



When I was a teenager, I had a couple dreams where Eddie Vedder told me what to do with my life. Literally, he came to me in a dream and told me something I needed to hear. The same thing happened with a dream featuring Nick Flynn last summer. After seeing Cameron Crowe's documentary PEARL JAM TWENTY last night I have been thinking non-stop about these artists that I hold so high up in  my heart. I was never the screaming crying crazed fan, more of the listen to their albums on repeat for hours after school through grammar school, high school, college and all of my twenties. I could not afford tickets to concerts, but moreso I think I was pretty sure I wouldn't be allowed to go. But for my 16th birthday, a good friend got me tickets to my first Pearl Jam concert. After taking a break from touring, the band came to Los Angeles in 1998. Click here for that amazing set list. At one point, Eddie, pointed directly at me and I literally felt like I was floating. I didn't see them again for a long time, like ten years long time...until Mike surprised me with tickets to the show in Camden New Jersey in 2008! (Set list here) I danced and sang my heart out for hours, perhaps the most truest form of therapy ever. Seeing their history over the last twenty years was incredibly moving. I left feeling so inspired but also a bit disappointed in myself that I am not more fearless. It made me want to quit everything and travel the world. It made me want to get out of the rat race, you know, stick it to the man, and in the words of Vedder, "ride the wave where it takes me." But when I got home, Mike reminded me of all the places I have traveled to this year alone (Vermont, Colorado, New Orleans, Vegas, LA, Lake George, Ithaca, Puerto Rico, Provincetown, the Jersey Shore and I'm not done yet...) and how in my own way I am riding that wave. I may not be going to Singapore any time soon and I don't see me in front of 60,000 people in my near future either. But, it was nice to get that kick in the ass, that reminder of what it really takes to have guts. Not to mention I got to listen to hours of my favorite music on the planet in a small theatre in New York. It may not be a concert, but in its own small way, it felt like one.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Insomnia

Belly ache has me up and sweating. Perhaps, sausage and peppers was not a good choice for dinner at 8:30 pm after having red wine to toast a very good work friend moving to London. Perhaps my rule to not mix wine with anything should apply to mixing it with meals you can order at a carnival. Normally I would toss and turn until falling back asleep but I have too much on my mind. Most notably, where I am as an adult. I am not sad to say "I'm 30." If anything it feels like I have finally arrived. My friend, Monica, just turned 40 and said that to me. That she finally feels she has arrived. I like that idea. I do suddenly feel this little twinge of power. Like I don't need to take certain shit,  because "I'm 30, damn it." These years were earned. Even though I can get my feelings hurt like I am twelve all over again, I can honestly say I know what is best for me right now and believe it. And for the first time I am actually asking myself what I want. What would I like to do with my time in Los Angeles rather than how am I going to see everybody which inevitably leads to me just saying yes to everything and everyone. And if I need a morning where Mike and I get up early and spend it at the beach by ourselves, I don't need to feel guilty about that because I'm 30, and that is what I would like to do. Maybe there are certain markers, natural stepping stones that come with age that entitle us to be the adult we have been trying so hard to define. If I don't want to do something, I finally feel like I really don't have to. What I do want is coming into sharper focus. Still not completely clear, but there is finally some light. If only I could get rid of this disgusting habit to eat like a teenage boy, I may really pull it all together. Note to self: at 30, maybe it is time to pass on meals cooked in a cast iron pan coated in bacon grease. Another note to self, it may be time to really stop eating wheat and dairy. They never make you feel good. 4:25 a.m. now. Think I may try to get a little more sleep now that I have made my "I'm 30, damn it" sweeping declarations.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Lessons We Have To Keep Learning

1. If you think you need to go to the bathroom before a long car ride or a 45 minute subway ride, take the time and do yourself a favor before embarking on the cross-legged voyage.
2. Sometimes a walk around the block really can make you forget about work for ten minutes, especially if you get a juice drink carved out of a coconut shell.
3. If you scratch at a pimple, it doesn't go away.
4. Always carry gum.
5. What good is wearing your nice fancy rainboots if you forget your umbrella?
6. Write appointments and plans down. That way you will keep from triple booking yourself, inevitably disappointing not just someone else but yourself.
7. When breaking in new shoes, keep two bandaids in your purse.
8. Stop going to Gourmet Garage and then walking out empty handed. You will never be able to talk yourself into spending that kind of money on produce.
9. If you get a cupcake and then an apple, you have been given a choice. Eat the apple and give the cupcake away. Don't eat both.
10. Welcome. You have just entered flu season. Don't be shy with the Purell.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

First Day of My Decade


My friend keeps telling me this will be my decade and I have this funny feeling it will be. Mike and I kept it low key last night. Went to my favorite restaurant which also happens to be across the street.
 We each had the grilled lamb with creamy polenta, caramelized turnips and sauteed greens, an amazing cheese platter and a pear tart with cinnamon ice cream for dessert. Then we popped over to the Thistle Hill Tavern, Mike's old restaurant for a drink where it was on the house. (Love those guys!) Then Mike took me to our garage where he had been hiding my gift. On Saturday he gave me my "main gift" which is the awesome digital camera I have been using to take all these pics! But this gift made my heart swoon! Vintage Corona Typewriter in working condition with a fresh ribbon. Love it. Thanks, handsome!
As for my gift to Mike, I went with a sensory gift - taste & sound. Cookies from Milk & Cookies, fresh mozzarella with wild boar salami from Murray's Cheese, a nice whiskey for those special occasions, and tickets to see his favorite comedian, Louis C. K. But the card is what it's really all about, right?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Things I Learned In My Twenties

"We might be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us..." (quoted in the movie Magnolia)

I'd like to start this post by saying I was inspired by Carmen's reflection on her twenties. It is something I have wanted to do and what better place or time than the day before I turn 30 years old. So, twenties, here we go...

1. I have a serious need to people-please, to fix other people's problems, to be over-responsible for things and for people when it is none of my business . I am trying to unlearn these habits so I can focus more on myself and kick this nasty indecision thing I got going on.
2. While I survived my childhood remarkably unscathed, the same things that got me through it as a kid have held me back as an adult. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I still do not have a career and am an assistant at 30 years old.
3. Don't beat yourself up. Who gives a fuck if you are a 30 year-old assistant? "The race is long and in the end you're only in it with yourself."
4. Be careful to look at what part of your own narrative is really yours and how much of it has been given to you.
5. Question what you know and why you know it. Should you know it? What if you are wrong?
6. Where at twenty you were proud to say you knew a lot about life but were also aware you still really knew nothing, at 30 you can start to honestly own that, while you are still young, you still know a lot about life for someone your age.
7. There are many different journeys in friendship. If you never let yourself journey through the "repair" phase, you will never really grow, you will never get to experience the second coming of a friend that helped shape who you are and who you will become.
8. While it is important to know what you don't want, it is more important to know what you do want.
9. I love to dance.
10. I love to wear dresses.
11. Wear sunscreen. Tans are awesome, but being too tan is kind of gross and skin cancer is no fun at all.
12. Running is good for my mind.
13. No matter how in love you may feel, it is essential to keep a sense of yourself. Likewise, it is important to maintain your individuality no matter how entwined your lives becomes.
14. It is never too late to shake things up.
15. I have the ability to surprise myself.
16. I have an inner strength I can rely on for anything...but it is okay if I ask for help along the way.
17. Music is very, very necessary.
18. Sometimes you just need to cry.
19. There are no guarantees in life. That's what makes it so damn interesting.
20. There are some people you will not get the chance to say goodbye to.  There will be people you will not get to say you are sorry to. You will not get to ask them the questions you always planned you one day would, when you were ready to. Say what you have to say now. Don't hold onto grudges. Let go of  the memories and stories that keep you from facing the really scary stuff. Or one day you might regret it.
21. Don't beat yourself up.
22. I am not perfect.
23. My love for Eddie Vedder will never die.
24. Sometimes you have to let people fuck up and when they do, shut your mouth. It is not your job to point out people's mistakes, their flaws, or how you knew better. Maybe you don't.
25. Everyone really is doing the best that they can. Cut people a break every once in a while, especially those you love the most.
26.  I have a surprisingly large amount of fear for someone who acts so fucking tough.
27. The moments when I overcome that fear are some of the best moments in my life.
28. Soccer is not just a sport to me. It is how I express myself and at one point was the only way I could. As an adult, be mindful of what you are bringing on to the field and do your best to not lose control.
29. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to sit still.
30. Sometime you need to sit still.
31. The ocean is incredibly healing.
32. Don't mix your liquors.
33. Don't mix wine with anything.
34. Tattoos... I could probably write a whole piece on tattoos. What you love at 19, you will not love in your twenties. Which means what I loved in my twenties I will probably not love in my thirties. Fuck.
35. This country is so fucked up and so fucking beautiful. It is possible to be ashamed of my government and yet proud to be American. It is possible to be disappointed in Americans and yet grateful to be one. 
36. Everyone is apathetic at some point.
37. Movies are very, very important.
38. I am a fine athlete and perhaps at my truest self when in the middle of a soccer game, when at bat at the plate, when pointing my snowboard down the mountain, when picking up my pace up the hill on the East side of Prospect Park, when pushing it that extra turn in spin class, when shooting hoops at the arcade game on the Boardwalk. I am a good player.
39. There is nothing better than a fine meal out.
40. It is important to say you are sorry when you are wrong, sometimes even if you are right.
41. I really love affection.
42. If you stain the first white shirt, don't change into another white shirt. It is not your day to wear white.
43. The more I take care of my mind and heart, the easier it is to stay in shape.
44. Summer is my favorite season.
45. Double check your math. You do not suck at it. You just have trouble with numbers.
46. The world is more interesting when you know a second language. I am so grateful I took Spanish for two years, and hope to get back to it in my thirties.
47. The traveler that I have inside me is fearless, street smart, and super fun.
48. In a past life, I definitely lived in Ireland.
49. In a past life, I may have been married to or twins with Carmen.
50. I was right when I saw Mike for the first time.
51. When you are done taking a shower, pull the curtain closed so it doesn't mildew all stuck together (Thanks, Carmen)
52. If you are going to drive over Vail Pass or in any snowy conditions for that matter, check to make sure you have the right anti-freeze wiper fluid.
53. When snowboarding, wear a helmet.
54. If you don't know how to take your snow chains off, don't try yourself get them stuck and then don't call 911. Think first. Then you may have noticed the wire cutters behind your seat three hours before you froze on the side of a mountain in a snow storm.
55. Don't yell at your brother ever again. He has had enough.
56. Don't be afraid to hurt other people's feelings. You don't have that much control. All you can do is worry about your own and ask for what you need from people. You cannot predict how they will understand that.
57. Cigarettes really are stupid.
58. I love to read.
59. Drinking really is stupid...but fun.
60. Sex can lead us so to so many discoveries.
61. While nothing beats a good orgasm, sometimes being held at the right moment does.
62. Say "Thank You" when someone says "Bless You" after you sneeze.
63. Don't give out your credit card number to those people on the streets collecting for charities, but donate when you can, and if you can volunteer when possible. If you can't that's okay, too.
64. I love flowers.
65. Even though I hate wearing heels because they hurt my feet, sometimes you have to suck it up and where them because they make you feel pretty and that can be just as important. (Thanks, Tara)
66. Don't feel stupid about spending a lot of money on your hair. You only live once. Put your best face forward.
67. I love bike riding in Provincetown.
68. If you write a bad poem, get over it. There are whales out there.
69. If a guy approaches you to make what seems like small talk, he may actually have other interests.
70. Believe it or not, you are beautiful.
71. I will be an awesome mom.
72. My own mother is an incredible woman.
73. My own mother is incredibly flawed, as was hers, as am I.
74. My father is the best man I know.
75. My father is incredibly flawed, but he did a damn good job.
76. It is okay to question if it really was a damn good job.
77. My family is incredibly flawed! But they are my own and they got my back even if they send birthday cards to old addresses and send me slim fast shakes as a care package in college. I can honestly say I have people in my life that would take a bullet for me.
78. The hardest thing about writing is keeping your butt in the chair.
79. Don't be afraid of the feelings that will come up when writing. They will pass.
80. It is important to seek justice, always.
81. It is important to me to seek the truth as best as possible. But to also keep in mind just how many truths there are.
82. The Valley is its own special microcosm. Do not judge it or berate it. It is home and it half the reason, for good or bad, that you have certain values.
83. I love hip hop.
84. Sometimes you just have to sing.
85. I turned 20 nine days after September 11th. A few months later I fell in love. A few weeks later I moved to Dublin for a semester. A few moths later I fucked that relationship up and started another one. A few weeks later I traveled around Europe with my brother, then my father joined us, and a few days later I turned a corner in Pompeii and ran back into that first love, the current love.  At 21, my country invaded Iraq and I graduated college. I moved to Vermont.  At 22, I hitchhiked around Ireland (again), traveled around Scotland, Spain, and England. I moved back to Los Angeles just before Christmas. On my 23rd birthday I spent the day in a tattoo parlor in the Valley. Just before I turned 24, I drove around the country with my best friend and met the post 9/11 youth of America. At 25, I left my boyfriend of five years in a bar in New York City, changed my flight and moved out of our apartment before he even landed. Just before I turned 26, I flew to Chicago for an affair with Mike and it was the hottest weekend of my life. At 26, I knew my life would never be the same when I made out with him on a beach in New Jersey. Months later I would quit my job in the entertainment industry, pack my Toyota and move to New Jersey. At 27, I was thrown a backwards surprise party in Harlem. At 28, I had an essay published online. Months later, I would come to hate it along with everything else I had ever written about my family. Days later I would attend a funeral with two coffins and two hummingbirds would steal the show. At 29, I would forget my birthday and make Mike's really special. And this birthday, I had an awesome party three days before which has contributed to a nasty chest infection I now have one day before turning 30. Life is full of twists and turns. Don't take yourself too seriously.
86. When you laugh so hard you start to cry, hold on to it as long as you can.
87. Buckle your seat belt.
88. Don't drink and drive, for real.
89. Never pass on dessert.
90. In a conversation it is important to pay attention to how much one person is talking about themselves. Don't use this an excuse to not say anything. It is human nature to talk about yourself. We are all one big story made up several little stories. Hear and share as many as you can.
91. Never pass up the chance to hold a baby.
92. Say "I love you," a lot.
93. Say "thank you" even more.
94. Gambling is stupid. Except for roulette.
95. I will always root for The Giants despite their inconsistent quarterback.
96. The World Cup is truly inspiring, as is the NYC marathon.
97. Pedicures are not stupid.
98. Not everyone needs to know if you are having a bad day.
99. I miss Tom more than I ever thought I would.
100. I am so fucking ready for my thirties.
If you read this far, thank you, I love you. Let's do this.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Be-agressive! Be-be- agressive!

Third day with a sore throat...
ain't nobody gonna hold me down, oh no, I got to keep on moving!

A prayer to the birthday gods:
Please, please, please make this sore throat disappear along with my chest acne and dry eyes. Please let the cold season fairy see the bill for $120 in Rx posted above my door and pass over my house. Next time, I promise. When you come again, I can be ready to catch your strep throat fairy dust and take a whiff of you respiratory infection wand. But, not this time. Not before my party and not before I turn 30. I'm asking for a break this year, birthday gods. I've been pretty good this year. So, please, do the right thing. Send the Zinc fairy and Vitamin C cupid to fuck with me instead.

Sincerely,
A rebellious immune system

Monday, September 12, 2011

late night soccer

Went to the ymca tonight at 8:30. After 30 mins on the elliptical and 10 minutes doing abs, push ups, Mike and I took out a soccer ball and had a blast. When I was a kid, my brother and I would go out to the parking garage of our apartment complex and kick around for hours. We have so much fun that at times we just break down into giggles, much like my brother and I used to. Is this weird that I'm comparing two memories, one with my brother and one with my boyfriend? The point is, I love this sport. It brings me the same release now as it did then. And I'm especially grateful that I have a partner who is good at it and not afraid to play hard with me. When I say shoot it, I mean it. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Love Letter to New York

This is why I love you, New York. You don't forget your past. You honor it. You take the time to stop even in a city that is not supposed to. I am at my computer, writing, windows open, when the sounds of bagpipes from the firehouse on my street playing Amazing Grace seep into my window at the times the plane struck the North Tower. I cannot believe it has been ten years and I cannot believe how much this city has suffered and survived. The day was a display of humanity at its worst and yet it inspired humanity at its best from the people of this city. That day sewed me forever to this crazy place. We had been through war together, witnessed the unimaginable, but came together in a way I had never experienced people coming together. Thank you, New York, for teaching me. For inspiring me. For loving me. For showing me how we heal.
With love,
A grateful baptized New Yorker
(Morgan at the818.com has asked all of her friends from that day to write about their experiences. We were all within a mile of the World Trade Center. She is posting my experience later today. But if you'd like to read it, read below.)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Two steps forward, two steps back

If you got in my way yesterday while I pounded the pavement in my rainboots during a muggy sunny day, I am sorry. I almost punched several people, I certainly shoulder brushed and doled out countless nasty looks and under-the-breath f-bombs to so many people yesterday. I started to feel like the old me, the me I have been trying to improve for a good year and a half now. And while I certainly see a difference in my attitude and my perspective and the load feels a lot lighter than it use to, sometimes I absolutely regress and it feels dirty when I do. I would say that everyday I start out generally happy. But, something so small can trigger this spiral of anger and hate and general unhappiness. I have been going through my days busting my ass and yet totally unsatisfied. By the end I am exhausted, completely drained and any kind of commute feels like a march through the desert. Maybe it is the time of the year. The blues creep in every year leading up to my birthday. My birthday was always this anxiety -producing event that started when I was eleven. My parents had just separated a few weeks before. I was invited to play soccer as part of a halftime show at a UCLA womens game and it was a big deal because they announced our names and we took the field to what seemed like a packed stadium. I looked for her in the stands and at the end of the game, I still scanned them, looking for her. She was supposed to come. My dad, me and my brother were one of the last people to leave and still nos sign of her. I waited up all night for my mother to call. I thought if she calls before midnight, it still counts. At 12:01, I burst into tears and then shut the door on her. Every birthday following became this game of was she going to call? Or what if she does call? I wanted her to call but I also didn't want to talk to her. Each year my birthday hinged on this but there was never a situation I could win. If she didn't call I was destroyed. If she did, I was so nervous to talk to her I'd get sick to my stomach. I am no longer upset with my mother because she missed my 11th birthday and a couple others. But I still can't seem to detach the emotion that comes once the air begins to change this time of year. As I see the countdown to September 20th approaching, my stomach gets a little bit weaker, my energy a little bit slower, and a eventually a general sadness that takes everything to kick. I want to celebrate this year. It is a big birthday and holy fuck I have had quite a decade. I think I will have a wonderful time once the birthday is here, but up until then I may just have to embrace a little Paula Abdul soundtrack.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

beach bum

There is nothing quite like a swim in the ocean. This weekend, we went to Wildwood and Cape May, a trip we probably should not have done financially, but was so restorative and relaxing I can't imagine starting the school year back up without it. I know I sound very spoiled and I am. It was also just so good to reconnect. Even though we live together there is something to be said for taking some time away just the two of us. One night we walked probably about three miles and I found myself saying how I really love long walks even though that sounds cliche, its true. The water was so warm and powerful we just kept throwing our bodies against these waves even though we kept getting rocked and our eyes were burning and our bellies were sunburned. We exhausted ourselves until we almost  felt high and were giddy with laughter, a joy only a day at the beach can bring. It was hard to leave but in the morning we went to the bakery and grabbed our treats and decided to have breakfast on the beach. I think I may need to live there.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fuck you, too

Nothing like starting off the long weekend with a letter from the government telling me I owe them $720 from 2009! And my self-diagnosed dyslexia just became real. The IRS is right. I flipped two numbers which made that much of a gaping deficit. This is a document I combed through three times. There goes my birthday present to myself. Why does a writer need a laptop anyway? Fuck!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dream #3 The Land of the Waking

I am talking with Karen but she is so drunk her words come out in slurred gibberish. Her eyes are clear, her square thumbs strong, she grips my wrist with both hands and leads me to a door when suddenly a man comes out and grabs her from behind. He tells her she is not allowed to be out here talking to me and then I realize it is because they are both dead. She screams gibberish at me as he pulls her behind the door and slams it shut, the click of the lock jolts me awake. I am here and she is still dead.