Monday, October 31, 2011

The Ghosts of Halloweens Past: Itty Bitties

Despite my insane tweets about Halloween on my walk home from work, or rather mad dash to escape the neighborhood before being barricaded to the West Side for the Annual Village Halloween Parade, I am officially done with Halloween until I have kids to dress up in superheroes or costumes that make references to 80s and 90s pop culture that all of my other adult parent friends will get a kick out of. (Gleaming the Cube anybody? The Labrynth?  Perhaps a little troop of my own representing the cast of Saved By The Bell? Rainbow Brite, bitches!!?) But after standing all night in the record-breaking snowstorm that hit the East Coast two days before Halloween while working a door for a private party outside of a trendy club in Manhattan, I have seen enough "itty bitties" standing in the freezing cold without a coat, a sweater, (hell, a tee shirt!) to last me a lifetime. Ladies, ladies, why? As my good friend put it, "By the end of a night, the girl dressed as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader [which consisted of something covering her nipples and her ass cheeks hanging out of underwear disguised as a skirt] was dancing on a beer pong table....I mean how low can you go?"  Gotta admit, some of these ladies who were standing in the middle of a snowstorm did look damn good. But does anyone suffering the onset of hypothermia really look that good? But alas, everyone got in, (frost bite be damned!) and from what I saw people had a rock star night. I mean, here's the thing, I get it. Halloween is the one night a year where girls/women can really go nuts and flaunt their sexuality in an environment where they will not be judged (or at least judged less) than the environment that sets the moral landscape for their everyday lives. But, then why not Catwoman? And not this Catwoman, but this one, the warm one? Must we be slutty and cold? Can't we be sexy and somewhat warm? This Halloween was a bit grueling. I won't lie. And I am happy to see it pass. But it makes me think of my own Halloween costumes past: Sally Bowles from Cabaret, Elle Driver from Kill Bill, Juno, and that time I whipped together a "cowgirl" outfit for the parade down Santa Monica Blvd in LA where my good friend and I woke up to Drag Queens "being merry" at our feet, I have certainly succumbed to my own versions of wanting to be sexy, reveal a little more on a night when I feel I have permission. But have I now reached the age where I'm too old for pasties, but too young to be a pregnant nun? I think Mike and I have one good festive year in us left where we could pull off the cliched but favorite couples costume Bonnie & Clyde before we start dressing as a plug and a socket only to have a baby come along a couple years later and be the light bulb? Or maybe I am just too bothered by seeing so many women torture themselves in an effort to bolster their self esteem through negative attention? Could you argue its empowering? Sure. Almost anything can be empowering with the right mind set. But does standing on a corner at 2 am shivering in a periwinkle bra and panties (which you tell everyone is Alice in Wonderland) trying to hail a cab in the middle of a snowstorm scream I Am Woman, Hear me Roar? Maybe if I saw more Helen Reddy costumes, and less Snookies and Kim Kardashians, I could go a little easier on the Little Red Riding Hoods and Alices of Halloween. But what I'd really love to see is a woman who has graduated from the ghosts/costumes of Halloween past who could really throw together a collage of all these "titillating" costumes and make a parody of it. Who's up for a pirate/Tinkerbell/playboy bunny/sailor/naught nurse spoof? Me? I think I'll pass. I'm done with pioneer costumes.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

MTV's Comeuppance: The Ruins

(Image Credit: Michael Bezjian/WireImage.com)
 Two months back, I wrote a post for BlogHer about the not-so-cleverly disguised rape clause in their contracts for Real World cast members. The clause (Stipulation 7) states that
“Interacting with other cast members carries the risk of "non-consensual physical contact" and should you contract AIDS, etc. during such an interaction, MTV is not responsible."
While I believe that each individual is responsible for their own actions, it is no secret that MTV creates powder keg environments to provoke dangerous and vulnerable situations to bolster ratings. They antagonize through a steady supply of alcohol and hide behind the lens of a camera as in the case of The Real World San Diego where there was a rape allegation that happened in the MTV home. Unfortunately, MTV was said to be so uncooperative that the house was raided by police and evidence (including video footage) came up inconclusive since the incident supposedly happened in one of the bathrooms (the only place cameras are not allowed). The cast member who accused a friend of another cast member of the rape, died three years later of cystic fibrosis. It is unclear how thorough MTV's own investigation was and unfortunately there was not enough evidence; charges were never filed.

Now, Real World alum, Tonya Cooley, is suing MTV for sexual assault and being raped by two cast members using a toothbrush  while filming Real World/Road Rule Challenge: The Ruins in Phuket, Thailand in 2009.  Horrific as the claims are, it takes a fearless woman to make this case public and go up against the Goliath, MTV. MTV calls the accusations “baseless” despite there being apparent footage of the incident.

But Cooley's claims also challenge the limited definitions for what defines “rape,” a term currently up for discussion (in terms of broadening the meaning) by the FBI. Did you know that the current legal definition of rape is “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will”? The current term excludes oral and anal penetration as well as cases when women were under the influence as well as excluding male victims. This issue has been one of those hot “under the radar” issues all year long especially when the GOP tried to push past a provision in their “No Taxpayer for Abortion Funding Act” when they used the term forcible rape. They eventually removed the controversial clause, but that is exactly what is wrong with the way “rape” is understood in society. There is some skewed idea that rape is something that happens to women in a back alley while being held at gunpoint. So many sexual crimes and rapes go unreported or seem to go unreported because they do not fit in this very narrow definition which in turn grossly misrepresents statistics which means there isn’t enough funding for police force to prevent such crimes or funding to handle the aftermath of such a traumatic event.

Let’s be real here, public funding goes where the numbers are.Shows like The Real World absolutely should be held accountable for their hand in provoking and creating such dangerous situations for cast members, and instead they have succeeded in burying these incidents by premptively having cast members sign onerous contracts. But Tonya Cooley is taking this fight to MTV’s door and suing her accused assailants as well as MTV for the trauma she claims suffered during shooting. Again, MTV claims the accusations are false, but regardless if there is enough evidence to prove Cooley’s case, it is somewhat uplifting despite the gruesome terms, that more victims of MTV’s inhumane and misogynistic practices are speaking up and shedding light on one of the darker aspects of our overexposed modern society.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snowtober: The Politics of Magic

I wish I could claim that I came up with that phrase, but only the fear-monger producers of the media can come up with a term that so closely evokes the word "Apocalypse" or "Armageddon." Yes, it is, snowing here in Brooklyn, and not like some dusting, but some "we're are in the middle of winter" shit. Fall lasted all of two weeks, I think. Leaves didn't even really change colors here. Just went from green to dead. And now the little tree outside my window is slumped over, heavy with snow, wet leaves, and branches not quite hardened by a gradual drop in temperature. I can remember it snowing before my first Halloween here after moving in March 2008. I remember it because I had called in sick to work and Mike and I woke up super early to drive to Pennsylvania to go hear Obama speak in a field in Pennsylvania.  It poured rain. But hundreds if not thousands stood in long lines to eventually be led like cattle onto a field now wet with sleet, puddles and frost, slowly turning into a mud field. But, amazingly, no one seemed to be deterred. The country was hurting so much that people of all ages, of all colors, of all walks, trudged forward to hear this promising man full of hope and light speak. People popped umbrellas but then it angered others since the umbrella were beginning to block the view of the stage. Eventually the umbrellas holders were shamed into putting them away. So we all stood there, breath frozen as we waited for Obama to come out. He came out like a quarterback onto a field at halftime ready to lead his team who was down a few touchdowns back to victory. He did not have an umbrella and his windbreaker seemed flimsy against the sheets of rain. He spoke to us, promised us, he would make thins better and he stood there in the rain with us, too. On the way home, the rain turned to snow. And I remember texting my brother something to the effect of. Just saw Obama. Snowing in October. There was something magical about the snow after hearing him speak. Like his promises had power. He could even make it snow in October. Years later, I can see that he did not possess the magic I thought he might. I can see how promises get hijacked when it comes to politics and that sometimes it just fucking snows in October.  I know our President's ratings have dropped considerably once again. The man has passed a revolutionary health care bill, killed Osama Bin Laden, is ending the war in Iraq by the end of this year, and trying to figure out how to loosen the handcuffs on college grads like myself who are burdened with outrageous student loans. The economy is in the shitter, yes. We knew this when he took office. Have mistakes been made? Yes. Do I still think he is the man for the job? Yes. (Have you seen this circus?) I am working at a Halloween party tonight, standing outside in Snowtober, as the door-woman from about 8:30 - 2:30 in the morning. I do it every year as a means to get a little extra cash before the holidays, one of the many ways I keep myself financially afloat. But I still believe in magic, and maybe next year I can stay home and watch a scary movie instead.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Want To Get Angry?

Watch this.

This morning while jogging on a treadmill, I was scanning news channels and came across the gruesome footage of Iraq veteran, Scott Olsen, who had his skull fractured by a tear gas canister in the Occupy Oakland protest. Scott Olsen served two tours of duty in Iraq and is now a proud member of Iraq Veterans Against The War. As you can see from this video at minute 3:30 shot by Raleigh Latham, Scott is calmly standing in his Marines Camis in front of the barricades not provoking anyway. Cut to the video embedded above and you can see Scott down on the ground and then when protesters run to his aid, a police officer lobs another canister into the huddled crowd. Scott is carried away by the crowd. The look on this kid's face, a kid who has seen war, is haunting. Here he is, home sweet home, the land of the free, exercising his right to protest (peacefully, I might add!) and he he's holding his skull together as people carry him away from tear gas and smoke and harm's way. Looks a lot like war footage to me. I turned the television off and flipped on my iPod and was pleasantly surprised to find Radiohead's Sit Down, Stand Up from their Hail To The Thief album up next on my Playlist. I cranked up the treadmill, cranked up the volume, and tried to get the image of Scott's glazed over look out of my head. But I couldn't. And as Thom York's haunting, melancholic voice seeped in through the headphones with the words "Sit Down, Stand Up...Walk Into the Jaws of Hell...We Can Wipe You Out Anytime, We Can Wipe You Out" and then exploded into its fast-paced techno beats and bass, I felt myself angry, finally affected by a protest going on in my backyard. I admit, I have not joined the crowds at Zuccotti Park and two days ago, I stood and watched a protest outside of Bank of America. But it doesn't mean I don't support or sympathize and agree with EVERYTHING they are protesting about at Occupy Wall St. I have three jobs, my days are long, I even work on the weekends, just to pay my rent in New York and pay off my suffocating student loan debt. I have not had the time and trust me if I did, I would be picking up a sign and losing my voice, too. But this video made me realize there's no more excuses. I either need to get my ass down there and say something or write about it here. I'm working on trying to do both. But for now, here is a link to DONATE to the cause.  And if you don't know what all this is about, please click here, now.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

To The Woman Who Coughed in My Face this Morning

Did you never go to kindergarten? Cover it!

Did you know?

Not only would it be awesome if you read this blog for you to join this blog and follow me (which is really easy to do and can be found in the left sidebar) but you can also follow me on twitter @rewindrevise, you can also subscribe to this blog and follow me by email. (Also found in left sidebar) Sam, thanks for being technologically slow, like myself, and accidentally suggesting this. That one's for you! And for anyone who doesn't know Sam, click on his name. Very talented, very handsome, and just about the most down to earth guy ever. He probably will be embarrassed by this shameless plug. But he deserves it. Sam starred in a couple episodes of Army Wives last year as an abusive military husband clearly suffering from the effects of war. I remember watching the scenes and being totally freaked out because he was so chilling but in person, he's really nice! I was surprised to see him pull off such believable violence. But, that's what makes a good actor! But more on Sam, later. I'm thinking about doing Artsy Tuesdays. Since Tuesday is the day I meet with my writing group and overall a very creative energy-filled day, I'm thinking about doing some artist profiles since I'm blessed with so many in my life. (Carmen, Isabel, Harry, Jenny - I'm looking at you! Not to mention my bro, his girlfriend, and lots more!) Also, might upload some pictures of something "art-worthy" I discover in the city. I need something to keep me positive through the winter, especially since the Farmer's Almanac is predicting cold, cold, cold. In February, you will see how I have lost my mind and read about my plans to move to St. John. So, follow me, yo! And we be friends for life! More posting later today...For now, feast your eyes on this! A little color on this dreary East Coast Day. (Not a peep from you West Coasters!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We Only Said Goodbye With Words


The coroner's report for Amy Winehouse just publicly released the verdict that Amy Winehouse did in fact die from alcohol poisoning.  I was driving through Massachusetts for a week-long poetry workshop at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown when I heard the news that one of my favorite artists, perhaps of all time, was dead. Was I shocked? No. Nobody was. But this hurt more than the news of Kurt Cobain's suicide when I was a crushed 13 year-old, converse wearing "grunge" fan. It hurt more because I now have 17 more years of experiencing the often adventurous and flip-side devastating effects of alcoholism and drug addiction. I have now experienced friendships and relationships with people stuck on that same unmarked road. I even held the wheel for some of them. I have joked along with someone who talked of their fond of drink in self-deprecating ways.  I have been pushed up against a wall by a friend with glazed over whiskey eyes who then body slammed another friend into my glass coffee table and I have also comforted that same friend through his humiliating, profuse apologies to me the next day.  I have seen my mother get sober and then relapse and then get sober and then relapse again and then get sober, yet again, but the more important thing is that I stopped keeping track where she was in her sobriety. I've stopped keeping track of everyone's sobriety and am now just focused on myself. As for Winehouse, we all knew where she was headed but for her I held out a flicker of hope. She was just too talented, too passionate about music to let this addiction steal it from her, I thought. She had light inside her and I wanted it to conquer the dark. In May, I threw my hands up in the air with victory when I heard she had checked herself into rehab. I thought, Yesssss! Just in time. But when news of her death came to me, I felt my heart sink. Not this one, I thought. And then the media grouped her in the 27Club - artists including Brian Jones, Cobain, Jim Morrison, Joplin, Hendrix, all dead by 27, often with autopsy reports that read, "overdose," "suicide," or the most haunting "death by misadventure." Shouldn't there be another name for this group? There were rumors, started by Winehouse's dad that the singer had died from alcohol withdrawal by trying to quit cold turkey. I even relayed that news to a friend just last week, as if the tragedy were somehow mollified by the idea she was trying to get well. But hearing the news today that it was indeed alcohol poisoning was not shocking, but perhaps just a little bit more heartbreaking. I do not intend to keep writing about alcoholism, I promise! But, I had to at least post something on an artist who helped me get through my first really severe breakup, through the loss of a dear friend (See #99), and who inspired me to pick up the pieces with my writing life and get back to it. Amy, if only there were the right kind of words...

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Memoir is like sausages" - there's all sorts of stuff in there

Just got back from the BlogHer Writers Conference 2011! Social media'd out but so grateful for this amazing experience. What an amazing community with such inspiring women. After playing with the word "survivor" a lot in talking about my blog, I realized that we are all survivors.  We take care of aged parents, and raise special needs children, and suffer unimaginable loss, and divorce and marry, rinse, repeat. We recover, we heal, and by God, we write!!!  I am so beat tonight, but ready to jump into this crazy internet pool. For now, guess who started a twitter account..oh yeah, that's right. @rewindrevise
Check it!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Okay. Let's Do This Internet

After a long informative, hilarious, and insightful chat with one of my oldest friends in life last night, I realized several things:
1. My friend, Morgan (@ the818.com) is a goddamn genius. But, I kind of already knew that. She was the girl in high school that when she got grounded for 6 months (count 'em folks!) which for any other teenager would equate to social suicide,  Morgan taught herself how to play five instruments. She was always one step ahead of the game in high school- knew what she wanted to do, got into elite art programs across the country, took AP courses, and applied early decision to NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for directing and got in which was promptly announced/broadcast on the school news show. Not to mention she is beautiful and all the boys loved Morgan until she scared them away. But, I digress. When she became a blogging celebrity overnight, I would pick her brain with the word "how?" How come I could not figure out how to do that with my blog? (Number one- your blog has to be public which I just recently made it after three years of blogging!) But Morgan, would calmly say things like, "you know (@*(*$@(*@$&*(&@&(&@#)@&)@)*@))@%^#(&#$)@#... you just figure it out." Which is to say what she thought she was saying seemed really basic and simple to her but was like hearing Mandarin to me. She was speaking in tones and I was trying to decipher it with Latin. What comes as instinct to her, comes as mind-blowing to me. Anyway, last night I got her all to myself for a very long stretch and I finally think I understand what this blogging thing is about, or rather, how, potentially, I can elevate this blog and get some more traffic. (Number two- don't be afraid to throw out shameless requests for more blog love). But, more importantly I get WHY one wants more traffic. I know, I'm a little slow. The other day at a bar, the bartender looked at my ancient phone sitting on the table and said, "Wow! That is...an awesome phone." He even picked it up to hold it like it was some lost artifact. I never got a smart phone and still have to text by pressing the 2 button three times until I get to the "c" or the 7 button four times until I get to the "S." Yes, you heard right.  This is what I'm working with, people. Sanyo, yo. They go for zero dollars if you sign up with Sprint. That's right. They give these phones away. I was the last of my friends to even get a cell phone, the last to join facebook, and I missed that whole age when people were getting into HTML and learning web design. When I was in college, we still had floppy disks, and my freshman year of college I had a pager.  But this is no excuse, I suppose. Morgan and I went to college together and if you look at both of our blogs, you get what I mean. But, after hours of talk, I learned a little more about the internet, and walked away thinking, "What a smart cookie."

2. Follow me. If you read this blog, which may only be the 6 people that are following, but if you are not one of said 6 followers, do me a solid and follow me. I'm talking to you, Aunt Mary Kay. Rose, I know you're out there.

3. I learned what a "lurker" is. A lurker is someone who reads your blog but doesn't comment. I admit it. I myself am a lurker. Daleboca, Carmen, for this I'm sorry. I will "delurk" myself and comment more regularly. Plus, lets be honest, it is really nice to get a comment.

4. Learn twitter. Last night I received a twitter tutorial. (Check me out!) There really is a science to it. And even if I don't fully understand, I have to participate if I'm going to jump into social media. In the words of Howard Hughes, "it's the way of the future."

5. I learned SOOOO much I kind of wish I didn't learn about post-partum recovery.
Ladies, ladies...we are amazing! We literally keep the world moving, and give birth to beings through tiny holes that tear, and stretch and ouCHHHH! Pregnancy has always scared me, but holy shit! Mo, you're my hero.

6. I think I could have spent all night long talking to my friend who I realized how much I miss. It was like we were back in college again or even back in high school. I don't have anyone out here that I have that kind of history with-high school, college, boyfriends, and breakups, and wardrobe mishaps, and dyed hair and regretful tattoos, and depression, and recovery and so many, many laughs. I realized of all my friends, Morgan is most like a sister to me. It was both nice to realize that and nice to have a moment before falling asleep when I could say to the universe, thank you.

7. Girlfriends are important.

8. I am terrified about putting myself out there tonight and mingling at a networking cocktail reception with other bloggers, women bloggers no less, and handing out business cards and saying to others and to myself, "I am a writer." But in the words of my high school drama teacher, "Live life in the scary places. It's much more interesting."

9. I am capable of so many things.

10. It is ALWAYS okay to skip the gym if you have the opportunity to stay in, cook a meal, and talk with an old friend.

So, to all my mighty 6 followers, all my maybe 2 lurkers, and any other random internet peepers, let's do this! I'm committing to you, to this blog. What do you say? Throw me a shamelessly requested traffic bone. And to my Valley sister, thanks for the help and everything else over the last fifteen years.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WTF, America?!

When Mike and I lived a few blocks south, an ice cream truck would come through our neighborhood, sirens a-blazing, sometimes 10:00, 11:00 at night. We both suspected the truck was not trying to lure kids out of bed to get treats, although during the summer, it was fun to see a few out there sometimes in the dark, getting all hopped up before bed. But, we were pretty sure, the truck was advertising something else with its Pavlovian circus songs. Turns out, we weren't so far off. People really do this in New York.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Taking Care of Business Martha Graham Style

Got 250 business cards in the mail today. Feeling excited and quite professional for something that started as a hobby. Who knows if anything will ever come of these cards? In a dream world- a book deal. In my world, maybe another paid freelance article. In someone else's world, maybe the first thing in a garbage can. But it feels like a move in the right direction. A friend o fmine has just started culinary school and although he doesn't know if he wants to work in a kitchen or own his own catering business or be a private chef, he knows he is on the right path. He shared with me this quote from Martha Graham:
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ... No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others”
In other words, just keep moving forward, creating, doing what you do, writing shitty blog posts, and funny film reviews, and a deeply personal memoir. Play soccer, hard, the only way you know how. No one else can create what I create. No one else plays like I play. No one else's dances the way I dance. Make business cards and hand them out in the world. This is your job as an artist- show up for yourself. Put art and questions and beauty into the world and don't for one minute wait for some sort of approval. Another great Graham quote: “What people in the world think of you is really none of your business.” Its not even that important to know what you think of yourself or your art. It is your duty to create and to create without fear, without censorship, without self-editing. In the words of Nike, Just do it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

New Segment: WTF, America?


In case you were wondering how to get more mayonnaise-based dips into your mouth along with your fried chicken, Popeye's has finally found the solution: fried chicken shaped like spoons. Go to town, America.

How to say "Fuck Yeah!"

 "There's not some great epic love between us," she says. "But I'm committed."
Her honesty is refreshing cutting right to the core of the issue. The "issue" that has been of great topic lately: marriage.
Another one says, "I was having marital problems a couple months ago and I was thinking about leaving him...but I'm realizing now, that I don't want a divorce from him. I want a divorce from myself."
I learned a couple weeks ago that a pair of friends that got married in 2007 are now divorcing. Is four years really even a good shot?

When I went home a few weeks ago, many family members asked me when I was getting married- a question that is really two questions- When and why have you not? When I came back to NYC, another friend shared her good news and yet another a week later. Everyone was getting engaged. The artificial pressure seemed to zoom in on my relationship and I began to ask myself the same questions: When am I getting married? And why the hell haven't I already? But in talking with marriage veterans this weekend I felt reassured in our "wait," reassured in my fear of the actual formal commitment and how seriously I take it, and also really grateful for what I do have. I DO have some great epic love with my boyfriend of four and half long-ass years. I can't imagine not having all the tests and trials and fights and years of living together we have experienced before making it legal and deciding, "Yes, let's fucking do this!" Once long ago, when I was dating another man and working long hours for my boss, my boss questioned why I was willing to work so late and on the weekends. Why was I so willing to be at home as little as possible? I went into my relationship a little and he stopped me cold and said, "If you're thinking about marrying this guy, you better be like 'Fuck Yeah! Let's get married!' Because if you are not 110% it will fail. Marriage is fucking hard," he said. I knew when he said it that I had never been 110% about that idea or about the guy. There was always a voice, a small one, but it was there no less, that was questioning the relationship. Something in me knew it wasn't the best I could do, but I loved him and so I compromised all the time until there was nothing left to be compromised. I had comprised myself. Recently, a friend suggested the flip side of that argument that maybe there is always doubt. While listening to the idea, I could understand that and surely over the weekend, other marriage veterans expressed they had doubts when they said, "I do." But in thinking about it on my long hour drives in Vermont, for myself, I can't imagine having any doubt when the question is asked or when walking down the aisle or any of that. I can't imagine promising to commit myself to someone for a lifetime that somewhere deep down I had some doubt in or that I did not have some great epic love. I remember a little while back being at a comedy show and a surly comedian said, "I'm never getting married. People know each other for two years and then they're like, awesome, lets spend the next 70 together." At that point, I think Mike and I were together three years and I remember thinking the comedian had a point. My relationship with Mike is not perfect and we have had our ups and downs and breaking points as well as all of the passion and excitement and romance that comes with it, but I can say for certain that while I have things that annoy me or things about him I have had to beat into my brain that I WILL NOT change, I don't have doubt. The things that drive me nuts are things that I love about him or at the very least have accepted about him. But for as crazy and "all in" as this relationship started, I feel very proud of us for really testing the waters and really grateful for giving ourselves the good times and the bad and how much stronger it has made us.  This is not to diminish anyone else's experiences (all of my friends that just got engaged!). I cannot say what is right for someone else nor do I (or anyone) know what really goes on behind closed doors in anyone else's relationship other than my own. For one person who may have a little doubt, it may work, and certainly there is real fear in ANY kind of commitment. But for me I realized that it just doesn't work. I think that doubt would burrow in my heart like a worm until one day it came out in the form of ugliness. I am grateful for all of the fights and all of the cramped living spaces and all of the crossroads Mike and I have faced. Cause if there is one thing I have learned about myself, I am the kind of person who needs to say "Fuck yeah. Let's do this!"

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dream #87

Dreamt I had to buy everyone sardines, but sardines were considered like crab or lobster, and I didn't want anyone to feel left out so I kept buying and buying and at the end I owed $437 (a real life significant number as it is one of the balances on my credit card - a card I have been trying to pay off for years). I even bought myself these weird looking sardines that looked more like slices of portobello mushroom caps, knowing that I would not be able to eat them because I am allergic to shellfish (and these were like crab, remember?). Is this my subconscious's way of telling me I am overextended? Every day this week and next week are packed tight, sometimes overbooked. And I have lost my planner and miraculously remember most of my schedule for next week. But I kind of wish I could forget. Anyway, its damp here in New York. Going to Vermont tonight to see same fall colors tomorrow but the forecast is rain. What's up October? Give it a rest...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

focus

writing group last night
writing class next tuesday
new macbook pro
writing conference next friday
a possible assignment to write about shoes
a possible chance to write a short play
need to make business cards
memoir workshop deadline coming up
low residency prospect on the horizon
if i can stay focused, something might just happen with this writing thing. certainly more opportunities are presenting themselves and i certainly feel more confident about my writing than i have in maybe forever. (this blog post is not an indication of that)
like my favorite book as a kid, the little engine that could, if i keep chug-a-chugin, I may just find what i'm looking for.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Indian Summer

What an amazingly gorgeous weekend. If I closed my eyes, it felt just like home. Warm, sunshine, no humidity, dry. On Saturday, after spending a few hours writing, I went for a long run around and through Prospect Park. Mike and I decided to go to dinner - my favorite Thai place- and followed that up with a long walk and ice cream and pecan pie at a pastry shop I have been wanting to try since we moved here. Everything exceeded expectation. On Sunday,  after reading a script, I played an awesome soccer game and got a left-footed goal, then had a beer at my new favorite bar, The Whiskey Tavern, and watched the Giants blow it against Seattle. But my mood was not shaken. We stepped out into the warm "fall" air and went home where Mike made cheeseburgers and I finished up my coverage. Then on Monday, we got out of town and got lost in the woods for four hours. We hiked several miles and ate lunch overlooking a red & gold leaved valley below. We sat and just talked, the two of us, for an hour, and we both kept saying how we have to do this more often. Just before lunch we had run into an older couple and the woman was pale with no hair, clearly fighting some form of cancer. She asked where we had come from and then apologized for how she looked and put her hat on. Mike smiled, as if to say, its all okay, and told her there was a gate up ahead marking off private property, but there was a nice creek just before it, worth checking out. They both smiled at us and continued sitting on the rock. Towards the end of the hike, the path opened up lined by birch trees that rained down gold leaves every time the wind blew. Mike took my hand and we walked out together to the parking lot where we munched on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It was one of the most perfect days I've ever had. It made me grateful for so much- my health, my strong body, all of the camping trips my father used to take us on when I was kid, even the ones I dreaded instilled in me a love of nature. But most importantly I was grateful for my partner. It was nice to have a day to remind ourselves just how lucky the two of us are. Love you, Handsome.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Melancholia

After sitting through Lars Von Trier's nauseating Melancholia last night, trying to write a few pages for my memoir group this morning, peeking at a script I have to read this weekend, trying to schedule my tutoring student, debating whether to play soccer or attend a volunteer orientation for a tutoring writing place in Brooklyn on Sunday, living out of a backpack on and off this week, and learning that a major report I fill out every year for the school I work at is not my job and should never have been my job, I am feeling more than melancholy right now. I feel down right tired and a bit blue. Bored, maybe? The seasons are changing here, and I hate it. Maybe it is because I just came from 90 degrees Los Angeles, but I do not think Fall is charming anymore. I do not look forward to applecider, and crisp chilly air, and sweaters. Fuck fall foliage and all of its soar throats, red noses, gloved fingers and wool socks. I am still missing summer, missing a bit of freedom, or missing something. Again, with that internal transition. Something feels like its moving right now, but I don't know where and I can't pinpoint what exactly is changing for me. But there is something different. My feet are itching for an adventure, a move, a change, some sort of progression. Maybe I am tired from trying so hard all the time. Trying to get out of debt. Trying to write a book. Trying to make more money with the three jobs I have. Trying to figure out how I will build a future that includes a family. Not to mention, trying to enjoy myself in the best city in the world. Sometimes, I just want to give up. Default on my loans, disappear from all of my responsibility, strap on a backpack and go. Anywhere. The movie last night was shit, but the first part was somewhat enjoyable and I found myself oddly relating to Justine's (played by Kirsten Dunst's) pendulum of emotions. Is it just what comes with being  a woman? I can't remember a time when there wasn't "a spell" of sadness that could just come on like a bad cold. I try to tell myself not to take things so seriously, but everything has always been so serious. I would love to find lightness. Would love to court the carefree spirit I know lives within. But I can feel myself on the edge again.
Yesterday, while on the subway, this very rude teenage queen leaned against me and blurted out, "Move bitch." I could tell she did not expect I would confront her. I turned around slowly.
"Excuse me?" I asked.
She couldn't even look me in the eye. She was performing.
"I said move!"
I smiled slowly, and looked at her friend since she would not look at me. I looked back at her.
"Really?" I asked. I could feel myself start to shake with rage and I think the friend could sense it.
She quietly said with a wry smile, "Just move."
It sounded like a beg.
I turned back around and started laughing. I feel like I could have snapped and I was proud that I did not. I did not use one curse word, I did not humiliate this idiot, nor did I get drawn into a fight that would inevitably lead to me in jail and this girl in a coma. I contained it all.
I heard her friend say to her, "So embarassing. Why you gotta start fights with everyone on the train?"
Then after a pause, she said, "She got pretty eyes, though."
Were they really trying to suck up to me after calling me a bitch on a crowded train? As the ride went on, the girl proceeded to yell at an old man calling him "Fucking retarded" for asking her to give up her seat to him. Two seconds before that she tapped a guy who was sitting down and asked when he was getting off the "fucking train" so she could take his seat. At the end, I began to feel sorry for her. I realized this was a person who had a lot of hate and a lot of fear, and there is only one way you get to be like that. I imagined her life as short and small. When I got off the subway, I imagined I was on a hike somewhere far away from New York. In the movie last night, Justine's sister, Claire who is lovingly devoted to her mentally ill sister, whispers to her, "Sometimes I really hate you, Justine."
Sometimes I really hate you, New York.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

World Wide Suicide

I have been listening to Pearl Jam obsessively for weeks now. Don't be alarmed, this happens sometimes, usually when I am going through some sort of internal change. The song World Wide Suicide came on and I felt it eerily appropriate with what is happening in New York City lately. After attacking several girls in Sunset Park and Park Slope and the people of Park Slop finally protesting outside of the local precinct, NYPD (whose Commissioner, Ray Kelly recently admitted that the NYPD has enough arsenal to shoot a plane out of the sky) finally beefed up their game and police cruisers have been parked on various corners in the neighborhood along with cops. My thought is, What about undercover cops? Which I am hoping there are. Because at a certain point those cars disappear and the streets go back to dark and lonely, especially in the morning. The time I used to get up to go to the gym no longer feels safe to do so.
What else is happening, you ask? Occupy Wall Street! Which is pretty bad ass and makes me proud to feel a part of that youth that is throwing stones at the greedy Financial Goliath. I would like to participate, however, it is unclear what the "ask" is. The protest has muscle now because of the Labor Unions marching yesterday, but it feels disorganized at the top, which is why so many people got hurt and arrested last night when they tried to storm the barricades. Who is leading this train?
But my favorite thing happening, which I am sad to have missed it (but happy I was in LA which is why I missed it) was Slutwalk 2011. Last weekend, there was a protest in Union Square in reference to a Toronto police officer's comment that women should stop dressing like sluts if they don't want to get harassed. Obviously, this did not go over well with women around the globe, but especially New Yorkers who recently watched two NYPD officers get acquitted of rape (and an accomplice to rape) with overwhelming testimony including an admission by the cop on tape. Slutwalk will continue to protest, which I hope to participate in next time. 
What else, you ask? Steve Jobs died. On Facebook everyone is very emotionally posting "RIPs" and status updates on how Jobs changed the world. I recently read a book which talked about the rise of Apple and Jobs was not depicted as a messianic innovator but a terrifying, egomaniac who stole the company from Wozniak while Wozniak was recovering from amnesia and and brain trauma after a bad car crash. No doubt, Jobs is one of the men (Gates the other) behind the technological revolution but I find it interesting to see how many people our mourning the loss of a man they know very little about. It all comes down to stories, media, what is presented as problem and solution. The push and pull of a society in desperation, in the throes of change with iron shackles to a shameful past. Now, why did World Wide Suicide feel appropriate? This is not the world I am talking about. It is really just New York City and perhaps the nation, but this is my world and it feels the same way I think of suicide, desperate, fearful, screaming out into a void that no one else seems to be listening to.
If we keep knocking, will it break?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dis-Ease

"My stomach is killing me. Do you ever get this before seeing her?"
"I get headaches," he says. Something about that sounds so severe. We pull up outside her house and put our game faces on. When she greets us, she is sweating, she is talking fast, her hands are moving quickly. She has chopped all of her hair off and let it turn to a browned out blonde. She is still to heavy for her five foot three inch frame but she is here and she is making us brunch. We step into her very decorated apartment and she has hung a "Happy Birthday" streamer and dressed the table in a vinyl "Happy Birthday" tablecloth weighted down by china she received for her wedding to my father over 30 years ago. There are "Happy Birthday" napkins and two "Happy Birthday" gift bags and the whole thing makes me want to burst into tears. This is the birthday I should have had when I was eleven.
"I made crab cakes," she tells me.
"I couldn't remember who couldn't eat what," she continues.
"That's me. I'm allergic to shellfish," I remind her. Have been since that day when I was six and my eye had closed shut and I was taken to the doctor.
My brother grabs crab cakes with a pair of tongs and then grabs a roll out of the pan with the same pair of tongs.
"No!" I remind him. I can't even eat food that has been touched by shellfish, it's that severe.
We finally get to eating and my stomach is in my throat and the breakfast lasagna is not sitting well and I force myself to eat fruit salad, careful to avoid the cantaloupe which is pointless because if it has listeria so does the rest of the fruit. We get on to opening presents and she has given me a jewelry box and a mother of pearl necklace. The mother of pearl is assembled into a daisy, my favorite flower, and I put it on to match my white dress. I tell her I love it, but a part of me knows I will not wear it again. Something about it just feels too heavy. She tells me about work and to keep the conversation going I continue to ask questions. Both my brother and I are good at filling in the blanks. It occurs to me that while she doesn't really ask me anything about my life, I don't offer anything either. I am the queen of putting people in no-win situations. She is damned if she does, damned if she doesn't. But is it a situation she helped create?
We take a picture, the three of us in her new condo, paid for with an unimaginable loss, much like most of the attributes my brother and I gained as children. We put our arms around each other and flash smiles.
"Do you want to take the Happy Birthday napkins?" she asks.
I take them.
"And the cake!" so we pack that up, too.
She gives me a hug goodbye. "My big girl!" she says and I recoil a little at the sound of "my."
As we drive off, we both fall extremely tired. We try to wake up by cranking the music before we flip sides and see my father and all of his family, the family that feels like family- nosy, loving, informing me they expected a different kind of announcement at this birthday party. The food is bbq and the cake is my favorite, carrot cake. There is swimming and kids and margaritas and gifts with stuff I really like, like cash. There is my overly-muscled cousins singing inappropriate versions of the Happy Birthday song and a little princess on my lap telling me how much she loves carrots! There is the conversations where I'm pulled aside and told about this secret or that. This worry, this fear, this sadness, all told with a laugh somewhere in the sentence. I want to wrap them up each individually and tell them all we are going to make it. We are going to survive this economy, this depression, this mistake, this gripping fear, this absence. We are going to pass algebra and be reunited with missing dads and missing daughters before we know it, only to have it happen again. We are going to have weddings and there will be more babies and there will be inevitable loss. But we are going to make it the same way we always do, by telling stories in a scorching backyard somewhere in the valley. There is not enough time with all of them. And by the time I get on the plane the following morning, I realize I am completely drained.  I get home and immediately get to work until I crash at about 10pm and realize how much I miss "my" family. All of them.  But how damn lucky am I? Not many 30 year-olds get Happy Birthday napkins or carrot cakes with princesses.