little miss independence

In ALL, PHOTOGRAPHY by Stephanie KleinLeave a Comment


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So here’s the thing. This weekend was a smattering. There’s no way to capture it in words without confusing you into a squint. So look at the pictures first, then you’ll still be confused, but you’ll have a sense of what I was looking at when I scribbled notes onto my lined index cards. I’m not editing, the writing is lifted off the cards, and as for the pictures, well, I’ve only concealed a handful to protect myself, and my loved ones. Or as Kim would say, “lovsies.” But she’s weaning off the ies.


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Forget sharing a room with 3 other women, or sharing a bathroom with 9 other people… roughing it was a weekend in the Hamptons without a pedicure. “I don’t know how you did it. I never ever could have made it through.” Thursday evening Kimberly (the brown one) and I (the red Kim) circle the Hamptons for a restaurant with more than 4 other patrons. It’s high school. Music is blaring, the windows slid open, and we drive twenty minutes out of our way to find a good restaurant. Dragon Room is a drag, so we settle upon 75 Main and seek out dessert at “Jet.”

jeteast_horses_012 Jet East: Picture it. A spinning blue light overhead and hooch every which way, lots of it. Greased hair, too many rings, widows peak, hair spray, I’m a cop and own this town, the only respectable boys are too short to date and haven’t moved past the polo shirts. You’re at “Jet” because you’re trendy and on vay-K, too tired to add “East.” Then you hear it: ”Don’t have to be rich to be my girl, don’t have to be…” And we sing along and kiss the air evoking Julia Roberts feeling like our own little pretty women. But it’s bullshite because I’m in the Hamptons, where streets are named after money. Let’s face it, it’s money, from the driveways flanked with hydrangeas to the Hermes orange Birkin and French tulips for her dinner party. You smell it, it smells rich with complex tones and depth, a sophisticated nose, and you’ll pay the $10 parking and talk your way out of the cover charge because you smell rich, too. It’s the Creed. South Hampton is old money, East Hampton is new money, and West Hampton ignores money and surfs instead. People drop names, saunter beyond velvet ropes and talk about the Sony party, the Hilton’s new record label, Lizzy Grubman’s new reality show filming at Cyril’s, and you almost want to boot. But you don’t because vomiting is cliché. Kim and I are just about ready to be booted from our “you don’t have bottle service” table, when I rush to claim the last free “you are relegated to the back” table. Then I snap away and meet Pat Parnell and Shon Tomlin (Fuel TV dudes from LA), who hire me to photograph the premiere of Riding Giants the next day. I can’t disclose the photographs yet (sorry). But here’s what you would see: Christie Brinkley glowing with her angelic children and yummy husband. Gabrielle Reese not giving advice on how to recover from pregnancy because “I don’t give advice.” Some tan men whose faces look like mitts, with bleached hair, dimples, and Hawaiian shirts. Who cares what they’re saying. And me with fcuking ugly toes on the Blue Carpet. Oy.
jeteast_horses_043 Photography Lessons: Mark Danielli and I head toward the stables because I won’t shut up about getting out to take some pics. I saw the eye rolls with each mention I made of peaches. Someone had to shut me up. So, I teach; he’s a quick learner. Then we fool around in the bushes… no, not like that, though I do look naked nymphish in the pics. Mark looks like a fairy too. He says, “The Almond is gay on Friday nights. These pictures of me in the yellow field will do well there. Hold on, let me write the ad: Gay lord fairy seeks roomie in Chelsea. Frolicking optional.” We get kicked off private property.

friday_night_050 Capri, Bells East, Savannah: Carpools load and the nicknames start. New friendships, alliances, and trysts form around our oblong kitchen table. Then we’re off, searching for something resembling a good time to happen. But it was already happening, in our house, just us, in the heat and laughter between us. Savannah, at the very least, was a conduit for pepperoni. After that night, I was apparently “sold.” Sleeping arrangements were musical back at the house. Though, I preferred the sanctity of my own bed. Okay, you’re right, I had my period and was in no mood to share anything with anyone. Except with Tricia. I adore Tricia, and I feel compelled to set her straight about how wonderful I think she is, and what a Ho I am not. It’s settled. In the morning, I’m up before anyone else, but Tricia catches a morning glimpse. It’s my feet, hiding behind the refrigerator door. It’s morning, and I love Tricia for her coffee and her good morning notes.

sunday_010 Cyril’s: I run into many people I shouldn’t have, and I become gravely depressed. Without editing my index cards, here’s the story straight.

“Get out (leave), right now. It’s the end of you and me. It’s too late. I can’t wait for you to be gone.”

This song is the story of my life, and our Hamptons theme song, as it happens. I’ll drink it with some rum and try to focus on my strength instead of the life I met and left. But it’s hard to take when I run into Bianca Struel (the same species, mortified I’ve associated her with Fat Camp), and then Caroline Wiesser (Falcone). Caroline and I used to work together. Now she’s married, with a delicious baby and a house in Roslyn. Just kill me now.

I’m crapass at dating. I get too involved or worked up, lose perspective, even a little bit of myself. My energy goes into some guy instead of me. I’ll go places I don’t really feel like going because he’ll be there. It’s not me. I’ll rearrange plans around a guy—and history gave me this lesson: he will be gone soon. In life, no matter what happens, I end up with me. So it’s independence weekend. Well Amen to that. (snap. snap.)

I walk into Cyril’s anticipating the brain freeze from the BBC (Baily’s Banana Colada) and sink into my white chair. I should be happy. I’ve stopped caring about the frizz and my arms. I’m flanked with beauty, the sky, the friendships, the tan women in their orange terry Juicy tube dresses and enormous… ahem, jewels, what were you thinking? I’m squinting and holding it in because the line to go is too long. I see a trendy beautiful woman with smart sunglasses sit on tan boys’ laps and I’ll admit it. I can taste the jealousy; it tastes like steamers. I know I could have it, but I don’t have it now, not right now, and I don’t want some stupid random hook up. I want something substantial. I want to long and have it, and want it still. That’s the trick, you know. For me, the getting can be easy. It’s wanting what I’ve got once it’s mine… or knowing what I want. It’s just too complicated and if you have to play anything, be it cool or concerned, it’s just not for me. I don’t like playing. Not in the sun, on a boat, or on a moat. I do not like it. No I don’t.

“Cause I know about her, and I wonder how I bought all those lies. You said that you would treat me right, but you was just a waste of time.”

I never look at it as a waste of time, but when I slam into people my age, married with their babies, their gardens, their make your own taco nights, well I want that. I feel myself leaning over, trying to stab them with my fork prongs. I want to ingest their lives. But I demonstrate control and remind myself I’m not willing to settle for Jell-O. I prefer my crème brulee, all blow torch difficult and shite. I wish he’d get his act together and pursue me already. I’m a strong believer that the man must pursue the woman. I miss being pursued. Miss flowers at the office and feeling special to someone other than my friends. I want a man, not afraid of putting it on the line, letting me and everyone know he’s crazy about me, knowing when and how to hold onto something delicious. But it can’t be West Coast; it has to be sincere. It can’t be I love yous in a week before you know my middle name. It can’t be “you’re amazing” “are you mine?” before I even know you. You need to learn how someone handles anger, stress, and disappointing people. It can’t be “sweetheart” before you know what kind of drunk they are, how they handle deadlines, or phone messages, or their mother, or you when you’ve gone and chicked out in the middle of the night.

sunday_047 Stephen’s Talkhouse: How about this for a nod to independence, I’m not fcuking going. I hate Star Room, but I love my friends. They have an agenda and the invitations to match to HBO’s kick off party of Entourage. Jen (stick bug), Kim (the brown one), and Samantha (the other brown one) are going to Jet East, then hopping over to Star Room. I elect to slit my wrists before joining them. Thank god for sweet Stacey and Amy. Love these talented girls. Love that they want live music. Ken, Steven, and I huddle in the car, where quarters, nickels, and dimes are in their proper spots. There’s an emergency bag in the trunk with flares, jumpers, and toilet paper. The boy is prepared. Well he was, but now I’m in the car. That’s a handful. I flip from Lauren Hill to AC/DC, my ultimate pole dance song, and then we’ve arrived. Steven takes some liberties with a stranger’s $150 beach parking permit, and adheres it close to his heart: his stomach. Hey, the way to a man’s heart…

Sagitha (sangria), Amy, Stacey, Jeff (the clever one), and Mark finally arrive. I convince Stacey and Ken we should do trivia night in the city together. Friendships are growing; the Stoli Vanilla ginger ale drinks are superfluous. I’m buzzed from conversation. I’m thrilled until Steven tires me with his never-ending banter (god love him, though). Then, Ken and I look to find stragglers; we’re calling it a night. Until we’re struck by a kickass taking names band. Life is a Highway. Red Red wine. We’ve officially got some foreshadowing here, so pay attention. Before you know it, we’re dancing to the stylings of one Mister Johnny Cash, and okay, lets face it, grinding to some song about redheaded chicks. I almost get on stage, but decide his hands feel better than any stage could. Hot. Oh yes, I’m heavy with sweat, sticky, and slippery. Surprisingly, I’m 100% sober. Not surprising: I’ve got an afro.

The moon is orange, his sticker is on backwards, and I get a call. “Oh my god, Stephanie. You’re awake. Pick us up. We’re on the side of the road in front of Star Room.” The more the merrier. It’s 4am, and I love my girls.

Smiling, I fall asleep with my iPod listening to The Stones, Wild Horses, and finally passing out, wet (I had to shower because of the fro: “Oh man, Stephanie, what the hell did you do?”), to Louie Armstrong’s La Vie En Rose.

bbq_039 Blair witch barbecue: Okay, there weren’t any witches if you don’t count, “But the reality is” lady. But there were woods, and secret paths, and thank god, there were stars. It’s a perfect night, and all the girls packed right. They had barbecue outfits. I, however, pulled my closet full of nothing to wear and emptied the lot of it into a suitcase, only to surprise, surprise, have nothing appropriate to wear to a barbecue. What, a silky blue nighty top isn’t appropriate? Yeah, like I give a shite. I’m full from diner lunch and can’t imagine eating. Now drinking, well that’s another story. Here’s where it all happens. Red Red Wine, again. I detest beer, but you knew that. The bbq hasn’t a drop of vino, until I beg. I manage to procure a bottle of merlot and procede to empty its contents into two very wide plastic drinking cups. Why did I suggest a drinking game, for the love of god? Whale’s Tales. I drink an absurd amount of red wine. Everyone laughs. I love drinking games. I should add it to my list.

I’m in a hammock looking up, and I can swear I see north. But you can’t see north. But I do. Then I spill my red red wine all over Ken. There goes his shirt. I’m doing everything wrong, and he says that’s what he likes. And I can’t believe I’ve left my lens and drank too much red wine out of a cup. I lost my way in the woods, a lens, a shoe, and a few bricks from my wall.

The rest was kinetic. Like riding a bike or learning rhythm, you learn by doing it. Your body has a memory, remembering what you’ve forced out—trauma, pain, a kiss. You see it in the wrinkles, in the stiffness, in the habits. We do what we can to force out the tender, to keep things in check, hush vulnerability to a scant whisper. I fall asleep rehashing, parsing through the moments like cards layed out on a coffee table. I always show my hand. Though, I’m pretty darn good with a poker face, even if I’ve never played Texas Hold ‘Em. Forgoing games, I wear my heart heavy on my sleeve, wine on my shirt. So the red red wine was my undoing on Sunday night. I chicked out a little, created a head drama, then climbed back into bed and let my body do the thinking for a while. I awoke without my camera and index cards, anxious I’d lose the thoughts, like trying to recount your dreams in a journal. You can’t remember them all. I’ll post those in a month.

Car conversation: “You have to write about kissing in the sunshine.” Here we go. I’m getting hamptons blog requests. How am I supposed to write about that? My dog’s not even here, and the only kissing boys want to do with me is at night. It might make them inherit the shanks on the golf course or something.
“Sorry, love, I can’t write what I don’t know.” I apologize as I scribble this down on my index cards.
“Okay, well don’t write about seex. Please.”
“You know I can’t sensor for anyone.”
“Fine, you’re right. Write what you must; I trust you.”

So, about the seex, I know what you’re thinking… and trust me, you’re wrong. I’m telling you, it was a seex-free weekend. Period. With a make your own garbage can in the bathroom, and a whole lot of shedding, sweating, and complaining.

As for independence, I’m still looking up, anticipating some fireworks. Even if I’m the one who has to conjure her own noise and light for now. I’m wicked good at that.

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