Here’s what you don’t know about B&H Photo. They have food stands to keep you there. Restrooms and food stands. Free Coke, seltzer and lots of pretzel nuggets. And sugar, bowls filled with hard candies on nearly every corner. They’re not dumb, fueling you full of stimulants. Shop, shop, damn it, shop! If you know what you want, you can walk right up to a man, wait for a cue, “I’m listening,” then bark your list, he types, you’re done. A green plastic basket is then awaiting your arrival at checkout. 5 minutes flat. I went in control this time. In and out, easy. Going to B&H Photo is a little like grocery shopping when I’m hungry. Before going next time, I’ll check my Amex balance first, maybe print it out and pocket it. Today I went with a list. The list was strict and written on a folded index card in black pen. No pencils here. I brought with me every bit of camera equipment that I own, pulled over my shoulder, just incase I questioned straying from the list. The weight of it all would keep me questioning any reckless purchase. 105 Macro lens was third on my list, but definitely the most expensive item. Fujipress 800, Kodak HIE, 105 Macro lens, 500w EBW bulbs (2) with brackets, gold/silver reflector card. What I left with: 81A Amber filter for a 62mm, Fog Filter 62mm, Close-up filter kit of 3, Filter Case, 105 Macro lens, and all the film, plus two more. $570.79 bill in hand, 2 hours later. Okay, sure, I rationalized that the new digital camera that I just spent $2,000 on would save me money in the long run, right, no more film to buy or develop. Wrong. With a digital camera, you feel like you’re cheating. Photoshop it up if it’s not what you hoped for. It’s like re-writing an old story with a few strokes of a red pen. It doesn’t count; it’s not original. All week I was somehow too busy to shoot for my photography class… the one that meets on Monday nights. Assignment: to shoot 2 rolls of film in the style of your favorite movie or movie director. The problem, of course, with this assignment is that I have too many favorite movies, yet none of them seem classic. The one movie I recalled as being beautifully shot is Unfaithful. Modern crops, some grain, good aperture. The trick is not picking a movie just because it’s beautiful. I certainly can’t replicate Antarctica, Africa or Thailand. It’s about replicating style, not subject matter. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, too cliché. I came home and watched Unfaithful until it was time for “Sex and the City.” Then I cried. I want babies. So that leaves Monday afternoon for my photo shoot. Hello Grand Central Terminal. Unless any of you have any good ideas… “I’m listening.” Here’s where I ended up, an homage to Pleasantville.
1. I wet the bed until I was in 6th grade. 2. I ate dinner with Jack Nicholson. There were 5 of us. I don’t recall if he actually ate, but he didn’t talk. 3. I get diarrhea more than a normal person and have no qualms about sharing it with everyone in the shorthand version ‘rea.’ 4. Chris Noth (Mr. Big from Sex in the City) asked me out on a date, while his friend (my date) was in the bathroom. 5. Anyone who can play acoustic guitar rocks my world… as long as they sing, too. 6. I don’t like vibrators, but I love dirty talk in bed. 7. I’ve been known to dress up as “the other woman” complete with wig, contacts, and fake name all in the name of “keeping things exciting.” (see image above) 8. Julie Tesser accidentally broke my nose in the 4th grade. I never got it fixed. 9. I had a pet bird that committed suicide by sticking his head between the cage bars. 10. My sister forgot to feed her pet gerbils, so one died. Then, the one that was alive ate its dead friend. 11. I have never tried a cigarette or done any drugs, including marijuana. 12. I don’t know where Wyoming or Montana are on the U.S. Map. Oklahoma, neither. Okay, now I know where Montana is because my sister moved there. 13. I was always afraid of ducks when I was little. Their feet scare me. 14. The second toe on both my feet is longer than my big toes. It’s called the Royalty Toe. 15. I once weighed 168.5 lbs. And wore a size 16 pants, a men’s size 36. 16. When I drink alcohol the bridge of my nose turns bright red. 17. I still worry about my weight but I somehow manage not to puke up my food after every meal like most of Manhattan. 18. I was a vegetarian for 9 years until I was tempted to eat a chicken nugget. 19. I lost my virginity when I was 15 to a boy named Eric Fink. 20. I hate tuna fish or salmon out of a can, but I will eat both as fillets or sushi. 21. I won’t date anyone who can fit into my jeans. 22. I hate the gynecologist. Nearly every time I’m there, I faint out of fear. 23. Receiving oral sex does nothing for me. 24. I got alcohol poisoning when I was 14, and I didn’t drink after that until sophomore year of college. 25. I can touch my tongue to the tip of my nose 26. I hate barbecue chips and sauce, but I like dry rub ribs from Memphis. 27. I hate learning history. 28. I have always excelled in math, even though I was an English major. 29. I love karaoke. 30. I have never shoplifted. 31. I have never lost money gambling. I always win at Roulette. 32. I am ¼ Greek, ¼ Puerto Rican, ¼ Russian, and ¼ Austrian 33. I was raised Jewish, had a bat mitzvah, went to Hebrew school, yet my mother is Greek Orthodox. 34. I once worked cold-calling people at home to sell Chimney Cleaning Services. 35. I am a distant cousin to the person who sings the theme song in the movie Manequin (Nothing’s gonna stop us now—Starship) 36. I know all the lines in the movie “When Harry Met Sally.” 37. I have seen every single episode of Three’s Company. 38. A photograph of me appeared in Newsday when I was protesting power lines 39. When I’m sick, I stay home and watch the entire Anne of Green Gables series. 40. Yes, my hair is naturally red, and no you can’t make me prove it. 41. The same day I had all 4 wisdom teeth pulled, I ate eggplant parmigano. No swelling. 42. While ordinarily I am not a pious person, sleep away camp was a religious experience. 43. I had an abortion, and it’s more than just some item on a list. 44. On a stormy night, when I was 9 years old, I said aloud that I wanted a sign there was a god. I turned over a deck of well-shuffled cards, and I pulled out 2 aces in a row, then I put the cards away. 45. My dad is my best friend. 46. I wear a 34C. 47. I detest any type of beer, including Apple Jack. 48. I had the opportunity to cheat on my SATs. I didn’t. 49. I called in sick to work one day because I was up all night playing Final Fantasy. 50. I have tweezed my entire pubic area because I was bored. 51. “Woman on Top” was the worst movie I’ve ever seen next…
I can taste him sometimes, mineral, a hint that disappears like a whisper, I’m not sure I heard, a fine bead of sugary pear inside my cheek, a hum of memories like rain, he is familiar, yet unexpected, like the taste of your own blood. His voice reassuring, like a shoreline, puddles of speech, linger in me, permanent, water stains on paper. Tender and calming, engulfing me with rapture and envy, a suffocated ship without aid. I can smell him sometimes, warm with soap, mingled in his chest, hair like broken stitches, curled like seashells. Scalp, saliva, and sandalwood. Deer eyes reveal a man who had settled for less, hands as tender and strong as his voice, tanned skin with a sheen like pressed Egyptian sheets, a brownie mole that escaped my eyes in the dark. I can feel him sometimes, beneath the cup of my hand, filling me like dough when it’s pushing into cold stone, warm and buzzing with yeast and elasticity, melted wax, soft as sifted flour, rhythm, kneading, needing.
It’s a crock. We all agree. It’s like the Easter bunny but without the dye, Cadbury eggs, or plastic grass-filled baskets. Some underground creature with the ability to prognosticate, yup, right up there with Claus. However, it is a holiday, and as such, a celebration, or at least an acknowledgement must follow. Bring in the films. I tip my hat to this holiday by loading my DVD player with a double feature film viewing of Groundhog Day followed by Caddyshack. I challenge you to come up with a better afternoon duo. I can just see Punxsutawney Phil, peeking out, shaking like a Chihuahua to shed his slumber, then a sunlight flinch. Interpreted: Phil has seen his shadow: six more weeks of winter. Newsflash: He has seen his shadow 94 times since the tradition began. It’s rooted in a German superstition that if a hibernating animal cast a shadow Feb. 2, winter will last another six weeks. I think the Germans should stick to bratwurst.
Like men with hot cars, I am compensating. I have no seex life. Assignment #1 photography class: shoot a pepper. Boy did I ever. View the results in the album.
I am home sick, with a moderate temperature. Beneath my bathroom sink, I’ve big round brushes, feet moisturizing socks, a pumice stone, even an enema. What I don’t have is a lot of what one needs when a cold arrives unexpectedly. Let’s begin here. I’m the type of girl who doesn’t skimp… so my toilet paper is Charmin Ultra (the blue one, not the red… big difference). I trekked over to Duane Reade with Linus. I bring Linus because he’s been stored inside for a few days in a puff of a sweater to keep his pink naked body warm. Of course my Duane Reade has an escalator. As Linus approaches the collapsible stairs, he gets down low, leans on his forearms and growls. My dog is now barking at the escalator, in a store, which has a prominent NO PETS ALLOWED sign on its door. Although I can’t breathe and my throat actually has some new type of razor lodged in it, I begin to laugh. Swoop up Linus. We finally make it home, and we unpack. I place bags down; he pulls out items with his mouth. I begin to sneeze. Along with the Gatorade and chicken noodle soup, Michael brought me white roses to put by my bed. Jennifer sent me beautiful lilies. Amazing friends, yes. Beautiful flowers, yes, fragrant, oh yes. Sneezes—yes and yes. The moral of this story is: Don’t even bother buying tissues if you have a cold. No tissue is as soft as Charmin Ultra toilet paper. Damn, I should have known not to buy tissues from Scott’s Brand. Oh my lord, what was I thinking? There is another lesson in this; it’s akin to never going grocery shopping when you’re hungry. If you’re sick, let someone else do this for you (insert boyfriend here). You are clearly not thinking straight. You’re the crazy one laughing at the escalator; you should be in bed watching something with Meg Ryan.
It’s as exciting as Ben & Jerry’s new 2004 flavors, my new photography class offered at ICP. This weekend I’m shooting an album cover for a new artist’s cd. Look at the pictures. Tomorrow I’m finally treating myself to the D100. I currently shoot using Nikon’s N80, and the D100 is the digital version. This week’s assignment is to photograph a green pepper. Oh no, you read right. A nod to Edward Weston’s famous shot. So I was thinking of getting Jennifer naked for an erotic (the key word is tasteful) shot with the lovely veggie. Okay, or, shooting it with a micro lens—abstract. Be a pepper pics to follow can be seen in the seexual veggies photo album. I really aspire to shoot like Karen Beard. Her images are gorgeous. If anyone knows how to acheive this style, post a comment or email me.
Super bowl Sunday–who really cares anyway? We all know it’s just about the food. For me, it’s about Lifetime Television for Women. I’ll tivo the bowl and fast forward to the commercials. Pass the artichoke dip and tissues. Super bowl Sunday is about the good channels who air the chick movies for all the football widows. Now before I even go there, and believe me, I’ll go there, baby, I’d like to address book nerds. I once heard that books to some people become their home. The typed letters, stanzas, and paragraphs don’t evaporate off the page and get heavier somehow, like bricks or stones, but suddenly an unreturned favorite lent out book becomes a loss. Not a lost sock or the keys you can’t find, but almost something to mourn. Like a child who cries at his first haircut, the books become an instrumental part of the person’s identity. You are what you read. I am not one of these people. I know people who pack up their favorite books with them as they travel. Unpacked, after slipping underwear into new drawers, the books are revealed and placed on the hotel bedside table. Comfort. I travel with paperbacks, but they’re always new—and if I finish it on the plane, I offer it to the passenger beside me—or I’ll leave it in the netted bag with the barf bag and stoic crash instructions. I do understand that feeling of home, but it’s intangible. What makes “home” yours? Is it the smell, the people, your bed, your dog, the rent check you pay? Like the book junkies, I hold onto that sense of comfort and shelter through movies. Maybe it’s the familiar comfort of a bedtime story that allows my nerves to unfold. Certain movies enable me to feel at home no matter where I am. The movies are ones I’ve seen so many times, that with my eyes closed I know the gesture, the facial expression, the changes of scene that are happening. The voices and stories come to life, and the characters become as dear to me as the people in my life. I can finally stop thinking and rest peacefully. When traveling, I pack the paperback, but I always leave room for a few sleeves of DVD favorites. Okay, relax; I’m getting to that. Before I reveal my list of favorite bedtime story movies (which any guy who ever wants to date me must be able to stomach), I will start with the more palatable films to the masses. You need to trust me with your time and Blockbuster late fees. I’ll earn it. I don’t know what’s up with the male obsession with The Godfather, Star Wars, and Lord of The Rings series. Yawn. I’ve seen them all, and of these, I’d stick with the Lord of The Rings. Then there’s Red Dawn, Breaking Away, Fight Club, and (oh dear lord) Clint Eastwood. Obviously, I’m a chick. Then we reach the area where men and women usually agree… the Shawshank, American Beauty, Rain Man, Good Will Hunting, It’s a Wonderful Life arena. Those are just basics. Scoop of vanilla, scoop of chocolate, don’t waste my time. Obvious. If you’re a little artsy, add a Neil Simon to the list—Brighton Beach Memoirs or Lost in Yonkers… Yes and yes. Something about Mary, Groundhog Day, Trading Places, Meet the Parents, Coming to America, Defending your Life (anything actually with Albert Brookes is hysterical), Big, A Night at the Roxbury, Funny Farm, and Nine Months ring as favorite comedies for many. Okay, I’m diving in now, my sleeves have been pushed up. Bedtime movies masquerading as chick flicks to follow: 1. “Love in the Afternoon” because older men are seexy as hell. 2. “Philadelphia Story” with Katherine Hepburn because women like endearing nicknames like Red, ahem. And because women want a real man, who is whole, and who knows how to be a man. 3. “Sense & Sensibility” men just don’t get this movie, and every woman I know who has seen this film is suddenly sobbing and hoping for a better life. 4. “When Harry Met Sally” because I’m going to be forty, too… someday. 5. “French Kiss” because I want to plant some seeds and watch them grow. (Any green thumb thoughts should be extinguished.) I can quote this movie all day. And the soundtrack is like a rainy day with cashmere socks. 6. “Beautiful Girls” for lines like, “You’ve been eatin’ retard sandwiches again.” 7. “Meet Joe Black” because I believe that lightening can strike more than a woman walking her dog. 8. “Sabrina” because I named my dog after Linus Larabee. 9. “Little Women” because I am Josephine March. And because it teaches women to value themselves beyond how they look. This movie should charge you…
Over a year ago, I thought I was ready to date again; actually there was no thought about it. I had to date again. Any time I spent without concrete plans was wasted. Tick tock. I had to move on, and that meant meeting someone new. (I wish I had the strength then that I do now to just be alone) I sorted through match.com profiles with a very open mind. So he looked like Al Borland from Tool Time… so that could be cute in a “lets cuddle in matching flannel” kind of way. I was done with hot. I was married to hot. Hot was 28-years-old and lied to me, running around town without his wedding band, pretending to be single, with a much older women while I was pregnant. I had hot, and it didn’t take. I was looking for the perfect man for me, someone just good looking enough to get me aroused. Excess leads to torment. The date was set. We talked on the phone for hours, and I of course conjured up the wrong image of this cuddly man. He would “fix” things. I wasn’t shy about my recent past. Details were shared with a stranger; a stranger who I hoped would be a replacement. He was emotionally available, compassionate; he seemed evolved and to possess excellent communication skills. He had feelings beyond anger because the ref made a bad call. I was beautiful in my new cream coat and cashmere wrap. I waited in the cold with anticipation. As he approached, all I could think was “uncle.” He was not my uncle, but he was asexual in an uncle sort of way. My shoulders fell, I smiled harder to conceal my disappointment. This guy was cold milk. We exchanged an awkward kiss on the cheek and walked to High Life Bar & Grille. I downed two glasses of wine in a hurry. That’s better. Okay, let me make the most of this. He did go to Columbia, was a banker and a film critic writer. There were things to say. I hadn’t anticipated what happened next. “So Stephanie, thanks for meeting me. I’ve been sad lately… tomorrow is my birthday and I have no one to go out with. Will you please have dinner with me.” Okay, so freeze frame there for a sec. I’m on a pseudo-date with him right then, and I’m not feeling him. And now, in my emotionally tender state, I have to commit to another date? No way, right, I have plans, would love to, sorry. Wrong. “Of course I will.” Oh dear lord. Okay, so the man knows I’m into sushi, so he promises a spectacular sushi dinner. He says he’s going to pick me up in his car and take us there. I keep a car in Manhattan, too, but what a hassle to drive to dinner. What’s the point–parking, drinking. Maybe he just wants to show off his car. Yup. So he picks me up on the Upper East Side, then we’re buzzing over to the West Side of Manhattan in his Ferrari. Where can he be taking me, Fujiyama-Mama? My mind is reeling through Zagat pages, Haru? There’s a Haru on the East Side. Then it becomes clear. We’re approaching the West side highway. “Are we going to New Jersey?” Okay, so if he were cute, the gesture of bad sushi with a great Manhattan view would have been romantic, “How creative is he? He put so much thought into our date. What effort.” Friends would have swooned. When you’re not into the guy it’s “can you even believe he took me to NEW JERSEY for sushi?!?” Friends shake their heads. AND TO READ WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, please buy my memoir, Straight Up & Dirty >>
The ever-beautiful Jennifer turned 26, and to celebrate we, well, we bowled. An inner soundtrack to Grease 2 played in my head. Nicked manicures, entrusting the “bowling man” behind the counter (the dude with the comb-over who hangs out at OTB on his off nights) with my Manolo’s for the ever-fashionable bowling shoes. Don’t you just adore it when they spray the insides of the shoes before they hand them over for you to wiggle your feet into? Delish. Lysol for your toes. Pinky’s Nail Salon would certainly have something to say about that. My day began, of course, shopping with the ever-beautiful Jennifer in the AM hours. New York Look. Expensive Diva Digs. Hence leather and lace skirt (see photos of B-day girl), times 2. Yes, we both got the same skirt. Thank you Jen. It’s HOT. The lovely Kimberly got a fantastic cake from Crumb’s Bakery… okay, people still wipe their names with their pinky and put the icing on their nose for luck. Mr. Marius’ luck is certainly getting to lick our sweet Jennifer clean. Okay, tie. They’re both Lucky. They would both score high on “Are You Hot?” Big thanks to Marius for the evening. Lots of love to all my girls… so good seeing you all. I wish we could have brunches and catch up all the time… though I guess then we wouldn’t HAVE to catch up. Nonetheless, who’s coming over to watch the Globes with me? Come on, I’ll cook! Or at least I’ll make martinis. Dirty. Snow shmo. See the pics from the party in my photo albums.
I went to the blogger BASH last night, though it ought to have been called the Blogger BAN, since we were all but kicked out of AZ. Apparently our green wasn’t what they were looking for, so, we headed west to Siberia, to greener pastures… here I am prior to the ban: So I’m at Siberia, a bar with no name outside, desert. Downstairs, a guy sings in Aasics sneakers, a tee shirt and blazer–probably a lawyer or an analyst at JP Morgan. Watching him sing, his mouth open and crying into the microphone, I can suddenly see through the grunge-cool to the kid who shite himself in kindergarden. Joe Rogers Band. After his set, I introduce myself… his hands full with gear and a mailing list tucked beneath a winged arm, we don’t shake. “Hey, I appreciate what you do out there. You guys were good.” I sound like I’m in kindergarden. “Oh thanks man.” He says it, and something about the way his mouth moves, I think of a kid who was on the chess team and who probably had a pet Lizard. Social skills equal zero. Lips tight. I’m waiting for the awkward inhale of a laugh. I turn and walk. Okay, so hanging out in basement music establishments is a nod to my college years. Now, I usually hang out in wine bars, slurping oysters and pecking away at good Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. It just is. People think it’s upper crust, whatever. I’ve never been a beer drinker, not even Corona, even when it was the thing to do. You know, I can “do” basement. I actually liked the Joe Rogers Band. People are drinking in their hats–like 25 people, one woman–okay, no, two–in skullcaps. We’re inside people; you can remove your sunglasses too. That fashion statement went out with The Cars. In college, I met a man with a hat at The Raccoon Lodge. Obviously, not my type of place anymore, yet in college, they didn’t hassle us with IDs. We entered, played good tunes on the jukebox, and we let men buy us drinks. So, I meet this guy toward the end of the night, backwards baseball cap. I’m feeling seexy and drunk, warmth and a certain laziness has settled over me, and I smile. We talk it up about how much there is to do in New York, and how no one who lives here really takes advantage unless we’ve got to show it up to a friend from out of town. Neuyorkican Poetry Cafe used to be my favorite place to take people… typical dark (at the time smoky) spot, with a DJ, some adult beverages, and yes, poetry. How Jack. Back to the hats, so we talk, and he’s cute. He says he goes to the theatre all the time. “Oh yeah, so when are you taking me?” I’m bold, and it’s time to go home soon, my let’s-get-to-it-move. Numbers are exchanged. The next weekend, I’ve been manicured, waxed, and blown smooth. I approach the restaurant with nerves and adrenaline. My hands are damp. Then, I see him in the restaurant. Actually, that’s not true. I don’t see him at all. A man approaches me that I had never seen before, and says, “Did you find the place okay?” Could this bald man with a lazy eye be my baseball cap date? People, no more hats inside. It’s just not fair… it’s like chicks who wear padded bras.
Randomly I’ve been reunited in one form or another lately with ex-boyfriends. I was writing a story about my summers at camp, when suddenly the character on my page was an ex, and I realized I wanted to know about him now… realized I really always liked him for him, just as he is. So I pushed up my sleeves and called information. Turns out you can’t look up a number without giving a town or origin (the state isn’t quite do-able). I had to suck it up, throw back a sip of wine and, dare I say, call his father. It turned out to be a lovely idea. His father and I got on swimmingly. Kisses and hugs, exchanged even over the phone. Pointed in the direction of my ex friend and lover from high school. That’s right, high school. Adam James Lis and I always got on. Friends first… always connected, always real. And we picked up where we left off, baring our souls, sharing our most intimate secrets, as though no time at all had escaped us. Like me, he’s figuring out who he is, was, and wants to be. Change and the learning that comes with it is frightening, not sexy. Eric Fink, I ran into him, the boy I lost my virginity to when I was 15. I saw him as I was in the lobby at Pfizer. I work in advertising, ready to present my ideas for their web site… and there, as sudden as a snap, I saw him, without hesitation. I knew it was Eric. Eric broke up with me after our two years, of what I thought was committed dating. Monogamy. Ah, no. He hooked with my “friend” Carolyn Hiller. My family always said he looked mousy; they called him “twinkle toes.” I thought it was strange running into none other than Eric Fink two days after tracking down Adam Lis. Eric really was my first real love. Tonight I received a phone text message from my ex boyfriend from college. I’ll leave his name out of this, incase his girlfriend stumbles my way. That’s right. Girlfriend. He’s obviously confused. Who can blame him? I do rock. The last time I saw him, he kissed me. We were always friends, and we both wanted more, but we never got on in that way. I know we all tend to look back with rose glasses, and we try our hardest to remember why it didn’t work, and lately, I’ve been really good at remembering exactly why. Most of the men I was with, I was with them because of how much they loved me, because of how well they treated and adored me. It’s certainly nice, but it’s not a grown up reason as to why to choose to be in a relationship. It’s the act of an insecure child. Now, I’m looking for someone whole. Someone passionate who has things to teach. Didactic is seexy. I am seexy; I am didactic. Looking for same, I’d say affirmative and eventually.