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.
My morning introspection had a catalyst. Barenaked Ladies’ new song ‘War On Drugs.’ The song verbalizes the exact changes I’m making in myself. Letting the tug-of-war relationships of my past go, ridding myself of the guilt and shame… saying goodbye to the demons haunting me, that kept me such company. Maybe it will be dull without all this drama, and maybe it will be odd to make myself happy, like I always thought I was supposed to feel, but never seemed to be. So one point for me. I’m listening to Coldplay’s The Sceintist as I write this. Any song where a man is starting his sentence with “I’m sorry” is a good one. A song about reconciliation. Well done. I like men who show up in the middle of the night if you’re fighting on the phone, or the guy who when you sneak out of his apartment, chases you into the street, finds you in a cab and pleads for you to please come back inside… “there are things that need to be said.” I guess I love people who can realize they’re making mistakes before they make them. Romantics who know what to do if they ever are in a relationship. Nobody said it was easy. It’s such a shame for us to part. Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard. I love reconciliation. I just always thought it would be with a boy; I never thought I’d be reconciling with myself.
If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I wouldn’t have to shave. My nails would be long and manicured. Polish wouldn’t chip. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I would be a mother of healthy children, a wife, and a writer. I would live in a new house, with steam showers, full tubs, and dimmer light switches. I’d have land, a pool, a hot tub. I’d have a lovely SUV, and no one would ever suggest a minivan. I would be connected in a deep meaningful way to my husband, and we would keep our marriage a priority and a goal throughout our lives together. We would have trust, respect, and friendship. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I could eat anything and as much of any foods and I would still be thin, look muscular, defined, and have my health. I would never have to exercise to keep fit and healthy. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I would have close friends, as I do now, who I could grow old with, and live close to, counting on one another to be our memories. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, there would be no traffic, no slow people, no fear, no dead ends, no deadlines, no office politics or stress. There would be no disagreements or disappointments. Life would be fair. Karma would work. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, people I admired would adore me. I’d feel content and happy with my place in life–I would believe in and follow my purpose in life. I wouldn’t have questions. I’d have an inner therapist that would come out like a little angel who whispers to an ear in the cartoons. There would be no cartoon devil. The inner therapist would point things out to me, and make me aware. I would not act out of fear. I would be strong. I would not be needy. I would love myself–be proud, and I’d have no insecurity. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, my windows would keep out the cold air, and even on nights like these, I could sleep in silky nightgowns instead of socks, sweatpants, and a Duke sweatshirt from my past. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I could plan menus, write selective restaurant reviews and preview all movies I wanted to see before they were released to theatres. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, Linus would always be tired when I was. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I could have many rooms, beautifully decorated with charming, thoughful touches. Fresh flowers by the bed, lavender sachets in drawers, high thread count sheets, light switches by the headboard of a bed. Something akin to seat-heaters in a car, but for the house. I’d have company that I loved come to visit, and we’d sit indian-style by the fireplace, and drink sauvignon blanc from new zealand, and we’d laugh, and cling, and make savory memories. Aftertaste. There would be no dishes or cleaning to be done. I’d have a “royal packer” to pack and unpack my bags for travel. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, my space would be warm, comfortable, organized and clean. Bright, but dark where it needed it, like in my bedroom on the weekends only, and in the movie theatre I’d have in my home. If I were in Manhattan, as I am now, I would own stairs. I’d have built in bookshelves with a sliding ladder. I’d have enormous (well-insulated) windows with views. I’d have too many walk-in closets that even had space for a chaise. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I’d have a husband who was intellectually stimulating, who supported me, who made me laugh until I cried, who would cherish me, who I would deeply cherish back. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, people wouldn’t lie or cheat. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I would never have to say good-bye to the people or places or things that I loved. They would always be there, where I left them, like artifacts.
I have a mouthful of sushi–cool avocado explodes on my cheek. Beads of rice tucked under my upper lip, the sting of ginger on my tongue, toasted sesame seeds, the bounce of raw salmon. I’m sitting on a red stool in Rice Bowl surrounded by loud-talking girls. Yum, cucumber too. A cell phone rings, a gust of cold air as delivery man exists, fistful of bags, hat drawn down covering his eyebrows. Gloves thick. A black-haired Drew Barrymore type wipes down fake wooden tables with a square rag, pushing in chairs, a red bandana on her head, almost a nurse hat, saving the floors from crumbs. Her pants are too long, dragging on the long wooden floors. Her walk is a shuffle. When does her shift end? Does she only clean and serve, or is she learning to cut razor thin slices of ginger, pink and translucent like the insides of ears. Tempura shrimp in a metal tin beneath heat lamps, lined up like rows of gondalas in Venice, stuck in the light, waiting to be chosen. Too bad he’s married, mister black cashmere overcoat, designer glasses, cute smile, dimples. I saw his ring when he pointed to the brown rice. He takes his meal to a nook, in the front, stooling it facing out onto the street, at the wall of glass. The steam from his tea fogs up the window. I see his reflection. I love this about New York. How I can find a space and make it mine, in my head, it’s safe and I’m suddenly an observer, and I can see families and friends, and the guy eating alone, facing the street with the taxis and the woman running in next door for her quick pick ticket. Even the ugly girl sitting under me, on a regular chair, slurping her noodle soup, telling the ugly man she is wild about the new man she is dating. Even ugly people date. And it’s New York, and I’ll be having tea soon, and suddenly, it’s okay. None of us are alone in this. A daughter sits with her divorced father. Braces, clean-faced, green knitted hoodie, she eats chicken off a thin stick. Dad rubs his hands clean with a napkin, like he’s removing a stain from the carpet. Perhaps she’s telling him about school, asking if she is old enough to date or shave her legs. I’m too far away to hear, but they look happy, even though they’re not at home, at a kitchen table with a mother, even though they are broken. I’m getting full. Beneath the “Salads & Sushi Here” sign is a make your own salad bar, except it’s not make your own, it’s pick your own, and they make it for you. Toss. Toss. A cafeteria lineup. Metal tongs, appear to be floating wishbones, are plunged into bins of shredded carrots, diced celery, quartered beets, marinated tofu squares. I love avocado. I want to go home, nurture my inner compass, make myself a cup of tea, call it a spot, crawl under the covers in my cashmere socks and write. Time for the gloves, the scarf and the coat. Time to leave Rice Bowl, and go to my home, to make dinner for Linus, to let him lick up my nose. Time to go home.
My curls were separate and soft when I was younger. I remember my childhood as if all I ever wore were blue overalls. I traveled in strollers, a cushy blue and white polka-dot stroller some days and ordinary cotton sack strollers on more casual days. Asleep in a stroller holding one of those shiny plastic balls sold in steel bins at the supermarket. An apple juice box nestled in the crack of space between the side of my leg and the stroller. Right there, in that moment, that was my childhood. That’s how I remember it, asleep, calm, just peace. Now, men look at me on the street. Yell things like “Hey Red, boy would I like a piece of that.” And I cannot find the kind of peace I used to have when people paid no attention to me, or rather, I was able to pay no attention to them. On warm summer evenings, I remember lying upstairs, with a sheet for a blanket, the window open, listening to the crickets, the muffled television from down the hall, and Mother’s company laughing downstairs. When the air-conditioner was in the shop for servicing, we had to soak our white cotton sheets in a basin of water, wring them out, and stretch them across our mattresses; they would help us keep cool. Lemon water, dining beneath awnings, dog runs, jam jars filled with wild flowers, fireflies, scribbles of cloud, light sweaters, kites, capri pants with paten leather J.P. Todds, Jersey tomatoes, sunflowers, freckles and sticky Solarcain skin, blond highlights, cherries, sprinklers, lemonade stands. At least there are winter coats, and boots, gloves, muffs. Something to hide me. Stop looking. Sat in the bathroom stall at work today and cried. I didn’t go to the bathroom to cry; I went to pee. But as I relaxed, tears just came flooding out, bleeding into the gray cracks of the tiles at my feet. I was not meant to do this with my life. I should be following my dreams. I saw a woman who was settling for less, and I didn’t like what I saw. My dream is to write, and I’m going to do it.