Sunday, August 1, 2010

Whiskey, I'll always love you. It's just not a good time right now.

Oh, whiskey, how fraught with complications is our relationship. Sure, we’ve had good times. Remember when I used to carry you around in my purse in a dainty silver round flask all over Boston before I could legally hang out with you? You’ve been there for me and my nearest and dearest through a lot of good times.

There was the Christmas party in the Leonard St. apartment before I moved in and way before David moved out. When we mixed up pitchers of Manhattans and drank them like they were margaritas. I remember meeting all sorts of new people and just trying to stay in one place long enough not to vomit on the countertop at my then-new love’s house in front of his friends. And then, after drinking at least 2 gallons of water, dancing my heart out in that yellow plaid sequined Oscar de la Renta skirt that made such a great swishing noise on the dancefloor. No one was the wiser to the tumultuous evening you and I were having at the time.

But lately, it just seems like you are only keeping company with the saddest of individuals. I’m worried about you. In our youth, you always brought happy times and good vibes with you. Now, it seems as though every time anyone I know hangs out with you, it’s a fight to hold back tears. And I naively hold onto the hope that each time you will come through and save the day, but you always overstay your welcome by a few drinks, and the night ends with slurred words and the admission of otherwise hidden secrets.

Maybe it’s my nostalgic tendencies, but I miss the old times. I miss the times when the worst that happened was I ended up fully clothed in my bathtub with the shower water blasting on me until the hot water ran out and I woke with a shock. When I could recover from the aftermath of your visit within a day or even a morning. But now, it’s two or three full days of walking around in a zombie-like state before I’m back to normal.

I want to believe we can work this out, but honestly, you’re just kind of depressing me lately. We’ll just have to see how it goes next time.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Even Experts Get the Blues

I am not so convinced that an open mind is always the best thing to possess. Decisive people have necessarily closed minds. They must know what they think about various general scenarios in advance so that when something specific occurs, they can act swiftly. I’m a person who never takes very long to read the menu and decide what it is I want to eat. I never ask more than one question at a new coffee shop when I’m ordering. I generally know what I like and what I want. As I’ve mentioned before, I once made a list of characteristics that a potential mate must possess. No one could ever accuse me of being a woman who doesn’t know what she wants or how to get it.

But when you’ve been living in that ascendant mode for 26 years of life, it becomes alarming when you can’t figure out what it is that you might want. I knew I wanted to do well at and graduate from high school, and I made that choice and went forward with it. I wanted to go to design school, do well, and move to New York to work in the fashion industry. So I went ahead and did that and was very decisive in my career decisions. This has all yielded great results so far.

And now, I have been in New York City for 4 1/2 years, and all of a sudden I’m feeling very wishy-washy. I don’t know if I want to stay or go. I don’t know if I want Thai food or if I just want to forego dinner altogether. I blame it on the fact that I have too many options. I could do anything. I have nothing and no one determining my geography or any decisions in my life for that matter.

I suppose that life is cumulative, with all of the experiences that one has and all of the people that one person meets. You learn so much as you go along. One of the most important but completely overwhelming lessons on which to meditate is the fact that we are all human. Although there are experts in certain fields and people who have certification in all sorts of things, we are all subject to the same limitations of time and energy and personal experience. Even the best doctor can sometimes miss a diagnosis, and the best racecar driver will sometimes crash. I find no comfort in this thought, just a sense of being overwhelmed.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Type-A no more?

As I mentioned in my last post, I have spent most of my life as a neurotic type-A. Think Tracy Flick, Reese Witherspoon’s character, in Election. This type-A adherence to the rules and to other people’s expectations never really allowed me to develop my instincts for sniffing out the people who have nothing but the best intentions for me. In fact, it’s made me na├»ve, while seemingly in control.

But now I’ve realized that I’ve been extremely fortunate in that area. I don’t know if it is my size (for anyone who doesn’t know me, I’m unusually petite), or if it is my personality, but most people that I meet feel protective of me. I call it the “Little Sister Syndrome.” Somehow I project a non-threatening charm that causes near complete disarmament of other people. It’s subtle, but it seems as if people I meet want to protect me or help me out, and not take advantage of me because of this outward naivete.

Or maybe I’m completely off-base, and this has nothing to do with that. One time, a coworker told me that I “seem competent” at whatever is asked of me. Quite a lackluster compliment, I still appreciated it for what she meant. Maybe people want to assist in my plans because everyone is looking for a competent ally in a world where so little competency exists.

Perhaps, though, I really just have been fortunate and strategic enough to meet the right kind of like-minded and exciting people. I have this hippie friend who smokes a lot of weed and talks about the “vibe” a lot. It’s the extremely basic idea of karma: You get what you give. So if you put forth the best intentions into the world, then you’ll get back the best results. It’s an easy concept for me to embrace as such a lucky person. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this luck stays.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Things I have inherited from my parents

Until very recently, I have considered myself to be an unchanging person, a pillar of immutable constancy, not to mention a personality of great redundancy. I’ve known I got this emphasis on being grounded directly from my mom. Her childhood was one of complete upheaval with no option for stability, shifting around to different homes and different towns. This recognition of the ever-changing world coupled with the irresistible desire to control all elements within one’s own realm are hallmarks of my mother’s personality. And I suppose mine too.

In contrast to my mother, or perhaps the perfect complement, is my dad. He’s an adventurer, always ready to keep moving and trying out something new at any juncture, never sitting still. And I’ve always sort of understood and appreciated that daring nature, while still being cautious and rule-oriented like my mom.

Dad really dislikes regulations and eschews authority at every possibility, a perpetual teenager. This has never been my mode, even as an actual teenager. I rarely stayed out past curfew. I never ran with the bad crowd, or talked back to my teachers. I always obediently did exactly what has been expected of me.

But there has been a shift somewhere. The change wasn’t seismic or sudden, but over the past year, as my dissatisfaction with the status quo of my life has grown, so has my tolerance for being sweet-natured and compliant in all situations. Not only do I have this adventurous spirit in common with my father, but I’m taking it to the next level. As a 26-year-old southern woman, I am expected to be polite and smile no matter the injustice or rudeness perpetrated upon me. I find that this new free-spirited attitude has made me much happier, and it’s also allowed me to actually like people a bit more. I don’t have to have people act in any certain way. I only expect that people will give me a baseline of consideration and take into account my side of the situation.

This change has been the single biggest revelation in my nearly 27 years of life, and I’m finally feeling secure in my naivete and innocence. Previously I’d associated it with lack of control, but now I associate it with openness to excitement, which feels quite a bit more natural. If I didn’t have the contrasting personalities of my parents as shining examples, I’d never have been able to see that there is a time and place for loosening and tightening one’s ideas about life as the situation dictates. Currently, all bets are off.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Mexican Candle

I bought one of those Mexican candles that are in all the bodegas around any Hispanic neighborhood in New York City. In its clear cylindrical jar, I’ve burned it for the past few months as a bit of a talisman for love and prosperity. There is no portrait of a saint or of the Virgin on the jar, so I assumed I could assign my own ritual to it as long as I have good intentions.

Six days ago, it had burned so far down, that I couldn’t light it anymore unless I had extra long matches or one of those grill lighters that is just a metal stick with a plastic handle. I have neither of those things, so I took to lighting long pieces of folded paper and holding them down into the jar until the wick would light. But even that stopped working, when I suppose the oxygen couldn’t get to the flame to keep it going. Surely this isn’t signaling the end of my prosperous love life.

I decided that the only way to take charge of my luck in love was to smash the jar. So I held it with a towel, and I smashed the top of it against my granite countertop and into my sink. An uneven break, this made a treacherous and craggy sharp-edged circle of glass guarding the candle from any hands that might try to light it. I lit it anyway, sneaking a lighter through one of the slits in the side, narrowly avoiding the knife-edge that could have easily sliced into my finger if I’d flinched even slightly.

With this haphazard and take-charge attitude, I met up with a former love. And craggy would be a generous description of our interaction that day. Emotionally violent, this was a wick forced to burn even when the guard was up. As if I’d cut a gash in my hand trying to light the candle, there was a terrible confrontation, and then the flame was out. For good this time.

This evening, I took out a hammer, and gently and strategically knocked off the sharpest and most dangerous shards from what was left of the jar. Then I tapped the sharp edge off the newly formed lip until the wax itself was just below the glass line. With a regular lighter, and at close range, I lit the wick, and it burned as if it had been given new life with room to breathe and even overflow a bit onto my mantle. Now I have a puddle of red wax flowing off the edge of the mantle that seems to never have been leveled and a candle that’s burning bright.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ernest Hemingway

I am reading The Sun Also Rises for the first time. So far, it's really excellent.

I can't believe I've gone 26 years and my entire education without reading this book.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I'm not obsessive, I'm just passionate.

I can’t get it out of my head. Surfing for me right now is like that crush in middle school who kind of liked you back but was a seventh grade boy so inherently unreliable. Some days, you are super confident and he’s noticing that cute floral dress you bought at Express. And when you were trying it on you had the secret hope that maybe he would say something. But then two weeks later, you wear the same dress, and he barely even looks at you the whole day.

Last Saturday, I went out, and I was killing it, catching waves all over the place in some tiny crappy surf. It wasn’t the most exciting session, but it was fun, and I was feeling great. Then on Sunday, it all turned around. I was just hanging out, not catching anything. I could blame it on the waves or the on-shore winds, or something. And I’m sure those factors are most of the issue, but I’m sometimes still an insecure middle-schooler who wonders what exactly I did wrong and how to get his attention again.

So I have spent most of this week watching surf videos of the best female surfers in the world. And they make it look so easy. Surely I can surf just like one of those women who train every day and have been surfing since they were able to walk. Right? It’s like trying to get the same amount of attention as the girl who got boobs first, and who seems to know how to carry herself while the rest of us were still figuring out how to fasten our training bras without having to put the hooks in the front and then turn it around.

This weekend, I will still go out, and I will put on my cutest bikini, knowing that I do have the chance to get that gawky pre-teen’s attention. But by the time he’s interested, I’ll have moved on to bigger and better waves who will cherish me a bit more. But I’ll still know that I want to impress the hell out of the first one, the one that goes in and out of my affections.