Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Good Things are Trying to Catch You

So I’m at the gym doing the awesome workout known as body sculpt, having the typical internal convo:

You know what I should do, I should start writing an additional letter next to the “G” I mark on my calendar every time I go to the gym, so like “Y” for yoga or “P” for pilates or “S” for sculpt so I can see how hard I’m pushing myself...dang, I always forget to take out my gum before this class, watch me choke on it, I wonder if anyone in here knows the Heimlich maneuver, I bet they don’t and no one would notice me choking with all this music and movement anyway, I’d die... love the redesign of Dictionary.com, it’s so sleek and spare, it's kind of like after NewYorkMetro.com’s redesign...this is my jam, Mary J. is my personal diva, love her, fellas tell your lady she’s the one / ladies tell your man he’s got you loooocked…ooh it’s Mariah now, love her too, I don't care what anyone says, haha, the instructor just said I love Mariah, I swear to y’all, if I were straight I’d try to marry her, that’s so brilliant, haha, I wonder why haven’t I ever taken his class before, he’s got a fun Aussie accent, reminds me of [redacted], wonder what he’s up to now…
Nothing out of the ordinary. Until. I’m walking toward my car in the parking lot after class, and even from far away I can tell there’s something unusual about it: something’s sitting on the roof of the car. Odd-shaped black thing. Crumpled plastic bag? It’s not until I get right up on it that I can see it’s a four-inch high black statuette of Buddha. Someone put a Buddha on top of my car and left it for me to find. This was the best part of my day by a mile.

Last week, I’d gotten Chinese take-out and my fortune had read, “Look around. Good things are trying to catch you.” I put this fortune in my wallet alongside a favorite photo of my best girlfriends on the beach in Mexico on my 28th birthday. And when I open my wallet I am just charmed to see these two wonderful things snuggling together behind the plastic window.

Anyway, the Buddha? The fortune? Together they must mean that good things are really trying to catch me, keinahora, if I would only drive slower. (It's a 1998 Ford Escort. How fast can it go?) Anyway, I can do that! I will let all the good things catch up! Yessssssss!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Down Dog, Interrupted

I’m in yoga this morning, just enjoying a gentle readjustment in the child’s pose, when the fire alarm goes off, transforming the room from the quiet sanctuary of self love and relaxation that I’d really, really needed today into a manic disco of flashing white lights and sirens and some dude saying muffled things over the P.A. system. It really is a classic summation of the experience of being me: The girl tries to relax, but the circumstances of her life make other plans.

And that’s OK though. I know I suck at yoga, because (I am strong but not terribly flexible and because) my mind does not like to shut off. The business of focusing the breath and letting the mind be clear is not my strong suit. Still, I enjoy yoga whenever I manage to get there because I love the idea that I’m doing something pure and purely for me, and my motives for that period of time are totally solid and uncorrupted and there’s no hip-hop with mean lyrics playing in the room (I love that stuff in spite of myself, so it’s usually on the speakers wherever I am) and I’m not investigating people I shouldn’t on Friendster or watching crime scene video on Court TV’s Forensic Files. It really promotes in me a sense of love—mostly love for self, but more than that too.

When I lived on East 10th, there was a yoga studio on the block. (until it closed, because who could afford a space on that block anyway? Certainly I couldn’t afford my own apartment.) And in that studio there was a teacher who always encouraged us to silently dedicate our practice for that day to someone in our lives whom we loved and was struggling and was therefore in need of good thoughts and positive energy. A dear old friend and a neighbor on that block—a very small and brilliant Korean girl with a nervous streak to rival any Jew I’ve met including myself—also used to go to that class. One day, she’d gone in the morning and I’d gone at lunchtime, and over dinner she’d said, “Girl, I dedicated my practice to you today.” And I’d said, “Oh girl, I dedicated my practice to you!” And it made me feel so warm and so loved and so grateful for my friends that the body movement part of the class was almost irrelevant.

Among the reasons I’d so needed the relaxation today: Last week my mom discovered my blog. And my guess is that her response was not unlike many mothers who discover their children’s blogs: She was “scandalized” and found my “values” questionable and actually said that I was not likely to ever meet “Mr. Right” with my objectionable values all up on the Internet. I hope she is not right about the last bit, but I know she is not right about the first bit. I do have good and honest values, and in fact I think they are as traditional as my mom’s. This is mostly about my struggle to make heads or tails of the men I’ve met along the pursuit of real love and respect and mutual admiration and attraction. And I only wish in my discussions I could be as honest as Megan or Capella.

My mom—who was nearly 30 before she was married (an old maid in her generation) and a PhD in biology, and who is a very outspoken woman in spite of her diminutive size (seriously, look out)—always taught her daughters that the squeaky wheel gets the oil, and to be strong, and to believe we could do whatever we wanted to do. So I will try to understand her visceral reaction to seeing her daughter reduce her own life to simple quips about boys and shoes (this is not the case, but this is only what she saw in her shock). But I think I will give this blogging business a little more of a go before I decide that what I’ve actually done is reduce my life to a series of punch lines about boys and shoes.

Another reason I was in need of some relaxation this morning: Turns out the delightfully easygoing Midwestern man who recently became my ex-boyfriend did have a fab time at his high school reunion. (Did I mention he was captain of his soccer team and was his high school's 6-foot-4 prom king with all-American good looks, green eyes, and freckles? He thinks he mostly won because he split the black vote. But if I’d have had a vote, I bet I would have picked him too.) A fab time that culminated with him making out with a fellow alum in a McDonald’s parking lot, followed by breakfast at a diner across the street. This bit of news actually struck me as almost retro-hot, and didn’t upset me too much. (This is probably because the girl lives in Detroit and is not likely to fly to L.A. to make out with him in local McDonald’s parking lots in the future.)

But I do still have a fondness for that man. And I respect the things about him that probably won him his prom king reign: his easily accessible wit, unambiguous smile, integrity, interest and aptitude in sports on TV and in the park, unwillingness to even pretend he was listening to my home decorating tales, sensitivity almost exclusively on the inside (except for an inexplicable favoritism for romantic comedies like Must Love Dogs), and all-around totally-from-Mars dudeness. Apparently this particular set of qualities does not a good long-term match for me make. I spent a lot of time preparing turkey sandwiches (“sandos,” as we called them, with extra avocado, which he loved and called “green gold”) for dinner (for him—I'm a vegetarian) in front of World Cup soccer or a movie on TV—which I enjoyed very much. But maybe my destiny is to do less of that and more of something else. (Although I’m not sure about this, because I watch King of the Hill with an envy for Hank Hill that is deeply unreasonable.)

After returning from an awesome summer-long Indiana Jones-like dig in Turkey, my tiny, brilliant, neurotic Korean girlfriend broke up with her long-term, dude-like boyfriend (whose primary ambition included a big-screen plasma TV for Eagles football) on the grounds of a similar sort of incompatibility. (Last Valentine’s Day, she felt like going to Medieval Times in the Bronx or wherever it was, just because she thought it would be a fun adventure. He wanted to put on a button-down shirt and go for dinner and a show in the city; this was more like his kind of adventure.) And we both think the changes in our love lives are sound and smart. But there is something very missable about a comfortable, settled life with a man like that.

Anyway, after standing around outside the Equinox gym in Westwood for a while (I was just glad I wasn’t the guy in the robe whose massage had been interrupted by the fire alarm), we resumed our yoga practice and eventually finished with a series of three cross-legged ohms and the instructor gave us each a little forehead massage using a dab of rose water. And it seems to me that this is what it’s all about: We encounter lots of noise, but if we rededicate ourselves, we always return to something sweet and soft and fulfilling. Or something like that.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Docksiders: Don't Do It

This is a story about docksider shoes.

But first, back up. In New York I dated a Brooklyn painter who behaved toward me in such an infuriatingly disrespectful manner that, when our summer fling ended two (three?) summers ago, I didn’t think of him at all fondly when I thought of him at all. Then, naturally, in the days before I left the city for L.A., we had one slightly scandalous eleventh-hour night in Williamsburg—actually, for me it was a kiss goodbye to the chapter in my life in which I made out with boys with paint under their fingernails in their million-story walkup studios with broken windows—and the result was that I left my favorite Neiman Marcus leather gloves with the cashmere lining at the bar where we’d been. It was his borough, so he picked them up for me, said he would drop them by my box-filled Manhattan apartment, never did. I moved to L.A. and he never mailed them like he said he would. (“Don’t you know I have pieces in the Armory Show? I’m really very busy.”) Instead, he pawned them off on a friend who’d recently moved to Hollywood and could give them to me.

So the friend loses one glove somewhere along the way, and calls me to introduce himself and say he’s a moron for being so careless, and he’d like to take me shopping for new gloves. The whole thing seemed positive at first. How gentlemanly and how gracious of him to want to return the gloves to me, when his friend certainly hadn’t been in any hurry to be dutiful about that. But then: Was this shopping trip going to be a date? Sure sounded like it. If so, first of all, I had a boyfriend. (That situation would change quickly, as it turned out—but that’s unrelated.) Second of all, was this guy pimping me to his friend in L.A.? Like writing my number on a bathroom wall?

Anyway, what the hell, right? Fast forward through a lot of miscellaneous details, and I find myself briefly dating this painter’s friend—in spite of the thing I figured was a for-sure deal-breaker when I first saw him: docksiders. Now, I appreciate that he’s from Brookline, Massachusetts, and that he went to some kind of fancy boarding school. But there is no excuse for docksiders. Particularly not when paired with—wait for it—brown socks and shorts.

I realize that since I’ve already criticized one potential suitor for his pleated-front pants, some readers might think I really don’t want happiness at all—but that instead I want well dressed. Not true. I just think things like docksiders and pleated-front pants can be indicators of a lack of self-awareness, social stiffness, and other things more grave.

And there was indeed something else even more inexcusable and inexplicable. This turned out to be the most flatulent man I’ve ever met—possibly the most flatulent man in America. I forgive a lot; I really do. I am past the point of rejecting every man for some small, insignificant thing he does that I can’t stand. My mind and my heart are open these days. But, come on. At first it happened in the middle of the night—the first night we spent together—when he’d gone to the bathroom to do his business. Completely excusable: It was his own house, and it’s a perfectly natural bodily function, and he was polite enough to do it behind the bathroom door. So then he comes back into bed and keeps doing it. Hrm. But I can still excuse that—right?—on the grounds that maybe he thinks I’m asleep (although it’s hard to imagine that anyone could sleep through all that). So then I have a small dinner party, and he spares my guests, but when they leave he reserves his flatulence privately for me. Repeat that same scenario at a dinner at his house later that week: He’d never do in front of his friends what he’d do alone with me—a woman he was presumably courting—and with no request to be excused, and no explanation, except, “I was just born this way! Haha!” After two weeks of enduring this with patience, I said, “Huh. It’s interesting that you do that in front of me, given that we just met.” He said, “We met two weeks ago.” Scandalous, really. I like a man who treats a lady like a lady. At least for the first month.

I’m sure there are some lessons to be learned here. One of them must have to do with attraction versus repulsion. Here was a man I really wanted to really want to be with. Gloriously interesting job, a terrific adventurer, well traveled and well read, smart, a good blend of silly and serious, borderline O.C.D. (this for me is a plus), interesting family history. So I tried to overlook the fact that the docksiders/brown socks/shorts combo really repulsed me. (By the way, I think he thought his family’s wealth and its legacy, and his interesting job made him an uncontestable gem in the eyes of all women, but I could be wrong about his vanity.) I was getting good at overlooking other icky bits too. But then you introduce the flatulence, and there’s only so much a girl can bear to force her feelings. When you reject someone based on lame (albeit gag-worthy) stuff like docksiders, you may be sabotaging yourself, rather than protecting yourself from a life with someone who does that thing you didn’t like—because you’d get over it since it didn’t matter anyway. But if you’d rather turn the other way than kiss the man in bed with you—no matter how many millions his art family gave to the Met—you’ve got to cut your losses. The Forcing-It Balance is a slippery slope, like the Wear-Down Theory (which I’ve seen from both sides, and I’m still trying to figure out if it can lead to a sustainable relationship—but that’s another matter).

[Full disclosure: He would later send the "let's-not-do-this-anymore" email, not me.]

The other thing about Docksiders is that he reminded me—from the very beginning—of a man (a boy, really) with whom my sister once tried to set me up, and with whom I went on one date to see the Hold Steady at the Bowery Ballroom, and whom I really, really wanted to like, but couldn’t. This was mostly on account of his tendency to send me text messages like, “Dancing with self in room to Madonna!” I mean, it’s cute…but we just met. So be a man.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Slightly Delayed, Essentially on Track

I've now been in three wedding parties--two of which happened this summer, and one of which happened on Saturday. And in my experience, after each one of these has ended--following so much lead up, preparation, excitement, problem solving, and dress fittings--I've been left with the same feeling: that these girls better have picked the right man, because this is who they've got in the quiet when the party finally ends. (I remember hearing a horrifying story about a former colleague who'd wanted so much to have a wedding that she'd found the first red-faced Kiwi who would tolerate her, picked nuptial package B at some Marriott near the freeway in Pleasanton or similar, did the deed, which amounted to some sad facsimile of what she's dreamt of as a little girl, and then immediately wondered WTF she had just done and why.)

So anyway, here I am at the Destination OAK sports bar at the Oakland airport, with my once-lovely navy ribbon-wrapped bouquet (freesia, dahlias, rosemary, and some other things I can't recognize in shades of red, orange, and fuschia--all looking much worse for the wear by now) by my side on the shiny granite bar, very excited and hopeful for my glamorous girlfriend who picked the right one and is now a Mrs., in the next phase of her life, enjoying the quiet with her man on a lavish honeymoon in Italy. And I'm making my own way home--slightly delayed, according to the monitor, but essentially on track. Ahem.

The wedding itself was a fab spectacle, complete with the kind of wild, flailing dancing that people can get away with at weddings; fun funny-face antics in a black and white photo booth; and the whole late-night crew getting kicked out when the folks in charge closed the place. San Francisco City Hall, with its dramatic marble center staircase under its opulent rotunda, is an extraordinary space.

This is the first time I have been to the Bay Area in years. (After all, my 'Tross lives in this hood, and I couldn't stand the heat, so I stayed out of the kitchen for a while.) And as I was coming over the Bay Bridge from the city earlier, I was wondering: What's more beautiful than this place? And not just because of the bay and the hills, and Coit tower, and UC Berkeley's campanile on the horizon--but because there was a time when I lived here that I believed anything was possible.

Literally anything--like how a kid thinks he could count all the grains of sand on the beach in a day. Like I believed that I could carry on a kooky five-year sham of a relationship--with due respect to the man who made it such an intense adventure--and emerge as if no time had passed, because I'd be forever young, natch. That, for the same reason, I didn't need to bother with sunscreen or eye cream (not that I do that now either, but I compensate with guilt). That I could study only the things at Cal that fulfilled my existential curiosities, and not need to bother with anything that might actually result in me learning some marketable skill, and still be able to land some great job out of school because my excellent character and potential would be obvious to and desired by any employer. (In reality it was eight months of insufferable, soul-crushing unemployment after undergrad that made me feel very small and unwanted.)

And I wouldn't have done those years any other way. And remembering that blissful anything-is-possible time in my life makes this place--the Bay Area with its Coit tower and its campanile and its bridges and its Fell Street--for me even more beautiful. And while I don't still believe it is possible to count all the grains of sand on the beach ever, let alone in a day--I still believe that anything, within reason, is possible for people who believe it too.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Debbie Sings the Hits

My 10-year high school reunion passed last year, for me quite unceremoniously. I went to one high school (North Hollywood magnet) for 10th grade, where I had good friends. And then I transferred to another school (Beverly Hills High, said only in a hushed voice), from which I would graduate after two more years, to which I never felt connected—and where I made exactly two good friends who are still very close to me. So it was hardly a tough decision not to fly across country to try to manufacture some emotion in a creepy La Meridien ballroom.

My ‘Tross had a different experience. He was born and bred in the Bay Area, and still living in Oakland with much pride when it came time for his 20-year Berkeley High School reunion two years ago. So he went. And I wasn’t there, so I don’t know the details, but here’s my impression of the message he took away from it: Contrary to the cliché about life being short, it’s actually not short at all (barring an unexpected tragedy). It’s long, and it can be tedious. You’ve got to be in it with the right person for the right reasons, or at least not in it with the wrong person for the wrong reasons. You have to make choices in life and in love that are sustainable and won’t eventually bore you or ruin you—insofar as you can ever see any of this coming (which very often you can when you don't ignore obvious things). He saw people who had been married and divorced and have teenage kids. And married again. Or whatever their circumstances. Life is long, things happen.

We have this wicked tendency to front load our lives, and when you see yourself barreling toward 30—as I am—you want to keep yourself from going crazy on your birthday by making sure you’ve done everything, in spite of your suspicion that it doesn’t matter if you have or haven’t. (By the way, my older sister’s 30th birthday a year ago went over OK, without any emotional breakdowns. Except that my doting auntie in Delaware hosted a party for which she bought a mylar balloon that said on it “Still Wild at 30!” This one detail understandably made my sister want to jump out a window.)

I had a counselor at summer camp named Debbie. I think she may have been my counselor at least two years in a row, because I remember her so well. I remember her figure was very voluptuous, and she used to show it off at the pool in a red one-piece bathing suit with black mesh triangles at the thighs and cleavage, and I remember she was sweet as pie and treated her campers like real friends, and I remember that she used to put on a karaoke track in her boom box and sing Madonna’s “Crazy for You” for us while we went to sleep at night in our cabin. She had a voice like a bell. Because I imagined that, as a counselor, Debbie was so much older than we were as campers, I’m sure I thought she was a total grown-up. I probably thought she had a cool car (a Volkswagon Cabriolet maybe? Chrysler LaBaron convertible?), paid a mortgage on a great house, had a fab boyfriend or husband with an awesome mid-‘80’s hairdo, and was generally all set up. But in reality, she was probably 17 when I was 10. So maybe she’s only 36 now. And maybe she still doesn’t have everything all set up. Because I certainly don’t yet. And that’s OK. That’s B.R.U.N.C.H.!

Anyway, while I will be wearing an elegant floor-length navy silk dupioni bridesmaid gown at a very important wedding in San Francisco this weekend, my delightfully easygoing Midwest ex-boyfriend will be attending his 10-year high school reunion in Champaign. I wonder what he’ll find there.

Iced Coffee Glut

The delightfully easygoing Midwest man who recently became my ex-boyfriend did have a select few things that he liked to have just so: he ordered his Starbucks [whatever they call the medium size] coffee in a [whatever they call the large size] cup every day (presumably so it wouldn’t spill in the car on the way to work, although I never thought to ask why), and he always selected the baby four-tined Ikea fork from the drawer full of better, five-tined forks because he liked how its diminutive size made him feel like he was getting to eat more food.

I liked that he had at least a handful of preferences and needs like that, because I find it comforting to have things just so too—although for me this is the rule and not the exception. In the winters, when I lived in on East 10th Street and First Avenue, I walked up First in the mornings to get my coffee (large, light with skim, three Sweet-n-Lows) from the Dunkin’ Donuts at 12th Street, before I got to the L train at 14th. In the summers though, when it was nice enough to walk all the way to work (I am the rare freak for whom it can’t ever get too hot or too humid), I walked over to the Second Avenue Dunkin’ Donuts, and got the iced version of the light-with-skim-and-three-Sweet-n-Lows coffee. I took a lot of pleasure in my morning routine—as I think most people do—and I enjoyed the semiannual changing of the coffee seasons as just one part of the fun about changing seasons. New thinking, new attitude, new possibilities.

Here in L.A., as people like to say, there are no seasons. There is always only iced coffee. And I really love iced coffee, but what’s my motivation if I get to have it all the time? It’s so easy and comfy here; it’s a little bit freakish. Like how, if the two-liter bottles of Diet Coke are on sale for 10 for $10, I can buy 10 and just roll the shopping cart out to my car with all them in there, and then drive the car to my house, and then bring the sodas to the fridge, and the ones that don’t fit in the fridge can fit in any number of empty cabinets until I’m ready to drink them (which will be, like, tomorrow, because I drink a lot of Diet Coke). For me there is the illusion here that I don’t have to force myself to do great things because great things are not happening at a frenetic pace around me, taunting me. I’ve come to realize that this is indeed an illusion. And maybe it’s a relief of an illusion, compared to the pressure of New York (where people may not be doing things that are any greater than the things folks are doing here, but they’re breaking more of a sweat and being louder about it, while drinking and smoking more). I got complacent. Complacent—and legitimately happy too, in a comfortable, off-duty way that I haven’t enjoyed in a while (thank you, easygoing Midwestern man). Generally speaking, complacency may not be a bad thing, although I’m not sure yet.

Recently, when we were driving on Melrose, we passed something, some historic Hollywood landmark—I can’t remember what now—and I remarked to my Midwestern man that that was a place I used to go to in high school. And he said he thought it must have been very cool to grow up in L.A., as I did (he was brought up in Champaign, Illinois, and moved to L.A., as people do, to try to sell scripts). I guess it was cool, but it also corrupted me: it maybe stripped me of my ability to see for what it is the energy and vitality in this great city. Mostly I just feel like it's home.

Of course no one living in New York was actually from New York; that was what I understood. But I thought most of those folks were from L.A. It turns out, most folks aren’t really from L.A. either, but they came here in search of ambitious and good and beautiful things. That’s what I’m back here searching for too. Iced coffee and all.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mean Girls

Last night I read a handful of pages from a blog so horrible it burned itself right into my eyeballs. This is the blog of a woman who thinks she’s better than all the women in the world—based on what she describes as her undeniably hot physical appearance, her level of education (four years of college), strong libido, financial stability (six months worth of savings), and interest in guns, gambling, and science fiction—and also better than the vast majority of the men, which makes it woefully hard for the poor girl to date, she says. “Quality dates quality,” she says, so she offers as a dating tip that most of the men who try to court her would be better off approaching fat, desperate, single mothers in need of U.S. citizenship—women more on their own level, she says.

This attitude would be quite bad enough if she didn’t also include many references to things that disprove her personal theories of greatness. I give as evidence this picture—which she self-selected and supplied as evidence of hotness—cropped tight on her chunky, unstylish, officey, suitable-for-wear-with-nude-pantyhose shoes. (I’m avoiding linking to the blog itself, because the last thing this miserable hussy needs is more support—and it seems she somehow makes her living through hits from her blog.)

Anyway, the point is, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize (contrary to my belief, say, in college) that I’m not better than anyone else. Matter of fact, no one is better than anybody else. Certainly not celebrities. (Simon Doonan says in Wacky Chicks: “We’ve done something silly…In the 1980s, for example, a collective screechy hysteria infected popular culture, and everybody rashly decided that movie actors were really, really, really important…We chose show biz folk. And then we sat there like puddings and inhaled all this drivel about the supposedly squintingly brilliant glam lives of these celebs, and we actually started to believe the hype.”) Certainly not homegirl with the blog. Certainly not rich people, or very attractive people, or even people who live on the coasts. (Although of this it has been admittedly hard to disavow myself.)

So the point is, I hope I never write anything here or anywhere that comes off as self important in the way that the lady miss Chunky Shoes writes hers. (Add this to the existing set of new blog anxieties.) This girl just wants a life filled with good words, a good man, family and friends, her lamentably undisciplined cat Cali, Raiders football, some cute home wares from Anthropologie, very tall shoes, Court TV, and so forth. So please, forgive me in advance, if it reads any other way.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cool Like Dat

Here's the dilemma. Regrettably, I’ve come to learn that I’m kind of cool. And by "cool" here, I mean more or less hip to some stuff that the innovative and sometimes slightly subversive kids of the world are up to--even when I'm not doing it myself because I'm not interested, or for other reasons--and I have some attachment to snarky humor and irony. And I'm at least minimally culturally aware. I mean, I'm not too cool (I don't have bangs, for example, and when I did, in eighth grade, it was not cool), but I'm kind of cool, and I frequently wish I weren't cool at all. I have a friend, a sweet, sweet girl who sells advertising for a radio station in California's uncool Central Valley. A girl who is getting married soon to a man (definitely cute, based on photos I've seen, and presumably also kind and devoted to her) who manages a supermarket there. She has acrylic nails and buys home decor at Hallmark. I envy this wonderful, dear friend of mine her totally unselfconscious, irony-free life.

Rewind a few months. When I was living in the East Village, the landscape of first dates I had with cool boys was so vast, I can't even step back to adequately survey it. Musicians and painters and Oberlin grads galore. Boys who lived in very dirty converted industrial spaces in very bad neighborhoods. Boys who wore colorful Pumas that came from very, very limited editions. Boys who spun records, and boys who owned bars where other cool boys spun records. Anyway, needless to say the whole experience was exhausting, and unrewarding, and either they were fraudulent, or I behaved fraudulently when I was near them to impress them, or both. So I was essentially single, and painfully, the whole time I lived in New York. (N.B.: That bit about me being single all that time is basically a fib, on account of my ongoing long-distance dramas with my 'Tross in California, affectionately so called to shorten the nickname Albatross, which I got sick of saying after many hundreds and millions of times over five-plus years. But I digress.)

So eventually I thought all I really wanted was a totally uncool guy. After all, who wants cool as an exchange for a real and meaningful relationship? Certainly not me. At least not any more, now that I'm a grown up with nothing to prove except my own real happiness—and that only to myself. So I convinced myself that I wanted to meet just a nice, uncomplicated, irony-free man, maybe even someone who unselfconsciously held down an office job, and didn’t criticize or scrutinize stuff he deemed uncool, and then I could be happy.

Eventually I did meet a man like that. Sort of. I met a man who was so honest with himself and with me that I never felt insecure or unloved...even though it was much too early in our relationship to feel loved unconditionally, but I totally did, because he encouraged it. (That should have probably been the first red flag, but I tend to ignore those anyway.) He was an Ivy grad times three different schools. Jewish. Tall and handsome, with pretty, light eyes. From a good, loving family. Sent me dozens of postcards through the mail for no reason with little drawings on them. Man of my dreams, maybe? Maybe.

But then one day, we're talking, and I made some totally innocuous reference to Bobby Brown, husband of Whitney, singer of "Everybody's Humpin’ Around." Silence. This man didn't know who Bobby Brown was. There was no excuse for this. At six years older than me, and someone who grew up in this country, this man fit squarely in the demographic of people who have no excuse for not knowing who Bobby Brown is--except for a totally mind-blowing failure to understand (or participate in) pop culture.

Later, he would turn up for a date in pleated-front pants. And I would be mortified, and I would at that instant feel in my gut that we (I) couldn't recover from that. And we wouldn’t.

Now, I'm not a big Bobby Brown fan. Frankly, I don't care one way or the other about Bobby Brown. But I think people ought to be a part of the pop cultural conversation and know who he is. So it turns out--as I suspected--I don't need someone cool enough to own or work at a bar or play an instrument or wear limited-edition Pumas, but I would like someone aware enough to understand a passing, inconsequential reference to Bobby Brown. And I think my need for that kind of silliness is a curse--because what does it really matter?--but it is what it is and unfortunately there’s no changing it.

Anyway, it’s my prerogative.

Out to B.R.U.N.C.H.

News flash! Reading books is really awesome! And rewarding! My dark secret is that I don't read much, except for magazines, and even then, my guilt forces me to reveal, my favorite magazines--apart from the fab and inimitable New York--are more like catalogues (Lucky, Domino). I chalk this up to undiagnosed A.D.D. (and thank heaven I was never diagnosed because I didn't need one more complex), but it is what it is.*

Anyhow, yesterday, feeling very low, finally acknowledging the end of the good-but-not-good-enough relationship with the good and decent man who I liked very much but not enough, and allowing myself unhealthy explorations of people's MySpace pages totally unchecked for hours (this is one danger of working at home), I grabbed an unread book from my bookcase and took it outside by the pool. This book is Simon Doonan's Wacky Chicks: Life Lessons from Fearlessly Inappropriate and Fabulously Eccentric Women and it turned around my world view in 10 pages or less. This is Doonan's tribute to women who are out to lunch--or out to B.R.U.N.C.H. as it were, the belligerent, resilient, uninhibited, naughty, creative, and hilarious women of the world. These are women who have maintained their cool, risky individuality over the years of their lives and thrived precisely because of it, and not in spite of it. These are women unconcerned with prefab timelines for women's lives. This makes me feel good. And it’s all written in brilliant Doonanisms like "Feeling just a tad Oprahish..."

My goal is B.R.U.N.C.H. Well, first brunch, and then B.R.U.N.C.H. And not just on the weekends either.

*This really has been my secret shame. But I’m experimenting with blog honesty (blonesty?) and it still feels creepy.

Here Goes Nothing

Some years ago, when I started writing for a living, I stopped altogether writing for or about myself. These days I write about parties. (More specifically, I write about the flowers and table linens at parties, but we'll get to that, I'm sure.) Six months ago I moved to Los Angeles from New York to do the same. And since then, for a number of reasons (theories include: the extremely comfy yet unmotivating quality of Los Angeles and some short-lived but undeniable romantic contentment), I've not challenged myself to do anything especially great, and I recently realized how unbecoming that is on me. So, I'm hoping that taking up the cliched pursuit of blogging (lord knows I am not above cliches) might choke some inspiration out of me.

Some anxieties about this include but are by no means limited to:

  • What self-respecting person who ever wants to keep a job or her friends or meet a man can be completely honest writing about her life online? And what's interesting that's not completely honest?
  • I'm afraid I'll approach this with some grave seriousness--precisely the opposite way I approach writing emails to girlfriends that turn out to be really funny because I let it flow and have no expectations of any sort of greatness or sharing-with-posterity appropriateness.
  • I want to write my memoir. This is my pie-in-the-sky life goal. And if I jot stuff here, aren't I robbing it from the future book I ought to be working on?
  • I'm lazy. I'm likely to forget my own Web address or something. I do stuff like that sometimes.

A note about the title of my infant blog: In college at Berkeley, before I'd ever lived completely alone, I had a lousy tendency to rely on my devoted and detail-oriented roommates to do stuff for me that I might have done myself. Like, my idea of cleaning the apartment was taking all of the books and papers and putting them in neat stacks (I really can't stand clutter). Et voila! Done. Whereas I would let the girls take the Q-tips to the switches on the oven to get out the grit, for example, or bleach the bathroom floor. I handled the clutter, they handled the filth. They used to tell me that my attitude about cleaning was: "You get the gist." You know, look, I put forth a little effort, it looks better in here, yada yada. In some ways that may be the way I approach the other areas of my life. I'm a broad-strokes gal, not a details gal. I'm a writer and editor, but copy editing is my worst nightmare. I don't really like the buck to stop with me. This is not self deprecating; it's simply true. I know myself. And that's half the battle.