Wednesday, July 27, 2011

RIP, Amy

I'm so sad about Amy Winehouse, you guys. All I could think about in the days after she died (aside from the obvious tragedy) is how much I related to her a few years ago.

So, I know this is kind of maudlin, but please crank one of her songs and read the post I wrote about her in 2008.

RIP, honey. I think we all understood you more than you'll ever know.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Anyone? Bueller?

Hey, guys. So, um, I know I haven't posted here in a year and a half, but I'm curious: Am I still in any of your RSS feeds? Is anyone — anyone at all, even those without RSS feeds — reading this right now? If so, I would absolutely love it if you commented below, even with a "Yeah" or a "Me!" or an "Unfortunately, yes." Or if you'd rather not comment, would you mind shooting me an e-mail at just to say hey?

As for what prompted this, I'm trying to research this personal essay I'm supposed to write this week for a women's website (I've grown to loathe personal essays, especially mine, believe it or not), so I thought I'd take a spin through my abandoned blog. In doing so, I saw today that Forksplit, one of my favorite blogs, recently had a posting renaissance, and it brought me back to '08. Good times! Good emotionally unstable times!

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Monday, October 20, 2008

The Endorsement: Haras Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

I drink Chilean cabernet because it's cheap and solid. You can walk into your wine store, pay $5.99 for some label you've never heard of, and expect the pours to be spicy and serviceable. In my opinion, the better inexpensive ones are so spicy you feel like you're drinking fresh pepper from the grinder a swank SoHo restaurant. Those hold a special place in my heart.

Tonight, I selected a $9 bottle that I thought would pair nicely with Xanax and my own self-loathing. To my surprise, this Chilean cab blew me away. It's round and not terribly spicy, and it has this fab cedar body that I kept tasting sip after sip, not just on the first swallow.

In true Jane form, I've drunk two-thirds of the bottle tonight, and, like my multiple glasses, the name bears repeating (counting the hed of this post): Haras Estate Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. The label features a sketch of a horse that supposedly honors Leonardo da Vinci. Between you and me, I chose this particular bottle because the back label shows that the winery is horseshoe-shaped. Apparently the land was first used to raise thoroughbred horses, and you guys know I am a sucker for an earnest theme.
So, yeah, go buy this one. Here.

And by the way, readers...I'm back. For now.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Dissecting Diane

Yesterday I was early to my therapist appointment (as usual), so I sat in her tiny, humid half-room pawing through a stack of outdated magazines. Faced with choices including 2006 New York Times Magazines and ancient copies of AARP, I settled on a 2007 issue of Marie Claire and flipped to the feature well. I'm not a huge fan of Marie Claire (especially after reading an incredibly confusing story about sex with a paraplegic in this particular issue), but then I stumbled across one of the most fascinatingly counterintuitive pieces I'd read in a long time: this profile on Diane Warren.

Dianne Warren, if you're not familiar, has been honored over and over again at music awards shows as one of the great songwriters of our time. The woman wrote "If I Could Turn Back Time"! (As well as a bunch of classic Michael Bolton and Celine Dion songs, and one of my personal favorites, "Tell It to My Heart," sung by Taylor Dayne. Check out a longer list of her songs on Warren's Wikipedia page.) According to the profile, though, the woman whom we would expect to be home watching Lifetime Original Movies and self-medicating with chocolate is actually a fabulously foul-mouthed, tacky-home-decor-loving, parrot-owning force of nature who -- wait for it -- has never been in love.


Warren is single and couldn't care less, even though she had a seven-year live-in relationship with a man in the music biz back in the day that she describes as not "love," but instead "comfortable." She loves her music and her work, but relationships? Not so much. I found this absolutely riveting.

For me, it was especially fascinating because I consider one of her songs a turning point in my early relationship with N. Remember that Aerosmith song "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing"? It was on the soundtrack to that terrible action flick Armageddeon, it was nominated for a Grammy, and it apparently sold like hotcakes. The lyrics are sort of crazy, though: "I don't wanna close my eyes/ I don't wanna fall asleep/ 'Cause I'd miss you, baby/ And I don't want to miss a thing." When I first heard it at age 18, I thought, "What does that even mean? What would Steven Tyler be missing if he fell asleep? This song is nonsensical."

Around Thanksgiving last year, N and I were sleeping in the same bed, and he fell asleep first. He usually falls asleep first. I listened to him breathe, and I ran my eyes over his skin, his hair, and his person, and I realized I was in love with him. I knew it was probably ill-advised, and I think I could sense I was in for a world of hurt, but I loved him then intensely and completely, and I have never since stopped. In that particular tangible moment, just like the lyrics say, a song flooded all of my synapses -- loud, as if I were cranking the radio in my Chevy Nova 10 years ago. It was that damn Aerosmith song: "I don't wanna close my eyes/ I don't want to fall asleep/ 'Cause I'd miss you baby/ And I don't want to miss a thing."

Ten years after the song's release, I finally understood the lyrics.

Toward its end, the Marie Claire story mentions "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing." As it turns out, not only has Diane Warren never been as in love as the song would have us believe she was, but she also got the inspiration for the song from a quote that James Brolin gave about his love, Barbra Streisand.

I hesitate to say that my mind was blown by the seeming hollowness of the song, because I don't think any of us are under the illusion that everything we hear/see/experience isn't manufactured in some way. Even my love for N, by putting it to a soundtrack, was manufactured at that time, by using someone else's words to describe my feelings rather than using my own. Having just been to a wedding, though, I know that this goes on all the time. People use other people's music to describe their feelings -- the couple I just saw get hitched used "Angel Eyes" by the Jeff Healey Band for their first dance in order to express their love and happiness to their wedding guests. People having trouble in their relationships are compelled buy those pastel cards at drugstores that have long passages about "loving you always" despite "mistakes I have made." Those card authors even get a byline above where the card-giver signs his or her name.

So all of this got me thinking about imagery (bridal veils, hands clasping, a couple walking in the park) and patented words and phrases ("baby," "piece of my heart," "in love with you") that all of us -- at some point -- will either use or buy into or expect at some point. How do imagery and songs and crazy Christian upbringings (I'm sorry, maybe that's just me) affect our expectations?

Because I feel for someone, does that prevent me from feeling for other people at the same time? What makes us want to couple? Biology, arguably, but studies show that men are only romantically in it for nine months, and then they move on to the next woman. People still marry, but for what reasons? If you don't need financial support, is there a compelling argument to pair up? Emotional support? Moral support? Desire for children? But if it's just support, where does sex and attraction fit in? Can you have support and attraction/great sex? Or are they mutually exclusive? Is a little bit of a chase always going to make things hotter? And does a good, strong relationship have to be just a little bit boring in order to feel stable? Is there really such a thing as "the one"? Or are we all biological creatures oozing against each other to fulfill what desires (sexual, emotional, or procreational) we have at the time? And, if so, doesn't that make the concept of "love" a little...impersonal?

Maybe Diane Warren has the right idea.

But you can bet that -- at some point -- most of us will choose to believe her songs anyway. I think that, despite everything, I still want to.

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Friday, June 27, 2008


I got home early today and watched Access Hollywood. I prefer it to Entertainment Tonight, though I'm not sure why. They did a segment on Amy Winehouse, interviewing the journalist who wrote this simple yet searing profile for Rolling Stone on the state of the singer today. I watched the whole show just so I could see the Amy segment, because I loved the article so much when I read it a few days ago.

The journalist, Claire Hoffman, began talking. She looked about my age, and as she spoke about seeing Amy living in filth, depressed, and missing her husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, I began to cry, because, like it or not, I identify with Amy. I don't want to identify with her, but I do. I am obsessed with reading about her lately.

I understand what it's like just to want to stay in the house and do drugs (or escape in some way -- booze, whatever) when the man you love is away, whether he deserves that devotion or not. Amy has made her existence Blake.

Amy wrote Back to Black during one of her breakups with Blake. Listen to it. I'm listening to it now. The lyrics are true and honest.

In the Rolling Stone story, Hoffman says that Amy's "trust is remarkable." Amy is kind to her fans, even talking about her wardrobe with two fans over an intercom. Amy's friend tells her she thinks she may have been in love before, and Amy says, "No, no, if you had, you'd be dead because you weren't together." Oversimplifying and juvenile, okay, but still, to me, there's something tangible to relate to. I relate to all of it.

Lately all I feel are restrictions: self-imposed, mostly. Like tonight: I'm drinking wine alone in my apartment, because I don't want to go to a bar by myself; I know I shouldn't go to a bar myself, because I've done that before, and all it led to was bad decisions, spent money, and self-loathing. I want to eat something else tonight, but I know that if I do I'll gain weight, and one of the only things that makes me feel good about myself lately is how thin I am: the thinnest I've been in years. I want to smoke -- I've smoked four cigarettes in the past two weeks, and I am disappointed in myself for that, but I'm more sad that I don't really care that much -- but I don't want to leave my apartment, and I don't want to make my bed smell like smoke. I want to call N -- he's on vacation in California -- but I shouldn't because I don't want to bother him, I don't want to be That Girl, and my therapist says he's supposed to chase me. I have people I could go out with, friends that I could call (someone from my past just called me to come hang out downtown; I pushed "mute" on the ringer), but if I did I'd have to spend money (which I don't have much of right now) and make pleasant conversation and feign concern about others and their feelings through my boozy haze, and I am less and less willing to do that as the years wear on.

In the article, you can tell Amy doesn't care much about working anymore, though you can see she's still passionate about singing and has new musical ideas. Music was her base. But that was then, and this is now, during and after Blake, which I'm speculating is the only thing she's felt passionate about in a long time.

I feel that way.

I feel that way about my work, which was always my first priority. I sometimes do read things that I love and get excited about the prospect of writing something that I love or others will love, but I have no follow-through. My feelings of failure about the disintegration of the romantic life that I tried so hard to create have eclipsed a lot of things. I try to get excited about movies or TV shows -- those normal things that normal people look forward to and talk about around the water cooler. I told myself that when I got home I was going to watch a DVD, but I didn't. I never do. I talk a great big game, about how I want to stay true to myself and be positive and make things work for me and not sell myself out. I think my friends and my therapist believe me.

But...the truth?

I've gotten everything I've ever wanted. Every. Single. Thing. The job, the city, the apartment, the friends, the (sometime) boy. I feel...done. Everything else feels like filler. Other accomplishments as addendums to what I already wanted long ago seem unrealistic, and just I don't have the energy anymore to get water from a stone, the way I did in my ambitious days. The hours crawl by. I count hours and minutes until I can go home for the day.

That's why I prefer to sit here, drinking $7.99 malbec and watching as the empty identical wine bottles, in a span of a couple of days, take their place in line next to one another on my kitchen countertop.

People want Amy to get better -- kick the habit, get back to the music, dump Blake, not to die. But, aside from standard concern for your fellow human beings, I wonder why they want that for someone they don't know. So she'll make us another record that we can dance to at retarded, overpriced dance clubs and sing karaoke to upstairs at Japanese sushi bars? Maybe just let her be. Maybe she just wants to be left alone.

Sometimes the demons don't leave.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Better Halves

"ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT N?!" a coworker of mine asked today as I stood at Sunny's cubicle. Well, it wasn't so much "asking" as "accusing," and her tone was more "threatening" than "inquiring." I don't know what she overheard. I don't blame her for asking, as she was one of a sea of people who e-mailed me thought-out pep-talk paragraphs and launched into you-break-up-with-him-girl speeches when N was being a jerk.

"No..." I said. "I was talking about his friend, Six-Two." (This was true, actually.) As an afterthought, I added, "I'm not dating Six-Two." (Also true.)

I don't remember what I was saying about Six-Two -- maybe I was just telling Sunny a story or making some sort of soft comparison. But as I walked back to my desk, I had a thought: When did N go from being my cute, rogue-ish Nicky Arnstein to my detrimental bad habit -- my Blake Fielder-Civil? My Raffaello Follieri? My Pete Doherty? I suddenly find myself reading news stories about Amy Winehouse and Anne Hathaway and their blind love for their shady men and feeling some sort of kinship with them. Okay, so N has never been in jail (that I know of) or swindled people out of thousands, but where is the line between love and bad decision-making?

I'm afraid to mention N to much of anyone, because I don't want to hear the criticism. I know it all, in my head, already, so even if I feel that N is genuinely trying now -- really working to communicate with me, be present, and be nice to my friends and me -- everyone else is still going to hear what I said before, when he was making me miserable.

The question is, Will he be able to sustain this? And will I ever be able to trust him again?

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Thursday, June 19, 2008


I dreamed last night that structures were crumbling. Old billboards were collapsing on themselves and falling down as dust. Green-leaved trees were singeing internally and burning to the ground. I was trying to find my grandmothers. Everyone outside was milling around, not really panicking, but awestruck. I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness, and I kept looking up at the destruction and repeating, "It's fleeting. It's fleeting."

I woke up from the dream with a start in N's bed. I panicked, my heart fluttering and my chest ever so slightly in pain. I don't remember this, but N said I was crying in my sleep, and then suddenly I sat up and looked at him and said, "I didn't know where I was."

When N is happy, he is wonderful, and I feel wonderful. He tells jokes and does funny impressions of people we know. He makes up sarcastic, hypothetical stories and relates them in movie-like dialogue, and I laugh out loud. He kisses me and holds my hand and tells me about books I'd like or news stories I should read. His eyes are clear and large, and he tells me how he feels about me. I smile, and my concerns dissipate. I feel like the woman I always wanted to be: pretty and happy and confident and metropolitan, with the man she loves next to her.

But I can feel when N turns. His eyes go dark, and his forehead creases. He doesn't talk as much, and I find myself trying to fill the space between us with stupid anecdotes or subway observations or updates on a subject we talked about days before. It's when I can feel him closing that I want to reach out for him and scream, "No! Come back! I love you! Please don't leave!"

But it is always too late.

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