Sunday, January 27, 2008


Sometimes, life gets good. Really, really good. And then it inexplicably gets better.

My birthday party was a wild success, if I do say so myself. Thirty of my friends and coworkers came out to sing and observe karaoke, one of my favorite pastimes, and drink, another of my favorite pastimes. I wore the scandalous fuschia dress, sang my heart out, and drank eleventy thousand Bud Lights. I switched to Jack and Diet Coke later in the evening, but I somehow didn't get plowed, which was best for everyone involved, I think.

I panicked around 11 p.m., because N still hadn't arrived, even though he texted me at 10, saying he'd be there soon. Of course I panicked, because I'm Jane, and I wouldn't be Jane if there wasn't some form of irrational anxiety involved.

But N came soon after that, with a rather expensive gift for me, and he was by my side the whole night, talking to my friends, buying people drinks, smiling, kissing me, cheering me on. We came back to my place afterward for a nightcap, and we talked about "turning points" in our relationship -- the moments we knew we liked each other. I told him mine -- a moment at a cozy restaurant in mid-October, when he said something that caused me to see his good heart. I asked him what his was. "When we turned the corner at Delancey and Essex," he said. "Wait...when?" I said, confused. He looked at me and said, "Our first date."

N said he saw this night as a turning point as well. I told him I loved him. He told me he loved me, too. I was blown away.

I'm seeing him again tonight. He called me to make the plan.

During the party, my friend D the Williamsburger took journalist-style photos documenting the entire night. One is of me, blond curls spilling down the side of my face, eyes downcast, mouth smiling and coy. It is a picture of a woman in love. When D took the photo, I was talking to N.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Central Casting

N is occasionally a creative type. His side job/hobby is basically that of a writer (I know, I know -- I swore I'd never date another writer, but that draw is always there) of the film persuasion. He and I have been doing well, I think. We spent the past two evenings together, and, again, whenever I'm with him, my life feels like magic, like I'm living someone else's romantic comedy. We have intelligent, witty banter and good sex, and that combination is damn hard to find.

It's the times between when we're together that I worry. Unnecessarily? Maybe. Is the fact that I'm worrying at all troubling to say the least? Maybe.

What I've been thinking about lately is what roles we play in other people's lives. Say that this is one of N's screenplays. I'm still unsure what archetype N is going to be in my life. Sometimes I think he's going to be the real, sexy, perfect-for-each-other long-term love affair that the movies make us want. But other times I think he's going to be a successful, metropolitan Peter Pan cliche, like Mr. Big, whom I'll look back on once this is all over and laugh and roll my eyes.

What will I be in his life, when all of this is figured out? When we decide to either be with each other for real (a.k.a. boyfriend/girlfriend leading to a live-in/fiance), or split for good a few weeks/months along the road? Will I be...

1. The Woman Who Changes Him?
-Every romance novel has a chaste heroine who tames the somewhat promiscuous, sexy bad boy. I'm not sure chaste fits, in my case, but I think every woman wants to be the exception to the rule: the one who ends up with the ring, the love, and every inch of the fairytale...before real-life fights about generic trash bags versus Hefty set in, that is.

2. The Woman He Thinks He Should Want?
-When a man becomes a certain age, he sometimes thinks he should man up and marry/become involved/get serious with the woman he happens to be with at the time. I don't want to be the faceless female silhouette in a cardboard storybook fantasy.

3. The Woman He Lets Get Away Because He's Not Ready?
-N's friends love me. His family loves me. His boss loves me. Seriously. But sometimes good reviews about your lover from damn near everyone you know just doesn't make up for the fact that you're not feelin' it. At all.

4. The "Intelligent Career Woman" in a High Fidelity-esque Lineup of Girls?
-I don't think he's ever had someone as smart, or as "whole package," as me before. I don't say that because I'm narcissistic (Lord, everyone who reads this blog knows that I'm definitely not that), but I think that I'm not the usual type of woman he goes for. Sometimes he likes style over substance in his life -- from milk containers to clothing -- and maybe I'm his foray into something more than eyeliner and highlights. If this is true, though, the good news is that I won't end up with a manchild a la John Cusack's character.

It's fun to speculate, I guess, but maybe it's more fun to live it. My birthday party is tomorrow, and N is coming. I am so excited. I want so badly for him to fit into my life, and it's been working lately. Like Sara says, sometimes things go well, and, when they do, in hopes of future love I subconsciously hold my breath and "don't look, don't touch, don't do anything, but hope that there is a you."

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Smoking Hot

Someone on the second floor of my building smokes, and I am always jealous of them as I go up the stairs.

I've been quit (love that gramatically incorrect terminology) since January 1, 2006, and I am still proud of myself that I haven't lit up. Because, Lord knows, there have been days.

I remember finding a near-empty pack of Parliament Lights (my No. 2 brand, after Marlboro Lights) in a cab when I was incredibly wasted after drinking with my coworkers last year. Instead of smoking the last three cigs, I threw them out. I don't know that that was the absolute closest I've come to picking up the habit again, but something about clear skin and a clear conscience keeps me from doing myself in.

It's quiet tonight on the Upper East Side. I've had company all weekend, so I've had to follow through with a lot of forced outings -- forced eating, forced drinking. I think I'm gaining weight again, which is not good considering the lycra/spandex fuschia dress I'm planning to wear at my birthday celebration this Friday. Whatever. I'll figure out how to suck it all in before then, and at 128 pounds (my thinnest since 2002) and 5-foot-4, I think I'm doing all right.

My company is still here tomorrow, and I'm a little disappointed I still have to babysit when all I really want to do is see N. The longing for him, however, has worn a little thin for me. Aside from my obvious psychological wear and tear that has resulted from me having nothing better to do than watch HBO and worry, he texted out of the blue today; he's bringing me back a present. He has been thinking of me.

Smoking. Drinking. Carousing. It's all more glamorous if you're in NYC. If you're in Greenville, Mississippi? Somehow less so, unless you're Lucinda Williams. Though I would trade a weekend in my studio apartment for a weekend there every now and again.

So. No smoking, anymore, unfortunately. Less drinking, or so I hope. And carousing only in the best sense possible, when it's with old friends or new lovers or in the best places in the best city on earth, with the best intentions.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008


I don't think he loves me.

I watched a terrible movie today: My Super Ex-Girlfriend, starring Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson. It was worse than the previews. It was anti-feminist, anti-woman, and everything in between. The plot was awful. The acting (aside from Thurman) was pitiful. It was an hour and 45 minutes wasted, which is why I'm embarrassed to admit that it had some impact on my thoughts about N and me.

At the end of the movie (I'm not spoiling it for you guys -- puh-LEASE do not rent and/or OnDemand this film) Luke Wilson looks at Uma Thurman and says something like, "We had some great times together, but it wasn't love. There, behind that curtain (or whatever) is a man who loves you." And some terribly middle-aged, short, goateed guy who had adored Uma since high school comes forward, and she looks excited, and they kiss, and we're expected to believe they live happily ever after.

I came away from that movie more depressed about my love life than I've been in some time. N is away this weekend, as I mentioned, and he texted me most of the day yesterday about what he was doing, etc., but he didn't ask me much about myself or my activities. Or anything related to me, actually. And he sent me one text this morning, in response to something I had sent him earlier, but I haven't heard anything from him otherwise.

After watching that sub-par film, I realized the following: I think about N all the time. I don't NEED to hear from him all the time, but he is with me constantly. I root for him. I wonder about him. I think about his skin. I reach for him in my dreams. I love him -- every inch of his body, every crazy thought that he has, and every silly thing that he does.

I kind of don't think he thinks the same thing about me. Will he get there? Maybe. I don't know. But the fact is that as busy with work as I'm sure he is, he's not calling. He's not texting. He is not in love with me.

I guess I'm destined for the middle-aged, goateed guy who's had a shrine to me since high school. And if that's the alternative to love, the alternative to N, I'll gladly take my spinster plaque and nail it to my wall in my rent-stabilized studio.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Your Turn

I say things to N that I should probably keep to myself. I think, though, that it's a sign of intimacy or affection or prospective closeness that all of those stories that wouldn't mean anything to anyone else, I want to tell N. He tells me he likes it when I talk. And, guys, I'm grateful for that. Seriously.

We met some of my co-workers out last night on the Lower East Side, and I had a chat with an old boss of mine halfway through the night. During our conversation, before N arrived, N texted me, and my face must have lit up, because my former boss said, "Oh, you are so into him. It's obvious."

Should I have saved that story for myself, to remember later, in private? Yes. But I told N anyway.

"Why do I keep telling you things like this?" I said, grabbing my forehead and closing my eyes hard, late on Wednesday night. "That's the opposite of what I should be doing! Okay, well, now you have to tell me something."

N paused for a long time. I like when he does that. He's thoughtful and calculating, and I know he won't reveal anything to me unless he genuinely means it.

"I miss you during the day," he said.

It was simple, and I loved it. My heart loved it. My heart loves him. He makes my heart happy.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Odds Are...

I had a funny thought this evening: All of the men that I have slept with have Facebook profiles. But I'm not "Facebook friends" with all of them -- only 80 percent of them. I don't know why that's significant. It seemed sort of young or post-modern or Orwellian -- that proof of your existence (sexual or otherwise) can be distilled down to a pixelated web page. So is blogging, though, I suppose.

N and I are still together, though we haven't defined what "together" means. Again, I'm letting him drive, and I actually told him that on Saturday. He took me to one of the most beautful dinners of my life that night, and I met some of his friends out at a birthday party afterward. We ended up in an Irish dive bar on the Upper East in our cocktail getups. It was fantastically contrary, and I was happy that I was experiencing it with him. Afterward we had sex and talked in bed about the distant future until the sun came up.

He's going away for work this weekend, and I will miss him. But it's funny -- I don't have that wobbly, nauseated feeling in the pit of my stomach that he won't miss me or that he'll hook up with some skank or that I won't be okay if he doesn't call me. I feel more relaxed about everything, maybe because I feel he's coming around, or maybe because I'm just tired of worrying about this pseudo-relationship all the damn time.

Statistically, it's unlikely that N and I will work out forever. But it is statistically likely that he'll make me happy for some period of time -- some either short- or long-lived space of this life that I'll look back on (mostly) fondly. That's not a bad thing to be holding in my heart right now.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Keeping It Light

I always forget this, but it never fails: When a woman feels strong and confident and like she's finally okay on her own, the men come running. I felt that way this weekend. I put together a six-foot-tall bookshelf all by myself wearing jeans and a black wifebeater and wielding a screwdriver as if it were a weapon.

That same day, I waited patiently for my double-date with N and his friend, whom I'll call Six-Two from now on because he's tall and cute. When the meeting time approached, I shimmied into my new fuschia dress and heels. I wore black tights and too much perfume. We met the boys out after my girlfriend S and I had a delightful Mediterranean dinner. We talked about New Year's resolutions (or, in my case, anti-resolutions), trips we might take together, and New York, with all of its good and bad qualities and the push and the pull required to make city living work. We bonded as intelligent metropolitan women who are too smart to settle for anything less than all-consuming yet challenging.

When we finally sat down with the boys at a lounge on the Upper East Side. I employed time-tested techniques from The Game: I relaxed my body language. I gave full attention to Six-Two as he was speaking rather than gaze at N adoringly the whole time. I laughed and smiled through my slick lip gloss and told jokes and acted like I double-dated in inappropriately tight dresses all the time. Six-Two and S got along well, and N and I, of course, had chemistry that sometimes belies words. We ended up gazing into each other's eyes. We held hands. We whispered in each other's ears. Politely, of course. We didn't want to unnerve the other couple.

We all went our separate ways after a few drinks. I was confused by that, especially since we were so close to my apartment, but I've learned never to expect N to give me the full-court press. The next day, though, was a different story. He texted me. He called me. Sure enough, Six-Two had sung my praises in the cab ride home. I had known that he would.

N invited me over to his place last night for takeout and a movie, and I agreed. I like going to another borough to meet someone who is something like "my man." It was one of the most fun, romantic, and meaningful nights of my life. They usually are with N, because I am, unfortunately, in love with him. He was fawning over me. Giving me compliments. Holding me. Kissing me. Telling me he would do whatever I wanted -- be it movies, a trip to the zoo, sex.... We talked for hours. We smiled at each other. We kissed deeply.

That was typical N. He's hot, and then he's cold.

We texted and e-mailed lightly today, but "lightly" is the key word here. If I am to snag N, which is sort of not even my goal anymore -- my goal is to become a self-fulfilled single woman in this city who gets more excited about furnishing her own place than some lame text message from some lame boy -- I have to let him drive. And that, my friends, is the hardest thing for your dear Jane to do.

N is unsure of what he wants. He is a boy at heart, but I think he is special inside. He's also a tad crazy, which I fucking love. All of that combined means that I have to let him take the reins. I have to stop trying to orchestrate events that will guarantee our couplehood. 'Cause that just ain't the way life works. I have to enjoy him while I have him and then continue to be unsurprised when he doesn't deliver. But I do think -- on some crazy, insane, hippocampal level -- that he is trying. And now is the time for me to be quiet. Which, again, is not my strong suit.

A cab driver brought me home from work late tonight. He asked me what my goals were for 2008. I was not in the mood for chit-chat, as I had just worked a 13-hour day. I didn't answer, really.

"Will you get married?" he said.

I couldn't contain my laughter, and I guffawed a huge, loud, unladylike snort/laugh.

"Why?" he said. "Why not?"

I figured, Fuck it. I'll never see this dude again.

"Because the man I love doesn't want me," I said.

And I was in for it now, I tell you, because no one likes to talk about love more than drivers in New York City.

"Here is my advice," he said, in his thick Jamaican accent. "Play dumb. I see the kind of person you are -- the kind that doesn't take any crap. Let him have his freedom. Pretend you forget about him. Pretend you forget all about him. He'll say, 'Oh, you never call me no more...." but you play dumb. Play dumb for a year. Once you get married, then you take control."

The advice was entirely convoluted and unequivocally anti-feminist, but there is something to be said for the evil genius that is making men feel as though they are in charge.

It would be a bad idea to marry N. A severely bad idea. But for now, N is the person I want to laugh with at bad jokes and crappy movies. I want to smell his hair and taste his sweat. I want to hear his batshit insane theories about "power animals" and this frighteningly solid career advice for how I can move up at my job. He's the person I want to buy trashy lingerie for and go out and drink gimlets with for hours. I want to talk at him about nothing -- about my family and the Midwest and what I'm scared of and why sometimes I feel powerless and paralyzed to move my life ahead.

There's an element of self-destruction here of which I'm completely aware. I know that I could find a man who is solid and boring if I simply stepped onto York Avenue and announced my availability to whichever males happened to be on the street, buried deep into their iPods, at the time. There are a lot of single men in this city. I'm formulating a new theory, though: It's entirely possible that I'm choosing men who are fundamentally unavailable so I can avoid hitching my wagon to anyone at all and instead come home after work at midnight on a Monday, pour myself a glass of sipping rum, pop a Xanax, and type. Just type.

N provides fodder for that. Sometimes immersion journalism unearths the most authentic results.

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Friday, January 04, 2008


I don't do resolutions anymore. I stopped that a couple of years ago. I change my mind weekly as to what I want, and sometimes I suspect that only my subconscious REALLY knows what I'm pining after.

But this is something I can do: say no. Voice an emphatic "no."

Things I'm Not Going to Do Anymore:

1. Qualify my musical tastes by selling out my gender.
Example: "Her songs are really girly, but she's very talented...." That goes for my current favorites, especially, but not limited to: Sara Bareilles, The Blow, and The Pierces. If it's chick music, FANTASTIC. Better, in fact, than most music. Being a woman is not a negative.

2. Continue to tell my boss about my love life.
She's one of my best friends, but my big mouth is asking for trouble, even when I share the tiniest thing about N. I'm beginning to think that she thinks I make bad decisions. It was one thing when I was with the Boyf, because we could both bitch about our LTRs (long-term relationships), but there's no way she can identify with what young single women go through in this city, whether I'm being good or, um, NOT being good.

3. Apologize for my feelings.
I will no longer say, "I'm sorry, but I want to be with you" or "I'm sorry that I've pushed too hard for exclusivity." No. If I fucking want to be with you, you should be grateful. No apologies necessary.

4. Keep feeling like I should be married or at least engaged.
Do I really want that? Do I really, honestly, want to be married and have to check in with someone nightly, like I did with the Boyf? Do I really want to have to justify my movie choices, my Sunday afternoon rituals, my drinking, my strength, to some dude? No. Plus: At least one of my high-school acquaintances is mommy-blogging. Mommy-blogging! I can't imagine anything I'd want to do less. I can't imagine a life I'd want less.

5. Be judgmental of myself and others.
If I accidentally get blasted, say, and hook up with, say, a Screenwriter who respects (or at least respectED) me, and I realize in the morning I'm over it and over him? Drunk-text N in a moment of weakness? Make out with a stranger in a dive bar? I'm moving on. No Scarlet Letter-esque emotional flogging, because it's a waste of time. I'm accepting it was Bad Idea Jeans for me at the time, and I'm saying, "Next!" Someone I know did blow at some party? Their choice. Their decision. Their body. If it doesn't involve me, it's none of my business. Next.

6. Accept freelance assignments that I hate.
Unless all the furniture I've randomly bought REALLY puts me into a financial hole, I'm going to value my limited free time above the fact that I can say I'm writing for this or that publication. Because, frankly, who cares? Only. Me. The rest of my friends would rather grab an afternoon beer with me than hear about my busy fucking schedule.

Happy 2008.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Breakfast in My Borough

Woooooow. Sometimes it takes humor to make a gal realize just how little she might be settling for. (Yes, I'm talking about N here.) This is hilarious, especially considering how much I love "The Pick-Up Artist":

And now for your daily N update: I'm seeing him on Saturday at a bar on the Upper East. We're setting up two of our friends on a blind date. I find this whole endeavor entirely ironic, since N's and my non-relationship is such a train wreck.

We e-mailed today -- probably 10 e-mails apiece, back and forth. It was all cute, witty banter and good writing and confirmation of our Saturday plans. "But what does it MEAN??" my friends asked me on the phone.

My answer? "Hell if I know." And I don't. No one can, especially with him. My reaction right now is to anticipate my new furniture, drink good wine (I'm sipping a decent malbec right now), work hard, and appreciate my friends.

Okay, so I did buy a new dress for Saturday, but it was on sale and wildly short, and I look amazing in it. I used to want to be a New York Holly Golightly (minus the whole prostitution thing, of course), and I had this thought as I walked home in the cold today carrying my new purchase and a couple of bottles of red from my local liquor store: Of course Holly Golightly would buy a new dress for a date with a silly premise. She'd absolutely fritter away some coin on party dresses, wine, and 400-thread-count sheets and go out with the kind of guy who would give her $50 for the powder room.

I remember this about Breakfast at Tiffany's, though: Holly wins in the end. I don't need a manwhore/writer to rescue me (wow, even though N is exactly that), but I will win this -- of my own volition, in my own apartment, in the city that I've earned.

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Tales from the Crazy

The Screenwriter was a bad idea. Or maybe I'm just a bad idea in general -- for anyone. The phrase "shame spiral" doesn't even adequately describe what I went through all day on the 31st. I worked on my freelance projects. I cleaned my home with actual cleaning products. I tried not to think about N, and I tried not to think about my behavior with the Screenwriter the previous night and that morning, when I put on my best Lauren Bacall voice in the early sunlight and pretended everything was fine.

What I realized that evening was that I didn't want to be freezing my ass off over sandwiches and flasks somewhere deep in Central Park, watching fireworks with someone I felt nothing for -- someone with whom I'd had quick and fleeting intimacy, and someone with whom it might have worked out if this were another time. If he didn't live in L.A. If he were older and less arrogant. If I wasn't in love with N.

I texted Sunny around 7 p.m. to tell her definitively that I was going to go out with her for the night (whether she liked it or not). I sent the Screenwriter a lame text message, cancelling. I haven't heard from him since. I drank a bottle of barbera d'asti before going out on New Year's Eve. That's pretty much the norm for New Year's where I'm concerned; the wine wasn't even the problem that night. The problem was my mind. The problem always HAS been my mind, and it's just now that I'm starting to realize that and beginning not to blame the boys with their distance and their nonexistant or half-hearted attempts at love for my depression and anxiety.

We ended up in Greenpoint at a bar whose name I wish I could remember, because it was so fun. I looked pretty, with red lipstick and curled blond hair and black patent-leather Mary Jane heels. I smiled and laughed and danced on banquettes and asked for shots of Jack Daniel's to go with my Bud Lights. I never remember this when my mental state is not right, but Jack is rarely to never a good idea for me.

As we left, I put a half-full Bud Light bottle in my coat, as if I were in college, and I drank it in the taxi ride to the next venue: a beautiful loft in Williamsburg -- a huge space with a large cream-colored couch, high ceilings, and a full kitchen.

I don't remember much more about the loft, but I remember text-messaging while perched on the couch's arm. I remember telling Sunny I was hammered, that I was leaving, and I remember sinking down and sitting outside the door, in the building's hallway, my legs, in those beautiful Mary Janes, straight out in front of me, and leaving N a voice mail-message.

I woke up alone in my own bed at 9:30 a.m. the next day, thank God. New Year's was a poor showing; I'd gotten irreparably drunk in three hours, which is pitiful for an alcoholic like me. I looked through my text-message inbox: a benign "Happy New Year!!" from N, a nice check-in from Sunny, a sweet message from a stoner I used to date for distraction. That's when I started to cry and didn't stop for an hour or maybe more. I bought $400 worth of furniture and bedding at an UES home decor place that always calms me on a whim, clutching the plastic-wrapped packages, yanking them off the shelves, and pulling them toward my chest to hear the noise and feel the tactile pressure. I didn't shower that day.

Wild-eyed and desperate, I somehow ended up at N's later on the 1st, teary and sad and a bit drunk. He held me and fed me chicken and Xanax. He did what he could to the best of his ability. I convinced him to let me stay over, even though I could tell he didn't want me there. I asked him if he hated me. (He said no.) I asked him if he still liked me. (He said yes.) I asked him if he still wanted to hang out with me, after all of this -- after I had scared him and after he had seen my true crazy. (He said yes.)

I can imagine how this sounds.

I don't even like how this sounds. Being self-destructive is sexy if you're rich, but if you're not...? God help you.

I went to work today showered (I came all the way back to the Upper East from N's place) and feeling motivated to change. I called psychotherapists (only Ph.D's -- no social workers, please) for new appointments. I bought hundreds of dollars' worth of more furniture online. I checked items off of my to-do list. I worked as hard as I felt was necessary. I e-mailed lightly with N. He thoughtfully suggested a therapist for me that one of his friends likes. I loved that. I finished some more freelance work. I worked late and hard and tried my best.

This will pass. N will pass. I know that. The key is -- until then -- keeping my head above water and my mind wrapped around my work, my bills, my finances, and my psychological well-being until it/he does pass. The problems start when all the other stuff falls by the wayside, and I am still -- STILL -- too smart for that, despite my staggering romantic ineptitude.

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