Tuesday, February 28, 2006

All's Well That...

In my entire life I have only had three dreams that involved people I know or know of. Generally, I never dream about friends, family or coworkers. I don’t even dream about strangers on the bus or movie stars.

The first dream, from high school, involved a boy in my class I had only noticed in passing until then. He was nice but a little quiet and not part of my group. The dream wasn’t about him. I am still not sure what it was about. In the dream I had long wavy hair (my hair was short at the time) and I was running around in a sun-drenched meadow on bare feet wearing an ethereal white dress. Not running around like I was trying out for an Olympic gold but in a dreamlike, surreal sort of way. And then suddenly the meadow fell away and I was standing in the middle of this long, narrow stone walkway jutting out into the ocean. The vibrant sunlight was gone too and the world was shrouded in a blanket of pale gray while a soft rain fell in a fine drizzle. I stood there on the walkway, cold from the rain, my hair and dress whipping around me in sudden gusts of wind. And then, just as suddenly, I was back in the meadow and it was bright and sunny again. That’s where I saw the boy and he said to me, "Not that way. You are going the wrong way." I was about to turn left or right but when I heard this I turned the other way.

I don’t remember the rest of the dream. I don’t remember if it affected any of my decisions in the next few days or what the outcomes were if it did.

The second dream was way too obvious and Freudian.

The third dream was Sunday night.

I was sitting at a bar when George Clooney came up to me and struck up a conversation. We started flirting, engaging in some very witty verbal repartee(which I do not remember much of but it was all very clever and scintillating at the time and he was completely captivated, you will have to take my word for it). The rest of the dream was him pursuing me with flowers, gifts, even serenading me from the street below as I stood on a really crappy, narrow fire escape and yelled at him to go away. Of course, in true Hollywood fashion we still ended up locked in a passionate kiss at the end of it. (Sell out!) But then I redeemed myself by turning him away at the last minute.

And then last night, after work, I reluctantly went to a happy hour. I protested that it was Monday, that I had to hit the gym because I skipped the last two days and I am falling behind on my marathon training, that I didn’t really like any of them enough to hang out with them after work (all true statements) but to no avail. So, I went, watched my coworkers get drunk, ignored the advances of a few other drunken men, chastely sipped my diet coke and then came home.

And ignored the blinking light on the side of my phone that indicates I have messages.

God, I get more unsocial every day. Even in my dreams.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Amerimacka

After last night’s alarming and untimely tears, and much of the night spent tossing and turning, I decided to take myself shoe shopping today. What worries me about the tears is that this is fast becoming my reponse to guys I like followed by withdrawal and that can’t be healthy. (Neither is obsessive shoe shopping but who am I to go against the wisdom of generations of women everywhere.) So, shoe therapy it was. Besides, I figured the only place where T wouldn’t creep into my thoughts unbidden had to be amidst a sea of girly pink shoes all waiting to be co-stars in the filmstrip of my life.

At the mall I made an unplanned detour to my favorite day salon. It’s been a while since I have been there and occasional pampering is a little piece of heaven that no girl, woman or child, no matter how dazed or confused, should deny herself. Sitting there, flipping through a back issue of Glamour while my friendly neighborhood pedicurist caught me up on her life (bloody Pedro! He has been fooling around on her. I was about to tell her exactly what she could do to his genitals when I remembered my own serious lack of coolness in similar situation and decided to shut up and play empathetic listener) I felt my worries - mom, work, men - falling away from me like loose clothes at the end of the day. Whoever said money can’t buy happiness clearly never got a pedicure.

After I had paid and tipped generously (still cheaper than a shrink’s couch) I took myself over to Nordstrom. This must be how a recovering alcoholic feels when he suddenly walks into the middle of a Harvard frat party. Other than the knee-high Spanish Harlem boots in Chicago last week I haven’t had any fashion indulgences in a while. Guess my self-imposed exile extended beyond men. Not that I was ever in the habit of overshooting my means but I wasn’t quite the minimalist I seem to have become lately either. It was like coming home.

Several hours later, during which two very charming young men in Nordstrom’s dark navy suits slipped shoes on and off my feet, I felt even better. There is something about a cute guy in a suit at your feet that is very modern day Cinderella. Or maybe it is the ego boost, the power trip. I have always fancied I would look good with a 6 ft Royal Bengal tiger purring away at my feet. (Seriously. At age 10 when other girls were begging their parents for ponies and puppies I was demanding to know why I couldn’t have my own tiger as a pet.)

Later as I was threading my way back to the main entrance, newly pedicured toes encased in a new pair of shoes, my old pair snuggling up to the fresh new meat in the large shopping bag, I looked around. Women of all shapes and sizes going in and out of stores, some with bags, some without. I wondered if shopping, like cutting or alcohol binges, was not a form of escapism. Shoes, even though they sometimes squeeze your toes to within an inch of their life, rub the skin off your heels and give you painful blisters, do not let you down the way people do. And as any cutter can tell you, physical pain is often easier to bear than its emotional twin.

But then again, sometimes shoes are just shoes. They’re pretty, fun and the right ones can make you feel instantly glamorous. Like my new babies below.



(Photos courtesy Nordstroms.com, except for the green ones - they didn't have them online so this is the closest match from another site.)

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Breakdown Lane or Road To Recovery?

I came across a post where a woman admits to sleeping with another woman’s boyfriend. She writes about enticing him despite his rebuffs and making several encore attempts afterwards all while he was still with his girlfriend. She ends on a tone of humor noting that he wasn’t interested after all in the end and a certain amount of charming helplessness that this has happened several times before attributing it to some special pheromones of which she is possessed that undoubtedly make men forget fidelity around her.

Personally, I think the constant encouragement might have had something to do with it too.

I learned something about me today. I am capable of despising a complete stranger.

I had a date of sorts with my neighbor, the one I almost ran over a few weeks ago. Instead of coming after me with a bat or threatening to sue me as would have been befitting he had offered me his coffee thereby claiming a permanent spot in my heart. This kind of humanity (or is it insanity?) is not something you come across everyday. It deserves to be rewarded. Still, in keeping with my strict serial monogamy theme I wasn’t planning on dating anyone until I figured out where things were going with John.

That is, until I went to Target.

Is Target the new hotbed of action? Who knew. I got asked out twice - once in the towel aisle and once in the kitchen aisle. I guess appearance of domesticity is a turn on for some men. The towel guy didn’t actually come out and say anything. He just followed me around asking for advice on towels and hinting at things. The kitchen aisle guy was more direct and incredibly attractive in a Luke Wilson kind of way. Charming too. When I said I wasn’t dating for the second time he smiled disarmingly and said he had to give it the old scout’s try. (Aww. They are finally teaching boys scouts some real life skills these days.)

It wasn’t until I was on my way home that any of this sunk in though. I refuse dates on autopilot. On the drive home I found myself thinking. I saw a Dr. Phil episode once, the only one I have ever watched, where he told a woman that she had to go out more and that if she kept hiding a guy will have to throw himself in front of her car for her to meet him. So, when Coffee Guy caught up with me right after and said I owed him a cup of coffee I figured why not. He has come as close to throwing himself in front of my car as anyone. I will just buy him a damn cup of coffee. Which I did, at 2.

I just got home. It’s past 11. We went to this nearby place that has a video game parlor, a multiplex movie theater, a Barnes & Noble, several coffee shops and one of my favorite restaurants. And somehow we managed to hit all of them. It was nice. It was better than nice.

And, yet, the first thing I did on walking in through my front door, was cry.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Growth

My cousin came to visit last summer. We hadn’t seen each other in over 4 years. It was fun catching up on events, shopping, hiking, dining, checking out the local music scene etc. Before she was leaving she said she had the best time. The only thing she regretted was that I wasn’t as sharp-witted or sarcastic as I used to be. She missed my old sense of humor. I didn’t know what to tell her.

I have been trying to think about what she said. It is true but why? What changed? Did love soften me? Or was it something else? Age? Wisdom? Have I become too mellow?

Don’t get me wrong, I was never mean to everyone. For some reason I have always found it difficult to laugh at people who are generally nice or well intentioned even if their methods leave something to be desired. When my friends made fun of someone like that I would often protest. But I never had a problem cutting people down to size with a few choice words when they deserved it either. People who were being deliberately cruel or bullying others or flaunting their superiority with the sole intention of making someone else look bad. My sarcasm and blithe, cutting comments were reserved for them.

Around 2 pm I went down to the post office to drop off a package. There were two girls right in front of me in the line. In their late teens or early twenties. Very fashionable, pretty. Just in front of them was a middle aged middle eastern woman, slightly overweight, frumpy and clearly having a hard time filling in a form. She kept asking people for help. The two girls were making fun of her. It took a few moments for me to realize that’s what they were doing. They were making fun of her clothes and shoes, her complexion and her poor English. I felt my temper starting to rise. And then one of the girls turned to the other, grabbed her by both hands and in a mock pleading tone said, "Please, promise me you will shoot me and save the world if I ever start to resemble that."

I was furious. The words were at the tip of my tongue. And then I leaned around them and asked the woman if I could help. She looked so relieved. I said, "Why don’t you come join me and I will help you fill out the form. Let them go on ahead (pointing to the girls)." The woman positively beamed at everyone, even the two girls who sniggered at this, and walked over to where I was standing.

The girls rolled their eyes and turned to look at me. I could see it in their eyes, the amusement. And then they looked away. It’s easy to ridicule a poor old woman who doesn’t understand what you are saying. It’s a lot harder to intimidate an attractive and well dressed woman who meets your gaze smiling and unafraid. The amusement faded. They turned around and started talking about something else. I helped the woman fill out the form and stayed with her until she was done at the counter.

Now I know what to tell my cousin if she asks again why I am not as sarcastic or sharp-witted as I used to be. It’s because I found a better way to silence people.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Adaptation

If the car in front of me is driving too slow I change lanes.

If someone is standing too close to me at the post office I move.

If a coworker is taking credit for my work I speak up or shrug it off.

If my boss is ignoring my idea I fight for it.

If my file won’t print because there is a paper jam I fix it.

If I believe in something and people are not listening I get their attention.

If a child is running around screaming in a restaurant I raise my eyebrows but smile.

If the sales assistant is chatting on the phone I find another checkout counter.

If the store is out of the ingredients I want I buy something else.

If the wind blows my umbrella away I retrieve it.

If a car splashes muddy water on my new coat I take it to the dry cleaners.

If someone is hogging a machine at the gym I move on to another workout.

If my flight is delayed I buy a book to read.

If my date fails to live up to my expectations I don’t mock him to my friends behind his back.

If he turns out to be utterly horrid I still remain polite.

If the post office is out of stamps and as a result I get stuck with a fine because my payment was a day late I accept it as my fault.

I would like people to be well dressed but I don’t make fun of the ones who aren’t.

I would like people to be well read but I don’t snub the ones who aren’t.

I would like people to be pleasing to the eye but I don’t avoid the ones who aren’t.

I would like people to be polite and pleasant but I don’t snap back at the ones who aren’t.

I would like people to be considerate of me but I don’t cut them out of my life if they aren’t.

Or in other words, I find it generally easy, most of the time, to overlook the everyday little things that seem to annoy so many people by their own admissions.

But I can’t seem to stand dating blogs.

I don’t mean the blogs that talk about dating among other things. I don’t even mean the blogs that talk mostly about dating and occasionally about other things. I don’t even mean the blogs that talk exclusively about dating and only about other things as they relate to their dating escapades, although those are borderline boring. I mean that blogs that talk about nothing but dating. I realize that may be the purpose of the blog but when you are out on a date the world doesn’t come to a standstill all around you. How does one write 1000's after 1000's of words day after day on absolutely nothing but "I went out with so & so and then I went out with so & so and then I really wanted to go out with so & so but he/she moved to China?" No mention of a street shooting or the Pareto Principle or the 44 year old trade embargo on Cuba I can understand, but no mention of the rain or a car that drove by too close or some random US survey? No observation even on the food or the bar or the napkins on the table? Do people's lives really revolve around dates to this extreme extent? I honestly thought that only happened in sitcoms and even there the characters generally have some outside interests.

I feel like a Meg Ryanish moment, "Hasn’t anyone told these girls they are supposed to have two names?" Only I feel like saying, "Hasn’t anyone told these people that they are supposed to have at least two interests?" For the love of God, get a hobby. Something. Anything. Nail polish, bricks, stones, rocks, stamps, speedos. Whatever it is. Find something. And then maybe it will be easier to meet someone worthwhile because you will have something to talk about.

What’s even more amazing to me is that some of these blogs try to give dating advice. Why anyone would want to take dating advice from people who can’t seem to hold any one person’s attention for more than 10 minutes is beyond me.

I am being critical, I know. I am just annoyed that 9 out of 10 times when I click a link I seem to end up on another dating blog. Much as I adored Bridget Jones and her delightful brand of airheaded unidimensionality there is only so much of it one can take. It's not like I can't sympathize. I know heartache all too well. It's the singlemindedness that gets to me. The exclusion of everything else. Maybe I am afraid that I might turn into them one day. Or maybe I find it annoying because it just is plain annoying. But that's my problem not anyone else’s. So, from now on, I will adapt and add one more if...

If I come across a dating blog, I stop reading.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Door

I have been thinking about that green door. There is something about that unassuming door with its little sign and the one single lightbulb swinging in the breeze that pulls at my heartstrings.

The first time I went there was right after moving here. My coworker J, when she heard that I had just relocated, said, "Oh, we have to take you out and show you around." A few days later I found myself standing in an outdoor mall with a giant shopping center on one side, a big glass-windowed restaurant on the other and a tiny green door inbetween. She pointed and said, "That’s where we are going." Since then I have been back many times.

I like that it is simple, almost defiantly so like it is daring people to keep walking past. It doesn’t want to be noticed by everyone. The door knows that someone will find it and it is willing to wait, not craving the attention of every passerby. Maybe like Shakespeare’s Bassanio I am attracted to things that do not glitter. In a world so driven by fame, fortune and attention it is rare to find things or people that are willing to stay hidden. Like a dew drop on a blade of grass that traps a rainbow inside, a simple green door that opens to a crowded restaurant or a meagre lead casket that hides the portrait of the beautiful Portia there are treasures secreted in the simplest, most easily overlooked things. And those are the ones that interest me the most. But I wonder, does that - the secret, the solitude - heighten my pleasure?

John told me this morning that the food was good but not great which surprised me because I have always thought it was the best in town. Maybe the ambiance has something to do with it. Maybe there is something about the path not trodden by many feet that has a certain appeal. Or maybe it is the quiet confidence of a deliberate simplicity that defies anyone to judge it by the common rules. Whatever it is, it just works for me.

In A Sudden Fit Of Inspiration

I have gone from wanting to make omelettes to wanting to cook smothered lamb chops in homemade garlic-butter sauces with sides of shiitake mushroom and tossed green beans with slivered almonds and finely diced shallots. Now I remember why I don't cook more often. The last time I tried I went directly from boiling water for tea to wanting to make an authentic 99-step 3 hour risotto.

A few hours ago I was standing in my kitchen, at the end of an uncharacteristically (for me) long day that started with a 6 am wake up call to give me time to compose and post my first ever digital photo collage followed by a 9 hour workday, 2 hours of gym, ½ hour of grocery shopping and several hours of random obsessesive photographing of anything and everything, contemplating my newly acquired Whole Foods Market bounty and a random assortment of spices that *sounded* like they will go well with lamb trying to figure out how to convert all this raw material into a delightful finished product when, thankfully, John called.

I have been told on what I assume to be good authority (i.e. by self-proclaimed dating experts) that you are not supposed to accept invitations from men at the last minute but when you are standing in the middle of your kitchen at 8 pm staring at raw meat you can't always be picky. Now that I think of it, I am not even sure John actually asked me to dinner. I just said yes.

We went to this little Japanese restaurant. I like this place. From the outside all you see is a very ordinary green door with a small, aged restaurant sign directly overhead dimly lit by one lone 40 watt lightbulb. It is kind of squashed in between a big international grocery store and a swankier eatery so that most people would probably walk right by without even noticing it. Inside it is just as tiny and cramped as you would expect it to be from the outside. But the food is amazing. The broiled swordfish steak with wasabi sauce is to die for, the hamachi is really spicy (which is how I like it), and the fatty tuna practically melts in your mouth. I think what I like best about their food though is that it is simple and unpretentious yet complex and tasty. If I were food that's the kind of food I would want to be.

After I got back home I realized it was a good thing I went out. I don't know how to make smothered lamb chops in homemade or any other garlic-butter sauces.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Admissions Of A Non-Cook

My mother has a point, as mothers sometimes do. For the record, my wardrobe is both fashionable and, when it has to be, formidable. I may not be paying constant homage to the label Gods as some people are wont to do but I don’t sacrifice quality or style. That said, fact remains that I often don’t buy things with the excuse that it’s too ridiculously overpriced and as my mother pointed out yesterday, anyone who eats out practically every single day and not at fast food restaurants has no right to cite temperance or frugality as her argument.

Temperance and frugality are interesting concepts. They are decidedly unfashionable for starters. What is fashionable is to be irresponsible, well-dressed and in debt. To pass up an overpriced Balenciaga motorcycle bag in the name of saving is as horrifying as the admission that you really think it’s quite ugly. Which it is but you are not supposed to say that because heaven forbid, it’s a designer label and when was the last time a famous designer created something so revolting that it deserved to be quarantined at birth instead of being bagged and tagged and sold to the masses? Fendi spy bag anyone? But I digress. I didn’t mean to go on a tirade against monstrosities masquerading on people’s arms thanks to their cult status. Quite to the contrary, I should probably get off my soapbox and stop pretending my relative temperance in the shopping department is such a great virtue when my spending habits in other areas are so out of control. Without divulging any details let me just say I spend enough on food that I could be buying a new Louis Vuitton bag (and sometimes two) every single month of the year.

But it’s so easy to swing by the cafetaria or make a short jaunt to the quaint bistro down the road with some coworkers at lunch or check out the new Thai restaurant in town with some friends on a fine evening. In this day of modern conveniences there really is no need to cook at home. If it isn’t the cafetaria, the bistro or the Thai restaurant there are always the old standbys like Chinese takeout, Panera or Whole Foods. Even some supermarkets offer decent salad bars and since you are already there why not pick up some other stuff too. Save you a trip. Really, there is no reason to cook at home unless it is for the joy of cooking.

Ironically, modern conveniences are also the reason why cooking at home makes sense. It is economical and with the advent of technology a kitchen full of appliances like the food processor, blender, chopper etc can make short work of an otherwise intimidating recipe. There are even books on microwave cooking which cut meal preparation down to an exact science and leave you plenty of time to indulge in your favorite hobbies, whatever they may be.

One of the disadvantages of being able to see both sides of an argument sometimes is that you can get caught up in it and take a little too long to pick a side. Or maybe it is my natural disinclination to do anything that can ever bestow upon me the terrifying title of Domestic Goddess. I have this secret fear that once people find out that I can cook and clean I will never be able to go back to my old lifestyle of being the slightly sarcastic, occasionally deep, caring but free-spirited girl that people admire and will be relegated to the role of a "but-you-can-cook-and-clean-so-oh-why-aren’t-you-married-yet?" hanger on. At least now they say, "Well, she hates football and refuses to cook. And you know, she is always taking off for places unknown. How many times has she moved in the last ten years? Tsk, tsk. And all that watching jeopardy and turning her nose up at gossip. No wonder she isn’t married yet."

Which is kind of how I like it. But maybe I should start cooking. It’s not that I can’t cook at all. But, generally speaking, cooking doesn’t excite me unless I am throwing a dinner party or there is someone in the kitchen with me. And I am not in the mood for company right now. Maybe I need to start small. Like... with an omelette!

5 Weird Things

I have been tagged by Coloratura. I was supposed to post 5 weird things about myself but didn't know what to post until just now as I caught myself talking to myself in the kitchen. I defy anyone to tell me that’s not weird. So here it is.

5 weird things about me:

1. My mother says when I was 3 years old one day she came upon me sitting on the floor playing with some toys and muttering under my breath. She smiled fondly and asked, "Who’s your friend, sweetie?" thinking, reasonably enough, that I had an imaginary friend. She says I looked up, rolled my eyes and said, "Mom! I am talking to myself." Self-aware at 3. Now that I am older I don’t make a habit of going around muttering under my breath anymore but every now & then my internal monologue refuses to stay trapped in my head and finds a voice.

2. Sometimes I sing aloud to the music in my car. Sometimes I dance and sing aloud to the music in my car. I also do this in the kitchen, living room, bedroom and the shower with alarming frequency, but generally only when I am alone.

3. I hate chick flicks. I have not seen Never Been Kissed, the pink-something movie with Reese Witherspoon (the one where she was a law student or lawyer), How To Catch A Man or Lose A Man or something like that (the one with Goldie Hawn’s daughter) or any other of the ilk. I can’t even remember their names. I have, on the other hand, seen every Jackie Chan movie, Chuck Norris movie, Bruce Lee movie, all the American Ninja movies, Karate Kid, The Kickboxer, Rocky, Rambo and all their sequels. I have seen Fight Club seven times, every single Tarantino movie twice and Guy Ritchie movies like Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels countless times to the point where I can glibly quote lines from them at the drop of a hat.

4. I can eat ice cream just about any time of the day, even in the middle of a bitter cold winter, and have been known to wake up past boyfriends and send them out for ice cream at 2 am in the morning on a few occasions.

5. I really would much rather stay home alone on a Saturday night than go out with some guy I am not that interested in just in the offchance we might hit if off or just to have something to do. Everyone keeps me telling me this is weird so I guess it must be.

And now, I am supposed to tag 5 people in turn but I honestly don’t know 5 personal bloggers so instead, I will leave it open. (Yes, sometimes I am a coward - my fragile ego can’t take the hurt I will undoubtedly feel if someone I tagged didn't play along so this is my way of wimping out). If you happen to read this consider yourself tagged.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Another Sunday

I am packing, getting ready to go back to the city I currently call home, slowly slipping into my reflective quieter self, the party girl of Friday night retreating into the background.

I spent most of yesterday and all morning with mom. Talking, listening, often to the same repeated things. Did I see cousin P’s little boy? He’s such a little darling. Oh, and have I remembered to pack my things in the bathroom? Was I sure I wouldn’t like her to give me some homecooked food to take with me? I ate out all the time. That wasn’t good for my health. Repeated requests that I come back soon, repeated concerns that I do not, however, jeopardize my job in doing so. Old and familiar yet new and sweet at the same time. A part of me wants to stay here. Enough running around and running away. Take care of her. I need to find my roots anyway. A part of me wants to go, keep moving. My search isn’t over yet. I am coming back to visit again soon. That’ll have to do.

It doesn’t take me long to gather all my stuff. I am wearing my jeans and carrying my wool coat which really only leaves a few things. It’s a little funny. As I pack I look at my clothes. A couple of cotton t-shirts from Target. $8 each. Perfectly nice. A slightly flouncy black satin organza skirt. A green silk evening top. A red blouse. A white shirt. A cream cashmere cardigan. I am wearing the gray turtleneck to the airport. Some undergarments, skincare, and the new tall black boots. Everything else - my camera, cellphone, address book, wallet, small makeup clutch, box of pastels, keys and iPod - will go into my handbag. The drawing book I will just have to carry again. The cabin bag looks oddly deflated devoid of the gifts I had brought for my family. I know my mother is disappointed that I didn’t bring more clothes. She is always disappointed that I don’t bring more clothes. She’s disappointed that I don’t own more clothes. She wants to show me off like a barbie doll. A successful little barbie doll with an impressive job title.

Maybe it all goes back to the roof. My parents have a cute little condo now but for years we lived in a house that my friend Anne had christened the haunted house. There were exposed bricks and watermarks on the wall and vines growing on the outside. I remember standing at the door of my parents room and looking up as the roof came down leaving a foot wide gaping hole through which the rain poured freely. It was neither the first nor the last time it happened but it was the first time the bricks came down on my parents freshly made bed with its clean white sheets. My mother sitting down with the diary where she wrote down all expenses and doing the math, trying to figure out how to raise the money to get the roof fixed and wondering how long it will last.

There are plenty of carefree, happy, wonderful memories tied to that house. Even the roof made us laugh at times. Every time a pigeon flew overhead my mom would say, "There goes the roof." We all thought it was funny. But maybe it all goes back to that. To years of hurried math on the back pages of a diary to figure out how much it will cost to fix the roof.

It’s not enough that my brother and I are doing okay. My parents want other people to know we are doing okay. Sometimes it annoys us. That’s shallow. Why would we care what anyone thinks of us, particularly people who didn’t bother to acknowledge us when we were nobodies? Isn’t that what you taught us - not to believe in show? I got mad at my mom earlier today when she said, "Next time, bring some nicer clothes." These are $159 designer jeans for crying out loud. So what if the t-shirts cost $8. They are perfectly nice. Not everything has to cost an arm and leg and most certainly not for show. But I think I understand, a little.

The packing should have taken 5 minutes but it takes almost half an hour because I frequently stop and get lost in reverie. The 26 year old from Friday night has called three times. I have noticed this odd propensity in men to get attached to me out of the blue sometimes, generally when I have the least bit of interest in them. The kiss was nice but it’s not going anywhere. I don’t really have time for it. Or maybe I don’t have the inclination for it. Right now I just want to go back home, unpack, pour myself a drink and watch some TV on my couch. And pine over lost loves.

As if on cue Shawn Mullins starts to sing "Beautiful Wreck" on the radio. Yesterday I was a cracked china doll, today I am a beautiful wreck. At least you have to admit, I have a very romantic way of looking at myself.

It's In His Kiss

Sometimes I think slowly over the last few years, more so in the last few months, I have forgotten how to live. And then, every now & then, I get a reminder that I still have a pulse. Friday night was fun. More fun than I expected and surprisingly less funny than I expected, although there were the genuine moments of hilarity like when one of the BYTs gaily admitted that she thought Calendar Girls was just a movie and didn’t know that there was a real calendar with "naked, old people" on it. I tried not to laugh and when she asked me if that was crazy, truthfully replied, "Slightly alarming." Everyone apparently found this very funny. Clearly George Bernard Shaw wasn’t kidding when he said the truth was the funniest joke in the world.

We met up outside one of the clubs where BYT Original’s friend was bartending. He was getting off at 2 so we stayed at the club until 2 and then went to this other place that he said was a lot more happening. It was happening all right. All kinds of things were happening. Drugs, sex, rock n’ roll. Well, not rock n’ roll. More like some East meets West fusion of bhangra and rap with a heavy dose of trance electronika thrown in. Just what you need at 2 am in the morning.

Our party consisted of the girl who had invited me, her 2 girl friends plus the boy from the other club - the 26 year old bartender, and me. Other than the Calendar Girl moment and one of the other 27 year olds pinching my cheek and calling me cute in some twilight zone role reversal the night was pretty much as nights like these go. We danced, we drank, we screamed. Then we moaned our aching feet and went home. But not before the boy had gallantly kissed me.

I say gallantly because one does not expect such reckless bravado mixed with such charming flourish - yes, flourish - outside of movies like the Princess Bride. I was so impressed by his moves that I forgot to laugh. Or to be offended for that matter. It’s been a long time since I have been kissed and longer still since I have been kissed with such purpose.

Saturday morning I woke up with a mild headache and a feeling of foreboding. Then I remembered. T would be 47 this year and so, that would mean, if he had successfully sowed any wild oats when he was 21, which he might well have done, bless his little womanizing heart, then he would have a ... he might have a ... a ...

I didn’t finish the thought. I am resolutely not finishing the thought. I have been resolutely not finishing the thought since yesterday morning. The kiss was nice. Friday night was nice. Let's leave it at that.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Flights Of Fancy

The Bright Young Thing seems to have taken a fancy to me. She called first thing this morning to ask if I could come clubbing with her friends and her. I was a little amused by the use of the word "could" in the way my school friends used to call up my mother and ask if I could come out and play but the offer seems very generous, although, for all I know I could very well be her show & tell for the evening. Observe:

BYT ushers in cherchezlafemme where 3 other BYTs are sitting sipping their cosmopolitans.

BYT1 : "Look a single 30-something. I didn’t believe they existed outside of Sex And The City!"

BYT2: "Oh, but they do, they do. In fact, they are getting more common every day."

BYT3: "Really? Interesting! We will just have to make sure that doesn’t happen to us!"

In unison: "To us. To us." (uttered in dull monotones in a Beckettian parody)

I am thinking of going. Why not? Other than the fact that we have nothing in common, that she reminds me of the other girl, makes me question the very fabric of my last relationship and is six years younger than I will ever be again, I can think of absolutely no reason not to. Besides, it might be fun.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Bright Young Things

My sister in law and I decided to go shopping today. We were browsing at the mall when we ran into Bright Young Thing from my last post. She was by herself so we naturally teamed up and spent the next two hours together trying on cute outfits. Finally, laden with shopping bags filled with goodies of our choice we made our way to one of the outdoor cafes for lunch.

As we basked in the unexpected warmth of the sun on an otherwise freezing day I listened to the one-sided conversation. My sister in law like me is a little quiet at times. Bright Young Thing on the other hand was happily chatting away about some cute guy who gave her his number and some other cute guy who has promised her an expensive necklace and how cute her hair looked two nights ago and how she has the greatest Brad & Angelina scoop ever.

Suddenly in the bright sunlight I realized with a shock that she was just T’s type.

At least one of the reasons I have been finding it hard to move on is because I never understood why any of it happened. I asked T. Why? What was it? He didn’t have an answer. But I think I finally figured it out. It wasn’t his weakness or her seduction or my failing. It was because he was with the wrong girl.

I can see how he might have been mistaken. On the outside we are very similar. Bright Young Thing and I are both wearing form-fitting cashmere turtlenecks over designer jeans and high heeled boots. We both carry cute purses. We are both about the same height and weight and the same degree of pretty. But that’s where the similarities end. What drew T to me was my reserve, my reticence, my mystic. What drove us apart was the same thing because he just likes a different kind of girl. There was nothing either one of us could have done.

Not sure what I am going to do with this realization but it’s a little more than I knew yesterday.

After lunch we went back to shopping some more. Bath & Body Works was having a sale and since they just started carrying C. O. Bigelow I stocked up on some Rose Wonder Cream, Rosewater Toner and my favorite Rosebud lipbalm. I also got a yummy scented travel candle from L’Occitane. Other than that my haul of the day included a couple of small gifts for family members, a Chanel lipstick called Tijuana for myself (a very soft, pretty red - I am hoping this is the red I have been looking for) and a pair of tall black lace-up boots that I am sure will come in handy during Halloween. Kidding. Actually, the boots are totally hot.

How I Used To Be

I had to go to a dinner last night. It was a family type affair and at one point I found myself in the middle of a throng of people who were talking about some fresh celebrity gossip. I tried not to look too obviously disinterested but found my mind wandering. If gossip about people I know doesn’t interest me what would I care about what's happening with some actor or actress I don't know? After what I thought was a suitable interval I quietly tried to extricate myself from the group and sneak off to wherever people weren't talking about other people's marriages. Unfortunately, my desertion attempt was noticed and clamorously drawn to everyone's attention by a very bright young person who among other things thought it incumbent upon her to inform everyone that "clearly" *giggle* "C__ didn't care for gossip."

Later as I was about to gather up my coat and leave with as little fanfare as possible I got a rather surprising and unexpected earful from a couple of elderly friends of my aunt’s who intercepted me inches from the door and well meaningly proceeded to inform me that men did not like women who were too accomplished or too sure of themselves. And since I clearly did not grasp the magnitude of this revelation they further went on to inform me that "watching jeopardy and turning my nose up at gossip" was not going to help me get married and have babies.

I find it a little hard to be mean to people when no matter how poorly delivered their message their intentions are inherently good (from their points of view anyway) or to walk away from obvious bores. So, trapped in my own social civility, I listened to another 15 minutes of what men are looking for (apparently everything I am not) and what they are not (apparently everything I am) before making my escape with a mild parting shot. I tossed a "If a man doesn't want me for who I am then chances are I don't want him either" over my shoulder and quickly slipped out before anyone could correct me.

On the walk back home I felt both like laughing and crying. In my family women marry young and I have had to put up with this song and dance for as long as I can remember. I have gone through a gamut of reactions from being upset to defensive to feeling put on the spot to nowadays simply being amused. But sometimes the amusement is mixed with annoyance.

I have always craved romance and passion, adventure too, but not marriage. This could very well be because I don't have a lot of stellar examples of wedded bliss. Or it could just be me. The idea of going skydiving or scuba diving or even cooking a meal together with someone excites me but babies and happily ever after doesn't creep into my thoughts often. And truth be told, an occasional tearful night aside, I am not that afraid of being alone. I am more afraid of not living life well. 15 minutes of lecture does not change that.

But I do wish people would stop trying to change me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

8 Femmes

I love this movie. It’s a cross between a British stage mystery and a hollywood musical but told with typical French insouciance. I almost lost a friend over it though because this movie touches on a lot of sensitive topics but only to make fun of them or dismiss them casually. She thought it was offensive. I thought it was funny because, well, there are plenty of serious thought-provoking movies on all those subjects. This isn’t one of them. What it is is a somewhat oddball movie with a fabulous cast, great 50’s style decor & costumes and subtle but hilarious dialog...

Gaby - I will have to tell the police you often go out at night, and everyone knows it.
Louise - I will have to tell the police you often go out at night, and no one knows it.
--------
Gaby - If your conscience is clear...
Augustine - Is yours?
Gaby - Clearer than yours.
Augustine - Admit it, you hate me, don’t you?
Gaby - No, I am indifferent to you.
--------
Augustine runs off crying. Mamy, who up until then had been wheelchair bound because her legs are paralyzed, gets up and starts to follow Augustine to console her.
Gaby - But mother your legs!!
Mamy - Oh, I feel better. Must be the snow or a Christmas miracle.
--------
Mamy - Someone snuck into my room and robbed me. Someone who knew my hiding place.
Suzon - Under your pillow?
Mamy - How did you know?
Suzon - Mamy, everyone knows.
Mamy - Everyone? What a bunch of thieves. Stop, thief! Murder!
--------
Gaby - Someone sabotaged the car.
Louise - I wonder who.
Gaby - What does that mean?
Louise - Nothing madame, just wondering.
--------
Mamy - You belong to a book club? I thought you hated to read?
Pierrette - Oh, pardon me. Perhaps I said something I shouldn’t have.
Augustine - Not at all, not at all! It’s true I joined but I never take books out.
Pierrette - Oh, really? The chatty secretary of the book club said you check out at least 5 romance novels a week.
--------
Pierrette - As you ladies want the whole truth, I'd like to add a tidbit of information you lack.
Gaby - What is it this time?
Pierrette - Marcel and your new maid, Louise, have known each other for five years.
Gaby - What?
Pierrette - Five years of rented rooms and secret weekends. This winter you needed a maid, so Louise got hired.
Pierrette [leaning in towards Gaby] - It's called "in-home service."
--------
Gaby - But you are so common.
Louise - Maybe Monsieur had tired of remarkable women.
--------
Catherine - Suzon, I forgot one thing. I heard a strange sound. I looked through Augustine's keyhole, and I saw her standing at the mirror with something shiny. I thought nothing of it, but now I'm sure she was sharpening a knife!
Augustine - You liar! I was holding my mother-of-pearl comb and cleaning it.
Gaby - At 4:00 am?
Augustine - Combs never sleep!
--------
Louise - She [pointing to Pierrette] asked me to keep quiet and gave me 10,000 francs.
Pierrette - Which I regret, you hussy.
Louise - What?
Pierrette - Everyone knows you sleep around.
Louise - You should know, since we sleep with the same ones. Let me explain the bribe. I overheard you say to Monsieur, "Give me the money or you'll die."
Pierrette - No I said, "I'll die."
Louise - No, "You'll die."
Pierrette - My poor Louise! Your word is no good, you're just a maid.
Louise - Nor is yours. You're just a whore.
Pierrette - Which I prefer.
--------
Suzon - Mom?
Gaby - What is it? Another shocking revelation?
Suzon - No, I have told you everything.
Gaby - Tramp. You’re nothing but a tramp.
Pierrette [coming out from behind the curtain] - These things happen.
Gaby - On your side of the tracks! We get married first.
Pierrette - The tracks are gone. It’s called progress.
--------
Suzon - Mom said dad wasn’t my real father.
Catherine - It’s not true!
Suzon - Anyway, it’s a good thing he isn’t.
Catherine - How can you say that?
Suzon - You know the bun in my oven? Marcel put it there.

(They make absolutely no mention of this for the rest of the movie and Catherine later goes on a rant about how everyone takes advantage of her poor papa. This was when my friend turned to me and demanded to know, "how is this a funny movie?" I tried to explain to her, it's like feminism. It was never about the men.)
--------
Augustine - You’re understandably upset over what Gaby said.
Mamy - What did Gaby say?
Augustine - She accused you of killing father.
Mamy starts to laugh.
Augustine - What is so funny? It’s a monstrous lie...
Mamy [still laughing her head off] - It’s not a monstrous lie, my dear. It’s the truth.
--------
Mamy - You have to understand, there are different kinds of women.
--------
Pierrette - You have a lover.
Gaby - A lover? Is that your latest scoop?
Pierrette - No, my first.
--------
Gaby and Pierrette wrestle a gun and somehow end up on the floor in a passionate kiss. Suzon, Augustine, Louise and Catherine burst in upon them just at this time.
Suson - Mother, what are you doing?!
Gaby [peeling herself off Pierrette and starting to get up] - Nothing. Just chatting with Pierrette.
Pierrette - It’s not what you think.
Augustine - We don’t need to think. We can see.

I told my friend it’s farcical but it’s a celebration of woman in all her forms. She didn’t see it that way.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Present

My mother’s doing better. My father’s not at home. Not sure where he is. They don’t really get along. They have gone through love and hate and have now settled on uneasy indifference. My brother and his wife are probably at school or work.

Around noon I went down to Blockbuster and picked up a bunch of dvds. Today is Tuesday and rent 1 get 1 free with rewards card so I got 4 for the price of 2. I considered getting one of those Valentine’s bucket thingies with a cute romance video and some popcorn but I don’t feel much like watching sappy love stories these days. Not that I ever did come to think of it. I must have been the only person in the theater during Titanic crying out of sheer annoyance. So instead I got La Cage Aux Folles (the movie that inspired Birdcage), 8 Women (the movie that I am always surprised hasn’t inspired an American remake yet) and 2 movies I hadn't seen before - Chutney Popcorn and the 1998 Angelina Jolie starrer Gia.

Back home I settled onto the couch with a small bowl of popcorn, a tall glass of diet coke, a sandwich I made (2 pieces of lightly toasted bread, a slice of cheddar cheese and some ham) and a half box of Nestle’s ice cream cones that I rescued from the back of the freezer.

So, for Valentine’s day I ate odd assortments of food on my parents couch by myself, watched a movie about two middle aged gay Frenchmen, a campy semi-musical whodunit with 8 French women snowbound in a house with a murdered man, a tale of inter-racial lesbian relationship with messages of tolerance, acceptance and cultural reinvention interwoven into the plot and the tragic rise & fall of 70’s supermodel Gia Marie Carangi who was one of the first women to have been diagnosed and die of AIDS.

It was a lot of fun.

I love Valentine’s Day. Yes, I know it’s a huge cliché and I am supposed to say cool and clever things like how I am pioneer woman with 195 IQ and a defiant feminist who believes in paying her way through the world and stick my nose up at Valentine’s Day (which is kind of ironic since I do have a decent IQ, I do believe in equality and I am paying my way through the world) but I do. I like Valentine’s Day and every clichéd thing it stands for. I like the candlelit dinner and the staring into each others eyes while our song plays in the background and big, romantic gestures like a dozen red roses.

But I also like this. Just sitting on the couch by myself eating popcorn and watching quirky but interesting movies.

Halfway through Chutney Popcorn I paused the movie and opened John’s gift. He had handed me a small box at the airport with a slightly embarrassed air and asked me to open it on Tuesday. I was just so relieved that he said "Tuesday" instead of "Valentine’s Day" (what do you know, I am pioneer woman after all) that I had forgotten all about it (which is highly uncharacteristic of me since when someone hands me a wrapped gift and asks me not to open it the first thing I want to do is open it).

It was a keychain. I had told him during bowling how my keychain wouldn’t stop blinking and how I may have to get another one because it was driving me crazy. That must be where he got the idea.

T was into big gestures. He would have booked a fancy restaurant and tried to buy me jewelry. Except the restaurant would have been booked by his secretary and the jewelry would have been picked out by his sister or one of his many women friends or a cute sales assistant who modeled selections for him. Never mind whether I wanted jewelry or not.

I was in love with T. I am not in love with John. But this is quite possibly going to be my favorite Valentine’s day present.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Hobbies

or I Need A Hobby - Part 3: The Conclusion

On Sunday morning I went down to a local art store and picked up some supplies. A sketch book and some pastels. The pastels are beautiful. Creamy, soft and smooth with incredible color payoff. The sketch book is twice the size of a normal drawing book. Yes, I got a bit carried away there as I found out when it came time to pack. The bloody thing wouldn't fit into my cabin bag. But oh well, you got to live a little. (and yes, my idea of living it up is clearly very different from most people's). I did this drawing on the plane. The stems need work but my in-flight neighbor seemed to regard it (and me) with awe and admiration so it can't be too bad (he could just have been the easily impressed kind though). Besides, the sheet was white so I did the whole textured, aged background thing too.

Other things to try in 2006:

1. Photography
2. Jewelry making
3. Dress design
4. Daytrading
5. Herb gardening
6. Dance lessons - salsa, tango
7. Scuba diving or sky diving (or both)

That is, in addition to the things listed in my *Things* post.

Some people get back at their exes by making out with a lot of people. I am going to get over mine by becoming very accomplished at a lot of little things that probably won't matter to anyone but me. How's that for a plan!

McDonald's Drive-Thru

"Yes, hi. I will have the spicy chicken sandwich please."

"Just the sandwich or the meal?"

"Just the sandwich."

"The fries and drinks are free from 11 am to 2 pm."

"Oh, okay. Well, in that case I will have a small drink. Diet coke, no ice."

"It come with medium fries and drink."

"That’s okay. I don’t want the fries and I will just take a small drink."

"So you no want the free value? Just the sandwich and drink?"

"Um, no. I want the free value but just hold the fries and give me a small drink instead of medium."

"It come with medium fries and drink."

"Right. Well, can you substitute the medium drink for a small one?"

"You no want the free value?"

"Yes, just sub ..... Yes, yes, I do. You know what? I was mistaken. I very much want the free value. Medium fries and medium diet coke with no ice please."

"One spicy chicken meal with diet coke no ice. Thank you. Pull up to the window please."

Whew!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Perfections And Imperfections

When I am not trying to write the words flow so effortlessly, tripping over each other in their haste to jump into my consciousness. Then I sit down to write and sometimes putting thoughts to words become a chore. So I abandon it and let the words flow. And very often I end up writing something completely different than what I had intended.

Vic used to joke about my crushes after in a moment's impulse I confided in him that up until the age of 22 I had only been in love with characters from books. He used to tease me about that and say, "No wonder we poor mortals can't compete. We don't have the luxury of the kind of perfection that comes from our lives being encapsulated in 300 pages, all our virtues played up and our vices reduced to footnotes." He used to say, "You are in love with words." I would dismiss it. What did he know? He was just a boy and everyone knew boys were immature.

But maybe he had something there. For as long as I know I have been in love with an ideal. It's all very good to say you should love who you are with but to me that sounds suspiciously like settling. Why should I force myself to love someone I am with when I can be with the one I love? Ah! The inarguable logic of a romantic idealist.

Last night was fun. John & I went bowling. We got our shoes, grabbed an alley and sat down. He got us some pizza and drinks. I kept bowling gutter balls, he kept bowling strikes. I kept pouting and he good-naturedly tried to lose a few times. We had a good time. Halfway through a couple of his friends showed up. I had met one of the guys at John's super bowl party. He was shamelessly flirting with me on Sunday and picked right up where he had left of, which made me laugh. It was casual and fun all around although at one point John did shove him a little and say, "Go get your own girl!" We all laughed at that too. It was oddly reminiscent of a simpler time, of school, of back when I could hang out with cute boys and laugh because they were just boys and everyone knew boys were immature and they didn't interest me the way men in books did.

Before adult relationships and heartbreaks.

I have written several paragraphs without writing what I had meant to write. John offered to take me to the airport tomorrow which was both strange and sweet. We seemed to have bypassed dating and moved straight into some kind of a pseudo boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. I don't know why, where, when or how it happened or what to do about it for that matter but right now I don't feel like trying to analyze this. So I am letting him take me to the aiport. Next week when I am away from here and have more time I will figure it out.

But that's not what I had meant to write either. I had meant to write about the nightmare. The terror, the paralyzing effect it has/had on me.

I woke up like I always do from one, suddenly but quietly. Lying there wide awake, unmoving, barely breathing, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the dark, struggling against the tears. I could feel my heart pounding in my throat, my muscles shaking but afraid to move in case there was someone in the room, in case my motions betrayed my existence. Maybe if I laid very still they would go away. I stayed like that for almost half an hour wishing I could dissolve into the sheets, fighting the blinding panic, before I got up the nerve to raise my head and look around. No one.

I got up, drank some water. Then I pulled on my favorite sweater, a big, thick, very warm, cashmere tunic that falls just past mid-thigh, and went out onto the balcony. A minute before I had been afraid that there was someone in the balcony. But no. It was empty. I sat there in the moonlight. Was it full moon last night? It was beautiful. Outside the world so quiet and peaceful. The moon looked like a polished piece of glistening sugar hard candy. It looked so real and small and smooth and perfect. For a second I honestly thought I could reach out and touch it, pluck it out of the sky and pop it in my mouth.

I don't remember when exactly I came inside and fell asleep again. When I woke up this morning it was 11:30. The sun was out, bright and shining.

On a clear day you can see the mountains from my living room. Today is a clear day. I can see the entire shadowy silhouette of the range topped by its white peaks. Sometimes I wonder about night and day. I know how it works, scientifically. But I wonder about the two, so different, blending, melding into one another and making a whole. I wonder about the nightmare and the bright morning. Perfections and imperfections, opposites, side by side. Crazy world.

Friday, February 10, 2006

I want a puppy.

I Need A Hobby - Part 2

Around noon today my boss, very graciously and probably not a little out of a sense of guilt for having previously given me grief over my request for time off to go see my ailing mother, offered to let me take the rest of the day off so I could pack for my trip. This was both generous and somewhat surprising but remembering the old adage of not looking a gift horse in the mouth I accepted with alacrity and a sincere word of assurance that I would, indeed, be trying to fit in some work inbetween packing too. He amazingly dismissed this and said, "Nah! Just take the rest of the day off. And don't worry about putting it on vacation either."

Will wonders never cease? Someone does love me today. Or maybe this is what the universe was trying to tell me all along through my telegraphing keychain.

After I got home an hour ago I kicked off my cute new work shoes, poured myself a really tall glass of soda and watched half of an old favorite (Sabrina) curled up on the sofa. The things that make a girl feel wonderful sometimes. I felt like a million dollars. Maybe it is something about not working on a Friday afternoon that makes a working girl suddenly feel like a pampered princess.

So now I am seriously considering lying around as a potential hobby. Can that be done? Can Friday afternoons spent sipping tall drinks (even if they are the PG-13 kind), watching old movies from the couch and giving myself a manicure be considered a leisure activity? Probably. Assuredly. But since I can't count on my boss's generosity every week or a slow enough day where I won't get frantic calls mid-movie if I were to just take off like that I think I should stick to my resolution of finding a new hobby.

Knitting - Recommended by two commenters and my friend Heather who promises that once I get started I will never stop. As a bonus my aunt is always knitting sweaters and scarves so I can definitely reach out to her for help while I am still learning to count stitches.

Hiking - Another great suggestion and one that I enjoy doing, weather permitting. Unfortunately, weather here is not very reliable.

Writing/Blogging - Writing is something I have always done. Over the years I have written everything from a childish rhyme (when I was six - it made the school magazine) to a burning piece on feminism (which made headlines in the school paper and for some bizarre still-inexplicable reason endeared me to half the guys in my year) to a short story that my teacher made me stand up and read in class (oh, the horror!) I kind of stopped after I got busy with work and I am really glad to have this now. But a lot of the writing that I do here is introspective and self-exploratory and kind of private so I still need a day hobby, one that I don't feel compelled to hide from people.

Planting/gardening - Sounds great except I have the .. what's the opposite of a green thumb? I killed a potted plant once. I have considered planting a small herb garden on my balcony though. I saw this cute Ikea gardening table a few years back, aluminium top with wooden legs and big silver baskets to hold supplies on a shelf underneath. I ran to it and stood there dreamily fondling the surface for about an hour before reluctantly walking away because back then I was living in a tiny windowless closet that sometimes passes for apartment in big cities and it seemed cruel to bring living objects into that tepid air and sunless existence. But now, maybe. Besides, herbs are supposed to be fairly low maintenance so there's less of a chance I would kill one.

Wheel throwing/pottery making - This sounds absolutely fascinating and makes me dream of sensual evenings a la the Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze scene from Ghost. Except I know next to nothing about this and I keep thinking I need the gigantic loft shown in that movie and my own pottery wheel and plentiful supply of mud readily lying around and I hardly have the space for that.

Reading/Movies - While great for enriching one's mind, nourishing one's soul, lifting one's spirit or just making one laugh it's someone else's creativity and I am only the receiver. I like both reading and watching movies but more as recreations than hobbies. (I know I am splitting hairs but I want something that allows me self-expression the way writing does)

Music - Same although I could probably make a hobby out of burning custom mixes and stay busy for the rest of my life. And then there's the fact that I have always wanted to play the guitar.

Crafts - I would love to design and create some beaded jewelry. Maybe a little charm bracelet.

Photography - This sounds like fun and I have the supplies. A digital camera, photo paper and printer may not exactly be Ansel Adams but it's a start.

And, finally,

Drawing/painting - I used to do a lot of this once. A few of my pastels even found their way into exhibitions thanks to overenthusiastic art teachers. I think I even won some prizes. But over the last few years running from city to city, lugging luggage and a laptop bag around airports and catching up on bills and sleep during the weekends left very little time for much else. Typing this suddenly makes me realize how much I have missed it.

Suddenly I feel like I have so many things to do. I am going to pick up some drawing supplies this weekend and maybe some jewelry beads for starters. Later I would like to try all the above ideas.

God Loves Me

Last night when I parked in the garage below my building and got out the Coldplay song "Talk" had just come on. I wanted to stay and listen but I had some things to do so I had reluctantly turned off the radio and headed up. Besides, I have the cd. But later when I went to play it I couldn't find my X&Y cd. I felt a little blue. Then when I turned on the car radio this morning the first thing I heard was Coldplay singing "Talk."

God does love me!

On a not even really tangentially related news I am madly in love with the Train song Cab. It's a bittersweet song...

The days are better, the nights are still so lonely. Sometimes I think I'm the only cab on the road.

And yet it somehow makes me smile. I don't know if it's the piano or the orchestra which you don't find that often in a lot of rock songs (and yes I have heard Bohemian Rhapsody.)

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality.

Yes, blogging can definitely be considered my new hobby. I find myself wanting to write - important things, inconsequential things, anything and everything - all the time. But it's sort of a secret hobby, one that I do not and have no intention of sharing with anyone I know. This is my secret garden.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

*Things*

I want to do this year

1. Run a half marathon
2. Volunteer 1 more day a month
3. Brush up on my French
4. Take up (or re-take up rather) yoga or pilates or both
5. Donate, sell or give away 50% of my belongings
6. Go to Paris

Be

1. Kinder to those I love/like and more tolerant of those I don't

And want

1. The perfect red lipstick
2. Small beige new Gucci Classics bag with off-white trim
3. A crisp white shirt, just the perfect fit
4. A silk scarf or a pair of chandelier earrings
5. Shoes
6. New clothes

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Post-Meltdown

I am seriously beginning to consider the possibility that I am addicted to McDonald's chocolate coated vanilla cones, the universe is still sending me cryptic messages through my keychain and John and I are going bowling on Friday. Or in other words, life goes on.

The last few days were bad. I got rearended, then I got thrown in the middle of all of John's neighbors, friends, family and his ex - deja vu aside, I felt like I had walked out onto the stage in the middle of a play and didn't know my role - and then later that night I got the news about mom. Then my boss blew me off when I tried to discuss taking time off, we found out that my parents insurance won't cover the expenses, I got my license suspension notice, my bloody keychain wouldn't stop blinking (all these coded messages and signals from the universe really should come with a manual) and as I was rescuing my travel suitcase from under a pile of clothes in the closet I found T’s old t-shirt, the one he had loaned me once to sleep in and then kind of became mine from that day. It made me remember how he was really good at just shutting up sometimes and being there when I was upset about work or family. And frankly, I miss being held and cuddled and teased and kissed and being told I am special.

So I had a champagne- and tear-fest.

I called John this morning. No, I am not ready for a relationship. I think we established that last night. But I owed him a phone call. I apologized for being a flake, which I am at times. And told him that I am quite possibly an emotional nutcase, which I also am at times. He didn't seem to mind too much and I just want to get out and do something. So. We are going bowling. But I told him he couldn’t bring his whole neighborhood around.

I also got my leave through HR. It is unpaid but this way my boss can’t try to throw a wrench in my plans. Not that he would have blatantly stopped me from going but if I was still pursuing the vacation route he would have delayed his approval, spouting more passive-aggressive bullshit and driving me crazy for as long as he could. Leaving my job, charming and reckless as it sounds, is not the best option for me because my parents are partly financially dependent on me and although I realize it is decidedly uncool to want to take care of one’s parents and I probably should make my poor mother scrub some toilets to raise money for her surgery, I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Catharsis

I have 3 blinking messages from John in the mailbox which I have played a hundred times but not returned, medical expenses coming up for mom’s surgery (which I will have to pay because my parents need their meagre savings for their future), the possibility of unemployment looming closer (I have decided that if they don’t give me leave then fuck them I am quitting) and I have been crying non-stop thinking about my Ex, my grandmother and Aikda.

I know it’s pathetic to whine about your Ex 7-8 months after a breakup but oh well. At least I am not calling him.

The first time I said I was leaving him was about 8 months after we met. I never asked him to be exclusive. He said he had broken up with her, the other girl he was seeing, so he could be with me. He said he couldn’t see himself with anyone else. He said, "Je ne sais quoi. I have been trying to think, what it is about you." He said, "You are not like any other girl. You are special." He said, "I kept picturing you naked in the shower and got distracted in the middle of a board meeting. What are you doing to me?" Then he said, "I went to see her." He said he couldn’t help it. She was crying and calling every night and begging him to come see her. One thing led to another. I froze, then I cried, then I ranted and stormed. This went on for weeks. When I calmed down I said it was over. He begged me not to leave him, said it was a mistake, it didn't mean anything. But how could it not?

I left. And then I missed him. Horribly. I missed not sharing stories or hearing his jokes or his laughter. I missed his arrogance and even those stupid prior conquest stories he insisted on telling me. So, 3 months later, and lots of roses, apologies and grovelling on his part later, we got back together. And then we broke up again. I don’t even remember what it was this time but it doesn’t matter. Whatever the reason it was only a convenient excuse. The damage was done. It was always there between us. We never recovered from it. Initially, he apologized profusely. Later he said, "What’s the big deal? I am not the first guy to mess up. How long are you going to keep bringing this up?" He said he would call but didn’t. For days, even weeks. Then he said, "If you are going to leave, just leave."

So I left. And again I missed him. My grandmother died. I turned to the one guy I had opened up to like I had to no one else. He was comforting, sweet, thoughtful. He said he was happy to see me again. He seemed changed. Maybe he was. But the ghost was between us, unspoken. I got gifts, jewelry, roses but not him. I gave them back. I didn’t want gifts, jewelry or roses. I wanted him. This time he called when he said he would. He finally came close but I withdrew. He said, "I don’t know how to fix this. I am beginning to think we can’t." So, for the third and last time, we left each other.

This is the final breakup. We have not tried to contact each other. Not even to say sorry. There are things I said that I shouldn’t have. Harsh, cold, cruel. But I can’t say sorry. Why open old sores? For all I know he is okay now.

But I don’t know how to heal. I don’t know if I can. I am afraid. Trust is a problem with me. I haven’t had a lot of people to rely on. I was more my parents guardian than they were mine. My brother always had me to turn to. I didn’t really have anyone. I know this sounds like late night melodramatic bullcrap but it’s pretty much the truth. He was my sanctuary. My escape from the world. The one place where I thought I would be safe. And I wasn’t. That changed everything. Now I don’t want to risk it again.

Still it wasn’t this bad. The month after the breakup I cried a lot. The month after I cried a little less. Then slowly I stopped crying. Until last Sunday. Suddenly I can’t stop crying. Why?

It’s a date, I keep telling myself. Not a relationship. Just a date. It’s not like I have never dated before. But. Maybe I can’t "just date" anymore. A date implies possibilities.

There is a woman in my office. She’s 39, divorced. She says she’s not looking for love, just sex. Maybe that’s my future. I don’t know what kind of a future that is but it’s gotta be better than crying your eyes out in front of a computer monitor at 1 in the morning, swilling champagne straight from the bottle, in his old t-shirt that he conveniently left behind and your old panties that you wear because it makes your ass look cute even though there is no one around to tell you so anymore.

My worst fear? Is that he has forgotten me. He seemed so distant towards the end. Like he was not even there anymore. He said it didn’t matter anymore, one way or the other. So here I am drowning in my own tears and for all I know he has moved on. I don’t care if he has and is happy. There was a time when I wanted him to suffer for all of eternity but now I want him to be happy. The only thing that kills me is not knowing if he thinks of me at all. What if he doesn't? What if he has forgotten me? What if it never meant as much to him as it did to me?

What if this is it? This is as good as it gets?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Another Train Song

Kinda poor sound quality thanks to my cellphone but love the song.

this is an audio post - click to play

Two dreams collided maybe
We got too excited for our own good
No more - hold on we can make it
No more holding our breath while the truth all breaks it
Move on you know
We'll be stronger in the end

Hey wait hey don't you know that
This is where the whole thing went wrong

Hey wait hey don't you wanna hear
What I have to say
Hey wait hey don't you know that
This is where the strong go on
And all I ever wanted...
Was you

The Incongruity Of Life

Have you noticed how sometimes everything seems to happen at the same time? Like life has accelerated all around you and suddenly you have been reduced to playing the role of a very small and helpless spectator. That’s how I have been feeling all day.

My mom has been sick for a while and this weekend she collapsed. So I finally decided to apply for leave of absence. I went to talk to my boss. Instead of empathazing he decided to give me an impromptu lecture on perceptions.

"You have to understand, in this business perception is reality. Without perception we are nowhere. Good perception can make you and bad perception can break you. It’s all about who’s in your value network and how they perceive you. You have to be in it to win it."

What is this? A bad parody of corporate Americanese? After 10 years I know all the lingo there is to know. I also know this is total BS people spew when they don’t want to give a clear answer or are just trying to strongarm you into doing something you don't want to do. Do I get the leave or not?

I don’t get a clear answer. I get, "I am supportive of your needs if you are supportive of mine." Whatever that means. As I leave his office I think of what Sartre said: L'enfer, c'est les autres. Hell is other people.

This Saturday a woman rearended me in the grocery store parking lot and then took off like a bat from hell. We were parked in facing spots, tail end in. We both get out of the store and into our cars at about the same time. But while I decide to pull out of my spot like a normal person she decides to back into me. I see her coming at me in the rear-view mirror, panic, go to step on the gas, notice a couple with a child about to walk in front of my car, decide becoming a triple murderess in the course of avoiding being rearended probably won’t fly well as defense in court and resign myself to being hit. She slams into me. I park my car and get out. The lady shoots off. Peels off like a freaking Nascar driver in training!! It was impressive.

After I get home and call mom I try tracking down the driver. I had managed to take down her license number and after some calls get a phone number for the car’s registered owner. I call the number and she answers. She says she’s sorry and that she’ll take care of any damages. She wants to keep insurance out of it because she has too many strikes already. I am just relieved she is going to pay so I say that’s fine.

That was Saturday. Then this afternoon I suddenly get an unnecessarily irate call from her. She says I have no proof that she was the one who rearended me. How did she know this wasn’t some ploy to get money from her and her allegedly rich husband. What was I up to and she won’t pay.

To think my trust in people’s humanity was on shaky grounds.

When I get home I open my mail. One is from the DMV helpfully notifying me that my license is being suspended for failure to comply with the conditions of a traffic infraction. I groan inwardly.

This so called traffic infraction happened 5 months ago now. I did commit this horrible crime aka going over the yellow line but there were mitigating circumstances in the form of a giant SUV the size of a small football field practically blocking my entire side of the street. Under the state law I can contest such tickets in mitigation court which, having cleverly remembered to snap some photos with my cool new camera phone while the unusually perky cop was writing up the ticket, I decide to do. So I file by mail. Then I get a suspension notice.

I call the clerk’s office and find my mitigation papers were never received. Armed with the USPS receipt I go down to the court but I am told there is nothing they can do. They are not responsible for postal mishaps. I guess I am. I return home to find on top of everything an FTA (Failure To Appear) notice.

So now I have to write a show cause letter to the judge and also request - ah, the irony - a mitigation hearing for the suspension notice.

Like a good little girl (a determined and slightly angry good little girl) I promptly dash off two letters. And then I resubmit the mitigation papers, in person this time, and also post bond for the amount of the traffic ticket plus any accrued fines. (Posting bond - just fyi in case anyone’s wondering - helps you avoid FTAs since essentially the traffic ticket is prepaid. If the court decides you are at fault they keep the money. Otherwise they send it back to you in a check.) A week after this the sun starts to smile on me. I get a notice from the DMV saying the license suspension has been removed and my driving privileges restored. Yay me! Then three weeks later I get a notice from the mitigation court saying my ticket has been knocked down to $55. Double yay me! Things are starting to look up.

And then I get a notice saying my mitigation hearing has been scheduled to get my driving privileges restored. Now I am confused. I already got a note saying my driving privileges have been restored. What happened? So I call the registrar’s office and I am told to write a letter. Again I write a letter. Then I notice there is a second number to go with the hearing details. So I call the number (at this point this is an exercise in masochism. I just want to see how far things will go.) and I am told to write a separate letter this time to the hearing attorney. So I write another letter.

But I guess I was late and he must not have received my letter in time because I am now holding a letter (is anyone keeping track of the number of letters here?) advising me that the hearing attorney has found me guilty for reasons of non-appearance and my driving privileges have been suspended for the second time for a ticket that I didn’t derserve in the first place and have since twice contested, partly won and already paid.

Ah, life. Mesmerizing, beautiful, angsty, inconsistent.

Hindus & Buddhists believe in reincarnation. They have the same concept of heaven and hell as most of the other religions but it’s tied to the theory of re-birth. So it’s not a straight heaven or hell kinda deal. The way it works is that you are born, you come to many forks in the road during your lifetime (choices) and depending on the choices you make and the outcome of those choices 1 of 3 things happen when you die. Either you ascend to a higher form and eventually go to heaven or you descend into a lower form and eventually go to hell or you are reborn into your next life. In this next life you are faced with tougher or easier choices depending on how you lived your last life. If you were good essentially you get a break. If you were bad you don’t. And you remain in this cycle of birth, death and re-birth until you break free of all worldly desires and are ready to pass into eternal peace, the state called Nirvana or Moksha.

So, by the above theory or belief it would stand to reason that I must have wielded some serious crippling power over my fellow human beings in my last life, wouldn’t it?

Years ago, when I was in school, my friends and I went to this fair. There was a fortune teller’s tent where a woman in eastern garments was reading people’s past lives. Naturally, being a gaggle of giggling girls of an impressionable age, we rush in to find what myriad pleasures and woes befell us in times unknown. She reads some cards and scribbles some symbols as each of us sit in front of her by turns nervously awaiting the big reveal. A friend is told she was a learned scholar in a past life, another that she was a gifted courtesan and a third, a princess. Then comes my turn. I wait with bated breath.

I was a peasant’s wife, widowed young to boot. My life full of hardships, suffering and sacrifices.

I remember feeling a little annoyed. Hey lady, how come my friend gets to be a princess and I am a peasant’s widow? Years later I think, but wait, that would mean in this life I get rewarded for all that hardship, suffering and sacrifice.

It doesn’t add up. Not like my life is all that bad. What, you mean penury, paedophilia, attempted assault and a depressive mother repeatedly trying to commit suicide in front of you and trying to set a match to your clothes doesn’t happen to everyone? Go figure.

Maybe I was cruel to the farm animals or something. Ran after the chickens with a stick. Scared them out of a year’s growth of feathers. That would explain it.

Somedays I think life is too hard.

Then I buy a $1.29 chocolate dipped vanilla ice cream cone at McDonald’s and think, life isn’t that bad.

(Yes, I regularly have incongruous responses to things. Like this afternoon. I thought about the Sartre quote when I left my boss’s office at 11 am. Then around 4:30 pm I checked Waiter Rant for new posts and came across the same line. The moment I saw it I felt upset. Like a kid in a playground who’s had her ball snatched away by a bigger kid. I thought, he used my quote! A minute later it struck me - it’s not my quote and that was funny. Besides, he makes better use of it.)

For the last half hour I have been driving around. The radio, the open road and me. I kept asking myself. What do I do? And then, like a tiny beacon of red hope, the little light at the end of my keychain goes on. It's a miracle!

Okay, so it was a bad battery connection. It was happening a lot a month ago. But I sort of fixed it and it hasn’t happened since so when the light twinkles on like that all of a sudden it still startles me. Besides, if you believe the eminently erudite Deepak Chopra, there are no coincidences in life. Someone out there is sending me a message through a bad battery connection.

The guy at the McDonald’s drive through calls me señorita rolling his rrrrs and wishes me a good evening as he hands me my ice cream. It makes me smile.

I have decided to contest the license suspension in court, call the nascar-woman back and try to talk to her and bypass my boss and go to HR for the leave. Maybe it'll all turn out okay. And if not, it's not the end of the world.

There was a china doll in my grandmother’s house. Cracked. It looked so fragile. People kept expecting it to shatter. It didn’t.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Angels With Silver Wings

John invited me over for Super Bowl. There were about 40 people milling about. Friends, neighbors, some people from work. It was noisy but inviting. Normally I don’t pay much attention to football but I always get caught up in Super Bowl. The squares, the pre-game show, the ads, the halftime, the cheering, the jeering, even the game itself. Suddenly I find myself paying attention.

During the game my cell rings. My uncle calling to see if I am watching the game. He always does that. Every Super Bowl. Except the year his son, my cousin, went missing.

Sometimes I think my mom’s family is cursed. My other uncle lost his son in a 3 day fever. My aunt, my mom’s sister - she’s the one I wrote about earlier - loves kids but can’t have any of her own. My mother lost a son too. My older brother. We never talk about him just like we never talk about what happened to me when I was 4. He was only months old when he died. He would be 35 now.

After some time I start getting a little bored with the game so I get up and wander onto the deck. John has the most amazing view. The view from my apartment is cute. Tall city buildings to one side, a small strip mall in front and a slice of water flanked by the mountains in the background. But it’s nothing compared to the view from his deck. Here the mountains are majestic, the snow glistening on the peaks, descending into the dark raggedy green below. Jagged seams of light and dark plunging at each other.

I get a little lost in the view until he comes out. He asks if I am having fun and starts to apologize about the crowd. I say, "Oh no. No, no, no. It’s great. I lost track of time. Your view is amazing." He still looks worried so I go inside.

Towards the end. Everybody is yelling. It’s Seahawks 10 to Steelers 21 now. Pretty much a given game. The biggest margin recovery record is 10 points. They mentioned that during the game when it was 10 to 14 I think. John leans over and whispers in my ear. Pasta marinara. I am impressed. A guy who can cook pasta marinara. He says he plans to boot everyone out after the game. And then he goes into the kitchen. A short time later I follow to see if he needs help.

I find him standing in front of the stove. Tara, his ex - he’d introduced us earlier - standing next to him. Close. Her hand in his back pocket, leaning into him either whispering or about to whisper something. She must have seen me out of the corner of her eye. She turns and looks at me. We look at each other for a half second. Then she turns back towards him and I go back into the living room.

Later, after the game when people are leaving I get up and get my coat and scarf. He starts to ask what I am doing. I intercept the question and say I just remembered I have to finish a presentation for tomorrow. He looks like he’s trying to decide how to react. I give him a peck on the cheek and leave before he has time to make up his mind.

I am back in my apartment. Sitting in the balcony on a chair, my feet propped up on the cold metal railing. I am wearing my green cargo capris and a cropped pink tee that says "1st Place Bikini Contest - Daytona Beach." It has a picture of palm trees and a cartoon beach. I didn’t win it in any contest. Saw it on Target and thought it was cute. The sleeves are short, cap sleeves. My arms are bare and freezing. So are my feet. The laptop is on my lap, the only warmth, the screen casting an eerie soft white glow in the night. Next to me on a small table is a tub of Edy’s slow churned coffee ice cream and a large stainless steel spoon.

John’s not my ex. One has nothing to do with the other, I tell myself. But how can I be sure? If A led to B led C once can’t A lead to B lead to C again? And then what? Rinse and repeat? Rinse and repeat? How many times?

I am irrational. Wound up and wounded. I think, I can’t do this again. I used to be stronger. Resilient. Bent but not broken. Not anymore. Every little hurt, real or imagined, brings tears to my eyes now.

I look at one man and see another. It’s not fair to anyone. And I don’t see the good, only the bad. Only the bad? This is not how I want to remember.

I know I am blowing things out of proportion. I barely know John. I don’t even know if I like him. But can I afford to wait until I find out?

I keep thinking back to a Post Secret postcard. It said, "I would much rather have peace of mind..."

I think about people whose lives revolve around sex and shoes. That’s got to be easier. But then, everbody thinks that about other people's lives.

From the open door on my right I can hear Depeche Mode singing Precious on the music system ... Angels with silver wings shouldn’t know suffering ...

Not singing about me.

On nights like these I feel the most like writing. On nights like these I am also the most afraid to write for fear of what I might reveal. Thoughts and feelings that weren’t meant to be committed to words. Daylight chases away doubts and worries. Darkness ushers them back.

Or maybe daylight creates an illusion and darkness reveals the truth.

It’s not in my nature to confide that much in people. Happiness I can share. Troubles I keep to myself. Maybe that’s why this breakup is so much harder. Now I think, I don’t want to tell my stories to anyone who is not going to stick around.

Or maybe there is some truth to the 6 months healing time for each year of relationship myth. By that calculation I only have 13 more months to go. Almost there.

I don’t know how I will feel about this post tomorrow. Probably silly, embarrassed, uncomfortable. Thank God for anonymity. But for right now. Well, there it is. Me. Raw. Exposed. Without my wings.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Crazy Is In My Blood

I just came home to this message from my mom:

"Hello? Hello? Honey, where are you? Why aren't you picking up? Are you angry with me? Pick up.... pickuppickuppickup... Are you ill? Hello? Why aren't you picking up? You know I am sick ... (in a lower voice, murmuring to someone in the background, probably my dad or brother) .. This is very aggravating."

Sigh. I switched to voicemail 3 years ago. And for the last 3 years I have been explaining to her that I can't hear her message while it's recording, even if I am at home. And for the last 3 years I have been coming home to messages like the one above.

For some reason, even though it is frustrating that she keeps doing that I love her more at times like these.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Lost & Found

It’s Friday night and I am at home. When John called this morning and asked me if I was free tomorrow night, I said no. Then he asked me if I was free tonight. Again I said no. Then he asked me out for Sunday and I said okay. I am free. I said no not out of anger or petulance or in some twisted attempt to gain control over him. Sometimes I just want to be alone. In some odd way it makes me feel more at peace than when I am with people. So tonight I am at home. I am not sure what I am going to do or why I need to be alone but it’s an expanse of time, a blank slate, for me to fill the way I please. For a few hours this evening I get to write my own story.

I am caught between many worlds. Sometimes I know which world I choose. At other times I don’t.

There is the work me. She wears Theory pants and J Crew turtlenecks and carries a smart purse. Her shoes are stylish but practical. Her hair and makeup are subtle, neutral. Over the years she has gone through bad bosses and unfair reviews and coworkers stealing her ideas and passing them off as her own. Sometimes she has cried locked up in a bathroom stall at work and then gone to a meeting and casually, dismissively, explained the red eyes as allergy. People rely on her to get things done and she usually does.

Then there is the daughter/sister/friend me. She wears jeans and t-shirts and big movie star sunglasses and small fake diamond earrings. She picks up prescriptions for sick friends and buys groceries when she’s visiting her parents. She loans her brother money for medical school. She raves over her aunt’s cooking, listens half-smilingly as her uncle tries to explain football to her for the umpteenth time, plays with her nieces and nephews and spends whole afternoons laughing.

Then there is the flirtatious, outgoing me. She likes going to parties and dances and nightclubs. She likes attention and dangly earrings and sparkly pink lipglosses, the kind that says kiss me. She knows how to push a man (although she has been in hibernation for a while. A long, long, long while.)

There is also the label-conscious me. The one who loves Marc Jacobs handbags and Jimmy Choo shoes and likes the cachet of pulling out a Chanel compact, even if it doesn’t match her color exactly, and swears by Chanel lipsticks even though she knows she can find the exact shade for 1/3 the cost in a drugstore brand.

And finally there is the volunteer me who goes as much to bury her own demons as to help others fight theirs.

But which one of the above is the real me? Sometimes I slip into one or the other like I am slipping in and out of clothes. Effortlessly, perfected through years of practice. At other times I resist. I don’t want to be this or that but practice kicks in there too and suddenly I am transformed.

Most people only know me as one or other. The only person who came closest to knowing the real me was my ex. But he wanted me to be something particular. I couldn’t. So I became something else. The relationship me. Strong and weak, indifferent and emotional, secure and insecure, stubborn and pliant. Abused and the abuser. Angel and the bitch. I said "I hate you" when I wanted to say "I love you and I am afraid" and "I still like you" when I really meant "You’re not who I thought you were."

Tonight I spent 7 minutes on the phone directing my food delivery lady when she got lost and then another 5 minutes chatting with her about my balcony. After she left I showered, put on a white t-shirt, a pair of pink boy shorts, a clay mask and ate biryani with my fingers, licking the sauce off my hand, lying on bed propped up on my elbows with a pillow under my chest while I flipped through the pages of the new issue of Vogue lusting after the many beautiful things and listened to the Train cd start to finish several times. In the middle of track 4 I got up and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water and found myself starting to sway to the music, dancing alone. Later I cleaned and took the garbage out. I did not want to wake up tomorrow to an unclean house.

It's 10:29 pm and I am about to go to bed. I know the doubts will come back, the wondering will resume, the restlessness will find its way in again. C’est La Vie. That is life. But for now, just for tonight, I know who I am.

A Play In 1 Act

Friday morning 10-something am
La Femme's office cube

The setting: A desk, a potted plant, a girl behind a computer masking some obvious disgruntlement over something. A cell phone lies next to her keyboard. The phone rings.

Girl, our heroine of this little story, reaches for it, then pauses for a moment, her hand hovering just over the phone. She picks it up, glances briefly at the caller id and suddenly starts to frown. Then she smiles a smile of quiet satisfaction. I have got you now. Now you are going to pay.

Girl, speaking nonchalantly on the phone: "Hello."

Disembodied male voice: "Hey, it's me. It's John."

Girl: "Oh, hi John. How are you doing?" Nice, polite, indifferent.

Disembodied male voice, faltering a little as a sudden chill sweeps over him: "Good, good. Hey, I called you. I don't know if you got it." His voice trails off. "Just wanted to make sure... uh, How's your forehead?"

Girl, still nice, polite, indifferent: "Fine. Getting better. You?"

Disembodied male voice, cheering up a little at this small sign of humanity in Girl: "Not too bad. I have been telling everyone I got into fight with a biker named Bubba." Laughs at his own joke. Then stops abruptly as no reciprocating laughter joins him.

Disembodied male voice, speaking again: "Look, you are probably busy ..."

Girl, interrupting, suddenly alert, ignoring everything else: "What do you mean you called?"

Disembodied male voice: "I called you Wednesday. See how you were doing and ... I left you a message on your cell. Didn't you get it?"

My English teacher told me that good short stories and short plays share two things in common. Abrupt beginnings and abrupt endings. So, in the interest of abruptness, we will end this play here and return back to 1st-person narrative.

I have a problem with cell phones. I hate them. The last time I charged mine was two weeks ago and if it wasn't for a near-death experience a couple of days ago (an SUV tried to kill me) I wouldn't have charged my phone last night. Actually, that's not the reason I charged it. I did it so I could upload the song in my last post. Goes to show. I have my priorities in order.

I finally check my messages. One from John Wednesday afternoon telling me it was the most fun he had on a date.

Figures. Beautiful and crazy.