Lily told me this theory the other day. But she picks funny times to give human qualities to her toys. For example, when she's in the mood, Lily will dress her American Girl doll Elizabeth in a warm jacket and wrap her in a dish towel and insist that she accompany us to school, to the mall, or to her grandparents' house, because otherwise she'll get lonely all alone in the house with just the cat. She even buckles Elizabeth in her own seatbelt and makes sure the shoulder strap is not covering her mouth or is too tight on her neck.
Then, when she gets sick of her, she drops Elizabeth and lets her rot in the gutter. We accidentally left Elizabeth in the car overnight last night and when we left for school this morning, I asked Lily if she thought Elizabeth got cold or lonely by herself.
That's a direct quote from my girl Lizzie, bless her soul. She said that at the Queens Plaza mall ("You're the only friend I can ask to go to the mawl with me because we're from Lawng Island") on Sunday morning. We let the kids go shoeless and crayzee in the bacteria-laden play area while we spent a few minutes talking and trying to catch up, which is hard these days. Being with her reminds me that, although we definitely have our moments of playing who-had-the-more-fucked-up-2007, we're both pretty hopeful young ladies with our shit basically together. She's really good at keeping things in perspective and remembering that the important thing is to grow and shed our old skin and move ahead and be positive. Oh, and she's mad funny. And smart. And a great mom too. I just sent her the link to the blog again because she couldn't remember it. So, HI LIZ.
I just read Eat, Pray, Love. I have to admit that this was not a book I'd have bought myself. My friend Marisol gave it to me for Christmas and I was like, Oh, yeah, that book.
This is going to make me sound like a fucking lit snob, which I totally am not (well, maybe I kind of am), but I tend to shy away from books that stay on the NYT bestseller list for months and months and months. I see a book like this as one which appeals to the masses. Again, there is nothing wrong with this; I just tend to gravitate toward quiet, sleeper-hit types of books by lesser-known authors whose writing affects me and stays all over me for weeks like sweat or dirt or patchouli oil.
I'd seen the book in the manicured hands of frowny middle-aged New York women communting on the train. I overheard a woman at the park saying that it was her book club book. Whatever. It might as well have had a big "O" for Oprah stamped on it, which to me is like plastering it with a big sticker in the shape of a hunk of cheese that says, "This book is fucking lame".
But. The book was really beautiful. Trite at times, yes, and maybe a little susie-sunshine in it's delivery, but the message is undeniably positive and spiritually uplifting, and the author is relentlessly honest and accepting of herself. The book reminded me that transformation is possible. I was particularly interested in the part of the book where, while in Italy,the writer talks to a friend who believes that there is a word for everything--every place, every thing, every person has one word which truly embodies it. For example, Rome's word is sex. New York's word is achieve. The author, Liz, tries to decide between the words devotion and seek.
So, this got me to thinking. What's my word?
I have fleeting ideas about this...but I know my word isn't anxiety or sadness or loss. Sometimes it's growth it definitely could be love. Acceptance. But I think the word that best describes me though is COLOR. My word is color. I like to think that I am full of color- a wide spectrum of feelings, ideas, jokes, perspectives. I bring color into my immediate world, add flavor and vibrance to the things that I do. Lily and I are colorful together. We traipse about the city in our thrift store coats and laugh and love the world around us.
I cannot, cannot imagine living in black and white. So, I am color.
I just wanted to post some pictures of the green tea muffins that we made today. Did you ever see that scene in "Better Off Dead" when the mom makes this green concoction that "has raisins in it. He likes raisins," and then it slithers off the plate? Well, this mess that came from a box at Trader Joe's looked suspiciously like that before it was cooked, especially after I added flax seeds and dried cranberries. But actually, once they were cooked, they tasted awesome. I swear. Who'd a believed it?
I was putting Lily to bed tonight, and she asked to hear the story of the day of her birth again. She asks for this story whenever she's trying to put off going to sleep...after books, after two or three made-up stories, a Joni Mitchell/Carpenters song, and "Good night"s.
So I relented, recounting the whole day for her, as I have so many times before. I told her about going into labor on Halloween morning, bouncing on a yoga ball between contractions in the living room while making mix CDs, and dashing to the hospital as the freakshow pain of cervical dilation began to truly kick my ass.
I told her about Shawn and I utilizing our birthing class yogic chanting to try and alleviate the rolling, 20-foot waves of agonizing labor pains (I dulled that part down, of course), to Lily's first moments on the outside of my body and how I cried and said, "She looks like her uncle Aaron."
Lily again asked about her name. "You know it's a family name, baby." I said. "It was your great-grandma Bonnie's mother's name. She had 16 children and lived in Iowa. Her name was actually Lillian, but everyone called her Lily."
Lily thought about this, and said, "I want you to call me Felicity now."
I looked at her in the dim light of her princess night light. "Um, no." Then, " Why?"
"Because Felicity is the only name that I like."
"Well, but your name is Lily. We love the name Lily. It's a beautiful name, honey."
And she wrinkled her forehead, as if deep in thought. Then, "When I am eleven I am changing my name to Felicity."
This makes me really sad. It's always tragic when someone dies so young, but especially when the guy leaves behind a little girl who will never know her dad, save for other people's descriptions and memories of him. Besides, my friends Kelly and Jeff took their hypnobirthing class with Heath and Michelle Williams, so I feel like I totally knew him. He might as well have been a friend. I mean, how could he do this to me?
I am happy to report that I've started dreaming again. I take this to mean that I am once again entering into REM sleep during the night, which I think I was failing to do for quite some time, and which was threatening to drive me crayzee.
So a few nights ago I dreamed that I was babysitting Keanu Reeves in the back of my car. He was drunk and I had to cart him around for the day and make sure that he got on a plane at a certain time. So I took his sleeping ass on a bunch of errands, like taking Lily to school, grocery shopping, etc. I was sure to leave the windows cracked when I left him in the car, like one would a pet. Then at one point he woke up and started serenading me with an acoustic guitar and demanded that I take him to the McDonald's drive through.
WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN???
OK, and here's dream #2: I'm best friends with Meredith Grey. I work at Seattle Grace and I am totally chill with all the doctors there. I am a surgeon, but I have a secret---I never wash my hands before I go into surgery. So I never actually "scrub in", because I just put the rubber gloves on over my dirty hands. I have some idea what this one might mean, but I'd sure appreciate some assessments, guys.
I joined a free dating site because a. I'm afraid of online dating and don't want to make any real commitment to it. b. I'm cheap.
I can say quite assuredly that there is a reason some of the "real" sites charge money for their services. Let's just say that free dating sites tend to attract a certain type of gentleman. That's to say, a douchebag.
Here I've compiled a list of my top favorite screen names of dudes in my area. They all sound like such fantastic prospects, I simply don't know how to choose.
I need to be hosed off like the bad girl I am. Throw her in the showers and wash it all away! Scrub her raw! Flog her nasty bottom!
I broke down today and went to PerezHilton.com because I was so goddamned bored at work I got tired of visiting the ladies room and plucking my eyebrows and IM'ing with Chris to find out who could come up with the most interesting quotes from random people on the internet:
Chris: "An alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do" -Dylan Thomas
Kristin: "You got no money and you got no car, then you got no woman, and there you are" –Young MC
Chris: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." -Anonymous
Kristin: "I wish it was Sunday. My I-don't-have-to-run-day" - The Bangles
Chris: "Love is an exploding cigar we willingly smoke" –Lynda Barry
Kristin: "Your butt is mine" - Michael Jackson
Sigh. I wish Chris was more creative in his research for meaninful quotes. But whatever. I can't expect everyone to be as serious as I am about these kinds of things.
I actually spent like three straight hours visiting people's blogs and leaving comments like a sprightly elf, hopping from blog to blog, sprinkling magical gifts of my feedback throughout the internet!
Why am I being so pompous? It's all a defense mechanism, I assure you. To cover up my pain because I am feeling bad about my moment of weakness. But Britney, she's a powerful a drug.
Mommy tries not to cry out as Lily brushes her face during "beauty parlor" on Amtrak The kids put on a variety show that ends the weekend with a bang I didn't even know they still made these. They're still disgusting.
Ah. I'm back. I think all I really needed to do was climb aboard a big, comfortable, magical train and take a journey out of my own head (and New York). Does a psyche good. Nervous breakdown averted.
Lily and I had a wonderful trip. Amtrak was so much fun...it brought back strong memories of my childhood, when my family and I would take the auto train to Florida, because my dad didn't fly. Lisa and I would get new travel bags and Mom would get us paper dolls, coloring books, Hubba Bubba, and later, Mad Libs and Judy Blume novels and lip gloss. I always managed to meet a cute boy on the train once I hit junior high age. I'd stalk him in the snack car and walk by his seat a bunch of times, tossing my hair and trying to seem hilarious and mysterious and I'd try to sit next to him at the evening movie in the dining car. Man, I was boy-crazy-psycho even before I got my period.
The trip to D.C. was really nice, though. Really restful. We stayed with my cousin Brenna, who was the consummate host. Upon our arrival Lily ran right up Brenna's two kids as if she'd just seen them, and the they took off together and played almost nonstop for 48 hours, taking a few breaks to eat, pee and sleep.
On Saturday we went to a birthday party at one of Brenna's neighbor's houses. It was an elaborate space-themed gala that reminded me of the Halloween parties I used to go to in New Paltz, but without the drugs. Or maybe there were drugs. But I wasn't offered any.
Brenna took the kids over to the party and I stayed behind to read, then followed a little later. When I walked in, the host, a very sweet woman in a cardigan and Mom Jeans, said, "Oh, you're just in time. They're hunting for aliens in the basement." Oh. I walked downstairs into a room that was lit ominously by blacklight, the walls covered with black tarps and smattered with stick-on glowy stars. The entire cement floor was covered, covered in white balloons, which eerily resembled giant, prehistoric larvae.
I immediately spotted Lily, standing in the middle of this clusterfuck, while balloons popped sharply all around her, her eyes all wide and freaky. Kids were going nuts all around her, stomping balloons and running full speed into the black walls. It was the most awesome thing I have ever seen.
There was even a pinata in the shape of a rocket ship. I love the new "modern" pinata at today's birthday parties--it has a gazillion long strings dangling from the bottom and each kid grabs one and pulls, thus releasing a trap door in the pinata, which spills forth its contents. This is, I guess, preferable to what my generation of parents feels is a "barbaric" practice of whacking the shit out of the pinata with a stick until it explodes and hemmorhages its assorted goodies. I still take issue however with the fact that children literally trample each other to try and fill their pockets with all the stuff on the floor. That to me is the really barbaric part. Lily though, never much for competition, tends generally to hang back and wait. And then she asks someone, usually a boy, to give some of their stuff to her. Ah, that's my daughter. It was a really cool party though. And they gave out pop rocks in the goody bags. Lily hated them. This is a kid who's been drinking seltzer since she was like 6 months old.
I'm glad I went on the trip. It was lovely. The kids finished the weekend by putting on a show for us parents on Sunday. Her cousins danced and sang while Lily sat on a lone stool with a giant pink guitar, strumming a soulful song about "all the love in my heart all the days". There was something that kind of reminded me of that scene in Forrest Gump where Jenny comes out on stage to play a folk song. But she's naked, and her big acoustic guitar is the only thing covering her lady parts. I don't know why that would remind me of my daughter. File that under "Things that I probably should not blog about and which should stay in my head". It's the folksinging part that reminded me of that scene though; I had a vision of Lily in 10 years at her junior high variety show playing a Joni Mitchell song, right before she gets on the bus to go march on Washington.
The train ride home was equally relaxing; Lil and I staked out a booth in the club car and played Go Fish while eating nachos and calling people. Then we went to back to our seats and watched it get dark while we played beauty parlor (I hate this. I hate anyone brushing my hair. But I clench my teeth and allow Lily to do it because she loves to), and played with paper dolls and watched movies on my ipod.
And I'm back in the city all washed anew. Welcome back me.
Me and Kelly at my 30th birthday party, where Lily was only a cluster of cells residing in my abdomen
Last night was interesting. I found myself at a cozy bar off Lexington Avenue with Anne, Jeff and John, three of my compadres from my looooong ago corporate-slave days. When the four of us used to work together, things wuz different, man. Anne and I were newly married, Jeff and John were swingin'ly single, and nobody had any babies. Now three of us four have kids, and it looks like John is well on his way (if his Greek heiress turns out to be as fabulous as she sounds). So many changes. And yet...I'm still the same old Kristin.
Drinking a couple glasses of wine and kicking back with people who knew me in a past life was good for me. I've been feeling lately like a sore that just won't scab over because I can't stop picking it. But nobody could tell that, thank goodness. My friends even commented that I looked lovely. Well, I WAS having a hot day.
Jeff, of course, got the real story because he ended up sitting next to me and after a cabernet and a half, I was talking up a blue streak. Little backstory on Jeff: he's married to my friend Kelly, who I have known since I was...six? Kelly and her sister would come over and rollerskate with me and my sister in my basement while our parents hung out together upstairs drinkin scotch and listening to my dad's Eagles albums.
Kelly and Jeff met at a Halloween party of mine when I lived in Brooklyn. Kelly wore a red devil outfit and she looked smokin. But I know she was trying like hell to hide her discomfort and irritation that nobody else wore a fucking costume. I admired her for being so ballsy and not giving a shit. It never, ever occurred to me that she and Jeff would hit it off though; Kelly is a vegan yoga instructor who was living in the East Village. Jeff is a Republican who does something with money (I never really understood it, I'm right-brained), living on the Upper East Side. So imagine my happy surprise when Kelly called me the morning after the party, to tell me that Jeff was still in her bed. The rest, as they say, is history. They are married with an adoreable 2 year old boy and a girl on the way. And they are one of my favorite couples. One of the rare pairs where hanging out with them, you feel like you're being drawn in instead of feeling like a third wheel.
Jeff has this older-brotherly way with me; he knows me and understands the Kristin-things I do and listens and doesn't judge. At least not to my face. He also knows the story with my marriage. So, he listened. I was grateful. I've been a total crotch over the last few days and I know I need to get over it. Having someone really listen and pay attention helps.
Today I got a nice email from John saying that I seemed not only to be surviving, but thriving. I need to give this some serious thought. Lately I have been really freakin glass-half-empty. I am actually thriving, damnit. Things are actually pretty freaking ok.
So, onward, onward! I'm taking the Amtrak train today with Lil to Washington DC. What a gorgeous day to see the East Coast from a train! Everything looks better from a train.
More man-drama this morning when my apartment became something out of a straight-to-video melodrama starring Ally Sheedy or Patty Duke. What happens when mommy and daddy get divorced and argue about money before they've even had coffee? Well, Mommy closes the door in Daddy's face and Daddy freaks out and almost falls down the stairs because he's so pissed he's banging the door off the hinges. I never thought my life would ever look like this. Ever.
Last night I told Kara that maybe my next relationship would be with a woman. Like, for real. I'll start trolling the "women seeking women" section on Craigs List. Problem is, with the exception of a fleeting crush on my high school best friend Jenny Mac and some hot women in porn, I've never actually been attracted to any ladies. Except Kate Winslet. And she doesn't really count, because she's this super-human celluloid creature who I will never get to have sex with.
My nerves are shot. Somehow god threw me a bone this morning when I was flat-ironing my frizzed-out head of hair and made it look really silky and pretty. I appreciate the boost, god. You're the bomb.
I haven't been dreaming lately. This is disturbing me. I generally look to my dreams as a time to work through my shit. Maybe I've been doing more working shit out in my waking life and I don't need to be doing as much in my subconscious. Let's hope so.
Today I look like a prize fighter with encephalitis. But a good night of crying does a body good. I was so exhaustified last night that I passed out with a hot cup of green tea at my side, clutching the remote and blearily watching "Waitress" (serious disappointment...I love Jeremy Sisto from his crazy Billy "6 Feet Under" days but simply could not buy him as an abusive redneck named Earl). I woke up feeling like there was ground glass in my eyes. But it's cool. Nothing a couple tea bags, some visene and a great bowl of coffee can't fix.
So, on to better things. I feel a lot better today. Thanks for everyone's kind comments...I feel supported!
The thing that I'm realizing about myself, probably the most painful thing I've ever had to recognize, is that I'm TOTALLY CO-DEPENDENT. What a horrid thing to come to after the breakup of an 11 year relationship. But better to figure it out now, at the age of 34, when I can do something about it. It definitely beats spending all my time obsessing about dying alone in a house full of newspapers and elderly cats.
In my heart of hearts, I know that's not gonna happen to me. First of all, I'm too sunny for that shit. Secondly, I'm only 34. Life is just beginning. I am realizing that I really do love this wacky journey I'm on and accepting myself and the fact that I have a lot more to learn is the most important thing for the moment.
But the co-dependent part. That's gotta stop. I am meeting more people in these new circles I'm travelin' in who share the same issues, same insights...have realized that they've spent a fuck ton of time trying to fill cracks and voids within themselves using the wrong things. I've been down those roads---truth is, nothing really works. Alchohol, cigarettes, men, gossip magazines, doesn't matter. They're nothin but band-aids slapped onto deep wounds that need to be tended to differently.
OK, enough. I'm gonna start crying again. Thanks for being here, y'all.
Last night I let go of something really beautiful. I had to, because it was the best thing for me. For my growth and my self-esteem and my sense of self-worth and I had to do it in order to continue on this journey that I'm just beginning.
Wow, it hurts though. This is the first time in my life I think I've ever made this kind of decision--chosen me over something or someone that feeds me, fills a void inside me. What I did was make a decision to look inside myself to find out why that frickin void is there in the first place. Anyway, life has seemed to make decisions for me up till now. But I'm trying to change that. I'm still getting used to tottering around on these new legs.
I said, "I have to be alone." A wise man told me, "You're not alone, Kristin. You'll never be alone." And I told him, "I know that. I don't mean I have to be alone. I mean, I have to be with myself."
I am so freaking gross. Why do I continually do this to myself? I have no self control when I walk into the giant food court at my job; the variety of options is overwhelming and stressful enough to bring forth a massive seizure. I just wanna get all Augustus Gloop and start dipping both hands into the chocolate river---I cannot stop myself! Sushi! Ravioli station! Pizza station! Salad Bar! Starbucks!
So, salad. Yes, I'll have a salad. There. Problem solved, right? Wrong. Here are the contents of the salad I just consumed:
I knew eating it that I'd pay for it by 3 pm with an atrocious gas bubble in my belly. It just tasted...wrong. But I have no control! It all looks so good I just need to EAT.IT.ALL. Lord, save me from my ownself.
This is the week of fucked-up people on the subways who are all up in my biz. Last night all I wanted to do was huddle by my ownself in the corner seat I comandeered on the W train and watch Greys Anatomy on my ipod. But there was a great tragedy of a man standing in the middle of the train, looking like he'd been shot with an elephant tranquilizer, shouting at no one,
"JOEY!!! JOEY BAGGADONUTS!!! HEY, JOEY!"
Then he'd go off on a yelling tangent in (I think) Italian. It was so weird and funny. I couldn't help laughing. Every time the doors opened he'd stick his head out of the train and scream for Joey. He seemed harmless enough. But jeez, can't you just shoot up on that couch in the crackhouse and stay there, Vincent Vega?
I thought with the writers' strike showing no signs of ending any time soon, I'd pitch some ideas for new reality TV shows. I'm here to help, guys.
1. "You're Dying" Spends time in a hospital where terminal illnesses are being diagnosed. Watch the reactions of people who just found out their lives are about to end.
2. "Orphanage!" This show would be based maybe in Russia or China, chronicling the interesting lives of orphaned children and how "tough" they have it. Once they're adopted, they are totally off the show tho. Because after that, who cares?
3. "Get out Alive" (editor's note: this idea I had in the mid-1990s, way before "Survivor" was even conceptualized. I wish I'd pitched this back them. Damn, damn, damn). Basically, you lock 10 strangers in a pitch-black basement and only one of them is allowed to come out alive. Maybe it can be filmed with one of those creepy night-vision things that Buffalo Bill wore in "The Silence of the Lambs" so the audience can watch how this actually goes down.
4. "Liver Swap" What happens when the cirrhosed liver of a 25-year alcoholic gets transplanted into the body of a virile, 25-year-old vegan?
5. "Be My Bitch" Where guys in prison battle each other for the privelege of being the "go-to guy" for the toughest, most, um, well-respected inmate on the cell block.
Here are some other's that really require no explanation:
6. "Is She Really a Virgin?" 7. "Pimp My Trailer" 8. "I'm a Better Drunk Driver Than You" 9. "Celebrity Autopsy" 10. "Man Vs. Tiger" 11. "My Life in a Cardboard Box Under Scaffolding on 12th Street"
I'm so over heavy drama. I wish I could just give myself a dramabotomy. Get Dr. McDreamy to cut out the section of my brain that tends to amp up the emotion factor of a situation and overanalyze it and try to solve it and pick at and pulverize it until it's lifeless and limp in my hands.
Does anyone else feel like they do this? Come on, speak up.
There need not be so much of it. Drama, I mean. It really serves no purpose in life except to distract us from important shit, maybe entertain us even. But drama sucks ass. It's erosive. Exhausting. It just plain doesn't feel good.
It's been a while since my life was rife with so much of it. It seems drama is a regular part of my daily regime now. Coffee, Multivitamin, Fish Oil, Folic Acid, Drama Supplement. It's being fed to me in massive doses and my body is kind of rejecting it.
In my past life, my ancient-history life, communication seemed not to be so difficult. I could say what I felt and meant and all my words didn't seem to carry so much weight, such a price. Now I'm not so sure.
I tend to be pretty even-keeled, I think. I'm not that easily rattled. You can say a lot of things to me and it takes quite a bit to shock me. Even to hurt me. I'm not saying I've got a heart made of leather but I can take quite a bit.
But I guess everyone likes to mix things up every now and then, switch it up, see what kind of reaction you're gonna get . I admit I do it too...I like to wind up the people closest to me sometimes just to see what will happen.
I guess it's the curse of being so goddamned brilliant. I'm like the Sharon Stone character in Basic Instinct. Except without the ice pick. Oh, what a tangled web I weave.
I went to see this wonderful homeopathic doctor tonight. I'm so glad I did. This is something that I've wanted to do for some time and a minor health issue pushed me to take the plunge sooner rather than later. As he was examining and treating me He said one thing that totally blew my mind:
"You are not your thoughts. You are not your feelings."
I glanced up from where I was laying on the table, a magnetic plate on my chest. "Then what are you?" I asked. I actually couldn't get past the idea that you could actually exist apart from those two things: thoughts. Feelings. Thoughts. Feelings. The only two things that drive me. I go from one to the other so many times a day it's crazy. (60,000 times a day, the doctor confirmed for me. Everyone does. 60,000 thoughts and feelings every day.)
So he said, "Think about it."
I did. What can I be if I'm not my thoughts and feelings? "I'm not my...body?" That didn't seem terribly holistic to me.
"No, not your body."
"My...OH! My SPIRIT!!! Right?"
This was heartening. Liberating, even. Then the good doctor said, "We have two bodies. The finite body, which is our human form, which HAS thoughts, HAS feelings. But then there's the infinite form. That's energy. That can transform, go anywhere. Once you realize that your thoughts and feelings are separate from you, from your true essence, your spirit, then you are free."
I don't think I can function on a day-to-day basis without making lists. I remember my mom telling me that when she was dating my dad, she went to see a psychic, and the psychic told her that my dad was walking around her aura, "making a list". That is so my dad. I can visualize this so well, too...Dad pacing in circles through the orange haze of Mom's aura, tapping his temple with his black felt-tip pen, jotting notes down on his pink "While you were out" notepad. I know I get my thirst for order directly from him. And I'm okay with that. I've accepted that I need the calming effect of putting everything down on paper in order to somehow feel like I have control over it. Maybe it's a writerly thing. Maybe I'm just a control freak. Or just a total freak. I believe in the power of taking things out of your brain and pouring them out in visible ink.
So I went and bought this organizer, and I was so psyched about it. It is orange and white pleather and it looks like it came directly from someone's retro 70's kitchen. I keep a pen tucked inside it and it has space for my special cards (ATM, Banana Republic gift card, Costco, Queens Public Library card), cash, a change purse, a calendar, even a little secret place to stash condoms, should I ever need them again. I love my organizer. I love how it makes me feel formidable, drunk with the power of control.
I wrote things in it all day the first day I got it, like the number for this homeopathic doctor I'm going to see tonight, like songs that I heard on Pandora.com at work that I wanted to remind myself to go home and download on Limewire. Like the description of a pair of boots I saw some chick wearing on the subway. "Look for grey 1980's Human League-type slouchy boots", I think the note said. Like every appointment and goal and all the shit I needed to remember for the foreseeable future. Now the only thing I have to remember to do is open it every day and look at everything I've reminded myself to do. That's the challenge.
Assertiveness has always been a challenge for me. I've gotten better about it, but I'm one of those people who will smile uncomfortably and accept the tuna carpaccio served to me in a restaurant when I had asked for the dish to be well done. I don't want to make the waitress's life any harder. Plus, I've been in food service. I know what happens to people who send their food back. It's just easier not to make waves.
But I think that's beginning to change. Yes, Kristin's Eye of the Tiger is starting to come roaring out in the least likely of places and times... Just tonight there was a very sleepy (drunk) guy on the subway sitting next to me and he was so tired (trashed) that he kept leaning over and practically laying his head in my lap. I was at first not that bothered by it; it is New York after all and our personal space is always being compromised--it's just one of the prices we pay for the privelege of existing in this energized, busy, fantastic city. I've gotten physically closer to some people on the subway than I have with dates or even some members of my family. You know, it's to be expected.
So my first instinct was to glance down at drunk guy's hair and check for lice. I don't know why...maybe thinking about this allowed me to take the focus off the fact that there was a strange man's head lolling dangerously close to my crotch on a crowded train (on which I was not about to give up my hard-won seat). There weren't any, thank god. Lice, that is.
I sent sent him a gentle elbow. Cleared my throat. Ahem. He responded by tucking his hands up into his armpits and snoring loudly. I tried to concentrate on watching Grey's Anatomy on my ipod. But this gentleman was maybe in a coma. The train gradually cleared out. I got up as we neared my stop. Then drunk guy got up too. I stood by the door so I could jump out when the train stopped. Drunk guy stood right behind me. On a practically empty train. Then he put his hand on the pole I was holding, right above mine. Ugh. Plenty of places you can put your drunk ass, why right next to sober, work-weary, overly-caffeinated, nervous me? I don't know what came over me then. I just turned around and said, "Come ON." I threw my hands up, like, I give up, what's the game? I don't wanna play it. This is big for me. Usually I just walk away, mostly b/c I don't want to confront strangers (my mother's voice still rings in my head from when I used to go visit the village in college---"Don't make eye contact with anyone!") but I was feeling really violated. He kind of blinked at me, as if maybe he just realized I was standing there. I gave him the evil eye and pushed through the doors when the train stopped. I was glad I spoke up. But I still think some people are just not worth the effort.
Here's something I don't experience every day: I'm walking down a side street in my neighborhood on a January evening, wearing a spring-weight jacket (open) and sweater, my hair loose and flowy and enjoying it's night out on the town because it's not hidden under a hot wool hat.
A gentle breeze brushes my neck, my cheek, carrying with it the pungent and seemingly ill-placed scent of pine from the scattered carcasses of discarded Christmas trees littering my path.
This weather makes me feel skeptically joyous. I'm smiling but one eyebrow is cocked in disbelief and confusion.
What's up, Armageddon?
Nah, I'm just kidding. But I can't help feel a little bit wrong about the guy crossing Madison Avenue in a pair of shorts on January 8th, especially when I was doing so much heavy bitching about how bone-chillingly cold it was last week.
I've heard of a January thaw, but not one that's supposed to thaw Greenland.
So, something really weird happened to me on Saturday. I spent the day on Long Island (no, that's not the weird part, but we all know that I think Long Island is weird), and after a nice, loungy day at sista's house, drinkin coffee (and an aside--when I went into the 7-11 to buy the family a round of coffees-high test for me and Lis, decaf for Dad and mom-I held my head up and walked right past the rack of NY Posts and Daily Newses with pictures of Britney strapped to a gurney asplash on their seedy black and white covers. And I! Did! Not! Stop! To! Look!!!!).
So, at Lisa's we spent a long time laying on her bed talking about boys. We chatted and looked at Lisa's totally hot Match.com profile and marveled at the strange men who have been contacting her and sending her inappropriate messages. We watched the kids put on their outerwear and rubber boots and play married fireman/firewoman for what seemed like hours. It was a nice day.
Then, Lily and I jumped in the car and headed over to my parents' house to say goodbye to them before making the trek back to Queens. Since my folks live something like 2 miles from Lisa's house, in a condo that they moved into about 7 years ago, I'm used to doing this drive. I pretty much could do it in my sleep. So I was pretty freaked when I suddenly found myself turning in the other direction and heading for the house where I grew up.
I don't know what happened, it was like something was pulling me there. Instead of turning one way, I simply went the other. And it wasn't until I was practically on my old block that I realized it. The house where I grew up is only a couple of miles from the condo where my parents reside now. But I haven't even been on my old street in years. So why did I unconsciously start heading there? So weird, I don't know.
I decided to go through with it though, and really check the old place out. I pulled slowly (and somewhat stalkerly) up to the house and sat in front of it, looking up on the hill where it sat. It's a different color now, a rusty red instead of the brown shaker look that was so popular in the 80s. The windows were now dotted with snowflake decals, and the house was shrouded in holiday lights. A new family was living there. Enough time had passed that maybe another little girl has even grown up there (practically), made plans in the same bedroom where I wrote my name in teeny tiny letters in the back of the closet, where I scribbled endlessly in my journals, where I hid under the covers to talk on the phone to my boyfriend after everyone was asleep. A whole other life has taken place there since mine.
It's strange to think of the life I so meticulously planned for myself when I was living inside those walls. Not that I'm disappointed in the way my life has turned out, but I can say it's been somewhat of a surprise. A shocker, even. Well. I was tempted to get out of the car, sling Lily onto my hip and ring the bell, but I think seeing the inside of my house (my house, listen to me) would be just way too overwhelming and emotional. Especially right now. I just don't want to be that wacky new-age lady in a thrift-store coat who comes rapping on somebody's door, all anxious to revisit her past life in a home that now belongs to someone else, has all of their memories, their life story. I just don't think I'm ready to be that woman just yet.
It is hilariously cold outside. Hilariously. I was walking to work this morning and the wind was stabbing me in the face and the vitreous humor in my eyeballs was icing up and I couldn't help but laugh at the ridiculousness of it. I love winter--specifically New York City in winter--but it should never be this cold, anywhere, ever.
And of course I wore my pointy witch-hooker boots today that are made of the thinnest imaginable leather skin (probably calf fetus), so I could hardly put each foot down on the sidewalk without yelping as if I were walking barefoot over icy-hot coals.
Ah, but now I am at my desk, comforting Starbucks warming my hand, Heather's pumpkin-flax muffin filling my empty belly (I'm so glad I said yes to those nourishing morsels of delicousness, thanks Hevs), and all is well.
Regardless of my love of complaining (something I am working on--I cannot remove all my defects at once), I am a total winter girl. Not because I am a snowboarder or cross-country skiier, but because I am lazy and I love any excuse to hunker down and relax. I love to pile on fluffy socks and a cableknit sweater and curl up on the couch with a hot green tea, a blanket and Season 3 of The Office. I love to listen to the hiss of the radiator and say a little prayer of thanks that I have a cozy apartment to curl up and fall asleep in and that am not homeless. The cold outside makes me feel alive and grateful that I can find warmth and comfort inside my own walls. There is nothing like the feeling of walking into a toasty, crowded party or restaurant and being enveloped in warmth and people after walking around outside in the cold of the city. And conversely it's wonderful to throw on your jacket and run outside to breathe in a few refreshing gulps of winter air after being inside an overheated New York apartment.
I am not a fan of air conditioning. I do not give a shit about the Astoria Pool. I don't like having to wear sunscreen. I hate sweating. I don't look good in shorts. So, I am a winter girl.
And oh, how I love my wintry city. I spent seven years of my life in upstate New York, where the gray, suffocating blanket of winter settles itself down upon the land sometime around Thanksgiving and doesn't lift until late April. In New Paltz, life slows to a sleepy crawl after the first snow falls. People don't go outside but to grumpily climb into freezing cold cars and commute to work. Chimneys unceasingly pump woodsmoke into the white, cold sky, and the sun falls behind the mountains impossibly early, making the world feel really, really quiet.
But in the city it's different. Life never slows here, no matter what the season. There's always something to do, something to see--people bundle themselves against the cold and forge out onto the street in search of movies, museums, shows, get-togethers, classes. Winter can be isolating but in New York I'm never, ever alone. I can take myself to a movie or go shopping at H&M for something lame like a new pair of purple sparkly gloves. I can go to a restaurant and bring a book and eat a delicious meal I've never even considered before (vegan comfort food--mac and cheese? who knew?), and I'm always surrounded by people. Sounds. Life. Awww. I do love you, New Yawk.
Well, it had to happen sometime. Christmas passed so calmly and happily that I had to drop my basket and have a good freakout for New Years.
Now granted, some of this can be attributed to the fact that I've spent the last several days walking the plank over the roiling crimson sea. And now that I've dived in (anyone not get that high school metaphor? Come ON, people, tampons), I am seeing a bit more clearly. But jeez-us. Emotions running high as a blistering fever in August.
On the first day of '08 I felt shocked into a state of clarity and terror about my life. I know this is partly (well, probably mostly) because this is the first time in years (or perhaps, like, ever) when I'm staring out into the wild, wide open space of a brand new year, and I have no idea what to expect. It's completely blank. And the hugeness of that is swallowing me whole. What to do? I'm open to suggestions. The breezy, laid-back Kristin would just say, hey man, just let it come. Whatever's meant to be will be. Go with it, life is a journey, a learning experience. But unfortunately, neurotic, control-freak Kristin seems to be dominating this morning and she's saying, "Fuckin' shut up, Hippie Kristin! Go with the flow??? Not even!!! What's going to happen to you???!!!" There is no Magic Eight Ball this year. Shake it up, ask it a question, get a little direction. This year's a totally blank page. I'd probably be doing myself a favor to try and view this as a gift rather than a burden. To shift my perspective, if I at all can.
Well, that's just where I'm at for the moment. I want so much to look into 2008 with hope and serenity but the truth is I'm really, really scared. I think I just need to step back and have some faith. Let the chips fall where they may. Hands off the wheel, man. Letting someone else drive today.