Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Two great things

1. Yesterday at work, one of my female colleagues, feeling unusually spunky, slapped my ass. I was standing at the time, and resting all my weight on the side which would soon be slapped. Somehow, as her hand began its trajectory, I realized what was happening and I -- well, I flexed my butt -- right as she made contact. This produced an impressive reaction. "Wow!" she said. "You've got a firm ass! I was expecting some flab, but you got something hard back there! All that running must pay off." She said this in front of a gaggle of women we work with. I tried to look bashful but I probably failed. I didn't have the heart to say that I was doing everything in my power to tense things up back there, but it was a good compliment. You can always stand to hear more good things about your own ass, that's what my parents always told me.

2. Tonight I'm going to home to Virginia, and tomorrow my beloved nuclear unit - mom, dad, sis, me - is going to Italy! We're starting and ending in Rome and exploring the southern half of the boot, as well as Sicily. This is one of those trips where I'm on a bus with 49 other Americans and am required to make no decisions at all. I'm very excited, but I'll be out of commission for a while. More on this little blog after Memorial Day.

Monday, May 16, 2005


The other day a friend and I were trying to interpret this phrase: “We’re just friends, for now.” I thought this meant that this friendship was expected to eventually blossom into a relationship – good for them. My friend, though, saw this statement as the final death knell of a relationship about to disintegrate from tentative friendship into awkward conversation, unreturned phone calls, and disregarded Evites. I never thought about it that way.

This week I also got a copy of Frou Frou’s cd, “Details.” It was odd, because I had been listening to this album a lot back in October, when one of my colleagues passed away very suddenly. So when I heard this disc again the other day in my office, it brought back a rush of feeling that I hadn’t experienced in six months or so – nothing I can aptly describe, not even a sense of smell or sound, but rather a frame of mind and an awareness of my own existence in grief. (They told me she had died after I came into the office late carrying my rental tuxedo for our big banquet that night, an event she had planned – they told me and I dropped the tux and I couldn’t get my fingers to pick it up again.)

One song in particular stands out – it’s called “Must Be Dreaming.” It’s a great song, very jaunty, but with an undercurrent of melancholy buried in it: the love the singer is experiencing can’t last, it must be a dream, it is wonderful but it will end soon. Yet when I heard it I experienced it differently: the sad strain took it over, and whatever happiness the song still had came from the possibility that the grief itself was only a dream, that the death that occurred was too sudden and bizarre to possibly be real. Somehow this song has become a kind of anthem for her death and what came after.

Seemingly clear ideas that suddenly become wide open for interpretation – ideas that seem very simple and straightforward until you peer straight them through into another side – grief and loss and a fearful ambiguity. Oh, the vagaries of language.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Wedding hangover

Last week I received an email from my friend, a friend I'll call Kitty. I went to Kitty's wedding a few months back during a very hectic and stressful period, and I spent a considerable amount of money and time getting there. Amidst all of this I did not buy Kitty (and her husband, Travis) a wedding present. I felt bad about this for several months, and then received a mass email from Kitty offering an update on her life. Lovely. But still, I let about a month pass, and then I wrote her an email - a very generic, 'hey, how are you, please don't be angry because I didn't buy you a wedding gift and I'm afraid this is the kind of lapse in judgment you would really sink your talons into' kind of email. The next day, I received this email (paraphrased, but not really):

I am really glad you emailed, because I honestly thought you were mad at me. I've had this question on my mind for a while now, and I know it's awkward, but when I hadn't heard from you since the wedding I thought for sure that you were angry. And for good reason: Travis and I checked and checked and checked, and we realized that we never sent a thank-you note for the wedding gift you gave us. I feel so bad about this, and I am completely embarassed about the lack of a thank-you. I'm sure your gift was backordered or lost in the mail or stolen from our mailbox or something, and I'm sure I would have LOVED what you gave us, and I wanted to let you know that we would have thanked you properly had we known what it was. I am soo sorry but I am so relieved you aren't angry! I just wanted to let you know what happened and why you didn't get a thank-you note in the mail! (Please don't be mad!)

Well. At first I couldn't tell if Kitty was genuinely remorseful and embarassed, or if she was being fantastically malicious and nasty. I think, though, that she really felt humiliated at her perceived etiquette failure. I briefly debated trying to ride out the lie ("Someone at Crate & Barrel is about to get a PIECE OF MY MIND!") but I couldn't do it. After consulting with a few friends and my mom, who instantly dashed to her Emily Post manual, I wrote Kitty back and came clean. I told her I was the one who owed an apology, etc, and that she could expect a gift soon. It was a very pained reply and it took a while to figure out, and I haven't yet gotten a reply.

This whole Henry Jamesian comedy-of-manners etiquette dance is a bit much.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


I went for a fantastic run tonight - straight from work, through the Park, and around the Reservoir twice (and then back up to work). I'm calling it four and a half, five miles. Mariah Carey, Amerie, Seal, David Gray, Frou Frou, Coldplay, and Jill Scott got me through. I realized that for me the best runs are the ones where you can listen to slow songs and still keep moving. I felt completely under control - usually I run as though I'm fleeing from an angry dog, and everything is kind of falling apart as I move. Yet this time I felt calm and serene and thought about my life and how happy and fortunate I am. One of the best runs I've ever had here was through Central Park, on the east side by the reservoir, and I was listening to John Mayer's "Wheel" and having this bittersweet and yet aerobic moment that can really never be duplicated. But it came close today, in a different way, with Mariah's "Fly like a bird."

I am one lucky bastard. Job, School, Woman, Friends. Sardonic wit. Devastating good looks. Fly like a bird, baby.

Email me

My cell phone's dead,
My cell phone's dead,
Who knows what calls I'm missing?

Unexpected rest,
No talk or text,
It's all a bit deprissing.

My charger broke
Last words were spoke
The fall was so surprisin'

By the end of the week,
God willing I'll speak
But it all depends on Verizon.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The walking man walks

Yesterday I did The Great Saunter, although this is a misleading name. If the truth in advertising people had been on the case, it whould have been called "The Manhattan Death March." We walked the whole 32 miles around the New York City shoreline, dear reader, we completed that thing. But we paid a price.

In the morning, when we got there at 7, there were only a few dozen people milling around. The crowd skewed way old and did not seem particularly athletic. When we finally began it was pretty anticlimactic - there was no gunfire, no blood-curdling Saunterers' Yell, just the sound of a couple hundred people sighing and muttering, "Well, I guess we should start."

Cut to ten hours later, as we limped - in literal and figurative ways - back to the starting point. At that moment the bottoms of my feet were on fire, my left ankle was refusing to bend, and I was developing what would become the worst instance of chafing I can recall. I developed a bizarre walk wherein my infamously Latin hips would swivel outward, and I would actually move farther laterally than I would forward advance. This became a sort of bowlegged crabwalk, which I used to maneuver my way into Rite Aid to buy the staples of every Saunterer's medicine cabinet: vaseline and baby powder. I came home and applied the baby powder (not an easy job for a single person) to such a degree that if I closed my legs too quickly and with too much force, enough powder dropped to make you think that a very large and significant cocaine bust had just occurred on the floor of my bathroom.

But there were some good things of the walk, too: I saw some beautiful parks, especially the upper reaches of Riverside Park and Fort Trion, near Inwood. There are actual hills and stubby paths and forested areas on this island of ours. I was very thankful to actually be on a hike in New York City. It was a good time to rest and eat trail mix and enjoy some time with my friends and in my own head, and I was ultimately very proud of walking the whole damn thing. Although I did find it very funny that we just walked in a circle with a net gain of exactly 0. Who walks for 32 miles and ends up where they started with nothing to show for it, because the t-shirts for sale were very ugly and bland? Me.

It was easier to pretend to not think about the distance we actually walked. By the last third of the trip, I was desperate to end it all and just sit down. At 125th St on the east side, I was waiting til 110th, when we would be near the Park. Once we were below 100th St, I figured we were in the home stretch - what's another 130 blocks or so when you've already walked three quarters of the island? To find myself thinking this way was kind of stunning. Honestly, to finish it I drew on my boy scouting experience, my dad, my mom, the peer pressure of my fellow walkers and my own foolish pride and stubbornness - not to mention the 5 60-year old ladies who smoked us in the final stretch, their elbows pumping with military efficiency while I swiveled my way downtown, arms akimbo, like a marionette on crank.

Anyways, I'm thankful I did it. I am still exhausted. I am sore as hell today but the chafing is improving. I am sleeping very well at night and I'm proud too, and I feel as though I am earning a place in this city, in this island. I am a Shorewalker. I am a Saunterer, and yesterday, for a few hours, I was Great.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Bring it on

Tomorrow I'm participating in The Great Saunter. This is a thing where you show up at 7:30 in the morning at the South Street Seaport and walk around the island of Manhattan, and end up back at the Seaport twelve hours and 32 miles later. I don't know that I've ever consciously walked 32 miles in a day before. This is somewhat daunting, but then again it's all flat and it's all paved, so what's the difficulty? Right?

Sadly enough it's supposed to rain intermittently the whole day, but I am determined to do this. I think it would be good to brush up my Manhattanite credentials and get in some good, elbow-thrusting power walking. I am internally debating which shoes to wear: the ones that give me shin splints? the ones that are decomposing before my eyes? the new ones that sort of hurt my arches and have not yet gained my confidence? Maybe I ought to go shoeless, central-African-marathoner style. I don't know.

Many begin this saunter, but last year only 130 people finished it up. Do I have what it takes, or will I be trying to catch a cab in Inwood, pretending I'm not really crying as I limp away from the shore? Only time will tell, dear friends. Only time. Will tell.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Eating disorder

I am really making a concerted effort to eat well these days. I am inspired by both my desire to continue living and my desire to save money rather than dump $10 into every meal I choose to consume. So on Sunday I went to the grocery store and bought: milk (1%), cheese, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, orange juice, turkey, whole grain bread, yogurt, bananas, spaghetti sauce. Pleased with my selections, I looked at the contents of the other shoppers' baskets with disdain: ice cream? No, thanks, Fatty. Butter? Not in my house! No, instead I've launced a new Fruit Initiative, which has translated into eating seven bananas in seven days. Wonderful!

Then, a day later, once the reality of this sad and unappealing bounty set in, I returned to the store to buy: gatorade, E.L. Fudge cookies, and Coca-Cola. This made me much happier, but in the meantime I'm still enjoying these meager and kind of pathetic meals: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Yogurt and a piece of bread. Spaghetti that took twenty minutes to cook yet was consumed in nearly a single commericial interruption of "Desperate Housewives."

This is unsatisfying. Yet I am being so good! What gives? Well, today as I read the new Newsweek, about our delightful new Geometrical Food Regime,, I was disappointed. About fruit, Newsweek says: "Most [fruits] are fine, but be moderate with bananas and juices." Why? "Bananas are starchy and high in sugar." Oh! Starch! I forgot to worry about starch! Thanks for shooting my awesome new Fruit Initiative straight to hell!

And what's that, Newsweek? "Excessive dairy consumption may be linked to prostate and ovarian cancer"? That's funny, because I actually HAVE a prostate!

Oh, what's that about white rice and white pasta, two staples of my diet? Did you say that "Refined grains are linked to higher risk of type 2 Diabetes"? That's what I thought you said. Oh well, at least I eat vegetables, like lettuce, and tomatoes, and cucumbers, and arugula, and potatoes--

"[Potatoes] really shouldn't even be in the vegetables category - they're more like white starches."

Starch! My new archnemesis. Curse you! Despite Newsweek's bitchy and unnecessarily snotty tone, I fear deep down that they are right. Yet I know we will meet again, Starch, most likely over a burrito stuffed with white rice, drenched with trans-fatty oils and dappled with negligible servings of vegetables. Yet we both know, without a shadow of doubt or hesitation, that I will succumb.