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Good riddance, 2018. I'd like to say that, but I don't know if I can. Although it was the worst year of my life, at least the second half of it, the first half still saw me with my heart intact, with my favorite person still on the planet, with me still feeling whole. I can't say good riddance to a year that was the last we shared, at least in part. 2019 is the first year since 1997 that we haven't trod upon the same soil, breathed the same air, laughed the same stupid laugh.
I miss 2018 already.
I binged "You" over a weekend and was rather enthralled, mostly because Penn Badgley is cute and I love seeing NYC on the screen even if I can see it just outside my front door. But come on. I think you're trying too hard to be the new "Dexter", which I watched more for Michael C. Hall than I did Miami (which holds zero appeal for me). The almost monotone, slightly scoffing voiceover, the cryptic darkness that I found so appealing in Dexter fell flat here. And the glass basement room? Please. Give me Dexter's plastic-lined kill rooms any day.
You were my person, the one above all others. The best friend I'll ever have, my confidante, my soulmate, my rock, my stone, my pebble, my boulder. My iceberg, my mountain, my continent. You were non-negotiable. You were beyond family. You were a period in a world of ellipses. You were a strongly crossed T, a zigzag of lightening with a low roar of thunder. We didn't just finish each other's sentences; we spoke the same one simultaneously. No one will ever come close to being to me what you were. What you still are. I love you like dogs.
An elderly man arching his eyebrow at someone else's behavior on the subway that makes mine arch as well; we're the only two with this response. The air, crisp and invigorating rather than aggressive and face-hurting. A bespectacled girl with unicorn backpack and wings on the back of her coat, stumble-skipping down the sidewalk, holding her mom's hand, and me, smiling at her, telling her mom the getup is amazing, the mom smiling back, telling her daughter what I just said, and the kid thanking me with a shy glance. Corny or not, this is what makes the days good.
The scaffolding in front of the two townhouses adjacent to Fairway's south side has been there as long as I've lived in the neighborhood. I don't know how long I've been seeing the guy who does pullups on it, but I figure he's one of the store workers. Turns out he's not. He's 71-year-old Gene ("Just another bald-headed Jewish guy," he says) who walks here from the Midtown apartment he shares with his cancer-ridden wife, and this is part of his workout. When he's not doing this, he's taking care of her. He isn't complaining. It's just what he does.
Big fun. Oh, yes. The insistence on big fun, of breathless adventure. The need to brag about all the activity crammed into an afternoon, a weekend, a vacation. The pursuit of happiness, the dogged, ragged pursuit, the desperate charging ahead for that damned carrot. Others have failed to grab the elusive carrot, but damn it, with your determination and unflagging spirit, you're gonna be the one who does it!
Ugh. Just stop it. Stop the miserable pursuit of happiness. Slow down, step back, and you'll realize the so-called big picture is just a zoomed-in closeup of the tiniest of things.
One hundred ninety-six days without you. I count the days by month, adding quickly, uttering in rapid monotone the subtotal with each month as if programmed. In four days it will be 200 days, and I think, stupidly, of the roundness of the number. That for some reason 200 is a marker. Of what? How is 200 days any more significant than 196? Four days of more pain, yes, four more days that I've missed the most important non-family member ever to enter my life. Each day is excruciating. Odd number, even number, single-digit, double-digit. Triple. Quadruple. It gets worse.
It's 1982 and I'm in the back of the car a guy named Dan. We're double-dating. His dark brown hair sweeps across his forehead over almond-shaped eyes. He's doing poppers and I do too, so in that head-spinning moment, I find him attractive even though under ordinary circumstances I have to convince myself I find him cute and even then only when viewed in my peripheral vision. All I can remember about him otherwise is that his schlong curved quite a bit to one side and it was difficult to negotiate, especially for the novice I was back then. Lovely.
It wasn't a resolution, so I can't say I already broke a resolution, but I did sorta kinda quasi commit(ish) to not buying non-necessities for at least January and quite possibly February. I suppose I could rationalize today's Etsy purchases, right? That the green patent vintage belt is an absolute necessity to make my new (to me) "botanical" dress look less frumpy than I think it looks with its own self belt and that the navy blue patent vintage belt is needed when the red and white one that belongs to a spring/summer red dress just won't do? Yes? Yes.
A better and more productive way of spending the time that my pasta is boiling is to do this: Write 100 Words (how very meta!). They cost nothing, they make you feel good, and you won't experience buyer's remorse because you spent the time on Etsy instead, searching for "vintage gloves" and found a pair for $16 that you must have in your possession even though you don't "need" them. Write the words. The words you do need. They are one of the only things in this fucked world that keep you sane. Not gloves (although they are indeed fabulous).
I'm not charting any new territory here with the stuff I cook for myself at home. None of it is groundbreaking or in any way truly innovative. Indeed, it's all from recipes I've found online, either by directly searching for something specific or by stumbling across it or through email newsletters. Several recipes are from friends whose taste(buds) I trust.
I don't have the patience or desire, really, to get all Bon Appetit-y or New York Times-y about making food, as my friends Melissa in Brooklyn and Dan in San Francisco do. This is all pure comfort, pajamas not tuxedos.
Sorry, "Beautiful Boy", but you just didn't do it for me. I felt zilch for the kid or dad, except for perhaps two seconds when Steve Carell expressed frustration quite well. I didn't give a crap about the kid. I know my heart was supposed to be tugged with anguish for his struggle, but I felt manipulated, not by the character but by the actor. I was bored with the storyline, the crying, and when we thought he was finally "clean", I looked at my watch, noted there was an hour left, and thought, "Ugh. Another round of this nonsense?"
Because five days per week at the gym was not enough to stave off whatever needs staving off or whatever needs an outlet or whatever needs to be expressed in a "healthy" way rather than staying at home in bed with the the covers over my head, ordering in chow fun and dumplings every day and resenting that I have to schlump to the front door to retrieve the bag from the delivery guy, I've increased it to seven. If by chance the weeks increase to nine days, then I'll adjust accordingly. But for now, I hope seven will suffice.
So the floating above the bed thing is for real, huh. I'm here, right around where I think the ceiling is, but the bed and me in it appear as if viewed through the wrong end of a telescope. The nurses' voices are slightly muffled, as I'd imagined they'd be. I can see my legs well enough, stretched out, feet slightly splayed, and I feel sorry for not having honored my feet with a pedicure. And the legs I've spent my whole life hating, I see now are lovely and fine. I should've thanked them for their service ages ago.
I'm on the bike at the gym, reading a book that addresses the inefficiency of multitasking, and I'm agreeing with it wholeheartedly as my pedaling is less than robust as I concentrate on the words on the Kindle, or try to focus on them, that is, because I'm trying to power through the "hills" the bike is presenting. I decide to heed the book, put it away, and turn my attention fully to the bike. The book can wait until later, when the only thing I'm doing is sitting, which shouldn't count as multitasking even to the most steadfast anti-multitasker.
23andMe sends email informing that my results are available. I decide to delay checking until after I'm done something for work, thinking it will be an effective incentive for productivity. Two minutes later, I realize I won't be able to focus unless I check the results immediately.
I'm glad I didn't wait. What a raging disappointment if I'd waited for "99.6% Ashkenazi Jew" and ".4% Broad European" with no information, at least, as far as countries go.
"For this I paid $50?" I say.
They may as well have presented the results with a lox-laden everything bagel with a "shmear".
I have three minutes and 12 seconds left on my three-minute timer. Thanks, Alexa, for the information presented with such quiet grace. The countdown to pasta being drained has begun. The countdown to me getting 100 words done in three minutes has begun. The countdown to me fretting that I won't make it and feel like some kind of colossal imposter has begun. Why am I so competitive when it's not necessary and no one will be the wiser if I don't make the "goal"? I'll be FORCED to tell the truth here if I don't make it! DONE! Winner!
There is this adorable young (at least younger than I am) woman on Instagram who I found via Etsy (we both bought from the same seller) who has the 1950s look down perfectly. Her collection of "frocks", as she calls them, is perfection and would give Mrs. Maisel a run for her money. Every time she posts another triptych of herself in one of her gorgeous getups, I adore her more for her smiling charm and attention to detail.
I'm more '60s/'70s. I sometimes wish I had what it took to try the '50s. But I don't. (And that's okay!)
I still have been to Whole Foods since June 23. The thought of seeing the building itself gives me a stomachache. The thought of walking through the doors, seeing the spot where I'd meet him to begin our Saturday morning ritual gives me a headache. I don't want to see the baguette he loved, the avocados, the bananas, the strawberries. I don't want to see the cookies he would get for "the girls" who walked the dog. But I need to tell Oliver, the wonderful Jamaican man who was our buddy and who was always so happy to see us.
I'll never be able to pretend I give a shit about the Super Bowl. I went to one Super Bowl thing a few years ago in Brooklyn, lured by the promise of massive quantities of vegan food, and remember nothing at all about the game. I do remember the sister of the hostess getting teary at the commercials, saying she can't help it, and me saying I'm the same way, so that's the only way I know it was a Super Bowl thing, because I cared more about the commercials than the game. (I think the vegan wings were good?)
My friend A is starting chemotherapy at the end of the month. She will be going three times a week for four months. She has had cancer since late 2017. Until recently she was coming to the gym on a regular basis and lifting more weight than any other woman there. Her attitude was optimistic without being pollyanna and nauseating.
Any time I think I'm not up to going to the gym in the morning or I "can't" make it seven days a week, which I started this month, I think of her and repeat my mantra: "CAN'T" IS BULLSHIT.
I'm often like a toddler with food. I can eat the same thing for weeks on end and be thrilled. I can keep making the same tofu sandwich or the same fake chicken "nugget" things in the air fryer, and I'll be as delighted scarfing it the fourteenth day as I am the first. The only difference between me and most toddlers is that I will want it served on a different plate most days for some semblance of variety. I won't be satisfied with Dora or SpongeBob every day or whatever cartoon thing the cool toddlers are digging nowadays.
Ahoy! The deadstock vintage belts have arrived from London! They're shiny and pliable, better than anything I could have bought new! I can tell they're overjoyed not only to have an opportunity to be worn but to do so in New York City!
When I took them from the package and unwrapped them and unfurled them, they gasped first, then looked at each other, eyes widening, and then the green one, perhaps a bit less shy than the navy, by dint of its fabulous buckle, said, "Is it true? We get to live in NYC?" Yes, my loves, you're home!
Zipper Skipjack tells me she doesn't think her name is cool. I tell her it's the coolest name I've seen on the list.
"I'd rather be Taylor Marsh," she says.
I tell her that, no offense to Taylor Marsh, but that name's not going to make anyone take notice and this Taylor better be really good at the violin for anyone in the audience to notice or remember her. I know as an adult I'm not supposed to say that, but whatever.
"My tap-dancing is really bad," Zipper says.
"Even if it is," I say, "you've got the coolest name."
If I run out of TaB, I go to Fairway after the gym every morning until they have it in stock. I pop in, go directly to its usual shelf with all the efficiency of a well-trained Roomba, check, and if it's not there, I leave immediately, so my entire time in the store is less than one minute. I always think the cashiers and other workers think I'm stealing something, but they probably don't even know I'm alive.
When it is available, though, and especially if it's on sale, they no doubt notice me because I exclaim, "Yes! Yes!"
It's 4:30 a.m. My cat is supremely snuggly. The covers are the optimal weight and warmth not only to encourage more sleep but to welcome it. They're even seductive, crooking their finger at me with a toss of their bangs over their forehead, licking their lips. I had no idea bedclothes could be so
Alexa, when bidden, tells me it is 3 degrees with a windchill of negative 10. I envision myself in gym clothes, in my coat that looks like it's much warmer than it actually is, lower calves exposed to the frigid air.
Fuck the gym today.
Anyone who appends "I've never felt more alive!" to a story about having done something like, say, skydiving, bungee-jumping, doing a cannonball off a cliff, whatever "death-defying" activity, needs to calm down, close his eyes, take a nap, wake up, and then sit with himself for a solid 20 minutes without the invasion of screens/devices or any stimulus other than the sound of his own heartbeat, his own breath, the amplified sound of himself consciously swallowing now that he's become aware of it. I've never understood why a person needs something more than being alive to never feel more alive.
The way I'm acting when my new Denman brush arrives, you'd think I'd never owned a brush before, that all these years not only had I been using a fork or back-scratcher whose end looks like a tiny hand instead but didn't even know there was an alternative.
I remove it from its packaging and marvel at its light weight, the golden "Denman" on its back, the slight "fwoof" sound when I press gently on the bristles. I touch it to scalp and through my hair and within moments I'm Marcia Brady, transfixed, on the verge of chanting to 100.
As of this writing, I have been known to one Edward Asner, the magnificent veteran actor, for about 24 hours. Twenty-five hours ago, he did not know I existed. Although I sat in the audience of the performance space in which he participated in the reading of "The Soap Myth", he did not see me, and even if he had seen me in the pre-performance standing ovation when he took to the stage, on the verge of tears, in awe of his mere presence, he did not yet have me kissing him on the cheek and confessing my decades-long love.
Oh, Jake Gyllenhaal. You appear on the Colbert stage and I can't hate you even though I pause for moment wondering if I should. You're simultaneously handsome and adorable, your hair is stupendous, you wear that suit as if it was made for you (maybe it was), plus you're smart, goofy, funny, witty, personable, and so damned likable.
I can't say the same for you, Matthew McConaughey. I think you're trying too hard to be slick and sexy, but it's coming off as a bit smarmy and you act like you KNOW you're good-lookin'. You look like you're perpetually winking.
Ten years ago, my then-boyfriend rebuked me for not having proper bowling form. He whined that my declining to let him show me how an "approach" is done -- because of course he was a renowned expert, a pro, and I was just some krazy kid who wanted to act like she was reenacting the bowling scene from Grease 2 along with a fabulous friend who'd accompanied us with his boyfriend (now husband!) -- was a parallel to my approach to EVERYTHING IN LIFE. He actually had the bowling balls to shout that over the phone. Bitch, please. Spare me.
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