Friday, September 19, 2008

Forgive the Pedantry

A few days ago when I was talking to one of my friends who is studying abroad in China, he mentioned how he finally understands what I mean when I say that it's very easy to feel alone in the city. I told him about a quote that has stuck with me since tenth grade, from the story that inspired the (horrible) movie AI. The story is called Super Toys Last All Summer Long, by Brian Aldiss. The quote reads: "She remained alone. An overcrowded world is the ideal place in which to be lonely."

That quote has been etched in my memory since then. For its aesthetic value to begin with, really. It's a very well-balanced sentence. If you cut it down the middle, say, through "ideal," it seems to weight the same on each side. And it just seems like such a paradox. The world is overcrowded, so one ought to be able to find plenty of people to be friends with, or to be in love with. And yet, the sheer amount of life is so crushingly overwhelming sometimes that it just increases any feelings of loneliness one might feel.

Early sociologists who studied the effects of the city on humanity in general came to the conclusion that city life is unnatural. They felt that the constant stimulation, the barrage of people, noise, sights, smells forces people to retreat inside themselves. But by cutting themselves off from the intense stimuli coming at them from all directions, they are also cutting themselves off from other human beings. The danger in this is that it can soon lead to antisocial behavior and anomie, causing the eventual breakdown of society.

I never really bought into that theory of how City Life affects people. I don't think that the city is naturally a corrupting force, any more than I believe life in the mountains or the country side is naturally cleansing. Since humans first came to be, they have been forming groups, families, tribes. I think there's something to be said for the fact that as soon as humans discovered agriculture, they started settling down in large (relatively large) groups. Humans in general have always needed and indeed sought out the company of humans. So it follows that if anything at all could be considered "natural," it would be life in the city.

And yet, whether city life is natural or unnatural, it can be very easy to be lonely here. I think it has a little more to do with ennui than anomie, however. The loneliness is not of the antisocial sort. It leans more towards the self-pitying and even the self-indulgent. After all, when one reflects on how many people there actually are in the city, one tends to start questioning his or her own self-worth.

I've been listening to a lot of Satie lately. Erik Satie was a French composer from the early 20th century, a contemporary of Debussy and Ravel. He's very well known for his use of repetition and stark, almost perplexing simplicity. Whenever I start to feel lonely or sorry for myself I put either his Gymnopedies or his Gnossienes on. Played on solo piano with no accompaniment, the melodies are haunting but hummable. At first it seems like there's almost nothing to them, but as they progress one comes to the realization that their hollowness, their other-worldly quality is the truly spectacular aspect of the pieces. In the thread-bareness of the melody lies something more comforting than a down blanket. In their loneliness lies complete perfection.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Who's that?"

"Oh, that's just my friend, Jesus."

Don't ask questions. Just go to the website. And I'm sorry it's not a link. Blogger is being a dumb bitch and none of the links I embed show up, and I'm too lazy to figure out what's wrong.

But seriously, do it. It'll make your day a million gazillion times better.

Poetry Moment of the Day

From the poem "Poem Read at Joan Mitchell's" by Frank O'Hara

If Kenneth were writing this he would point out how art has changed
women and women have changed art and men, but men haven't
changed women much

That section is short. And the whole poem is glorious (one of my favorites) but I can't find it online and it's far to long to type out for you guys. But look it up. It's basically a congratulatory poem to two of O'Hara's friends who have decided to get married, and it's just so full of hope and anticipation and happiness. I alternate between feeling really safe and warm inside and being overwhelmingly jealous whenever I read this. But I just love that section, because it is kind of true in a way. And I do like to think that no one can really change me, or should ever be allowed to do so. It also plays to my, and I think most women's desire to be someone's muse. Even if you're creating art yourself, wouldn't it be wonderful to inspire someone to create some artistic masterpiece?

I mean, I'm not saying I want to be someone's Zelda Fitzgerald. I like stability and well, not being an alcoholic a little too much for that. But it would be lovely to inspire a poem or a painting. I hope this doesn't come off as terribly narcissistic, because that's not how I mean it. And I also don't mean it as wanting to inspire someone else to great heights instead of achieving those great heights myself. But there is something romantic about being the Mona Lisa, no?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


So....maybe I won't throw caution to the winds.

Cause frankly, I don't want to throw caution to the winds. I want someone to throw caution to the winds for me.

Mreh. Fuck my life.

Love on the F train

So I think I fell just a little bit in love on the subway today. On the way back from work today, I got on the train at 57th street immediately plunked down in the first seat I could find (I was wearing heels for the first since last winter, and they hurt like a bitch and cut my ankles), which happened to be next to this guy writing furiously in a notebook. He was ridiculously cute, just my type: Indian, with some serious stubble and glasses wearing a plaid button-down and gray jeans. He was solid without being stocky, which is always pleasant to see in a city where most of the men look like anorexic 14 year old girls. I decided to let myself be a creeper and try to read what he was writing. It was completely illegible except for a sentence in capitals saying FIND A WAY TO REPHRASE WITHOUT SO MUCH REPETITION and my first thought was OHMYGOD he's a WRITER which naturally made him about a million times sexier. But anyways I took out the book of new and selected poems by David Kirby that I just got out of the library (and that I absolutely adore) and started reading and all of a sudden he looked over and asked "What are you reading?" And of course, I got ridiculously flustered and just showed him the cover and said "uhhhh David Kirby." And he was like "Ok," and I just prayed to whatever higher power may or may not exist that he would keep talking to me. But to my disappointment he just turned back to his notebook and went on writing. But it was Love. Love, I tell you!

Anyways, every once in a while when I'm reading poetry I find a line or stanza that I just love so much and just seems so prophetic I have to share it. Today it was this stanza from the poem The House on Boulevard Street by David Kirby:

I was also reading the great Marina Tsvetaeva
who wrote there was no approach to art,
that it was instead a kind of seizing,
and I thought, why shouldn't life imitate books?
Why shouldn't I reach out
and take what had already taken me?

And when I read that I thought, you know he's so, so right. Why, for once in my life can things not work out like they do in novels? I mean I realize that novels are escapist and idealized and well, fictional, but they must have some basis in fact to have been thought of at all, no?

So I kind of figured that I should throw my pride and caution to the wind for a little bit and see what happens. I need to stop being so afraid of being hurt. Because I've been hurt many, many times before but I'm still here and kickin and somehow still pretty optimistic a lot of the time. So I'm taking a chance. Let's hope it works.

Monday, September 15, 2008

On Sex Diaries, Hot Messes, and Tasti D-lite

"12:37 a.m.: Get a text from work crush!! "Are you out tonight." Hmph. What is it with guys under the age of 25 and their vague booty-call text messages? If you're really interested, call me a day in advance when I’m not trashed in a pencil skirt and French-cuff shirt." (

Um... has a truer statement ever been written?  It's just another reason why I wait eagerly and impatiently between each episode (or whatever you call them) of Daily Intel's Sex Diaries.  They make me realize that I am definitely not alone in feeling as frustrated with my love life (or current lack thereof) as I do.  And they're damn funny.  After each one I want to go write one myself, until I remember oh hey, if I'm going to write something for a column called Sex Diaries, I should probably, oh I don't know, be having sex.

So, in other news, I adored my outfit today.  It was a white with yellow striped shirt tucked into the super tight pencil skirt that makes me feel like Joan Holloway from Mad Men with my long multi-colored pearls.  It was great, until I got to work and looked in the mirror and thought OH SHIT YOU CAN SEE EVERY DETAIL OF MY BRA.  White with black polka dots, black lace edging, even the seams.  Usually that doesn't bother me.  I've been known to wear see-through shirts without a camisole underneath on more than a few occasions.  But never, ever, EVER to work.  Then somehow in the time between sitting at my intern-cubbyhole on the computer and running down to DROM on Ave A to pick up James Galway's sheet music (Flight of the Bumblebee.  Come on, I realize it's for an encore, but can we be less original?) the seam at the back of my skirt split.  Like, it wasn't anything indecent really.  It was the seam right on top of the zipper where the fabric meets.  And the skirt is lined, so there was no ass/underwear peak-age.  But still.  Combined with my obvious black and white polka dotted bra, I was such a hot mess.

Later on, when I was on the way back from tasti d-lite (yes, I sometimes do go out with the express purpose of going to tasti d-lite.  Especially now that Maddy got me a gift certificate, even if it is for the tasti up by union square, which is like, 20 blocks away.  I just think of myself as a intrepid explorer, fighting my way through hordes of tourists like Lewis and Clark fought their way through grizzly bears and mountain lions.  Except my reward is not the sight of the Pacific but a cup full of green-tea flavored, chemical laden pseudo-dairy product.) a man stopped me on the road:
Man: Miss!  Miss!
Me (stopping, because I had just given another man directions to Joe's Pub and I figured he needed directions too): Yes?
Man:  You are very beautiful.
Me:  Ummmmm....thanks.
Man:  What's your name?
Me:  Uhhh...not giving it to you.
Man:  Ohhhhh you're scared of black men, aren't you.
To which I proceeded to walk away.
Like, come on.  

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Upon which I ruminate on birthdays, Sarah Palin, and Italians

So it's incredible how fast my weeks go now that I have no free time to speak of.  I wake up, go to the gym, go to class, go to work, come back, do homework (which I have had almost none of so far), sometimes do yoga, then fall into bed dead tired.  And the weirdest thing is, I'm actually enjoying this.  I like having a busy schedule.  I like to feel productive, and staying busy is one way to distract myself from the lack other things (romance?  money to go shopping? ) in my life.  But anyways, I like my internship a lot.  My classes are easy if not terribly interesting, my music TA is the coolest person on the planet (he plays accordian!  Has a fro!  Is 6'5'' and probably weighs 120 pounds!), and my soc theory professor is an Elderly British Gentleman who taught at Oxford and who is thoroughly puzzled as to how anyone could take Sarah Palin seriously.

But Jesus fucking Christ, the more I learn about Sarah Palin the more I fear for the future of this nation.  She doesn't believe in abortion, even in cases of rape or incest.  She doesn't believe in global warming.  She thinks that attacking Russia would be a good idea if they don't stop fucking with Georgia.  She likes guns and shooting endangered species.  And she likes the Jesus a little too much for comfort.  Basically, she embodies everything I think is wrong with the American people. 

In other news, my birthday came and went.  I wasn't really into my birthday this year, as shown by my conversation with Sonia monday night:

Sonia: Tomorrow's your birthday! What are you going to do???
Me: Ummm....go to yoga?

So needless to say, I wasn't really feeling it.  I actually think I might have outgrown birthdays a bit.  But I did get lots of nice birthday wishes and calls and tasti d-lite gift certificates, for which I thank everyone.  I think I'll try to celebrate this weekend or the next, whenever Sonia can find a halfway convincing fake id.

The Festival of San Generro started today.  So far I have avoided it like bubonic plague infested bodies rotting in the canals of Venice.  I was all excited last year to be living next to Little Italy just for the San Generro festival.  Now I just fucking hate it.  It's loud.  There are drunk people everywhere.  It smells like sausage and peppers all the fucking time, which just makes me hungry, until after a while it starts to turn my stomach.  It's basically like the Week of Hell.  And in a way, it just enhances stereotypes of Italians as these gluttinous mafiosa types.  Not all Italian Americans are the Sopranos.  

That's one of my biggest pet peeves, which I was totes planning on elaborating on tonight.  But I'm just too tired.  So I'll save that rant for another time.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

This is My Year?

I'm falling into it again.  That cynical, bitter old-maid feeling that inevitably seems to develop when I come back to New York in the fall and walk around seeing all the skinny model-couples holding hands in Nolita talking about jetting off the to Hamptons for the weekend and looking happy and in love and glorious.  And then I come back to my room and stare out the window at all the young-professional couples who seem to live at Bar Martignetti and wonder why, in a city of 8,250,567 people (according to the most recent US census, which does not count illegal residents if they can't be found, so probably even more) is it so damn hard to find a boyfriend?  Somewhere in this huge sprawling city there has to be a man who would consider dating me, and who would be able to deal with the fact that I'm ambitious and hard working and even that I'm a little emotionally inaccessible a lot of the time.  Maybe my exasperation is slightly premature.  It is only the second week here, after all.  But my classes are already a wasteland, and everyone at work is either gay or married.  Yay.  

Whatever.  I will not let myself start out this year feeling defeated and unattractive.  Sketchy men on the street think I have Great Legs!  It's a start.

Anyways, enough.  Last night Sonia and Maddy and I finished off two bottles of wine and had a girly gossip/spill-your-guts fest (does anyone else hate that phrase as much as I do?  It's just so vivid.  And kind of gross.  Like if you opened your mouth to say something and your stomach lining and intestines spilled out instead of words.  Actually, that's kind of what's been happening to me lately, in a figurative sense.  I've almost completely lost my filter and have put my foot in my mouth more than a few times lately) and then woke up late this morning and got brunch at the Waverly diner, where Maddy and I waxed rhapsodical about diner coffee and Sonia drank tea out of this glass mug that I immediately wanted to steal.  It's really one of the most comforting places in the world.  Then we walked around enjoying the beautiful weather and street fair on University Place and spending an obscene amount of money on text books we went home cleaned and re-arranged, and I spent a few hours trying (unsuccessfully) to understand Comte while trying to stave off a post-wine headache and the feeling that someone punched me in the kidneys.  I don't know that that is attributable to the wine.  Or even if it's my kidneys.  But still.  It hurts!

Maddy just told me I'm a tortured genius, listening to Schoenberg and blogging away.  Oh, if only.  I'm just a little college girl who needs to be self-indulgent and pitying every once in a while before I can snap out of it.  Which I have now done.  Sorry for dragging you through the mire with me.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fuck Sarah Palin

I was going to write a whole diatribe explaining why Sarah Palin makes me physically ill, but then I started to feel physically ill.  Sufficeth to say that if I was ever tempted to call someone the C-word, it would be her.

(Let it be known that I was going to use an unflattering picture of her.  I found quite a few.  But then I decided no, I'm better than that.  I don't take low, vicious jabs at people who I don't know.  Unlike Sarah Palin, as it were, who believes that community organizers have no purpose and that poor people can just go suck it, or that women [except her daughter, of course] shouldn't have any right to choose whether or not to have a child.  But ugh, I feel the gag reflex kicking in.  Must stop writing about Sarah Palin before I cry or vomit or both.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cure-All for Low Self-Esteem or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Catcall

I've been collecting catcalls again.  This inevitably happens when I'm feeling down on myself for one reason or another and need a general, albeit sort of sleazy emotional pick-me-up.  But today I was wearing my high waisted shorts with a white blouse and a blue scarf around my head (I looked quite the 50s housewife, but really, when don't I?), took off my ipod, and went to the Greenmarket for vegetables.  And lo and behold, I got two "beautifuls" within the first 20 minutes, and the piece de resistance, a "Great Legs!"  The trick to really appreciate being catcalled is to totally ignore the person who made the comment to begin with.  Never look at their face, because they are inevitably gross and sleazy.  Rarely does an attractive, well dressed man catcall.  But rest assured believing that if the creepers say it, then the attractive, well dressed men think it.  I suppose you can judge by Looks, but I never make eye contact with anyone on the street, so that doesn't work for me.

Now, this might be the most anti-feministic thing you will ever hear me say, but every once in a while I need this.  I'm very used to being liked and respected because I'm intelligent, and I'm very happy about that.  But honestly, very rarely does a member of the opposite sex tell me I'm attractive.  So every once in a while it is nice to have outside assurance, from someone who isn't my mom.

90210 = Worst Show Since One Tree Hill

Not to insult all you lovely people out there who still watch One Tree Hill.  I'm sure it's just for nostalgia for six years ago when it started, or because you still have a creepy crush on Chad Michael Murray, or because you like innocent tales of fratricide, stalkers, and marriage at 16 (she wasn't even pregnant!).  But honestly, in my humble opinion One Tree Hill just fucking sucks, and so, sadly, does 90210.

I was really looking forward to 90210.  I wanted (at best) for a version of Gossip Girl for the West Coast Set, where I could really care about the characters, or at least hate them enough to keep watching.  A show where (usually uncomfortable) societal truths are raised in witty and infinitely quotable banter by characters wearing dresses that my entire savings account couldn't buy.  Or at least a complete guilty pleasure that I could watch after class and work with a glass of wine (or a bottle) for a good soporific effect.

90210 was not that show.  In fact, the only reason I watched the first (two hour!) episode in horror was because as bad as it started, it just. kept. getting. worse.  Why?  Well:
1. Every Single Female Character Was Underweight
 I realize that 90210 is not trying to create a set of role models for today's middle school-aged girls.  If they were, they would not have their 15 year old characters doing pills, or stealing, or any of the other stuff that makes for Good Teen Drama.  But seriously, did the producers go out of their way to find underweight actresses?  Like, did they put on the description "No one with a BMI over 15 need apply?"  I remember back to my 10th Grade Experience, and I don't think I knew more than five or six girls who were as skinny as the actresses on 90210 (one of whom I know for a fact was anorexic).  But most of my class mates were feeling the effects of puberty.  What bothers me most about the 90210 actresses is that young middle school and younger girls will see them, think "I guess that's what high school girls ought to look like," and end up with the sort of unhealthy and unrealistic body image image problems that I, and so many women my age, have to grapple with to this day.
2. They Weren't Even Well Dressed
The actresses who looked like Holocaust Survivors weren't even well dressed!  Seriously, they looked like they entered Charlotte Russe blindfolded and somehow ended up with the tackiest items that they then proceeded to put on all at once.  Part of the fun of Gossip Girl is being like OMGZ I SAW THAT DRESS IN THE PRADA STORE WINDOW WHEN I WAS WALKING ON BROADWAY YESTERDAY.  90210 should learn from that.
3. Cyber-Bullying is Bad.  But No One Could be Insulted by the Cyber-Bullying on that Show.
For real. Even back in high school, if someone made a badly animated video of me dancing with a cow and put it on the internets, I would have looked at them in disgust and thought, that's the best that you can do? I can hurt myself better than that.
4. Beverly Hills 15 Year Olds do NOT Listen to Tilly and the Wall
Now, I adore Tilly and the Wall. They have graced my ipod for several years running now, and I think their new album is terrific. But no one would have them play their Sweet Sixteen. If you're that rich, you're getting Chris Brown, or Rihanna, or whatever emo pop-punk band kids are listening to these days.

These points, plus the terrible dialogue and acting, mean that this show was a complete failure that I will
not be watching again.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Goodbye Summer

So my pre-classes/internship New York City comes to an end tonight.  I'm actually really happy that I decided to move in early.  I always doubt whether I really want to move in early, whether I'll be ok without a schedule and set things to do.  But I ended up really enjoying my week here.  I did a lot of things alone, which is always ok with me.  Here's the rundown:
- wandered around Soho and got sushi with Sarah
- went to Ikea with Sonia, and while I came to the conclusion the Swedish Utilitarianism isn't really my thing (I prefer Anthropologie Frivolity), the ferry ride back to Wall Street made it worth the trip.  I'll leave the Grand Canyon and the Badlands for other people.  There's nothing more beautiful than the New York skyline at night in the world.
- Saw the Waterfalls at night
- Wandered around the Greenmarket pretending to be Alice Waters and "letting the produce speak to me."  Unfortunately, everything at the Greenmarket Speaks To Me.  So I ended up with way more vegetables than one girl can realistically eat and ended up throwing some of them out.
- Went up to the MET on a Monday only to remember that most museums are actually closed on Mondays, revised my plans and wandered around the UES until I remembered exactly why I don't like it.  Grown men really shouldn't wear yellow pants with pink polos and purple sweaters.  It's hot on Chuck Bass though.
- Had a cute Vassar guy ask for my number on the train.
- Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, and learned that it's not really all it's cracked up to be.  Conclusion: Ikea Ferry > Brooklyn Bridge on a Fun-ness scale, mostly because there are no irate cyclists who scream at you (aka me) for stepping into the bike lane on the Ikea Ferry.
- Went to Brighton Beach, laid out with Maddy and Sonia until we decided that, as we forgot sunscreen, no tan is worth the inconvenience of sun poisoning and subsequent skin cancer.  
- Walked the boardwalk to Coney Island, which is becoming a Labor Day tradition.

So all in all, a good week.  Certain things bothered me quite a bit, but I've already decided to Chill The Fuck Out and Get The Fuck Over It (GTFOI? Not as good an acronym as CTFO).  Because it's certainly not my fault.  But classes and my internship start tomorrow, so it shouldn't be hard.