Sunday, October 30, 2011

Reboot: The Geoff and Brianna Story

Six years ago I went on a very bad first date. Or rather, I stood outside of a bar for 30 minutes before deciding that the date I thought I was going on was not happening. I had been stood up.

Luckily this is exactly the sort of thing romantic comedies are made of.

2007!

After a few weeks of exchanging witty messages over an online dating site, Geoff and I had finally decided to see if our real world selves were anywhere as compatible as our online personas. The afternoon of our date my mystery man (That’s Geoff) had emailed to say that due to troubles at the office he’d be about 15 minutes late to our 7pm meeting. “No problem,” I said. So when I arrived at the prescribed drinking hole at 10 to 7 (ever the early bird) I had no reason to expect to be anything but alone at the bar. I quickly glanced inside and didn’t spot anyone matching the pictures I’d seen of Geoff so I decided to wait on the curb. At the time I told myself that this was because a classy lady such as myself would not sit by herself in a bar but really I just hated the awkwardness of being alone in a place where people are usually together. I waited and waited and waited until 7:30, until 7:45 and then I called a friend to bemoan the pain of being stood up.

If someone had told me on that day that the stander upper guy would go on to become my husband I would have believed them -- I was a big believer that “the one” could be ANYONE. Even some jerk who didn’t see fit to actually show up for our first date. I was the type of annoying romantic comedy ingenue who underneath her cynical exterior was just so ready to believe in love! If only the right guy would show up and buff out her hard exterior! If only she would stop making off color jokes long enough to put on a little eye make up! If only she could let her inner lovey-dovey girly-girl SHINE!!!!!!

Geoff would tell this story differently. He was so excited about our date that he thought “screw work” and left in time to arrive at the bar early. He sat at the bar nursing a drink alone. He thought he had been stood up. (He thinks my waiting outside is the stupidest thing he’s ever heard). But even if he is totally wrong about how date #1 didn’t go down he still deserve credit for being brave and calling me up to find out what happened and arrange a replacement date. He is the type of romantic comedy romeo who might seem a little clueless on the outside but in the end comes through as the nice guy that the audience wants me to fall in love with as soon as possible.

I’d like to say that after we finally got around to a Hollywood perfect first date  (a stroll in Central Park followed by dinner followed by chaste handholding (classy lady, remember?)) we rode off into the sunset together -- but what kind of romantic comedy would that be? Before the happy ending someone has to spill their drink on the other person, someone else has to overhear part of a phone conversation and take it the wrong way, someone’s ex has to show up and say ridiculously inappropriate things, both people have to yell and shed buckets of tears and probably get drunk in some horrible dance club with friends who encourage them to let random strangers grind their private parts against theirs (Thanks guys!). Geoff and I would do it all.

We would fumble around in the relationship that is now known as “1.0” for almost a year before months of refusal by each of us to let down our guard and actually talk about feelings (eww.) resulted in the break up. I did what any recently dumped romantic comedy star would do -- I cried a lot, went to therapy and I made “dating other guys” my full time, get over him, job. Clearly that was a huge failure because here we are in our 2.0 relationship headed to the 3.0 of wedded bliss.

Breaking up was the best thing we ever did. It gave us both the opportunity to look around at the other goods on offer in New York City and decide there is no way we could do better than each other. It made us admit that our relationship was worth being vulnerable and embarrassed. It made us fight for our future.

I’ve really struggled with writing this essay. I want The Story of Geoff and Brianna to be so many things. I want it to be sweet and romantic -- I want everyone who reads this to feel how much my love overwhelms me with joy. I want it to be witty and funny -- perhaps the best thing about our relationship is its silliness. I want it to be smart and snappy. I want all of you to like us.

Despite the huge smile that I’m predictably wearing at the end of this movie I am still cynical enough to be just a little embarrassed about writing the next sentence. Most mornings I wake up and can’t believe how happy I am, how lucky I am to be sharing my life with someone this great. I follow that up with a brief internal freak-out about the possibility of Geoff dying in his sleep and then I fill my cereal bowl with raisin bran and get on with the day. Somehow he keeps waking up alive. I am blessed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Disneyland Top 10

This past weekend in honor of my niece, Dalanie's, 6th birthday we went to Disneyland. As loath as I am to sound like one of those crazy adult Disney fans.... it was awesome. Here are my top 10 
Disneyland moments.


10.  Dalanie quietly asking “Is this real?” while sailing past the giant boa constrictor on the Jungle Cruise. (And the whole family nodding yes).


9.  Zayden watching a video of himself on Autotopia and exclaiming “Bubba driving!!!!” (yes, my nephew refers to himself as Bubba....) .

8. Dalanie spending half of Fantasmic sticking her tongue out at the evil queen from Snow White.

7. Zayden yelling “Hi Buzz!” at top volume whenever a Buzz Lightyear picture, robot or character should appear in the park.



6. Dalanie screaming at me to put my hands in the air before the Big Thunder Mountain railroad has even started up the first hill.


5. Kurt helping Zayden moon his mom from the window of our cart on the California Adventure ferris wheel. (and Dalanie jumping up pants half down for a the follow-up moon).  (Appreciation for the hilariousness of bare butts is my brother's main gift to his children).


4. Zayden posing for a picture with Goofy and at the last minute sticking up his little thumb to copy Goofy (who clearly is a cool dude who makes awesome posing choices).

3. Dalanie asking me which princess was my favorite, which princess dress was my favorite, which princess tiara was my favorite and which princess boobs were my favorite..... (“I don’t really think about that much but they all seem nice.”).


2. Geoff trying in vain to maneuver Dalanie onto his shoulders to view Fantasmic and crying out in frustration, “I don’t know how to do this! I’m not a dad!”

1. Dalanie exclaiming at the end of Fantasmic when the paddle boat emerges carrying pretty much every princess, “This is the best day of my life!!!!!”

Friday, July 29, 2011

GTYT

My brother and his wife have a kick-ass parenting trick that I’ve long admired. Their kids are young and like most young kids they have a tendency towards temper tantrums, pouting and overreacting (luckily they have an equal tendency towards adorableness so we forgive them). When their first child was two years old they started greeting skinned knees and playground spats with one phrase, “Man, good thing you’re tough.” I was amazed over and over again at how often this statement was met with a whimpered “yeah” and a quick return to the swings. “Good thing you’re tough” is tantrum kryptonite.

I recently had a revelation -- “Good Thing You’re Tough” (GTYT) is not just brilliant parenting -- it’s brilliant life-ing. Shit be hard, yo! And, sadly, that isn’t going to change. Life is full of mean girls and ice cream scoops that slide off of your cone and onto the floor. GTYT! Cause if you weren’t tough there’d be afternoons of moping on the couch where there could be another ride on the merry-go-round. If you weren’t tough whole weeks could pass in a blur of pouting -- whole lifetimes could be wasted. But not yours! Cause you’re tough!

I often mid-pout remind myself that my life ain’t so bad and that I should buck up and move on rather than embarrass myself with a pity party. This usually works -- a few thoughts of folks stuck in a war zone or facing famine and I’m chagrined enough to wipe away the tears over expensive wedding venues or the breaking of a favorite glass. But GTYT is a vast improvement on “Shut Up, Cry Baby." GTYT says, “Hey this IS hard! no need for embarrassment!” GTYT says, “You’re awesome and you can handle this!” GTYT implies, “Other bitches would be hyperventilating with sobs by now, but you’re better than that!”

Reader -- you’re tough too. And if you’re not feeling tough there is no better way to toughen up then to keep telling yourself GTYT. My brother’s oldest is almost 6 and in the past couple of years I’ve caught her a comforting herself with a little GTYT after which she moves on all alone, no parental GTYT-ing needed because the toughness is internalized, its something she knows about herself. Its something we’d all do well to learn.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Cost Per Pound

Lately I’ve been trying to lose the 10lbs that I’ve been trying to lose (sort of....) for 3 years. This time I’m seriously trying to lose them. I just ate 2 carrots and pretended that they were delicious. While watching The Wire I considered the calorie content of crack cocaine. I am on my own personal running tour of Prospect Park. My dieting mojo is back! I’m even joking about writing a diet book, selling it to a publisher and getting rich. To that end I’ve decided to write up a few of my unique diet tips! If you’re looking to lose a few pounds and you have a lot of internalized guilt about actually doing the things you tell yourself that you’re going to do please feel free to take my advice. If you’re a book publisher with an advance check signed and ready to go please, call me. If you’re a skinny girl with no need for diet tips, have a red velvet cupcake for lunch in honor of all of us who must eat spinach salad.

How much would you pay to lose weight? Think about this number in as many ways as possible. How much per month? How much per day? How much per pound? It probably won’t cost that much (“Listen here little lady, I can get you a good deal on some weight loss!”)... but it will cost something.

I just bought an $11 salad on my way to the office. $11 for a salad is borderline ridiculous (Thank you Dean and Deluca). I could have put together the same collection of greens and goat cheese and tomatoes for under $5. But I didn’t. Instead, I dragged myself home from a business meeting last night and collapsed into bed with my migraine and a cold compress. I got up earlier than I’d like (but later than almost every other working schlub I know so I’ll shut up about my 7:30am alarm) and headed off to another business meeting over breakfast where I certainly could have mentally justified bacon and eggs but somehow managed to order the oatmeal.

That $11 salad is the cost of my diet today. I could have had a $3 hamburger or a $7 pint of udon. But I am not paying $11 for mesclun and vinaigrette but for the knowledge that its sitting in my work refrigerator and that it probably only has 300-400 calories which is certainly all I can afford on a day with no time for a run. $11 is a steal.

This same philosophy applies to snacks.

At 3pm everyday I want a treat. Usually, I have done very little to deserve a treat. Usually, I ate lunch a mere 2 hours ago. Usually, I am sitting at my desk opening and closing the top drawer in hopes that the chocolate fairy paid me a visit over night. Thankfully he has not. I long ago learned that 3pm discussions between my mind and my belly, (“You’re not even hungry! Shut up!” “FEEEEEEEED ME! ME WANT COOKIES.”) are wholly nonproductive and that 3pm treats are a necessity -- some food stuff must pass my lips and this food stuff better feel special.

Normally, I refuse to pay $3 for 10 ounces of coconut water. Normally, I only allow myself one Starbucks visit a week. Normally, I try to conquer 3pm with a piece of fruit brought from home. But The Dieting 3pm won’t stand for this cheap-ass regimented shit. The Dieting 3pm has barely recovered from giving up the top slice of bread on her tuna fish sandwich. She’s already planning on ordering vodka and soda water at tonight’s happy hour even though the weather is just right for a margarita.

Sometimes my 3pm treat is a walk to the corner store followed by 10mins of reading the ingredients on food labels only to settle on a yogurt that I could have just brought from home. Sometimes its a whole container of raspberries even though they cost $6. Sometimes its 2 chocolate truffles from the little shop that looks like it fell right out of France (which would at least sort of explain how they justify $3 per chocolate). All of the choices would normally have me rolling my eyes over the cost but not today

In my effort to lose weight something has to give. Because I am a lucky, lucky person who, thank god, has enough extra money lying around to make the choice to spend cash in exchange for losing weight I do just that. I let myself spend in exchange for not letting myself eat. Usually it works.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Signs That Your Episode of 16 and Pregnant is Not Going Well

( A list of for real things that have actually happened on this actual show)

  • You’re 16. And pregnant.
  • One of the cute-sie comic strips that bracket each commercial break portrays you preggers and smoking.
  • While you’re in labor your baby daddy asks you to scoot over because you are taking up the whole hospital bed.
  • When your doctor asks if you have any questions about the birth or taking care of the baby your only thought is about how to get rid of stretch marks.
  • While you’re in labor your baby daddy gets in a fight with your mom and storms out.
  • Someone gets arrested
  • Your parents are REALLY HAPPY about the way things are going -- having a child who is having a baby at 16 is basically like winning the lottery to them. This is creepy.*
  • Your baby daddy arrives to the birth drunk/hungover
  • During the airing of your episode MTV includes 2 PSAs (the standard “Don’t have babies at 16 you idiot!!!” PSA and a bonus “If your boyfriend punches you in the face you should for sure break up.” PSA)
  • You’re 16 and pregnant. With twins.


* On that note why have I seen only *ONE* episode where the parents of this knocked up 16 year old are totally bummed out about the whole ordeal? I suppose some parents are applying “fake it til you make it” to grandparenthood and that if a baby is coming clearly you should/will love it but.... still.... If my teenager was birthing out some young-ins I think I’d be a just a tiny bit suicidal/homicidal until at least the day when my cute grandchild shows up.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Be the Bitch. The Skinny Bitch.

Lately I’ve been trying to lose the 10lbs that I’ve been trying to lose (sort of....) for 3 years. This time I’m seriously trying to lose them. I downloaded an iPhone app to record my food intake (Lose It!). I have gotten a little OCD about the number of calories in grapes. I have started to feel a little give in the waist of my sexy jeans. My dieting mojo is back! I’m even joking about writing a diet book, selling it to a publisher and getting rich. To that end I’ve decided to write up a few of my unique diet tips! If you’re looking to lose a few pounds and you’re brain is broken in the same way as mine please feel free to take my advice. If you’re a book publisher with an advance check signed and ready to go please, call me. If you’re a skinny girl with no need for diet tips, fuck you.

Be the Bitch. The Skinny Bitch.

I’m normally an advocate for humbleness and benefit of the doubt. A fan of putting myself in someone else’s shoes. An annoying devil’s advocate. But when it comes to dieting I embrace my sanctimonious, self-righteous, inner mean girl. Sometimes it’s the only way to keep cookies from my lips (and subsequently,as the cliche goes, my hips).

Next time you want to gobble up a Big Mac/pint of coffee ice cream/stick of butter look around and find yourself a fat person (I last did this in the Detroit airport where it is shockingly easy). Now, start being a horrible person in your head. Think about how much that person must eat. How much they must weigh. How many pieces of fried chicken it must take to get that big. Think about their lack of will power. Think about the heart attack they will have at 45. Think about how hard it must be to find size 22 jeans in anything other than acid wash (with pleats, natch).

Your nice-girl reflexes may buckle at this torrid stream of meanness but you must punch that nice girl in her chunky stomach, and while she’s on the floor trying to catch her breath, persevere in your quest to (secretly, just in your head) be a total bitch.

Think about how much better you are than old Fatty Flab over there. How many times you take apple slices over cake slices. How many times you forgo butter on your toast. How often you sit hungry at your desk at 3pm wishing and hoping that a Take 5 bar might land in your lap but resisting the walk to the corner store. Your willpower is amazing! On vacation in Europe no one can use the size of your ass to guess your nationality. You are thin. You are powerful. You will have a green salad and a side of a nice broth-based soup for lunch, thank you very much.

There will be plenty of time later to feel guilty. To remind yourself that you are no better than most other people. That life isn’t fair and that some folks have really good reasons for saying,“fuck it” to healthy choices (because sometimes a cookie is the only comfort we have). There will be plenty of time to reform yourself for entertaining selfish thoughts, to remember that this was all an exercise in fiction to meet the goal of being 10lbs lighter. For today, be the bitch.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thoughts On The Infant Invasion

2011 is the year I buy onesies in bulk. The year of diaper cakes. The year I finally get to feel up all of my friends bellies. The year I try not to freak out over the baby invasion upon my shores.

This is not the first time that the infant army has crawled towards me but the procreation waves that crested when I was a young adult never felt threatening. Many of my acquaintances did me the favor of having kids really early so that I in no way had to question my life choices. I was perfectly comfortable with my decision not to have children in my early 20s so that I could focus on the really important things like watching The Gilmore Girls and developing a finely honed appreciation for cheeses. I knew that there was plenty of time for babies. But this new onslaught of birthing hangs like that picture of Uncle Sam pointing menacingly at me promising that I too must now go to war.

Last month I turned 33 cementing the fact that if I ever become a mother it will be at a later age than when my own mother birthed her first child (me). “Mom was 32 when she had me.” was always my internal mantra -- translation: “No need to worry! You’re not old yet! The eggs are fine!!!!” I’m officially past due on my #1 excuse for being fancy free and childless..... now what?

The problem is that when you’re 23 and thinking about having a baby you have no idea what you’re doing. You think babies are cute and obviously you’ll love it and everything will be awesome. At 33 you’re almost too well informed to ever consider actually having a child. Occasionally it will not be cute. You will not always love it. Everything will not be awesome. When you’re a knocked up 16 year old and MTV is at your door with a herd of video cameras everyone knows that this baby is going to ruin you life. When you’re 33 and staring at the cute designer jeans that you’ll never fit into ever again you have to absorb the knowledge that this baby is going to ruin your life all by yourself

The project manager in me is obviously freaking out. After all, I’m late! Worse than that If I don’t have a baby in the next say.... 3 years? NO BABIES FOR ME. What biology doesn’t understand is that I need more time. More time to sleep until 10am. More time to enjoy my (by no means perfect but still totally nice and mostly flat) stomach. And someone else I know? Someone with half the ingredients needed for baby making tucked away somewhere in his corpus? That dude needs a lot more time.

I can’t blame G for putting things off. I know exactly how trying to get pregnant is going to go. That is going to be an awesome time for my baby daddy. “Better get it up and do your job or I will take you off this project!” (ROMANCE!!!!!) Secondly, God is for sure going to fuck with me. He’ll be all “Oh-ho-ho! Look who wants a baby inside her NOW. Why it’s Lil Miss ‘Please God do not let me get pregnant!’ Oh how the tides have turned!” And so then it’ll be at least 3 exhausting months of freaking out and reversing all of those prayers and spiritually eating my words.

It does not help that everyone makes babies sound like demon spawn. In addition to obvious crap that sucks like never sleeping and touching someone else’s poop apparently moms can also look forward to boobs that hurt so much that you cry for hours, weeks of depression caused by hormones up and leaving you without warning and never ever looking hot ever again because your whole body is stretched out and ugly. It’s hard to look at that list and think “sign me up!”

I’ve always taken warnings at face value. “Drugs are bad.” So I didn’t do drugs. “Sex will ruin your life.” So I was a virgin until 24. “Babies are hard.” So here I am. I’m sure all of the parents out there and the entire Christian Right is thrilled to see me lumping children in with drugs and sex but you have to admit that I have a point -- all three seem to offer unconditional love but often they just make you their slave.

So do I want a baby? Too many people never really ask themselves that question. Thanks to biology or society or poetry we just assume that love->marriage->baby in a baby carriage. When love can just as easily point to trips around the world or a shared appreciation for bourbon or leisurely weekend mornings sans a soundtrack of Dora the Explorer. I suppose after these paragraphs of whining it seems like I must want (or at least deserve) to be childless, but truthfully I have always loved children. I don’t get bored talking about the milestones of month 4. I sometimes watch Sesame Street all by myself. I’ve always clicked with kids, always wanted at least one of my own someday. But the idea that “someday” is almost here has me suddenly indecisive. So I weigh the options, consider the risks, hem, haw, but it never feels like I come any closer to confidence. Even the most well researched act of procreation will still require a leap of faith. Can someone give me a push?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It's a Shame About Juliana

On Friday night I boarded a time machine back to 1994 care of Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield live in concert. Back in high school I felt like Hatfield was the only person who understood my pain. Every song she sang about low self esteem and boys who don’t ever like you enough seemed crafted for the kind of sorrow unique to 16 year old girls. Juliana and I were kindred mopers (despite the fact that she was living the dream of a successful music career and I was no where near cool enough to have a boyfriend with a drug problem.).

But that was 17 years ago and today the main draw for Hatfield/Dando was not the music (though I enjoyed rocking out the It’s a Shame About Ray as much as the next 33 year old living in deep denial about the passage of time). The point of the show was nostalgia topped with voyeurism. Dando and Hatfield were probably the power couple of college radio right before radio became completely obsolete. I say probably because back in 1993 we didn’t have gossip blogs so no one really knows the extent of their relationship which is great because instead of boring facts we can all make up salacious stories.

Here’s what we “know”. Dando and Hatfield dated for some portion of the 1990s but it didn’t work out most likely because he was very much in love with drugs. This did not stop Hatfield from pining for him for decades. Eventually Dando (in a drug fueled stupor?) married some supermodel but she apparently has only so much tolerance for crack smoking and last year they divorced. Dando presumably thought to himself, “Whatever loser, that one girl Juliana will always love me. Also it has been about 15 years since I even tried to make any cash and I am totally out of beer money.” Then he called up Hatfield and asked her to go on a tour and obviously she has not bothered to go to any therapy in the last 20 years because she agreed.

I owed it to my Hatfield obsessed former self to pay the totally affordable $15 ticket price for this concert and I owed it to my train wreck fascinated current self to cover the ridiculous ticket fees (which were actually not so bad since the concert venue used reasonable ticketweb not EVIL Ticket Master).

Friday’s show was everything I had hoped and feared. They played all of the awkward autobiographical songs that each wrote about the other and the audience squirmed and raised their eyebrows with glee over sharing the inside joke live and in person. (If you subscribe to my made up history (and I think most fans do) it is possible that every song that Hatfield ever wrote was about Dando. Evan? Duh. Choose Drugs? Obviously. Everybody Love me but You? Cool Rock Boy? Her entire discography is like an all Dando heartbreak-fest.)

Juliana spent the interim between each tune bemoaning how bad her songs were compared to Evan’s which predictably resulted in the audience yelling out We Love Yous. Whether this behavior was all an extremely elaborate contrivance to transport the whole room back to the self hatred of high school is unclear but it was certainly effective. Eventually Hatfield sang Evan (“Evan, I just love you I guess”), stole the set list and walked off stage in a (fake?) huff while Evan himself stuck around for a few more tunes. If they were acting the scene was superb if they weren’t it was insane.

It turns out that I am no longer charmed by prolonged wallowing any more than drug addiction. The tragic flaws that I once found painfully endearing now just seem like false depth. I love the girl I was at 16 but I am so glad not to be her any longer and perhaps I hate my 16 year old self just enough to take it all out on Hatfield. Not being the girl who mopes over guys and feels inferior is a point of pride and if Hatfield hasn’t grown up with me I’m angry at her for wasting the last two decades of her life. Its bad enough to have spent all of your 20s mooning over a boy who literally chooses drugs over you but to extend that into a life long depression brings out my eye rolling. At least Evan can blame the drugs -- what’s her excuse?

Of course maybe it was all an act. Concert as performance art taken to the extreme? BRAVO. Standing in the audience I was transported. I felt uncomfortable and angry and embarrassed in a way I have not since high school. I was judgmental like only a teenager can be. And now I’m exercising my own self obsessed navel grazing by basically journalling the whole experience. Viva 1994.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Visualizing Facebook Relationships



(click through for larger (though still not really large enough) version)

I don't know why I felt compelled to do this but now that it is done I feel a strange peace.