Thursday, April 16, 2009

Scary, scary stuff

Ack. I had a great conversation with a potential blind date. He was warm, witty, funny, charming. I said I'd be happy to come to Tribeca for a glass of wine sometime. He said, Tonight? I said, Sure. But meet me in Dumbo, I'm writing about an event there; jazz, film noir. He said, Can't. Then a deluge of completely inappropriate emails. Calling me dear and honey and then this morning, he wrote: Hope you missed me desperately. Ack.

What's with that? He doesn't even know me. He might hate me if he met me. It's like he was pretending we were already in a relationship. I sent my brother the emails. I can count on him and my friend Marc to give me a balanced opinion from the male point of view. They err on the side of their gender, which I need sometime. My brother wrote: very creepy--- which confirmed my unease. So I blocked anymore emails from him. But I did write him a nice farewell email. Move on, girlfriend.

I promised myself that I would really try. But it's a friggin jungle out there. Why would this nice, successful man pretend that we were in love? That we had a "thing" going on? I'm not his honey or his sweetheart, I'm a stranger! Also his email responses to me were framed as poetry, as in:

I get you
sensual lady
you're my

Let's meet next
for drinks.

Yeow. Scary, scary stuff.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My friend, the junkie with a hunchback

Dude. Wrote a post for Brooklyn Heights Blog. You can read it here:

And the fan mail just keeps rolling in. At first I was leery about writing about a homeless junkie with a hunchback. I thought I might get shit about writing something positive about the man. I like him and he's become a friend of mine. But people are loving it, and I'm loving the loving. Feel me?

It's always gratifying when a post gets that kind of attention. People really like the hyper-local, human interest stories. This is what I have learned. This is one of the things I like to write. This is one of the things I write well. Well, well, well.

Monday, April 13, 2009

On Line Dating Rides Again

I just signed up with, posted my profile yesterday with the heading---
I'm ready to come out of hiding.
The whole set-up is mad complicated, and almost every step of the way, Nerve or its matchmaking platform has its hands out, asking for money. Upgrade to gold status, silver status. If you want to see a full size picture, upgrade! If you want to email him, upgrade! I finally coughed up ten dollars, bought 2,000 points (whatever that means), and today received two messages from genuinely cute guys. That's the upside. Nerve is far more classier than Craig's List, perish the thought. It's a more sophisticated dating pool and honestly the fees weed out the trash, because I could never take out the trash again. Meaning--- those Craig's List dates of yesteryear were nightmares.

I've finally faced the fact--- that online dating is the only way to go in the 21st century. It's ironic that in this culture of high speed communication, meeting a man F2F is almost impossible. I've capitulated to both Face Book and Nerve. I won't do coffee dates, way too boring. I think the best is a cocktail somewhere downtown. If I don't like the dude, I can say, well gotta go--- after a glass of wine. At least I'll be out and about, and can head uptown and hang with my peeps. Mad Crazy. Ha, ha. Seriously though, here's my summer fantasy:

I meet a great man. I get a book contract for Crazy Bitch. We rent a house in the Catskills with Wi Fi and cable for the summer. I write, do research, he grills. Molly gambols about in the woods. It's an easy relationship, sexy and warm. We are friends, but we are also lovers. I thought I'd put it out there, articulate what I want. Laws of attraction baby, can't argue with quantum mechanics, baby.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I Want Prince Charming To Pay My Rent So I Can Stay in Brooklyn

This is DUMBO, down by the river. Home that I love. I never thought I would write those words. When I moved here in 1998 from Manhattan, I hated it. I still have visceral memories of crossing the BK Bridge at night, in a cab, thinking: Where am I going? I belong in Manhattan. Getting off the bridge and exiting onto Henry Street felt like entering a foreign country, another planet. What alien nation did I now call home? Why did everything go dark at ten or eleven at night? Where were the all night drug stores and restaurants, and where in God's name are all the people?

Eleven years later and I cannot imagine living anywhere else. I know everyone. Frankie and Mario and George at the corner deli. Nikki, the junkie, who lives on Atlantic. Deirdre who lives down the lane, "chatty" Mary and her three dogs, Joe and Mary and Tomaz the German Shepherd who live on the corner. Hortense, my next door neighbor, whose husband dropped dead in downtown Manhattan while they were having dinner. My buddies at the parking garage--- who for sure got my back especially when I come home late at night.

When I was younger, I was ready and willing and able and eager to pull up stakes and start over. Now not so much. When I was 7, my family moved to 2616 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I lived there until I was 20. That's 13 years. I've lived in Brooklyn for 11. I'm coming up on a record. I don't want to move. I love my neighbors, I love my gym, I love my delis, my dog run, my bagel shop on Court Street--- I love Smith Street, the Promenade and walking down the hill to DUMBO.

But I cannot afford the rent. Even if my landlord doesn't raise the rent (which is unlikely), I still can't afford to stay. I could ask him to lower it, but that seems unlikely as well. I know this is supposed to be feminist blog, and that maybe I should be writing about feminist issues--- but the main thing on my mind these days is money, the economy.

My landlord isn't charging me market value. He's actually giving me a "deal." I still can't afford it. I sometimes find myself wishing that I would accidentally fall in love with a rich man. I know, I know, this is heresy. I know. How can I write the words? They are antithetical to a feminist. Who fucking cares. I want, I need new sheets, new shoes, new socks. I want to go on vacation. I want to go to nice restaurants. I want to wear Tory Burch! Kenneth Cole! I don't want to be a feminist anymore, not in this economy. I want Prince Charming to pay my rent so I can stay in Brooklyn.

The Aforementioned $475 Designer Shoes Which Laugh At Me Every Time I Look At Them

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

April is the Cruelest Month or How I Taught a 3 Hour Class with Wet Feet and Lied to My Peers About the Value of a $50,000 Masters Degree

Monday, I trudged through the pouring rain and it wasn't a benevolent spring rain, no, it was a mean, winter rain. I had to teach a three hour class at 5:30 pm. My feet were wet the whole time. Got home at 8:30 pm, went to bed by 10:00, done. Awake the next day at 6:00 a.m. Out the door by 6:30, not raining,but cold as shit. T.S. Eliot is right, "April is the cruelest month." Even my customary sugar rush of Red Bull and cheese danish didn't help.

I was f---king cranky. I had 20 papers to grade before a 9:00 a.m., and then an 11:00 a.m. class. I got the work done, walked in classroom, handed them back, took another stack, and said, later for you. I'm like, class is dismissed. All I could think of was, Christ get me home and out of this brassiere and my cowboy boots which are still damp from the day before.

When I got home, I pulled the blinds, closed the drapes, put on my sloppiest clothes, put Molly in my lap and turned on the TV. First I watched Intervention! A young woman, blond and beautiful, was filmed shooting up H. Blood spurted from her arm and she licked it up. I'm serious. Good to the last drop, baby. Her mom was doing the same in the next room except she wasn't copping to it. I liked the fact that were no "talking heads" dispensing pearls of wisdom and erudition. Of course it was shot and edited well, and sometimes that's all you need.

After a couple of hours of this, maybe 3:00, and I had to get ready to participate in a Master Class at my alma mater, NYU. I'd been asked to come in and talk about my novel and the accompanying paper I wrote. It was fun to go back to a happier, more prosperous time. My loans more than paid my rent, plus I was working. Good times. Money in the bank. Anyway. In a lovely classroom, in an expensively remodeled building, I sat at a table with eight students. I told the story of my time-traveling book, The Blue Mountains, and how much I LOVED writing the paper on female archetypes.

One woman asked me if it was worth $50,000. And I lied, and said, yes. Why burst her bubble? That's even crueler than cold rain in April. The work that I did for my Masters--- the books I read, the book I wrote, the research, the papers on Jung, on Duras, on pornography were so much f---ing fun. Everyone should experience that joy, knowledge for the sake of knowledge.

It was a lie because, in this economy, it doesn't seem to count for much. Granted, I might not be seeing the long range benefits. But in the short term, one year after graduation, I cannot find a full-time job with the salary I now require. This is why in dollars and cents, $50,000 is a lot of money for feminist archetypal theory because its not paying my rent or bringing home the bacon.

But like I said, I lied. All the MA candidates sitting at the table were so hopeful. So luminous in the pursuit of their multi-disciplinary artistic, academic careers. One person was creating an educational television project that married traditional classroom pedagogy and entertainment, another was working on a documentary on the Lower 9th, another was producing a play Off-Broadway, another is going to investigate the authenticity of travel to different cultures via the philosophy of Heidegger.

Of course when they graduate, if the economy is still in the shit, they will get jobs as proofreaders, TA's, Adjuncts, waiters, bartenders--- but that's in the future for them. Today they're at the gorgeous library on campus. A place to run away to---- ten levels of books, floor to ceiling windows, silence. I used to sit on the sixth floor, overlooking Washington Square Park, five books in my lap, taking notes, reading. It was like a church, a synagogue, a temple.

Back in the real world, I am oppressed by that debt, I have nightmares about that debt, am concerned it will follow me into my next life--- so when I got home, I watched another two hours of Reality TV. This time the salacious Housewives of New York City. From the ivory tower to the fake world of botox-ed rich women, who got their money the old fashioned way--- by marrying it. Yeah!

Monday, April 6, 2009

$475 Designer Shoes Mock Author

My Taryn Rose designer shoes laugh at me every time I open my closet door. It is a low throaty chuckle, rich and resonant. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. My $475.00 Bernie Madoff moment of last spring. They laugh at me because I was arrogant and impulsive. I didn't charge them. I paid cash. Except--- it wasn't my money! Oh the hilarity, oh the insanity. And what's worse? I can't wear them. That's right. You heard me. I. Can't. Wear. Them.

Friends, they are beautiful. Elegant. Black patent Italian leather. Sexy. I couldn't wait to wear them. I was sure my life would be transformed. I would become this other woman. A woman of means, of intelligence, of beauty, erudition. After all, I had just graduated from NYU, paid for with other people's money. Oh, the irony just doesn't get any better. Still, it was spring, and I was smart, my diploma said so. I deserved these shoes. They loved me, and I loved them.

I had family in town. We traversed Canal Street, bounded up Broadway, meandered on Bleecker-- Marc Jacobs, the Magnolia Bakery, except my f---ing feet were killing me. When we got home, the muscles in my thighs were convulsing, throbbing. I called up friends, family, what can I do? I wrapped my legs in warm compresses, soaked the towels in vinegar and finally ended up in a hot bath at midnight.

So now its a year later and I am wearing a pair of black cowboy boots, an XMAS gift from my father, circa 2003. The heels are run down, the soles are thin, the leather is cracked. This is why the Taryn Rose shoes are laughing at me. The extravagance of last year has come back to mock me and haunt me. I can't wear those shoes. I can't afford another pair. The thought of spending close to five hundred dollars on footwear now seems insane.

Wouldn't you be laughing, too?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

More Notes from the Underground

Just got back from a rambunctious walk with Molly who was the toast of the neighborhood. I bought her a new squeaky toy and she was walking with it in her mouth, walking and squeaking. People's eyes lit up when they saw her. It was such a funny sight, and very cute to boot. I went out last night with MT. We started at a Mexican restaurant on Smith Street, had a couple of Patron margaritas, then off to a new performance space/gallery opening called The Great Ganesh Experience.

Room after room filled with painters, performers, musicians, real chaos. They had good snacks and three dollar glasses of wine. In one room, two naked women stood high on pedestals, painted red and blue and yellow and green. The visual artists were drawing her, the musicians were jamming and improv-ing. After awhile I settled in a room with a woman who was wrapped up in bright scraps of fabric from head to toe, like a mummy. She was taking the same type of fabric and nailing it into the walls of the gallery until she had created a spider web around her.

MT and I took the F train back to Bergen, M continued on to the East Village. I got out and walked. Even with a bit of a hangover this morning, I felt happy again. The sun was shining, the temp was up to 60 degrees. I teach Monday and Tuesday then have a week and a half off for spring break and I have many plans. A new book proposal called Crazy Bitch. Looking at new apartments, and of course, the ever familiar search for a job. More optimism these days, back at the gym finally, and perhaps all will be well.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Notes from the Underground

I haven't been writing in this blog. A deep, dark cloud of depression hit the first week of March. It's the fall out from the economy, the bail out, the unemployment, the rent that I cannot afford. The job I cannot get. The bad anniversary, the Ides of March. Life stuck at a standstill. The couch and reality TV. It's a tough road to navigate because I don't believe in anti-depressants. I think they're fine for other people, but not for me. I choose to rely on exercise, work, meditation, and socialization even when every fibre of my being screams, I want to be alone. Yet, that is the worst thing I can do. It's a battle.

Last week, I'd made plans with my friend Mars. A literary birthday party at a bar on Avenue B. I was desperate to cancel. But I wouldn't allow it. I had canceled on her the week before, and I wasn't going to do it again. I ran into her in a deli by her apartment. She was all like, yeah, let's have a couple of glasses of wine, then we'll head out. I was like, no. I'll have a glass of wine, then I'm going home. I really felt like crying. I really felt like burying my head in a pillow. She asked, what's wrong. I told her. Since it was the equinox, she brought out a container that contained dried sage that she had grown herself. She lit a candle.

She lit the first bunch of sage for her friend's child who is very sick. I lit the second bunch for my tale of woe. We went back and forth like this for quite some time. We honored all the women we knew, her mother, recently deceased, my mother, long deceased, our sisters, our aunts, and our friends. I felt so much better. She said, come on, let's go to the party, it's just a few blocks away. I hesitated, but then she said, I'll buy the drinks. How could I refuse? We had a great time dancing to 80's hits, I had a glass of wine. I felt fine, normal, the black cloud had dissipated, temporarily.

She's a good woman, and a good friend. I'm so grateful to her. I'm also grateful and amazed that rents have come way down. This time last year, you couldn't find a one bedroom for under 1800 a month, not even in Queens. But oh how things have changed. I've read about apartments in Williamsburg, Astoria, Sunset Park and Washington Heights for 1100 or 1200. Much better. My lease here is up in two months. What a relief. I lived here for ten long years and it has been a great home. But it has changed, and life changes, and what can you do but press forward?