my friend Kate recently wrote a post about her friendships and how she does, or doesn’t, rely on people and what that says about trust and vulnerability. i started to comment, and realized i have my own story to tell.
when i was in my early 20s my life was an unholy mess, most of the time. i relied in my small friend circle for absolutely everything – without them, i would have crumpled right into the ground and never gotten up. i called them, i chatted them, i visited them, i said “help me.” i said it a lot, and they never faltered. they’re almost all gone, now. and those wounds gouged me in huge ways – i’ve written about them before, about a boy in minnesota and a girl who lied and there are other stories that i don’t even know how to tell.
i’ve crawled into a shell since then, since even after then, and it would be easy to say it is because they hurt me. but it’s not just the loss of them that’s formed my habits today. you get more private as you get older, you hold your truths, your secrets, closer to the chest, you narrow down what love and friendship mean. i was once the most raw creature, you could see all of my facts written across everything i said or did. i would lay them bare for you with the slightest provocation. i’m not this, anymore, and it’s not just because i was hurt. the answers are rarely so simple.
i’ve turned over in my mind, a thousand times, the balance between what is normal, what i should be, how i should act, and what is the overprotection of my heart. i don’t know where the bar balances – i don’t know where the middle point is. (i rarely do.)
there was a moment a while back where everything was terrible and the bouncer and i were in a horrific fight and i sat at the computer and stared at my gchat, all of the green and red and orange dots and went through every name and said “there is no one i can talk to. not because they would not listen, but because i will not let myself need them.” it hit me like the proverbial brick wall, and it made everything about the moment worse. i cried harder – the holes are so much more desperate when you’re alone in them.
there’s no neat and tidy answer here. i’m working on it slowly, just like i have been for the past few years. there are crests and valleys, times when friends tell me they miss me and ask me where i’ve gone, times when someone will ask why i’ve been mean and i have to admit it is self defense, times when i feel the glowlight of real connection buzzing right in the middle of my chest. it’s a journey, right?
especially now, at one am on the third night of no work, which is generally the time i fall into the night owl thing again. this is when i burst. this is when i obsessively research, this is when i want to bolt up from bed and do a project. this is when i shut my computer when my eyes start to fall but no, no, it is not time yet, because all of the ideas are churning.
i say ideas but really, i struggle with the idea of being a creative person. i don’t feel like one. you’ll tell me that because of this blog, because of my job, because of the food i make or something that it’s not true but i’ll have a retort for each one. i like creating, but i don’t feel creative. it feels like a lot. it feels like pressure to be special, when i don’t make a habit of thinking i’m all that special.
i’ve thought of and begun to write about this year several times already. i did beautiful, amazing things in 2012 and i’m so intensely grateful for many of them – i am, even if my demeanor doesn’t show it. i’ve also been fighting my own brain for the past six months and it has tainted everything.
i haven’t gone through the processes this year – the end of year ones where we reflect and plan. i haven’t decided if i will. i am scared of them, you know? the year end planning, the choosing of a word, the creation of plans with check ins and such. i’ve become so scared of this, of what failure means, of how i will live up to it when there are days that taking one step outside my door is the best i can do.
there are other things i have to get a handle on before i choose a word for the year, you know?
here’s the thing, you know, there is no answer. there is no magic.
every day there is an infinite series of moments. i say, and i maintain, that you don’t choose happiness because it’s not that simple, but you do fight, when the sadness comes, and it does. it does all the time, with the smallest things. a palm tree. a mention of a casino. a thought of another state, far away from here, where it is cold so much. where you saw ice fishing. a park, a place you were convinced was heaven, or the closest approximation you’d find here, that you never found again. and now, any of the people that would know it besides you, they are gone. they are gone because souls leave. these are the points, the tiny bullets of the day that we ward off.
you are pulled by the tide in every moment but this doesn’t mean that you are a slave to it. there is no fairy dust for a good life. there isn’t even one definition for a good life. there is work, there is effort, there are plans, there is communication, there is love and connection. there are all of these things and you choose, always, what matters to you. you choose where to focus your attention, where to focus the energy we are given to expend, to try to make it better.
everything, i’ve come to think, is about how hard you try.
but there is no answer. if you’re like me and you’re waiting for the moment, the precise, exact nanosecond when it will all just click, stop. stop because this isn’t how it comes together and it’s not going to happen. instead you choose, every morning, every day, every hour, and sometimes even every second where you’re going.
i had a vision of myself in a small room in brooklyn, park slope, cobble hill, fort greene, one of the nice yuppie neighborhoods with lots of cute shops and restaurants. i had a vision of myself alone, on a bed rumpled with a plain white down comforter, and the walls are lit by a lamp covered in a red scarf. and this isn’t my life – i’m sitting in brooklyn, not at all in one of the nice yuppie neighborhoods, in an incredibly large bedroom on a rumpled down comforter with a duvet cover on it, and the man i love is in the other room, and i am writing. we veer, we travel, we will deviate and it is fine.
i never forgot when i visited her at bryn mawr and her room was the last thing from neat and we sat on a rumpled bed and spread tarot cards. she told me something about my life and i realized right then that i was either going to get over it or not and those were my only two choices. it was freeing, and i sobbed. there are only ever two options – it will happen, or it won’t, and what’s really amazing about it is that it’s in your hands. it always is.
there comes an age where you are responsible for yourself. where you really need to stop blaming your parents, your old friends, your exes for wherever you find yourself at a moment. where you need to stop acting like you have no control, and like the universe is conspiring to bring you down. spoiler: its not.
i say all of the time, and people think i am cold, and negative, that you are your only guarantee. and yes, i mean that you are the only person you can 100% rely on. i don’t think this means that there’s no one you can ever trust. i think it does mean that you need to take responsibility for yourself, your actions, and your joy, because you are the only one in the entire world whose job that is expressly.
if there’s a person in your life that’s continually hurting you, cut them off. if there’s an ex whose texts bother you, block their number. if there’s a situation you’re in where you’re not being treated right, extract yourself. if there’s something you want to change, sit down and make a plan to change it. if you think you’ll need help, ask for it. it really all is this simple – and simple doesn’t mean easy.
you are in charge. it is your right and responsibility to take advantage of that fact and fight for yourself. stop playing the victim, and start taking control. there comes a point where i lose respect for people who have no idea how to care for themselves, who are so wrapped up in self made tornados that all they can do is whine.
people tell me this is harsh, and i answer that i’ve seen humans do amazing things when they feel just a little empowered. i was a girl wrapped up in my own storms, convinced i needed to be tragic to be beautiful. Then, i decided t’d rather be happy than beautiful. the storms, they will wear you faster than you can realize what you’ve done.
it’s not a conspiracy. no one has it out for you. stand yourself up and fight. you’re the only one who really can.
(note: i wrote this months ago, and i haven’t been so great at living it lately. i am down and low and in the hole and all the other pretty synonyms we think up to say depressed without saying it. it’s as much a reminder for me as it is for the rest of the world)
i know things have been kind of heavy around here recently. i would like for you all to know that i am not a dark cloud of doom, at least not all of the time. and so i present:
a list of pretty small things that make me very happy.
a new color of nail polish every week. (i mean new from my box, not new from the store)
seasonally appropriate candles burning next to my open bedroom window at night. this month is fig, and cinnamon and clove.
vanilla caramel tea in my scrabble mug. i am beginning to think i could subsist on tea.
a new comforter cover.
going to the greenmarket every saturday.
the fact that my favorite coffee truck that serves my favorite chai in the universe is at the greenmarket every saturday.
baking. this week i made spiced peach muffins and mini loaves, and i cannot wait – CANNOT WAIT – to get into my fall baking. if you decide to make them, i would do about half the cinnamon and add other fun things like nutmeg, ginger, allspice…that’s what i did and i believe it made them much more exciting.
playing world of warcraft with new friends. (THERE ARE PANDAS NOW, GUYS)
i’ve been really quiet, but i have been writing some, so you’ll see why. i haven’t finished up august break, but i do have some additions to it that i’d like to put up tomorrow. i don’t have eloquence or grace for you – i don’t even have a cohesive theme to speak on at the moment.
i’ve been thinking about why we do this. this question rattles around my brain all of the time – i see people in the blogosphere/on twitter/on the evil book of face and my eyes widen and i just want to scream why? there are offenses from the mundane to the truly unjust. there are people who i think are taking advantage of others. there are writings that stop my heart in their beauty, glory, truth. there is such a spectrum.
i trudged back to some of my old spaces today, some that i always kept private. i have cut my veins open and bled on this internet, and now, that makes me uncomfortable. i can’t do it in quite the same way. kim and i talk a lot about blogging, it’s purpose, monetization, goals, voice, readership. somehow, it seems simply not good enough to just want to write things down and have people here you. to want to make some friends, maybe, along the way. but i know for sure that in this space, that’s all i want. you’ll notice i did a sponsored post for the first time this summer, and only because it was a topic i thought i could do justice. the dollar is not greater than my goals.
there are some other things happening. i’ve started playing world of warcraft again. the first time i did this, i was purposefully hiding in my room five nights a week for hours to avoid a roommate turned enemy, so the time suck aspect of it worked out nicely. now, well, i’m probably just shirking more responsibility than i should, and i haven’t cooked a proper dinner in over a week. this happens. there are some really awesome twitter/veda people on WoW, and i’m thrilled to be in their guild and finally have a social aspect to the game.
it’s been a long, hot, sweaty summer and finally, there is just a trace of a chill in the air in the mornings. i’m already envisioning my happy little greenmarket on saturday afternoons, me in boots and scarves, with a hot chai from my favorite coffee truck. it all sounds so twee and precious, i know, and i never quite fit those images even if i wish to, but nevertheless, they do make me happy in the end.
my landlord’s raised the rent and i’m vaguely considering moving. i’m tossing around taking on freelance social media and site building work, and also maybe starting a body acceptance blog. i’m also on an everlasting quest to throw things away, though i wouldn’t call myself a minimalist. i desire too many single function baking gadgets for that, ever. you know, it’s just life. it’s kept spinning.
i don’t know how to write about it, but i wish to while it’s still fresh.
this past week my Stereo came to visit NYC, with Mister in tow.
the last night, i grabbed her hand and dragged her into my bedroom while boys chattered away. i’ve done way more than i am used to in the past week or so and i’m plum worn out. but i had a few more hours.
i flicked on Girls and we hate watched (as i have done for the entire season), and we played games on our phones and tablets and devices, and i bemoaned that i cannot play tiny wings, for i do not have an iphone. we talked of all manner of things. important things and not important things, the things you talk about when you are laying about with your girlfriends. i am not a person for physical touch, i am not good at it, it makes me violently uncomfortable with all but the most special of people. and yet, when she reaches for my hand and holds onto it in a fit of laughter, i am fine. i am happy, and grateful.
my favorite moments. the first hug after i recognized the braids walking through the lobby. sitting around in bryant park without a moment of awkwardness. not one moment, guys. when she recognized my boyfriend waiting in a restaurant before i did. the first bite of wafels and dinges (well, her first bite of wafels and dinges, i have had hundreds, and every single one of them is worth the extra fat on my ass. promise). putting on my just bought eye mask and getting all up in everyone’s faces, because this is a fun thing that loiterers do, and we were loiterers for the moment. trying to get her to smoke a clove. discovering the awesome of the new urban decay naked palettes. our shared confusion at modern art. walking the highline and hearing her proclaim it brilliant. sitting in the empty fountain at washington square. brooklyn brunch. cheap essie nail polish at a street fair. junior’s cheesecake. burgers and onion rings in my backyard, and presenting her with fresh picked blueberries. bursting out of atlantic ave station and proclaiming “hi there, internetfriends“. lazing around fort greene park and a giant monument and understanding that it really isn’t weird at all, this internet friend thing. spending entirely too much money at bath and body works and introducing her to her first target while boys ate wings and drank beer at the bar, while we dropped off our bags when we were done with each store. being told how awesome i am about thirty times. and of course, that girlfriend-y moment up there.
it’s rather impossible to explain. it was amazing and heartwarming and every bit as glorious as i expected it to be. i’ll let some pictures below speak for themselves. absolutely cannot wait for London 2013.
today i’m going to buy a red bikini. well, at the very least a red bikini top with black bottoms, but only because target is out of the red bottoms that i want.
and now i’ll tell you why this is a thing.
i went to vegas last weekend and the amount of fun i had was insane. the freedom, the energy, all of it, i had it all. i am generally insecure about my body, but in the spirit of the weekend, on pool day donned my bathing suit (my ONE bathing suit, carefully selected for minimizing flaws, that remains hidden in the back corner of my bottom drawer so i don’t have to look at it and shudder too often) and hopped out to the pool. after 20 minutes of carefully arranging myself so my stomach didn’t roll up or hang or whatever, i got really bored of paying attention to that and said fuck it. i also, not coincidentally, had a few poolside adult beverages. i stood around, sat, swim, DANCED with abandon all day, and all in a bathing suit which to me means practically naked.
i’d be lying if i said i didn’t notice and envy the bodies of women taller and leaner than i, but really, i put myself in idgaf (that would be “i don’t give a fuck”) mode and got on with my day.
one day this week, many of the pictures from the weekend went up. and i had a moment, or, to be more precise, i had about three hours. i have gone from a size 8/10 to a 6 and now to a 12, and in my mind i’m still an 8/10. i’m not even 5’1″, so these changes, they show. and in these pictures i barely recognized myself. my face, my frame, everything ABOUT me looks different. i don’t know how to dress this person. i don’t know how to exist comfortably as this person. i don’t know how to believe this person is beautiful and worthy (and this reveals a prejudice which gives me deep, deep shame).
and then i remembered how free i was on pool day, and i panicked. my god, who did i think i was, prancing around like i deserved to have fun with everyone else? i must have just been the overly loud, obnoxious fat girl, you know the stereotype, and everyone must have judged me. my face burns now, still. even knowing how wrong all of those things are, how i have a right as much as anyone else to enjoy a pool and the sun and the music, how if people really did judge me based on my body it is them who are unworthy, not i. i know. i KNOW.
i read a book before i left called two whole cakes, by lesley kinzel, who is an amazing writer. she write about fat acceptance and body politics over on xojane and in many other places. the book was excellent – smart, funny, informative, and for me, revolutionary. one of the things she said that i keep repeating to myself is “your body is not a tragedy”. my body is not a tragedy. tears spring to my eyes when i write that because i don’t even know how to really believe it, but how much i want to is so intense.
i got over my moment, after talking to two friends and letting myself have ten minutes to cry. and you know, it’s so far beyond, “i look fat in that picture”. no. it’s, “i don’t know who i am”. it’s “i am not deserving of anything good”. it’s “everyone must think i am awful/lazy/ugly”. it’s “but i eat salad and go to the gym, and what will ever be enough?”. it’s “i want to disappear”. it is guilt and shame wrapped into a ball and stuck together with loathing, and it is so fucking heavy to carry.
i don’t want to make a grand, sweeping declaration that i’m done with it, that i’ve thrown it away forever, because this is a battle i have fought for as long as i can remember. but today, i am setting it down somewhere over there and i am buying a red bikini. because i am worthy of owning things that i like, that i find pretty, that i want to dress myself in. i deserve beauty.
And now, I will introduce you to all of the wondrous things I did hopping around a desert city.
I got in a day early to save money on my flight and went straight from the airport to drinking pear martinis in one of the Flamingo’s bars – Center Cut Steakhouse, get the pear martini – to dancing on a fountain outside with everyone else who had come a day early. It was comforting to have this kind of on-ramp to the weekend, and also to form some early bonds before ALL the socializing started.
The next morning my Wednesday roomies (Jen, Anna, and Lauren) and I hopped over to have breakfast at Bouchon in the Venetian, which is absolutely 100% worth how difficult it is to find. We were lucky enough to snag an outside table, and the food, view, and company were all excellent. There was nutella, and awesome people to share it with, which is pretty much all I need. After breakfast, we went back to the Flamingo to officially check in to our event. During the course of the day there, I may or may not have instigated a discussion on equine pornography that stuck with us all weekend. You can actually blame my boyfriend for it. Also, see what I did there? I used the big words so it doesn’t sound as horrifying. Clever girl, I am. People flitted in and out all day, and it was an awesome spot to chill and get to know people and say hello and such. When check in time rolled around, I got to head up to my room, be blown away by how cool it was, and wait for Alana’s arrival in a few short hours. Did I mention be blown away by the awesome? Because it WAS. Here’s the view:
Later Thursday night, one of the hotel restaurants, Carlos and Charlies, hosted a welcome mixer for us (full of quesadillas and margaritas, two things I approve of in a major way). We played a neat little game where we had to give everyone a business card that belonged to them (thanks for these, 4×6!), so we at least got to meet every person once. After that, and after quickly snagging another pear martini, we popped over to Serendipity 3 across the street for an ice cream bar and little shots of their frozen hot chocolate – delicious, though i was already a little sugared out from the margaritas. The real question of the evening was where the dancing was going to happen, and that ended up being Margaritaville, which I think was attached to our hotel in some fashion but I never quite figured out how. Although I was mildly disappointed that it was apparently 80s night (I can only take so much journey and bon Jovi), the dj snuck some awesome freestyle and early 90s dance (think jock jams) and I was a happy little camper. There was actually a point where we formed a giant circle and random strangers were coming in to dance in OUR circle – this qualifies as one of the many baller moments of the weekend.
The next day was POOL DAY! Guys, the pool. It is huge, serves strong tasty drinks, and has waterfalls and a little grotto. Also, we had reserved daybeds which was super baller (another “i am so goddamn fancy” moment). I spent the whole day swimming, lounging, drinking, dancing (yes, dancing, in a bathing suit, in front of not only our group but also a whole pool full of plastic perfect people. I know, I don’t know myself either. IDGAF!)
After grabbing some dinner, I got to see the Bellagio fountains! The song was “Proud to be an American” which is not exactly my jam nor did I think it made for a great show butttt they were still super impressive. Next activity was Zumanity, which is apparently the erotic Cirque show – well, I mean, NO, not apparently, it IS. Funny story, I did not know the nature of the show until the day before I left. Basically, I was spouting around at work that I was seeing it and then someone who knows it made eyes at me, and I got schooled. I loved it – it was well done, like all cirque shows I’ve seen, super funny, and pretty damn hot. Recommend for sure.
Dancing for that night was at Diablo, which had the slipperiest dance floor I’ve ever experienced and why yes, I did fall right on my ass IN FLIP FLOPS. I was wiped this night, and though the music and crowd were great, alcohol just wasn’t working (lesson: I cannot drink all day and all night. I must pick one), I was ready to drop, and I needed to head back. I think this was the only night I got even close to a full night of sleep. Also, I missed out on pulled pork nacho waffle fry things with Sara and Alana, but never fear, dear reader. One does not hear about those and then NOT experience them.
The next day we split out into smaller groups to do our own thing, so I went with Alberto, Alana, and Jen to ride the roller coaster at NYNY, which was uberfun! I love coasters and haven’t ridden one in forever, and seeing the strip/desert from up that high is crazy cool. We played around in the attached Coney Island Arcade (read: I played fruit ninja in a GIANT SCREEN and we all played each other in some pac-man battle where I ate Alberto twice.) Next up, using a discount to head over to the Minus 5 ice bar at the Monte Carlo. Which is really cool – see what I did there? Ice bar? Cool? Eh? Dinner was another buffet at Planet Hollywood and I thought it was amazing, especially this mushroom ragout that I couldn’t stop shoving in my face. Basically I ate half a plate of mushrooms and the rest was lamb stuffed tomatoes, beef, and hummus -I am 100% ok with all of this.
Then it was time for the Mad Men party, the much-touted highlight of the weekend. I won’t lie, this was my insecure moment. Everyone looked so gorgeous and era appropriate and I felt like a dud. I am pretty bad at dresses and being a traditional girl and playing costume party. I changed my outfit, and tried to pump myself up. This was about to become NOT HARD, because then we bypassed the line for Chateau, got escorted to our banquettes and roped off area, sat down and got served our bottles, and noticed the Eiffel Tower looming over us and the Bellagio fountains across the street – oh, did I mention this was all outside on a beautiful terrace? Right, so, after that I let my insecurities fly off with the wind, and it was all beyond amazing. There were many moments that happened – definitely the “we are so fancy” moment, definitely the “this weekend has been mind blowingly amazing” moment, and also definitely found my new dance partner (HI TREAVOR) because we gel on the dance floor in a way that I have not experienced often.
We reconvened at the hotel for pulled pork nacho waffle fry things (see, I told you, I’d get them eventually), and I chilled out with Grace and Lauren and had girl talk confessional time. I relocated to the outside patio with Treavor, Alberto, Lauren, Brad, Grace – and you know, I want to insert more people, but I can’t remember if they were really there. We just sat around like you do at the end of a night out with your friends, except hi, three days ago I didn’t know ANY OF THESE PEOPLE offline at all. This is a pretty incredible transformation, you know?
I actually had a redeye back home on Sunday night, so I spent most of Sunday with Treavor and Anna – we met up with a large group to go to In’N’Out, and this was my FIRST In’N’Out, and it was mega exciting. I still have the hat and I wear it at work. Also, I don’t even know how I waited so long to do this, but I finally got to talking to Tiff and Nick who make my entire life, and were trying really hard to help me plot missing my flight that night. Nick even CALLED JETBLUE for me to try to work this out. In the end, I wasn’t willing to take a $400 risk on it (sad face). I killed the rest of the afternoon on some couches with Treavor and Anna, having, you know, those conversations that you do when you’ve become insta-friends. We met up with Nicole and Doni for the cheese plate to end all other cheese plates at Otto over in the Venetian – just so you know, everyone, there is ALSO an Otto in New York and I will take you there when you come visit me, for a cheese plate. Incentive!
I sadly made my way to the airport and tried to process being alone with my thoughts after a weekend of such intensity and sparkly joy. I failed a lot at this, because I kept hallucinating that the flight attendant was actually talking about all of us and/or singing dance music, when really she was just giving the safety demonstration. I might have been exhausted. Just a tad.
After writing this, I have another feelings post in the works, but in short, the entire experience was amazing. It exceeded my expectations in nearly every way, and I am signing up to go again next year without thinking twice. Thank you, Nicole, and thank you, EVERYONE. So much.
so it didn’t really SINK IN that i was heading to a hotel to hang out for a weekend with many strangers until i was walking through mccarran on my way to meet anna and kelly to make our way to the hotels. and then i was in a bar with many people drinking pear martinis in my yoga pants. and then i was jumping into a small fountain with fake flamingos to take pictures. what?
(fyi, i just really typed “airports” there instead of “hotels”. i am not un-exhausted).
i don’t have the full thought processes right now to actually type out a post about what we did, and where we stayed and what we ate and etc, etc. i’ll absolutely do that when my brain cells decide to function, because we did really awesome stuff, sponsored by really awesome people and companies, and they deserve the shoutouts. also, those of you who weren’t there are probably way more interested in that than this.
if we had little varsity jackets with tags on them or something, mine would say “the girl who danced everywhere and anywhere at any moment” and i am so totally ok with that, because dancing makes me the very happiest girl. i did so much dancing – i danced on the casino floor, in mine and alana’s bathroom, in the elevators, at actual bars and clubs, by the pool, in the lobby, walking down the street. my legs are actually not working anymore and i’m hobbling around like pegleg, and i’m ok with that too.
i would say i managed to have at least a short conversation with all but 10 people there, which is pretty incredible. and i, as a judgy person, was sort of blown away by the sheer quality of all of the people i got to know. there were people who i knew of previously, but i don’t think knew me – people i didn’t know at all and probably never would have – and people that i had some peripheral awareness of but didn’t follow religiously (BUT I WILL NOW.) how do so many cool people converge on the same place? i don’t know how that magic works but i am INTO it.
i’m notoriously bad at writing about happy shiny things (at least, i think i am), so, i’m entirely unsure what to say about this trip that’s not going to sound trite and overdone. i’m blown away. it absolutely exceeded my hopes, and i am thrilled to have met such incredible people. i want to visit all of you, i want all of you to visit me, i want us all to go again next year. i would rather be sitting around a pool/in a lobby/at a hot club/at a sexy cirque show with all of you than doing most other things i have to do. thank you for being so wonderful, and thank god we have the internet to keep us in touch.