Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The keys to my new nest

There are about 15 posts I have knotted into a big ball of words in my brain from the last two insane weeks of my life. And now that I have the KEYS to MY APARTMENT in the West Village (!!!) I surely will have little to no time to untangle them onto this screen. Because I will be packing my life into little boxes, again. And then I fly to Mexico, because that's just what you do in the summer.

But I sure am going to do my best, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Anatomy of a great date.

I had two terrible days. And then I went on a great date, and had such a good time, and that felt so gooooood.

I'm not a great dater. Yet. I am an attractive, single young woman in Manhattan, but I'm also right in the thick of really learning how to be that. Successfully. I'm used to seeing myself as an unattractive, awkward, quiet, undesirable. And it takes some doing to completely recalibrate. Until you get to that point where you don't have the knee-jerk reactions, the oblivious non-flirty responses to flirtation, the automatic eye-diversion. So, as I think I've said, I'm right in the middle of that learning curve, and that is A-OK.

So I've been dating a bit lately. Quite regularly. And I've experienced the unpleasant, the humorous, the awkward, the embarrassing, the mediocre, and occasionally the great. (One guy's idea of a compliment: to tell me how adorable my 'chubby cheeks' are. I graciously chalked that one up to a cultural/language barrier.)

So. Friday. Post-crisis. I take a shower, wash my eyes with contact solution, put on a pretty dress, and head up-town to the Met. I don't go to the Met nearly enough, so it's just a treat to be there on a summer evening. Add to the equation one of the most stunning exhibitions I've ever seen: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. Theatrical, gorgeous, emotional. Whoever created the actual exhibition itself deserves an award, I've never seen anything like it. You should be bummed if you never get to see it, but at least click over to the website and take a look around.

The suitor: I knew immediately that even if we didn't end up being compatible, I was, at the very least, going to have an interesting time.

He moved a little quicker than I would have through the rooms, but it was ok, I knew I'd go back. And the museum was closing in an hour, after all. Someone who wants to go to the Alexander McQueen exhibit on a first date in the first place is already a winner anyway.

Following, after sitting on the front steps for a few minutes chatting, we decided to get out of the Upper East Side and head to my stomping grounds, and a favorite Italian place of his, conveniently around the corner from my apartment. Perfect, Caffe Dante had been on my list of renowned coffee houses in the area I needed to try. He ordered a bunch of scrumptious favorites (tiramisu, tartuffe - yes, we started with dessert- eggplant & zucchini panini, cappuccino with a shot of Baileys, and strawberry gelato with a shot of vodka), and we split them all. Deeelicious.

Good conversation.

He wanted to see a favorite DJ in the East Village at Home Sweet Home, one that would apparently call for dancing. So, since we were right by my apartment, and my dress wasn't an ideal one for dancing, I suggested I pop upstairs to change (this date even called for a costume change...) Good move, because the DJ, Jonathan Toubin, plays '60's soul music, not a bad song in the mix, and that is absolutely my favorite music to bust a move to. We danced, and danced, and danced, and this man knew how to lead, my friends. I had such a blast.

I got home at 2 or 3 in the morning, curled up in bed for a few hours, before I woke up to a full day of work. But I didn't mind a bit.

Again, I don't know how compatible this suitor and I will end up being, it's only been one date, after all, but I had such a good time, after such a shitty couple of days-- it just felt so good to talk, laugh, eat, and dance with such gusto.

And now you all know the recipe to win my heart: art + food + dancing.


S'il vous plait.

I find myself wanting to start every day lately with a (soy) cappuccino and a croissant. And I find myself wanting to conclude every day sharing a glass of wine with a friend. Neither of these habits are in my diet. And maybe I am turning French.

Open up your plans and, damn, you're free.

Oh friends, I had a couple of intensely bad days last week. The wonderful thing about having such dark hours, is that those are the times when you recognize what a lucky girl you are for having a few people in your life who just really love you. It's so easy to allow yourself to stop believing you have these stalwart few, these gracefully indefatigable supports. Can I say, especially when you're single? I don't get that daily, physical reminder that another human being loves me. I genuinely think I am a lovely person, and it's still a surprise, a beautiful little discovery, when I witness someone's selfless care for me.

I can only hope I return it in kind.

For the second time, in less than a year, I have been given notice to vacate my little home. There are a few reasons why this lovely surprise brought me crumbling to my knees on Thursday. It's true, there have been things about my little nest in the Village that have been less than satisfactory. But living in this neighborhood is genuinely one of my favorite things about my life right now. (Wise words from la soeur: 'then more things need to change in your life, Laura.') I felt like that big piece of happiness was being robbed from me. Because you know what? You can't find 2-bedroom apartments in Greenwich Village for the rent I pay.

I also have about 2 1/2 weeks to find a new place. A permanent place, because I am not a college kid anymore and I have a real life, with real things. And that feels like an exceptionally tall order when piled upon my demanding job. In addition to, you know, packing and actually moving and then unpacking. Which in itself is exceptionally tiring. Do you know how short 2 1/2 weeks are?

How many times must I gather my life into boxes and carry them across this City?

I also feel like I am currently trying (struggling) to answer some Big Life Questions. I'm trying to allow myself the time to explore them enough to adequately offer myself an answer, and having the stability of a home threatened while I'm trying to explore those Questions is just... a bit overwhelming. And making a big choice about where I'm going to live, for how long, for how much, on or off a lease, when I have not answered those Questions is also just a bit much. I know I'm being vague. I would so prefer not to be, but you know, this is the world wide web, after all. If we went out for coffee I could really unload on you.

Nothing feels right when your home is in flux. Keep your fingers tightly crossed for me. I am trying to take things moment by moment, day by day, and not fall apart. Again.

And as for those Big Life Questions, change is sometimes exciting, and always scary, but nothing is gained when nothing is risked, and what, my friends, is the point of that? I'd be getting nowhere, and pretty damn slowly at that, and that would certainly not make me happy.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Running on croissants, cappuccinos, and steel-cut oatmeal.

Not my ideal diet, but I guess things like this happen. I just don't make the best choices when I'm tired, just worked out, am therefore impressed with myself, feel like I should reward myself, and then have a coffee date. At least I got to that 11 AM spin class. Since I was still up this morning when the sun was rising at 5 AM, eating baklava on a stoop around the corner, I am surprised I made it to the gym. The memory of that falafel drove me to it.
Speaking of falafel, I was at the world-famous (well, NYC-famous?) falafel house on Macdougal, waiting in line like all the other bar-closers, when a brawl breaks out in this TINY falafel house. Macho idiocy at its finest. The rest of us were just like 'Cut it OUT guy, we just want falafel!'

I love the power of the high heel to instantly provide that little umph of sex-appeal, and of course the whole legs-looking-great trick. You definitely feel different walking down the sidewalk to the click of a heel. But I do not love how I cannot practice my usual speed-walk, I'm really quite impatient. Maybe I'll like them better when I don't live in a walking-city.

Last weekend, Rachel and I spent the most delicious evening, night-strolling around the uber-charming, quiet West Village streets, and ended up at a lovely cafe/wine bar, Doma. We split a bottle of prosecco, and whiled the late hours away with conversation. On the meander back toward 6th Ave, we passed a packed bar, Highlands. It's a modern 'Scottish gastropub' specializing in whiskey and Scottish ales. Now I am not partial to hard liquor, I'm more a fan of the vine, but I did like the vibe to the place. And I couldn't help but notice the high percentage of attractive men in there, and I liked how it is nicely off the beaten path. So I made a mental note, and Rachel and I headed back there last night.

I feel like I am just way behind when it comes to the dating game. For years I was shy/had low self-esteem/was slightly socially awkward. So I am still learning. ALL the time. Oh my but this learning curve just isn't ending. But last night I showed up to this bar, I was wearing a favorite dress, some high heels, had a great wingman, and was feeling confident and happy. And I behaved in a manner I've always thought out of my reach. Rache and I had a great time, met some interesting gentlemen, and didn't even notice the hours ticking by til we were headed back to my neighborhood for the afore-mentioned falafel and noticed birds singing and the sky slowly lightening behind the Empire State Building. Oh summer nights in Manhattan, there's nothing like you!

As much as I love a good sleep, I really just wished I could stay up and head straight into my day. I cut my sleep to 5 hours so I wouldn't waste my much-prized Sunday off in bed. And considering that short sleep, I was fantastically productive on my lazy sunday: gym, shower, coffee/lunch, date, grocery shopping, catching up on emails, blogging, and even a little housecleaning.

And on to another week.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I'm planning on doing a whole lot of this this summer.

Hello, polka-dot bikini. (Today is the first time I've ever worn one.)

I love Long Island ocean. It's rough. I always get scared swimming out. I am usually by myself, because I like to swim a long way out. I test myself by staying out there as long as I can bear it. The lifeguards inevitably whistle me in. The ocean is pretty terrifying-- you have no idea what could be lurking beneath you, creepy (and very real) ocean creatures that you couldn't even begin to imagine (who knows how God, or who/whatever, came up with them), riptides, silent, muffled, death by drowning. It's just so legitimately scary. So I can never stay out there very long by myself, but I also love how I am literally submerged in nature. In this primal force. Every muscle in my body is constantly interacting with it, and I am carried in its heaving and swelling. And then the dichotomy of how it drives you into the beach, while it sucks you back further into its depths again. I love how you have to fight to climb your way out of a Long Island ocean. And how bracingly cold it is! You always spend enough time lolling about on the sand while at the beach, it's refreshing to play with the opposites of laziness and warmth. And getting to flip-flop between both whenever it pleases you.

And what is it about eating outside? Everything is more delicious when tasted in the elements.

And now, the inevitable return to work tomorrow. But I'm sure my next beach visit is just around the corner. Hello, summer! How beautiful you have looked this weekend.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I have a problem: my love for carbonated water is battling my habitual reduce/reuse/recycle mode.

I generally dislike water. I know, it's ridiculous, it's stupid, and it's just my reality. I love it when I'm kickboxing, but kicking it around the house? No thank you. I therefore usually wake up in the morning with a raging thirst. Because I am constantly dehydrated. I don't think it tastes that great, and I kind of resent my need of it. Yes, that's just my stubborn streak making itself known, let's move on.

Many places in Latin America, I was offered soda, (not generally a fan), agua, or agua con gas. It was purely on accident that I ordered agua con gas the first time, because I know as I child I was not a fan of it (I expected it to taste like sugary sweet soda if there were bubbles in it). And after that fateful day, agua con gas was my go-to when I felt I needed a treat. It was just as (in)expensive as a regular bottle of water, but it was a little extra special, and tasted just right on a hot, sticky day in Buenos Aires. I couldn't afford anything fancier, and backpacking is all about the simple pleasures.

Plus, Pellegrino? Please, amigos, what is classier?

I had dinner with a multi-millionairess the other night, and she definitely preferred sparkling water. I rest my case.

The problem with carbonated water? It doesn't come out of my tap. I cannot reuse the same aluminum bottle with every bottle of carbonated water I desire. You guys, if I were God, carbonated water would be gushing forth from our faucets. That's ok, you don't have to live on my planet, I didn't want you anyway.

Your answer is obviously to buy one of those machines from Bed Bath & Beyond with which you can make your own soda/carbonate your own water. If you had seen the postage-stamp size of my NYC apartment and the COMPLETE LACK of kitchen counter space, you would know this is not an option.

My current solution? I treat myself to an extra-large bottle of sparkling water whenever I shop at Trader Joe's, or when I have guests over. The weight of carrying more than that home (with the rest of the produce stand I am lugging), forbids me from overdoing it on the extra plastic. Until I have my dream kitchen with enough counter space for my SodaStream/espresso machine/juicer/Vita-Mix/food processor, this simple pleasure will just have to remain a special treat.