Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy first birthday, dear blog

A year ago today, I posted my first Blackberries to Apples post. At that time I had already bought my one-way ticket to NYC, and I was so so excited for the big move. I knew that I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but after nearly a full year in the city, I now realize that back then I didn't (and couldn't) fully realize just how little of an idea I had. I was a different person a year ago - and though I was younger and more naive, I was also, in a weird way, more sure of myself. Even though I had no job, no place to live, and no idea what the fuck I thought I was doing moving to the craziest city in America with nothing but two suitcases and a dream, I knew myself better than I feel I do now.

My initial concept for this blog was to give advice to other young people dreaming of New York - how to pack for the move, how to find an affordable apartment and roommates, what to do with yourself once in the city, etc. But the blog quickly evolved, naturally I think, to encompass a more broad and personal spectrum of how the move to the city affected me. Over the course of the last year, I lost sight of some of the things I thought I knew about myself, and I learned some new things about myself I never had sight of in the first place.

But one thing I do know for sure is that this blog - and you guys, my readers - have been there with me through the entire process. On one hand it's kind of strange to know that there are a few hundred people I've let in on my personal trials over the past year, and on the other hand, it feels totally natural, reassuring and comforting. I can't even count how many times I've asked myself what currently gives my life the most meaning and the answer has been writing this blog. That might sound stupid, but writing is everything to me; it has been since I was a little girl penning songs about cats who live in San Francisco - my first real memory of writing anything - and novellas about running the mile in elementary school. To know that I can create something, that I can write something that other people enjoy reading, is enough to bring me to tears because it's all I ever really wanted to do in life.

I pondered for a while about how I should wrap up a year of life in one post. I thought briefly about a month-by-month recap, but decided against it because snore who cares. (If you want to find out what I did each month since I started BtoA, you can click through old entries.) I decided instead to honor my first year of blog life with a slideshow of some of my favorite photo memories from posts past, as well as a sort of stream of consciousness list - which I started writing in La Guardia airport last week - that summarizes my first year in New York.

New York means...
- Solo cups on subways
- stupid late nights
- bars that close at 4 in the morning, or don't close at all
- laying in Central Park looking at the sky
- the smile of a stranger
- the help of a stranger
- my landlord yelling at his brother or mother or friend early on a Sunday morning
- snow falling outside my window
- creaky old wooden front doors
- stairs
- stoops
- snow crunching under boots
- seeing the Empire State Building from an unlimited number of vantage points
- building a life puzzle with the grid system, pieces slowly falling together and clicking into place
- watching the city blow by through bus windows
- seeing people less fortunate than me everywhere, and people more fortunate than me everywhere
- the skyline from Brooklyn
- the skyline from Jersey
- eating ice cream out of cups on sidewalks
- free mimosas with brunch
- lox and cream cheese bagels
- no money
- no space
- kissing
- wind blowing in my hair
- the chick-chick-chiiiiiick of cab meters printing receipts
- music in the subways
- a monster in my bed
- dancing 'til it hurts
- gays
- smoking cigarettes outside with strangers
- taking a cab I can't afford
- forgetting what I can't afford
- Lady Gaga
- golden leaves in Central Park
- swimming in Harlem
- writing in coffee shops
- dogs everywhere
- stray cats everywhere
- love lost and gained and lost again
- crouching in the middle of Houston Street
- pizza
- tears on trains
- Mariah Carey
- street fairs
- straws
- picnics
- heartbreak
- growing up
- Harlem
- avoiding manholes in sidewalks
- crowded subway cars
- ghost subway stations
- Grand Central
- crazy people
- whiskey and beer

Writing this now, I'm overwhelmed with the sense that this past year has been extremely bittersweet. Really sweet at times, really bitter at others. It's been hard. But everything I've been through has helped me to grow, and the happy times have made me fall deeper and deeper in love with New York. Thanks for reading everyone. On to year two, with hope.

Hanging around Broadway, and I think I saw your face...
Cars speeding by me, reminding me of us,
Shuffle down to the watering hole,
Getting tired and I want to go home...
I don't know where that is anymore
I don't know where that is anymore
I don't know where that is anymore

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Everything is a gift from the universe

Well, it's Thanksgiving*. I've never written a blog post about Thanksgiving. At this time last year, this blog had not yet been born - though its first birthday is coming up very, very soon! -making this my inaugural happy Thanksgiving post. Bawk bawk, y'all.

Firstly, I should say that this is my first Thanksgiving ever away from my family. (Insert frowny face here.) I decided a couple months ago to visit my BFF C in Chicago instead. My parents were surprisingly receptive to the idea -- they made reservations for themselves and a couple good friends at a fancy restaurant in downtown Birmingham that serves three-course meals on Thanksgiving. I'm kind of jealous, to be honest. I miss my parents, I miss tha Queen B., and I miss the South. But I will be home for Xmas in just under a month for like ten days, so I'm really excited about that.

Life in New York has been such an adjustment for me, and not always an easy one. It's really easy to get caught up in the glamor of being young in New York - going out all the time, sipping on (often free) cocktails, just generally being jaded - and to forget what's really important in life. It seems that the longer I live here, the faster life happens and the less time I have to devote to really important stuff, like thanking the universe for all the amazing things I've been blessed with. So here goes. An open, sincere, unabridged letter to the universe about all the things for which I'm thankful.

1. My family. Although they are far away, which is really hard, I still feel their presence everyday. Were it not for their support, I could never have achieved the things I have, and they are a constant reminder of who I am and where I come from. Life in New York is complicated, and my parents' lives are so simple in comparison - and I don't mean that in a degrading or bad way at all. I mean they just enjoy being where they are, and for them life has always been - at least since I was born - about giving me all the tools I needed to do well in life. So far, they've done an amazing job. In addition, they constantly remind me that I am very loved.

2. My friends. Were it not for my close group of amazing, inspirational, talented, hilarious, brilliant friends in New York, I would have literally gone insane already. They give me a home away from home, a family away from my family. They inspire me to work and create and do amazing things. Along with C in Chicago, they've been there for me through some hard stuff this year, and I am so thankful.

3. My health. My health has been off and on this year, and as of late I've not been feeling too well - but having said that, I am very thankful for my body and all the amazing things it does. Being healthy all the time is kind of a curse, I think, because it's virtually impossible, when healthy, to remember what it feels like not to be healthy. I'm kind of thankful that I've felt sick at times, because when I start to feel better, I appreciate it more. Is that weird? Whatever. I'm thankful for life, period.

4. Love. I experienced my first real heartbreak this year. In less than two months, I went from dating someone I really thought might be the love of my life to hearing him tell me he no longer felt the same way about me. I've lost sleep because of it. There were days that I would go in the bathroom stall at work just so I could cry and get it over with. Other days, I was so depressed that I wasn't sure that I could even go on enjoying life. But in the end, it made me stronger, and all I can honestly say is that I'm thankful I experienced that kind of love at all. It was my first grown-up love, and it was fucking hard at times, but I learned a lot, and at least I know - without a doubt - that I experienced something a lot of people never do. And I have hope that I will experience an even greater love in the future.

5. Hope. I remember hearing someone say once that hope was a meaningless word. They said that because it's not an actionable verb - because saying you "hope" for something is not the expression of any specific action - it's essentially devoid of any real meaning. I am thankful that I don't feel that way. Through everything I've been through this year, heartbreak included, I still cling to my hope for the future. I have high hopes for myself and my career, as well as my personal life. I still have hope that if I believe in them hard enough, and make every effort to live my life humbly and authentically, I will be able to make my dreams real. I have hope that I will find another great love in my life, and that I will one day get married and have brilliant children. I have hope that I will make myself a successful career writer - whether it's writing books or magazine articles or plays or TV shows. I have hope that I continue to be surrounded by great people. For these hopes I am thankful.

6. My blog. I really poured myself into my blog in September, and I've been making a sincere effort to write at least five days a week. I'm so thankful there are actually people out there who want to read my writing, and who give me such positive feedback. Thank you thank you thank you. It's been such an outlet for me - and without it, I honestly don't even know who I would be. It's become such a big part of my life that it's hard to imagine how I could be happy without it.

7. New York. The experiences I have had in New York have helped me grow. I can honestly say that I have matured more in the past 11 months than in my entire life before I moved to the city. In some ways, I'm a completely different person than I was when I moved up here. Some things will never change - you know, like my unending love for Beyoncé and Lady Gaga and terrible rap music - but in other aspects, change is the only constant. Since moving to New York, I've experienced more love, sorrow, confusion, anger, hurt, joy and exhilaration than ever before in my life. For all these emotions, I am thankful, because in every case - even the most painful ones - New York has made me feel more alive than ever before.

So thank you, universe, for giving me a year of dreams, both good and bad. Thank you for the beauty that surrounds me. Thank you for helping me grow. Thank you for keeping me in check with what's really important in life. Thank you for occasionally reminding me of who I am, and helping me to keep sight of it. Now, just help me to live my life with as much outward love in my heart as you've shown to me, and I'll do my part by showing others as much compassion as possible and always trying to stay positive.

Oh - and I can't believe I almost forgot this - thanks for Weezy.

*Recently dubbed Wanksgiving by my friend M; I'm not exactly sure why or what that means, but it sounds street as shit so I'm keeping it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cute things falling asleep

So I've been feeling kind of uninspired recently. Or, rather, I should say that I've been inspired but that most of the stuff I want to write would be too heavy/personal/boring for this blog. I have a Thxgiving post in the works, but for today I just wanted to bring you something that will make you happy. Soooo I Googled "cute blog." And I found this.

That's right, an entire blog dedicated to cute things falling asleep. I scrolled through the first page and here are my two favorites. I like the first one because it reminds me of how I fall asleep after a long night out. The second one is kind of cheating because the dog is technically already asleep and not falling asleep. But, meh, whatevz, there are no rules in the world of cute sleeping things.

I'm going out of town for Thxgiving tonight, so I probs won't be able to post tomorrow. Hope everyone has an amazing holiday! I'm thankful for you all.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wayne for president, holla at ya boyyyyyyy

There's no really good way for me to say this, so I'm just gonna come right out and say it. I'm obsessed with Lil' Wayne. I can't say that I'm even a well-seasoned Weezy fan; I only own one album and one mixtape. I love them both, but the boy has put out like eight albums, which means I'm by no means a Wayne connoisseur. But I recently learned, via Rich at Four Four, that someone followed him around for a while and filmed a documentary that went on to show and (I think) win some awards at Sundance.

I've watched the first 30 minutes of the documentary in 10-minute segments on YouTube. After the first segment, I was already obsessed. If you don't have time to watch the whole 10 minutes, just start at 2:58 and watch it for about a minute and a half. It's this amazing clip of him recording in his hotel room in Amsterdam; apparently he just literally brings a mike and a stand and a computer with him everywhere he goes. He rolls it around in a big duffle bag. Yeah, I know. Anyway the first time I watched this my mouth was literally just hanging open. I felt like I was watching a supernova explode or something. Just raw energy, straight from the source of the universe. Yep, channeled through Weezy.

So, in just the first 30 minutes of this amazing doc, I have learned SO much.

1. If Wayne were elected president, he would "legalize weed first and second" and abolish the pre-nup, cuz "she don't get nothin' period."
2. When he raps about "weed and syrup," he means that literally. Weed, OK, yeah, duh. But I always thought - ugh, I sound like such a white girl - that syrup was some colloquial reference to alcohol. Turns out, no, he literally drinks cough syrup. There's plenty of footage of him mixing it into soda, and he carries a plastic cup around with him at all times, presumably - I have to do it - sippin' on that sizzurp. It would be funny if it weren't so disturbing.
3. Despite his constantly, um, medicated state, he is a brilliant lyricist. I'm cheating with this point because I already knew it to be true, but it bears repeating. Because of the next thing I learned.
4. He never writes anything down. Ever. He just comes up with this stuff in his head, spits it and edits as he goes. Like he might be recording a phrase and if he gets to a part in the middle he doesn't like, he rewinds the track and raps it again. But he says that he doesn't keep anything written down, even in journals, because he doesn't want other people selling it after he dies. (When he talks about this, he references "Kurt," since apparently he's on a first-name basis with Mr. Cobain.)
5. He allegedly doesn't have sex. He says in one interview, and I quote, "Nah, I don't have sex. I don't have time for that shit. I work too much. It's just music, music, music and money for me, literally." Now, clearly this could be a total lie, but I would argue that he's way too high and drunk all the time to lie about stuff. And knowing that he carries a recording studio around with him wherever he goes, his words seem somewhat believable. And it makes me look at his music in a whole new light. As a feminist, I've often grappled - though never seriously - with how I can love and respect women and also love music that so clearly degrades them. I still don't have a solution to that dilemma, but knowing that Wayne may not even have sex makes me listen to his raps in a totally new way. It's an overly sexual presentation by someone who may, after all, be mostly non-sexual. He does have some kids, but if he's being honest, he currently doesn't have time for the activity, just plenty of time to rap about it.
6. He wears one of those watches that announces the time every hour. Like, audibly. "It's. 12. P.M."
7. He often listens to his own music. According to him, he listens to himself "all day long." That may sound sort of gross and self-involved, but I also think it's honest. Lots of artists pore over their own work over and over, examining what they did and perhaps trying to figure out ways to make it better next time around. And I mean, honestly, if you were the best rapper alive, wouldn't you wanna bump your own shit too?

On that point, here are a few of my favorite Weezy lyrics, entirely sans syrup.

Like Eli from New Orleans, I'm a giant in this bitch

I shake you pussies up, I'm a vibrator

You are local news, I'm 60 Minutes

Do it for my team, Tim Tebow nigga

My name ain't Bic, but I keep that flame

Like a F350, tank never empty/ Damn, everybody in the bank act friendly/ Used to think my shit didn't stink, boy was I wrong/ Approving million dollar deals from my iPhone

'Cuz bitch we the bomb like tick, tick

Ha, and after we got done/I said lady what's ya numba?/She said 911 (from Mrs. Officer, a song about a lady cop)

To the left, to the left/If you wanna leave, be my guest, you can step/Feelin' irreplaceable, listenin to Beyoncé/Well okay, I'll put you out on yo b'day

It's no sweat, no sweat/I will never 1, 2, 3, 4 get about you

I got game like E.A.

Shit, get on my level, you can't get on my level/You gon need a space shuttle or a ladder that's forever

I'm all over this ice cream beat like sprinkles

So, maybe he's not a poet laureate, but he shares my love for puns and word play. So, yeah, he's got my vote.

Friday, November 20, 2009

From New York: A random childhood flashback

I was walking around the UES recently when I walked by a gym and was overjoyed to see this happening inside.

That's right, it's a group of little kids standing in a circle, holding on to the edges of a rainbow parachute and moving it up and down. I remember doing this in gym class when I was little, and it always made me so fucking happy. The colors would fly up and down as you watched your friends on the other side of the circle, and it always made the most amazing/deafening flapping, snapping sound. And sometimes - this was the best - you got to bounce balls or some other such object up and down in the middle of the parachute. God, pure happiness.

In so many ways I still feel like that little girl. So, doesn't that mean I'm sort of still entitled to a rainbow parachute? Or at least an equivalent. And I don't just mean creepily watching one through the window of an UES gym. I mean I want to feel the wind on my face and hear the flapping firsthand. Get on that, universe.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cupcakes > Panties > Cupcakes? > Panties?!

I got this e-mail from Victoria's Secret recently. It's good to know that whoever comes up with this shit is so intimately (ha) familiar with lingerie consumers - namely, women. I mean, how did they know that I only buy lacy panties if they are packaged to look like delicious baked goods??? It's just creepy.

Sprinkles not included.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My cab has wings

Late last night after a random and fun night with BFFs J and Z, I decided to splurge and take the rare cab home. After I paid the cabbie, an older Indian man, I got out and shut the door behind me; and as I was walking toward my apartment, I noticed he wasn't driving away. The car wasn't even rolling, which is weird because usually you're barely out the door when the cab speeds away. I thought it was a bit odd, but I figured he was just sorting through his mail or something else pressing that was preventing him from driving. As I scaled the first few steps of my stoop, I turned my head slightly and he was still sitting there. I waved at him, wondering if I had left something in the cab and he was trying to get my attention. He rolled his window down, laughed and said, "No, it's OK! I'm just watching you. I'm guarding you."

A huge smile spread across my face as I realized that I didn't think that was weird at all. I waved again, laughed and thanked him. As I turned the key in my beautiful front door and heard it creak open, just like every other night, I thought, New York is like this. Doors close, others open. And sometimes, unexpectedly, you have someone to guard you as you go through. Even if it's just to make sure you get home safely.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

10 Things I Hate (Love) About New York

My friend M recently asked me a very interesting question: What are the five things you love most about living in New York, and the five things you like least? Having started this blog almost a year ago now, I can say that New York has been more than I ever could have expected, in lots of ways - good and bad. The thing about writing a list of things I dislike about the city is that they all end up seeming really trivial. Yeah, I can name five things I don't really like about life in New York, but ultimately this city is the love of my life - and when you find the love of your life, you put up with all his or her bad qualities because you know you can't live without that person. Here, a comprehensive list of my top ten (negligible) hates and (not remotely all-inclusive) loves.

1. Being far away from my family. This has probably been the hardest part of living in New York. According to this random and possibility inaccurate Geobytes site, I am 865 miles away from my home. Thus far in 2009, I have seen my parents on three occasions: I went home in March and July, and they came to NYC in October. I'm going home again for Christmas for a nice long stay, but I won't see them again until then. So when 2010 rolls around, I will have seen my parents only four times over the past year. This is criminal.

2. The initial daily lifestyle adjustment is difficult.* When I first came to NYC, I was still in a Southern mindset, having never lived anywhere else; I was used to going to school/work, then spending my weeknights either watching TV/movies, going to dinner/drinks with my friends, working out in the gym or whatever. In New York, I spend all my free time doing something, whether it's going out with friends or going to magazine events or writing or going to blogger conferences or watching theater or going to museums. It might sound silly but at first it was a really difficult adjustment. My natural inclination was always to want to go home and watch a movie or just chill out at night, but all my friends were always doing stuff, and of course I wanted to be a part of it. Now I've gotten so used to it that the thought of just going home after work and chilling out literally makes me anxious, which might not necessarily be a good thing.

3. It's hard to do normal everyday stuff that it's easy to do in the South. There are no Wal-Marts. You can't just go out and buy a piece of furniture and throw it in your trunk or the back of your car and bring it home. When I moved to NYC, I had two suitcases full of clothing and bedding, and that was it. I had to find an apartment and then somehow fill it with furniture, and it was a pain in the ass. You might recall my chair follies from earlier this year. However, I will say that the learning to do this stuff in the city has made me a more patient and easygoing person.

4. Being single in NYC can be hard. When I moved to NYC, I was in an LDR, and the strains of making a life for myself in the city while trying to maintain a relationship with someone outside of it eventually tore us apart. While I have spent the past few months mourning the loss of someone I truly cared about, I have also been dating and learning what it means to be on my own as a grown-up in the most populous city in America. There are literally millions of single people in the city, and yet it's surprisingly difficult to meet someone I would actually consider dating. While I am very happy with my life in the city, every now and then I wish I had someone to share it with. Or I at least wish it wasn't so damn hard to meet anyone worthy of the pleasurable privilege of my company.

5. Public transportation. This is both my most and least favorite thing about life in the city. The public transportation in NYC is amazing because it never stops. Unlike cities like DC and Boston, where the subway might close as early as midnight (aside: what the fuck?!), the subways and buses in New York run all night and all day. I live off the 6 train, which is arguably the best train in the city; the longest I've ever waited for a 6 train is probably 30 minutes, and that estimate is really pushing it. But when it rains, or there's a "sick passenger," or they are doing any sort of work on the tracks, it really fucks up my life. I am 100% reliant upon the MTA to get me where I need to go, because aside from the occasional drunken decision to take a cab I can't really afford, I take the bus or the subway everywhere. On the upside: my friends and I never have the "Sooo who's gonna be the DD tonight?" conversation. I actually forgot that people still talk about DDs, and when I went to Oxford way back in March I was unpleasantly reminded. Long live public transportation.

1. *But it's worth it. Yeah, it took me a while to adjust to an incredibly active lifestyle, but it has been totally worth it. I literally feel like I'm squeezing every possible drop of life out of being in the city, and I couldn't be more thankful. Some people never even think to live the life I live in New York, because they don't have the opportunity to; they go to work, they come home, they spend their nights at the gym, watching movies or TV, and generally vegging out. Their existence is the definition of mundane. I don't look down on them, because I used to be one of them, and honestly if I hadn't taken the leap to live in New York, I doubt I would have been any different. After I got over my initial phase of shock at the pace of life in NYC, I really grew into it and I now love every minute of it, and I'm so grateful to be surrounded by people who all share my appreciation.

2. The breath of New York. That's the only way I can think to adequately explain the experience of New York as a living, breathing entity. I love waking up late on the weekends and hearing my landlord fighting with one of his tenants, or his brother, or his mother who lives just down the street. I love walking down Lexington Avenue and seeing flower shops and people walking their dogs and holding their children's hands. I love walking through Times Square at 1 a.m., when it's empty but the lights are still bright and there's an eerie energy in the air. Right now I'm sitting in the window of a bakery on the upper-UES, writing and watching a million different walks of life stroll by the window. You just can't do this anywhere else in the world.

3. The dream and the opportunity. I was sitting on the bus one late night recently, and it dawned on me that I have actually achieved everything I wanted to do with my life, at least up until this point. My dreams were always pretty simple: I wanted to move to New York and work in magazines. Now I'm doing both. What's amazing about this city is that, even though I've achieved what I set out to do, I don't at all feel finished or satiated. People keep coming into my life and inspiring me to do things I never set out to do. I wrote my very first play recently - based on one of my blog posts! - and that's something I never thought I would do. I really enjoyed it and if everything goes as planned, it's actually going to be produced and staged. It's so amazing to know that even after achieving what I wanted to achieve, new sets of goals continue to be born of my life here. As it should be.

4. New York is small. One thing I've learned after nearly 11 months of living in the city is that it's actually a very small place. Physically speaking, the island of Manhattan is only about 13 miles long and two miles wide. But more than that, it's becoming increasingly clear to me that everyone knows everyone else. This past weekend I went to a jeweler because a stone fell out of the ring my parents got me for graduation, and as I was talking to the man behind the counter, he told me was really good friends with the owner of Parade magazine, where I interviewed earlier this year for an internship. Random connections like that happen all the time, but it never really fails to surprise me, and it always makes me feel like I have really started a life when I meet and get to know two people who I discover already know each other through other channels.

5. Harlem. The most unexpected love I've developed since I moved to New York is my love for Harlem. When I moved up, I never planned specifically to move to Harlem; it's just where I found an apartment and street I loved for a reasonable price. Now that I've really settled into Harlem, I am so so in love with it. I still maintain that my street is one of the cutest in the city, and I love the history and culture of Pleasant Avenue. I fell hard in love when I discovered the public pool and park near my house, and the walkway by the East River. Harlem is one of the most affordable areas of the city, and you get your money's worth because you get all the peace and quiet of living in a borough like Brooklyn or Queens, but you're in Manhattan. And (shhhh) don't tell anyone I said this, but I'm a total snob about living in Manhattan. It has everything you need, available literally whenever you need it: cabs, trains, grocery stores, ATMs, greasy drunk food, coffee, takeout. None of the other boroughs can claim that.

God, New York. Sometimes I walk around and just say that aloud to myself. God, New York. This city is so amazing in so many ways, it almost feels wrong to make a list of things I don't like about it. But it is true; you have to sacrifice a lot to make a life here. God knows I've given up a lot of the comforts of my past life, and in the process done a lot of growing up, just for a city. But that's the thing - New York isn't just a city or a place; it's an experience, it's a challenge, it's an opportunity and, most importantly, it's a dream. And now it's my life. And I am so thankful.

Monday, November 16, 2009

2009: A Gagadyssey

All right, y'all. Last week was weird for me. I started the week sick, then took a day off from work in the middle, and finished it out with two really busy days. As a result, my blog suffered. I'm sorry! I'm getting back on my feet, starting now.

Last week I posted Lady Gaga's new video for Bad Romance, and everyday since then I've grown a little bit more obsessed with the visual story it tells. True, there is a very clear and present storyline in the video that's not really open to interpretation: Gaga "hatches" from a pod labeled "MONSTER," is kidnapped by a couple of supermodels who force vodka down her throat, and then auctioned off to a man who seems to be a member of the Russian mob. Naturally, she later kills him by making him spontaneously burst into flame. But overall, the video has a certain aesthetic, and from the first time I watched it, the influence of one film director in particular was obvious to me: Stanley Kubrick.

I should give the disclaimer that I was mildly obsessed with Kubrick for a long time. I started watching his films in high school - 2001: A Space Odyssey was first, of course - and continued into college. I still own ASO and A Clockwork Orange, my two favorites and, probably not coincidentally, the two whose influence was most obvious to me in Bad Romance.

First of all, the opening shot of Bad Romance reeks of a famous shot from A Clockwork Orange.

True, Gaga's shot is black on a white background, while Kubrick's is obviously white on black, but the general composition is still basically the same. You can't really see it in the bottom photo, but Alex (the main character of Clockwork) and his gang are holding glasses of milk or have glasses of milk on the lady tables in front of them. Gaga and her entourage have similarly shaped gold glasses on the floor surrounding them. The two girls sprawled on the floor in front of Gaga remind me of the lady tables in the Clockwork milk bar. Worth noting: in the film, Kubrick starts this shot wide and slowly zooms in, as if we the viewers are walking toward Alex and his gang; this shot in Bad Romance does the same thing. Also worth nothing, even though it's not part of the visuals: the tingy music playing during this part of Bad Romance - and again at the end of the video - is eerily reminiscent of the theme from Clockwork, called Ultraviolence, which you can listen to here.

After the camera zooms in slowly for a few seconds, it cuts to a close-up of Gaga and her razorblade glasses. In an interview with MTV, she said that she wanted these to represent female strength, as an homage to the women she knew in New York who used to carry razorblades in their mouths - I guess to defend themselves with if they needed to? - but when I saw them, all I could think about was this scene from Clockwork, below.

Granted, they aren't cutting his eyes with razorblades, but they are forcing them open with eyelid clips. Both images conjure thoughts of eye-related violence. Oh! And speaking of eyes that are open freakishly wide, I love this shit.

Moving on to 2001: A Space Odyssey. First, it should be noted that the entire futuristic aesthetic of the Bad Romance video is incredibly similar to ASO: the white lights, the glowing floors and walls, the monster pods, the clothing. During the first part of the video, the camera zooms in to reveal Gaga's finger on some sort of black speaker/MP3 player. It reminded me of the monolith, the big black thing in ASO that is supposed to represent human knowledge/understanding/evolution, or time travel, or finite space, or something.

The monolith theme - some sort of rectangular black object against a white background - keeps reappearing in Gaga's video, just like it keeps showing up in different places in ASO. First of all, the semblance below is just kind of creepy. The first is a shot from Bad Romance, when the sun is coming up right before we see the monsters coming out of their pods. The second is from ASO, a shot of the sun rising over the edge of the monolith, flipped on its side.

The monolith keeps appearing. First, Gaga herself as monolith.

We see Gaga crawling between two monoliths (her suitor's legs).

The computers that show the winning bid for Gaga are sideways monoliths.

Later, the suitor himself becomes a monolith.

Soon after, he becomes incinerated. However, he is replaced by a scantily-clad Gaga, all in black, on a charred black bed. Yep, huge monolith.

Oh, and speaking of that bed/bedroom, um, look at this famous shot from ASO.

True, the bedroom in Bad Romance is simpler - from what we see, there are no chairs or armoirs or Greco-Roman statues - but the similarities are still striking.

In short: I think Gaga knows what she is doing. I think she knows things about art and film and culture nouveau, and she employs that knowledge in her own creations. People laugh or disagree heartily when I say that Gaga is the first real pop artist of our generation - along the lines of David Bowie, Andy Warhol, Freddie Mercury and Madonna - but I stand behind my assertion. With the Bad Romance video, she has elevated herself to an artistic plane that makes her incomparable with the Britneys and Christinas and Beyoncés of our time. I still love those women, and they obviously have talents of their own, but they aren't artists in the way that Gaga is.

I worship her. I mean, once you wear razorblade glasses, there's no going back.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This is your brain (blog) on work (lots of it)

Work was really busy today. Here's how it made my brain feel.

This is Winston, my favorite Internet cat personality, courtesy of Rich - my other favorite Internet cat personality - over at the blog Four Four.

So, yeah, sorry for the lack of blogging recently. I'll hopefully be back tomorrow with a hugely pretentious post about the significant pop cultural references in the Lady Gaga Bad Romance video.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Meglist: The Experiment*

As you may recall, back in October I wrote a Megslist ad for my perfect manpartner, as I envisioned him in a (sigh, non-existent) perfect world. Recently the idea struck me to post that ad in the actual New York Craigslist personals, just to see what sorts of responses I would get. I culled through the 20+ e-mails I received in the few hours my ad was live before it was, tragically and inexplicably, flagged for removal - maybe someone was offended by my hyperbolic use of the word "perfect," or perhaps someone just didn't appreciate the photo I attached of myself - and picked the cream of the crop. Here they are, in all their g(l)ory.

Some of them were astoundingly lazy and noncommittal, for someone taking time out of his busy day to respond to a Craigslist ad from a stranger.

I wish I had the time to give a post like yours a decent response...
...unfortunately, Im recording at the studio now and just wasting some time between sessions... you sound like the type of chick I wouldn't hate (ha)

Some of them were very, um, forward. One person wrote this in response to my demand for a man who knows how to deal with a strong woman.


Repsonse: Oh so perfect

I guess you are asking me to put it in your hiney? Will do.

Some of them preferred the sneak attack method of propositioning me.

Re: Great Post

Great post -- yes, 15% of one's brain power on any subject is too much. I'm fairly sure that I won't meet all of the qualities you seek -- but, possibly enough.

160 lbs
48 yr old
white male
lean, muscular body
better bod than most 20 yr olds
shiny salt & pepper hair
been called handsome
well read
well educated
sense of humor
strong, strong sex drive
dominant in bedroom
love to please
discreet, you be too

Some of them had a sense of humor, though, sadly, no understanding of the English language.

Perfect man wanted - 23 (East Harlem)

you live in perfect plays hahahahaha East Harlem

And lastly, one guy expressed his sincere - albeit very wordy and somewhat obtuse - desire to be my sugar daddy.

You appear to be a woman suited for Pluto. I’m not sure if I’m referring to the planet or the Disney character. There is no such thing as the “perfect man” and quite possible you’re referring to what’s perfect for you. Prozac might be a first choice because you seem to need no stimulants and you are a hand full and I don’t even know you yet. On the other side of the ledger, you appear quite funny and simulating without even trying.

I’m an Alfa male who’s smart, successful and even quite good looking but I’m not sure I could handle someone with all you’re pent up energy and wild imagination. Your like an untamed colt and it would be great fun to feed off your energy and help you to experience and delight in all the things your not familiar with. I haven’t offered my genie like self in a long time to someone as playful and acidic as you seem to be. I love mentoring someone like yourself because you’re probably hard to handle at first, then the first kiss makes you all starry eyed and you’d fluster with delight. How refreshing you are not to be spoiled by society and the restrictive mores and taboos they impose upon us.

I too am a free spirit who can do and say almost anything I want because of past success and some intellect. I need a challenge and think you not only would be one but more fun then a barrel of monkeys (even though monkeys smell and I don’t know what makes them fun in a barrel) LOL If your interested in someone beyond the norm who is smart, kind and highly unusual (in a good way) , write back and I promise to make you smile (and even laugh a lot) as long as your not too serious and promise not to fall in love with a stranger who may be beyond your expectation and desires.

PS Can you drive a six speed and do you like to kiss (beyond almost anything else? LOL

Well, sir, yes to the kissing, no to the six speed. I realize that might be a dealbreaker. Luckily this colt doesn't need a car to transport herself, if you know what I mean.

*I apologize for the poor formatting of this post. No matter what I did Blogger would not resize my fonts appropriately. Blogfail.

I'm a free bitch, baby

After literally days of waiting, it arrived this morning. No, not my most recent issue of "Given the opportunity to bathe in Lady Gaga's sweat/blood/tears, I would totally do it" magazine, but something close. The video for Bad Romance.

Ugh. There are no words, except these: I'm Gaga's bitch, baby.

Edit: More words coming. I have to analyze this shit.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm not gay, I'm bi-larious!

I'm sick y'all. I don't know what's wrong but I've spent the past two days essentially incapacitated by aches and pains that are inexplicable. On top of that, I just generally feel like shit. So, wah. Yesterday when I was stuck in bed for the majority of the night I watched 30 Rock on Hulu and it made me laugh, which actually hurt quite a bit, but was worth it.

This clip manages to pay homage to my three favorite things: gays, blacks and puns. Enjoy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The king of Subway, or my first firsthand experience of Yankees fans

So, apparently there's this sport called baseball, and this team called the Yankees, and earlier this week they won this thing called the World Series. And whenever that happens, there's a parade in lower Manhattan called the Ticker Tape Parade where people who work in the office buildings lining Broadway throw paper from their windows onto the street. Um... OK?

I work in Tribeca, so the parade took place literally a block from my office building. When I got off the subway at around nine this morning, there were already mobs of people decked out in blue heading toward Broadway. And I was there, in my bright red coat, walking against the flow of people, just another girl who doesn't give a shit about baseball trying to get to work.

Of course, all this madness happened on the rare occasion that I didn't bring my lunch to work. Usually I give myself enough time in the mornings to make something to eat, so I save money on lunch, since it is undoubtedly the lamest of all the daily meals and not really worth spending money on. But today I slept in a bit. By early afternoon I was a starvin' marvin, and decided it was time to venture out to Subway. The following is a narrative observation of what happened as I waited in line for my sandwich art.

A group of three women, one older and two who appear to be around 20 or 21, walk into the restaurant, empty beer cups in hand. The two younger women - one with blonde hair and one with brunette - remind me of LSU fans, except instead of purple and gold stripper outfits, they are decked out in blue Yankees t-shirts and jackets, bell-bottomed jeans, tennis shoes, and entirely too much eyeliner. For the sake of entertainment value, let's just assume the older woman is their mother.
It is about 1 p.m., and they are all drunk. They stumble through the line of people right in front of me, clearly in search of something not sandwich-related.
"Is this the line for the bathroom?" the brunette girl slurs.
"No," the nice man in front of me says. "The bathroom is out of order, apparently."
The girl bumbles over to the bathroom door, reads the clearly posted "OUT OF ORDER" sign, and yanks (ha!) on the handle to find out for herself if this statement is true. Surprisingly, the door is locked.
"Ughhhh," she says. "Let's go upstairs. Surely they'll let us in the bathroom upstairs."
"Dear," her mother says, "we don't even know if there's a bathroom upstairs. Let's just go."
"But they have to let us go upstairs!" she protests, eyes dutifully clouded over. She makes her way to the stairs and starts to ascend.
A few people ahead of me in line, a man sees all this happening and decides to interject.
"There's not a bathroom upstairs," he says matter-of-factly.
"What?!" she inquires.
"Um, I don't think there's a bathroom upstairs. I think this is the only one, and it's out of order."
"And who are you?" she retorts. "Like the king of Subway or something?!"
With that, she starts to leave with her mom and probable sister tagging along behind. On their way out, the mother turns to the man and garbles, "Sorry about that. Just ignore her."

So, to recap: A drunken mother and her two drunken daughters stumbling around, dressed poorly, wearing too much makeup, talking obnoxiously to strangers, carrying plastic cups formerly filled with alcohol, in search of a restroom.

Just another typical day in the Grove Manhattan???

Thursday, November 5, 2009

HLLWN 2009, or the night I walked around New York City in my underwear

Here it is at last - the HLLWN 2009 post. I kind of mislead y'all, having told you I was gonna be Lady Gaga. While that is true, the whole story is that Z went as Freddie Mercury from Queen, so together, we went as Radio Gaga, which, in case you aren't aware, is the Queen song that Lady Gaga's manager named her after. And it's just one more piece of evidence that Lady Gaga is my soulmate, because I grew up listening to and adoring Queen. I went through a big phase in high school where all I listened to was Queen. I sang along in my car with Freddie as he belted out Somebody To Love, Another One Bites The Dust, and the lesser known (but just as amazing) Body Language. Loves it.

Anyway, our costumes were the shit. Z looked just like Freddie. And together, we were the most over-the-top, fabulous and subtly pretentious HLLWN pair in all of NYC. Of couse, we took video of the entire night, and it is by far the best And How NYC video Z has created yet.

We started off the night at our friend's house party in Brooklyn, where an impromptu photo shoot broke out, thanks to the über-talented Jenny Anderson.

We spent a little time at our friend's apartment, then we went upstairs and crashed some other party. I have no idea whose apartment it was or why we thought it was acceptable to barge in and take over their iPod, but we did. We played a few Gaga songs and then scurried away to Sugarland, our favorite gay club in Brooklyn.

It was there that we saw a 7-foot-tall Cruella Deville, and decided to pose for photos with her/him/it. The night was filled with lots of amazing decisions such as this.

This is the most New York-ian photo of me ever taken. We're essentially in the basement of this grungy gay club in Brooklyn, it's sort of smoky, there's a brick wall and a discarded/lost umbrella, and I'm dressed as Lady Gaga, who sort of based her career on getting wasted in NYC.

OK so I'm shamelessly including this photo because I look really skinny in it. Work.

Next, we left the club and had an impromptu paparazzi shoot in the street. I love this photo.

And this one. You can kind of see where the back of Z's tank says "Radio Gaga," spelled out in rhinestones, natch.

Then we headed back to Manhattan, where we closed a bar in the East Village. The whole night, my hair bow kept falling off my head into God knows what kinds of substances on the sidewalk, in the bars and in the subway stations. This is how I felt about it.

RIP hair bow.

I feel like I should include this photo, just to prove that I did in fact have a disco stick. I just, you know, walked out of the apartment without it*. Whoops.

So don't become some background noise,
A backdrop for the girls and boys

Who just don't know or just don't care

And just complain when you're not there
You had your time, you had the power

You've yet to have your finest hour

Here's hopin'.

*In my defense, before we left for the night, I spent FOUR HOURS bedazzling that bra, and my brain was dead. That's right, before I Krazy glued all those rhinestones on, it was just a boring black bra. No one can say I'm not dedicated.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New/old Beyoncé

I discovered this Beyoncé song recently. It's always weird to find old music that you've never heard by an artist you love. I think this was released as an extra song on B'Day or something. I love it because it seems incredibly appropriate at this point in my life, and it's hilarious.

I really wish there were an official video for this song, because I'm sure it would be lolz. However, since there isn't, a fan-made mash-up will have to suffice. Oh, Bey, you're so ridonk, and I'm so glad you're in my life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Rebs will cry again?

It has just been brought to my attention that the new chancellor at Ole Miss, Dan Jones, actually wants to change the Ole Miss song, "From Dixie With Love," to remove that last part where people chant, "The South will rise again." From the AP story:

"Dan Jones, who became Ole Miss chancellor in July, said he asked the school's band director, David Wilson, to modify the song to support the efforts of the Associated Student Body. He said he has received complaints from alumni that the slogan is offensive.

'The fact is, the phrase 'The South Will Rise Again' is not part of our tradition or spirit, and it is inconsistent with the university's values and what Ole Miss stands for — a great public university with a focus on the future,' Jones said in a phone interview Thursday from the campus in Oxford.

The modified version of the song ends abruptly before the chanting phase starts. It was first played Saturday at Ole Miss's homecoming game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham, but that didn't stop some fans from chanting.

OK, "Dan" - if that's even your real name - I don't know you, but I already don't like you. Here's the thing about being offended: You don't have a right not to be. When I was a student, From Dixie With Love was always one of my favorite parts of the games, and I'm a flaming liberal. For Christ's sake, my best friend is gay, my other best friend is queer (you can ask her yourself - it's an actual gender classification), I listen to the most politically incorrect music that exists and I spend most of my time swimming in a sea of artists, writers and other mushy artsy types. And I always loved hearing the Dixie song at the games, even though I always abstained from the chant because I thought it was ridiculous. Yeah, I guess I was offended, but it's interesting how a nice helping of whiskey helps to soften the sharp edge of the chant's offensiveness. Am I right, y'all? Let's not pretend to be something we're not.

But this is what really struck me, from the same AP story: Earlier this month, the Ole Miss student government passed a resolution suggesting the chant be replaced by the phrase, "To hell with LSU."

Lolz. I mean that is LOLX. Anyone who read my Hautey Toddy column knows how I feel about LSU. It's just so delightfully Ole Miss that they want to officially change the Dixie song to diss LSU at every single game. In the spirit of things, I feel inspired to come up with a few suggested chant replacements to represent what Ole Miss stands for, in Dan Jones' words. Here's a brief list.

We are so drunk right now!

Let's try to win this game!

We'll never win this game!

The Harvard of the South!

I wish I had more Scotch!

At least we'll party soon!

We love black people now!

And now, I want ideas from y'all. Let's celebrate the traditions and the spirit of Ole Miss. Go.

Monday, November 2, 2009

HLLWN 2009: The Preview Edition

There are a ton of photos from HLLWN for me to go through, as well as some video Z still has to edit together. But until then, just a little preview.

It's worth noting that soon after this photo was taken, or soon before, or something, a gay guy tried to make out with me. At a gay club. The following song came on, and he pushed me up against the wall and said, "Isn't this song sooo sexXxXxXyyy?!!" Well, yeah, it would be, if I were also a gay man. I forgive him, as I think he must have just been transfixed by the Gaga. I don't even have to make a bluffin' muffin joke right now, because it's just understood.

Pus pus.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New York is the most beautiful place in the world

It's been a while since I posted photos of random stuff I see around the city, and I was feeling inspired today by the still-beautiful fall colors* and the marathon runners that ran right by my apartment, so I have a few photos I want to share.

Z and I were walking around SoHo the other night and we saw this display in the window of the Scholastic book store. Bet you didn't know they still made Goosebumps! I was really excited and wanted to go in just so I could run my fingers over the book covers to see if they're still all bumply like they used to be. Z vetoed me.

I'm also willing to bet you didn't know they made things like this. Seen in a wig store near Union Square.

I went to my friend's house party in Stuy Town the other night and he had this book on his coffee table. The best part is that Coolio's hair is poking through the top of his hat, Lil' Mama style. Dear Santa, Pretty please? Love, Meghan

And speaking of home decor, the other day Z and I were walking around Columbus Circle and we saw a woman selling framed New Yorker cover prints for $5 each. I got four, one for each season, and hung them on my wall above my new dresser, which, BTW, I got from a friend for $40. In order: fall, winter, spring, summer.

Here are the runners on First Avenue, near my apartment. I actually watched quite a bit of the race, sort of on accident, as I walked through Central Park. I was really moved by all the people cheering on their families and friends. I may have cried a little bit. Whatever.

Here is an artsy photograph of the Pleasant Avenue street sign on my street. I love Pleasant, though cab drivers never seem to know where it is. Last night on my way home from HLLWN festivities, I even told the driver it was to the east of First Avenue, and he still headed west. I made him stop the car, put it in reverse and turn around to go east. And trust, when Gaga is bossing you around, you fucking do what she says.

Speaking of, be prepared for a huge Gaga HLLWN post soon. Here's a little preview.

*As a side note, I've decided that if I ever find a place more beautiful than New York in the fall, I will have to move there. I don't really think such a thing is possible.