Thursday, December 31, 2009

Throwback Thursday: Meghan Edition

I went to my grandmother's house for Christmas last week, and I was inspired by a photo of myself I found on one of the tables in her living room. I actually laughed out loud when I saw it, and then I found myself feeling very confused about why, of the hundreds-if-not-thousands of photos taken of me since I was born, she would have chosen this particular photo - framed and everything - to grace the top of her lovely table. It was taken ten years ago - making this post all the more topical as we close out the decade - at my 13th birthday party, which was the first time my parents let me invite boys over to our house - a piece of information that, by all accounts, makes this photo all the more embarrassing.

1. I have those amazing straight-across-the-fohead bangs that pretty much defined my childhood until the age of 15 or so.
2. I am also rocking the butt cut. You know, parted straight down the middle. No shame.
3. That appears to be a beaded choker.
4. Yes, that is cake with a screenprint of the Backstreet Boys on it. I. know. I remember that screenprinting on birthday cakes was, like, a big deal in middle school. You just took whatever photo you wanted on your cake to the bakery in the grocery store, and they somehow created an edible version of it.

Wait. I was getting ready to write a snarky comment about how ridiculous a screenprinted birthday cake is, but I have changed my mind. This is awesome. If I could have a screenprint of Lady Gaga on my next birthday cake, I wouldn't even think twice about it. Then I would have them sprinkle it with edible glitter before topping it with an edible hair bow, and I would take a photo of myself holding it the same way I held the BSB cake when I was 13, and I would do a side-by-side comparison of little baby Meghan and somewhat-more-grownup Meghan.

It's shocking how little things change, even when they change a lot. For good measure:

At least I wasn't alone in my choice of the butt cut. Nick rocked it for quite a long time. But I didn't care about him because I was in love with Brian, who never had the butt cut. Conclusion: My taste in men > my taste in haircuts.

This is not necessarily still true.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Vote for me!

Hi beloved readers. So I may have nominated myself for a blog award for "Best Blog About Stuff" over at the Blogger's Choice Awards. If you feel like being nice today, you can vote for me here.

My blog is definitely about stuff, and it's pretty good, right? It's at least OK. Come on. Here is a picture of an adorable puppy to put you in a good mood.

Look at that faaaaaaaaaace. You might also consider voting for my blog idol The Sassy Curmudgeon for Best Humor Blog.

If you can still be mean after looking at that photo, you have no soul and I don't want votes from soulless people anyway. To the rest of you, please vote! Thanks y'all.

One year, one love: New York

I moved to New York one year ago today. I brought with me two suitcases, a computer bag, a tote, some goals, some dreams and one undying love for the city that had called to me for years. Since that day, I have gained a lot, and lost just as much. I thought I knew who I was when I moved up, but I did not. I thought I had a true love in my life when I came, but I was mistaken about where that love resided. I was right that I had no idea what I was getting myself into by moving here, but I could not have known just how true that was. Here, a month-by-month recap of 2009, one of the hardest and most amazing years of my life, inside and out.

I lived with Z for a week and a half before I found my own place on Craigslist and moved in. C was in town for a week or so and we bummed around the city a lot. One night I heard a cat crying outside my Harlem window and went outside in the freezing cold to try to save it, but to no avail. I spent $500 at Bed, Bath & Beyond to stock up my apartment. I interviewed for a good number of jobs and internships. I went to DC to see my LDR boyfriend A and to go to Obama's inauguration. We got into a big fight - A and I, not Obama and I - in which he threatened me physically. I went back to NYC and broke up with him. I started a part-time unpaid internship at a website for a national women's magazine.

A came to NYC unannounced to profess his undying love for me. We got back together, and my friends were not happy about it or particularly supportive. I was still interning part-time and applying for jobs the rest of the time. I hunted for and finally found a chair to spruce up my apartment a bit. Z and I went to fashion week, which was mostly underwhelming. I was pretty depressed for a while because of the job market. I explored Harlem and started cooking myself real meals, and I got a gym membership.

I got snowed in with A in DC. We built a snowman and had snowball fights and made a few of the sweetest memories I have to date. I went back to NYC and started another unpaid blogging internship where I wrote about health and relationships and sex.  The Harlem Singing Man first showed up. I went home to the South for the first time since I had moved up, and visited Oxford while I was down there to find that everything and nothing had changed. I got offered and started my first paid full-time internship at a regional magazine company. I quit my other two internships. My friend E came to visit from Alabama.

I went to DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival and to see A. I was really in love with him at this point. Then he came to visit NYC and something felt off so I decided to take a week off from him, before breaking up with him for the second time. My internship was going really well and I finally felt like I was where I was supposed to be. We had our first picnic in Central Park to kick off summer early. Everything was blooming.

My internship chugged along and I was stressed at times but I liked all the people I worked with and I was getting to write so I was really happy. Z and I went to my first official magazine party of the summer, and as we were walking through Times Square afterward I dropped my phone and the screen cracked, and my heart along with it. I bought an amazing backless vintage swimsuit which I wore with leggings to another magazine party. I saw my first psychic on the street, who told me A was my soulmate, so then I got drunk* at happy hour one Saturday and hopped on the Chinatown bus to DC, with my friends' support in tow, to profess my undying love for him again. When I got back to the city, I was offered my first full-time-with-benefits position in New York at the same magazine company where I was interning. I was ecstatic in every sense of the word.

A came to NYC for Mississippi in the Park, where he finally met Z and J after months of not meeting them. It rained and we frolicked and laughed. I started my new job and was taking well to it. Michael Jackson died and I was really upset by it because he helped define a good chunk of my childhood. Z and I saw Beyoncé in concert. It was epic. My Lady Gaga obsession was just budding.

I went to DC for A's and my one-year anniversary the weekend of July 4th. We rode roller coasters and cried and watched fireworks, and then he dropped a bomb on me. And not the good kind. I came back to NYC and lost a couple nights' sleep before having a minor meltdown and deciding that I had finally, truly lost sight of who I was. He broke up with me.  I got a new, smaller bed for my room, but held out on buying an air conditioner. I discovered a big public pool near my apartment that changed my life. I danced in a fountain with Z. Started drinking a lot and living the young New York life I had always wanted. Went home to the South for a few days.

I got an air conditioner for my room after one especially terrible night of sweating. A and I still talked sometimes, and he told me he wanted to get back together. I said no because it didn't feel right. My Lady Gaga obsession grew into full-blown worship. I continued running around New York drunk and going out all the time. Z and I saw Britney in concert. I told A that I wanted to get back together, and he told me he didn't love me the way he used to anymore. I started blogging a lot more, honing what might loosely be referred to as my craft.

I went to the first Effable Arts show to support J and her amazing photograpy. Was inspired by all the young artists and fauxsted a Lady Gaga dance party at a gay bar in Hell's Kitchen. Danced on booths and tables in windows. Found one of three straight guys in the bar and kissed him on the steps of a hostel. He was British. Decided I wanted a Lady Gaga tattoo. Struck up an online friendship with one of A's close guy friends, who provided some enlightening insight. Z and I went to a bizarre launch party for Keith Lissner's new line. I got an amazing new dress that I wore to yet another magazine party. I started online dating and went to a quiet party for the first time by myself. I wrote my first guest blog post. A group of friends and I went on a Five Borough Pub Crawl that took an entire Sunday and was epic. I went to my first NYC doctor for a physical and everything was great. I felt invincible.

I started blogging, like, a lot. I went to DC for the National Equality March and did not contact A, which I considered a victory. I also stood ten feet away from Lady Gaga as she gave her speech, which I considered an even greater victory. I did my first blog swap. Z started filming video of our lives. My parents came to visit, their first trip to the city. A contacted me wanting to catch up, and I told him no. J had her first photo show in Brooklyn. I dropped my iPhone into the subway tracks and went down to get it, then I wrote a blog post about it, on which I then based a play. I went to my first real blogger convention. I learned that fall in New York is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I found out that Gaga would be performing in NYC on my birthday. HLLWN 2009 happened, and was a total shitshow.

I started to feel tired. I got switched to a different magazine at work and it was really busy and stressful. I worked on my play some more and sent in my final draft. I talked to A and he told me he was totally over me. He e-mailed me a couple weeks later announcing that he was removing all our photos from facebook. I did not respond. I went out one Saturday night and made some bad decisions and had the worst Sunday of my life the next day. I started to feel depressed and empty. I was happy to leave the city to go see C in Chicago for Thanksgiving. We went to museums and watched theater and comedy improv and listened to bad hip-hop music. In the Chicago airport, I wrote a list of the things I still knew about myself, because I was having trouble remembering. I celebrated the first birthday of my dear blog.

I got Blogger's Blog of Note award. I cried at my desk. It felt like the first really good thing that had happened in a while. Christmas exploded in the city. I discovered that it was the second-most beautiful time of the year. I still felt depressed and exhausted, like I was walking around in a cloud. New York and I were not getting along. I cried a lot when I was by myself. I convinced myself that I still loved A because I missed his smile and his eyes and the way he talked with his hands. I read my first Chuck Klosterman book, fell in love, and started reading my second. I went home for Christmas. I saw a ceremony for a fallen soldier that shook me to my already shaken core. While in town, I chose to see A for the first time in six months. We had coffee and caught up. I told him honestly that he was still the person I loved, and he told me honestly that I was no longer the person he loved. It felt like a bus hit me. I flew back to New York, after e-mailing him to tell him not to contact me anymore. It took nearly a year of heartache, but I finally let him go and am in the process of re-discovering my love for myself.

When my plane landed a year ago, I was still too young to have any concept of looking back. My eyes were planted firmly forward, and I knew in my heart that New York was what I wanted more than anything. I had fear, but I was not afraid. After about 10 months of deep periods of depression, exultation, loss, joy and loneliness, my heart grew weary, and I found myself too afraid to look forward. I looked forward and thought I saw nothing, which is the scariest feeling I've ever had, so I just decided to look back. I blamed myself for my unhappiness; I blamed putting myself and my dreams before others in my life, and I blamed the city. I looked at the city and saw a place that had stolen my innocence, my courage and, I thought, my heart.

When my plane landed this week, I felt the city come back to me. I now see it again like I saw it in 2008. That piece of my heart that's forever devoted to New York came back to life, and with it came all the other parts of my heart I thought were ruined or gone. I made some mistakes this year, and I hurt some people, but I never once did anything that was not a true expression of how I felt in my heart. I loved with my whole heart, I feared with my whole heart, I learned with my whole heart, and I acted with my whole heart.

This past month, I had actually come to convince myself that I must be unhappy because I was innately not sensitive enough to experience meaningful happiness. But in retrospect, 2009 showed me my favorite thing about myself: I live honestly. No one can ever say I am not genuine and upfront and fearlessly honest about how I think and feel. This honesty dissolved my relationship with someone I loved, because he could not offer me the same sort of honesty in return. But then it enriched my relationship with someone I know I love unconditionally: myself.

Now winter is returning, and I still go out in the freezing cold in my pajamas and boots when I hear cats cry, which they do a lot. I know I can't help them - because most of them won't let people anywhere near them - but still I go, because I think that maybe I will be able to help, just this one time. Because that's who I am. The love in my heart propels me forward, against all odds.

Even if it ain't all it seems, I got a pocket full of dreams,
Baby, I'm from New York...

*I have never consumed one drop of alcohol in my life

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

No holes barred and other moments of honesty

Last night I went to dinner at this really hip place in Hell's Kitchen with overpriced seafood and even more overpriced whiskey. It was really delicious, and I was enjoying the company of an old college friend I haven't seen since March, so that was nice; however, the whole experience was made all the brighter by the presence of our server, who was really, really cute.

I never blog about cute boys, so bear with me here because I do have a point. He was tall and fit and had dark curly hair and cute eyes and a sweet smile. I thought he may have been eye-flirting with me, but I always think guys with bouncy eyes are eye-flirting with me. It's also entirely possible that he may have been gay. My gaydar is all fucked up in this city.*

Since I felt that he may have found me just as cute as I found him, I decided to make my affection known. I left him a note on my credit card receipt. I've done this once before, a couple summers ago when I was living in Atlanta and had a really cute waiter, but nothing came of it. And since I'm now taking charge of my life and turning over a new leaf, I see no reason not to put myself out there in every possible way. I really have nothing to lose.

So my note went something like this.

The real thing was a lot more legible. It's hard to try to replicate handwriting on a computer, OK?!

The amazing thing about New York is that there are actually entire venues aimed specifically at helping people find other people they wanted to connect with but for whatever reason could not. I love reading through the missed connections on Craigslist - it's just an endless list of hopeless romantics wanting to feel a real connection with other people. I would love to know if anyone has ever actually met his/her future husband/wife on there. Because that would pretty much make my life.

My friend from college said the one thing that struck him most about New York was that there seemed to be literally endless possibilities. You never know who you will meet, or what you will do, or where the day will take you. I agreed with him, and said that it's one of the things I love most about the city. You might wake up feeling like shit, and then later that night leave a note for your cute waiter who then googles your name and finds out you have a blog on which you wrote about him, then he comments on said blog and tells you he thinks you're cute too with a link to his blog, which you find hilarious and amazing, and then you go on a date and fall in love and have lots of sex and babies.

Or maybe you just made a gay guy feel even better about himself. The universe is full of snark.

*To understand why, see this.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Welcome to New York, again

Last night I moved to New York for the first time, again. I saw the city when I landed, and I could feel the anxiety trying to creep in, but I swatted it out like an unwanted insect. I never liked squashing bugs. I always squealed and asked my dad to do it; but now I'm grown up, and it's time to squash the fuckers myself. So inside I just yelled at the top of my lungs, You are not wanted here. I am too smart and loving and beautiful and valuable to allow you inside my heart and mind anymore.

I'm moving to new York for the first time, again. Except this time it feels like home. I see the city skyline blur outside the cab window, and I'm shocked when I feel a genuine relief settle over me. I have no idea where it came from, like a blanket I never expected. Before I left the South I dreaded my return to the city. I feared the loneliness it would impose upon me, and the new life I would now have to create for myself. I feared the city because I feared myself.

But then shortly before midnight I closed the car door behind me in Harlem, and the cabbie helped me with my bags. He bid me good night, I hauled my luggage to my stoop, and I paused to look down my street. A woman carried her daughter into the front door of their brownstone. A car was stopped in the middle of 118th street, and a man was getting out of the passenger side while he talked to the driver. Holiday lights still painted sparkling strokes on stoops and windowsills. On first avenue, sirens blared as fire trucks followed ambulances that followed NYPD cars. Tears welled in my eyes when I saw her, curled up on the sidewalk in front of my apartment.

I found her lying there in Harlem, bruised and exhausted, but with dancing eyes. I picked her up and carried her myself to a safe and warm place. Her body was limp in my arms and she mumbled something about how she couldn't feel her hands and her legs were aching. I carried her inside and gave her some water and tucked her in. I watched as she pulled the blankets up around her face and sighed relief from every pore. I cried, because I knew I had brought her home at last. Now she is home. I am home. I am home, in the tautological sense.

My heart is my home. Now it's back with its rightful owner, and he will never see it again. I have probably not cried my last tear for him, but all the tears from here on out will be pulling double duty as tears of happiness for my arrival back unto myself. New York was annoying me because I lost myself on her streets and I was fighting and blaming the city for stealing me. Then I moved to New York for the first time again, and just like that, I found myself there.

I am and have always been my home. The sweetness prevails, inside of me. Come inside; it's warm, and I have cookies. We will watch the snow fall on New York, and we will make up words and we will cuddle under blankets and we will laugh.

I am just where I'm meant to be, and where I have always been. Except now, it's for the first time. Again.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Crimma!

My mom has this amazing holiday habit of buying me pajamas and other random garments generally considered to be inappropriate for wear outside the home. She does it every year, no matter how much I bemoan her doing so, because I swear to God I don't need any more pajamas, and she swears to God that I always need more pajamas. She usually buys these things at Victoria's Secret, and yesterday as we opened our gifts (yeah, we sometimes do this on Christmas Eve, what about it?), I discovered at the bottom of a bag filled with pajamas and panties - gasp - a cupcake thong.

I promptly asked my mom if she had read my blog post about these delicious panties/pastries. She responded that she had not, which just goes to show that she is truly a woman after my own heart.

May all of your Christmases be filled with just as many wonderful surprises. Much love to everyone.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Throwback Thursday: Beyoncé edition

This week, I wanted to take it back to the summer of 2003, when Beyoncé made her debut as a solo artist with the single "Crazy in Love" and the whole world went OH MY FUCKING JESUS THIS GIRL IS THE SHIT. It was the summer before my senior year of high school, and I listened to her first album, Dangerously in Love, on repeat for the duration of it. Come to think of it, it's one of my first real memories of driving around and dancing obnoxiously in my car, totally young and carefree. When it came to my immersion in pop music, I was completely delusional, and still pretty much am to this day.

So, here's the video that, in a sense, started it all. In it, we see the first hints of themes that would prove to be staples in Beyoncé's repertoire, including but not limited to: large fans and windblown hair, always wearing heels, twerking it in said heels, large fur coats, chewing or faux-chewing gum, collabos with Jay-Z, generally looking smoking hot, and (apparently) setting cars on fire. Even Chuck Klosterman has written about how much he fucking loved this song when it came out, and Chuck doesn't really love a lot of things.

Also, it's weird to think that when she made this video, she was a year (nigh two) younger than I am presently. F.M.L.

To my future husband, who may or may not or will be (at least modeled after) Chuck Klosterman

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I was not one of those little girls who dreamed about her wedding when I was young. Never one to succumb to a clichéd stereotype of what it meant to be a white girl growing up in the suburbs of the South, I limited the extent of my wedding fantasies to one day when I donned a white hand-me-down dress my aunt had given me for Christmas, pretended to be a princess and "walked down the aisle" in my parents' kitchen, toward a pretend/invisible prince who was waiting to marry me. (I'm an only child. I had to amuse myself.) That is my only active memory of imagining my wedding as child, and it's probably the reason my expectations for my future husband are so unbelievably high - since the only detail I deemed important enough to include in my fantasy was that I should, in fact, marry a prince.

It wasn't until this year that I started thinking about what details I might want at my wedding, and although I now have a precious few things clear in my mind, for the most part I still have no idea. In fact, I would say that until the latter part of this year, if you had asked me whether or not I even wanted to get married, I would have provided a very confident, "I really have no fucking clue." Then came a serious relationship, followed by an intense break-up, followed by an even more intense loneliness, then the realization that I do want to share my life with someone. And then - quite serendipitously I think - along came Chuck Klosterman.

My friend J told me about him a few months ago, when she was reading Killing Yourself To Live* and was quite obsessed with it. She gushed about how, if Chuck were cuter and younger and perhaps even not married himself, she would set a goal to marry him. She said he was the funniest, wittiest, most amazing writer she had come across in recent memory, and for some reason all her words passed in my right ear and out my left, without so much as a pee break in between. I don't know why I didn't run out and buy his books right then and there, but for some reason I did not. She finally let me borrow his KYTL a few weeks ago, and I have no reservations about saying that it changed. my. life.

She was right. He is the funniest, wittiest, snarkiest, most sarcastic, and yet most poignant writer of our young generation. As my eyes hopped over his words like an adorable bunny over the hills of Appalachia or something, I had the very surreal experience that I had met my penmate. That's like a soulmate, but with words. Chuck is the first author I have read in years - or possibly in my life ever - that made me think, "I want to do this. I want to be this. I want to be the next Chuck Klosterman, and I think I can do it." Reading his book was like reading the book I want to write in five or ten years. Except that now he's written it already - goddamnit - and I'll have to go with a different angle. But it's totally fine. I've already got some ideas brewing.

Beyond being introduced to my potential future self, I also realized that Chuck Klosterman is my ideal future husband. I am now aware that if I ever meet a man as funny as Chuck whilst also being as talented a writer, it'll all be over and done with. It literally does not matter what he looks like, how he dresses, if he has some fucked up accent from upstate New York or the Midwest, or, nay, even if he's a nice person - if he can write like Chuck and make me laugh (and, yes, cry) like Chuck, that will be it for me. Done and done. It doesn't hurt that Chuck seems to have a good heart and a sweet sentiment in his writing - but, again, this is strictly optional.

Inspired by my new writing muse, I have penned a letter to my future husband. The Internet is weird because my future husband will probably actually read this one day, even if he doesn't know at that point that he is my future husband. Like, he might read it after our third date or something, after I've told him that I have a blog and he goes home and fearfully googles my name, and then stays up til 5 a.m. reading all my entries before promptly realizing he is already in love with me, and then calling me to ask me to meet him on the Brooklyn Bridge or in Grand Central or something, which I will do, and then he will take me in his arms and profess that he thinks I am the one, and I will not think it's weird because I will have been thinking the same crazy shit. As such, I have chosen my words carefully.

Dear future hubs,

Thank you for that haiku you left on my pillow this morning, and also for promising to leave me many such pillowkus for the rest of our blissfully wedded lives. The only thing I'd rather wake up next to is you - but provided that you are not available, your hilarious puns and witty aphorisms will more than suffice. Oh, and don't start to get all big-headed about it. I mean, don't for a second think that you are a better writer than I am. Granted, you probably are, because I tend to prefer to date (and therefore, logically, marry) up as opposed to down; but just because you are a better writer than me does not mean you deserve the pleasure of thinking or perhaps even knowing that you are, in fact, a better writer than me. There's a reason I count Beyoncé's "Upgrade U" amongst the songs that define my very existence - and I know what you're thinking, but no, it's not because I harbor a secret fetish for grasping large pieces of jewelry between my teeth, although this is also true. It's because I like to think I'm the HBIC in most situations, even when I am not. If you married me, you already know this. So, keep on writing me poems, and keep on being a cunning linguist, but don't let me forget that I am just as cunning. Almost.

I'll see you at our regularly scheduled pun-off, tomorrow, 7 p.m., in our huge antique clawed bathtub. You bring the wine and I'll bring the Moleskin and plenty of cheese. (The kind you write, not the kind you eat.) Just try not to be distracted by my lounging nude body, impossibly relaxed as I pour forth pun after pun after pun from my wine-stained lips. You will fail. I will dominate. And you will not be emasculated by your loss, because you will have already written me a pillowku for the following morning, ready and tucked in your coat pocket, that contains the greatest pun I have ever heard or read in my entire life. And this is why I love you. 'Cuz you got that foresight.


*The first time I wrote this I accidentally typed "Love" instead of "Live." Either applies, really.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

You are local news, I'm 60 Minutes

Or The New York Times. Take your pick of national news sources, mafuckers.

This is real. I did not photoshop it. So now whenever my mom asks me "how in the world I could listen to that shit," I will simply produce this photo, which I have promptly saved in my iPhone.

"Um, duh, Mom, the Times says he's legit, so it must be true."

Today in (very) badvertising

I saw this ad in the subway before I left the city for the holidays.

OK. I get that a lot of advertising is sex-based, because (as we all have been conditioned to know since we were little bitty babies) sex sells - but at least sometimes the selling of the sex is a little bit creative. Sometimes copywriters include semi-nude ladies and puns, or semi-nude ladies and excellently worded jokes, or semi-nude ladies and funny songs. You know, at least something to accompany the semi-nude ladies - or, in this case, semi-disembodied ladies.

So, just to recap, in this ad, we have the following.
1. A girl in bra/shorts straddling a large football that is mildly phallic in nature
2. A sign behind her head that reads "It's all about the scoring"*
3. A pair of legs emerging from a football helmet that is way too small to actually contain the rest of her body (because who needs a brain, heart or torso when you've got gorgeous stems?)
4. A sign behind said legs that reads "College football's never been dirtier"

I didn't realize until a quick Google search that this is actually an ad for a fictionalized TV "comedy" show**. I thought it was an ad for college football re-runs on Spike, or something. Way to go, writers, if you can even call yourselves that; I get that Spike is a TV network for men, or whatever it's marketed as now, but you might try using your brains to come up with something even remotely clever. Need some help? No problem. I'm no Don Draper, but I'll give it a shot. Here are my ideas.

1. On photo one: Laces in (and out and in and out); On photo two: Football's never been dumber or more anaerobic
2. On photo one: A face mask penalty isn't necessarily a bad thing; On photo two: Football's never been more half-assed
4. Across both photos: At BMS, the girls handle the balls
5. Scrawling across both photos: SEX SEX SEX > FOOTBALL > BAD TV SHOWS > EVERYTHING ON SPIKE 

*This is, technically, a play on words, but it sucks.
**Upon visiting the web site for the show, it becomes quickly apparent that this is a show for horny guys who enjoy sexualized sporting activities. I will never understand why TV companies spend loads of money to produce and advertise shows like this, when the Internet is filled with free porn.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The true meaning of Christmas

Sometimes, if we are lucky, things happen to us and we know they have meaning as they are happening. This is not usually the case - typically, we understand the meaning of things much better after the fact (read: hindsight, y'all). The other night, as I was flying into Birmingham, the universe sent me one of these things. It was a big, huge Christmas package with a label that read, "Wake up and be thankful, Meghan."

First of all, it's worth noting that my flights home from NYC were not even remotely stress-free. The weather was shitty in the South that night, so flights into Atlanta - where I was catching my connecting flight - were delayed. I barely made it to my flight from Atlanta to Birmingham because my flight from NYC to Atlanta was so late. After running the length of the ATL airport at full speed, I made it to my gate and the air traffic controllers graciously agreed to open the plane door and let me on.

The flight from Atlanta to Birmingham is ridiculously short, and after we landed, the pilot came over the cabin speakers and informed us that there was a fallen soldier on our plane. It took a few seconds for the meaning of this to set in, then my hand shot up to my mouth and tears welled in my eyes. He asked us to please remain seated out of respect for the soldier and his family. Then something bizarre happened. I started crying, and I couldn't stop.

I hate crying in public. In fact, I hate crying in front of anyone. If I cry in front of you, it means that we are somehow intimately involved. You are either my mom or my dad, or my boyfriend, or my best friend in the whole world. But when I looked out the window and saw the soldiers lined up at attention, saluting and waiting for the flag-covered casket to roll out of the belly of our plane, I stopped caring that a bunch of strangers could see me. Something clicked in my brain and I was suddenly very aware that sometimes life is hard, and things are fucking sad, and emotions are inevitable.

After we sat there for about five minutes, the pilot came back on and gave us the OK to deboard the plane. The casket still had not come out, but people slowly started gathering their things and making their way to the exit. I had been sitting on the side of the plane opposite the ceremony, so I crossed over and sat in a window and watched. I debated for a while whether or not to take (and then publish) photos of what was going on, because it was obviously a really personal thing I was watching. I decided to go ahead and take them, because I'm a blogger and that's what I do. I blog about things that affect me; and nothing has affected me quite as much as seeing what I saw that night.

It took a while, but eventually the casket rolled out of the cargo area of the plane. It was draped in an American flag and wrapped in plastic. I looked over to the family, standing to the left of what you see in the photo above, and a woman I assume was the mother had her hand to her mouth and was crying. A younger girl - the soldier's sister, maybe - had her arms around her. There were a few other family members there, too.

As I watched all this happening, through a thick layer of tears and a couple layers of even thicker airplane windows, I realized I had never seen anything so tragic in my life. I felt like I was watching a movie, except that this was very, very real. This person really fought in a war - one of two that our country is currently involved in - and really died. And now the family really has to go through Christmas without him. And they will really never see this person again. This person made the ultimate sacrifice, and all I could ask myself as I watched the soldiers pick up the casket and carry it toward the hearse was, For what?

My dad is in the military. He has been my whole life. Luckily he ranks high enough to where he's not active in combat zones - and I thanked the universe for that as I watched the ceremony - but even with a close family member in the military, I still found myself asking, Why are our people dying over there? What are they protecting us from? What are these wars even about?

The thing that initially struck me about the fallen soldier was not the profound sacrifice he made to better the average citizen's existence in America - it was the even more profound tragedy that, ultimately, his death was mostly in vain. If it was my son or brother or father in that casket, I would not feel any comfort from the knowledge that he died for a good cause. I'm not saying I don't support the troops, because I do - I do support them, precisely because they need it more than ever, because they are fighting in a meaningless war that should have ended years and years ago.

When I got in bed that night, I started thinking about the soldier's family going home and holding each other, knowing that 2009 would forever be remembered as the year their son or brother or grandson died. I asked the universe, as fervently as I could, to please give my entire heart to that family, because I felt like I didn't need it anymore. I offered them every bit of love left in my heart, because who could possibly need it more than a family who lost their loved one to a fruitless war a week before Christmas?

And then, there in the palpable still of an Alabama night, I realized that this person had not died in vain at all. Everyone on that plane who stayed to watch the ceremony - we were all affected by the profound sadness of what had happened to this soldier whose name none of us knew. It made us all think and feel things we probably wouldn't have thought or felt otherwise, and be more grateful for what we have. Even in my darkest hour, I still give thanks that I am alive, and so are all the people I love. I came home on a plane, wrapped in depression and homesickness and exhaustion from a city that is beating me down, but I can be thankful I didn't come home wrapped in a box and a flag, symbolic of everything and nothing at the same time.

To my fallen soldier's family, and to all the families of all the soldiers who will come home in a similar fashion: My thoughts and prayers are always with you. Prior to last week, I'm ashamed to say I never really thought about the sacrifices you make; now, I will think about them everyday. You are not alone, and for as long as these wars go on - and as long as I am lucky enough to keep breathing - I will dedicate my heart every Christmas to the people who have made the ultimate sacrifice, remembering with acute clarity how I felt when I saw the family of my fallen soldier standing outside on a clear, cold Southern night.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas in La Guardia

As you all know, I flew home for Crimma Friday evening. The halls of my choice New York airport, La Guardia, were definitely decked with boughs of holly and wreaths and all kinds of spirited stuff, but the best Crimma decorations are always the most unexpected. Such as.

The fact that they had to pay someone to design these signs, then pay someone else to print said signs, and then pay yet another person to place them in standing placard holders randomly dispersed throughout the security checkpoint lines - all these things amaze me*.

Santa himself, natch. Bag full o' gifts (possibly) included.

*Almost as much as it does that they feel they have a very legitimate need to produce these signs

Friday, December 18, 2009

Please direct all inquiries to

I've always had sort of a weird curiosity about celebrities' personal contact information. Like phone numbers, e-mail addresses, AIM screen names, shit like that. I mean, you know Beyoncé has an e-mail account. I'm sure Jay be all up in her inbox with sweet nuffins all day long. So, inspired by my creepy curiosity about these things, I decided to come up with a list of possible e-mail addresses for all my favorite celebs. I'll start with the most obvious ones.

Lady Gaga


Trey Songz

Britney Spears (this redirects from

Mariah Carey


Miley Cyrus (also redirects from


Leave your suggestions in the comments.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Throwback Thursday: A dedication to the South

I am going home to the dirty dirty tomorrow, and I could not be more excited. I felt much better when I woke up this morning, much more like myself, which naturally means I'm in the mood to listen to some hardass, gritty Southern hip-hop. This includes but is not at all limited to Three 6 Mafia, Trillville, Lil Scrappy, Bone Crusher, Outkast, Ludacris, Rich Boy, T.I., Gucci Mane, Weezy, Young Joc, Pastor Troy and Crime Mob.

I don't understand why I love this music so much, but I'm sort of beyond analyzing it. The first single I ever bought was B.I.G. ft. Puff Daddy and MA$E "Mo Money, Mo Problems." At the time, I was a 12-year-old white girl growing up in the suburbs, and now I'm a 23-year-old white girl living in Harlem. After listening to this shit for nearly 12 years, it now reminds me of home. It reminds me of driving around bumping the bass at full volume, or going to the club and dancing until I was drenched in sweat, eating greasy food at 4 a.m., then going home and washing the cigarette smoke out of my hair. It reminds me of this one night my friend M (who helped introduce me to a lot of this music) and I went to the grittiest club in Birmingham, a place we had no business being, and I tragically lost my Blackberry. Because sometimes you just throw too hard, nomesayin.

So now, the first in a new series I'll call Throwback Thursdays: a song I used to bump loud and often as I drove around the South. 'Cuz there ain't no place like home, y'all.

And nothing says home like booty dancing, high school drum lines, college football, heavy bass, slurred speech, accents, sippin' on whiskey sours, dropping it, thick air, thick women and the men who love them. Fuck. Yes.

You can stand under my umbrella (ella ella)

2009 has been a difficult year for me. Of course I have a lot to be thankful for - I experienced more love and joy and exultation in 2009 than I have in my entire life, and as far as I know I wasn't the victim of any violent crimes or disease or anything equally terrible - but that doesn't mean there weren't times when I thought to myself, Can I get through this? Because there were plenty of them.

I'm not going to write a detailed post here about all that I've experienced in 2009 - I'm saving that post for the very end of December - but I have been thinking a lot about what I can take away from this year. I learned a lot of things, but I think all the little things I learned can generally be grouped under one big umbrella, and that umbrella is called: Hindsight is 20/20. (It's an awesome umbrella, like one of those huge golf ones that would never deign to invert in the wind. I have never owned such an umbrella, so I guess I should now consider myself lucky.)

"Hindsight is 20/20" just might be the most brilliant of all wisdom nuggets, because it's actually doubly meaningful. The thing about "hindsight is 20/20" is that you can't understand it until later. You can't just read or hear it and go, "Yeah, duh, everyone knows that. It's a truism." It's something you have to actually live to understand. You can only understand it - wait for it - in hindsight. Brilliant, right? And that is the huge fucking thing I learned this year.

Last year at this time, I was a different person. I know that now, but I couldn't have known it then. I couldn't have known then just how naïve I was, or how sweet, or how innocent, or how immature. Because I was all those things; I was all those things before I was unemployed for three months and found myself largely depressed because of it. Before I got my first job and felt the happiest I had felt in months. Before I broke up with my boyfriend - not twice but thrice - and finally realized that I was going through my first true fucking heartbreak.  Who I was in 2008 - that person existed before I realized that sometimes living your dream can mean risking a very unwelcome awakening.

The point is that it was impossible for me to realize in December 2008 that the next year would bring a lot of changes, and not all of them easy. I had no idea that in a year's time I would be mourning for the parts of myself that were so natural to me that they went totally unnoticed at the time. Of course now, in hindsight, I can clearly see 2008's version of me - sweet, innocent, loving, hopeful, clueless - and my late 2009 self fears that those qualities might be gone forever.

It's not fair, really. What a fucked up way to operate things, universe. So people aren't allowed to really, fully appreciate the good things about their lives until those things have gone missing? I mean is this just what it feels like to grow up? Because if so, fuck that. No wonder people cling to their youth like a ladybug clings to a leaf during a tornado - because if this is what it feels like to grow up, then it really fucking sucks. Or, another alternative - perhaps this is just what it feels like to get over a broken heart. If that's what it is, then OK, universe, I can deal with it - as long as you promise that it won't feel like this forever, and that one day I will look in the mirror and still see at least a bit of my pre-2009 self looking back at me.

Some people might say that I'm just futilely trying to live in the past. But that's not it; I don't want to erase the past year, or go back to before it happened, or live out my glory days as a 22-year-old living in the South or something like that. If I had the option to switch lives with the 2008 version of me, I still wouldn't do it. It's just that I feel like there are these youthful parts of myself that I want back because I feel like they are rightfully mine to keep forever - parts that were taken from me by bouts of heartache and depression and adulthood. The fucking scariest part is that I don't know if I can get them back; what if they really are stuck in the past, and trying to regain my ownership of them is just as pointless as trying to fill a cracked snow globe with water? Or, if they're not stuck in the past, then where are they? How do I get to them?

Or maybe they've been here all along, and I just can't see them. If the universe would shine some light on them, that would be much appreciated. I'll even move my bigass umbrella out of the way. Deal?

Because I'm really too young to feel so fucking old.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What, other people don't appreesh abbrevs?

I went to the gayno today. Yes, my (likely) gay OB/GYN. It was a thrilling experience, as always, but it was made all the more thrilling by the following sign, which I spotted on the wall as I was waiting for the doctor.

Clearly, not all people share my intense love for writing in abbreviations. In fact, some people go so far as to create an entire class of abbreviations and then dub them "inappropriate." I found this borderline offensive, and if I didn't like my gayno so much, I would probably boycott.

Also worth noting: the following is an actual textversation that happened between Schmom B. and me, immediately following said doctor's appointment.

Me: He said everything looked good. He was gay. I loved him.
Schmom B.: Good. A gay gyno! That's NYC for u.
Me: A gayno!
Schmom B.: I'm peeing my pants!
Me: Well don't do that.

Humor-laden urinary incontinence aside, Schmom B. is so tech-savvy y'all.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's a kind of Magic

This is Magic. Yes, he is a dragon with wings. Yes, he is a Beanie Baby from approximately the year 1997. And yes, he lives with me. And there's a reason for that.

When I was 11, the summer between my fifth and sixth grade years, my appendix burst and I subsequently got a really bad infection that put me in the hospital for two weeks.  I had surgery to have the rebellious organ removed, then I was on an IV drip for a few weeks after that. My parents had planned a big vacation to DC and Busch Gardens in Williamsburg (suburban Virginia, not hipsterban New York), but obvs we weren't able to go. I was of course heartbroken, because when you're 11-year-old me, all you care about is summertime and roller coasters*.

So anyway. I was in the hospital, getting poked and prodded with needles,  and I was sad because I was keeping my parents and myself from summertime bliss. Furthermore, I had no idea what was going on inside my body. I knew that I was on a lot of drugs, and that sometimes I hurt and sometimes I didn't, and that I couldn't eat good food (like ice cream) and that my mom now had to help me use the bathroom. Children live their lives in these very distinct and simplistic terms, because children have no concept of their own mortality.

At some point during my hospital stay, my mom brought Magic to stay in the room with me. In 1997 the Beanie Babies craze was just taking off and I'm sure they wanted to make me feel as normal as a kid spending her summer in the hospital could. So Magic came to live with me for a few weeks. I don't really remember the extent of our relationship, but I know he was always in the room with me, watching over me.

Time passed and nurses fed me jello. (PS, Why is this the only fucking food considered appropriate for people in hospitals? It just seems like the most unnatural choice possible for sustenance, and my constant consumption of it for weeks on end probably helps to explain my present-day disdain for the  grotesque gelatin.) Anyway. Nurses fed me jello and I slowly got better. I remember after I was cleared for release, I was just so happy to be able to go home and eat ice cream again. By this point I had lost like 15 or 20 lbs. in less than a month's time. I actually remember thinking (foolishly) that this was awesome. Insta-skinny! (This just goes to show how fucked up our society is, that 11-year-old girls 1. feel pressure to be skinny and 2. celebrate weight loss caused by extended hospital stays.) Shortly after my arrival home, I was sitting on the couch talking to my parents about the experience, and I asked them how sick I had been. My mom looked at me directly and said point-blank, "You almost died."

Of course I had no clue this had been the case, because I was just a child. I had no idea how infected my insides had been, and it never occurred to me that I might be missing not just one summer of roller coasters, but lots of them. All of them.

To this day my mom claims that Magic watched over me that summer. That his presence was sort of like a cute stuffed guardian angel in the room. I mean, he does have wings, so it's basically like the same thing.

One important detail is that I did not pack Magic when I moved to New York. I opened my suitcase when I got to Z's apartment last December - where I stayed for two weeks before I found my own place - and there was Magic, folded in with my shirts and towels and shoes and God knows what else. Unbeknown to me, my mom had put him in there, just where he belonged, tucked in tightly amongst the rest of my entire life. I was not surprised to see him. He has been with me since my life was drastically changed the first time - nearly 13 years ago now - so it only makes sense for him to be present during what has certainly been the second most drastic life change thus far.

So, there he sits, on top of my DVDs in the corner of my room in Harlem, watching me laugh and cry and (not) do Pilates. He's heard every single conversation I've had in this room - happy, sad and pathetic - and he never judges. He's just a reminder that once upon a time there was a possibility that the life I love so dearly now would never have been. And yet, here it is, and here I am, and there he is, watching over me still.

Actually, I need to ask my mom if she even put him in there. It's entirely possible he found his own way into my luggage. He's tricky like that.

*I was obsessed with roller coasters. I had a VHS tape called "Roller Coaster Thrills in 3D" and I watched the shit out of it, because when you're a kid and you love something, it only seems logical to do that thing as many times as humanly possible

Monday, December 14, 2009

A little Christmas (fl)air goes a long way

Christmas is blowing up on my street*, y'all. All my neighbors seem to be very in the Christmas mood - there are lights and wreaths and tinsel decorations everywhere. As I was leaving my apartment one night this weekend, I noticed a popular recurring theme: Christmas balloons. You know, those really big decorations that are kept inflated by a big fan and backlit by some magical Heavenly mechanism. They are the height of tackiness, so naturally I love them. And apparently my neighbors do too, because at least four brownstones on my street currently have big Christmas balloons in front of them.

First on the tour de balloons: Santa riding a rocking horse. Naturally. And yes, it was rocking back and forth, I assume powered by an oscillating fan.

Next, a Santa whose body apparently disappeared inside his beard**. I assume he went all Atkins on us, then became aggressively hungry due to lack of carbs and ate himself. This is my favorite. (Shhh, don't tell the others.)

Third, a polar bear family!  Here, we see a Papa polar bear, a baby polar bear and... Snoopy? Whatevz. There are no rules in the wondrous world of Christmas balloons.

And finally, we come to Santa riding a polar bear. It makes a nice homage to balloons one and three, I think, while still managing to maintain its own sense of individuality.

All of this reminds me of freshman year of college. C and I were dorm neighbors, and for  Christmas we went in together on a balloon snowman to put outside our rooms. We plugged him up and placed him between our two doors, and the fan barely worked - we adopted him from Wal-Mart - so he just kept deflating and toppling over. We would come home and there he would be, face flat on the floor, arms splayed to the sides - nothing but a former version of his puffy snowman self. It became a running joke for several years, our sad little balloon snowman.

This year, I could not afford a sad balloon snowman, but I did purchase some Christmassy stuff and decorate my room. Below is my contribution.

It's a real (albeit dwarf) tree! It smells so good. In New York, people sell Christmas trees on the sidewalks. You'll be walking along- I got mine in Harlem, of course - and all of a sudden you'll find yourself surrounded by trees, in a delicious-smelling Christmas forest. It's amazing. I got some baby ornaments for my baby tree and topped it with a flower pin that I normally wear as an accessory with dresses; the "Meghan Dr." sign is a cheesy souvenir I got from the Empire State Building when my parents visited back in October. (It's really hard for me to find name-based souvenirs because they always spell it "Megan" or "Meagan" or something equally abysmal, so I tend to snatch things up when I see it spelled correctly.)

The greeting card is from my dentist. I guess he sent it because he felt bad for making me miss the Rockefeller tree lighting; it only makes sense for me to make him an integral part of my own personal one.

Happy holidays, world.

*Quite literally, and yes, pun completely intended
**This might also be a snowman

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Santa Claus is comin' to... train!

You may recall that a couple of weeks ago I made the statement (and I quote): I fully expect to see Santa on the subway before the month is over. If I don't, I will be seriously disappointed. 

I guess the blogods were listening.

I saw not one but four Santas trolling the NYC subways. I could unfortunately only get a photo of them from behind (TWSS) because my friend J and I had to walk the other direction to make our transfer. Well, that, and Santas move fast. During our walk she said, "Isn't today SantaCon or something like that? All these people dress as Santa and do a pub crawl."

1. Stop acting like these four people I saw in the subway weren't the real Santa. I don't appreciate being lied to.
2. New York is fucking awesome.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Schmom B. Says

Sigh, I dropped the ball on the Schmom B. Says feature. It's been like at least a month since I posted one. Well, Schmom B. came through last night with the following e-mailed words of wisdom, this time totally unsolicited by me. (Usually she doles them out in response to a pitiful text message or phone call from yours truly about how I miss my ex or work is hard or blablabla other uninteresting things about my life.) This just further illustrates that Schmom B. is the best.

Schmom B. Says: Don't forget, you are loved

Hey sweetie,

Heard something today that's very meaningful to me.  Struck me, you would appreciate it too.  "Scars remind us where we've been; they don't have to dictate where we're going." Something else I read:  "We tend to seek happiness when happiness is actually a choice." Happy "two weeks before Christmas."  See you soon.  Take care.  I love you.


This honestly couldn't have come at a better time. The city's been closing in, and I've been feeling really anxious, and my inner peace has slipped away from me, and I needed a reminder that I have people who love me, even if some of them are way down South in Alabama. 

Up here in the city, feels like things are closing in;
The sunset's just my light bulb burning out.
I miss Kentucky, and I miss my family;
All the sweetest winds they blow across the South...

Ugh please forgive me for the excessive song lyric usage recently.  I sort of hate myself for it.... but I just watched this live version of Ryan Adams' Oh My Sweet Carolina, and it made me cry more than anyone should ever cry in a public place ever. I actually had to stop watching. Self-sustenance. Shake it out.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New York is sort of annoying me

New York can be a big pain in the ass sometimes. I don't know if it's just because it's winter, and I've been feeling like I want everything to slow down to approximately the pace of maple syrup pouring over the edge of a huge stack of buttermilk pancakes, but lately everything is just bugging me. I want stillness, and quiet, and I want to be able to walk around without (gasp) seeing any people. I guess this means I want the South. This might actually be a little bit of playful teasing on the part of the universe, because I'm going home for like ten days in just over a week, and I am so fucking excited about it.

Things that have been annoying me recently.

1. I bought these new earbuds for my iPhone and for some reason the buds pop out of my ears more easily than the ones Apple makes. And for whatever reason, they also are constantly getting caught on things around me. Other people's bags, buttons on their coats, corners of books, whatever. Anything protruding from other people's bodies - it's likely my earbuds will get caught on it. So when the cords pull the buds out of my ears, I'm left grappling awkwardly to catch them so my whole iPhone doesn't tumble out of my pocket/bag. We've already seen the trauma such events can cause. Solution: Kick out half-to-most of the people in Manhattan.

2. It rained a lot yesterday morning and Manhattan turned into one huge slip-and-slide, except instead of being the funnest fucking thing ever like when you were a kid, you're just hopping over huge puddles and hoping you don't slip and fall in the concrete subway stations and avoiding people's nasty dripping umbrellas on the train and hoping the leaking bus window doesn't burst open under the weight of just a few too many raindrops. Solution: Make a lot of money and take cabs everywhere.

3. People walk too slowly. If you are old or handicapped or something, OK, that's fine. If you are healthy and of a reasonable age, please walk at a normal to absurdly fast pace, like the rest of us. And stopping in the middle of the sidewalk is just unacceptable. Solution: See solution number one.

4. People are fucking inconsiderate. In the South, we are taught to consider other people; and actually, "taught" seems like too strong a word, because it's more deeply ingrained than that - it's just the way people live. If someone is coming through a door behind you, you hold the door open for them. If someone is walking toward a door that you are blocking, you move out of the way, so they may walk through. If someone does something for you - whether they are required to or not - you say "thank you." You make every effort to smile at people you interact with, whether it's your boss or the girl behind the cash register at the drug store, because you just never know what other people are going through. In New York, I still do these things, because I am Southern and that's just what I have always done and will always do; but it is a sadly rare occasion when I see others doing these things for me. Solution: Start raising your kids right, New Yorkers.

5. People walk too quickly. Yeah, you heard me. If you live in Manhattan, you are either walking too slowly or too quickly. Slow the fuck down. I promise, wherever you're going, it's just not that big a deal. Solution: Everyone, everywhere in the city, just stop. Stand perfectly still. And listen.

6.  My apartment is too small and I really miss having a couch and my windows are too big and it makes it hard to hang my Christmas lights, which keep falling down because I can't use the proper hanging utensils because I can't reach because my windows are too big. Solution: See solution number two part one. Spend some of that money to rent a bigger apartment and buy some real furniture and stuff. Also, become an adult.

7. It's loud. All the time. Honking, screeching, yelling, talking, braking, clinging, clanging, halting. Normally, I find all these sounds beautiful. But recently, I just want to yell at everyone to shut the fuck up, which would of course be counterproductive. Solution: Hushhhhhhhhhh.

I just want to get into a car and drive.
I want to see the road in front of me for miles on end.
And while I'm driving, I want to listen to only albums I've never listened to before and would normally never listen to.
Where I would go, I have no idea.
For no apparent reason today I keep recalling the past, very specifically and at random times.
I keep remembering my drive from Birmingham to Oxford, in bizarre flashes.
The bridges I crossed.
The exits I took.
The particular gas station I always stopped at on the way.
I keep remembering the music I would listen to on the drive, back in the day when I actually had a CD changer and CDs to change.
I keep remembering restaurants in Oxford where I used to eat regularly, which was basically all of them.
I keep remembering you, and that's when I want everyone on the streets of New York to disappear.
Because when I think of you I get this huge lump in my throat and I can't breathe and my eyeballs can only contain so much liquid until I suffocate and this goddamn walk home is so long and why is that guy looking at me and please please please everyone just go away.

It's not like the movies
They fed us all little white lies

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Running full-speed in subways, and other pointless things

I don't understand people who run during rush hour to make it to a subway car so crowded that there's no way in hell they will fit inside. Or even if they can fit inside, at the very least it will be an incredibly unpleasant experience.  There is nothing at all pleasant about being crammed in so close with your fellow New Yorkers that you have to stand perfectly still, lest you risk having someone's hair brush your hand or their leg brush your leg or, so much worse, their breath aimed directly at your face. And trust me, at 8:15 in the morning, it ain't good.

And yet every morning, I see people run to a train car that is very clearly packed to the brim. And these people aren't, like, walking swiftly. They are running, running, running. I always wonder why New Yorkers do this. In their brains, are they thinking, "If I don't get on this exact train at this exact moment, I will be late for work!"? If so, then that's 1) flawed thinking, because during rush hour the next train will arrive - guaranteed, at least on the 4/5 and 6 lines - in approximately 90 seconds, and 2) a case of seriously fucked priorities, if they're truly concerned about getting to work 90 seconds later than they planned. (Because I think few people would consider arriving at 9:01:30 to be "late" for a scheduled arrival of 9.) Or perhaps they're running without thinking about why they're running. I think this latter option is a lot more likely, for the following reasons.

Manhattan is a city filled with people trying to accomplish as much as possible as fast as possible, usually at the expense of all logic and well-being and pretty much everything else. They work as much as possible, to make as much money as possible, to rent as nice an apartment as possible (note: I would say as "big" an apartment as possible, but let's not kid ourselves) in as nice a neighborhood as possible, just so they can spend as little time as possible in said apartment. And they spend a lot of time figuring out how to maximize the use of their, um, time; they ask themselves, What would be more worthy of my time tonight, getting drinks with a friend I haven't seen in a long time, going to a book release event with someone I see all the time or working late to finish this project so I can leave early on Friday to go to a sample sale with my co-worker*? It might sound like a long and complicated thought process, but over time, as one gets used to life in Manhattan, all this stuff becomes first nature and takes place in a split second; one synapse fires against another, and - poof - decision made.

This is how New Yorkers - myself definitely included at times- live out their lives. So why would they act any differently during their morning commute? People run for packed trains not because they've thought it through, but because it's now their default mode of existence; they're so used to doing something 100% of the time - and using aforementioned deductive system to make sure that something is worth something - that it gives them anxiety to miss the train when they know that maybe, if they try hard enough, they can make it. They lurch forward at obnoxious speeds because, their brains instantly tell them instantly, there's simply nothing else for them to do.

I, however, do not run when I see a packed train surrounded by a crowd of people at the car doors, because I have decided that this - rushing around half mindless and half anxious - is not how I want to live my life. I walk at a normal speed, because in my brain I know I prefer being 90 seconds late to squeezing into a car so tightly that the only thing keeping me standing is the proximity of other standing bodies. I also know that, in the grand scheme of my life, being a minute and a half late to work does not matter. Some people might say this makes me wise, while others - likely including a lot of my city's co-inhabitants - would say it makes me (at worst) foolish and (at best) lazy. But quite frankly if anything is so serious that I can't be a maximum of two minutes late, then that is probably a thing I don't want to be involved in. Because it probably takes place inside a courthouse or a hospital or a funeral home.

And, contrary to popular belief, a packed New York City subway car is none of these things.

*The middle option is clearly the best one here. I get to see someone I like, I get free food and drinks and I get to network with people in the publishing world. Done, done and done. I, I and I.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Something is, technically, wrong

Stop being a smartass Twitter. You and your invisible commas.

Oh, don't try to make it better with a friendly robot whose hand fell off who I am therefore supposed to feel empathy for. Well, guess what Twitter. I feel no empathy at all for things that are not humans. I fucking laughed* the first time I saw Old Yeller, and I never, ever cry at movies that depict robots or other monsters as people-like things with feelings**.

*cried like a baby
**quantifiably untrue

(30) Rock around the Christmas tree

As I mentioned yesterday, I finally made it to the tree at Rockefeller Center last week. Like good little capitalists, my friends and I partook of Starbucks hot chocolates, coffees and peppermint mochas - guess which one's mine - then bopped on over to the tree, where we saw lots of adorable bundled up babies (awwww!!!!1), couples in love (shmeh) and a healthy number of very blatant B&Ts (double shmeh). It was a beautiful, beautiful thing.

I'm in red. My friend Z is the only boy, and the other two are B and J, the latter of whom took the bottom photo. (BTW, she's a pretty brilliant photographer.) We all went to college together. Just a group uh good ol' Suhhhthuhnuhs in the big citay.

Here's some more Christmas-y photos, for your enjoyment, taken with my busted ass iPhone. Please forgive the somewhat lackluster quality.

The Rock tree, from further (farther?) away.

And up close. Yeah, I totally upskirted the Rock tree. I don't feel bad about it.

Some trees along the side of the Rock ice skating rink. So pretty.

Radio City Music Hall with some Crimma lights across the skreet. PS, This is where I will see Gaga in just over a month (!!!!!!!!)

The same lights, and a bunch of cabs. Pretty typique.

Back at the beginning of November, I wrote a post saying that if I ever found a place more beautiful than Manhattan in the fall, I would have to move there immediately. Well, I found it. It's Manhattan in December. And I already live here. Life win.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Churches are (not so) secretly my favorite places in Manhattan

I love to sing. I'm sort of notorious amongst my group of friends for singing a lot, and not particularly well. They love to exaggerate how badly I sing, but really I think I have a nice voice and I can carry a tune; it's just that most of the time - and actually, this is true in most areas of my life - I don't really recognize my own limits. I have been known to go for the high note in Mariah Carey's version of O Holy Night, or in that one Minnie Riperton song. You know the one.

Fortunately for me - and somewhat unfortunately for them - I don't really care if they like it or not, because I love singing and I don't plan on stopping. And Christmas - which I have recently dubbed "Crimma" in honor of my love for all things linguistically ludicrous - is the best time of year to sing. In Manhattan especially, Crimma music is everywhere. In Bryant Park at the ice skating rink, in Rockefeller Center near the tree - which, yes, I finally went to see! - and, most appropriately, inside churches all over the city.

It might be important to point something out here. Some of you might be surprised that, although I grew up in Alabama, in the heart of America's Bible Belt, I was not raised in a Christian or religious household. My mom purposefully raised me religion-less, telling me once that she grew up in a really strict religious household where she was not allowed to attend high school dances because it was not considered appropriate, and that she did not want me to come of age in a similar environment. So she just omitted that part of my up-bringing, instead leaving it up to me to choose my own religion. So, basically my mom was a big hippie. And I couldn't love her more for it.

As a result of all this, churches have never really been my thing. Growing up, if I ever went to church for a funeral or a wedding or just to go with my grandparents or something, I felt awkward. The ceremony of it always made me uncomfortable. People always seemed so stiff and dark to me, and the churches themselves seemed sterile. When I heard authority figures speak about God and Jesus and Hell and such, I was never moved by it because they never spoke of it with any movement. Until I got to New York, I always felt this way about churches. Then I visited St. John's.

St. John's is the largest all-stone cathedral in the world. This is made all the more amazing by the fact that its home is pretty much square in the middle of Manhattan, a tiny, bizarre island where people pay $1,000 to live in a space the size of most people's bedrooms. I visited St. John's on my first trip to the city, back in 2004, and I fell in love with it immediately. I've been back several times since then, and to this day I still think of it as my quiet place of peace in a hectic city that never sleeps and never shuts the fuck up. I also think of it as my gateway church.

Were it not for St. John's, I may have never visited the church of St. Paul the Apostle, which is where I found myself this past Saturday night, listening to the Fordham University Choir and Women's Choir sing Christmas songs. (See, this is when I get to my main point, about loving singing, yes?) The church itself was more contemporary than St. John's, a lot smaller and not nearly as beautiful. But the acoustics were amazing and when the lights dimmed and the choir members' voices grew from nothingness to a low vibrating hum to full-on singing, my hairs stood up on end and tears welled in my eyes. That's the thing about beautiful music - it transcends religious beliefs and indiscriminately connects all people to the source of life.

As I was letting the music seep into my skin, I was reminded of my childhood experiences in churches because as I looked around, I realized that most of the people in the audience seemed very stiff. We were in a Catholic church - me and my hodgepodge group of fellow non-religious slash Jewish friends - and we were listening to a Catholic choir singing songs about Jesus. Now, I would think that most of the people listening would also be Christians themselves, and should logically be more moved than I was by what they were hearing. And yet, everyone was - mostly, except for when the program directed that we should sing along - perfectly still and quiet as the choir proceeded through familiar, triumphant songs like Ding Dong! Merrily on High!, For Unto Us a Child is Born, and O Come All Ye Faithful.

Well, not me. I sang under my breath (or louder, LBO) anytime I knew the tune or the words. Once my friend J shot me a look that said, "OMG you cannot hit that note please stop you're hurting me," which was of course followed by me hitting her with my program and us both laughing inappropriately. We actually whisper-chattered and laughed a lot during the show - not to a level that would bother others I don't think, and not disrespectfully - but just enough to make me realize that this is what life is about. Laughter, beauty and people you love.

When the pastor got up to make the invocation, in the middle of the concert, he asked us all to bow our heads and pray. Usually I just ignore this and stare straight ahead, thinking about whatever seems important at the time. But this time, I bowed, and as he spoke of Jesus and faith and religion, I thought of the universe, love and family. While he asked Jesus to help rid the world of hunger, war and sadness, I asked the universe to help me keep my heart open, to show me how to love people as much as I possibly can and to have faith that things do work out for the best. And when he thanked Jesus for the blessings of our lives, I thanked the universe for the blessings in mine.

So I will keep singing, keep loving and keep seeing - or hearing - the beauty in things. Because to live any other way is, dare I say, sacrilegious*.

*You would think that this word is spelled "sacreligious," but in fact it is not. I looked it up. How bizarre.