Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The rising

I’m tired of the emails and the texts and the phone calls. You want to know so badly, people? Alright, I’ll tell you. But you’re not gonna like it.

A little background for those of you out there who don’t know the intimate details of my day-to-day: I work for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Two weeks ago this Thursday, The Boss himself appeared as our guest. Wednesday night, I had to take a sleeping pill to knock myself out. I woke up extra early Thursday morning to curl my hair. I put on what I believe to be my most flattering dress. I ate my oatmeal with the “Live from Barcelona” box set playing on my laptop.

But what can I tell you? There were no strings to be pulled, no loopholes to weasel my way through. Bruce came and went under a veil of privacy as I watched from a monitor next to the studio. At one moment he was right around the corner, the thud of his workmen boots making their way from the greenroom to the set my only proof of his proximity.

Another detail for those of you who don’t know, I met Bruce once before. I sat next to him through an entire taping of the show. We made small talk as they loaded the audience and exchanged back-and-forths during the commercial breaks. It was really special. That night my roommate and I drank a bottle of champagne to celebrate and I tried not to fall asleep, dreading the inevitable crossing from the day I met Bruce to the day after.

Walking to work two Thursdays ago, I imagined The Boss remembering me, asking for me, how jealous it would make my co-workers! To inhabit the tiniest cell in the tiniest wrinkle of The Boss’s brain! Maybe he’d somehow catch me in action at work and be barreled over by my skills. Maybe he’d demand I come to work for him in the wilds of Jersey. I get a little carried away.

But that’s the fun of it all! That’s why Thursday, after work, I didn’t really care how the day had played out. I just like dreaming about it all. Maybe you think that’s bullshit, maybe it IS! But in trying to be honest with myself, I’ve come to think that disappointment is kind of like the pop of a balloon. A disruptive, irritating burst, a stillness, and then everything resumes its rhythm.

I’m a good dreamer. I can really cook things up. But with dreaming comes the constant peril of disappointment. That’s why people like me have to be made of cork.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In the air tonight

I love Phil Collins. Today, stuck in a funk, I downloaded his greatest hits, and I've been cleaning my bathroom and drinking wine to it all night. Not that it took all night to clean my bathroom. Holy shit, I'm Bridget Jones. But the guy really knows what he's talking about. We DO need to hear both sides of the story. And how much would you love to be with someone with whom you've had your problems, but who's still on your side?

To be two hearts, beating just one line. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Born to run

If I could just play sports, if I could just run as fast as my body would let me all day and kick and throw things until every part of me felt like an overcooked strand of spaghetti, I would be happy.

On Saturday, I played Ultimate Frisbee for three hours on Staten Island. How beautiful! When the moments we're not running can be spent looking at the way the sun hits the leaves, (twinkling like the smiles in a toothpaste commercial!) felling the clean cold of the air despite the cloudless sky. And then we're in play and running, our feet pounding at the ground, powered by the motor anatomy rigged up inside our chests. On the field my heart is an important piece of machinery. It is not faint. It is not fickle. It's just grateful for the oatmeal breakfast and the occasional glass of red wine I treat it to.

And the way we move, the we weave around each other like the yarn on a loom, or birds flying in formation. They rhythm of us is found art. Our minds are angles and calculations. Our minds are wallpapered with geometry.

It's these times that I wish I wasn't a girl. To be picked last. To lob weaker passes than everyone else. To be stuck guarding the guy who smokes between games, and waddles down the field like the squatter of a cartoon thief duo, and to find him my worthy adversary. But who can I be than the person I am? I have no body but this one to use for Frisbee. I should be grateful my body is willing to play at all.

I'm no star athlete. I've run two marathons, often keeping pace with pregnant women and 80-year-olds. but as a lone runner, I'm happy that those who match my stride are often the ones with most unlikely reasons to be there. It makes eavesdropping more interesting. On my basketball team, I foul too much, my shot is as weak as my Frisbee pass, and I'm unclear about exactly what "double dribbling" is. But only when my body is moving can my mind stop. And I need that so badly. If it weren't for sports, my mind would wear its gears out. It'd be that belt in the engine you only notice when you start to smell burning rubber. And by the time it starts to burn, it isn't doing much but making the rest of the machine miserable.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

So you're scared and you're thinking that maybe you ain't that young anymore

I’ve been having mixed feelings about the gray streak I’m getting. When I first noticed it, I felt sentimental. My mother’s now entirely silver bob began the same way. It was like I’d uncovered a family heirloom right beneath my bangs. I mean, it’s not like I’m getting old, right? How could I be? I still get carded. I wear t-shirts I bought in high school. I played a drinking game last Saturday for Christ’s sake!

But a few nights ago, I stood in front of my mirror plucking out each gray hair, my eyes wandering from my hairline to grooves in my forehead to the puckered skin at the corners of my eyes. My face is starting to look an unmade bed, and I’m too immature to even make my bed regularly! It’s as if I suddenly realized I’m in the middle of my turn in Mario Kart before I learned how to work the joystick.

But last night I went to see my dear friend Marisa in a variety show called “The Snarks Unlimited” put on by her all-female theater company The Snarks. Definitely one of the weirdest experiences I’ve come across in New York. My beautiful friend played the ingénue, and while her role was well-deserved, being the only woman under 50 onstage might have had something to do with the casting. For an hour and a half, I watched august women shuffle-ball-change in sexy corsets, freestyle about the history of their theater group, and make out with the barely legal men they’d commissioned to play the male roles. When an acned 19-year-old ambushed one those silver haired foxes and thrust his groin against her backside, I accidentally swallowed my gum.

God bless these women. Ten minutes into the show, watching ladies sashay about in hats as big as tires and belt out “Yankee Doodle” I worried I’d been transported to dawning of WWI. But these women were wild, gregarious, funny! I remember taking a theater class when I was eight and being scolded for being “hammy.” Watching the show last night, I regretted pocketing that criticism. Just think of how refined my hamminess could be now if I had cultivated it when it just beginning to sprout.

(It actually reminded me to tell you of another one of my personal obsessions, the Miss Senior America competition. I’ve wanted to see and write about the pageant for years. I don’t know whether I find it inspiring or grotesque, like a really graphic picture of elephantitis you find on the internet and can’t look away from.)

Let me be clear, that’s NOT how I feel about The Snarks. Last night, I saw a group of women celebrating a strong mutual sense of self. And with this gray streak taking over my head I need to know that’s what I’m working toward, celebrating all of my beauty. It seems like we spend so much of youth letting our beauty make us miserable.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Blinded by the light

Okay, so if you’re anything like most of young people who run with my posse, you’re feeling very wronged by this recession. Sure, you late Generation Yers-early Generation Zers may have scored some pretty sweet Christmas (or Hannukah/Kwanza!) presents during the 1990s when your parents were packing their pockets with Clinton era profit. I, for one, was the proud owner of the Molly, Samantha, Kirsten, and Felicity American Girl dolls. Although truth be told, etiquette went out the window at most of those tea parties. What with Molly hurling epithets about Kirsten’s Swedish upbringing. Alas, we were from different worlds.

But I digress. Young people are peeved because, relatively new to the workforce, we didn’t even get a chance to fuck up the economy before it fucked us. Not only is it difficult to land a job, especially for those without resumes padded by years of professional experience, but with Baby Boomer retirement savings devastated by the economic climate, we can’t even hit up our parents for money.

But listen, guys: forget everything that Counting Crows taught you. Stop wallowing. Let me tell you a few reasons I think this recession could be a boon for the young:

-We’re already poor. Meaning, few of us have valuable assets. I’m not saying it’s easy to scrap together the means to fix the fan belts on our ’83 Toyota Celicas, but most early-ish 20-somethings don’t own homes, have mortgages, etc., so stringing by on less isn’t a huge hit to our lifestyles.

-If you’re a young person in a big city, like say me in New York, your cost/quality of living might actually improve. Richard Florida writes of Atlantic Monthly proposes the inflated income of Wall Street finance workers drove up the real estate market. With the hegemony of investment bankers having run its course, perhaps our rents will even go down.

-If you can land a job, it’s gonna be fun. Recessions actually generate demand in the creative economy (I also read this in the Atlantic, fyi). Since recessions are times of adversity, the jobs that grow out of them require innovation and problem solving. They’re created to combat the very economic crisis they’re born from. Young people are so idealistic and naïve and full of hope, we’re ripe for crafting sweeping theories for change! Plus, to have a job where you actually get to use your brain early in your career is a gift in itself.

-We can start saving now. People lost money because stocks plummeted. But that means they’re selling for cheap. Investment made now won’t lead to quick profits but putting money into an index fund, which you wouldn’t dip into anyway until long after the government has wiped away this recession (right?), could lead to some worthwhile spending change for the future. According to my brother, buy Vanguard.

What better time in your life to be poor than the time in your life when you’re already poor? I know I can only see this through the prism of my own blessed experience. I have a job. I’m not stuck with obscene student loans. But perhaps I’m revisiting what Condi said in a far less stupid context: perhaps this recession is like the Chinese character for crisis, one of both danger AND opportunity.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mary, Queen of Peepee-sas

The envy! The rage! While adults (kinda) like me toil away at our 9-to-5’s (9-to-7:30’s) Manhattan kids are running wild! Do you remember the joy of The Snow Day? Eating Eggo waffles with Aunt Jemima syrup, watching Ricki Lake in your parents’ bed, sledding with the neighborhood posse in the park across the street?

This brings me to a very important question: Did anyone else think it was cool to pee in your snowsuit? As a child, the principle of “swimsuit, snowsuit, what’s the difference?” was carved into my understanding of the world. In recent years, I’ve started to think maybe I was a little off. This begs another question: didn’t my mother ever notice that my snowsuit was covered in pee all the time? We kept in the coat closet with all the other coats. I have four other family members; no one minded that our hall closet reeked of urine?

Sometimes I brag about the summer after sixth grade, when I survived on only Kix cereal. I think I found a new anecdote to sum up the feral playground that was my adolescence.