no one to know about me,
and then I wanted
everyone to know about my anonymity
and for everyone to understand this as
their punishment;” —Kirill Medvedev
Some notes on everyday, superficial engagements.
For most of my life haircuts were an every 6 months sort of adventure. There was a year or so when I had rather short hair that would have greatly benefited from the every 6 to 8 week trim, but I still only managed to show up at the salon every 4 months or so. I am not particularly fond of haircuts. Mostly it’s the forced small talk I’m opposed to, even while the faucet or blowdryer blares in my ears, and the comments about my virgin hair, how thick it is, how it takes twice as long to blow dry than to cut, how I should use a flat iron on it, how I should use expensive products for extra shine, how there are a million techniques I could learn for round brushing it. I smile and nod and think they must be crazy if they think I go through this process on my own head every morning. A few months ago I headed out for my first NYC haircut and in the ambiguous land of Park Slope meets Boerum Hill meets Cobble Hill I found a relatively affordable haircut in a tiny sleek salon by a woman that I can really look forward to talking to for approximately 20 minutes every 4 months. We lightly touched on the attributes of certain neighborhoods, the quality food at the Barclay Center, the obsession of certain 20-something men with certain 4th Avenue bars, and the abundance of babies in our chosen enclave. When she pulled out the blowdryer, she went quiet and I gleefully rested my eyes. The only comments she had to make about my hair were that there was no way I put in the time and acrobatics to blow it out every day and that I should come back whenever I couldn’t stand the length anymore. To which I could only say, “Yes, certainly, thank you so much.” This woman gets me. I recently abandoned shampoo for baking soda and started spending double for really thick sulfate free conditioners and my hair feels both cleaner and softer. I only wash my hair every other day and my post shower hair routine is under 10 minutes. I briefly towel dry and brush it out (because apparently it is important to distribute the oils produced by your scalp throughout the rest of your hair). I flip my head over and smooth in a nickle sized dollop of de-frizz serum. I blow dry on high with my head bent over and the diffuser on for approximately 5 minutes (because apparently, even though it takes a bit longer it is important not to singe your hair. Also, if your bathroom turns into a sauna during the summer, be sure to blow dry in a less humid more ventilated room). I come back up for air, decide where my part is going to be, blow dry on cool for a minute (because this is supposed to help with the setting/frizzing/flyaway situation) and mess it a bit with my fingers. If I’m heading outside immediately, I’ll loosely wind my hair into a bun at the nape of my neck and secure with an elastic. This allows it to finish drying without taking on any strange shapes while you run about freezing or sweating or being wind blown. I yank out the elastic when I’ve arrived wherever I’m going and don’t think about my hair again until I’m back in the shower.
I bought a bowl today. It is the perfect guacamole/salad/cookie dough/pasta/pancake batter bowl and you may think there is no bowl that could be perfect for all these things, but there is and I found it. I want to make food for people because I have some strange idea that I can make them enjoy it more than they currently do. If you’re not much into vegetables let me roast a pan for you, if you can’t imagine craving salad every day, let me introduce you to my favorite, if you never been very fond of oats let me cook you up a creamy pot, let me pour the heartiest of tomato sauces over your plain pasta. I’ve never much cared about what other people eat and not once made an argument for anyone else to go vegetarian. This is how I was raised. I’ve never had to fight anyone over my food choices. My mom went vegan when I was four and vegetarian food was the only food, was all the food, I ever knew. Also, I believe the way we feed ourselves to be very personal and health can mean so many things. My desire to cook vegetarian food for people has no hidden agenda; to me it’s simply delicious worth sharing food. The way each vegetarian or vegan eats is so individualized anyway. I like eating things that are simple and fresh so that’s what I cook. I like eating things that are mostly unprocessed so that’s what I cook. I like eating things that are meat free so that’s what I cook. I’m not going to feed you something that I haven’t tasted so no red meat, chicken, turkey, fish or much soy will be on your plate, but I think you’ll enjoy it just the same and when we go out to dinner together the next night I wont have a word to say about a thing you order.
I am a fan of all things high waisted. I like skirts that flow out from a cinched waist and snug jeans that zip above my belly button and oversized shirts cut to fall inline with my bottom rib. It is the resurgence of high waisted bottoms that got me to even consider wearing pants again so perhaps it is that I do not have the right lifestyle for it or that a childhood living in a bathing suit along with a ballet teacher who yelled when our tan lines were visible beneath our leotards has skewed my idea of beachwear, but I seem to be missing something when it comes to the popularity of the high waisted bikini. If you are going to be in that much sun for that long, I thought you would want to be wearing something that gave you the least amount of strange tan lines and I generally like for the skin below my belly button to be the same color as the skin above it.
It is a privilege to be this still. It is more stuck than meandering, more wallowing than lost, but not even as active as wallowing, not even as active as not knowing, not even as active as sinking. We discussed wanting to go elsewhere, try something new, do something manual. How maybe we were mistaken to think this would only ever need to be it. There is no escape from one’s own wasted potential. That’s how it feels, like I’m wasting, but not in any of the glamorous, black and white, smoke filled room ways. The intangible is uninteresting and yet nothing appears within reach. When did being awake become such a burden? When did the bare minimum become so bare? There are so few things that any of us truly have to do and they are entirely our prerogative.
I was the girl that waited.
I should not admit that I think I’d be good at twitter.
Aren’t we tired of being these people yet?
Mostly, I think I need a rice cooker.
Everything kept ending with you.
Give me an empty theater and a ghost light and an hour to lie on the floor.
We should all probably fall in love and write a musical with our partner and split over irreconcilable differences before the show ever sees a proper audience.
Did I always only ever write about men or is this a new development?
A lot can be done when you remember to get enough oxygen to your brain.
When will you stop reading?
The end of this prescription is a countdown to something I can’t be sure of.
I will, without second thought, hold you up and you hair back all night. I will drop everything when I hear you need me. I will listen to you everyday as you hash out the same things that have been ailing your heart for months. I will do my best to say something that matters once in awhile. I will try to take you places that delight. I will let you know that I love you. I will never be upset with your need of space or time or silence. Maintaining close friendships is not necessarily easy, but the ones that have lasted in my life and been the most crucial are the ones that have been easier. I don’t think anyone wants to constantly be explaining herself. We all hope certain things are understood and this is where compatibility dismantles the idea that working on a relationship is not only admirable, but also necessary. In my experience, the relationships that require work are the ones that are becoming parasitic. There is no reason to hold onto something that is tearing you apart. I firmly believe in not doing anything you don’t want to, but with that comes a responsibility to be compassionate. I will do many unpleasant, effortful, and frightening things for the people I love and I will want to do them. The need of nurturing and benefiting from these friendships is so clearly defined for me and yet so very separate from how I interact with the men I’m sleeping with.
Advice about relationships is unending, contradictory and inescapable. Just by being in close proximity to things “marketed towards women” you will quickly become an expert on the top five accepted, disparate and ever changing relationship theories along with all the things you are doing wrong to get what you want (as if you or the “experts” could tell you what you want). You have to love yourself first. You can learn to love yourself by loving someone else. It happens when you’re not looking. It won’t happen if you don’t put yourself out there (as if anyone could agree upon what “it“ is). Recently, a close friend cautiously and then nearly exasperatedly told me she “really wants a boyfriend.” “Me too,” I said. That one shocked both of us. In that moment maybe I did want the comfort of “a certain kind of man – confident and sarcastic, witty and out of my league – behaving like something smaller. Humble and relaxed, leaning into the silence and the placidity of a single moment… Nothing more than this one simple and uncomplicated connection – the kind you feel relieved to know still exists,” but I am usually the I don’t need a man, never been in love, anti-monogamist. Of course, the more honest stance is that I am generally ambivalent and so rarely have any lasting idea of what I want.
When it comes to the guys I’m sleeping with, I am constantly changing my mind and I am obnoxiously fickle. While this can be a clever defense mechanism for some, I really have learned that people who do not value you, are not worth changing for or being upset over, even if I’m occasionally slow on the uptake. Like many semi-lost girls playing into their naiveté and youth, I have indulged the dream of a man that can turn my life into a simple brown paper package with a white string bow (or a gold leaf package with a diamond encrusted bow if that more aptly fits your tastes), but those fantasies have nothing to do with who I am and everything to do with who I’m afraid I won’t be able to be on my own. If this is sounding arrogant, perhaps I should restate that I do not have the energy or interest in doing things I don’t want to. I am not interested in hurting anyone, but I don’t think my actions could harm any of these guys, they aren’t exactly begging me to love them (and if they are, it’s only for a self-fulfilling prophecy about needy women). That’s the crux I suppose: I don’t interact with men that hold me dear enough to be pained by my absence. I could say that I’m dating, but unavailable, but then this would have to qualify as dating.
So no, I’m not looking for love and if someone were shocked enough to repeat the question, I would say, “I’m fine.” For the most part, I really am fine. I believe in my ability to handle anything that eventually befalls me (thanks therapy). So yes, I love myself and I still experience the urge to go on self-destructive rampages daily. I don’t know if that’s something I’ll grow out of or something that will always be a part of my personality and I certainly don’t know how a partner fits into that, but I’m not concerned.
I spent nearly an hour underground today and didn’t even make it out of Brooklyn. Never has the city so firmly questioned me as to whether I really wanted to go where I was going. When we had been sitting at our third stop for 15 minutes, I gave up on yoga and reemerged onto the street. I then began the 20 minute walk home, covering a distance that had just taken me 3 times as long on the train. I passed the German beer hall at the end of my block where 30-something, hipster, Park Slope parents hang out with their fedora wearing toddlers and I want to fuck all the dads. I opened the door on my sweltering kitchen and poured myself a drink. Pre-gaming my pre-game. I am bound to do a sun salutation at some point this evening that is better left undone, but short skirts and high heels have never stopped me from physical feats before. See: High School; when I thought it was brilliant to show off wobbly fouette turns into, perhaps, a split which brought about the applause of the resident boy I had placed in a chair in front of me who in turn was led by me to vacant piers, comfy chairs, and empty bedrooms reserved for other couplings. See also: College; when numerous games of “bite the bag” always ended in a split. The splits are a great way to get the attention of that boy that’s been annoying you in English class and in a couple weeks when he approaches you at a party be sure to tell him that he, his constant hand raising/talking, is the reason you dropped the class, not your crippling depression. He will quickly take your hand and lead you first to a bench in front of the library where he feigns tying his shoe and is overcome with the need to kiss you and then his room where you have to instruct him on how to unzip your dress.
I’ve for so long thought that it is the stubborn, fighting forward, resilient that accomplish the most of what they want, but perhaps it is the stubborn amongst us that are constantly tread-milling, pushing with all our might, but getting no where. The cozy medium between stifling and frigid is not a place I know how to land.
Only in the last couple of years has the number of women authors I am reading outnumbered the men and they are quickly taking over my “to devour” and “favorites” lists. I know this maybe means nothing, but it also maybe means everything.
I want a week off from everything, from everyone, from the internet. I want to escape to a cabin in the Adirondacks with a few bags of groceries, a suitcase full of books, and a good pair of hiking boots. And I think craving this week so desperately along with the fact it is at least theoretically feasible, pending the cabin, at the end of July must be a major sign of growth and health because a year ago I would have told you I wanted to disappear for the long haul, for the rest of existence, not just for a week.
When your therapist says you’ve been sounding much more stable and the two of you could talk more infrequently and your first reaction is to laugh.
When you want to scream at the most delusional boy and you rush out of the house and take yourself to a 9:45 movie on a Wednesday night.
When you catch yourself racing down a street with nowhere to go, torso lurching, quick shallow breaths as you hurry up to wait and the band of your dress around your ribcage always feels too tight.
When he says you’re pretty every time he sees you and never seems to remember having seen you before.
When you lend a book to someone you have trouble saying no to.
When you disagree with the accepted advice.
I hate how rough its been, but I will hold your arm on every sidewalk, down every staircase. I will remind you its ok to go slow. I will look the other way when you decide it’s simply been too long without dairy, without chocolate, and I will forever swear at them for radiating you so, but, also, thank goodness you’re still here with me. A more courageous woman I have not seen. You’re going to outlive us all.