So, this is my life.

And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

new book. new project.

based on the recommendation of one of my favorite book buddies, i picked up a new book and am embarking on a new (vicarious) journey: The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin.  the book chronicles Rubin's year-long, mapped out journey to appreciate her life better, to be happier (which means so many different things), and to focus more on her own life while she's living it.  

after letting my friend T know that i bought the book, she said she hopes i like it.  my response: "I'm sure I will like it.  You know I eat this shit up!"  and i do.  i really do.  

why? because i love reading about other people's personal and spiritual journeys.  i love learning from, and in a way growing through, the life lessons that other people have learned and then had the energy/courage to put down on paper.  and thank god they did.

so a word of warning: be prepared to hear me share all my favorite parts of The Happiness Project, just as i did with Eat Pray Love and The Year of Living Biblically and A New Earth (do a search for any of those titles on this blog, and multiple entries will pop up from the past couple years.  sometimes i go overboard.)

for now, i'll share with you what Rubin said to the cynical people around her, many of whom weren't supportive of her project:

A lot of people took issue with my happiness project.  Starting with my own husband:
"So if you're pretty happy, why do a happiness project?"
"I am happy -- but I'm not as happy as I should be.  I have such a good life, I want to appreciate it more -- and live up to it better."  I had a hard time explaining it.  "I complain too much, I get annoyed more than I should.  I should be more grateful. I think if I felt happier, I'd behave better."
* * *
I ran into even more skepticism soon after, at a cocktail party.  The usual polite chitchat devolved into a conversation more closely resembling a Ph.D. dissertation defense when a longtime acquaintance openly scoffed at the idea of my happiness project.

"Your project is to see if you can make yourself happier? And you're not even depressed?"

"That's right," I answered, trying to look intelligent as I juggled a glass of wine, a napkin, and a fancy version of a pig in a blanket.

"No offense, but what's the point? I don't think examining how an ordinary person can become happier is very interesting."
"I wasn't sure how to answer.  Could I tell him that one Secret of Adulthood is, "Never start a sentence with the words 'No offense.'"?
"And anyway," he persisted, "you're not a regular person.  You're highly educated, you're a full-time writer, you live on the Upper East Side, your husband has a good job.  What do you have to say to someone in the Midwest?"
 "I'm from the Midwest."

He waved that away.  "I just don't think you're going to have insight that other people would find useful."

"Well," I answered, "I've come to believe that people really can learn a lot from each other."  

"I think you'll find that your experience doesn't translate very well."

"I'll do my best," I answered."

caffeine and connection

an hour at Starbucks, and i'm still reading the introduction to my new book -- which i'll be telling you about this week, because i'm very excited.  i just can't concentrate right now or right here.  too many people to watch.  so many connections, i keep thinking.

and isn't that what each of us is seeking, every day?  connection? 

and i don't care if you work in the most bustling, crowded office, but those connections don't count.  i think we're all seeking positive connections.  in my experience, asking a paralegal to help me with a project isn't the connection i needed; being told by a partner to do something certainly wasn't the positive connection for which i was looking.  no, i always find myself seeking a positive interaction.

 a friendly interaction. a smile from a stranger.  (is that why gay boys stare so much? maybe it's not just sluttiness.  maybe we're just more eager for a connection.)  i have a tendency to be very friendly to my coffee-slinging baristas, even when they're bitchy.  i find myself chatting with the person in the checkout aisle of the grocery store.  i tell myself that they could use a friendly face to brighten their day, but maybe i'm just being Hector Projector with that one.

today in Starbucks, looking almost through the book on my lap, i am counting connections.  an old man talking to hot teenage girl about a book he's reading.  an old woman interrupting my daydreaming to ask me a question.  a seemingly bored stud looking around, finally making a phone call.  did he need to call, or did he just need a distraction?  or a connection?

i can't help but think that our habits of updating Facebook and Twitter stem from the same desire for connection, just in a more convenient, micro-manageable context.  when you update, aren't you just hoping that somebody, somewhere, will respond or sympathize or laugh?  will connect with you?

for that matter, i think that Twitter is revolutionary in that it allows us to connect to people who were once unreachable: celebrities.  this medium permits previously unattainable connection, assuming that our idols and favorite stars are reading the messages they receive.  (i bet most of them are.)

what do you think about THAT? i want to know.  connect with me!

in other news, i'm getting jittery after two grande lattes.  even though one of them was decaf.  so here's me, energetically wishing you lots of positive connections today.  

Monday, June 28, 2010

haircut inspiration, part II

except without the facial hair... until approximately Saturday or Sunday.

*coincidentally, the last thing i remember from last Tuesday night in Atlantic City was someone asking, "Do you think the lead singer of Maroon 5 is hot?" while one of their videos played on tv.  

chbosky says...

My dad had glory days once.  I've seen pictures of him when he was young.  He was a very handsome man.  I don't know any other way to put it.  He looked like all old pictures look.  Old pictures look very rugged and young, and the people in the photographs always seem a lot happier than you are.

re-read The Perks of Being a Wallflower. 

loved it more than i did 6 years ago.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


NO, this isn't mine. obvi.  i'm only 27.

Friday, June 25, 2010

outta my, outta my head

here's your RDV of cuteness, and a flashback to 2004!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

to be that yenta

isn't it so much fun to watch a friend's relationship bloom, to vicariously experience the thrills of a first date, a first overnight, and the other hurdles through which every new "whatever it is" must pass?  i really enjoy watching a friend fall in like with someone nice --- especially when i'm the one who happened to set them up on a date. 

i know many people who refuse to set up their friends.  they're afraid of the fallout when the blind date goes bad, or when the relationship ultimately ends in an ugly way.  i'm not one of those people.  i don't care if the relationship results in marriage or a horrible trainwreck of a break-up; i LOVE setting my friends up with one another.  in fact, i'm considered, in my circle of friends, to be something of a matchmaker.  i've been called that for years, despite the relatively low success rate of my set-ups.  i've also been called a yenta, but - i'm been assured - "not in a bad way."

i just returned from a quick trip to Atlantic City (read: mid-week bender) with two young lovers who i introduced to one another a while back, and who are getting along quite swimmingly.  don't worry, i wasn't an awkward third wheel; another friend came along as well.  the four of us had a nice time sunning ourselves around the pool at The Water Club, having drinks in the sun, and wandering drunkenly around The Borgata casino.  all the while, i was patting myself on the back at how happy my two matchmakees seem to be with one another.  i got to witness their hand-holding in public, laughing with one another, and making plans for the next time they'll see one another.  this yenta could not have been happier unless i were walking one of them down the aisle toward the other.  patience...  

it's important for a matchmaker to lay a foundation and then to wander off and watch from afar, to not get involved.  it's best to not get in the middle of someone else's relationship, for the very reasons that many people won't play cupid with their friends.  best to stay objective.  but that's not how i work.  noooo sir-ree! i am a true yenta in that i meddle.  i pry.  i want to know the details. and however inappropriate it is, i push.  subtly.

take, for instance, a conversation i had this weekend: 

ME: "Have you had the DTR talk yet?"
Matchmakee: "The what?"
ME: "The Define-The-Relationship talk.  Is she seeing anyone else, or are you two ---"
Matchmakee: "Oh, I don't know.  We haven't -- Should I bring that up? Is it too soon?"
ME: "Well, you seem to like each other a lot, soooo..."

i know, i should mind my own business and focus on finding a good relationship of my own. i really am a yenta, aren't i?  i just -- well, it's just too much fun. moreover, i stick my nose in my friends' relationship business in the way that a loving Jewish grandmother would, because i really love my friends.  i want them to be happy, and if there's something that i can do to further that cause, i'll do it.  even if nobody asks me to do so.

finally, i should admit that there's a part of me that wants to live vicariously through others' dating ups and downs.  but that's just a tiny part of my motivation, and that part of me is often satisfied thanks to reading about my fellow bloggers' misadventures.

i guess i'll try not to meddle too much, but i'm keeping an eye on some of my friends' budding relationships.  at least until my own comes along and i'm too distracted to care.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

something really good

after Wednesday's date disaster, sketchy Ken posted an encouraging comment for me:

"Now something really good needs to happen to balance things out."

he was right.  something really good happened.  i skipped town, as i am prone to doing these days, and had one of the best weekends of mi vida with friends in sunny Baltimore.  see, it's so sunny and oceany:

oh, and i met a guy.

before we all get excited, i should rain on my own mini-parade and tell you that it's not anything with real potential.  he lives far away and blah blah blah.  it was just one night of good, clean fun. but that's really not the point. 

the point isn't that i met this cool guy and had a super fun night. the point is that cool guys exist, and they're out there just waiting to share a super fun night with you.  and apparently they live in Baltimore.  who knew? i mean... it's Baltimore.

at any rate, it's nice to be reminded that there's an entire sea of strangers out there, and some of them are smart and fun and good kissers.  and eventually one of them will turn out to be more than a one-night-kinda-stand.  as i think about my happily coupled friends, i'm reminded that most of them weren't matched up by some compatibility-test dating site.  most of them met one slutty night involving sweaty dancing and tequila shots, and then they just couldn't get enough of one another.  tale as old as time.

to this end, and with the encouragement of my good friend B, i've put an end to my year-long moratorium on going to Philly's dance clubs.  a year was long enough.  also, if there are so many hundreds of attractive dudes in Baltimore, there have to be at least a few in my own fair city.  there's only one way to find out.

p.s. i hope something bad and embarrassing like that date with Squealer doesn't need to happen before each really good something happens.  i think some really good things just need to keep happening.  i think they will. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

quote of the week, thus far

I I miss you.  Do ypumisse?

-me to a friend at 2 AM, according to my phone.

apparently i'm very sweet when drunk.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

my worst date ever. so far.

have you ever had a bad date?  i don't just mean a date that made you think, "Ehh, this isn't going anywhere."  i mean a date that made you want to punch yourself, made you wish that you hadn't washed your hair and dirtied a clean shirt, made you wish you had stayed at home and cried, or maybe pulled out all your eyelashes.  

tonight i had one of the worst dates.  to clarify, i don't mean just one of the worst i've had; i mean one of the worst dates to have ever occurred, right up there with one of Joran van der Sloot's dates. tonight's date was even worse than my previous reigning worst-date-ever, when a date arrived stoned out of his mind, spent the evening putting money into a jukebox and ignoring me, and then asked if he could come back to my place. (no, i didn't let him.)

and the sick part is, i saw tonight's disaster coming.  when the guy -- who we'll call "Squealer," for reasons that will soon become clear -- called me this afternoon to figure out the details, i got my first warning sign.  he made some crazy statement -- i can't even remember what it was because it was so nonsensical -- to which my response was, "Um... I don't know what that means."  and then came the scary part, his response: "Well, GET READY because that's just the first of MANY QUIPS I've got planned for you tonight [insert squealing laughter]." 

you know, i used to pre-game dates (just one drink!) out of nervousness.  tonight i pre-gamed out of necessity. because after that very short phone call, i knew i'd need to be at least buzzed to deal with this guy. when Shaunice came home from work to find me drinking a glass of wine, i explained, "I just talked to my date on the phone.  He has a lot more... energy than I do..." she gave me an understanding nod.  i should've canceled then.  why didn't i cancel then? "He's really cute, though," i told my roommate. told myself, is more like it.

when Squealer finally arrived at the bar where we were meeting, i was livid. why? because i was waiting outside in the humid, disgusting air; he was 25 minutes late and hadn't bothered to call or text.  Okay, Matthew, he's taking the train. Public transportation is unreliable.  Be patient, i told myself. He'll surely apologize.  

as he caught my eye and walked toward me, my heart sank.  Please don't be him.  Please don't be him, i thought as a hipster walked toward me in the skinniest of circulation-cutting-offest jeans i've ever seen on a purported male of the species.  worse, this thing was wearing a beret - A BERET!!!!!!! - and a flannel shirt that looked like something my grandma wore (yes, it was definitely a woman's. no doubt.) in the '70's.  even disregarding the woman's shirt, it was 100 degrees and humid out. who is this person? and -- oh god -- why is he walking like a fashion model? Oh god, why hast thou forsaken me...

my mind raced.  Is there some way I can get out of this? Can I pretend to not be me? But I waved.  I can walk away and text him something polite.  Too late. we said hi.  shook hands.  i waited for his apology for being 25 minutes late. he never apologized. for any of it. for being late. for himself. no apology.

It's fine, i thought. We can grab one, quick drink and say good-bye. Didn't work. Oh well! NEXT!  but then, "Do you mind if we get a table, I haven't eaten anything." no, that wasn't the plan.  that's why we-rescheduled for an hour later than planned, so that we had time to eat beforehand. Weren't you listening?? he later explained to me that he hadn't eaten anything for 36 hours, because he was on a starvation diet. i can't criticize him for this; the guy is 6'3" and skinny, so it's obviously working.

as we walked across the bar to a table, i suddenly wanted to cry.  because Squealer doesn't walk.  Squealer dances.  Squealer bounces.  Squealer saunters like he's on a catwalk.  i thought for a second that he was doing the robot, or that maybe he was moving to the beat of some song i couldn't quite hear over the din of the bar.  but then his arms began to swing like he was going to clap them for no reason. Oh god, don't clap. This is a straight bar. The Phillies didn't score.  i was mortified.  i was not smiling.

at this point i should add, for my readers who have never met me, that i'm no Russel Crowe or Sylvester Stallone.  i am, in fact, a gay man.  i'm not exceptionally masculine, and i don't try to be.  however.  i'm also not Christian Siriano (no offense, CS), whose effeminacy does not even come close to Squealer's.  after much thought, the only comparison that comes close is the SNL character Stefon, played by Bill Hader.  the similarities are astounding. i wish i were kidding. i really, really do.

i wasn't happy, yet i didn't want to be rude.  so i did the only thing i know to do when i'm in distress.  i drank.  three Ketel One and seltzers in less than an hour.  that's all the time it took for Squealer to devour a mound of nachos meant for three or four people (he actually squealed and clapped when the nachos were delivered to the table, and the idiot server encouraged him, saying "Yummyyyyy!"), and for me to ask the server for our check when Squealer wasn't paying attention.  it wasn't the one-drink-and-ditch that i wanted, but i got us out of there quickly!

i'm skipping over a lot for the sake of brevity, but the highlights included Squealer telling me that he hates his parents ("I sssssecretly hate my parentsss."), that his family never supports anything he does, that he has to cry for an hour or two after work because his job is so emotionally stressful, that he hasn't met "anyone but lunatics online," that he has met only "guys who are only after one thing" (i asked him, "What 'one thing' are they after?" at which he squealed and laughed so loudly that the entire bar could hear him),  and that he loves dancing all night at clubs and going to after-hours clubs (read: meth dens). 

for most of this conversation, Squealer was sitting sideways in his chair, rather than facing me, so that i was looking at his right side profile.  it's all i could do to not get up and walk out, YET i was polite.  i just keep telling myself, I was polite... Good karma, I was polite.   i also didn't have cash to pay for my vodkas, so i had to wait and pay with my card. that was an important deciding factor.

the interesting part about this entire mess was that squealer seemed to be just as unhappy as i was.  he hadn't asked me many questions or smiled or even looked at me much.  maybe he hated me right back!  he didn't look like a psychotic hipster queen on his OkCupid dating profile, so maybe i didn't look like myself in mine -- "like a Republican," he later told me.  yeah, after his second glass of Merlot he told me that i "look like a Republican."  maybe he found me repulsive. and i should admit here that Squealer was objectively very attractive. if only he were mute, and a quadriplegic, he'd be quite tolerable.  

as we left the bar, i explained that i needed to get home "before the rain."  there were some clouds in the sky, and i really didn't think he'd mind, as we obviously hadn't hit it off.  maybe Squealer wanted to ditch me just as much as i wanted to brutally murder ditch him.  but then he inexplicably hugged me and squealed, "Text me later to let me know what's up!" was this kid serious?  maybe he's just being polite.

yet as i was writing this, i received a text from Squealer.  it says, and i quote, "Hope we can get together soon again :)"  

i am changing his name in my phone: first name "Never Answer." second name "Ever."

i really wish i were making this up or at least exaggerating.  i have to go cry now, and possibly delete my online dating profile.   

how the Twilight phenomenon works

this still makes me laugh:

from here.  i love The Oatmeal.

l'amour says...

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

separation anxiety

every time i return home from an out-of-town trip, i'm greeted warmly by my anxious and lonely catticus. he jumps on me, stays within a few feet of me as i wander about my apartment, and sleeps on top of me, as shown here:

as you know, he's not usually a warm and friendly puss, so this type of behavior is rare, and usually short-lived.

and of course i feel like an old cat lady, considering Atticus is my regular cuddle buddy, and at this point he's my longest relationship. yikes. but before you begin to worry about me, let me assure you that i'm working on finding some human companionship.

yet, as i discussed with a buddy yesterday, i haven't experienced the type of separation anxiety that some people, including said buddy, experience after being single for a while. i've now been officially single for longer than i have been since age 19, but for whatever reason, i'm not freaking out about it. at all.

my buddy, who shall remain nameless, was lamenting to me the fear that he feels at the prospect of reaching the next age of his life ending in an -0 without a partner beside him. of course, nearing 30 myself, i can empathize with that type of anxiety. it's always scary getting older, and doing so "alone" seems unnatural. by 30 or 40, our parents were married with children, divorcing, marrying again. while probably not "stable," per se, their lives seemed quite different from what is typical of our generation.

while i do understand the anxiety that my friend, and undoubtedly many people our age, are facing, i haven't yet been stricken with it. 30 isn't scaring me yet, and i'm not upset that the only tail in my bed is my cat's.  are there lonely nights? sure, but that's when wine and HBO and friends come in handy.  and i can't help but remind myself that some of the loneliest times in my life came when i was in a serious relationship. so i'm in no rush to change my relationship status; yet i am open to something great happening. *looks up into the sky* you hear that, Universe? i'm talkin' to you.

if my attitude changes over the coming months or years, please remind me of this post, and i will eat my words. and hopefully i'll also remind myself to stop worrying about finding a husband, lest i be judged and scolded the way i judged and scolded my friend yesterday.

gilbert says...

You should never give yourself a chance to fall apart because, when you do, it becomes a tendency and it happens over and over again. You must practice staying strong, instead.

Friday, June 11, 2010

my afternoon smile

this afternoon i found myself smiling and laughing like a fool at this video:

the dancer includes the following message with his vid, and his karmic hopefulness makes me appreciate the silly video even more:

I shot this video to show solidarity for my bro, Gerald Lancaster. Hey, Gerald! Like me, Gerald has trouble finding the love he wants in his life. The solution is to share our love with the world until it figures out the right way to reciprocate! Remember, everything needs love- even major appliances! Don't be stingy, Existence!

the cuteness doesn't hurt, either.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

quote of the week, thus far

Sheesh, I thought you were going to tell me something bad.

-my friend's mom, when he sat her down and told her he's a gay.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

a quiet place

my apartment is very quiet during the day. this might surprise those of you who have spent time at my place, either with me or with my roommate. when you were here, i'm sure the place was far from quiet. maybe someone was screaming at you, "Do you need another drink?" maybe the television was blasting a Real Housewives episode, while Shaunice cooked something or devoured an entire bag of Dove chocolates. most likely, when you were here, speakers were blasting the latest embarrassing pop tunes as people hustled to have a few drinks before going out.

home isn't like that during the day.

there's often a whir of laundry machines, and occasionally some quiet music playing in one room or another. of course there's the neverending pitter patter of keystrokes on my laptop. if you had vampire-grade hearing, you'd notice the sound of pages turning, pages of books and magazines. otherwise, the place is silent. nobody calls during the day, except maybe my ma -- but she usually only calls at the crack of dawn, or she texts me "Wake up!" as the sun is rising (no joke, she did that Sunday morning at 7:29 AM. i was so mad...) the tv is always turned off, until it's time for Oprah or until Shaunice comes home to watch her many crime dramas OnDemand. Atticus sleeps all day, so he's not making a peep.

i'm thinking about this quiet all around me today because i read an article this morning about extroverts needing serious quiet time. if you knew me in law school, or any time vodka was around, you'd know that i'm quite extroverted. those Meyers-Briggs type personality tests also tell me i'm an extrovert.

side note: i find myself wondering if bloggers tend to be more extroverted, considering there's a certain level of exhibitionism in blogging, or more introverted, considering that blogging entails a lot of interaction with a computer screen and some strangers identifiable only by screen names and URLs. hm... thoughts?

back to the topic at hand -- according to the article that i read over coffee this morning, extroverted people need serious downtime to remain sane. the author suggests that the downtime may even need to be more "down" than the average person's downtime. idly watching television won't do. coffee with friends won't do. silence and isolation may be necessary for the extrovert to center him- or herself.

while i was still at that terrible law firm, i would aim to arrive at work 30 minutes or even up to an hour before everyone else. i needed some quiet time before everyone would trudge in, weighed down by the oppression of a terrible commute to an even more terrible job, bringing along with them the weight of the world and stinky flavored coffee from Dunkin. that time in the morning was my quiet time, and often the only quiet time i'd have during a long day. at 8 AM, nobody was blowing up my Blackberry yet; nobody was talking at me about a stupid sportsgame the night before; i didn't have to make small talk with a partner about the upcoming weekend. for a little while it was just me, in my office, breathing and sipping coffee.

i forgot how much i valued that time, probably because these days i have so much more of it. one of the blessings that i try to remind myself to count during this sabbatical is the quiet time that i have every day. to sip coffee, to read some of your blogs, to leisurely dust the bookshelves i dusted yesterday*. all the while enjoying the quiet of this place.

let this serve as a reminder to you busy, social extroverts that you need always to take time for yourselves. you might need to take a walk without your iPod blasting in your ear (something i've been trying to do on occasion, and it's somewhat difficult), or sit on your couch with a coffee or glass of wine but without turning on the television, or sit on your bed for a few minutes in the evening without texting anyone or playing with your Wii.

gotta take a little time. you gotta find a quiet place, otherwise you might go crazy.

*yes, dusting is a hobby, rather than a chore, for some people... specifically, people in my family. don't judge.

quote of the week, thus far

Do you guys know what Facebook is? Facebook is a tool for everyone, everywhere to stay in touch with everyone, everywhere. Facebook is a place — not a physical place, but a place of the mind, a place on the eighth intangible continent that the internet has formed — where we can say to the world, "Here I am! Look at me! I exist on Earth, heart and guts and bone and all!" It feels nice to say these things, to feel like people know who you are. But the problem is that it's not real. None of the communicating is real. It's all just fake clicks and whirs, and makes saying things you'd never really say, not in real life, so terribly easy to say. Facebook is a brave, bodiless surrogate, unafraid to express what lies in the deepest recesses of our souls. It's dangerous.

-Richard Lawson

Monday, June 7, 2010

"Aren't you supposed to be leaving soon?"

an oldie but a goodie. made me LOL today.

a favorite movie

Claire: The last time that I saw you, I was eighteen. Seems that you go back to the same places a lot.

Henry: Yeah, it's like gravity. Big events pull you in.

Claire: I was a big event.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

not on the corner of First and Amistad, part II

where did i find god today?

in the voice of the sweet Wendy Williams wannabe working the McDonald's drive-thru.

"How you dooin'? ...A'right, you have a blessed day. Buh-bye."

bless her heart.

a reminder from a friend

thanks, dearest.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

winging it

outta my, outta my head

have you ever heard a song you've heard a hundred times before, but for the first time really heard it? that sounds like it doesn't make sense. but i've heard the song The Way I Loved You by TSwift a countless number of times. iTunes says that i downloaded it back in February; yet i never really listened to the lyrics until the other day. how does that happen?

at any rate, it's a great song, and now it's playing on repeat in my ear.

He respects my space
And never makes me wait
And he calls exactly when he says he will
He's close to my mother
Talks business with my father
He's charming and endearing
And I'm comfortable

But I miss screaming and fighting and kissing in the rain

And it's 2 AM and I'm cursing your name
So in love that you act insane
And that's the way I loved you

Breakin' down and coming undone
It's a roller coaster kinda rush
And I never knew I could feel that much
And that's the way I loved you

and another thing: how does this teenage girl know so much about love? how does she know what it's like to crave the intense, unreasonable love over the easy, comfortable, convenient one?

maybe she knows because she's a teenager. maybe by our mid-20's we're supposed to grow out of that unreasonable relationship with love. maybe i'm just immature.