Sunday, May 31, 2009

Salute to Summer

Bright light pours through wooden-slatted Venetian blinds. A cacophany of bird chirps announce the morning. Alarm clock is off, there’s no need these days. Sheets are kicked to the extreme corners of the bed, rumpled in a cottony white mass. They cover toes during the night, and occasionally shoulders when a breeze blows through the windows. The windows are wide open, of course, mesh arms outstretched in anticipation of a cool embrace. Car doors slam, engines idle, neighbors talk.

The car is stuffy, the inside of an oven in preheat stage. The windows come down at once, there is no time to wait for the A/C to kick in. Drinks are on ice, resting comfortably in a blue and white cooler, the accessory you won’t leave home without for the next several months. You pull out a can, grimace and grin at the numbing sensation of ice water gripping your fingertips. A pop and a hiss, and you’re on your way to refreshment. Condensation slides slowly down the can. Icy droplets pelt your bare legs.

Dock creaks, sways gently with the tide. Jet engines roar in the distance, slight tang of jet fuel hangs in the air. Makes for a cloying scent, when mixed with the odors of algae and marine life. Boat putters, then stops. Engine is slow to start, out of practice. Motor finally turns over, and you’re on your way. Fine sea spray mists your face, upturned to the blue sky and benevolent sun. Your hair, mostly contained in a weather beaten hat, gradually sends stray pieces into the wind. They whip your face as the boat picks up speed and more wind. You brush the whipping strands back with a smile.

Water dares you not to come in. It’s cool, the current is calm. Come on in.
Off you go!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On Conquering My Next Life Goal

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately considering the possibility of writing a book. As I read that sentence over, I can’t help but laugh at myself because, seriously? Writing a book?! It feels a bit like saying, ‘Ya know, I’ve been considering walking the Great Wall of China. Just an itch I’ve been meaning to scratch!’

But the idea of writing a book has been sitting in my brain for a while, one of those long-term ‘life goals’ that you are instructed to jot down late in high school or at some point in college. You then spend the rest of your life wondering when you’re going to suddenly be reminded that you turned out to be a good-for-nothing layabout when that little postcard shows up in your mailbox, the 5 Things I’ll Do Before I Die list. When you look down at the list, from the confines of a dark private corner, of course—lest any friends or loved ones discover your failed potential—what will stare back at you is a cruel reminder of blind ambition exposed to the harsh light of Every Day Life.

Except the thing is, in my case (if I remember my list correctly) many of the goals I dreamed of achieving have been achieved. Moment of introspection: perhaps I aimed too low. Move to New York City: Check. Pursue a career in media: Check. Run the New York City Marathon: Check. Write a book: Stop being funny!

I think when it comes to writing a book you have to pat yourself on the back for the small progresses along the way. Deciding that you might just have the talent to pull it off is pretty huge, for example. This may be delusion on your part, but no matter. Embrace your egotistical self! Deciding that you’re going to make the dream a reality is another milestone. It’s one thing to think about getting off the couch. It’s quite another to pull your ass up and put one foot in front of the other.

The next phase is where it gets difficult. The plot. I have no idea what my book will be about. I’m still in the ‘brainstorming’ phase. Thankfully, my commute to work is just this side of unbearable, so I have plenty of time to stare off into space and ruminate on a plotline that people might actually care about.

I’ll tell you what I DO have. Characters! I’ve encountered so many people in my life who would make fantastic characters for my book. Names will be changed to protect the innocent, of course, but know this: if you find yourself identifying with a character in my book, you are either extremely interesting, incredibly complicated, or royally fucked up in a fascinatingly delightful way!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Motorboatin' Son of a Bitch

The boat sat parked in the street, resting its hulk upon the old trailer like a whale washed ashore. It took up a good portion of the suburban road, the way RVs overtake the cement driveways of houses out west. You can’t help but wonder, ‘who owns that?’

We do.

A couple months ago Mike and I, along with his cousin and his wife, went in together to purchase Mike’s uncle’s boat. To us, we were getting a fire-sale deal on an investment in summer fun. To his uncle, I think he felt he was finally ridding himself of a thorn that had been plaguing his side.

I have no way to prove it, but I suspect boat ownership is akin to having a child. You dream of all the fun things you’ll do together. Cruising! Water skiing! Tubing! You know that there’ll be work involved, but you’re fairly certain it will be worth it. You know that you’ll part with a good amount of cash, and then some more, and then some more. Those outlays will never be repaid, but you’re ok with it. The joys of boat ownership will far outweigh the hurdles you must leap!

Speaking of joy, is there more joy than assigning a namesake to your beloved? The name you choose is important. It will become a representation of you for all the world to see. The boat we bought was named Roxy, after the beautiful Boxer Mike’s uncle owns. Much as we love Roxy, now that the boat was ours we wanted a name that better represented us. We thought about ‘Four Friends.’ Admittedly not the most imaginative of names, but it was simple and true.

So how to replace ‘Roxy’ with our new name? Surely we’d need to paint over the old name, and paint on our new one. Mike took a closer look at the word Roxy.

‘I think these are just decals,’ he mused. ‘We can probably just pull them right off and then paint our name on.’

He fiddled with the letters for a bit, and then came to a startling conclusion.

‘This is just electrical tape! This will come off no problem.’ As a test, he pulled at the corner of the letter ‘R.’

Sure enough, it came off. And all of a sudden, the new name of our boat appeared.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Seven Hundred Thirty Days

For seven hundred thirty days, take away a few, I’ve woken up next to the man I call my husband. Day one, the day after we were pronounced husband and wife, I tried out the word ‘husband’ like a little girl wearing her mother’s high heels. “Morning, husband” I whispered, although it may have come out as a question. The word felt so grown up, so adult. And just two nights prior, we had been out until two in the morning dancing at a smoky Bermuda nightclub.

Let’s be clear; day one wasn’t really day one, as far as waking up together is concerned. But it certainly marked a turning point. Being married IS different. You are legally bound to the hairy creature beside you. You are to love him in sickness, when he stuffs pieces of Kleenex up his nose to stop the mucus flow. You are to love him in poverty, when he’s frittered away $1000 on Super Bowl boxes. You are to love him when he’s angry, inconsolable, grieving.

I’ve been to more funerals since I’ve met my husband than I’d ever heard of before in my life. For the longest time, he swore a dark cloud hovered over his head, and that it now hung over mine, by association. He didn’t understand that his presence in my life lit a floodlight in my heart.

Seven hundred thirty days has meant gaining a finer understanding of each other’s breaking points. It has meant knowing exactly what the other one needs, without exchanging a word. In seven hundred thirty days we have fine tuned our post-dinner choreography. In our narrow kitchen, we know where to stand, when to move, who’s washing, who’s drying, who’s taking out the garbage. We still pretend to let that pot soak overnight, waiting for the other to give up and wash it after growing tired of the eyesore resting in the sink.

Seven hundred thirty days marks two years. Just a couple steps along our hopefully long and winding path together. What’s down the road lies beyond a bend that neither of us can see. But what’s behind looks pretty sweet, and today I savor that.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened

A couple situations I encountered recently that I thought you might enjoy...

I went to visit a good friend of mine recently while she was spending some time at her parents' house. After arriving at her house, I encountered her youngest brother, an 18 year-old high school senior I've known since he was 9. He was clad in only a t-shirt and tight, white boxer briefs.

"Oh, hey Sarah," he said by way of greeting. "Sorry, this is awkward."


I stopped at my neighborhood deli the other morning on my way to the subway to buy a bottle of water for the train ride. I paid with a $20 bill. I will say, the bill looked funny because it was of the pre-redesign era. The cashier, whom I've exchanged transactions with on numerous occasions, took one look at the bill, stopped and said, "this money is no good."

I looked at him dumbly. This has never happened to me before. And by THIS, I mean having someone not-so-subtly accuse me of money fraud (is that the right term for it? see, I really don't know anything about it!). After staring at the man in disbelief for a few beats too many I finally, weakly, mumbled, "But I got it right out of the ATM."

Ding! Magic door opened! The cashier responded, "ATM?" ran a yellow highlighter over part of the bill, mumbled something about "if this turns out to be fake..." and then handed over my change.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Shrink, Please!

I’ve been hooked on HBO’s ‘In Treatment’ since it debuted last year. In case you haven’t had the pleasure, the show revolves around a therapist (shrink!) and the patients he treats. There are five episodes each week, each one devoted to a different patient, so you get to know a cross-section of people. I’ve always been interested in dissecting people’s personalities and trying to figure out why they do the things they do. In Treatment allows me to do exactly that from the comfort of my couch, and without all the baggage of having these personalities be those of people I actually interact with.

It’s hard to watch In Treatment, though, and not think about your own strange quirks and idiosyncrasies. For example, I am absolutely horrible about keeping in touch with people. You know when someone moves away, or leaves a job – someone you’re close to – and you both say things like, ‘we’ll keep in touch!’ I want to believe it so bad when I say it, but, sadly, I know that I there's a good chance I'll fail at this promise. It’s not that I want to fail. In fact, I desperately hope that I’ll beat my previous odds and actually succeed for once. Yet time and time again, a person fades from my sight (although I swear not from my mind), and I struggle to ‘stay in touch.’ I’ll spend days, weeks! thinking I should call or even write an email. And then I’ll put it off for later. Before I know it, it’s been an embarrassingly long amount of time, and then I feel so bad about how much time has passed that I’ll retreat not-that-gently into that good night.

I bet Paul (the In Treatment therapist) could explore the whys of this.

My husband, thankfully, has not a shred of this problem. He’ll stay in touch with people from 20 years ago. Just today he asked me if I wanted to have dinner with some friends of ours who moved out of our apartment building last year. He forwarded me an email exchange he had had with them and, nosy as I am, I scrolled to the bottom of the email chain. I saw that he had contacted them a few weeks ago when he started his new job. He wrote them a short, pleasant note simply passing along his new contact information.

Dear readers, this would have been impossible for me to do! Sure, I would think about our former neighbors, genuinely wonder how they’re doing in their new digs. I’d recall that we were supposed to have dinner one night many moons ago, but weren’t all able to get together. And then I would wistfully think that that window of opportunity had passed. I’d be too afraid to email them out of the blue now. What if they thought they were rid of me, only to see I had resurfaced? What if they thought too much time had passed, that we no longer had anything in common? Again, I bet Paul could provide some input on my psyche here.

So what about you? Please tell me you have your own strange idiosyncrasy too. And if not, any tips for dealing with mine?