Officer Krupke

I need to really stop taking the Ambien before the precise moment when I intend to turn out my light and fall asleep.

I’ve been on this drug for months and months now, and it absolutely helps with the sleeping, but I’ve noticed that occasionally after taking it, if I stay awake, I feel like I enter this sort of half-state of conciousness– reduced inhibitions (less like when you’re drunk and more like when you’re binging, if that makes any sense), I’m more inclined to overeat, I make impulsive decisions online (commenting on blogs, Facebook, posting things, texting people), and just generally feel like I’m lolling around. Memory loss is also a symptom, I guess, and Ambien has been used in date-rape situations, too. I’ve experienced the memory loss in a small way, forgetting little things like what I left out on the table or what I’d emailed last night, but I haven’t done anything extreme and forgotten it.

Apparently, this is a thing. Some people get more “high” than I do on Ambien. My sister actually related to me that when she tried to take Ambien, she actually sleep-walked and sleep-ate. My nutritionist had warned me about that too, but so far, none of that for me. I do have vivid dreams, though, which I love. And despite waking up at 4/5 in the morning most days, I can fall back asleep.

On a totally other note (can you tell I’m over an hour into my Ambien dose?), my block has been cray-cray lately. A couple of nights ago, I heard three or four loud, loud pops outside my building. Usually when I hear pops I assume it’s a car backfiring or fireworks. But these were LOUD. I stayed in bed with Franny, who looked up after hearing the shots too. After a few minutes, I peered outside to see three or four police cars parked in the street in front of my building. Cops were using flashlights to search under cars and down into basements. They were there for about 20 mins, and I couldn’t hear what they were saying. I still don’t know what happened (google didn’t much help), but my sense that the pops were gunshots was confirmed by a posting on a message board for my neighborhood about hearing/seeing the same things one block below me. Scary.

Just feels like there are more around here lately. And for all the crazy gentrification going on within 100 feet of my building (new restaurants, lounges, yoga studios, specialty meats, etc), I feel like I live in legit Harlem: Harlem of summer barbeques and shootings, friendly catcalls and drug deals, Obama’s Fried Chicken and the abandoned house next door that I am sure is filled with crack addicts.

It’s also a Harlem where I spent my afternoon laying on the grass in Morningside Park alongside fewer than 3 other young people and 1 family on one huge lawn by the pond. This ain’t no Central Park, and it. was. lovely.

I really should go to sleep and if I forget all about this, make me read this: LEARN YOUR LESSON AND TAKE AMBIEN RIGHT BEFORE BED. AND I MEAN RIGHT BEFORE.

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Mud-Luscious and Puddle-Wonderful

I think you really realize you’re a grown up when you wake up on your 23rd birthday hungover from brunch the day before.

So. That happened.

Yesterday, a group of my friends reserved a brunch table at a place in midtown with a $20 all you can drink cocktail brunch. Needless to say, we got our money’s worth. The drinks were fabulous. Afterwards (like 4 hours later), we went around the corner to my friend’s new place in Hell’s Kitchen and took his pup up to the roof for some fresh air.

From there, we headed downtown to other friends’ place, where we ordered pizza and watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall. And then I made out and did just about everything except have condom-requiring sex with my ex-boyfriend/close friend. For the love. The good news is that I know both of us had a good time and neither of us really give a fuck. No regrets. Happy birthday to me. And as usual with drunken sexy shenanigans (although it’s been a while), I felt really sexy. I was really sexy. Happy birthday to me.

To be honest, I wasn’t terribly hungover this morning, and actually felt just fine. But it’s my birthday, so I wanted to figure out something to do. I spent a couple of hours lounging in bed with Franny, watching movies and trying to come up with a plan. I had a couple of ideas.

One, I could make an amazingly huge delicious meal and dessert and maybe invite L over and just enjoy the process of cooking.

Two, I could stick to my original plan, even though no one could come with me, and get on MetroNorth up to Cold Spring, on the Hudson River, for a day trip.

I brushed my hair, threw on sneakers, filled a water bottle, and Number Two it was.

I got to Cold Spring around 2pm. It was a gorgeous day—just enough of a chilly breeze to keep a light coat on, but bright sun and fresh, clean, warm spring air. I was a bit out of my league, alone in a small town I’d never been to with no real plan… but I saw on my iPhone that there was a local cemetery, about half a mile up Bank Rd. and I knew that was where to begin.

I love cemeteries because I love history, and because I love to imagine people’s stories. I can spend hours in a historic cemetery, gazing at gravestones, finding the oldest stones, the youngest deaths, the largest families. I like to trace the carvings with my fingers, clearing away dust and leaves to read the names, the ages, the dates. I say the names under my breath as I pass them, and in my mind I invent lives and stories to fill the gaps. There’s something, too, so calming and serene about a stroll through a cemetery on a lovely, sunny day. I feel quiet inside, still, respectful, and honored.

After spending some time there, I decided to head back towards town, finding myself back on Main St. after a scenic detour through a lovely residential area. I’ve never spent any time in the Hudson Valley, really. I am pretty familiar with Connecticut, and I’ve been to White Plains and other Westchester spots infrequently, and I did spend an entire summer in the Berkshires. But there was something particular about Cold Spring and the Hudson Valley landscape. The homes were sweet and simple, often a bit overgrown and lived in. And surrounding this sweet cluster of homes, gardens, trees, and buildings, were lush round hills, covered in bright green foliage. It was like Berkshires-lite, and brighter than those hills. Just gorgeous.

Main St. was clogged with antique stores, which don’t particularly call my name, but I ambled slowly enough to glance into each as I passed it. Also frequent were ice cream and coffee shops, and sweetly sunglass-ed visitors, hand in hand or pushing strollers. I felt, behind my birthday sunglasses (thanks Mom!), almost invisible among them, and it was lovely.

It was around 3:45pm, and I decided that I might as well get a bite to eat, even though it wasn’t “dinner time.” Hey, it’s my birthday, I can eat if I want to. There were a number of places to choose from, but finally I decided to not obsess over it and just go into the first place with outdoor seating that perked my attention—a place called the Cold Spring Depot. I saw they had veggie burgers, and I knew I wanted that.

I was seated in the back of the large outdoor area, a fence and a thin strip of green space separating me from the Metro North tracks I’d come up on. My waitress, an elderly woman who seemed confused by my solitariness and sweetness, was incredibly apologetic when I ordered my burger—they were out. She asked if I was a vegetarian, and I said yes, to which she responded that really, my only choice was the Portobello sandwich. “That’s fine,” I assured her, “that should be just fine.” I sipped on my Diet Coke and checked my phone for the first time in hours. I always forget, until my birthday, how good it feels to get all those random Facebook “happy birthdays” from people I literally haven’t heard from in years. There’s something really cathartic about that overflow of thought and two-second effort from people from all over my life.

I finished up and paid, and then walked next door for an ice cream cone– regular one-scoop of cookies ‘n’ cream in a cone– and then took the underpass to the river. The houses got larger and nicer as I moved towards the Hudson, fancy bed-and-breakfasts and larger streets, cars parked on the sides. Along the river, straight in front of me, jutted a large plaza with benches and an antique cannon at its center. Once I stepped onto the cobblestones, the wind knocked the lapel of my coat up into my face. I gazed around, towards where I knew West Point was, up towards Breakneck Ridge, which I still plan to hike, and across into the peaked, white waves of that Old Man Hudson River. I could barely take photos with my phone, because the wind was so brisk, and finally, decided to just head back and hop the Metro North home.

Come on. This is HILARIOUS.
Thank you, Cold Spring.

I nearly fell asleep between Croton-on-Harmon and Yankee Stadium, drifting off to a FilmSpotting podcast and the familiar rumble of the train, but managed to rouse myself to exit at Harlem-125. I hopped on the M100 bus, which let me off on Frederick Douglass. I stopped briefly off at Best Yet to grab some ingredients for the week’s lunches/dinners, and then happily drifted back into my sweet little haven.

I made a delicious Basil-Broccoli Mac-and-Cheese (thanks http://www.101cookbooks.com), vacuumed some of the cardboard residue Franny has been enjoying shredding in her spare time, washed lots of dishes (and broke a plate), and snuggled up with my sweet dear puss and a glass of water. I am beyond sleepy and ready to curl up with Fran, who is dreaming on my left arm right now.

It’s been 23 years since I was born, and some things have changed, but not much.

Love,
B.

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”
William Shakespeare

“The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.”
E.E. Cummings

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”
E.E. Cummings

“So what if nobody came?
I’ll have all the ice cream and tea,
And I’ll laugh with myself,
And I’ll dance with myself,
And I’ll sing, “Happy Birthday to me!”
Shel Silverstein

“Brownstone Commune”

Thursday evening, I got back from my Rocky Mountain homeland after a 10-day trip.

I had spent most of my two flights crying (long story for another post– partly PMS and partly just the usual home-ness), so I wasn’t at my best. I also had my two bags, stuffed full (that Borders final sale is a trap, y’all). But some of my dearest friends were having a party at this amazing brownstone where they were housesitting– an apartment that spurred on a glorious dream of high-class co-habitation with three of my friends that we call “brownstone commune.”

I got there after a confusing taxi ride:

TAXI DRIVER: How are you?
ME: Good, thanks.
(ten minutes later, spurred by nothing)
TAXI DRIVER: You live here?
ME: Yep.
TAXI DRIVER: Isn’t it scary, living here?
ME: Uh… I don’t feel scared.
(another ten minutes later, while paying for the ride, I “swipe” my card too early. TAXI DRIVER gets angry and short with ME. Then I successfully pay.)
TAXI DRIVER: You are beautiful. Have a wonderful night.

Huh? Also “huh,” because I just HAVE to share my ridiculous state:

ANYWAY (apologies to anyone reading this who actually edits their writing… This is my blog and my attention span is simply too short), when I got to the “brownstone commune” at 11pm, a number of my friends were there. M immediately offered me a drink, which I accepted gladly– a gin & tonic, my favorite. I went downstairs to say hi, and someone offers me a veggie burger, which I accepted heartily (I hadn’t eaten since a bout of overeating TEN hours earlier– I know, it wasn’t good). The party continued in much the same fashion, as everyone, including myself, absorbed the alcohol. I didn’t drink all that much, but I think on an empty stomach, with the time change, with my emotional craziness of the day, I actually got drunk on my one drink (prob it was two drinks worth of gin, let’s be real).

As the night continued, we said farewell to some, said goodnight to others, cleaned some spills, played some Catchphrase, etc. And I flirted with a boy, a stranger, basically. He’s one of my best friends’ best friend, and although I knew his name well, I had never really spent any time with him. My friends reeeeaaallly wanted him to pair up with someone (my gay boys just want everyone to find love, y’know). I didn’t really make any direct moves.

Game change. I decided at some point I was ready for bed, and headed to my “bedroom” (the “commune” has a number of bedrooms, and I’d committed to staying over– why I came at all). As everyone dispersed, I heard the boy chatting with people, unsure where his room was. Now, I was definitely drunk. But I was also completely lucid. I remember everything, perfectly clearly. It was like by-proxy-drunk– since everyone else was wasted, I could just be uninhibited without actually being drunk. Who knows.

Anyway, I pulled the curtain to my room, and called over: “Hey, you can sleep in here if you want. It’s a huge bed. And I’m going to bed now, so if you are too then you don’t have to wait for everyone else.” He waffled a bit, then came in. I took off my pants, took out my contacts, and got into bed. Somehow my hand ended up on his shoulder, and we did that thing where you move a little… wait for the other person to move a little… oh look we’re both awake…. who’s going to make the first move… you inch your head onto his pillow… he tilts his head so you’re closer…

And pretty soon we were kissing. He tasted like cigarette smoke (not ideal), but it was fun. To tell you all waaaaaaay too much, we both kept our underwear on but my shirt was off by the end, and no kind of intercourse was had. What is that… second base? Who knows. Anyway. He did try to take off my panties twice– once obviously for sex (and like a gentleman, asked “is this okay,” to which I moved his hands and replied “not tonight”) and again for oral (same conversation), but in general, the goods stayed in the trunks. Eventually we both fell asleep in each others’ arms. Aw. Sort of.

SO. The moral of the story is: I felt sexy. I know! WHAT?! I felt good about my body? I’m not a drunken hook-up-er at all, but the one time I had a one-night stand (in Brooklyn. Ha) I had the same experience. Granted, I was somewhat smaller then, but still incredibly self-conscious. And BOTH times I was intimate, I felt attractive. I felt connected to my body. And even in the serious, sexual relationships I’ve had, I tend to feel good about myself when I’m having sex, or being “intimate” or whatever you call it that doesn’t sound stupid. It’s different with a boyfriend (in some ways better and some ways worse), but in general, using my body with a boy makes me feel really good about myself.

Is this bad? Maybe. At least I’m not going crazy sleeping around. People have sex. It’s life. If I’m not ashamed, then who cares, right? Right. Maybe it’s good. It’s not like I’m going to go around sleeping with every person in the world, but it’s like a “zone” where every piece of my body is connected to my mind. That, as you all know, is rare. So why not relish it the occasional times it happens, huh?

Anyway, I woke up super early the next morning (hadn’t taken my sleeping pills), and slipped out from under his arm to pee, putting my jeans and a blazer on. I then decided to just lie on the couch rather than going back to the bed. I was ready for some alone time, and I was kind of hoping he’d sleep for a while longer. I dropped in and out of sleep till a more appropriate hour, when my friend came to the living room and joined me. We talked pleasantly and opening and lovingly for about an hour. (I LOVE easy conversation with friends. It’s like a miracle.) At 10 45, he decided to head back to bed, and I decided to head on back to my apartment. As he walked down the stairs, he giggled– “look at me, here in my underwear.” And I responded. “Well, I’m wearing a blazer over nothing, so.” We laughed, and he headed downstairs and I headed home.

The boy was still asleep when I left, which kind of relieved me. And I haven’t heard from him since. Again, I don’t feel shame or anything, but it’s just this silly thing. We are such twenty-somethings. Good lord.

That was a much longer post than I planned on. For starting with a single “moral,” I ended up with a novel. Y’all are just much better bloggers than I am. If you made it this far, cheers. And apologies. 🙂

Till next time,

B

“A schoolchild should be taught grammar–for the same reason that a medical student should study anatomy. Having learned about the exciting mysteries of an English sentence, the child can then go forth and speak and write any damn way he pleases.”
— E.B. White (Writings from The New Yorker 1927-1976)

What would you do?

Last night, as I was walking home from the train, I heard two people yelling at each other. As I crossed the street, I saw a man and a woman embroiled in a physical altercation– he had her hair in his hand and was pulling while she begged him to let go. They both were screaming at each other. I have never seen actual domestic abuse before, and I found myself really intensely affected. I considered what I should do, because I knew that it was wrong. I kept walking, afraid to enter the altercation. I know it was the smartest thing I could have done, but I really wanted to do something, anything. I saw other people seeing it too, but no one did anything. I walked slowly till I got to my building, still listening to the fight happen behind me. At some point, I heard a punch or some sort of contact, and the woman screamed “my leg!” I can’t tell you how strongly I felt and yet how little I knew I could do. What do you do when you have to stop something but if you got involved you’d get hurt, almost certainly? Call the cops, I realized later, but still? When I got inside, I opened my window and continued to listen. I don’t know why… but maybe it was just that I wanted to make sure nothing worse happened? I don’t know. At some point, the couple crossed the street, the woman limping, and got into a car. It was kind of awful to see that kind of violence so close.

What would you do?

“The only thing worth grieving over, she said, was that sometimes there was more beauty in this life than the world could bear.”
— Colum McCann

“Working, building, never stopping never sleeping”

I’m on my butt in my bed, mug of coffee beside me, and some loud music blaring from a car parked outside my window. The usual morning in Harlem.

Yesterday, after therapy, I went to Trader Joe’s and picked up my weekly groceries, then headed home and chilled out. I haven’t really worked out at all this week, even though I’ve had the time. A part of me says, “Normal people exercise, even when they don’t feel like it. Plus you want to feel self-confident and look good. Make yourself go.” But another part of me says, “Give yourself a gift. You’re really enjoying being lazy. You WILL want to go again. Let it come. Don’t give yourself undue stress– that is triggering for you. Focusing on not bingeing is your priority.” It’s hard to know which voice is the “healthy” voice. But at least I’m at the point where I’m taking the time to think about it, right?

Last night, well, first, last night I ate intuitively (until I binged in the evening… but I am forgiving– I knew what was going on and I just didn’t do the work). BUT, what I was going to say was that last night, I mustered the motivation to really put together my table. It has about a trillion pieces (three part base plus swinging leg, table top, two stools, and two drawers), and I had only finished enough to have the table. So, I turned on the showtunes (well, Next to Normal and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) and got out the screwdriver. Complete success!!!

P.S. First comment when I posted this on Facebook, within ten minutes:
” i’m consistently blown away by your many talents.” Guess who. What the fuck?!

Next week is SPRING BREAK!! At last! Ugh I am so relieved. It’s funny… I’m nowhere near as busy as I have been, but I still want a break from school. Plus I’m desperate to get out of NYC somehow over the next week. I’ve been thinking about getting a room at a B&B on Long Island or in Southern Connecticut for a wee rest, probably solo. As Kander and Ebb say, I am my own best friend. Well, I have other friends, but if I’m going to create a vacation for myself, I think it might just be mine. I’ll go on other people’s vacays. Does that make sense? I don’t know. It’s not a break if I feel the pressure of planning it and living up to it, maybe? So far, the only things on the schedj are:

Saturday and Saturday: Theatre company meetings. One is a planning meeting with the whole board, and the other is a production meeting.
Sunday: Dinner party with some of my BFFs.
Monday: Massage!!
Tuesday: Work for a few hours.

I’m a free agent (except for Thursday-Appointment-Day) for the rest of the break. Yahoo!! Let’s go team.

B.

Today, no quote, just love and prayers for Japan and the rest of the Far East that is currently being struck by a tsunami. Stay safe.

And, the hilarious and terrible continuation of the terrible/hilarious saga of Spiderman on Broadway:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/10/theater/julie-taymor-spider-man.html?_r=1&ref=theater

Git ‘er dun Thursdays

Happy one-day-til-Friday!

Thursdays are my “appointment days.” I have my therapist at 11am on the Upper West Side, and then biweekly, my nutritionist in Flatiron.  Then I pick up my weekly groceries (plus more, because it’s just too tempting) at Trader Joe’s, and hike back uptown to my home. And as rarely as I can, I do laundry.

Last time (slash month) I did laundry, the day I planned to do it was the morning after a ridiculous snowstorm (one of many in NYC this year). I was ready to lug my month’s worth of clothes to the laundromat around the corner and across the street, but– and I never thought it would happen– my local Harlem laundromat was closed!! I mean, wowza. That’s a snowstorm. a snowstorm.

I knew, however, that this impulse to wash my clothes would not last, nor would this much free time. So I hiked up my sleeves, turned on This American Life, and filled up my tub with hot soapy water. In three loads, I did ALL my laundry in my mini studio bathtub. It took skill and buff guns, but I did it. Subsequently, I littered my room with drying clothes. All my clothes. Like this:

Dresser = hanging rack when hanging rack = full.

So, with no desire to lug my clothes to the laundromat, wait around in the humid, dryer-dust infested air, put my clothes through the dryer 8 times before they dried enough to make my financial investment worth it, I bathtub-ed it again. I’m better this time– I seem to have developed a system. While things soaked, I even managed to Swiffer my floor! Now two of three loads are drying all over my apartment, and my final load (jeans etc) are chillin’ in the tub until they dry enough to make them drip less all over my parquet floor. I’m sippin’ some coffee with soy, watchin’ Modern Family, wearin’ some slippers and my Old Navy sweat-shorts (is that a thing?), and layin’ on my back. Not so bad for a Chore-sday.

Do you guys have a day exclusively to “git ‘er dun?”

Bye!!
B

P.S. OH MY GOD MUST HAVE THESE: http://smittenkitchen.com/2011/03/whole-wheat-goldfish-crackers/

“Was everyone else really as alive as she was?…If the answer was yes, then the world, the social world, was unbearably complicated, with two billion voices, and everyone’s thoughts striving in equal importance and everyone’s claim on life as intense, and everyone thinking they were unique, when no one was.”
–Ian MacEwan