Monday, February 28, 2011


The Jamesons had started working it’s magic, my date was starting to open up; “I mean, the guy said, ‘Hey, Cracka’ - a course I'm gonna call you Ni**a,” he paused to try to get a read on my reaction, “I’m right, Right? I mean ‘Cracka’ is white for “Ni**a”, right?”

It wasn’t horror I was feeling, I felt more let down, I had met other gentlemen from Bay Ridge; this was fairly typical subject matter. Yet, I was seriously considering my date’s query - turning it over in my mind, was calling someone a ‘Cracka’, in fact, the equivalent of calling someone a ‘Ni**a”?

Jimmy’s re-enactment of the afternoon continued; him, just minding his own business when this black guy walks up and calls him a Cracker. The two went back and forth discussing the gravitas of “cracka” vs. the “N” word, the award going to the one who had slighted less, strangely enough. In a final attempt to settle everything in one felt swoop, my date recounted addressing the fellow one last time, “shut up or I will bitch slap you like the bitch you are,” he said it to the guy very casually, like he was letting him know his shoe was untied, but it seemed to settle things as “Bitch” trumps all. He shrugged and took another long sip of Jamesons staring straight ahead.

The stuff that had drawn me to him, the muscles, the ink, were all hidden under his neatly pressed Yankees shirt now, which made the racial slur seem more pronounced, he had the face of a choir boy. He made an honest living, had a good job, taught himself how to cook up a storm since the separation - Doritos breaded chicken breasts to Lobster Thermidor - he carried a wallet sized photo of his small fluffy dog he bought for company, and had a boss motorcycle he loved to ride, what’s not to love. But when he asked if I wanted to stay for dinner, I asked Jimmy to drop me home. “You had me at “Ni**a”, I thought hours after our date, wasn't that always the way. But my humor would have been lost on Jimmy, that, and he's racist - that's what I told myself as I deleted the half naked pictures Jimmy had sent me after our date, my heart sinking deeper as my chances of getting with a real live naked guy looking less and less likely with each click of the delete button.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I first met Pastor Ray when he was a bartender, way before he was a man of the cloth, back when I worked as a writer on Madison Avenue. We had an immediate, electrifying attraction – I learned in later years, a red flag heralding you to run the other way. He was handsome, dynamic, a punk musician, a drunk, and an Army Private. He invited me out for drinks after his shift, and I left him standing on 3rd Avenue at 3 AM, screaming after my cab, “I fucking LOVE YOU, and you don’t GIVE A SHIT!!”

During our impromptu date, he casually mentioned he had a girlfriend, but we continued chatting as friends at the bar he tended after that, he brought me his punk albums, and showed me some pretty engaging writing he was doing, one involved a story about a girl who gave him head in a parking lot while deployed, the story hinged around the girl's mouthful of metal railroad track braces - the excruciating pain that followed, ending with a quirky vignette with hilarious details around his failed attempts to release his manhood from her silver interior.

Ray and I were in and out of each other’s lives for years, when he became single he got in touch with me. He’d since become a recording engineer and worked at one of the best places in the city. He’d always had a deep bravado to his voice, a macho swagger that women of poor judgment find captivating. We had dinner those few years later, and he still seemed the same, but also not. Something else was in the mix that I couldn’t put my finger on. This time he left me on the street early instead of the other way around like years before, which left me wondering. He told me I looked great, kissed me quickly on the lips, and hailed a cab, hightailing it out of there just barely after 9 pm.

I didn’t hear from him for a couple of weeks, until one day he called, saying the recording studio he was working at was having a Halloween party. I showed up, Ray looked like death - on top of the fact that this was his costume, black shawl, hood, black makeup that created cavernous sockets around his dead, reddened eyes. I saw him peak out behind a screen, but when he saw me he ducked away. I went away confused and wondering what had gone wrong.

A few days later, I got a voicemail at my office, it was a friend of Ray’s telling me that he had O.D.’d on heroin. It had happened in his apartment - he’d been passed out on the floor for two days, he was lucky to be alive. There was a possibility that his leg would have to be amputated – it had twisted back awkwardly in the fall, the two days he was passed out had taken its toll on his appendage.

I reconnected with Ray during his recovery, he told me that Jesus had saved his life, and his leg in the same turn. His faith was astonishing, soon he was on the church scene with the same vigor I'd seen in his punk rock days, publishing controversial themes designed to rock the Christian world. We lost touch when he enrolled in a theological seminary after a brief romantic encounter between us that left Ray convinced he should swear me off, along with his slew of pre-O.D. bad habits. I’d heard he had met a woman who was also in seminary, married her, and they started a congregation in an impoverished town somewhere in Pennsylvania, doing “important work” with the people who struggled just to survive there.

When I friended him on Facebook two years ago, he was a well respected Pastor, happily married with 3 lovely children. Through the Army, Ray went to Afghanistan on a spiritual mission, and had written a book which he forwarded me for feedback. I always knew he was passionate - whether he was a punk musician, writing descriptive blowjob prose, doing heroin, or leading parishioners, Ray was always rockin’ it at eleven.

Recently, I took the time to listen to one of Pastor Ray’s spiritual podcasts. Although we’d talked occasionally in email, I hadn’t heard his deep, maniacal voice in over a decade. But when I clicked on play- the man I heard was not Ray, but some ethereal version of himself. His voice was quiet, his tone earnest - his delivery plain. Ray had been reborn - it seemed quite literally. There was no resemblance to Ray of past times, his wild animation gave way to gentle expressions that seemed to emanate from a slow burning flame nestled inside his heart - my goodness, I thought, God does work in mysterious ways. Ray is living proof of that. I was fortunate to bare witness along his wild, winding road - from railroad track braces and Streetcar Named Desire nights, to Needle Park, into the ambulance and on into the New York Presbyterian E.R., soon taking flight at the theological seminary, until he eventually landed, preaching high atop the internet mount. Ever so humbly, this is where I first heard Pastor Ray, quoting scripture, spreading The Word to those who will listen.


Saying “I love you” is not a bargaining chip.
It’s a feeling you pay forward with love and respect.

Saying “I’m sorry” isn’t a way back in.
It’s a desire to do better next time.

“We” isn’t “Me”. Well, it’s sort of “we”, but the “w” got flipped over in the wake of those scurrying towards self-serving stuff.

Making love is not something you get in exchange for scrambled eggs or a steak dinner – that is what is known as a “transaction”, often becoming more costly post transaction – resulting in a lost friendship, STD, or an unwanted pregnancy; the trifecta of thoughtless encounters.

Sex is a gift you receive from someone’s soul, as well as their vagina.
Treat both with the utmost care. If not, refer to #4.

Lies are the stories people tell themselves right before they tell you, often to support their own agenda.

One person’s idea of a “relationship” is usually different from another's. It’s not yours, or theirs, it’s often somewhere in the middle, like a seesaw. If you find yourself playing with yourself, it’s probably because you don’t know the basic rules of physics/relationships.

Monday, February 14, 2011


These are excerpts from a Valentine's Day blogpost on Baggage Reclaim, an extraordinary blog for women who are seeking a healthy relationship, but have previously gone about it ass backwards. This has been reprinted without the author's permission, I am not the author, just an ardent fan, and suggest you subscribe to Baggage Reclaim, it will turn your head around.

(baggagereclaim content- edited)

Valentine’s Day: Notes On Love From Me To You

by NML on February 14, 2011

Love is a wonderful thing…when you’re experiencing it. I believed that I’d loved several times prior to this relationship and it’s only through introspection and looking at a relationship with mutual love, care, trust, and respect versus a relationship with drama, pain, ambiguity.

One of the biggest lessons learned is that love doesn’t hurt.

Being in a shady relationship hurts,
doing things that bust up your boundaries hurts,
as does engaging in stuff that goes against values you profess to have or that has you feeling embarrassed and humiliated.

Love really isn’t all that dramatic. Being raised in a drama filled household means I used to be a real drama seeker and thought that the highs and lows signalled passion, excitement and chemistry. Actually, it signified pain and unhealthy relationships.

Love doesn’t make you do crazy stuff – drama does.

Sometimes I think we’ve stopped believing in love in a healthy guise. Believe it. Embrace it. The moment that you stop believing that love is out there for you, is the moment you give up on yourself. Love doesn’t just happen – even if you bump into The Most Perfect Person On Earth, you still need to work at it.

Happy Valentine’s day. Exhale, embrace, enjoy and if you’re finding it tough today, remember this day shall pass and don’t get hijacked by your feelings.

(End content from blog: baggage reclaim)
to read full content go to:

Thanks to y'all who take the time to read my blog. To my friends, my family, to those whom I love, that love me back - and to those I have yet to meet... may we all get the love we want, and the wisdom to know how to give and receive it fully with an open, kind, and vulnerable heart - because it's so worth it. xo

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Itchin for trouble
Just like de old days
No lines on the back of a toilet
Jus an extra piece of cheese on
Organic eggs
Wild night of chardonnay
Winking at that 20 year old
Like it was yesterday

Thursday, February 10, 2011


About a year ago I piled tons of expensive department store make-up into shopping bags, brought it down into my lobby, and sold it all for $175 dollars to a young makeup artist who found my listing on Craigslist.

As she opened all of the Chanel, Dior, and YSL quads, she looked as though her hands were running through a pot of gold coins she’d discovered under a bush. “Why are you selling all of this,” she looked up at me in utter disbelief. “I’m over it,” I said, it was true. I’d had a love/hate relationship with the face paint over the years. And it seemed there was no middle ground. Being blessed with beautiful skin, it enabled me to take a feminist view on the stuff. I hated that I spent so much time in high school applying the stuff in front of the mirror. If I only had the right Bonnie Bell lip stuff, my boyfriend wouldn’t have dumped me. Fast forward to my big job in advertising it had become a full on addiction. I was medicating with margaritas, men, and mega amounts of department store hauls. I had made “friends” with the girl at the Chanel counter at Lord and Taylor a block away from work. I’d go in for a lipgloss, and with her “friendly” guidance I’d leave with a quarter of my paycheck’s worth of shadows, mascaras, pricey creams, and more. I’d feel that crack-type high when I was on the purchase, often returning home with a bagful of self-loathing regret. I had yet to “hit pan” (the act of burrowing down through the blush or eyeshadow til you hit the metal) on any item, ever. But I always wanted more. Years later, I started to identify ways I was self-medicating. Food, watches, foundations, I decided to make a clean break and cut myself off from cosmetics completely and never looked back, until today.

I’ve been thinking about my relationship with beauty lately, and giving it a second look. I like how I look without makeup, but I was curious to reopen the issue, and the duos and blushes that go along with. Riffling down under my sink, I unearthed a box I’d missed during my purge to get rid of all the paint. There were a couple of the black, sleek compacts with that classic Chanel logo, I’d forgotten how good they feel in your hand, the smart click they make when you snap the lid shut. It was like riding a bike, I’d been studying makeup techniques since I was six, decades later I created a perfect, natural arched brow. A lone YSL blush proved to be the perfect color, and brightened my mood one cheek at a time. That afternoon, I went to my local CVS and bought a mascara that had been recommended online. With some of the eye shadows I found in this forgotten treasure chest of goodies, I created a natural looking eye. Like the Madison Avenue copywriters spun it, “You. Only better.” But it was true. I wasn’t 16 anymore, it was the dead of winter, and suddenly I looked like I’d had the best sex of my life the night before.
If I kept this up, maybe I’d be having the best sex of my life by next week. It was uplifting, outside and in.

Years ago, a feisty old man copywriter that I adored back in the day snuck up on me as I stood waiting to go into a meeting and whispered like Snidely Whiplash in my ear, “Got your war paint on, I see.” He had noticed that I’d ramped up my makeup that morning, said I hadn’t fooled him - the manhunt was on. I brushed it off as ridiculousness, but I remember it to this day. Makeup is just another weapon in your arsenal, as important as witty repartee, refined oral skills, and knowing just when to flip that perfect medium rare steak. And I’m good with all of that, and the rewards that come with.

Makeup used to be my crack, but if taken in moderation it can also be your Seroquel, providing a lift in mood and confidence, it can be war paint, or just worn around the apartment, either way, I've found that beauty isn’t the enemy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I call my mother, she rarely picks up the phone. When she does, she sound disoriented, Dementia ravaging her brain. She sounds happy, for that I am thankful. I listen to her sound bites, I try to take her bum’s rush in stride.

My family has shape shifted over the years. My parents moved across the country 20 years ago, my father passed away shortly thereafter. My brother got married, had kids, and moved to Oregon and hasn’t made it back East since. I have dropped the ball, my visits out to Portland have been few and far between. His kids are a foot taller each time I visit. I try to make in into the city to see my other brother whenever he extends an invite. I watch him smoke a cigarette, I see it as a threat to one of my last remaining shreds of the family I once had.

I appreciate the friends I have, the ones that extend a hand as I cling to my alone time, that’s always been my way. Friends disperse as they pursue different interests than yours, move away, or simply drift. No one is to blame, we’re not in high school anymore - we’re not all sitting in the cafeteria giggling, or going out every Saturday night.
Seems sometimes, some of my closest friends are the ones I’ve never met.

I used to consider myself “independent”, but I’m feeling more disenfranchised as of late. A lone wolf not so much by choice, but more of a sentence by my own hand. I look at the men that I have loved and wonder how I could have assigned such a word to what actually was. I question the core friend I have in this life, the one I am to myself.

Monday, February 7, 2011


My mechanic jumped me at a moment’s notice.
Po-po waved me on with a smile.
Girl drove from Jersey to buy my watch.
Two tens for a twenty without buying Twix.
The sun on my face on the walk to the store.
Deleted that blogpost before anyone saw.
The right purple shadow in the wrong slot.
Money in my pocket to buy what I got.

Friday, February 4, 2011


I’m one of those people who are obsessed with everything best. I have to have the best pizza slice, the best Schnauzer, the best paper shredder.

It took me weeks to research my paper shredder, I finally went with the one designed by the world-renowned architect Michael Graves. He was designing stuff for Target, and it was getting a consistent 5 stars on their site, it was great looking, I went to Target to check it out in person and made her mine. That was probably 8 years ago.

It did the job well, and looked good doing it. No need to tuck in away in a closet. I’d had my identity stolen once, and took to shredding everything paper item short of unbranded tampon wrappers.

The last time I used her was after a major paper purge in my apartment. I was testing the Michael Graves Paper Shredder, pushing her to its limits. Getting rid of months of bank and Amex statements, back before the days we all went paperless. I’d do 5 pages, then 7, then 10. It worked like a champ. The device showed no signs of slowing down, I unplugged my piece of office sculpture and continued to pile paper aside to be shredded on my bi-annual shred fests.

Yesterday, in a rare burst of energy, I decided to shred every piece of paper in the apartment. I spent the morning separating papers that needed to be filed, and what needed to be shredded, made myself another cup of coffee, cracked my knuckles and prepared myself to shred.

I plugged Michael Graves in, but nothing. Not a peep out of my high design office helper. I fiddled with all the buttons, plugged her in/plugged her out a couple of times. Nada. Not exactly a hero’s death, Michael Graves was chewing through my statements with ease the last time I used her, then suddenly, she was all dried up? Had she died in her sleep?

I immediately went on Target dot com, there was no Michael Graves paper shredder in site. They only had the sad, lackluster black rectangular trashcans with uninspired shredders atop of them. This wouldn’t do. Few things depress me more than uninspired office supplies. The red Trimline stapler had been sold out for months after being immortalized in the movie, “Office Space” – clearly, I wasn’t the only one with a passion for high design tools for mundane tasks.

I couldn’t quite bring myself to take Michael Graves down to the basement to be put out with the plebeian trash. Should I salvage the curved black pail below the sleek, silver shredding device? I could re-purpose it for a dog food bin, or a midpoint rest station for paper between clutter and shredder, once she was replaced. But ugg, the replacement options weren’t viable. I walked over to breathe in her beauty one last time before I brought her down to the basement where she would meet her ultimate fate and be put out on the icy sidewalk next to the likes of ugly wired shelving, and broken particle board slabs awaiting their final resting place in Jersey, Staten Island, or the like.

“I can't,” I told myself, “I won't give up on her just yet!” Like a loved one on a ventilator, I couldn't pull the plug - so I plugged Michael Graves in one more time - my prayers still went unanswered. I picked up the shredder unit from his black plastic can, and gave it a little shake. I flicked all of the buttons every which way. I ran my fingers along the teeth inside the paper slot. Plugged her in, still a flatline. Yet, in a final desperate attempt, I gave her a violent SHAKE-SHAKE-SHAKE. I knocked her sleek silver exterior with my knuckles, sat down, and banged the device against the edge of my coffee table. I plugged her in again and a miracle occurred. There, in the center of her curved silver faceplate, the tiny green light shone bright. Like a tiny emerald gleaming out of the darkness of the defunct shredder - I reached for an old Merrill Lynch statement and fed it through her hungry lips. And voila! The monstrous sound of grinding was a concierto to my ears. I hadn’t given up on her, I hadn’t placed my order for her ugly step sister shredders, hadn’t banished her to the basement. All she needed was a swift banging, and Michael Graves was back in business, as beautiful and gifted as ever.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


This guy was really making me work for this 30 bucks. It was a $150 helmet I got when I picked up my Vespa – the girl that sold it to me gave me two helmets, a chain lock, a cover, and I was selling off the residual stuff on Craigslist to help recoup some of the top dollar money I had paid for the thing.

The guy was calling me every two minutes, he was only 8 blocks away, but it seemed when I said “take a right,” he would go left. He was getting all turned around - not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I reminded myself to be kind, and on the 5th incoming call, he said he was on my corner.

When I walked outside he was standing next to his bike, an old beat up Honda. He couldn’t have been older than 25 - looking from side to side - he seemed very disoriented. Dressed in full Army fatigues, apparently coming from someplace much further than Queens.

“Sorry, you seemed to get pretty lost on the way here,” I said, trying to break the odd silence. He was half inspecting the helmet, and flinching at sounds that the rest of us wouldn’t think twice about; the slamming of a car door, a neighbor calling to someone across the way. “Is it for you,” I tried again. He was muttering, “It’s O.K, O.K.,” I didn’t know if he was referring to his getting lost, the condition of the helmet, or simply comforting himself.

I asked him where he’d come from, Queens, East New York, Staten Island, he mustered a quiet response, “...back from Afghanistan.” He snapped out of his vacant stare, and reached for the 30 bucks he had neatly folded in his pocket.

“Is it for your girlfriend,” I longed to bring up a comforting notion. “Yeah,” he said quietly. “She must be happy you’re back safe 'n' sound,” I took the 30 from his hand, he hadn’t quite passed it to me. “don’t have a girl, in case I get one…,” his voice trailed off. I tried to engage him in a conversation about his bike, but it seemed like he couldn’t hear me, some kid had popped his gum and he was trying to recompose himself. “Late now,” he said in another sentence fragment, pushing the helmet under the netting on the passenger seat where a girlfriend would go.

“Hey,” I yelled over the sound of his engine, “lemme tell ya how to get back,” but he jerked forward onto Henry Street and disappeared into the hot August sun. I realized I didn’t know where “back” was, but I knew it would only a matter of time before he would be deployed again, shipped off at a moment’s notice to only God knows where.