Monday, July 31, 2006

A Real Boy

I need someone to talk to and just anyone won't do. I grab my phone and scroll through my contacts. Name after name rolls by, but none makes me want to dial. Not that one or this one. They're girls. No girls allowed. Hmmmm, him? No, too boring. How about him? Too much trouble. I'm related to him, so that's a no. Him? Nah, we're just friends. Damn it, the list is exhausted and I can't find even one.

Sometimes when it's late I'd rather talk than sleep. I want to speak in hushed tones and say one thing but mean another. I want to giggle and blush. Some butterflies in my tummy would be nice too. I want to hear a well placed "what if" that I'll forget about in the morning. Nothing serious, just a hit to get me through the night. What I wouldn't give to know a real boy.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


It doesn't take much. A single word usually does the trick. "Hello." It's enough for me. One hello, and all is forgiven. Every slight, all negligence, each missed opportunity, erased. Our slate is clean, except for the stains the disappointment left behind. But that doesn't matter, because he's here saying, "hello." Availability. He's available now, and that's what's important. So what if he doesn't offer an explanation and an apology never falls from his lips. Hello means "I want you." And "I want you" is better than "I'm sorry."

And there are times when no words are needed. Memories work everything out. That time when we sat on the couch. My head in his lap, his hand in my hair. I see it playing before my eyes, with different people on a different couch in a make believe place. They're not real, but we were. So what if he doesn't call. Who cares if he doesn't write. I'll let it slide, just to sit on the couch again.

What can I say? I'm easy.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Don't Believe The Hype

"I don't really connect with this story."
"You're telling the reader what happened, instead of showing."
"It doesn't feel personal. It has a slick journalistic quality to it."

I nod my head as the feedback flows. It's not quite what I expected. Where is the worship, accolades, and adoration? I wait for someone to say, "Amazing! Truly inspiring work!" or something along those lines. Instead all I hear is criticism eventually tempered with, "But, it's well written."

When I decided to attend the Writer's Studio sponsored by the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts, it was a strategic move. I'd been writing for nearly a year, and my work was running headlong into a wall called "BRILLIANCE!" Each piece was revealing new depth, creativity, and wit. I was better than good. I was that good! I was the undiscovered wunderkind, capable of crafting a masterpiece on the first draft. At least that's what nearly every comment on my blog told me. The only logical step was to share my genius with the world through a reputable print medium. Problem was, I had no idea where to start. I figured a group of my peers would confirm my greatness and point me in the write direction (damn, I'm clever).

The afternoon of my first workshop, I printed a couple of pieces to share. An excerpt from the novel I'm perpetually pushing aside and some personal essays. My friends had already told me that the pieces were superb, so I didn't bother with too much editing. I figured we'd break off into pairs, read each other's work then offer constructive feedback. Of course the feedback for me was to consist of excessive gushing and some punctuation tips.

I was a bit disappointed to arrive in the tiny meeting room and discover that one by one we would read our excerpts aloud for the entire class and receive their critiques. I sat through tales of murder and intrigue in the Roman Empire, Dutch Reformed Christian adolescence, and elderly adventure seeking. Some stories were interesting, others dull. I offered my opinion as I saw fit. "You should describe the facial features your character has in common with his father. Makes it more visual." I feigned patience and sometimes interest as I waited for my turn. It didn't arrive that evening. Class ended with a promise to put me near the top of the reading order at next week's studio. I felt bad. They would all have to wait an excrutiating seven days to be graced with my genius.

A week later I printed sixteen copies of O-R-E-O and brought them to studio, ready to be revered as the second coming. Several blog commentors had already told me that the essay should be published, if it hadn't been already. I just needed the final go ahead from my new audience, and maybe a suggestion or two on decreasing the word count before I shipped it off for an editor's critical eyes.

Their less than enthusiastic response shocked the hell out of me. What did they mean they "didn't really connect"? That's not what my blog readers said. They were totally affected. And what was wrong with sounding journalistic? Aren't magazine essays supposed to be that way? Above all, did their criticism mean my writing wasn't print ready on the first try?

I thought back on the one or two essays I'd e-mailed to a couple of magazines on a whim. Never did get a response. Could it be that the writer's studio participants had picked up on something my readers hadn't yet noticed? Sure, I could write and make words sound pretty. But maybe, just maybe I could benefit from a good editor. Perish the thought. If my writing needed editing, that had to mean it wasn't very good to begin with. I didn't want to fathom that idea. For the past 10 months my aspirations hinged on being the best thing to hit Barnes & Noble since, well since ever. How could I be great, if I couldn't get it right on the first try?

Really, what did these pseudo writers know anyways? I hadn't even heard of a single one of them. If they were such writing gurus why didn't they have a byline attached to their work. Oh, but they did. From books available for purchase at the local bookstore to short stories inside the pages of a recent anthology. Okay, so maybe they did know a thing or two about what it takes to get published. But how could all my blog readers be so wrong about me. How could they see polished and professional when the studio saw rough potential? Is beauty truly in the eye of the beholder.

Or maybe the original audience wasn't as discerning as I initially thought. It's not difficult to find "Superb writing" and "You're such a great writer" on even the most mediocre blogs. The blogosphere might not be the best judge of "great writing." For every reputable writer and savvy reader there are a hundred more hacks who think People magazine sets a literary standard.

Perhaps my writing needs a few rounds of revisions. I probably won't see my writing on glossy pages based solely on talent. I just might have to work at this. Yes, I am definitely good. But honestly, I'm not that good. Yet. Oh, it's so much easier to fill my head with the praise and believe the hype.

These Dreams

It's late. The time has come to bury myself beneath low thread count cotton and billows of soft down. I'll sleep. But before conciousness fades, I hope that I can get through the night in peace. I'm scared of the visions I might see when I close my eyes.

The possibility of nightmares doesn't make me anxious. They only scare me until they pass away into the night. But the beautiful dreams, they haunt me even when I'm awake. They're what I remember, what I wish I could forget.

I fall asleep alone, but when I awake he's with me. There is no shouting, no silence, only security. We're okay. For a second, I think about our problems and wonder if we can really work. He folds me into his arms and my questions are gone. I run my fingertips along his forearm. He's solid, flesh and blood man in my midst. It can't be real, but it is. I can see him, hear him, feel him. I don't know how we got here, but I'll stay a while.

Then a sound in the distance pulls me away from him. And when I come back, he's fading from my sight. I try to reach him again, but something in me knows I won't. I blink, and he's gone for good. Suddenly, I'm aware of waking up. Sweet memories dance in my head and I want to relive them. My heart sinks with the realization it was just a dream, and I can't.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Grow Up

I turn 26 today. I'm officially closer to 30 than to 20. Yesterday, my employer gave me an early birthday annual review. It was my party and I definitely had reason to cry if I wanted to.

For the past 10 months, I've been acting like a petulant child. I don't like my job. It doesn't stir any of my passions and I'd rather be doing something else. And something else is exactly what I've been doing. Actually, anything else but work. I'm not going to get into the laundry list of activities I engage in from 8 to 5 that aren't technically part of the job description. But the list is extensive. I kept telling myself that my passive aggressive behavior wouldn't exist if I was doing the job I was meant to do (writing and/or non profit fundraising). The slacking has caught up with me, because I know for sure that they notice my lack of motivation.

It's difficult to hear about your shortcomings from a group of people you feel no need to impress. I was defensive, recalcitrant, and a tad confrontational. But while some of the evaluation was absolute bullshit, most of it was true. I do have great potential, and I'm not realizing it in my current role. I really don't show a "bias for action," because honestly that requires caring. I stopped doing that a while ago.

I've been subsisting in this role under the assumption that I would land the job I really love and then blow this popsicle stand. Aaahhhh, the best laid plans. Eight months into the search and I got zilch, except this pesky little job that keeps demanding my attention. I'm starting to think I'm not deserving of much more. Yes, I know I have the skills to do whatever it is that makes my heart go pitter pat. But I haven't been a good steward over what I already have. No one can say, "well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things."

Yes, I have accomplished a great deal this year, and I made sure to put each achievement on my resume. But I neglected to cover the basics because I just didn't feel like taking the time to do it. Why bother, if I don't like it and it's not the right job for me anyways? Well, part of being a responsible adult is following through on commitments whether I want to or not. My company kept up their end of the bargain, they pay me. If they are doing their part, not liking this gig is not a good reason to not do mine. Just because I am actively looking for a new job, that does not mean I don't have to give my all in this one. I can't pretend that I love this stuff when I don't. But I can at least give my company what they're paying for.

Today, I took another step towards growing older, but yesterday I took an even bigger step towards growing up.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Job Opening

Job Opening
Job Category: Relationship
Type: Full time, plus overtime
Salary: It's gonna cost ya
Languages: Anything that sounds sexy
Last day to apply: My wedding day
Compensation: Me
Job Title: Boyfriend

Responsibilities will include, but are not limited to:
  • Saying and doing the right things to properly convey your undying adoration, admiration, and lust for me.
  • Managing all shopping bags while touring Westchester Mall/SoHo/Madison Ave/any similar location
  • Arguing when necessary, but ultimately realizing the error of your ways
  • Footrubs, backrubs, assrubs on request
  • Researching and evaluating what is really meant when hearing the words, "I'm fine."
  • Maintaining daily communication via telephone, email, text messages, and telepathic senses
  • Coordinating dinner dates, movie nights, surprise parties, and other special events
  • Watching All My Children, One Life To Live, and General Hospital
All candidates must have the following qualifications,
  • A J.O.B. (Doctors, lawyers, bankers, engineers, professional athletes, high level managers, music industry execs, Hollywood producers, and other ballers only)
  • 6'0 and above
  • size 13 shoe and above (hint, hint)
  • College Degree (advanced degree preferred); a shit load of money is good enough if no degree has been earned.
  • Solo residential accomodations
  • No criminal record
  • No kids
  • No pending kids, or possibles either
  • Never married
  • No restraining orders
  • Non smoker, ocassional drinker (non drinking is cool too)
  • hella sex appeal
  • Possess all teeth in some semblance of order
  • Must be practicing _____________________ (Christian/Jew/Muslim/Buddhist/Hindu/Agnostic/Atheist/whatever floats your boat)
New York Knicks fans need not apply.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tell Me All Your Thoughts on God

During the question and answer session I conducted last month, one reader sent me a very interesting question via email. I didn't answer it along with the others because I felt it deserved its own post. When I sat down to try and write it, I couldn't. Nothing sounded honest. So this time I'm not going to think about it. I'm just going to write and whatever answer comes out is the answer that's in my heart. Lord help me.

Q: Religion...what's your take on God? Do you believe in Jesus?

A: I'm not a fan of religion. Religion is the rituals, traditions, and practices of a faith. It's often the manifestation of faith, but in no way is religion synonymous with faith. Going to church every Sunday, lighting candles, pouring out oil. None of it (in and of itself) is faith. Faith can manifest itself in the form of religion, but religion is not a substitute for true faith.

When I was deciding on a spiritual path, I came to two conclusions. First, I can't decide what I want God to be. Crafting an image of God that conforms to my wants, desires, and needs would be backwards. If I was creating the "creator" where exactly would I be putting my faith? Any god that would bend to my whims couldn't possibly be God.

Second, I had to choose what to believe, because I couldn't believe everything. Logically speaking there can't be one god, yet multiple gods. God can't have a son, but yet not have a son. The son of God can't be the only means to salvation, yet not be the means to salvation (or even worse a heretic). Salvation can't be based on grace and sacrifice, yet based on good works alone. While the differing paths definitely have similarities, the differences require a decision.

I choose Jesus Christ. I do believe that Jesus is God in the flesh. I do believe that he died on the cross for the sins of mankind. I do believe that he rose on the third day (the Jewish day begins at sunset so he actually died on a Thursday, not a Friday). I went through a period of intense exploration, trying to find the facts behind the faith. Fortunately there was lots to find. There's evidence of a great flood, the Hittite civilization, the walls of Jericho. It makes it easier to believe that which I can't see.

I'm not a perfect person. And no matter how much I try, I never will be. I do believe that God set a standard for all humans and that standard does not change. I know that I fall far short of it. Paul said it best, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." I place my faith in Christ because he bridges the gap between me and God. I have no fear that I'm not good enough, because being in Christ I am. It makes sense that salvation can't be based on works alone. If we all fall short, then what ratio of good deeds to bad can get us into the pearly gates? Grace is a beautiful thing.

Still faith without works is dead. Jesus said you can recognize a person by the fruit they bear. Just saying I believe isn't enough. If I do, it will come across in my actions. I know the Lord's commands, but I do tend to ignore them when they don't suit my personal purposes. That's my nature and it's a constant struggle for me. I don't believe that grace is a free pass to do as I please, and I pray constantly that God will change me into the person He wants me to be. The biggest thing for me to remember is that it's a journey and not a destination.

Lately that journey has taken me down an interesting path. About a year ago, I started wondering if contemporary Christianity was really the faith Jesus and the Apostles had left us with. I began to think about what man might've changed over the last two thousand years. That led me into studying Christian apologetics and the Hebraic roots of the Christian faith. I can't say that I believe what many other Christians do. I don't believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, nor do I believe that Jesus nullified Mosaic law, nor do I recognize Sunday as the Sabbath. I believe that many of the differences between Judaism and Christianity were created long after the apostles died. I've come to think that the only true difference between Judaism and Christianity is Jesus. Christians believe that He's the promised Messiah, Jews do not. They're still waiting.

I love being a Christian, however there are many times when I really don't like identifying as one. A lot of believers have given the entire faith a bad name. Jesus called tax collectors, terrorists, liars, and other sinners to be his disciples. He never lowered his standards in regard to sin, yet he didn't make them change who they were in order to love them. I think many Christians forget this whenever they are "lovingly" rebuking the "unsaved." For some reason, I just don't hear "I love you" in "You're going to hell!" Jesus' love and example changed Peter, Thomas, Matthew, and company. If people could see Jesus in today's followers I'm sure more people would be open to letting Him in their lives.

I hope that one day others can see Christ in me.

Monday, July 10, 2006

You Started It

I didn't ask for this. My life was fine. I wasn't checking for, concerned about, or conscious of you. You came at me. You called my phone asking where I was, what I was doing.
"When can I see you?" That's what you asked.
Boredom is a bitch, and you were something to do, nothing more. I wasn't interested. You weren't even my type. But the attention was nice, and being with you passed the time.
You wormed your way into my head saying "us," "we," "ours." I was featured in your future. But I resisted, keeping you at a distance.
"What are you scared of?" you asked. You dismantled my defenses bit by bit. You did the little things, the basics no one else bothered to do.
"I'll call you at 9." My phone rang at 8:55.
"I'm coming over to see you." I buzzed you in before we hung up.
You did this, not me. It wasn't my idea, definitely not a part of my plans. You wanted us. You worked your magic and now I'm convinced. The only problem is now you're not so sure.
"Let's be together." Your words, not mine. I'm trying to be with you and you want to tell me, "I ain't ready for all that."
All of a sudden, I'm asking too much. It was nothing for you to call me when you didn't know my last name. Now when I say I want to talk, you avoid me like the plague. "Not now." or "I can't." Or some other lame excuse. I used to see you everyday, but lately I can't even get five minutes of your time. You say I'm too needy, that I'm asking for too much. Damn, I'm just asking for what you offered in the first place.
You're asking me why I can't let go. Shit, you were the one who told me, "Hold on."

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Dear Short Bitch,

I'm going to need you to do me a favor. You know that guy you're dating. The one whose navel you barely graze because you're 4'11 and he's 6'5. The cute one with the fresh Ceasar and sexy goatee. Yeah him. I'm gonna need you to break up with him. Now!
You don't need all that height. It's wasted on you. Yeah that's what I said, WASTED! It's not cute to see man who damn near has to break his back just to give his woman the sexy, yet subtle forehead kiss. Not cute at all. You don't look like his girlfriend, you look like his child. And together, you both look stupid.
I am by no means saying that you shouldn't date men who are taller than you. But be reasonable. Is a 12 inch height difference really necessary? Wouldn't 6 inches suffice? If you're 5'2 and your man is 5'8, he still towers over you! You can wear your 4 inch heels and still rest your head on his chest. What more do you need? Yeah, I've heard all your reasons before. "I like a man who's tall because he makes me feel safe/secure/dwarfed." Because of your inability to grow, that's not difficult to accomplish. A man does not have to qualify for the NBA in order to be significantly taller than you. Anything more than a 6" to 7" height difference is just overkill.
Contrary to whatever is going on in your little head, there is not a plethora of tall men available for any woman who wants one. Height is relative and your perception of what is tall is greatly skewed due to your close proximity to the ground. Just because a man looks tall in comparison to you, does not mean that he is.
Resources are scarce, and basic human decency teaches that resources should be left for the people who need them most. In this case, those people would be women like me. Women over 5'10 who are constantly attacked by little men who love tall women. When you take the tall men, there is no one to save your longer limbed sisters from the pint size Lotharios who place themselves in our paths. Do you not think of anyone but yourself?!
So how about we make a deal. You stay away from the 6' and over crowd and I won't kick your vertically challenged ass. Sound like a plan? Great! Hopefully we won't have this problem again.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

His Shit

They're sitting in my suitcase, stained with hot sauce and soiled with sweat. I know they'll go in the next load of laundry, but after that their fate is uncertain. They could go back in the dresser drawer that has been their home since last September. Or I could put them in a UPS box and ship them back to their original owner. Technically, they belong to him.

"Do you have a pair of sweats I can sleep in?"
He rummaged through his closet and handed me his favorite pair. I slept in the soft gray cotton, then wore them home the next morning. Day after day I wore them until my scent replaced his and finally Tide erased both of us.
"What are you wearing?" he would ask periodically.
"Your sweatpants."
"When am I going to get those back?"
"You're not."

I'm not so sure about that anymore. I kept them as a reminder, and now I don't want to remember. Memories are the reason I put the past aside and decided to try again. A conversation here, a text message there. Little by little we started to act like us again. And us feels so good, until we get to the part of us that doesn't work. The part where I need him and he lets me down.

Disappointment reared its ugly head again. My first instinct is to pack up his shit and send it to him. No note needed for him to get the message loud and clear. "I'm done!" But I haven't followed through. Instead I'm sitting on my bed weighing my options while this song fucks with my head. "Part of me says to think it through, part of me says I'm over you, part of me wants to say goodbye..."It plays over and over in mind on a continuous loop. Giving back the sweats means I'm giving up on us. He won't give me what I need, so I should just let him go. Find someone else to meet my needs. That's common sense. The problem is, I don't want someone else, I want him to do it. Making a return would say, "don't bother." Why do it, if I don't mean it.

Skeletons fill my closet. This man's t-shirt, that man's pants, another's hat. I could dress myself from head to toe in their remnants and not even think about it. But his remains, they don't just go on me, they get in me. Sleeping in his sweats is like sleeping near him. I can almost feel his arms and the rise and fall of his chest when he breathes. It doesn't help me move on. But I doubt giving them back will help either. And when it's all said and done, I don't want to move on. I want us to work. Until that happens, the sweatpants are mine.