Sunday, November 16, 2014

Personal Growth

The other day, I ended a budding relationship with a man I really like and respect and am attracted to. 

Given how I've titled this post, that rather begs the question: "How is this an example of personal growth?"

I'll tell you.

Despite my Relationship PTSD (combined with my general difficulty acknowledging my own feelings),  I let myself start something and I let myself FEEL.  That's a win, in my book.

I was faced with a situation with which I didn't have any first hand experience - a situation that might have affected me at some point (actually, it was already beginning to).  While I knew what I was beginning to feel for the man, I didn't know how I felt about the situation.  I needed to figure that out.

So I did what I typically do when faced with an unknown - I researched.  I talked to friends and collected their stories.  They also provided me with stories from THEIR friends and family members.  And I read up on the subject (and, as it's in my nature,  I read A LOT).    During all this research, I kept my finger on my own emotional pulse, learned more about the specifics of the situation, accepted reality as REALITY (i.e. I didn't selectively look at certain things [happy feelings about the man] and willfully ignore the rest [unhappy feelings about the situation]), was realistic about how I would respond to that reality now and in the future, and, along the way, I figured out how I felt about it all.

(BTW, should I ever face this situation again, I now know what questions to ask and what answers I would need to hear.)

That sounds more personally-growthy, doesn't it?

The man didn't promise what he knew he couldn't.  He thought that would make it easier for me, but it had the opposite effect.  He is principled and that's not a character trait one runs into all the time.   That made an already difficult decision even more difficult to stick to, but had it been EASY for me, this post wouldn't be titled as it is.

It comes down to this:  I didn't let myself down.

At the end of the day, we are the ultimate guardians of our own well being.  That's not a responsibility that should be ceded to someone or something else.  Nor is it a responsibility that should be ignored, for any reason.  Is that selfish?  I think it's the very opposite.  Because at the end of the day (and at the start and the middle, too), respecting our responsibility to ourselves is one of the many ways we carry out our responsibilities to all the people who are important to us - whether by setting examples for our children, reassuring our parental figures that they taught us to make good choices for ourselves, or not pissing off our friends by forcing them to log WAY too much time at karaoke with you while you sing every possible song in the "I'm bitter and angry" oeuvre, twice.

You're welcome, friends.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Smack Talk

I talk a lot of smack. A LOT.

People do.

It's entertaining. There can be comedy in extreme characterizations. There can also be truth.

In the past, I never worried or wondered if my bullshit talk was taken seriously. I think I just had great faith that somehow, people just KNEW what was sincere and what was exaggerated or even entirely made up for comic value in that moment, to further the momentum of a particular conversation.

But lately I've started wondering about it.

Mostly because I've made a few observations:

1. People seem to be engaging in that kind of talk less now
2. I, despite my own tendencies, am taking people more at their word. If they say it, they must mean it

My friends would tell me that my tendency to sometimes engage in that kind of patter is a defense mechanism on my part, to keep at arm's length people who don't already know me well enough to filter the unreal from the real. Perhaps it is.

But I wonder if it is a "habit" I should break. Because the world seems to be spinning faster lately, and I certainly can't be the only one making snap judgments. And besides, sometimes, just sometimes, there are people you want closer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

So Very Good

"When you’re sad you need to hear your sorrow structured into sound." — Susanna Kaysen

Sunday, May 22, 2011

On Balance

Rolled out the yoga mat this morning and things proceeded relatively smoothly until the balance poses.  I kept toppling over even during "tree."   Am now considering taking up Aikido since my body apparently can't do anything but roll around on the floor.  Might as well play up to apparent strengths, yes?

SK and I were talking about hobbies - specifically, that we (or perhaps just I?)  might need a new one. 

Gay SW and I have decided to write an illustrated book for adults.  Which I know sounds like porn.  But that's not what we're thinking.  We are thinking of a book on "dating" with illustrations a la Edward Gorey.  Since we don't want to be tied to splitting any potential revenues with the illustrator (we are being highly optimistic), our plan is to hire some young budding artist (Gay SW is convinced he can find one easily) and pay him/her in beer and pizza to do our drawings for us, with no mention of a book.  We'll simply pass ourselves off as a crazy couple who just want bizarre pictures of ourselves for our own unspecified use. 

This should not be a difficult role for us to play.

I like this idea.  And I adore Gay SW, so this will be a fun excuse to talk/email/visit frequently as we enable each other in our shared delusion that this will make us both wealthy.

And yet, I'm still considering a hobby that would leverage my new rolling-on-the-floor talent...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

All The World's A Stage

We all play certain roles in our lives.  We figure out what our parts are and what the requirements are for playing those roles successfully.   I think this happens in almost every aspect of our lives, but especially  in our professional lives, because those of us for whom our work is important, spend more of our waking hours working than doing anything else.

For example, the person deeply afraid of public speaking can learn to become good at it, with enough focused effort.  The shy person can learn to put on a different persona in order to be effective in the spotlight and can become better and better at it.    And different circumstances and different audiences can require assuming different roles with different "rules of interaction."  We play a certain role with customers, yet another with employees, yet another with employers, etc.    Even in our personal lives, there might be certain kinds of relationships in which the specific rules of interaction are clear in our minds - especially in those relationships where compartmentalization is easy, maybe even preferred.   And of course, it helps when the respective roles and appropriate rules of interaction are equally understood and accepted by everyone involved - then there's less room for misunderstanding and confusion and becomes almost like reading from the same clearly defined script.

But then there are some circumstances and interactions that involve emotional vulnerability.   This is a different beast altogether.  Because in that context, there is no "role" to assume.  There are no clearly defined "rules of interaction" to follow when we are emotionally naked in front of another person.  Some of us are simply horrible at this, or we have been too hurt to trust, so we revert to what we are accustomed to and we try to impose compartmentalization anyway, or we try to apply a certain set of rules of interaction even though it isn't appropriate in that context, or is a set of rules that the other person doesn't understand or doesn't want to accept.

I think this explains how some people can be highly inconsistent across the different aspects of their lives - how someone who might be good at being a friend, might be horrible at being a romantic partner.  Or how some of us who are rockstars professionally, can be complete disasters when it comes to our personal lives.  Or how someone who is a great parent, might be a less than ideal spouse, etc.  We all make choices about which roles we are willing to work hard at until we succeed at playing them.  The context is critically important.   So it's actually impossible to say that we truly know another person, especially if we've only ever seen him/her in certain contexts, if we've only ever seen him/her playing certain roles.  Change the context, and you might be very surprised by that person you once thought you knew so well.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Old Age

Another birthday, another word momentarily "lost" if not for the help of google.

I forgot the word "autopsy" the other day. Given how addicted I am to crime shows such as NCIS and Bones, it is completely bewildering.

More bewildering, I remembered that "necropsy" refers to the post-mortem dissection of non-human bodies (animals, not aliens). I had a vague idea that the word I was trying to remember might rhyme with necropsy, but that didn't help. I had to turn to google.

Thank god for google. Something has to counteract the effects of amyloid plaque that is commonly thought to cause Alzheimer's.

Jeesh - when writing that above sentence, "amyloid plaque" leaped up easily and effortlessly from the murky mess that is my brain. Yet "Alzheimer's" required some concentration to catch.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lost and Found

When looking for something lost, the place to start the search is where you think you saw it last. My go-to repository for lost things is usually my fridge. Nine times out of ten, my remote control is found on the eye-level shelf, next to a jar of capers.

But what if you lost it so long ago that "where-did-I-see-it-last?" is not a viable search strategy? Then it's a no holds barred search. It's process of elimination. Not here, not here, not there, oh maybe - no, not there.

And what if what you lost is pretty big... such as, say, yourself?

What does process of elimination look like in this context?. I am not like this person. I am COMPLETELY different from her. And THAT person? Ugh. NOTHING in common. I would NEVER make the choices she made.

Not so long ago, I once wrote a post in this blog (in relation to the movie Lost in Translation):

"And I firmly believe it's demonstrable of a fundamental failing in one's character to see only what is alien on the surface instead of what is familiar beneath."

This is an apology sent up to cyberspace, for the discernible lack of generosity and graciousness on my part toward certain people who only peripherally walked in my world.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


There are some things you only see and hear clearly in those moments when you are alone. And only recently have I had enough solitude to look and listen. And the result? After many many months of silence, I feel as though I have something to write again in my terribly neglected blog.

I have been thinking of baroque music, specifically, of counterpoint.

Most generally, counterpoint is multiple lines of music each of which are different and independent but sound "good" when played together.

When music students study "species counterpoint", there are myriad rules to follow - specifics of how melodies are resolved and so forth. It's an exercise involving highly defined structures. And one of the most overarching "rules" is that the focus is on the individual melodies and the interaction among them rather than on the harmonies produced when played simultaneously.

But when independent melodies are played at the same time, it's inevitable that multiple notes will sound simultaneously. And those vertical elements are chords - harmony. It's impossible to write simultaneous lines without producing harmony; it's impossible to write harmonies without producing a horizontal "melody." Finding a good balance between the two dimensions (vertical and horizontal) is one of the hardest things to do when writing counterpoint.

Put it this way, it's hard enough to write ONE beautiful melody. Now imagine writing multiple beautiful melodies that all sound good when played together.

This is one of the many reasons Bach is so brilliant. His counterpoint doesn't merely find a good balance between the harmonies and the melodies - it is a profound synthesis of the two dimensions. The individual melodic lines remain beautiful and complex and fascinating, and yet all together, the harmonics are rich and produce a beautiful "line" in and of themselves.

I can't help but think of how this could be applied to personal relationships. It's all too easy for one melody to dominate, and the other melody to get simplified to the point where it becomes mere harmonic "back up". And that can be beautiful too. But it's not counterpoint. The beauty of counterpoint lies in the interaction of independent melodies, each beautiful and worthy in its own right. Counterpoint requires discipline, adherence to a myriad of complicated rules, and... grace. But I hope, not the genius of Bach.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hills and Boulders

I feel like Sisyphus. It's deeply wearying to constantly go uphill.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Yesterday was shocking - both Farrah Fawcett AND Michael Jackson?

Death makes us look back. So here's something from 1985...

I'd write more, but MomVee already did it, and better than I could.

Exit stage left, moon walking.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nouveau Cabaret

The Last Cigarette (me, SK and the fabulous FM) will perform again at Veloce Club on Thursday, July 9th. Sorry folks, it's already sold out.

But why Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water", you ask?

Simple. FT, who owns Veloce Club, has requested it. Mostly I think for the sheer hilarity of watching us try to sing it.

Now try to imagine a breathy sex kitten version of it. OR, to compound the ridiculousness, a cappella? I know. Who WOULDN'T want to see that?!?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Our first "press" mention - in Makeup Loves Me. Obviously, I think she is brilliant and insightful.

If you haven't bought a Luxe Now gift card for someone in NYC (such as ME, for example), hurry up and do so.

Friday, May 22, 2009


There has been discussion buzzing around the girl-talk circles.

We all value certain things about ourselves. Sometimes those things are not even necessarily "positive." And we all want to be valued for those things.

"A" values her independence, her force of will, her biting wit, and her formidable strength.

"B" values her "evil brain," her ridiculousness, and her inability to conform even when she is trying really hard to.

"C" values her beauty and sophistication, her unwavering ambition, and her commitment to following through.

"D" values her discipline and talent, demonstrated in the various things she has worked hard to do well.

So what happens when they perceive that they are valued by others for entirely different things... or for things that only represent the tiniest bit of what they are? Or for illusions? Or for traits that almost ANY other woman can embody?

There's a question I can't stand when asked in the context of relationships: "WHY do you love me?" I wholeheartedly dislike being asked that. And I rarely ask it. Seems to me that's the sort of thing that is best volunteered, not solicited.

But sometimes you want to know if you are SEEN. And doubt, while it can dissipate over time, can also grow until it blocks all else. The Girls have all been recounting various relationships that have ended because this particular doubt couldn't be tamed. The sociopathic alcoholic stalker - well, that may not be the best example because he is a sociopathic alcoholic - claimed to love me. But what he "loved" was my appearance and my attention. Everything else was actually a flaw or value neutral in his perspective. All that I am (all that we ALL are), and what he valued was that he thought I was "pretty"? The Fabulous SL has doubts because her man's ex is someone for whom she has no respect. I know what you are thinking, why worry about his ex, for god's sake, get over it. Give him a break, haven't we all slummed at one point or another? But I understand how she feels, I get it. If he once valued this woman, what does that say about what he values, in general, and specifically, what does that say about what he sees and values in SL?

But then...

Sometimes it can't be articulated. Sometimes it's more about timing and "readiness" than about the specific personalities involved. And that's ok, isn't it? At the end of the day, love, like all emotion, is not always rational.

And I suppose that's one reason why we all need multiple people in our lives - whether ourselves, our friends, colleagues, family, lovers. Every person is a mirror of sorts and reflects back different things.

Maybe that's enough - that in the aggregate of the mirrors in your life, your reflection is complete.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mental Masturbation

Earlier this year I was obsessed with opening lines of a novel. And since obsession, like misery, loves company, I dragged others into the abyss with the following email chain:


From: C-Belle
Subject: Favorite Opening Lines Of A Novel

Because this topic has been on my mind lately, I brought up the
subject at every meeting I had today. Who knew that salon owners were
so well-read?

This is what I got:

"Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by
literature." (Anita Brookner)

"All children, except one, grow up." (Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie)

"All this happened, more or less." (The salon owner couldn't remember
the book, but I googled it right then and there - LOVE my new
blackberry: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut)

My personal favorite:

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-
ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate
to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta." (Lolita, Nabokov)



From: SK
Subject: Favorite Opening Lines Of A Novel

"Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were." (Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell)

"The beet is the most intense of vegetables." (Jitterbug Perfume - Tom Robbins)

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." (Neuromancer - William Gibson)


From: MM
Subject: Favorite Opening Lines Of A Novel

"I had a farm in Africa." (Out of Africa, Karen Blixen, aka Isaac Dinesen)

But I liked Lolita a lot, too.

Also "When you wet the bed, first it is warm, then it cold..." (Ulysses, James Joyce)

"I married for the first time at 37." (Sex and the Single Girl, Helen Gurley Brown)

It's a pain in the ass waiting around for someone to kill you." (Roger Zelazny, Sign of the Unicorn)

Not the most brilliant or literary sci-fi fantasy ever, but a great opening line.
Anyone for "Arma virumque cano...." ??????


From: Gorgeous Hunk O'Man (JF)
Subject: RE: Favorite Opening Lines Of A Novel

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." (Stephen King, The Gunslinger).

Though typically not a fan of the writer of our nation's fast food version of horror, I find this book spare, compelling, and rather disturbing. Interestingly enough, he wrote it in his early days at the peak of his alcohol abuse, which may be another reason I like it so.


From: JR
Subject: RE: Favorite Opening Lines Of A Novel

"Call me Ishmael."

Given my company .... could it be another?


The email exchange then drifted to favorite closing lines, and novels with a "novel within a novel structure," etc. And since my every contribution involved Nabokov's Lolita in some way, MM finally asked me what my obsession with that book was.

I blame The Police and Mr. M, my 6th grade English teacher.

After crushing on Sting, and listening obsessively to "Don't Stand So Close To Me", I went up to Mr. M after class one day and asked him:

"that Police song has the lyric: 'just like that, old man in, that book by Nabokov.' What book?"

And Mr. M whipped out a copy of Lolita (he just happened to have one handy) and pressed it into my hands in a way that would have made me intensely uncomfortable had I already read it.

But it all makes sense now. No wonder I believe love affairs should be difficult, socially unacceptable, and result in someone dying.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Commercial Message

So I've been quiet on the blogging front of late.

IC and I have *finally* launched Luxe Now. Check it out to see what we have been toiling over the last many months. Also, if you are so inclined, go HERE, to our facebook page and become a fan! Do it for me. NOW. Oops, I meant, PLEASE. Rats, I always confuse those two words.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Occasional Ray of Perversity

Ergo and I were discussing our blogs this morning - a topic that we revisit on a fairly regular basis: do our blogs reveal the kind of people we are? Since we know each other both on and offline, we seemed to be the best people to answer this question for each other.

me: "Your REAL quirkiness comes out a bit, here and there..."

Ergo: with yours, "an occasional ray of perversity shines through. but you are very subtle. it's your spy geisha thing"

I suppose the big takeaway is that I see Ergo as quirky, and she sees me as perverse.

True enough.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I spoke to a friend tonight, one whom I haven't talked to in a very long time. But we were friends when we were young and absolutely fearless.

And my heart is breaking for her.

I can't write what happened.

What do you do when something happens to break you so thoroughly that you feel you can't even move, can't even breathe? That you don't even recognize yourself anymore?

She doesn't know how to put the pieces back together.

When I was living in Beijing, I was home one night, watching TV. I can't remember the name of the show...

One of the characters was a woman whose husband had left her. She was raging with anger and grief, and wondering why, with her heart broken, she was still alive. Don't you need a whole, functioning heart to live? And despite the betrayal and hate, she still wanted him. But not with her heart, which was broken. Not even with her mind, because she knew that there was no going back. She still wanted him with her legs, her arms, her breasts, her hips, her groin, her hands, her lips. As if her body parts were mindless animals which only knew need and desire and were completely outside her control.

And the worst part of it is, that only describes one part of what my friend is feeling. The other part is... worse.

She needed me to talk about certain things. She needed me to remember and to be back in that place, with her, now.

And so I did.

We all think we are strong. But we never really know, not unless we're tested.

I'm think I'm failing this test. Because while I did what she needed, I desperately wish that I had never answered my phone.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Scent Obsession

A few days ago, MM, who works with perfume, sent me an ad for a newish fragrance (released Autumn 2008) that she thought was "conceptually and olfactorily right up (my) alley."

MM has a great nose - she can identify most perfumes instantly (and understands both their composition and dry-down), she has great taste, and she is an insightful and generous reader of personality.

So I am happy to take her advice, scent unsmelled, and perhaps I'll finally get around to placing an order for the stuff one day soon. It doesn't hurt that a few months ago, when I wasn't obsessing about Chanel 19, I was obsessing about amber and vetiver and leather.

But, obsessions change. Especially perfume obsessions, especially according to the weather.

While it seems like Persephone is still with Hades, I am fairly confident that warm weather will eventually arrive. And with the prospect of summer, quite predictably, I turn back to Shiseido's White Rose. I don't particularly care for rose, as a scent. Or even as a flower. But I smelled it the last time I was in Tokyo, loved it, and in a fit of insanity, decided NOT to buy it.

To add insult to injury, it's pretty much impossible to find in the US. It will have to wait until I am back in Asia.

So until the day I find myself in the Ginza district of Tokyo, it's Chanel 19.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

WARNING: Music Geekiness Ahead

Have been singing "Night And Day" - not just singing it, but really trying to figure it out. So I've been listening to it far more carefully that I normally would.

It's unusual for a song of that era. It's longer, for one. Instead of the typical four 8-bar sections, if is divided into 6 sections of 8 bars - with an ABABCB structure (instead of the more typical AABA).

This song has an unusual chord progression as well. And all sorts of lovely crunchy chords such as major sevenths built on the flattened sixth of the key, resolving to dominant sevenths. My favorite part starts with a chord built on the augmented fourth of the key, and descends by semitones before hitting the supertonic minor seventh. Gorgeous.

The only reason I can somewhat do justice to this song is that the vocal melody is a bit unusual - the melody is incredibly simple, with all the notes hovering around the SAME note for the most part, with all the lovely chords meandering about underneath.

After an early dinner with BM (during which we had the first celebrity sighting of 2009 - Dan Ackroyd), I came home and went directly to my piano. It was a lovely evening.

Of course, the most noteworthy part of it was that BM and I both choose to detox and NOT drink tonight.

While I am rather proud of that, I will admit that as I type this, I am sipping a bone dry white, and still humming.

A Bad Influence

I did yoga this morning after a long yoga-drought.

My mat seemed to mock me. Poses that were once effortless were grueling and there was a moment when I thought I would rest in child's pose. But I kept pushing through, and finally my head left the game. And when that happened, muscle memory kicked in... and something else. For the first time ever, with no expectations of success, and in possibly the worst shape of my life, I hit and held "crow" for a full 3 breaths.

Of course once I realized what I was doing, I started THINKING again, and immediately pitched forward and landed on the top of my head.

But that doesn't diminish the feeling of success.