Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Moment of Clarity

I woke up and something was different. No hangover despite the copious amount of alcohol I drank the entire previous day. I pulled back the curtains and there was the sun. For the first time, in a long time, I wanted to feel better. And then I had a true moment of clarity. My misery stemmed from the way I cut Em out of my life. It was cold and unlike me. I needed to do it, yes, but it was a bad decision among even worse choices. I miss her and no bottle of wine or beer would cauterize that wound. So I did something that even surprised me. I went into the coffeehouse, knowing that I’d see her. I had to make things right. So we had lunch. And we talked. And it was good.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Dislocating Joy

It’s Christmas and I cannot locate joy. It should be easy, what with it being Christmas and all, but I can’t. It’s raining outside. No White Christmas here. It doesn’t feel like Christmas. In my heart it doesn’t feel like Christmas.
On the subway today, on the way to a private party I was working, I listened to Christmas songs. River by Joni Mitchell started playing on my iPod. I lost it. I bawled.
It’s my brother’s birthday. Why am I not home? Why have I decided to spend this day with complete strangers? Am I that fucking pathetic? I want desperately to call Em, and yet I can’t figure out what I would say. I’m going home later to an empty apartment. It’s my favorite time of year and I can’t get up for it.
So I’m going to begin drinking and I’ll try to be sober by the time Tuesday rolls around. Until then, expect some drunken phone calls. You’ve all been warned.

Friday, December 23, 2005

punch-drunk

I’m sick. Coughing and fever. Phlem. Eech.
I can’t taste anything. Nothing has flavor.
Drank a lot tonight. With John. And his wife. Despite my lack of taste buds.
I’m punch-drunk. From the obvious.
I think I might have lost what makes me me. John thinks I look drained. Something’s missing. And I’m not sure what to do about that. I feel a little dead inside.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Water & Fire

Yesterday I received in the mail, a small but powerful package from Margo. There’s a card and a CD.
“Go ahead. Close the door. Put your PJs on. Grab the bottle wine. Hide your phone. Shutdown the computer.
Go ahead. Be sad. Be so so so sad. You don’t deserve what’s happening. You deserve love. She should love you.
Here is my contribution to wallowing: my best, cheesy lost love songs. I’ve had variations of this mix over the past 10 years. May it serve you as well as me--Water & Fire, baby.
My heart to you, my friend, Margo”
I’ve been listening to the CD nonstop since I got it. Thank you Margo. It’s helping.
--
I started a savings account today. I’m saving to buy a bid into the 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event. It might seem silly to spend that sort of money on what will essentially be a lottery ticket (to win that tournament, it’ll take several miracles), but Chris Monaco will put up half of my registration fee (and I’ll split all winnings with him).
Also, I’ve decided that this upcoming year, 2006, is the year that I shall get myself out of debt. It’ll take diligence and discipline, but it’s gonna happen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Cost of Doing Business

For some reason I think, maybe, that she’ll be waiting for me on my stoop some day when I come home from work. (There is no indication that she’d ever do that, in fact I don’t think she’d dare do that. She’s too respectful of my decision.) And if that happened I wouldn’t know what to say to her. What would she say? You see, this is the problem: why am I even entertaining this? I need to get out of my head what my imagination would like to happen in the film version of my life. It’s not real. It’s not true. Here’s what is: I am heartbroken and sad. Friends have encouraged me to be angry with her. Their thinking is that either I’ll grow out of sadness by replacing it with another equally powerful emotion or that I should just move on to the next step in the mourning process. But I’m not mad at her. I think everyone, including her, would prefer it if I was. I’ve grown past the age of pettiness. I wish her well. I mean, how can you wish bad things on someone you love? It doesn’t make sense to me. I’m mourning not what could have possibly happened between us, but instead the Emmy shaped hole left in my life.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Have we learned nothing from Newsies?

I’m getting sick. I can feel the sickness coming. My world is crashing down around me. I’ve got problems at work (a couple of my co-workers have developed a keen dislike for me), emotionally I’m in a funk (if you can’t understand why you’re not an avid reader of my blog), I'm physically ill and now there’s a strike involving the MTA workers. (Even with the inconvenience that this has created, I side with the union on this. My advice to the MTA: give them everything and anything they want.) So now my quiet burb of Manhattan has become a little more harried than usual. Thank God it’s my day off.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

My Current Playlist

Evaporated by Ben Folds Five
The Scientist by Coldplay
Replaced by Corrina Repp
A Long December by Counting Crows
I’m Not the Guy by Dan Bern
Say Yes by Elliott Smith
Not About Love (leaked version) by Fiona Apple
Labour of Love by Frente
The Truth by Handsome Boy Modeling School
Forget Her by Jeff Buckley
Mourning Air by Portishead
Daysleeper by R.E.M.
Creep by Radiohead
The One You Love by Rufus Wainwright
Blue Valentines by Tom Waits
My Doorbell by The White Stripes

Friday, December 16, 2005

Getting Over

This evening, work was a disaster. A train wreck. I couldn’t get the situation I’m recovering from out of my mind, and I made a ton of small mistakes. I feel like an idiot. I’ve been drinking to help numb the pain. It’s kinda working. I’m drunk. But still in pain.
I’m told by friends, that I'll be alright, and that I’m just having an adverse reaction to the fact that someone I so willingly loved refused to love me. Maybe. So I've decided that work will be my distraction. I've picked up everything. I only have two days off through the end of the year (Tuesday and Wednesday) and even picked up working a private party on Christmas Day. Work will get me through this.
One thing’s for sure: I’m fucking exhausted. I have no more tricks up my sleeve. Next girl gets a very boring dating arrangement. I’m over trying.

PS--She was knitting me a hat for Christmas and now I have to fucking find one. It’s freezing out there.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I Wish I Was Special

The rollercoaster ride that is the relationship between Em and I is officially over. I ended it earlier today with an abrupt conversation that broke my heart and made her cry.
Tuesday night, after a whole day which I spent with her, she had dinner with a college friend.
“Would you like to have drinks afterwards?”
“Sure.”
I call up Molly and decide to have dinner ourselves. She meets me at my apartment, we order in and watch Flirting with Disaster. I mention my birthday dinner. I also mention that Em would be there.
“Great.”
“Whoa. What’s up? Why don’t you like Em?”
“I don’t not like her. I don’t like how she treats you though. I mean every time you two start up it seems she puts up a roadblock. Have you considered that she’s just not interested in you?”
“She likes me. She’s told me she likes me.”
“Alright, but I feel like I’m missing some of the picture here.”
“What do you mean?”
“She’s withholding something from you. Something important. Are you sure there isn't someone else?”
Cut to later that night at the speakeasy bar in the Lower East Side. I’m sitting with Em’s two best friends from her college days. I took this to be a test: The “Can You Survive My Friends” Test. Each of her friends, a guy and a girl, are funny and charming. And I held my own. I’d be talking to one of them while Em would text message someone and simultaneously talk to the other.
At one point, early in our tenure at the bar, both Em and her female friend started dancing to a song. This is the sort of bar that doesn’t have people dancing in it. But there they are dancing. And if anyone other than Em had been doing it, I would have been upset. I don’t like drawing attention to myself. I just want to talk, drink and be left alone. But there she was dancing with her friend and everyone’s looking at her. And I’m smiling. Because in this moment I realized something, a pretty powerful something: that I loved Em. It was 12:07 in the morning.
Em slowly would go on to drink more as the night went on. She drank so much that she spent the last part of the evening in the bathroom expelling it. She emerged from the bathroom, with a sweaty brow and a look of sheer embarrassment. I took her home in a cab and got her into her apartment. I got her into her bed, set up the garbage can next to her bed (just in case), and then did something that was unexpected.
“Em?”
“Yeah.”
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Of course.”
“I promise not to get mad. But could you please be truthful with me?”
“Alright.”
“Is there someone else? Someone you like and likes you back? Someone other than me?”
“Yes.”
I let her go to sleep. And that drunken declaration of truth haunted me all night. So much so that I didn’t sleep. Not a wink. I wanted to be angry with her, but I couldn't. By the end of it, I was most upset with myself. “How did I get here? How did I let myself get here?” That Talking Heads song was blaring in my head.
Em awoke a couple minutes before 7, and I was there holding an Advil and a glass of water. She smiled and was in a state of shock.
“I can’t believe you. You’re a martyr.”
“No I’m not.”
She got up and took a shower. She didn't remember any of what she had told me. And now I was distant. (That’s what comes with no sleep and deep thought.) I took her to work on crowded subways while she tried to pick my spirits up with laughter. I barely budged.
She went to work and even in this state, I got her some bacon and eggs for her mild hangover. I went home. I tried to sleep but I couldn’t. I couldn’t because I had a decision to make and I didn’t want to make it. But a hard look in the mirror and a visit from Rebekah helped make the decision easy.
I text Em to come over after work. She does. We sit on the couch.
“I realized something last night: I'm in love with you. And I chose that. I chose to love you. And what I also realized, for the first time since I've known you, was that you’ll never choose me. I’m not the one you want. I thought maybe if I just treated you right and stuck around, that you’d find my quixotic nature charming. But it isn’t enough is it? You’ll never love me. And I think it’s best that we never see each other again. Please don't call me or write me. And if you think that this is easy for me to ask of you, then you underestimate how much I truly love you.”
We walked out of the apartment, down the staircase and as we exited the building, I just looked at her simply and said, “Good-bye”. I walked away and didn’t look back.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Basketball Diaries

Every son has a cherished early sports memory with their father. It’s a galvanizing moment. This is as big as him teaching you how to tie your first necktie. (Some would say it's bigger.) It’s a birthright that he’s passing on and it’s a responsibility no son takes lightly.
In Cleveland, the sport for most fans, is football. And for those not into football, you’ll find baseball fans. But my father passed to me his love of the third tiered sport of our hometown--basketball.
My father, lucky bastard he is, happened to be the pediatrician to the Cleveland head coach’s kids and so as thanks my father would occasionally score tickets. I was too young to remember this, but I’ve sat in the floor box seats at the old Richfield Coliseum, watching Cleveland get thrashed by the 76ers (Dr. J hung on the rim after one particularly deft-defying dunk) and any number of other much better teams.
My first true memory of my father’s sport was the 1987-88 NBA Finals between the L.A. Lakers and the Detroit Pistons. My dad loved the Lakers, and especially Magic Johnson. (I was always the smallest player on every team I played on so I loved watching the point guards, in particular Magic.) I watched every game of that series with feverish intensity. I remember one play where James Worthy, who would go on later to win that year’s Finals MVP, dove out of bounds to save a loose ball and was able to get it to a teammate for an easy lay-in. He sacrificed his body for the good of the team and he wasn’t the only one. Isaiah Thomas severely sprained his ankle on the middle of sixth game, only to give the finest third-quarter performance I’ve ever seen. He scored 16 points in one quarter on one foot. These men were warriors. The Lakers prevailed in a seven game series, but my love for the game has never left me.
My favorite coach, Pat Riley, who was the Lakers head coach during that era, known for his slicked back hair and Armani suits, is now back to the sidelines as the Miami Heat head coach. He’s the greatest coach I’ve ever seen. He went from L.A. to New York and then Miami, adjusting his approach to the personnel, but always preaching defense. Most of the time, he doesn’t have the best talent, but he’s always had the best teams. They work as a unit. Everyone knows their roles.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A New List

1. There’s a difference between a Wine Director and a Sommelier. It’s the same difference between a Cook and a Chef.
2. I laugh like the lead character in Amadeus. Only louder.
3. I’d like to play poker at the Mayfair Club someday.
4. Gum chewing is awful. And I’m occasionally guilty of it.
5. Leave a ridiculously large tip sometime. It’ll make you feel good.
6. Feeling down? Get a haircut.
7. If you pull a calculator out when the bill comes, then you are not friends with anyone you are dining with.
8. One Michelin Star is more impressive than a four star New York Times review and an across-the-board 30 score from Zagat put together.
9. Correcting someone’s pronunciation of a foreign word in conversation is rude.
10. Pretension about wine is unacceptable.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

General Update

Chris Monaco calls me last night for a late night Philly Cheesesteak. So I run off with him and we go to this place on Third Avenue and 34th Street called Carl’s Steaks. By far the best cheesesteak I’ve had in the city. In any case, I love that there’s a place I could go to for that so late. Only in NYC.
--
I’m addicted to my new iPod nano. I’ve found myself listening mostly to The Whites Stripes and Radiohead.
--
John changed his hair appointment so I didn’t meet the woman that he had intended to introduce me to.
--
My new job is good. Something odd about the place is that I’m required to make my own drinks because there’s no bartender. During my service career, I’ve showed no interest in learning about how to mix drinks. But I’m learning, slowly but surely.
Also I’m still in that honeymoon phase with my chef/owner. I gather he’s a funny and particular boss, and I’ve been able to avoid a large mistake...so far. I know I can’t be mistake-free, and I know there’ll be a point when he yells at me, I’m just concerned about the first time.
--
I made dinner reservations for my birthday at Annisa. Eight people. 6:30. Should be fun.
--
Rebekah and I saw the Em’s show this afternoon. It was a show about Frank Lloyd Wright and his third wife Olgivanna. I had no idea what to expect, but was surprised by how engaging it all was. It might have something to do with the subject matter (I’m a rather large admirer of Mr. Wright’s work), it might have something to do with Em. It’s probably a little bit of both.
I met Em's family—father, mother and brother—today. Very sweet. Her father, who I recognized from his film work, and I met in the ticket line. He had a firm handshake.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Punching Your Weight

John and his wife have convinced me to meet a woman tomorrow. She’s a hairstylist who cuts the family’s hair. So while John’s getting his haircut I’m going to meet her. And if that isn’t odd enough, John thinks she’s the prettiest of all the women I’ve showed interest in. (I actually haven’t showed interest in her. We’ve never met keep in mind.) Now I mention this to my new boss at work tonight and he tells me something that struck me in a funny way.
“One thing I’ve learned: you gotta punch your weight.”
I laughed so hard at that. It tickled me, as anything does, because it’s true. You can’t date someone that you perceive to be prettier than yourself. You just can’t.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Duke did kill 'em

I’m in my coffeehouse about to go to work. My cell phone rings. It’s John. John, who I worked with at a job I had this summer briefly, is my best guy friend in the city. He’s married with three kids (two of which are twins and are two of my basketball players). His children are models, who undoubtedly you’ve seen on some print ad somewhere. Occasionally, I’ll spell either John or his wife at a photo shoot, so that one of them can be with one of the other children at a different modeling gig or audition. I’ve become an extended part of their family. John and his wife are the much older brother and sister I’ve always wanted. (On another note, they want to set me up with a couple of young women they know. I’m approaching any set-up situation with trepidation.)
Anyway, it’s John on the phone.
“Hey man. Cup of coffee.”
I look at the cup of coffee in my hand.
“I’m at the coffeehouse.”
“I’ll be right there.”
“I have to be at work in forty five minutes.”
“Plenty of time.”
I hang up and throw my stuff on a seat. I turn to Em, who has gotten her hair highlighted and who is working the register, and say, “John”. She nods. She knows John. She likes John. I mean, who wouldn’t? He’s a delightful person.
Eventually John shows up and the second he does, I decide that I just don’t want to go to work. I’m just not up for it. I’d rather spend time talking to John about any number of inane topics.
“God I don’t want to go to work.”
“Get out of it.”
“Any suggestions?”
“Food poisoning. You ate some bad tunafish this morning.”
“Will that work?”
“Food poisoning is a serious thing man.”
“I’ll give it a shot.”
And I did. And it worked. So now I’m at the coffeehouse with no particular place to go and John springs a simple plan on me.
“Come over and have tacos and beer with the family.”
“Alright.”
“Duke is playing UPenn.”
“That shouldn’t be a very entertaining game. Duke’ll kill ‘em.”
“Yeah. That’s why I’m hoping for.”
And that’s what we did. Had tacos, beer and watched basketball. A much more relaxing Wednesday than the alternative of working don’t you think?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas Plans

I have cancelled my trip home for the holidays. So while the rest of the world will be having snowball fights and ripping open presents and wearing catalog-bought sweaters and singing Christmas carols around a fireplace, I’ll be in my apartment, having a drunken film festival. I was thinking of letting the day be a sort of billet-doux to the holiday season—-A Charlie Brown Christmas, Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life and Scrooged. Any other notable films that I should consider?

Monday, December 05, 2005

La La La

Between the exorbitant rent and the paying someone to do my laundry, I only needed one thing to finally achieve full West Village status—an iPod. And with my new job starting up in an outer borough and a daily subway ride back and forth, I decided that now was the time to cave/reward myself with one. So I bought a black iPod nano online and it’s being shipped to me ASAP.

Now some of you might see this as an extravagance to take away some focus from the fact that Em broke up with me. (See what I did there? I buried the lead.) I didn’t get an iPod because she broke up with me, I did however request to work six days a week at my new job, which will be seen by some as a physical manifestation of how I want to deal with the situation.

Speaking of my new job, I started tonight. I’ve stumbled upon, at this tiny place in Brooklyn, the closest thing I’ll find to a New York version of Lola Bistro in Cleveland. Food is innovative but not experimental. Service is personality driven. There is zero pretension about what takes place on the “four corners”. (A former boss of mine once dubbed a table the “four corners”, so NjP and I have come to call it that.) And for all its quirks, I must say I know I’ve lucked out and found the perfect place for me to work.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Tipsy

I’m a little tipsy. Sorry for the unevenness of what you’re about to read. But here is a mental list of shit that just doesn’t make much sense to me.
1. I don’t understand someone who won’t eat seafood. I hear that a lot at my job. I don’t get it. Allergies aside, how can you just unequivocally refuse to eat an entire food group?
2. Complaining is an activity that doesn’t have any redeemable aspects.
3. Why is it that some women actually think that a man who treats them well is an odd thing?