Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fear (but little loathing) in New York

I've felt scared, like, twice in my five years of living in New York (my 5th anniversary is the end of April! Huzzah!). Both times I was walking through a neighborhood that I didn't know at all, alone, late at night. This combination would probably frighten me anywhere, though. And, more than I felt scared that someone would attack me in some way, I was fearful that I would simply not be able to find my way home easily. But, I'm home now, so all's well that end's well.

Lately, though, I've had several dreams about being attacked while walking alone in New York. Some of these dreams take place at night, and some in broad daylight. I know that they are just dreams/nightmares, but they feel very real and I often wake up sweating. In the morning, my legs are often sore from what I can only imagine is me actually running while in bed (true goodness is any person who sleeps next to me putting up with that). The attacks often vary in the dream -- anything from what I would imagine to be a "standard" mugging, to a rape, to a slit my throat and I die right there on the street corner like an overcharging crack-addicted hooker. These dreams, thankfully, fade pretty quickly after I've woken myself up. But, occasionally they creep into my waking life when I am walking alone at night. Which, if one wants to get around here after 7pm, one just has to do, ya know? That's when I have a mini anxiety attack and try to breathe my way through it while trying not too look too conspicuous. If I were Mikey in The Goonies, I would grab my inhaler and puff it all away. But I haven't had an inhaler since I was 13, and even then it didn't really have the same comedic affect.

In my daily life, I've probably never felt safer living here. I work just off Sixth Avenue, which has never not been busy, and my walk from my office building to the train is exactly two and a half blocks. I inhabit a very well-lit, populated neighborhood, where I live on a main street in a fairly large building. If I screamed, half of 86th Street would certainly hear me. And I know how to scream. Max Hunsicker used my wondrous cheerleader vocal chords in not one, but two high school musical productions. No, not those high school musicals.

But I'm not over-confident, either. Not that nothing could ever happen to me. Of course it could. And if it does, I took a self-defense class in college that could prove to be of some use to me. Or, at the very least, I can knee someone sort of hard.

My last memory of having similar dreams/nightmares to these was like a million years ago (or, um, 6?). If I'm playing college freshman taking psych, I would add that I was also at the beginning of a new relationship then (other than that, I can't think of a single thing that is the same). So that means that subconsciously I feel "attacked" by a new presence in my life? Or do I need to go back to Psych 205 with Lewindowski?

Thoughts? Tricks to make the bad dreams go bye-bye? My dear 7 readers, enlighten me!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


A coworker shared this great piece with me today... from, of all places, Oprah:

Why Women Are Leaving Men for Other Women

"Fluidity represents a capacity to respond erotically in unexpected ways due to particular situations or relationships. It doesn't appear to be something a woman can control."

Not only was I thrilled to see an article like this in a mainstream publication -- particularly one that women actually read -- but I found it (mostly) insightful, particularly in the beginning.

And, although I had read this before, I think Cynthia Nixon's quote nicely sums up the experience of many women, without being patronizing or apologetic: "But when I did, it didn't seem so strange. It didn't change who I am. I'm just a woman who fell in love with a woman."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

On This Day in History...

March 10, 2009:

On the same day that I officially ran out of episodes for The Simpsons Sleep Experiment, I told my mother that I am dating a girl. Coincidence? I think not.

I've considered myself bisexual for a few years now. I don't actually like the term bisexual, as it pertains to labeling myself -- for no other reason than I don't feel like it accurately describes me, where I am, and my sexuality as well as it should/could. I'm sure this is also, at least partially, because I have a ways to go before I am truly comfortable with calling myself anything other than straight. But, I have yet to find anything better to describe why I sometimes am attracted to dudes, and sometimes chicks. And because labels are important for others to understand things in society, I had to go with something. Sure, labels put people in nice, neat little boxes and it doesn't allow to fully describe an individual, but labels are used and, for now, the system works as best it can. Blah, blah, blah...

Aside from labeling myself bisexual, I label myself a lot of other things, too: a writer, a publicist, an environmentalist, a Brooklynite, a Democrat, a reader, a bleeding heart, a Lost fan... the list goes on. All of these things can and should be used to describe who I am at this exact moment in time. Bisexual is just one of many things that fall in that list. I don't foresee myself ever being identifiable by just one label. Even though my sexuality is a much more prevalent part of my life than it was, say, only a year ago, I don't want it to be the only thing I am. Ever. So, even though I fully support the LGBT community (and always have, long before I thought I might fall into one of those letters), I won't be marching in any parades anytime soon.

Being bisexual is only a more outward part of me now because I am dating a girl, which is obviously new in how most people see me. Particularly my mother. She was very surprised. And, in all honesty, I didn't expect her to be. I'm not sure why, though. I suppose, I was just hoping she saw through the person I was, more or less, pretending to be at any given time. I've been "out" to my colleagues and many friends for some time now. My family was the last piece of my little puzzle. Having said that, I have yet to inform my father. But he doesn't even believe I'm a blogger (which was a strange conversation over pizza a few months ago), so this is going to take a while. Hi, Dad!

Since sharing this part of myself with my mother and several others since last week, I've felt immensely more at ease. Not just with that aspect of me, but with me in general. I now find myself bringing up being off-the-charts attracted to Eliza Dushku in regular conversation. Which is something I didn't really hesitate to do before, but I feels less like a joke when I say it now. And, thankfully, the support from friends and coworkers has truly been heartwarming. I think I had been so ready to open myself up - even if it was to criticism and negativity - that I was bursting at the seams.

That's sort of how it came out with my mother. I had been planning a trip home to have a sit down, more formal "coming out," but after the 700th white lie I'd told about my "friend" I'd be spending time with, the "I'm actually dating this person" came out like word-vomit. It was entirely selfish, I know this. And she took it. I wouldn't say she's over the moon, but she listened to what I had to say. And then I had to beg and plead with her for some kind of reaction. This, for better or worse, is my mother -- all but petrified to say something that might in some way alienate anyone, especially one of her children. But I egged her on for the alienation. Not that I wish to experience it, but I just craved something from her. We ended the conversation well, though, and I encouraged her to share any feelings she had about this with me from now until eternity. And, in the absence of feeling comfortable with that, to bounce them off my brother. Who, I might add, has been freaking incredible with this bit of trivia about his elder sister. I love that kid. My therapist, however, commented that she hopes this isn't an excuse for me to put on weight. Ummm...

That's the story. Lame? Circle yes or no.

So, hi, my dear readership of, oh, seven people... I've got a girl in my life. And not only have I grown up tenfold in the last few weeks, but I'm equally as happy about it.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What's that, Confidence? Yes, I've missed you, too...

I'm almost afraid to post about the occurrences and results of the last two or so weeks for fear that I will negate their importance and spiral back into my previously frustrating life. I will say this: I am happy and things are good, and looking even better.

And because I can't resist, I am showing off the results of my new skin-care regimen (aka "the fresh in the face glow") and three hours in the salon today. The fabulous hair color doesn't show up very well in the photo, but its very Alyson Hannigan. L.O.V.E.

And, yes, I am looking to impress someone with this... but more on that (maybe) later.

Monday, March 2, 2009

In sickness and in... defensiveness

Dear Me,

Just remember: I love you, but you're soooo not perfect...



One of the interesting/funny/strange things about feeling relatively happy in the present is that you're prone to realizing your own significant flaws. Or, rather, I am. Perhaps because its so easy for me to blame others for my unhappiness. Because things aren't usually MY fault.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

I'm defensive.

I have a difficult time separating criticism from constructive criticism.

I have a victim complex.

There, its been said. People don't often bring these points of my sparkling personality to my attention. Maybe because they know I'd be defensive? They're right; of course I would be.

So, first, a bit of the why I am the way I am: From the ages of 8-18, I constantly had to stand up for myself. If I didn't, I would have spent much more of my life than I did thinking I was stupid, whorish and, overall, useless. So, as a defense, I developed the victim/"I'm perfect and you're wrong" complex.

But this isn't meant to be about excuses.

Maybe its not surprising, but, its the dudes in my life who are usually the ones to point this out to me. (Are girls too polite?) In my last relationship -- maybe because from beginning to end it spanned five years of substantial adult growth -- I learned a lot about who I am and who I am not. I am defensive. But I'm not unwilling to listen and adjust my attitude - particularly if you're not just being an ass and you have a valid point.

But being defensive and reactive are things I just am. It can be especially hard for me to keep it in check at work. Explanations are often out of my mouth before I know how unfounded they sound. But I. Can't. Shut. Up. Someday somebody's going to kick me in the face or fire me. Let's hope that day isn't tomorrow on either count.

What is it that they say? The first step to solving a problem is blogging about it, right?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Portrait of an Economy: Brooklyn, NY / Central Pennsylvania

The below was inspired by a blog I've been reading, edited by one of my favorite bloggers, Rebecca Woolf.

Read it at: Portraits of an Economy


In the grand scheme of this economic crisis, I'm doing okay. I have a relatively stable job. And long before stocks plummeted, I was watching my pennies. I was typing everything from a morning coffee to my student loan payments into an Excel spreadsheet every night. It quickly became my pre-bedtime ritual -- enter the 75 cents I spent on peanut M&Ms for an afternoon pick-me-up into those judgemental little cells; feel defeated as an adult; go to bed embarrassed that I was going to have to sell something on eBay to pay my rent later in the month. I was cognizant of every dollar, every dime. But I had to be, I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world and my rent for a small one-bedroom in Brooklyn is half of my monthly salary. So, in a way, those cells probably saved me from myself. I was able to brave my own taxes this year and got myself a decent refund. I'm actually pretty proud of me for not falling apart yet.

Where I grew up, though, is a different story. My family is struggling. Some of it their own doing, but most of it due to the unstable economic climate. And, as some who always wants to be the problem-solver, I am struggling, too. I talk to my mother, a trade school teacher for almost 30 years, several times per week, and try to stomach it as she tells me that she's not sure when her husband will be able to work again. Or how she's been supporting a family of four on her salary for more than a year. Or how my grandmother's husband, at 70, was just laid-off from his factory job. Or how my uncle's hours were cut at his full-time job to a mere 16 hours a week and his children always seem to be ill. Or how little oil my family has left for the winter. They make all of the news coverage real.

I offer what little I have to give -- as a loan, because I know my mother does not want my money. She knows I don't have much more than she. But she doesn't take it. Instead, she asks me if I have groceries to get through the week. I tell her I do, and that I really don't mind not eating out anymore. She knows I like to eat out and I miss not being able to anymore in a city like New York. She will even send me five or ten dollars every few months with a note telling me to treat myself to some Starbucks. She's in a terrible position and she sends me money to go to Starbucks. Because she's my mother and she's only thinking of the little burst happiness she can give me.