Apartment 53

Apartment 53 was my first apartment in NYC where I lived on my own, and thus, where I really think of my life as a Manhattan woman beginning. I've always been fascinated by NYC apartments. Giant buildings filled with people, each with their own story. Windows everywhere. And I always wonder: what's behind them? What do people see when they look in from the outside? What is the real story of the person who lives behind that glass? This is my blog. A real story from a Manhattan apartment.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Daydream Believer

For those of you who know me, you know that it was always my dream to become an accomplished actress. I grew up reading “Bop” and “Tiger Beat,” so by “accomplished actress” I mean the blonde equivalent of Alyssa Milano or Tracy Gold. The talents of Meryl Streep or Glenn Close were far too unattainable for me to relate. I just wanted a little sitcom with a cute, male costar, a terrific 80’s wardrobe consisting of hats, leggings, and ornate belts; and a house in San Fernando Valley, which is where I believe “Big Bopper” told me Mackenzie Astin lived. Is that too much for a girl from the suburbs of New York City to ask?

I demanded that my mother (along with her master’s degree,) move with me to LA so that I could make us all rich. As you can imagine, she refused, and as usual, I slammed my door. I still don’t understand why she didn’t give in.

As I grew older, my once ballsy performances grew timid. While at one point in my life I would embrace the stage, as I aged the very idea of it made my knees quiver. I lost confidence. I lost talent. I FROZE. I wasn’t an actress. I was a phony. And the worst kind: the kind that just wanted to be able to say that I was an actress, that I was living the dream, that my house in the Valley and my belt collection were f’ing killer. Not actually the kind that wanted to work hard to get there, get over my stage fright, and show my tits to millions of people because the character would actually be showing her tits.

I am now in my thirties, (early thirties). I’ve been told time and time again by casting agents that I’m “commercial,” so I finally decided to do something about it. And now, I go to castings. This afternoon I sat in a waiting room where my agent sent me that was filled with fifty other girls who looked like me. Some were a lot prettier, some, notsomuch. We were all there vying for a print ad for a pharmaceutical company. The ad called for us to be riding a bicycle. When my name was called and I entered the casting room, there was no bike. Instead, I had to perch myself up on a stool, lift my ass and position my wrists on a metal easel posing as handlebars that would have easily given way had I been three and a half pounds heavier. I tried to channel Diana Morales from “A Chorus Line” (“Every day for a week we would try to feel the motion, feeee-eeel the motion.. DOWN the hill…”) But I pretty much think I just looked like a fool with her ass in the air and her scrawny arms leaning on a goddamned easel. I mean, I tried to feel the pedals under my feet, the wind in my hair, the desire to run someone over on the street or beat Lance Armstrong's record, but Method has never really been my thing…

I left the go-see giggling. I couldn’t help it. I had just sat in a waiting room filled with fifty people who were dressed like they should be at the start line for the IronMan and instead we were all just… you know… sitting. And I realized: there’s something sorta silly about acting, isn’t there? I mean, why pretend to be riding a bike when you can, in this great, free country, actually ride a bike? So, I left the call in my workout clothes and I headed for the gym which is where my workout clothes actually belong. (And since I live in Manhattan, I don’t have room for an actual bike in my apartment – let’s not get crazy, here).

In hindsight, I’m glad that my mother didn’t condone my mission to become a child star (though I know I would have avoided drugs and sleazy directors and instead would have just made an absolute fortune and obtained a degree from Harvard along with an Oscar before I even had my first period). I look at people like Britney, Lindsay, and Macauley, and I just want to give each of them a big hug. Poor things were just commodities to their parents – feeding their families before they could even spell. I wait for people like Dakota to fuck up royally and I just want to call up her parents and tell them to take her out of Oprah productions and put her back in the sixth grade where she should be feeling anxiety about boys, grades, and her looks where she belongs. Why should this child have to worry instead about winding up at the set on time just because a movie studio is shelling out millions to use her name at the box office? That’s no childhood.

Instead, I think they all should have waited like the rest of us dreamers so that dreaming is just that: something that while we can actually taste it, isn’t something that's actually real. That usually the fantasy of what we think we want, is really a helluva lot better than what we actually get.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Dear Dad

I miss you.

I need you more now than I thought I ever would. Who is a woman without her daddy, I wonder?

I know that I drove you crazy while you were here. I never studied hard enough, you thought. I made bad choices, you said. My priorities were all "out of whack," you commented... But as I grew older I became more self-assured. And the studying and the choices and the priorities, whether in or out of whack, were part of what made me the woman that I became. And I think that eventually you became very proud.

You were not proud as most fathers are of their daughters because our relationship was quite different, wasn't it?

You were not there to change my diapers or teach me to talk or play Candyland. You were not there to oooh and aaaah over my first words or the first time I smiled or the first time I successfully operated a sit 'n spin. You came in to my life much later when you fell in love with my mother and I was part of the package. And like it or not, you had to love me too. But I think you liked it. I think you did, didn't you?

You didn't have to love me. I had an attitude problem, didn't I? You gave me braces and I didn't want to wear my headgear (that sucked). You sent me to Israel to learn about my Judaism and I spoiled it with a nasty sunburn (also sucked). You sent me to an excellent (and expensive) college and I couldn't wait to get out. But you loved me anyway. Through all of the yelling and door-slamming and grounding, I know you loved me.

You taught me so much and I wish that you were still here. I so wish that you were still here to teach me more. I yearn for your guidance. I feel like I'm spinning around and around and you are the only one who can make me stand still and tell me what to do. I would do anything to hug you once more - to have just one more conversation with you. You were so wise. You saw in people things they did not see in themselves. I was so lucky to have known you... And you were my father!

What a lucky girl I am.


Without you I would not know a lot of things.

I would not know how to parallel park. I would not know that my backhand is better than my forehand, or that the smell of nail polish really bothers some people. I would not know that property taxes sometimes negate the purpose of purchasing the property altogether, or that looking it up in the dictionary really does teach you more than someone just simply telling you the meaning. I wouldn't know that Shabbat dinners are so important to Jewish families, that Grandma's banana cake is sometimes the best medicine, or that caffeine-free diet coke is just as good as the real stuff. Without you I wouldn't know that when there is a bat in the house the smartest thing you can do is walk around with a tennis racket in front of your face, that most of my stories really can be told in five sentences (though I still rarely adhere to this lesson,) and that the Jets really do "stink". Without you I would never know how to spell chrysanthemum because when other families played basketball they got to play Horse. I would never know that Dutch Dancing could be so funny; that soaking it really can cure many things, and that splinters really won't kill me.

Without you, Dad, I would not know about self-respect. Without you I would not know that gentlemen take women they care about to nice places, and pay for dates and only kiss on the cheek after the first date. I would not know that talk is cheap and that actions speak louder than words. Without you I would be listening to words and not looking at actions. Because words are easy and actions are hard, aren't they?

You've been gone for two years now, Dad. Life has changed a lot since you've left us. Mom is getting married! I know that would make you happy - you always wanted Mom to be happy. Brother has another baby - can you believe it? Three girls and they all, as you can imagine, adore him to pieces. Between the three of them, they bear your initials which is incredible since brother and his wife didn't realize it till I pointed it out! Sister lives in California now. She is happy in the sunshine with the man who's loved her since she was a teenager and that makes me happy. She misses home, I think, her friends and our little nieces and some of the family stuff - though the family stuff has not been the same since you've left us. I am not getting married anymore. That ended soon after you and I said goodbye. We weren't right for each other, and you probably knew that, since you knew everything. But I think that you were too sick and too tired to tell me the truth since you knew that just like everything else, I'd fight you on that too. But you would have been right.

So, I am somewhat alone in the world now that Mom is moving on with her life and sister is three thousand miles away and brother has three mouths to feed and three thousand questions a day to answer... And I miss you. I miss you so much sometimes I can hardly stand it. But all I can say is that I am so glad that I had you for the time that I did, though I wish it was longer. I am not superstitious but I swear that sometimes you are here. There was a man in the elevator with us after your funeral. He acted confused and followed us to the apartment. Mom laughed at me but I swear it was you. Always the life of the party - not even wanting to miss out on your own funeral. It was you, wasn't it?!?!?!

I am so happy that you are out of pain. I know that the last few years of your life were hard and dreary and miserable... But I wish you were here. I miss the smell of your cologne and the feel of your hand patting my head because you were never quite sure how to hug me tightly. I miss the texture of your beard on my cheek when I kissed you hello and goodbye, the jokes that you made and the stories that you told hundreds and hundreds of times and yet still managed to stay funny. Mostly I just miss you being here. I miss the security of having a father to run to when things are scary and ugly and mean. I don't like feeling alone in this world and I know that if you were still here I wouldn't feel that way. But... You always knew I was resilient. You knew it when I was just a girl before I knew it myself, and you knew it when you were leaving me. But you knew all along that I could make it. And somewhere you know that I still can... And I will. But I wish that you were here anyway.

Before I lost you, I think that I was far more free with my heart. I loved people who didn't deserve it just because the mood struck, or something. And you always worried about that. But I can promise you this, Dad: I will not love freely anymore. I know what it is now to have loved and lost and I will not love another person in my life who does not earn that devotion. That was what you worried most about when it came to me, the middle of your three children. And I don't want you to have to worry anymore.

I didn't tell you this enough while you were here, and I'm sorry for that. I love you, Dad. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Few of My Favorite Things (Today)

1. "Old School", "Elf", and "Swingers". Every time I watch any of them I find something new to laugh at.

2. Cibar. It's on Irving between 17th and 18th. Don't tell too many people about it because I really don't want it to get more crowded.

3. The song "Sleepwalking" by Angie Stevens. Download it.

4. The Broadway show "Spring Awakenings". If you don't like this show there is something wrong with you.

5. The book "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. You will not be a complete person until you read, absorb, and live this book.

6. The "Open Letter" column of GQ Magazine. It's the last page of the magazine, smart, witty, and wildly hilarious while poking fun of celebrities who have recently made asses of themselves, which of course, is the best kind of celebrity.

7. The smell of my nieces' hair and the sounds of their laughs. I think these will always be on my list.

8. Fancy hotels, beautiful shoes, decadent meals.

9. The board game Taboo. It's genius.

10. Anything Billy Joel. If you disagree with me on this, please don't ever tell me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

That's Why Darling, It's Regrettable...

I've been thinking a lot lately about regrets. A waste of time, perhaps, but I'll spin it as a learning process. Thinking about all of those things I wish I'd never done, or things I actually had done... To think if I had only known then what I know now. To think... I find myself consumed with this burden. Furious with myself for these mistakes I never knew I was making. And now, in many circumstances, they're too late to fix. People I should have held longer, others I should have loved less. Talents I should have clung to, minutia I should have let go of. Faces I should have memorized and others I should have slapped... I'm in my early thirties now. Maybe I'm having a late quarter-life crisis, but I know we all have regrets. But these are some of mine in no particular order:

1. I regret giving up dancing. If I hadn't, I'd have a much nicer body and I wouldn't need a couple of cocktails in order to feel comfortable enough to get my groove on.

2. I regret not sticking up to the bitches who were mean to me in the fifth grade. They were assholes and everyone knew it. What was the worst that could happen? They'd have been meaner? Impossible.

3. I regret not wearing my retainers longer even though my orthodontist told me I could stop. Now my teeth have shifted and what was the point in suffering through two years of braces?

4. I regret not calling my grandfather on the phone every day. He was the only person in my whole life who loved me without judgement and now he's gone and I'll never hear him call me his "Special Girl" again. Unless I watch my bat mitzvah video.

5. I regret not pursuing my dreams.

6. I regret giving up singing. Singing was the one thing that made me really, truly, wholly, and completely happy. Vocal chords are muscles. And mine have reached atrophy.

7. I regret not talking to the boy from high school who sent me a love letter in the mail over Memorial Day weekend our junior year. He was my friend and after I got the letter I ignored him because I was too immature to face him and tell him that I didn't feel the same way. It took a lot of courage for him to send me that note and I was a jerk for not giving him the credit he deserved.

8. I regret not wearing sunscreen every day. Now my once-beautiful alabaster skin is covered with ugly freckles because I wanted the momentary satisfaction of a suntan.

9. I regret ever trying cigarettes. Now I love them so much I don't know how I'll ever be able to quit.

10. I regret quitting the guitar. This goes with the singing. It sure would be fun to jam alone in my apartment. Or pick up some extra cash on the weekends playing at at kids' birthday parties or in the Union Square subway station.

11. I regret not visiting my Dad more when he was in the hospital or calling him more when he was alive. He was the smartest person I ever knew and I would do anything to have his brilliant guidance and unconditional love in my life. Now he's gone forever and he'll never know how much I loved him because I spent so much time in my life being angry at him.

12. I regret spending so much time being angry.

13. I regret not having lived abroad when I graduated from college. I could have waited tables in Paris and had an experience that I'll never be able to have now.

14. I regret ever having worn pantyhose.

15. I regret saying "yes" when he proposed when deep in my heart I knew we weren't meant for each other. In fairness, it was a gorgeous ring.

16. I sorta regret giving the ring back. It was really gorgeous. But it was the right thing to do. But seriously. It was stunning.

17. I regret not playing more with my sister when she was little. I thought I was too grown-up for her little girl games. I was. But she was my little sister and I should have played whatever she wanted to play. Even if it was with barbies.

18. I regret spending so much time loving men who didn't deserve my love.

19. I regret buying this couch. It's too big for my apartment.

20. I regret not saving more money when I was younger. But I sure did have a fun social life.

21. I regret ever straightening my hair. Now my curls will never be the same.

22. I regret not writing more when I was unemployed. I was so miserable all I did when I wasn't job-hunting was watch Oprah and sleep late. How often do we have that much time on our hands and can still collect money from the government?

23. I regret not spending more time volunteering. This, I can change.

24. I regret that I didn't insist that my real father maintain a relationship with me. I know being a father wasn't his strong suit, but I realize now that I was the stronger one, even though I was the child. Now I think it's too late.

25. I regret having a lot of serious conversations while intoxicated. Mostly because I don't remember all of the details.

26. I regret that I didn't spend more time traveling after college. I was so eager to get on the corporate ladder that I didn't realize that I was going to miss out on real life once I started to climb.

27. I regret that I stopped reading and speaking French. Maybe I can pick it up again, but after 13 years of studying, I was almost fluent and now that will be hard to accomplish.

28. I regret saying something mean about one of my friends in camp when I was 13. I am not a mean person and she didn't deserve it. I was being a childish bitch.

29. I regret not sending Mrs. Epstein a thank-you note after she bought me all of those cupcakes when I was switching schools in the sixth grade.

30. I regret losing a year of friendship with my friend Amy after college. We made terrible roommates but amazing friends. I wish I had had the courage to just say that to her at the time instead of letting a year pass before we finally told each other how much we missed having one another during that year.

31. I regret working so hard at things that I didn't care much about when I could have been working hard at things for which I felt passion.

32. I regret not helping my mom out more when my dad was sick. She really needed the help and I just couldn't handle it. But I should have sucked it up.

33. I regret watching every horror movie I've ever seen. I don't know why I torture myself.

34. I regret losing touch with people who were good to me, who loved me, who enriched my life. It is hard to find people like that when you become an adult.

35. I regret not studying harder in college. My parents paid good money for that school and while my grades were decent, I took some really interesting classes and did the bare minimum to do ok. And now there's a lot of shit that I don't know SHIT about.

36. I regret not spending more time with Art before he died. He was one of the greatest influences in my professional life and one of the smartest men who ever lived. I wish I had heard more of his stories, gotten more of his advice, and told him more often how much I appreciated him.

37. I regret my prom dress. (But that's normal, right?)

38. I regret relying on Cliff's Notes when I should have been analyzing the book more carefully.

39. I regret throwing away photo albums and old love letters because my ex didn't want me to have them. I should have thrown away my ex instead.

40. I regret ever having cried at work.

41. I regret not playing tennis in college. That was a really dumb decision. My serve would seriously kick ass right now if I had.

42. I regret spending so much time thinking my grandmother was a pain in the ass when really she was just afraid.

43. I regret not helping my mom take better care of the dog. Eventually we had to get rid of him and I think it broke my mother's heart.

44. I regret leaving my mom's antique sewing scissors outside in the rain when I was six.

45. I regret every time I ever sped in a car. It's stupid and dangerous.

46. I regret not taking that reporter job in West Virginia. That would've been a helluva thing, wouldn't it?

47. I regret not asking for more money at my job when I knew I deserved it.

48. I regret kissing more than half the men I ever kissed. Only because they were bad kissers and didn't deserve to be kissing me. What a waste of time.

49. I regret not asserting myself in one way or another when I wasn't being treated respectfully.

50. I regret talking so much when I should have been listening more.

51. I regret not taking better advantage of beautiful days.

52. I regret not spending more time with my sister when she lived in New York.

53. I regret not spending more time with my nieces before they left the city. They're getting so big, so quickly.

54. I regret spending my 22nd birthday writing that term paper for my boyfriend in college. He was a real jerk.

55. I regret not learning Spanish when I dated an Argentinian for two years.

56. I regret being so self-conscious of my body when I was a teenager. I really wasn't that fat.

57. I regret forgetting to rsvp to my friend's bridal shower. I got busy. It slipped my mind. And now she doesn't want to be my friend anymore.

58. I regret accepting a drink from a stranger at a bar.

59. I regret not seeing my parents as people instead of parents, until now.

60. I regret hiring a girl to work for me because I got tired of looking for someone when she wasn't right for the job. Ultimately she got fired and I feel terrible about that.

61. I regret spending so much money on a dress I wore once and will probably never wear again.

62. I regret not finding a rent-controlled apartment when I first moved to New York and staying in it.

63. I regret moving to New York as early as I did.

64. I regret losing touch with my little sister from my sorority. She was one of the greatest people I'd ever met.

65. I regret not taking more pictures.

66. I regret having some pictures of certain occasions I'd like to forget.

67. I regret being kind of rude to my Australian friend who came to visit me in Boston. He was just trying to see the states, but man did he overstay his welcome.

68. I regret not decorating my apartment when I first moved in. Now I just want to move again so I don't have to deal with it.

69. I regret subscribing to so many magazines I don't have time to read.

70. I regret not making more time to read.

71. I regret not calling my paternal grandparents more often. They died when I was young and I have wonderful memories of them. I wish I had more.

72. I regret buying a beautiful wedding dress that I am now just going to have to put on Ebay.

73. I regret not going to The Blue Hole when I was in Belize.

74. I regret that I never got a chance to say "goodbye" to my former future in-laws.

75. I regret that I didn't get in to a steady exercise routine when I moved to the city. I really hate working out and now going to the gym is about as fun as going to the dentist.

76. I regret not having flossed more often.

77. I regret not saying something more meaningful to my friend, Jeremy, the night that he died. I didn't know it would be the last time we would speak.

78. I regret that my first live concert was Huey Lewis and the News.

79. I also regret that it was with my Temple Youth Group.

80. I regret that I never learned how to take care of plants. Plants inspire me and when I have them in my apartment, they die. Not so inspiring.

81. I regret slamming the door so many times when I was a teenager. Maybe if I had tried speaking to my parents calmly they would have heard me.

82. I regret not giving people more compliments in my youth. People deserve compliments.

83. I regret giving compliments I didn't mean just because I was sucking up to people who didn't deserve them.

84. I regret a vacation I took this past March. My life will never be the same again.

85. I regret not taking enough vacations earlier in life.

86. I regret spending so much time in high heels. Now my feet are ruined forever.

87. I regret not ever learning Outlook. I will be a filofax girl until I die.

88. I regret ever having worn blue nailpolish. Trendy? Maybe. Tacky? Yes.

89. I regret caring so much when I was younger about what everybody thought of me. I was pretty great. I should have just been myself. All the time.

90. I regret having once lived in a six-floor walk-up with no air conditioning. That pretty much blew.

91. I regret selling all of my furniture that I loved because my ex hated it. Now I'll never see it again and my life is strangely emptier because of it.

92. I regret not trying certain things because I was too afraid that I would fail. The only real failure is in never trying at all.

93. I regret losing touch with my cousins. My family is too small for us to be estranged.

94. I regret offering to pick up the check on so many dates. Men should be gentlemen. It's part of the territory. They pay, we get our periods. Fair is fair.

95. I regret forgetting all the words to Les Miserables. I used to be able to sing the entire show.

96. I regret spending so much time filling my brain with useless information. I mean, is Les Miserables paying me to know all of the words to the show? Don't think so.

97. I regret ever finding the game Free Cell. It's more addictive than crack.

98. I regret not investing in my retirement account earlier in life.

99. I regret not getting in on the ground floor at Microsoft, Amazon, or Google. That would've been pretty awesome.

100. I regret that I didn't pay closer attention during computer class or maybe I would have gotten in on the ground floor at Microsoft, Amazon, or Google. Instead I got a C- in computers.

101. I regret having so many regrets.

I once read a quote that said "If you're going to do something tonight that you'll regret in the morning, then sleep late."

Wake me up in a year.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

SWF Seeking Gentleman

After spending my twenties bouncing from one serious relationship to another, I now find myself single again in my early thirties. My married friends seem to think of this status as somewhat glamorous, incredibly fun, and oh so “Sex and the City”. I’m here to tell you that it’s not any of those things.

I am not a husband hunter. I am also not a woman who needs to be in a relationship. I am a woman who needs to be in the right relationship. I was thisclose to getting married: a union I think should be respected, holy, and permanent. We didn’t go through with it because our union would not have been any of those things. And so we cancelled the band, ate the deposit, and divided up the DVD collection. It’s worse to be with the wrong husband than no husband at all.

I got back on the dating horse fairly quickly. But instead of bouncing between serious relationships, I bounced between dates. I met plenty of men that would suffice for a Saturday night dinner or a Wednesday night happy hour, but never finding one with whom I could actually imagine telling my deepest fears, or worse, being naked with. For a while, I went through these motions dating bachelor after bachelor, never having my socks knocked off, rarely having my stomach flutter. I couldn’t understand why. I have always loved men. From the time I was a little girl I was always a flirtatious little thing, running around recess pecking boys on the cheek, to becoming a woman unafraid of sending a beer to the looker on the other side of the bar.

And then I realized: after all of these dates… These countless evenings of cocktails and tapas, new restaurants and the occasional weekend get-away… In all of my searching, I had yet to find a gentleman.

There was mid-sip guy. He was the one who, while I still had a drop of The Four Season Hotel’s finest white wine swimming down my throat, got up to leave.

There was the yeller. He and I had plans for our third date the night after the black-out. Because the city lost power, I also lost cell phone service. By the time the electricity returned, so did my senses. He’d left fourteen angry messages on my voicemail demanding to know why I wasn’t calling him to confirm our plans. Apparently he was on a different power grid.

There was the cheap one who, after we’d been dating a couple of months, while on a short road trip with a couple of my friends, actually accepted twenty bucks from one of them for gas. I almost vomited.

There was the one I bonded with over email for months while he allegedly completed a residency in surgery up in Boston. When the night came that we were finally to go to dinner after his move to New York, he stood me up.

Oh- then the one who lives all the way uptown, while I am a downtown girl, who was an ill-advised set-up arranged through a friend of my mother’s. Every time he asked me out he expected me to travel the few miles that separated us. Come on.

And of course there was “Pinky Ring”. That didn’t really have anything to do with him not being a gentleman, but really, a PINKY RING? ‘Nuff said.

The father who raised me was old-school. He believed in chivalry and honesty and the idea of men manning up when it came to the women they loved. When I was in the tenth grade I dated a senior who had broken his leg in a soccer game. It didn’t matter to my dad that the poor guy had a cast on his leg stretching from his ankle to his hip. It also didn’t matter to my dad that it was February and that ice and snow covered the path from our driveway to the porch. Even with the best of excuses, I was not permitted to leave that house until that boy came to the door to pick me up like a gentleman.

Meeting these people was nothing if not interesting. I could entertain my married friends, engaged friends, gay friends, single friends, and non-friends with tales of my tragic quest for Mr. Right. But after a while, it stops being so funny. After a while I have to remember the fact that my dad taught me to be a lady because I deserve to be treated like one. I don’t know what it is about our generation – the men who think they can get away with throwing a woman a bone once in a while and hang on to a great gal, or the women who seem to think that this behavior is acceptable, but I am here to say that it isn’t okay. When you love someone, you want their life to be better. You want them to feel special. You want them to feel wonderful about being who they are. If these men are too narcissistic or selfish to appreciate that, then they certainly won’t appreciate the concept of being with a woman like me. And while I hope to find the right guy one day, I have to remember that sometimes it’s better to be alone. After all, you’ll always treat yourself better.