Wisdom of the ages


I’ve posted this poem many times, many places, and I think it’s beautiful in its simplicity and compassion. I am not alone in going through a difficult stage right now – there are breakups and relationship shifts all around me and as I said to a friend, while it’s comforting to know that we are not alone, it also kind of sucks that this simply is a part of the human condition and has been since, it seems, the dawn of time and writing. (See: Petrarch)

However, authentic, reciprocal love and incredible lives have also existed since the dawn of days. And anyone who is reading these words is capable of finding those things; faith in all its forms (religious or otherwise) is so much more powerful than I used to realize, but profound experiences in the past four decades have led me to a place where I am able to believe that good things can and will happen. They don’t happen on the same timeline for everybody, they don’t always look like what we grew up thinking they would, but they happen.

To my friends facing struggles, I offer these words from Vikram Seth:

All You Who Sleep Tonight

All you who sleep tonight

Far from the ones you love,

No hand to left or right

And emptiness above-

Know that you aren’t alone

The whole world shares your tears,

Some for two nights or one,

And some for all their years.

Kingdom by the sea

Of course I’m nervous and waiting, my love, and of course I opened the wine. The wine that I promised not to drink so we could be authentically us but it’s 10:15 – you’re not so late, but I’ve waited for you for days, my dear. For days I’ve waited and craved you, hon, and now I’m not waiting – I’m just sitting here.

This too shall pass.




Heartache is a curious beast. A strange bird. A disillusioned cat. I’m feeling it fairly intensely right now and truth be told, I’m not sure why. I’m not sure what is going on so it’s hard to place my emotions accordingly. I do know that I’ve done a lot of waiting and hoping and crying in recent weeks and that that is not the way it’s supposed to be. I know what I “should” do – we all, most of us, know what we “should” do, but knowing and executing are very different things. And matters of the heart are rarely black and white – I have a hard time retracting love once I’ve committed to it. This is a wonderful quality a small percentage of the time. Except, of course, where family and friends are concerned, because that love is constant and unconditional. Close friends. I have several exes in my life and this has caused conflict in relationships until the future-exes meet the ex-exes and realize there is nothing to be concerned about. People ask me how I manage to do it – I’ve never “hated” an ex – for once I see the vulnerable side, the little boy inside the tortured artist (I kid, they’ve not all been artists), I hold onto that. And I usually date people that I at least start out liking, so getting back to that place does not take much work. For as dark as I can be, as many demons as I’ve faced and as negative or callous as I’ve been accused of being, I am, at heart, an eternal optimist.

It’s going to get better, because it has to.

Into each life a little rain must fall


I recall the moment I decided to like rain. We were in the breakfast room on a soggy afternoon; my dad mentioned that he liked the weather and we challenged him. He shrugged and said there was something sensuous about it. I was in my single digits and conditioned to find most things unnerving but that immediately resonated and has stayed with me since. I don’t remember not being conscious of the rain. I used to confuse the clouds with smoke from house fires. When I was in second grade a car down the block – probably empty – was on fire while we were eating dinner. I needed my mom to come to fire safety week that year. and book fair. and to the World Trade Center because it’s so high.

Missing person


It’s the open-endedness, really, that’s so hard to sit with. The not knowing what’s happening on the other end of that non-ringing phone, or unanswered email, or makeshift prayer. I don’t know how to pray – I wasn’t raised with such knowledge, and so I do my best to make it matter as I go along. When I was first in Paris in 1989 I took a piece of paper (this was sanctioned; there was a stack) from Sacre Coeur with a prayer for the unaffiliated, a secular prayer: O Dieu que l’on dit amour, si vous existez eclairer moi. O God that [we] call love, if you exist, enlighten me. This has been one of my mantras ever since and I’ve let it help me in difficult times.

But now what? Now I’ve put my truth out there to anyone who will listen to it, anyone who wants to hear it. And I’ve no response at the moment and no idea what this means.

This can not last, this feeling of purgatory. It has to turn into grief or relief or anger or compassion. It has to budge because this, this not knowing what’s going on, is not easy to bear.

I will survive this, of course I will. But what to do, how to think, when to breathe – that’s what I need to figure out now.

O Dieu que l’on dit amour, si vous existez éclairer moi. 

In the wee small hours…


How much more comfortable it would all be if the knowledge that something is right for me were directly related to how “easy” it is to do. There is nothing easy about this. I have so many questions to which I will probably never have answers. Would it help if I could go back in time? Was there one moment, one night, one week that changed everything? The silence is shattering. Time will heal, it always does, but at present my recourse is to sit with discomfort, something I’ve not had much luck with in the past. But I shall try. I love you. I miss you. Don’t know what else I can do but breathe and hope for the best. I wish I knew you were safe. I think you are, but the silence that shatters leaves fear in its wake. Thank God for time. And gentle sleep aids. And my Louie.

Dog is my co-pilot


*Note* I took this down in the middle of the night because it seemed too optimistic for my current state of mind but then, I wrote it a few days ago. Must stop self-editing.

It’s sunny and beautiful on the isle of Manhattan this weekend. My neighborhood is becoming increasingly appealing to out-of-towners because of the galleries, the High Line, the new restaurants, Louie … Lots of snippets of conversation to overhear and to use as fodder for the exercises we do in our writing group, our Salon.

I passed a woman in mid-sentence and heard, “…the city is like telling your gay cousin he just hasn’t met the right girl.” I took the liberty of filling in the blanks and I’m going to say that telling someone who’s not comfortable living here that they just haven’t gotten used to the city is like telling your gay cousin, etc. Because this is a tough town – can be – and is certainly not for everyone. Being more or less from here I want everyone to fall in love with this place but I understand that there are much more comfortable, more civilized, and more forgiving places to live. As my friend (Kat) said upon leaving NY for California, she will not miss the swirling eddys of garbage on windy days, or the sudden rancid smells that seem to come out of nowhere.

I don’t know how I’d feel if I didn’t have a foundation here, if my parents weren’t across town and I didn’t have great friends I’ve known for years. As well as great friends I’ve known for less time, like the lad I met in the dog park three years ago over a shared love of shiba inus and an expertise (his) and interest (mine) in Russian literature. We’re both going  through the growing pains of romances that didn’t quite go as planned, and it’s been a bonding experience. A purely platonic one, but evidence that a 24-year-old man from London and a 42-year-old gal more or less from NY can view the world, at times, through similar lenses. And the lovely woman I met via Facebook, when we both commented on a friend’s post and I wound up defending her to the cynical star-chasers (our mutual friend is semi-celebrated) who didn’t appreciate her closeness to this friend. Turns out we live in the same neighborhood and share an interest in understanding the human condition, seeing the world however we can, and theatre and museums. And writing. We met in three dimensions for a glass of wine shortly after our initial conversation.

People have been telling me how difficult it is to date in this city. Something I don’t really know as I’ve not been dateable for several years. I’m gearing up to be again, and that will be interesting. I didn’t mind dating in my 20s – at the very least it was (usually) interesting conversation and a meal or a drink. I never had any terrible experiences, but I had plenty of decidedly un-datelike ones. Like the job interview that was my first and only solo evening with a politician who remains a friend and whose fundraisers I’ve attended over the years. Or the sushi dinner with the lawyer who tried sea urchin for the first time and was none too pleased. Or the date I accidentally went on on Valentine’s Day with the perfectly pleasant bloke from Boston who seemed far too mild-mannered for the conversation he initiated about nipple clamps. Actually, those were all in my early thirties and those were all courtesy of my aunts. I love my aunties; we do not share taste in men which is, all things considered, a very good thing.

In my 20s I had a series of blind dates orchestrated by co-workers, and one of those dates has become a lifelong friend. He’s a war journalist from Memphis who has recently spent a lot of time in Syria – a very admirable guy and the subject of a documentary I will plug another time. There was the session drummer for Blondie who was sweet and named Pete and that is all I recall of him (except that he had long brown hair).

When I worked for Random House, one of my co-workers was a very sweet and talented woman of Israeli and Peruvian descent who had a thick accent and a voice below my comfortable registry – my hearing is imperfect and hers is a frequency I had a very hard time deciphering. Two stories. One day she stopped me in the hall to admire my pants. I mentioned that I’d bought them in San Francisco and this launched a monologue about her time in San Francisco, which segued into an anecdote about hanging Christmas lights and went on from there … when she paused I said, “Oh, that’s good,” to which she responded, “No! I could have died!”

I threw a holiday party at my apartment – actually my dear friend and I did – and our low talker was there. I recall talking to her about hummus and the following day at work she came by my desk and said, “So he’s going to call you!” Apparently somewhere between hummus and Mas de Gourgonnier, which we drank copious amounts of in those days, I agreed to a blind date with her brother-in-law. I met him a week or so later at Layla (remember Layla?), ran into my freshman year roommate, had an unmemorable meal and the next day was messengered a set of castanets. Because at the time I was taking belly-dancing lessons. A very sweet gesture – now I feel compelled to finally take the flamenco lessons he seemed to be encouraging with his thoughtful, unexpected gift.

Which leads me to … where does this lead me? To being 42 and determined to make the next 42 years the best I’ve had. I’m a late bloomer, thank God, imagine having peaked in high school? Or college? Or anytime in my 20s or 30s, for that matter? This year, this year I write a lot. I also continue with my Pilates and, as soon as it’s fixed from having been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, my time spent in the gym in my building – because, vanity and clinging to the vestiges of my youth aside, exercise is really helpful for my oft-uneven moods. This year I let go of worrying about the things I can’t control and that includes people’s reactions toward me. Some travel will be lovely – my mom and I have a trip coming up, to Budapest and Paris, and I am really looking forward to this on many levels. Last year most of my travel involved Los Angeles – this year it won’t. I’m going to cook more this year, and keep my apartment more organized. I’m going to purge the possessions that have been taking up space and have no intrinsic value to me. I am going to trust myself more. I might take belly dancing lessons again.

Most importantly, I am going to appreciate my own company and not feel the need for male validation in the form of a nonworking relationship that I cling to out of fear of being alone. Because right now, in this apartment, drinking coffee and writing while the dog sleeps in his little bed, being “alone” is far from lonely.

If I ever start to sound like Carrie Bradshaw please tell me and I will put an immediate stop to it. I promise. That’s when I’ll pull out the essays about death metal and huffing and running naked through the streets. Three things I’ve never been into.