Saturday, January 29, 2005

Didn't see this one coming

From this darling man's blog, who got it from this cool chick:


and go to because law school made laura do this.


Today I spoke with two different brokers from Citihabitats. I spoke with them because they are showing my apartment to nice young couples who are going to take this place right out from under me. It didn't take much for them to realize that I wasn't exactly happy to be moving. I wound up entertaining them with my whole sad "I kicked out dirty girl and couldn't find anyone else in time to save my lease" story.

Well, what do you know! In a turn of fate, two very nice young brokers have taken pity on me, and are scouring their listings for a new home for MzOuiser. That rents for $1000/month or less. That's big enough to hold my living room furniture. That's in Manhattan or Astoria. (twitter)

Dream on, mad fools. It doesn't exist. And you won't talk me into renting a studio for $1000 and selling or storing my furniture, because a)I like my furniture and b)I don't have the money to pay both rent and storage at the same time.

I know I smell like money, and no amount of coconut shampoo makes it go away. I see the evidence of my currency-scent every time I walk anywhere near an electronics or phone store, or if there is a homelss person within a 50-yard radius. Or a straight guy in ripped jeans and a concert T-shirt in a bar. But I had no idea that my eau-de-dinero comes through over the phone. Maybe if they could have seen my outfit they would have realized how poor I really am.

What the hell. I'm in a short skirt today. I'll sit here on my ass and let you knock yourselves out trying to find me a way-below-market-value place. Go ahead and try for that fat broker's fee. Nobody's that good.

Although, if anybody does manage to get a broker's fee out of me, I may have to be forced to re-examine my position on New York City.

However, the most likely scenario still involves me paying next years' taxes somewhere else.

Story not yet over. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Better Now?

THANKS BRIAN!! He showed me how to make my blog stop playing now-you-see-it-now-you-don't. Hopefully now you won't have to pull geek tricks to read me. But snaps to Zoom and Sherry for trying so hard!

I feel I got some 'splaining to do:

1) The reason I did not show at Therapy the other night (and God knows I can use all the Therapy I can get) is that at about 6pm, as I was leaving the office, I got a voicemail from my best friend Glamgirl, who is visiting from Korea. I knew she was coming, but I wasn't sure exactly when. I see her about once a year, so you can imagine my glee. And, given the nightmarish week I had just had, and particularly the exquisitely nightmarish Thursday (details to follow), I really just sort of ran to where she was. After three Lychee martinis and hugs from her hottie boyfriend, and lots of affirmations of our sisterly love, I did feel better. And I did tell her all about my Beautiful Band of Blogger Boyz and Hipster Hags who have made not only my Friday to Sunday Life but also my Monday to Thursday life so much brighter and more fun.

I hope there's another drink-up very soon. Very soon. (Details to follow.)

2) The new roommate backed out. That adorable, lovely, smart, funny latina just backed out. She had the rental agreement all filled out, and was gathering her finances. I was starting to think I was safe. Then, Thursday morning, came the phone call:

New Roomie: Um, leesten, I have to tell you something...
Ouiser: Is everything ok?
NR: No.. actually is not... (pause. Stomach roiling.)

NR: My cousin called me jesterday from Venezuela, and she has to come to America right away. Eets a safety issue. (pause) So... she has to come here right away, she will be here even this weekend, and so I'm gonna live with her..
Ouiser: Oh...
NR: I am so sorry! Really, I hate to make thees call..
Ouiser: Is she in any trouble?
NR: Well, actually, she has some trouble with this guy, actually we both had some trouble with this guy... and he's... involved... in something...
Ouiser: Oh man.
NR: Yah, so I know I have to live with her, and even this week my sublet is already up, so really don't even know where we going to live right now...
Ouiser: Well, I'm really sorry to hear this... I was really happy to have met you.
NR: Oh, me too, me too! I was so looking forward to living with you! But I have to do this right now... even I didn't sleep at all last night thinking about this, I was so scare to call you, I'm really so sorry about thees...

(Pause. Choking. Thinking about freezing cold New York Streets. Seeing a large door in my mind... swinging closed.)

Ouiser: It's ok. Please take good care of yourself and your cousin. Be careful out there.
NR: Thank you, you too!
Ouiser: Bye.

I let myself sit with this for a few minutes. It was the 20th of January.

I called my landlord Mike, and his lovely secretary answered the phone.

"Please tell Mike," I sobbed "that he can show my apartment."
"What?" the secretary said, sounding confused.
"New Roomie just backed out."
"Oh no..." she said
"Yeah. Just now.
"Tell Mike that he can show my place. We had a deal."
"ok, I will. I'm sorry, Ouiser."

Somehow I made it through the day, but everyone noticed how quiet I was. finally someone asked, and I told them. "I just lost my apartment."

I have since then emailed two people on Craig's List, with the same "Hey, I've got a room available in this gorgeous blah blah blah..." It feels quite futile. I have pretty much given up. And I'm really, believe it or not, ok with it.

The rest of this post has been deleted, due to last-minute developments. Mere hours after I posted this, I received a phone call.

The drama of all this is exhausting me. I will not blog again about this subject until the case is closed. I'll let you know how it ends.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Uh... Oops...

Sorry about the pages that refuse to load. I'm having the same problem. I may have to change my template to fix it. (but I like this one...) Ah, heck, it's a season of change.

Although, I may not get to actually do that until the weekend.

Update on the roommate situation: This last gal is a keeper, and she wants to move in! So now she's amassing all the required paperwork (and money) for the landlord - apparently by 12:30 tomorrow, unless something goes awry, she will be my new roommate and all this will end.

And, better still, my current roomie is hip to the buy-out, and might be able to leave by Feb 1. BONUS!

There is hope that, maybe, I might be able to take the path of least resistance. Ahhh. That sounds SO nice right now.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Off My Game... And Throwing the Dice

I guess that last post was just to long to keep anyone's attention. 13 people have cruised me just this hour, and stayed for less than 2 minutes... and no comments. Oh well.

STILL no new roommate. And yes, D-Date (Jan 15th) has passed. Apparently my landlord is going to try and kick me out. However... I have seen no papers yet. Granted, it's a long weekend, and he's likely enjoying himself like the rest of us by not working. And yes, I've spoken to my attorney and several government offices. No good news there.

I have one candidate left, and her current sublet is up in a few days. Dirty Girl is not moving out until 2/15, but the new girl can't wait that long, as she has nowhere to stay for those few weeks. This new gal is my last hope. I may lose my place because of bad timing. Solution: bribery. Maybe I can buy out DG, pay her to leave earlier. And then MAYBE the latest candidate won't have already found someplace else to live that's cheaper, or bigger, or that she won't have to share, or that's simply available NOW.

This is getting crazy. Everyone else has turned me down for a plethora of reasons. I don't blame them. I want to live with an responsible, clean, mentally stable, employed adult. Everyone who meets that description has amassed enough assets in their life that they don't need a share, or they have a sister in the area, or the don't mind paying more for a bigger room in a hipper area. They can all afford to be fussy, while I'm desperate. I'm trying not to read into what that says about me and my stage of life.

So I'm in "crisis mode" now. I really ought to feel stressed. Isn't this a crisis? I mean...

I only planned to live in New York for 10 years, and it's been about that. I've been feeling ready to move on for two years. I did everything I came here to do, and as much fun as I have here, I am really goddamned fucking tired of scraping by and living one paycheck away from financial destitution. I know there are other options available to me, and any of those cities would afford me a considerably easier life. The things I want now are things that have nothing to do with New York, and frankly, the buzz wore off years ago. Why am I fighting so hard to keep this place?

Because it represents something to me. Which is too complicated to go into here, But I'll start with the words indepedence, acceptance, freedom.

Ok. all great words. I'm grateful for this state of mind, this state of being. Thank you, New York, for that.

Now what?

Saturday, January 15, 2005

On my Mind

I suppose it's natural, when the snow falls, and people stay indoors more, and the sun goes down at 5pm, for my head to rattle more loudly than usual with random thoughts of various subjects which normally I would avoid. There's simply less to distract me, in the Wintertime.

School is going very well. I have my second round of exams, starting last night, and I'm pretty sure I aced my Anatomy Test. Tonight is Kinesiology, and I know the material reasonably well. At the end of next week - Christmas Eve morning and the night before - I have to work in the student clinic, which is the most rewarding thing I've done in a long time.

School couldn't be much better, and thank God, since I'm so great about stressing the rest of my life. My classes have become my happy place.

My temp agency informed me yesterday, gently, that because of my inability to work in Westchester county past 4:30, they have been unable to place me in any jobs. My agent is a great gal, and has done all she can for me, but this is just how things are in Corporate Westchester County. Nobody cares that I'm willing to come in at 7AM if need be, and never take a lunch hour. Personally, I think it's because everyone in Westchester wants to show up as late as they can - they'd rather stay late in the evenings than get up earlier. I can relate to that... but I'm in night school. I worked maybe a total of two weeks over the last two months. I can't survive on this. I have to find work in Rockland County, or in North Jersey.

Tomorrow I'm going to approach a Staffing Agency in Rockland County. Wish me luck. Work is very hard to find here, and salaries are as tiny as the deep south. People live here, they don't work here.

That said, I am waiting to hear from a large company in New Jersey. If I were to get that job, I would be able to work very normal, even generous hours. My school is a mere few minutes from the company. The job they are looking to fill seems tailor-made for me, and my old boss from three years ago, who I got along famously with, is now a Vice President there. I should be a shoe-in... But they are balking at setting up an interview. I am trying to hold the "story of my life" feelings at bay, but it's hard.

I am out of money. I have no more savings left. I am still pretty deep in debt, and my unemployment checks are too small for me to meet my bare minimum of monthly expenses. I am completely living off of G right now, and I feel ashamed. I shouldn't feel ashamed, I should feel fortunate and grateful. And I do feel those things as well... but mostly, I'm ashamed. It's humilating, being a 34-year old adult with good education and solid work experience... and being out of work for over a year.

G, on the other hand, has just landed a new job in Manhattan, for a nice raise and some very sweet benefits. His career path is solid and straight.

I admit rather ruefully that I spent a certain amount of time poring over what he has that I don't. Well, for starters, a Master's Degree in Accounting, and a Magna Cum Laude Bachelor's degree. And he's bilingual. He said he hated accounting, and the only reason he got that Master's is that he knew what kind of job he'd like, and that employers were looking for people with Masters in Accounting. So he forked over two years of his life and a pile of cash, and bought himself the career ticket he needed. It worked. Couldn't I have done that as well?

Not really. I despise, loathe, and abhor everything to do with finance, bean-counting, and number-crunching, to the point where I exhibit physical symptoms of stress when I try to bite the bullet and do it anyway. I managed the financial operations of my first professional job in Manhattan, back in 1998. I didn't sleep well for a year. My then-fiancee was worried that I would be in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer. I would stay until eight or nine at night re-doing calculations, getting different answers six or seven times, until I finally got the same answer twice. Math anxiety. And the knowledge that the Vice Presidents would blame me for any discrepancies. I quit that job after a year, to get married.

So. No Master's in Accounting for me. But... what am I good at?

I won't go into details here, but the sad truth is that my skills are not highly valued in today's marketplace. I don't bring in money, I help retain the customers you already have. That's not what companies are investing in. And Admin Assistant work? Admins are expected to do three times the work for half the pay than they were a few years ago. The post-post-911 economy at work again. And I'm willing to do that! But nobody is biting. I've lost track of how many resumes, how many interviews...

As far as my artistic talents go, I went to the auditions when I was young, and took the classes, and yadayadayada. There was always someone better than me, I suppose. I was never snapped up. Oh, my voice gets attention... but nobody wants to work with me, and for the life of me, nobody can tell me why. I always say that I haven't fallen in with the right bunch of fellas. Secretly I think that nowadays, nobody wants to share profits. Bands don't need vocalists to get gigs. I still think that if I played an instrument, I'd have been able to get work. Still could, even today. But right now, between school and job-hunting, I don't have time to learn an instrument. And I couldn't afford to buy one anyway. And now we're getting silly. Am I really talking about this!?

Every since Big Joe's funeral, I've been keenly aware that my parents and I just don't matter to most people in my Mom's side of the family. We just aren't important to them, now that Grandma is gone. People used to invite us places because they wanted to see Grandma and knew that we were a package deal. It's so clear. It kind of hurts... but frankly, I think this reveals more about them than it does about my Mom and I. Mom and I are not awful people. We're not irritating. We're just different, and in my family, they can't handle that. We're not Catholic. We're liberal. We're polite in spite of that, which puzzles them. We're pretty without wearing expensive clothes and big hairdos and fake nails. We don't wear much makeup, and we read. We read books, thick ones, and we don't watch much TV. When we go to the movies, it's never for the comedies. My family is nothing like us. And frankly... I'd rather be me. I didn't used to feel that way, but I do now.

I miss the family I used to have. I miss some friends that I lost touch with.

No real conclusions here, and that's life.

I have to go cram for my Kinesiology test now. Wish me luck.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The Dark Mirror

When I was a child, I was a dork. I was small for my age, I always had a runny nose, I was emotionally sensitive (read: cried easily), I wasn't good at or even interested in sports, I got straight A's, and was generally forced to participate in extra-curricular "enrichment programs" for gifted kids which further seperated me from my schoolmates.

I didn't have a whole lot of friends, and the ones I did have didn't last long. For the first few years, they were lonely, dorky kids like me. Some were from broken homes where abuse, drugs, and sexual precociousness were considered normal. These kids tended to truly value my friendship, and spent a great deal of time at my house, eating dinner with my family and having lots of sleepovers. However, my best friend from Kindergarten to third grade moved to Idaho, and I was alone for fourth grade. I took a lot of peer abuse that year. I made another best friend in fifth grade, who was actually kind to me, but shortly after we graduated from Laketown Elementary School, she moved to California.

From sixth to eighth grade, my parents put me in the only private school in town, SDC School. This place was full of kids from very wealthy families. The place had been started by some wealthy parents who wanted an alternative to our public school system. District 186 offered virtually no gifted programs at all, was overcrowded, unsafe, filled with inattentive, unhappy teachers, and polluted with small town religious propaganda. SDC, with its progressive environment, was a sanctuary from all that.

By the time I got to SDC, however, the founder's kids were long gone, and there was a whole new generation of students. Some of their parents truly valued education, but I think some of them simply felt it was important to be able to tell everyone "my kid goes to a private school." The teachers seemed happy for the most part... but we kids could tell that something wasn't quite right.

However, all of us kids were really damn thrilled not to have to endure public schooling. We knew we had it good. SDC was laid-back. They allowed us to work at our own pace, and talk amongst ourselves, as long as it was about the lessons, and we weren't fighting. Deadlines for assignments were flexible, and we
didn't use traditional textbooks. Our teachers compiled reading materials for us from every subject, and gave the gifted kids more challenging activities. Educational "games" became classroom tools. Classes were very small, and we all got a lot of attention. Many of our teachers encouraged us to call them by their first names. We read at whatever level challenged us - I was reading Poe, Thoreau, and Anne McCaffrey in sixth grade, and being started on Shakespeare and Walt Whitman. I wrote my first sonnet that year, and got a lot of praise for it. It was my teachers at SDC School (Thanks Linda and Sam!) who encouraged me to express myself thorugh writing... and I always have.

I wasn't hassled about math, I was helped with it. I zoomed ahead of the other students in the computer lab. Some kids were science whizzes - one built a light bulb mechanism at about age 7. Pretty much everyone hated Gym class, but the teachers insisted it was good for us. Definitely NOT public school.

In 6th grade, I began to make friends from "good backgrounds," meaning the parents were doctors, lawyers, or owned successful business that enabled them to put their kids in private schools. These kids were usually spoiled materially, but otherwise neglected. Some were left alone at home for astonishing amounts of time. Most smoked and drank. Some got into hard drugs. Some ran wild around their neighborhoods, with their older siblings. Some started experimenting with sex. And some simply spiraled inward, seething quietly until something lit their fuse and they exploded. These were very angry kids, and needed someone to make them feel powerful. At age eleven.

In 6th grade, I made a new best friend. Shannon Mechant was the gawky daughter of a wealthy doctor dad and a social-climbing mother. She and I had previously known each other from dance classes with the local ballet company. (Note: this was also a very un-cool activity. Flashdance hadn't taken hold at SDC.) Like me, she was also a new student from the public school system, so when she saw me on that first day of school, she attached herself to me like a leech.

Shannon lived in a huge house on the west side of town - the right side of the tracks in every sense of the word. Her parents coddled her, told her what a lucky little girl she was, how much better they were than most people in town... the poor kid was raised to be a snob, and she was one. She might have been alright if, underneath all the affected hauteur, she had some basic self-esteem, but it was clear from the start that she didn't. She saw right through her parents. She knew she was gangly and uncoordinated. She knew she was unpopular with everyone, never mind boys. When her parents babied her in front of me I could only imagine how embarrassed she must have been.

This rich girl was incredibly insecure - much worse than I was. Her attempts to cover up her lack of self-worth by sticking her nose in the air made her extremely unpopular. Coming from such an elitist background, I doubt she knew of any other way to behave. Factor in that this was the mid-1980's and she had no fashion sense at all, and only a rudimentary taste for top 40 music. She chattered extensively about the newly married young princess Diana and other wealthy celebrities... likely role models for her.

It was interesting that her younger brother, Arthur, seemed to be learning how not to behave by watching his sister. He was quite popular, and rather than be jealous of him, Shannon bragged about how funny he was. Granted, this likely stemmed from her need to have everybody think everything about her life was wonderful, but I was always impressed that she didn't turn her venom onto her sibling. At least, when I was around.

Instead, she turned it to me. When we played together, Shannon used to cheer herself up by putting me down all the time. She was bossy, and a know it all. She loved coming up with new things to tell me about, making herself feel smarter than I was. She used to preen in the mirror and tell me why she was so much prettier than I was - some hair product or another. She was constantly expressing fake sympathy for how small my house was and how I never got new clothes from the mall. I knew she was using me, and I secretly hated her.

I felt trapped into being her friend. I knew exactly how bitchy and vindictive this girl could be. However, I quickly realized the one benefit about being friends with Shannon: our classmates hated her so much that my dorkishness paled in comparison. Granted, I got my share of crap from those little shits, but with Shannon around, I was usually just ignored. She was apparently a much more fun punching bag than I was. Not only that, on the few days Shannon wasn't at school, I had no problem hanging out with the others at recess and lunch.

I was sure that if I dumped her, she'd get even with me by rallying the rest of the kids in class to turn their bullying from her to me. After six years of public elementary school hell, I knew I couldn't go back to being the class punching bag. I kept up the facade.

Eventually, Mrs. Mechant decided her kid wasn't being fully appreciated at SDC, and she pulled Shannon out of our school. The poor girl was tossed back into public school like a too-small fish. The following year, that woman orchestrated a smear campaign against SDC, claiming that the students weren't being taught the traditional "3 R's." She cited the fact that our school didn't use textbooks, and used the "alternative Education" line to scare the pants off of everyone in our highly conservative town. The number of field trips we went on was evidence of that. And, in later years, as I grew older and more aware of things, I also always wondered if the lack of Christian dogma in the classroom at that school played a factor. We had a high percentage of Jewish families there, and those kids were smart as hell. I think we had an Islamic teacher for while as well. It was a non-traditional school... and in Springfield, Illinois, anything non-traditional is bad.

After Shannon's Mommy pulled her out of big mean old SDC, Shannon stopped calling me. She had no use for me anymore.

Frankly, I pretty much forgot all about her rather quickly. In between sixth and seventh grades, I did a lot of theatre, and developed a clique of friends who went to various schools around town. It was in seventh grade that I realized that my classmates didn't hate me - many had just been too shy to get to know me. The following year, in eighth grade, I actually had a sort of clique, and a semblance of a boyfriend. I was starting to grow up.

Well, La Mere Mechant was a political, wealthy, white Christian Right winger, and had contacts in the right places. Her smear campaign did exactly what it was supposed to do.

Sometime during the seventh grade year, Shannon gloated at ballet class about her Mother's successful smear campaign. She felt she had been personally avenged for all the treatment she had received from the schoolkids, and seemed especially bitter towards me. Finally, one day, she shoved it in my face, in front of all our dance classmates, in the dressing room, with no adults around to see what a brat she really was.

"Did you hear what happened to SDC School?" She sang gleefully.

Now that we were no longer in school together, I felt no reason to keep up the facade, and in front of a dressing room full of 13-year-old ballerinas who hated her as much as our schoolmates had, I shot back that everyone at SDC had hated her from the day she arrived, that we kids would have kicked her out for unparalleled wussiness if we could, and that her mother was a vindictive bitch who was so power-hungry that she was willing to destroy an entire school just to coddle her little wimpy crybaby's poor hurt feelings.

The rest of the girls cracked up laughing in delight. Shannon reddened. She looked like a two-year-old about to throw a tantrum, kicking and screaming. But, we were twelve. She left the room, and never spoke to me again.

I felt fantastic.

By the time the smear campaign was in full swing, I was more contented in school than ever before. I was one of the last two 8th graders to ever graduate from SDC School. The school cut back to K-5 grades the following year, and limped along without public support and a serious decrease in enrollment (and subsequent private funding from affluent parents) for a few more years. By the time I left for college, SDC School had closed down for good. There have not been any private non-Christian schools in town since then. I remember simply feeling relieved that I was able to put off re-entering the public school system as long as I did.

In high school, I was pretty well known for my appearances in community theatre, and I began doing the leading roles at my high school. I met my best friends K and L, who I am still best friends with today.

Socially, things could have been worse.

When I was a junior or senior in high school, K's school did a production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. K was in it, and had a good role as one of the seven brides. I had played a bride in that same show at our town's community theatre a couple of years prior, so we had a lot of fun comparing notes.

At some point during rehearsals, K asked me "Did you ever know a girl named Shannon Mechant?"

"Oh God, yes," I replied. "She was my "best friend" in 6th grade," I said sarcastically.

"You're kidding!" K said. "She goes to my high school! She's in the chorus of our show!"

I groaned.

"She says she knows you really well," K said. "Didn't you guys go to dance classes together?"

I proceeded to tell K all about the whole story of poor little Shannon and the Big Bad Private School Kids.

"Yep, that sounds like Shannon," K sighed. "And her Mom is on the district school board - (I was horrified!) and everybody hates her, what a total bitch. Shannon's brother Artie is cool, and her Dad seems nice, but Shannon is just a stupid dork."

Her words stung me. Too close to home.

I was surprised that Shannon had managed to get into the school play at all. Being in dance classes with her all those years ago - not to mention shuffling through a terrible junior high production of Pirates of Penzance with her - I knew she had always been interested in theatre. I also knew she had virtually no singing voice, limited dance ability, and no confidence to even try seriously acting. That black hole inside her where her confidence should have been... a serious limitation for a wanna-be performer.

K went on to tell me that Shannon had NO friends in high school. Zip. Zero. There were a few kids who ate lunch with her, and occasionally hung out with her and went to parties at her house, but when Shannon wasn't around, they totally trash-talked her behind her back. Some girls' parents forced them to be nice to Mrs. Mechant's daughter for political reasons. Some kids just wanted to hang out at her big, pretentious house. A few sympathetic souls humoured her with vague niceness. But mostly, her high school classmates ignored her.

Much the way I was ignored.

After the way she had treated me, I couldn't help but feel this was poetic justice. "I guess public school wasn't any better for her than private was," I said.

A few weeks later, L and I went to see K in her school play, which was actually quite entertaining for a high school show. After the show, the performers came out to the lobby for hugs from parents and friends. L and I were enjoying ourselves. There was our best friend K, in her adorable gingham costume, blonde curls pouring out from her head like foam from a pop bottle.

K was very popular, and always had a gaggle of kids around her. That night was no different, and when she brushed them all aside to embrace L an I, I glowed with pride. She introduced us around. Some of her friends knew who I was, having seen me onstage somewhere, or heard about me. Everyone was nice, or at least polite. I was proud of my friends, proud of our friendship, and proud of our success in our shared hobby.

Eventually my Dad came up to me. "Hey sweetheart, guess who's here. Shannon Mechant." K and I looked over in the direction Dad was pointing, and tried not to stare.

A number of yards away, far from the center of the crowd, looking embarrassed, was Shannon. She still looked twelve years old, skinny as a rail and awkward as ever. Her parents were looking expectantly at me. Her brother was there too, not looking at anyone. I gave Daddy a how could you DO this to me look.

"Go say hi to her," Daddy instructed. "She's all alone."

K had not been exageratting - Shannon really didn't have any friends. None of the kids at her own school were even acknowledging her existence. At least at my school, I had some nerdy groupies. And Shannon looked pathetic in her badly applied stage makeup, and she was too tall for her dress, which hung a gangly few inches above her ankles. I had never had a bad costume in my life. My lungs contracted. Shannon was abhorrent to me.

"Go on, Ouiser," K said. "Get it over with. You'll be doing a nice thing." She squeezed my hand supportively. I approached the Mechant family.

It was the first time I had spoken to any of them in years. Shannon beamed at me as though I was her long-lost best friend. I think she actually said it was good to see me again. (?!?!?!) I was just hoping nobody saw me talking to her. "Hi, Shannon," I said. "Hi, Mrs. Mechant, Dr. Mechant." Her brother was fidgeting and staring at the door. I sympathized. "Hey, Artie," I greeted him. He politely said hello. I thought about how much it must suck to have your little brother be the cool one.

The Mechants were so welcoming and friendly towards me that night. Her Mom asked me some lame questions, like how did I like school, and such. I had just finished doing the lead in my school play, my two best friends were a few yards away, so I felt good about my life, and had some positive things to say.

Normally, at sixteen, I felt as though I were nobody special. That night though, standing in front of Shannon, I felt like a giant, looking down on a gnat. It was the first time I have ever felt something like superiority, except that I wasn't proud. I didn't feel like I was better than her, I just felt somehow smarter, and luckier. It was embarrassing. I know Shannon and her whole family had seen me hugging K and chatting with her popular friends. I couldn't wait to get out of there. I made as much pleasantries as I could stand, until I finally escaped somehow.

I wanted to be proud of Shannon. I wanted to be glad to see her. I wanted to tell her sincerely that her costume looked nice on her, that her singing was nice, and that it was good to see her again. But I wasn't sincere, and every compliment I gave her was a lie. I was disgusted by the sight of her, and nauseated to hold conversation with her Mom.

Underneath it all, the strongest emotion I can recall feeling was something akin to shame. I was more popular than Shannon, more talented, and certainly happier... but I was far from truly happy with my own life. K and L were my best friends (at least I had best friends), but K didn't go to my hgh school, and L was a grade ahead of me, so I was pretty much on my own at school, like I imagine Shannon was. I was largely ignored, and made fun of on whenever I wore something other than Outback Red or Guess. My boyfriends were sporadic, and usually idiots. I was very lonely in a lot of ways. Who the hell was I, dissing anyone at all?

Like most teenagers, I just hadn't imagined anyone being more lonesome than I was. Talk about perspective.

After the show, K and I started comparing Shannon's situation to mine. I thought Shannon must have it easier than me. At least Shannon's Mom could buy her all the "in" clothes that were so important to be seen in the 1980's, so I doubt she got the fashion jeering that I did. K pointed out that I'd had more boys interested in me than Shannon ever would. "And remember Ouiser," K said, "You have a life. You have friends - real friends." I loved K, in that moment, more than I had ever loved anyone. "You have real talent," she went on. "Your Mom can be nuts sometimes, but at least she's nice."

Has anyone ever pitied me the way I pitied Shannon? I imagine they have. Has anyone ever looked down on me with such disgust as I looked down on her, in my adolescent angst? I'm positive they have.

Am I Shannon Mechant?

Are we all?

Now we are in our thirties. I have done everything with my life that I ever wanted to do.

Let me say that again: I have done everything with my life that I ever wanted to do.

Has she?

I am so young. I get to start dreaming all new dreams and chasing whole new rainbows.

Will she?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Just Another Life Blog?

You Are a Life Blogger!

Your blog is the story of your life - a living diary.
If it happens, you blog it. And make it as entertaining as possible.

Yep, that's me in the picture, loafing away at my former job where I started this blog. See the red hair?

So the lastest on My Friday-to-Sunday Life of Revolving Roommates:

All 5 of the contestants were really great, smart, successful, beautiful women. Just meeting 5 awesome gals was fun in and of itself.

Two of them right off the bat I knew wouldn't be suitable. One had no personality at all. The other was chilly, and European. (I did that in 2002, but at least that European was a fellow swanky redhead.)

Three were awesome. The third runner up:

A very tall, strong-looking blonde attorney, who specialized in tenancy and general apartment-type law. She gav me quite the treatise on renters insurance and practically made me sign an affadavit stating I would obtain it RIGHT NOW. I know, I should have it. Especially after my current roommate almost burned the place down a few times with unattended candles. I'll get around to it. But you're gonna lecture me now?

This gal told me I was her first choice, but frankly, I don't think she was being very discriminatory. My place and the neighborhood has everything she could need, and she was sick of looking at places. However, she has already backed out, since she decided her furniture wouldn't fit.

Thanks for playing!

Second Runner Up:

This was hard. I completely fell in love with this girl. She's short, mousey, wears glasses, has unimginative, loose-fitting clothes and a clean, neat, forgettable hairstyle. She's a teacher - specifically a tutor on the sets of movies, Broadway Shows, and a few TV shows. She stutters. I swear I just wanted to hug her. She is the sweetest, most adorable thing I've ever seen. However, let's face it, I'm a snarky, talkative, flamboyant gal. I might drive her up the wall. But I'd really make an effort to be quiet! And humble! And I'd promise not to drag her to my hairstylist, or suggest she wear sexier clothes, or chat up every hot straight guy I meet. Not that I really meet a lot of hot straight guys. But I digress.

The drawback here is that she already has a first choice apartment - a share in a HEOWGE place on Riverside Drive at 74th Street. One of those impossibly huge apartments in those ancient buildings that never come available. I completely understood, and wished her well, and if it doesn't work out, call me!

My favorite contestant: The Marketing Director!

This snappy, sassy, stylish young thirty-something hails from New Jersey, but spent the better part of the last decade in Los Angeles in Marketing. She is also a writer and music buff. She is as chatty as me (no really!), and has a constant smile. The perkiness is off the scale! We have a lot in common, and she is in many ways my dream roommate.

However, I haven't heard from her since 11:30 Saturday, when she bopped down the stairs and out of my building. I emailed her this morning... no response yet. Come on, Cynthia!! We've got a lease to sign! And curtains to pick out! And makeup tips to swap!

The fine print:
I still do not have a new roommate. I have four days to get one before my landlord starts... acting like a scared landlord. Fortunately, I have consulted my attorney, and I may not be quite as screwed as I feared. I cannot post about this in detail, but hopefully I can live here a bit longer than February 15th.

I contacted ONE more person today by email, and she is going to come see the place tomorrow night. She works at the Victoria's Secret Design Studio. I like her already.

The Plug:

Seriously. If any of you out there know anyone who is

* CLEAN. No really, I mean uses spray cleaners, mops, toilet brushes, and the like at least on a monthly basis

* not allergic to cats, and doesn't have any pets

* Gainfully employed at a regular job, and can prove it with pay stubs or tax records

* Moral, honest, drug-free, non-smoking, and won't empty my liquor cabinet the first month they are here

Oh, who am I kidding. I don't even know anybody like that.

You see why this is so hard for me.


Friday, January 07, 2005

It Could've Been So Beautiful...

Tomorrow at 11AM, the parade of potential New Roommates begins trudging through my apartment, fingering my drapes and ogling my liquor cabinet. If all goes as planned, they will arrive once on the hour for 5 hours. This should give everybody enough time to ask all the questions we need, look around, and get the hell out before the next contestant arrives, therefore avoiding any hair-pulling.

Sadly - and I say that sincerely - the gentleman below will not be among the finalists:

I just saw your listing, and thought I'd write and introduce myself. I have just come back to the States from living in London, and am looking for a place in New York for when I start my new jobs in the new year.
I'm a 25 year old single gay male. I have just finished my MA in Art History in London. I went to The University of Chicago for my BA - Art History as well. This year I will be working as a museum educator, and also for a real estate developer who develops high end buildings all over the city.
I do like to chat and be sociable. I don't smoke or do any drugs, and I am very tidy. My interests....I love art and going to museums, gallery talks and openings. I love concerts and music - currently I'm listening to Scissor Sisters. I love to cook and am happy to share my food with my roommate. I go out dancing a lot on the weekends, but also enjoy staying in, watching movies and just chilling out.
I tend to go to bed a bit on the early side (around 11) so please, not too late. Or just e-mail me to set up a good time to come see the place.

Alas, over the course of our brief correspondence, this lovely-sounding young man revealed that he is allergic to cats.

Sorry, boys.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

My "Mondo Beyondo" list:

From his blog: a list of things to do in 2005 that are completely outrageous, over-the-top, completely unlikely, and yet a hell of a lot of fun to think about.

1. I will sing along with more street musicians. In harmony.

2. I will be interviewed by Sassy Pat Kiernan on New York 1. I will henceforth be known as "the Subway Soprano" or "Tebaldi of the Trains" some such lame network moniker.

3. As soon as the cameras are off, he and I will disappear into the news van and make that sucker shake.

4. With laughter, after he remembers he's gay. I'll tell him this happens all the time, and that we'll always have 14th Street.

5. Due to my newfound fame as the Downtown Diva, my blog will get thousands of hits a day.

6. A publishing company will contact me and offer a large advance for my Friday-to-Sunday Memoirs.

7. This will sell so well that I'll finally get my other novel finished and published, along with my canon of poetry, volume of short stories, and the play I wrote in college.

8. The CD I record will not hit the billboards, but it's tracks will be the most requested songs at every karaoke bar in the country.

9. I'll pay off my student loan, my divorce attorney, my MasterCard, and the rest of my parent's house. In that order.

10. I'll buy a house overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, cut my hair short, marry my boyfriend, and start life all over again with a huge kitchen, my cat, and my Grandpa's piano.

Ok, maybe I won't cut my hair. But the rest is good.

Monday, January 03, 2005

The Day After Christmas

(May as well finish the series...)


Slept until 10AM. I stumbled downstairs to another of Daddy's breakfasts, this time just him and me. Mom and Othermom were still sleeping.

We argued about my parent's decrepit old dishwasher which only marginally works. Daddy doesn't want to replace it. I suspect it's the money... but they've spent a lot of money on exterior house things... why not work on the interior? You shouldn't have to wash the dishes before washing the dishes! You shouldn't have to advance the cycle manually! You shouldn't have water on the floor! To no avail.

We also talked about his retirement job, my temp job, the fallacy of Reaganomics and the fiscal irresponsibility of the current Bush administration. I told him funny stories about New York, and he reveled in the Packers' recent victory.

I watched him in his bathrobe, spatula in hand, shuffling about in his slippers, listening to the brilliance of his mind being distorted by aphasic speech. Somewhere deep inside, I became darkly aware of his mortality. Remember this, I thought. Remember everything. I tried to imprint that morning on my mind, every nuance of his speech, the way his fingernails looked, the way his robe belt rode up over his belly, the left-leaning gait he's had ever since he fell down the stairs last year. The intelligence in his eyes, the lines of mild frustration and irritation in his forehead and downturned mouth. I see him struggling with small things. At 64 years of age, he is starting to show some wear. I took it all in, swallowing hard, determined not to let him see my fear.

Mom and Othermom didn't appear until around noon. The rest of the day was a flurry of breakfasting, dishes, cleaning up the living room, munching cookies, and fighting over the bathroom. Finally, at about 2:30pm, lunch was re-heated:

open face turkey sandwiches
multi-grain bread for me
Italian bread for everyone else
yam bake
Mom's gravy - which we all ladled on with gusto

We finished everything off, except the turkey. Mom made soup with it later that week. I'm sorry I missed that.

Sometime during that day, Mom and I talked about marriage. A subtle shift has occurred in her. She used to talk to me as though she were the All-Knowing Mother, she was always right, and my job was to listen and agree. However, things have been different over the last year or so. Granted, she still treats me that way from time to time - especially when she is scared for me based on some decision she wishes I hadn't made - but recently she has begun to sound... accepting. Accepting of my independence and adulthood. Accepting of her subjectivity, fallibility, and typical mother's bias. That day, while we talked, time seemed to stand still as I grasped the change in our communication flow. She is worried about me. She doesn't want me to make another bad marriage choice, and she doesn't know enough about my boyfriend to feel assured that he's right for me. She is especially concerned that his family and I will never get along, due to our being on the different ends of the socio-political spectrum. She isn't comfortable with the idea of me submitting or compromising any part of myself. She doesn't want me to have to endure the same years of gritted teeth and repressed rage that she went through, being married to the only liberal man in a family of ultra-far right conservatives.

She admitted to me that, as my mother, she still feels as though everything that happens to me happens to her as well. She still feels as though my behavior and the choices I make reflect on the quality of her parenting. She admits that this is ridiculous, and that she shouldn't feel that way, but she can't help it. I just hugged her and thanked her for loving me so much. I have been out of the nest so long that I find this very sweet. I tried to reassure her that no matter how many mistakes I made, I would survive them, and live a richer, fuller life for them, filled with the lessons learned along the way. I also promised I'd try to make less mistakes, to live less recklessly. I am growing older, and frankly, I'm tired. She laughed. We hugged.

There have only been one or two times when my mother was this nakedly honest with me. It is at those times when I can feel the common blood flowing through our veins, see her father in her face and hands, hear her mother in our speech. It is at these times that I am acutely aware of my ability to create the next generation, to continue this line of women with only daughters. It is almost as though I feel my womb warming, preparing for this most sacred of tasks. As we talked and hugged that day, our very hearts seemed to beat in time with each other, and I felt my grandmothers' hearts beating inside us both as well.

I have always longed for a daughter. But if I have a son, I hope he experiences these magical things as well.

It as an inefficient, arduous task getting my stuff together to leave. Nobody wanted me to leave. My parents seem to blossom when I am around, and I feel more nurtured there than anywhere. But... the plane left at 4:47pm. Mom will have to ship some of my Christmas presents to me, as well as some clothes left in the laundry. But I made the plane.

As the little jet flew from Springfield to St. Louis, I did not cry, as I have many times in the past when leaving my childhood home after a too-short visit. This time, I simply read my book. From St. Louis to LaGuardia I napped a bit, read more, and let my thoughts turn to the future.