Monday, April 27, 2009


The lawyer I slept with was quoted in TIME magazine this week, a big 'ol pull quote that I probably wouldn't have noticed otherwise but it was gigantic and in one of those sound-byte pages made for people with short attention spans. It made me laugh out loud when I read it today. This is the second time in two weeks that I've read quotes of past lovers in the mass media.

It made me feel like a loser.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I was really excited all week for my craigslist date today with a guy who responded to a post I put up Monday night. I told him that he sounded just like me, but with balls--both literally and metaphysically. He'd moved here from San Francisco to attend grad school, but disliking it, had dropped out. He'd recently given up The Drugs and The Booze and found himself enjoying a "less exciting" life, but felt more happy, productive, and optimistic, and was trying to make it as an artist. He sent me a photo and I thought he was cute, and we made plans to meet up today to enjoy the warm weather and to drop in at my friend's art show in Brooklyn. It was all really easy, and I had a really good feeling about it.

He was running late, but called to tell me so. We met up and chatted for a little bit; it was easy conversation, and I felt comfortable. He was covered with tattoos, which surprised me. I think we talked for about a half hour before walking to the show, which was more like an expose for these very out-of-place luxury lofts in Prospect Heights. I could tell he wasn't into it, but it's not like we were going to stay there forever. He wasn't making an attempt to even feign interest; I think he was too cool for that. Okay. I just wanted to say hello, and then we could go wherever.

The show was at a set of four buildings within a few blocks of each other, and we walked to the second building, met my friends at the top floor, and he said he was going to get a drink on the bottom floor, and I went out to the balcony to chat with my buddies for a bit. I'd had enough of the place already too, so I decided to make an exit as well, and texted him to meet me outside. I went out to have a cigarette and waited, and then called, but he didn't pick up. Hm. This made me uncomfortable. I waited another fifteen or twenty minutes just to make sure I wasn't being paranoid and crazy, to give him the benefit of the doubt, because I didn't think he was an asshole. Would he really just...leave?

I tapped out a stupid message, something like, "Wow, nice to meet you too," but that was just gutless. It was neither here nor there. I wanted to say, "You're really not as cute as your photo either," or "Jesus, at least say you've got diarrhea or something." But I also didn't want to send four text messages. I could only send one.

It was hot and I was thirsty. So I went and got myself a juice, and then sat down to drink it, wondering how I could possibly come out of this situation feeling okay--because really, I was not feeling okay. I have never been walked out on before. What a shitty fucking thing to do to someone for no good reason at all. I was really, fucking angry, and I wanted to be really, fucking mean. But at the same time, I really wanted to be wrong.

So I called him and, going straight to voicemail, was forced to leave a message that went something like this. "So...unless I'm looks like you just...took off...which is really, really, really not cool."

I felt kind of good about this message, because it said all that I wanted it to say: not cool, man. I do not approve. But part of me really wanted to be mean, because my feelings were hurt. I don't know why I couldn't be mean. I really wanted to be. I think the situation warranted it. What he did was mean. I didn't deserve to be treated that way, and I cannot comprehend what a person can be thinking when they do something like that. The situation was so innocuous. It wasn't even five in the afternoon, and we were both sober.

Recently I was talking to My Friend about online dating and how one can just be a complete asshole, because you have no connection to this person. By contrast, if you were set up with your co-worker's sister, or a friend of a friend, or something, you would have to maintain some level of etiquette because of group norms and accountability. I love My Friend and all, but he lacks a certain kind of humanity that some men lack. I would never treat a complete stranger badly, even if I know I'll never see them again. It has nothing to do with it coming back to haunt me, it's because it's a fucking human being, and treating each other badly puts poison into the collective consciousness. Why do we need to do that? How gutless and gross and pointless. To his point, though, particularly in the circles we run in these days, what's the guarantee that you'll never see this person again? That person you treat like shit may end up being your landlord, your creditor, your boss one day. How would that be, then?

I really hope that one day I run into him. One day I'll cover an art opening where he'll be this big success (who knows?) and I'll be there interviewing people or something and I hope our interaction will go something like this:

SB Hi! I hear Untitled #7 just sold for $3 million! That's amazing!
craigslist date who ditched me Thanks.
SB Your work has come a long way. Tell me, though, with your newfound fame and fortune, are you still a spineless asshole?
SB You know, do you still just wince out of situations you find uncomfortable?
CLDWDM What...? What the fuck are you talking about?
SB I don't know, let's say you went on a date with a girl and wasn't into it, how would you handle it? Would you make a polite exit like a man, or, like a spineless asshole, just take off, leaving her to wonder what the hell happened for about 30 minutes?
CLDWDM Ah, shit...
SB Still single?
CLDWDM Yeah...
SB Well, let me give you another pointer. Try to keep the mentions of the ex-girlfriend(s) to fewer than fifteen, if you can, at least during the first hour of the date. But congratulations on all of your success otherwise.
CLDWDM ...Seriously? I thought you looked familiar.
SB Yeah, small world. Look for the interview in ArtForum, buddy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

strange peace and happiness

I've been meaning to write for a while. I started a post that was about my 5-month sobriety anniversary. And then I started a post about this weird Joe-related story that I was obsessing over for about 8 hours. And then I wrote about living in Neighbor's apartment in her absence, even sleeping in her bed one night--escaping the claustrophobic mess of my own place, but also trying to absorb her calm, uplifting aura just by being here, surrounded by her. I don't know how I'm going to live in New York without her.

Part of the reason why I felt crowded this weekend was because I had a couchsurfer for the past four nights. I don't usually like people to stay more than 2 nights but initially I was feeling generous. When I woke up Wednesday morning I suddenly HAD TO HAVE SEX like never before, it being the critical three-weeks-without-sex combined with ovulation, and it was crazy. That was the day the couchsurfer contacted me and I thought, hey: maybe this will be just perfect. He was a very, very sweet guy and a photographer to boot, and I have had some pleasant surprises with couchsurfers before. But PMS swung the other way and honestly, two hours after he arrived, he could have been Prince Sebastien of Switzerland painted in white chocolate and rolled in macadamia nuts and I would have been pissy. Poor guy, there was nothing he could do to win me over. I mean, I was nice to him and everything and even let him stay an extra night because he was in a pinch, but FUCK I hate these goddamn mood swings. Actually, let's be honest here. I wasn't attracted to him, and if I had been, the story would probably have been different. Life is just kinder to the lovely.

I guess I sent out only the link to the last page of the hipster grifter story that had Joe in it, whoops. There's the real link. But my mind was laid to rest knowing he didn't fuck her, and I believe him. That would really make me want to throw up. I know, I know, it's stupid because in these exciting times you should just assume that everyone you're with has been with someone like that. Essentially we're all fucking each other in the six-degrees-of-separation sense. Sex degrees of separation? Is that a term? It should be.

I shot tons of photos, a handful of which I actually like, and experienced moments of extreme social anxiety despite being surrounded by people I've known and loved for quite some time. Saturday night I was thrown back into San Francisco--some kids I've known for years played a show at The Delancey--and I was hesitant to say hello to all of them. Ex was their photographer for a while--maybe still is, I don't know, and I guess I wondered if they still remembered me, since it's been a while. I also just have this complex where I never feel like I belong anywhere, and that people won't remember me. But they all did, and that felt good. I'm so excited to go back to San Francisco next-next week. It's been so long. I'm so excited for $chool to be over and for the time to begin where I'm doing what I want to be doing, all the time. I'm so excited for another gorgeous weekend, to shoot more photos, to go out with the sweet boy I met on craigslist who sounds exactly like me, but with balls. I'm excited for all these things.

I'm not afraid anymore, just socially awkward and sometimes sleepy. I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Seeking Sebastien

I've regressed into cruising online dating sites the past few nights. I blame it on spending the weekend surrounded by intensely cute couples, and talking to Joe this week for the first time since he left New York. I miss him, and I'm just now understanding just how important he was to me this past year. I don't think I could have survived the winter without him, and I don't think there is anyone else on the planet who could have played the role that he played for me.

But I'm so primed for my next great affair, and as I peruse a thousand profiles (including coming across My Friend online, which was funny) I realize it's just not going to happen this way, because I'm just clicking through them halfheartedly, because none of them are Sebastien. None of these preconceived setups can measure up to the cliched backpacker romance I had on my Spring Break Sobriety Tour 2009. If you're up for a long, self-indulgent story, let's hop to it.

Ever since my romantic intrigue with The Hitchhiker, I have had a fondness for intense, short-term love affairs. Psychoanalyze me if you want to, but I don't care. They are perfect because they can never be flawed; they are always over before their time, and you are always left wanting more: perfect masturbatory material.


It's a little after sunrise and I'm attempting, in my typical, disheveled, insomniatic fashion, to board the wrong bus.

"Cor-di-llera" the bus operator reads off my ticket. He then points at the bus I am attempting to board. "Col-que."

I don't take this too seriously because I know all the buses, regardless of the operator, are going to the same place: Bolivia. Even though I've only been in Chile for a few days, and am ill-prepared to brave the cold heights of Bolivia, I am determined to get there. Last night I stayed up late at the hostel, watching a charming young Swede kill a bottle of cheap rum and break the $700 lens on his SLR after showing me some beautiful pictures from his expedition into Bolivia. I’d spent the day running around town trying to rent a motorcycle to drive to the nearest town, about an hour away, just to pay the $130 fuck-you-because-you’re-an-American-reciprocity-fee needed to cross the border with no luck, but was going to find a way into Bolivia somehow. I wanted to go to Uyuni as well, to shoot the train graveyard.

I have not slept much, and I blame my haplessness on this as I wander down the road to find the Cordillera agency, where there is no bus whatsoever, just the now-familiar sight of pairs of travelers rummaging through each others' backpacks and feeding each other. I’m past the stage where couples make me feel lonely, but have now moved onto the hunger stage where I just long for their increased variety of food. I've spent the first few days in San Pedro de Atacama scraping by on the bodega diet of pitas stuffed with greasy wrapped cheese and salami, an assortment of chocolate cookies, and Nescafe.

At the same time that I am excited to get out of this tiny town for a few days, I am kind of dreading this excursion because I will be with a tour group. I hate tour groups so much that I almost killed myself in the desert yesterday, in an attempt to do something I hate even more--bicycling--just to get away from the tour groups. I kind of hate people lately. I only want food, the desert, cigarettes, and water. But I can't do Bolivia on my own, and so I've signed myself up to be bound to a small group of strangers, most likely these charming backpackers feeding each other around me. I just might kill everyone. Particularly alarming is the fact that I have only two cigarettes on my person, and I don't know when I'll be able to purchase cigarettes in the next four days. I am also the only person here without a sleeping bag, but I am more concerned about the cigarette supply, because while cold weather will only kill me, lack of nicotine will endanger everyone in the group. This was not well planned. This entire trip was not planned at all, actually, but that’s what makes it exciting. And the group, though I hate them without even knowing them, will not let me die.

When the bus boards, the one lone traveler sits down next to me. We are the only non-couple on the bus. I wondered if he will make my life better or worse for the next few days. Men have a way of forcing these kinds of issues. I can’t tell if he is cute. All boys kind of look the same here: bearded, sunburned, and hungry. I wait until he finishes his juice box before asking him, "Como te llamas?"

His name is Sebastien. Did you know that's quite possibly my favorite name in the whole world? No, I did not say that out loud! God, I'm not some 14-year-old girl. But seriously, I had the biggest crush on Adrien Grenier before Entourage when he was in The Adventures of Sebastian Cole. We poke at some awkward Spanish, switch to English for a few minutes, but that just feels disgusting so we move on to French while we wait in line at the Chilean border. The Swiss are smooth like that. The last time I spoke French was in Morocco, the summer I moved to New York. I feel like an idiot, but it’s okay. My Spanish is even worse, but at this point, I just don’t want to speak English, then I have an excuse for sounding like an idiot.

I honestly don't think that anything of the sort is in store for me and this guy, even though I think that about most people I meet. I am in hyper defense mode from traveling alone, and I imagine I am getting solo-vibes from him as well. Before running into the Swede last night, I was stood up by a local guy for vague dinner plans, and so I am a little wary of people at this point. Particularly when it comes to setting up for intense time together in cramped quarters under uncomfortable conditions, I think it’s best to keep things very aloof, formal even, like rooming with strangers instead of friends. We should maintain boundaries and such.

When we cross into Bolivia, I spy a burned-out bus and confess to him that I have soft spot for rusty photography, which is why I’m looking forward to Uyuni. I’m not exactly in conversation mode, but I think I say it because I know how to say it. To my surprise, he says he wants to shoot the bus as well, and he makes a plan for us to grab a quick bite at the chow line before sneaking off to shoot the bus and making our way through the pandemonium at Bolivian immigration. It's nice when someone makes it clear where you stand with them, that you're in this together. I'm so used to people being vague: you can do this, if you want to...I'm going to do this. You know. With Sebastien, from this moment on, we are in it together.

This, however, is threatened when the Cordillera agency attempts to split the bus into groups of five for the next few days. You know that panicky feeling you get when, say, you get to a movie with a group of people, or to a long dinner table at Thanksgiving, and you realize that whatever seating position happens in the next four seconds will determine the outcome for the next four hours? That's what is happening at the Bolivian border, only it is happening in Spanish, with an angry man holding my backpack hostage, and trying to stuff me into one beat-up Land Cruiser. He is telling Sebastien to go to another. I don’t look at Sebastien, because it is pointless. I look at the man holding my backpack and prepare to accept my destiny.

"Es mi amiga," Sebastian tells the man, pointing to me. The man looks furious. At the agency, we'd been two solo travelers. "Juntos," he insists. He looks at me and smiles hopefully. My little heart melts. The man hands Sebastien my backpack and directs us to the same car.

After being packed into the Cruiser with a Brazilian-Spanish couple and a Chilean-German couple, we make many pit stops at some amazing locations in Bolivia. We sit in the back together, struggling to keep up with the rapid Spanish going on in the front of the car. Each time we make a stop, Sebastien holds the door for me, waits on me, and we scout the location together, pointing things out, in perfect step with one another. I am shooting wide-angle landscapes; he is shooting mostly telephoto wildlife photography. It is a great pairing. Later in the day, after they deposit us at a remote outpost with no heat for the evening, Sebastien asks if I want to go for a walk. Most of the group, myself included, is suffering from some degree of altitude sickness, but of course I say yes.

The fondest moments of my life always involve desert photography with a cute boy. I can't help but remember the amazing trip I took with The Ex to Baja. It was a beautiful adventure that involved camping, puking tequila in the desert, and fjording a stream in a borrowed Mercedes, and we never spoke about the infidelities that had made the trip feel like such a necessity. This trip is cleaner, with no tinge of anything like that. We clamber over rocks exploring the desert, taking turns deciding which way to go in the wide open. He helps me scale walls and navigate the rocky canyon we discover, and I point out good lighting angles, offer him water. I think, “This is what a partnership feels like.”

As the sun sets, we return to the chilly camp and meet some of the other people from the other three cars, who turn out to be mostly French speakers. Sebastien pours me tea and when dinner arrives, serves me. I am exhausted. I try to hold my own with the French speakers, but am content to just try and understand.

That night the six of us sleep in an unheated, cement room, but I don't sleep at all for the second night in a row. I know I’m not going to freeze to death, but I feel like I’m going to come close. I think about three things in a continuous loop for seven hours: (1) my stubbornness about not taking drugs, not even the sleeping pills I have in my backpack, partially because then I’d have to take my hands out from under my layers of clothes, (2) Sebastien, sleeping not two meters away from me, (3) life amazing life.

I wait until dawn and wander out into the desert to shoot the sunrise. We are truly in the middle of nowhere. Off in the distance, I see a figure emerge from the hillside and I see that he has come out to check on me. Inexplicably, I hide. Sometime during the night, I have already started to feel separation anxiety. I don't like it when people leave. Yet, you say, you like short-term love affairs? How does that make any sense? Shut the fuck up.

In late afternoon, we come to another remote location, a building constructed completely out of salt in the middle of what appears to be an exploded minefield. Sebastien and I get a room to ourselves. Everyone is in good spirits that night because there is one working shower in the salt hotel, and it is a good ten degrees warmer and 1,000 meters lower. There is even wine at dinner, which makes me extremely uncomfortable, but it doesn't matter, because I was able to buy cigarettes during the day. We are fifteen people in the middle of nowhere I am the happiest I think I ever been in my entire life. I can only communicate good things, so it's like I can only think good things. I have a sneaking suspicion I'm going to have sex in a building made completely out of salt, completely sober, with a Swiss boy named Sebastien, in the middle of fucking Bolivia.

All of this is very charming and swell, but what really gets to me is when I am sitting next to Sebastien at dinner and I overhear him telling a French woman the story of how we'd met crossing the border and how he'd insisted we stay together. She thought we were a couple. She asks him what language we speak in, and he says, without hesitation, first in Spanish, then in English, then in French, and now, in all three: "Mira, une llama! It's cool, n'est-ce pas?"

I almost die. Or, rather, I immediately set to killing myself in the typical manner, by excusing myself to go outside to smoke a cigarette.

Admittedly, it doesn't take much for me to fall in love. I fall in love at least once a week. But at the same time that I use the word, I use it haphazardly, fleetingly, convinced that love is something that can't really be had, just glimpsed. I'm like that. I suffer from an affliction where I believe that anything truly worth having can't really be had, and so I think that the best kind of love is ephemeral. But at moments like those where things seem so fucking precious, where you can't help but think to yourself, "I want to hear that story told on my fucking wedding day," my first reponse is to get up, go outside, and yep, that's right, smoke a goddamn cigarette. I don't know why that's my response. It's like I can't believe it's happening, or I don't think I should be there, or my personal being can't handle that kind of perfect moment, so I have to fucking leave. I wish I was the kind of person that could like squeeze your hand under the table and gaze at you sweetly back, but instead my response is to try and light a stick of cancerous toxins on fire and inhale the poisons as rapidly as possible in seclusion in the freezing cold. My body can handle pain all right, but it repels perfect moments with absolute disgust.

Luckily, the night wears on, and my sober ass is forced to bask in the glow of this ridiculously wonderful evening in the middle of nowhere, largely because there is nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. I forgot about my clunky French and miserable Spanish with this charming Swiss boy and this international crew of travelers, and just remembered that like them, I had wanted to be there so badly that I had forgone my comforts, almost frozen to death the night before, gnawed my way through some pitiful means, battled altitude sickness, incomprehension, and indigestion, and am still ecstatic as all hell to be there, and savoring the last hour of the power generator like it is our last night on earth. Indeed, although we feel like we are in the lap of luxury compared with where we stayed last night, it also feels like a movie set for some apocalyptic fantasy. It is, in a way. The next day we will all go our separate ways—some, like Sebastien, will venture further east into Bolivia, many are going into Argentina, and I am going back to Chile. But during these few evenings we’ve shared in the heights of the Bolivian desert, I really feel like I’ve come to understand and appreciate myself in the context of the world—or, at least, in the context of these people. “Sometimes,” one of the men says, “we have to go so far away to meet our true neighbors, those who are really like us…at home, everyone thought we were crazy to leave for so long. But out here, to meet so many people traveling…so many people who will take care of each other without question...who do the same as feels right.”

Part of me wants to have a long, meaningful conversation as I snuggle up with him that night, but it is going to be sad, so I just tell him I will miss him and I kiss him. I've done this so many times now I know how to do it. After we have sex, he holds me tight and simply says, "Vas dormir." Go to sleep. And you know what, I finally do.

The next day, we part after shooting the train graveyard in Uyuni. I am so distraught about leaving him that I also leave behind my most critical piece of clothing after my favorite pair of jeans: my crucial hoodie that I've had for almost a decade. Talk about major losses.

And I'm not kidding at all when I say that as we leave town, the next song I hear is Roxette's "It must have been love," but en espanol.


I saw Ex when I returned to New York, and I told him that I’d met the guy I want to spend the rest of my life with. Let me clarify: maybe it’s not literally Sebastien, the same exact Sebastien I met two weeks ago on a bus in San Pedro de Atacama, but the guy I spend the rest of my life with will be Sebastien, because I will look for him in whomever I seek to date. When Ex asked me to describe him, I couldn’t do it. I missed a lot of nuances of his personality due to him being Swiss and all. All I knew about him was that I trusted him from the moment we crossed the border into Bolivia, that he took care of me, and that when I was with him, I felt like we could do anything together, like we were unstoppable.

When Ex and I were together, I also felt like we could do anything together. It’s such a high, this feeling. But he was never good at taking care of me. I never knew I wanted someone to take care of me, that this was a priority. I try to take care of myself. But it’s nice to have someone else looking out for you as well, without you asking them to. Because I look out for other people without them asking me to, so I guess I want them to do the same for me. And the trust got eroded between me and Ex as well, which is an entirely different story. He didn’t really value me after a while. I don’t think I ever heard him tell a cute story about us.

A character from college, Fentry, once said, “the key to a successful relationship is to marry a foreigner.” He went on to elaborate that cross-cultural relationships breed tolerance, which is largely lost in today’s customizable society, where we demand everything to be just so, down to matching lifestyles, compatible music tastes and so on. When you marry a foreigner, you chalk up all the differences to irreconcilable cultures, and are more forgiving from the get-go, he explained. You can then focus on what’s really important, like respect, family, taking care of one another.

But these things, I realized tonight, are hard to look for when perusing ads on OkCupid and craigslist.

I know I'm a dreamer. I know that vacation affairs are different than real-life relationships, but I want to hold onto this one. I don't know how, and that's why I've held off on writing about it and have just been thinking about it a lot, and what it means to want to hold onto something without holding onto it at all. I want my dream-life and my real-life to be one and the same. I think things will be less schizophrenic that way.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

One Friday every month, I have a nexus of mental wellness appointments, where I see my therapist, my psychiatrist, an hour in-between where I treat myself to a Korean lunch, followed by bikram yoga. It's like take care of Seriously day. Korean lunch is awesome, because they give you like an assortment of six different pickled delicious treats, and I sit there and pick at them with my chopsticks and think about how fucken sober I am and then when you think the meal is over, they give you this bowl of cold, cinnamon-flavored liquid that goes down like "ah."

I'm gradumucating in about six weeks and I now spend at least two hours every day thinking about what I'm going to do be doing following this massive, life-changing event. It fills me with unspeakable anxiety. For the past two years, I have been on a Mom-and-Pop-endowed vacation, with my rent and living habits generously supported, no questions asked, because they believe in higher education, and are largely unaware that this degree is preparing me to actually make less money than I was making before as a graphic designer.


Jobseeking is the most demoralizing activity, even more so than smoking crack, cleaning up cum in peepshow booths, online dating, and going through detoxification. It asks you to trade your life and time for the illusion of security and self-preservation at one low, devalued price. While you're doing it, you always feel this strange mix of nausea and excitement, kind of like a fourteen-year-old girl giving her first blowjob. It's very dirty. You're thinking, "This feels inherently disgusting, but everyone does it...and maybe if I do it right, someone will give me a bonus." And this is just the first step into one of many of choking down something that just doesn't seem right, thinking that this is the way the world works, and you better goddamn get used to it and do it better than everyone else.

But today I am ready to say fuck it! I had a very supportive conversation with Keetens last night. I don't much like to talk about how terrified I am about The Future, mainly because I know what I have to do, I just don't like the idea of hard work and poverty. It sucks. I've been poor before, and it sucks. But I've also worked a job that I've hated before, and I think it largely contributed to the rapid escalation of my alcohol consumption. What good, really, is a decently-paying job, if you just use the extra funding to numb the gag reflex? I'm older now. And maybe I don't need all that extra money anyway. I don't want to have to numb the gag reflex. I'm sick of choking down life. I only want to add things to my life that I like. If that's too much to ask, well, then, I'm asking it anyway. I just don't want to add more meaningless shit to the world. If I can start with just me, with only adding things that mean something to me, then that's where I'm going to start.