Thursday, December 16, 2010

xxxmas



Did you know that the one movie that ALWAYS makes me cry is Elf with Will Ferrell? It's true. I have this incredibly soft spot for Christmas, and it sort of embarrasses me but I am trying to embrace it.

Every year, when December rolls around, I sort of think to myself, "I'm not going to do Christmas this year. Just not going to." And then, inevitably, at the very last minute I decide to bake a thousand cookies, send out cards, and knit scarves. It is this weird defect that I have. Like I want to resist the pull of Christmas, but I just can't.

Last weekend when Marido and I were driving on Highway 1, I saw a sign for Xmas Trees and for some reason, it looked pornographic and I wondered why we replace "Christ" for "X." If Christ=X, then shouldn't X-rated be Jesus-like? And shouldn't XXX be like TRIPLE CHRIST?

These are the things I think about at night.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

untethered

Do you remember tetherball?



Even for a playground sport, tetherball is completely inane. It is a ball. Attached to a pole. By a string. Because of its simplicity, too, I think it lends itself well to so many worldly metaphors. Life is like tetherball: the taller guy always wins, the endless pursuit of balls and poles, a game that just keeps going over and over and over. I don't know.

When we were thirteen, my friend Jennifer and I came up with 100 metaphors for Romeo and Juliet's doomed love affair. I don't remember why, exactly--maybe just to flex our infinite creative sides, or perhaps to prove that Shakespeare wasn't really all that complex and deep.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that when life gets really overwhelming and/or confusing, it is always nice to try and reduce the clutter down to a simple metaphor or even a lovely cliché. It just seems so much more manageable. I could really use something like that right now. Maybe it is as simple as: the end of the year is always a time for reflection.

It's December!

Monday, November 29, 2010

boiled amphibians



I'm happy that November is over, aren't you? It wasn't the easiest of months for me. But now that it's December again, I can celebrate little anniversaries. Like it's been a year since I left for Argentina. It's (almost) been six months since I met Marido. And it's been two months since I quit smoking--all reasons to celebrate.

Everyone I know seems to be struggling with their relationships. Relationships are always complex and interesting, but lately they seem to be taking more from us than giving, which I suppose is only normal during the jolliest time of year. Things with me and Marido have been no exception. I really thought we were over, but we aren't.

I think this conversation sums it all up:

ME: I think we have communication problems. It's obvious to me that you've been unhappy for more a little while, but you insist nothing is wrong. Then all of a sudden one day you say you don't want to spend the holidays with me, can't live with me, and don't see a future for us. Of course I freaked out and thought you were breaking up with me. It was the most you'd said in a month. Why didn't you say anything before?

(long, thoughtful pause)

MARIDO: Well, it is like boiling a frog.

(Figuring this is some sort of cultural thing, I wait for him to continue. But instead there is an even longer pause during which I stare at him wondering if he is making an ill-timed joke about our communication problems, or if he is just insane.)

ME: Um, boiling a frog? I don't understand. You're going to have to explain that to me.

MARIDO: (genuinely surprised) Really?

I've never heard of this allusion, but it apparently is so widespread that Little Brother understood it immediately (of course) and it has its own Wikipedia entry. If you're too lazy to click the link, the "boiling a frog" reference is an allusion to the myth that if you place a frog in a pot of temperate water and then slowly bring it to a boil, it will not react to the gradual rise in temperature and boil to death; whereas if you place a frog in boiling water, it will jump out and save itself. Whether or not it's true, this idea is a reference to people's abilities to tolerate extreme circumstances when subjected to them gradually.

Classic hilarity!

Anyhow, it's obvious we need to communicate a little better. Last week was pretty fucking dicey, and I packed up all of my stuff and came home, unsure of whether or not I would return. It is a hard thing to have my confidence in a relationship shaken, when I see that as mainly what keeps me attached to someone--my belief that they will love me and protect me and be a new source of awesomeness, not a source of infinite strife, and vice-versa. I want to make Marido happier by amazing him with love and people and new possibilities for adventure. I don't want to make him feel like a boiled frog!

When I left San Francisco, I was unsure of if we were boiling each other or making each others' lives better. Our lives have changed a lot with the addition of each other. We are both intense people and diametrically opposed in a lot of ways. My first step after leaving San Francisco was to consider whether I wanted to ask him to come to Chicago for Thanksgiving (as planned), because it meant a lot to me, or if he should hang back in San Francisco for a breather (as we both knew would be beneficial in other ways). While discussing this with my mother, he texted to tell me he would still come, if I wanted him to. It meant the world to me that he came.

I love Thanksgiving. This year, I am especially thankful for:

1) Delicious food (no boiled frogs!), particularly pie, ice cream, and turkey;
2) the miracle of aviation;
3) my friends, who amaze me with their patience, wisdom, and incredibly diverse range of relevant advice;
4) my family, who sometimes bring out the worst in me but love me anyway;
5) love in general, its resilience, its optimism, how it makes everything and everyone better;
6) Marido, for believing in us, for continuing to make memories with me, for giving me keys to come back to San Francisco, for destroying a dictionary to send me a love letter, for his pasta carbonara, and for his little-boy smile which makes me believe that we will grow old together;
7) the ability to step back and see where improvements can be made in one's life;
8) the ability to make those improvements with the help of all of the above.

I'm excited for my New Year's resolutions this year. Aren't you?

Monday, November 15, 2010

noted



Lessons learned these past two weeks:

Filed under Cooking:
Fried garlic is the perfect topping to many savory food items. Purple cabbage and apples keep for a long time. If you cover a rack of ribs in barbecue sauce and then throw it in the oven at 250 for 3 hours, the result is DELICOUSNESS. Artichokes are sort of a bitch to prepare, and their deliciousness is mostly derived from butter and garlic, negating most of their healthy properties as a vegetable.

Filed under California:
Even property 150 miles away from San Francisco without water or gas hookups is expensive. The further north you go, the more delicious the beer. Biking north into Sausalito is mostly downhill. You can purchase cocktails on the ferry. The town of Sea Ranch, though nestled on a beautiful stretch of the Pacific and purportedly full of hippies, appears to be uniformly oppressive, at least from an architectural standpoint.

Filed under Relationships:
Passion and dedication are interdependent. It is always better to be appreciated than tolerated--but if you can be happy alongside someone else, that is just as good; if you can't, it's worse than not being tolerated at all. Everything important about relationships can be traced back to the movie Say Anything. Everything else is petty fluff.

Filed under Writing:
Graham Greene is surprisingly funny. Alberto Moravia will consume most of my life for the next few months. Abebooks is a great source to get used books for cheap. Computer games and great writing do not mix.

Filed under Miscellany:
Peanut butter and birdseed alone will not self-adhere and dry into a molded form.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

treading water with guns

This photo is from a story about training police officers in Missouri to wrestle with criminals in the water.



Last week was a really hard week. My PMS was compounded by a severe lack of nicotine, and I felt like a failed human being and especially a failed friend, which is usually the most solid thing I have going for me. But yesterday that all went away, and left me feeling so liberated that I confronted my old novel. I "finished" the novel before leaving Argentina, but am not satisfied with it. It has been giving me heartache like an ex-lover who lives across the street and plays terrible music through his open windows all day long. I try to ignore it and chalk it up to failure/learning experience, but it is impossible not to sing along with the sappy lyrics.

Well, I let the novel sit for four weeks and then I started revisions. Only they are not revisions; it is a big 'ol rewrite, which sounds completely crazy and daunting but it is exciting more than anything else. I thought I would just give up on it because I lost faith in it, but now I think I can save it. Maybe I am just wasting my time betting on a dead horse, but it is *my* dead horse and you can't really reason with sentimentality.

It is one thing to tread water...and another thing to tread water WITH GUNS.

Monday, October 25, 2010

engendering anxiety

The only thing that would make me love this image by Laurence Winram more would be if some (or all) of the figures were women.

dream world by laurence winramWhat makes it so superb to me is how much I identify with the man in white. I think this image illustrates what it feels like for me to be (slowly) chasing a dream. It is also what it feels like to be falling in love which, for a lot of people, is part of the overall dream.

At the moment, I am feeling probably the most secure I have ever felt in my entire life. This isn't saying much since I have lived most of my life harboring a feeling of impermanence and/or imminent doom. But I am with a man I love and trust, and I spend my days sitting in his/our apartment, reading and writing and thinking. It is just like what I was doing in Buenos Aires, only I am not crushingly alone and isolated by my linguistic incompetence.

It is blissful and liberating, and my frontal lobe feels like this man in white, shining bright and smiling. If I keep my face forward, I stroll through this Irish valley of green grasses, lit by the soft light of the northern hemisphere in the early spring, and all I see are possibilities.

But optimism doesn't come naturally to me. Every third moment of the day, I cast a backward glance and see these tuxedoed specters of every imaginable kind of failure. They're dumb and cowardly and only rarely do they come close enough to me to scratch me, but they are always there, looking all haughty and menacing.

Friday, October 8, 2010

welcome home

When I first moved to San Francisco, I was 20 years old. This was almost ten years ago. I was, sadly, sad. I felt defeated and defective and I was realizing that a lot of things I thought I understood--like friendship, love, and personal ambition--were things that I couldn't even describe. I had barely any sense of well-being left in me, just a residual sense of self-preservation. For the first two years here, I pretty much just smoked pot and stared at the ocean and wondered if I would ever not be sad.

When I left San Francisco three years ago for New York, I kind of thought I would come back--but in this vague, hopeful way that existed mostly so I wouldn't feel so bad about leaving the place where I had learned to be happy. I knew that I would visit, but I didn't believe that I would ever live in San Francisco ever again.

Well, I'm back. I packed two bags full of clothes, got on an airplane, and now I am spending my hours writing in front of the same laptop with a different view. I have been back so many times that it will take some time before I feel like I am really back, and until then I am wandering about with the familiar sensation that I am neither here nor there.

I am working on my second book, which is a completely self-involved account of these last two years of my life. For the first time, I feel like I have something to share with people that would be best put in book form. It is a strange thought to feel like you have something deeply personal that is possibly entertaining enough to be worthy of sharing with the general public. But it is not pure entertainment. This book is really all about why it feels different to be in San Francisco this time around. It is about the things that have happened over the past few years, and how those things have changed me so much that I can come back to the same city with the same people and the same weather and feel as though I am in a completely different place altogether.

I wonder how long I will be here. The first time I came to San Francisco, I thought it would be for two or three years, and it ended up being seven.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

tunnel vision

Last weekend I told someone I was moving back to San Francisco. She said, "That's so cool!"

I said, "Yeah!"

And then she said, "Did you get a job there?"

And I said, "....no...." in this dull, heavy voice that made it sound as though I had never thought about what it meant to move to one of the most expensive cities in America without a job. For a moment I felt like a jackalope, but it didn't last very long, because whoever heard of a lovesick jackalope?


I identify with the jackalope. It is mythical but it sort of exists just because we think of it. It seems fierce with those outrageous antlers and its serious look, but then you realize it is just a bunny. A bunny! His neck probably hurts from holding up those antlers. Picture it trying to gore something! Ridiculous. It would probably feel like a tickle-massage And then you think, "Why am I wondering about the goring capabilities of a creature that doesn't even exist?

Anyhow, I often feel like a creature that people find mythically interesting until they discover I am just a bunny with fake antlers. Sometimes people seem impressed with what they perceive as bravery in me, but then they realize that my bravery is actually composed of delusions (50%), ignorance (30%), and stubborn hope (5%) than actual courage (15%).

Depending on what the situation is, the delusions can turn out to be very true (e.g., moving to a Spanish-speaking country will be good for the linguistic center of my brain) or false (e.g., freelancing will force me to be more disciplined).

The ignorance part is actually very closely related to the delusions and stubborn hope, because I am usually ill-prepared for most things, which allows me to think that everything will be great (e.g., a Master's degree will save me from a future of mind-numbing office work!)

This life move feels different from all the other ones, which did require some courage. This move isn't an escape, or career-related, or because I was done with one place or wanted to see another. This move is because I am in love. And after the initial courage required to fall in love, moving to be with someone you love is like eating when you're hungry.

Yet, just because this is predicated on love doesn't mean it is still not based mostly on delusion (50%). I have complete Tunnel-o-Love-o-Vision at the moment, but what will materialize at the end of the tunnel? I'm moving in with this darling man I met four months ago today. How could that possibly be a bad idea?

I think the rest of the thrust here goes straight to stubborn hope (30%), life experience (15%) and instinct (5%). I strangely enough have almost no anxieties about this move; I am just excited to see Marido. Well, with modern technology I have been seeing him almost every day. So I must be excited about something else...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

circling


My tolerance for stress seems to have dropped dramatically. Yesterday I had to send in three cameras for repair: my camera, my back-up camera, and the camera I had borrowed while both of the other ones weren't working. And now all three of them are gone, and it made me feel sort of depressed. The silly thing is, I know you can't really get "depressed" over three cameras being in the shop; that's a gross misuse and exaggeration of the term. So either my life must be really good or I've forgotten what it means like to be depressed. Either way, it's clear that my threshold for pain has sunk incredibly low.

The other day I was the recipient of second-hand stress and it led to a weekend of smoking. I've since gotten back on the wagon, but I think that the little retreat back into nicotine-land hit deeper than I expected. For one thing, I sat down to write this post about writing and how I have been struggling to find an agent and instead I have ended up writing about smoking and all the excuses I have for smoking. Like massive equipment fails and being unable to live up to expectations, your own or those of commercially-minded literary agents.

Like the people I most admire in my life, I secretly believe that I can achieve most anything I put my mind to. The biggest setback for me is that I get quickly disenchanted with many things I want, and decide they are not worth my efforts--like making lots of money, running a marathon, and holding any kind of public office. I was a little worried that this growing disenchantment with an increasing number of things was more of a sign of failure and defensiveness than actual cynicism and maturation of tastes. I thought I would become all down-and-out about the publishing industry, but instead I am just becoming more determined to figure out how to do this. It is both discouraging and encouraging at the same time.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the waiting game

I have only three things on my mind this month: (not) smoking, (being away from) Marido, and (being frustrated with) my book.

Time moves very slowly when you begin to either measure it or stop measuring it. This month I am trying to do both, which is making it feel like time is standing still.

I am playing the waiting game of passing four weeks while being in love with someone who is approximately 1,900 miles away. It is not so bad because I know that I will see him, and that the wait is officially half over. And while we wait, we are both okay with acting like lovesick adolescents, which also helps. It would be another thing entirely if we were trying to be stoic about it.

The other part of the waiting game is the not smoking, which is strange because waiting and smoking go very well together. And time seems to be going very slowly because of that, too. But it is pointless to count how long I have gone without smoking, because that seems to indicate that at a certain time, I can smoke again. And the point of quitting is that you suddenly begin a new era that is infinite, the era where you do not smoke...ever.

And in the meanwhile, I am supposed to be working on my book, but all I can do is sit around and think about the missing morning cigarette, the missing afternoon cigarette, the missing evening cigarette, and missing Querido.

It is entirely annoying, and does not make for very inspired writing...as you can see.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

evolution and devolution

Something has been happening to my body lately, and I am wondering if any other gals out there have ever experienced the same thing.

My periods have always been very regular and pretty fast: 23-day cycles, sometimes less. It sucks bleeding so much and so often, but one thing that is good that I always know pretty quickly that I am not pregnant, and the window for impregnating me is pretty slim. But ever since I met Marido, the cycles have been getting longer and longer. I have only known him for a little over three months, but my last cycle was 32 days, meaning that each cycle added almost 3 days. This has been throwing me off, but I sort of chalked it up to all the moving around I've been doing. Then this morning I was jogging and trying to coax myself into believing that oxygen is a suitable substitute for nicotine and thinking that I can't believe it's already been a week since I stopped. A week, just like that! I have started to think about how stupid it is to quit smoking. Yesterday two of my parents' friends died in unrelated events. They were both health freaks, and younger than my parents. If I could just drop dead tomorrow, why not smoke? Ordinarily I would cave into these bursts of withdrawal-reasoning. But somehow I have made it through this first smokeless week pretty painlessly, mostly by concentrating how much I miss Marido, which is so much worse than missing smoking. And instead of wanting to smoke to cope with missing him, I am just...jogging and drinking water--which has never really worked before, especially with the I-can-easily-justify-smoking thoughts. And while I was jogging, I remembered my friend Z who told me she quit when she got pregnant and it was not a big deal at all.

Suddenly it occured to me that maybe my body wants to be pregnant. Is it because I am in love? I feel like my body is increasing my chances of getting pregnant by prolonging my cycles. And the relative ease with which I stopped smoking this week also feels like another way my body is whispering "Baby me!" This worries me deeply. I am not on birth control and have not been for about five years. I don't want to go back on it, but I also don't want to be pregnant right now, and since I have never been pregnant before, I feel like I am nearing the end of using up all of my odds. Who knows, maybe my uterus is bouncing around seven eggs at a time now. It is probably like a multiball pinball experience in there right now. Is this what my biology is up to? Even though I am making myself healthier, my body's seeming desperation to pass on my DNA is making me feel like I'm nearing the end of my life span.

But I don't want to procreate at the moment, because I have other things to do--the biggest one being getting rid of this goddamn novel. I have been working on my completed novel, by un-completing it. I am not sure if this is a good idea. I feel like I am making it better, but at the same time I kind of just want to seal it up, let it go, and continue sending out pitches. The more I work on it, the less I like it. I really need another good editor to look at it and tell me exactly what it needs. But I keep cutting things and adding things and I am reminded of these cherry-orange-walnut muffins I made last week, and how long it took me to make them with all of these special ingredients like almond paste (which I made) and orange juice (which I squeezed and zested). The muffins were fucking terrible. And then a few days later I made blueberry muffins with about seventeen less ingredients and they were delicious.

But, artistic integrity aside, what I really need to do is sell this goddamn thing. It might not be the best it could be, but I think it is publishable. And I think this because I have read some terrible books in my life. On the other hand, I definitely don't want to add to the pile of awful published jetsam out there.

Who am I kidding? Being published in any form would be so awesome that I can't even think about it. Maybe that is why I keep revising--so I don't have to think about the publishing aspect.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

cigarette cigarette cigarette

How many times do you have to do something before you A) stop trying or B) do it for REAL? I was thinking that today when talking to my friend who is maybe trying to break up with her boyfriend. And also with me and smoking. I sort of quit quitting a few years ago. It was getting to be bad for my self-esteem. Yet here I am, 2 days in again, and all I can think is "This is good for me cigarette cigarette cigarette because I was getting all out of shape and wheezy and cigarette cigarette cigarette will make this better."

This time I am doing it cold turkey. No patches, no gum, just me and my bitchiness locked in my house for three days.

I am okay with the withdrawal headache. I am okay with hacking up gross shit for three days. I am even okay with the constipation, constant thirst, and munchies. What I'm not okay with is the weird mind games that start playing out during the Critical Time when Logic and Addiction collide. That is a truly frightening battlefield. I basically have to not listen to anything that is happening in my brain for the next few days, things like "You would probably die from something else anyway, like a car accident," "Do you really want to never smoke ever again?" and "Even though your risk for lung cancer is tripling, it is still relatively small." No, it is best to just loop the quit mantra in my brain. The quit mantra, by the way, is: I don't need to smoke. This craving will pass. And until it does, I will not smoke.

But talking about quitting is boring. Lately I would rather talk about love, since I am in love, and somehow being in love makes quitting not such a big deal. It actually feels very selfish to quit, because part of me is just hoping that I will live longer so I can be in love longer. That should be reward enough, but actually I need some intermediary reward. In the past I have liked to buy myself nice things for achieving quit goals--a nice jacket, a nice pair of boots--but then I start smoking again as soon as I have my coveted object.

Changing your life is hard. But I look at the people in my life who are going out of their comfort zones and I feel inspired. And thirsty. Very goddamn thirsty.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

the score

I am back in the Middle West. The summer is ending, the driveway is covered in leaves, and every morning I awake to the sounds of lawnmowers, the lack of Marido, and the somewhat panicky thought "What now?"

But I don't want to panic. Panic and anxiety are gifts that I don't open anymore, and so instead I concentrate on how every thing that seems wrong is actually right. It is an exercise in happiness, really. I started to think about this when I was listening to various people complain about forms of ownership--making renovations, moving, all these inconveniences, and it seemed to me that the real thing that was being lost was that they have this beautiful thing that they wanted. For me, I don't have a home, but I had been stressing over how to take care of this new thing that I had acquired, and stressing over the maintenance was obscuring the fact that I am in love, which is a great thing, and not something to be taken lightly. Even the days when we are apart are good days.

Marido and I continued along our particular accelerated course, which is possible due to advanced experience and exceptional communication skills, mostly on his part. He really is a divine beast. And I was able to articulate some things to him, some things that probably surprised both of us, about what I need and what I expect and what is really unimportant to me. It was terribly unromantic, really. We talked about things like finances and sex and monogamy and timing, and although it was kind of a buzzkill, it was also really great to have everything everything EVERYTHING out in the open. And when you think about it, what is more romantic than wanting to be intimate with someone, not wanting to misconstrue anything, and entering from a place of reality rather than a place of false hope?

Then again, being in love is so weird. It does feel unreal. At times it does feel completely false because it is so shiny and unexpected that it seems too good to be true. It also feels mildly addictive, because yesterday (our first day apart in about a month) we both reported headaches. I wanted to write yesterday, but really I just milled around silently and thought about him and anticipated his arrival here tomorrow. It all makes me feel very dumb and mouth-breathy. I think my biggest challenge with him will be not to turn into a drooling pile of mush in his presence.

I haven't been in love like this for a long time. I hope it never ends.

Monday, August 16, 2010

caffeinated and weary

It was a beautiful weekend in San Francisco, filled with friends, surprise guests, and gazing into the loving eyes of Marido. I have been drinking a ton of booze and coffee in true SF form, and now all I really want is to sleep for three days. But at the same time, I just want to be constantly talking to the people who know me best, and to ask them:

What should I do?

I have been pitching back and forth between Back With a Vengeance and This Place Will Kill Me. Sometimes I look around me and think I'd have to be fucking insane to not want to settle in here for a bit, be with this Man I met, and some of the people who are most important to me in this world. And then there is this part of me this is thrashing around in my gut, kicking wildly against this proposition and whispering in my ear that the Beautiful Unknown awaits for me far away from the Bay.

When I was back in the midwest last week, I hung out with the family dog, the happiest little girl on earth. Seven years old now, she is still smiles and licks and excitement, but she doesn't like to go on walks in the neighborhood anymore, and when visitors leave she gets depressed. My mother told me that she seems bored going on walks now, and the only time she gets really excited is when the sound of jangling keys promises a car ride somewhere.

I have been thinking a lot about her this week, and how I would like to kidnap her and take her places, just to see that crazy spark in her that I always adored and envied, that joy she had that was infectious and and exhausting that I thought would never die. I never thought I'd say this, but I think life is too short to just be content. Maybe I have too much; maybe I'm addicted to suffering; maybe I thrive on extremes; maybe I am afraid of the responsibility of this new acquisition--Marido's heart. But in my clearest moments, I can't explain why I just want to be far away from everything I know and love. I am willing to suffer for six months to have two months of bliss.

I have a very bad feeling that I am going to break this man's heart.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

falling in love and letting go

I am in San Francisco. It has been an intense week. Aside from a terrible attack of the giggles at the altar during a supremely Catholic ceremony, the wedding was enjoyable, beautiful. I reunited with Marido and he was the Best Date Ever. He chauffered me and the bride around town, entertained himself while I attended to maid of honor duties, and looked absolutely handsome in his suit. He even endured dim sum the following day with 15 members of my family.

Following the wedding, I plunged myself into his life, his apartment, his neighborhood, which is in Nob Hill, an area of San Francisco that is so foreign to me that it is like I am in a different city. It is the same buildings, the same street names, the same fog and coffee and sidewalks and gait--but it is different enough to feel entirely surreal. There's little chance of me running into anyone I know here. The people dress a little differently, the views are different, the streets are steeper, and there are tourists hanging off the cable car that passes in front of his building. I am also carrying around this feeling in my body, this feeling of love that makes everything feel so new and different, almost frightening. I feel like a stranger in my own body, in my own town.

Several times a day I pass by a place so full of memories that I feel as though I am in a dream. Marido lives two blocks away from the bar where I spent my 21st birthday, two months after I first moved to California. I had my wallet stolen that night. It was sad, lonely. We ate hamburgers across the street from the place where Ex bought his last motorcycle, a motorcycle he pointedly purchased with footpegs so he could carry me around town. And last night we went to the bar we used to go to every week, a shitty, homey place where we used the floor as an ashtray, picked up sleazy lovers, blew coke in the bathroom. It now has wood-paneled walls, burn-free furniture, and it is the same owner and bartender pouring me cocktails--only he's wearing a black satin vest and telling me, "We're not kids in tee-shirts and sneakers anymore. We needed a grown-up bar." And grown-ups smoke outside.

Marido told me yesterday that he loves me. You know what I said back? I said, "Thank you."

I love him too; it is obvious in everything I think and say and do. But I opened my mouth to reciprocate and was filled with panic that voicing my love meant committing myself to things I didn't know that I could handle. I tell my friends I love them constantly, and this is because I know that I can and will always be there for them. I didn't know if I could commit myself to what he wants from me. But I am going to try. I have never been with a man like him before, simultaneously a quirky, solitary, wise old man and a wide-eyed, innocent boy.

When I returned *home* to his arms last night, he told me he was nervous about me seeing Joe today. I am nervous, too. I didn't want to talk about it, but Marido has a slight jealousy that I think is easily tempered with kisses. I probably shouldn't have told him about Joe in the first place, but we are in this strange tell-all mode, and I thought he would be happy to hear that I'm relinquishing my favorite lover for our fidelity.

But he was still nervous. He thought that Joe would try and seduce me. I told him he didn't know Joe. Joe respects me, and would never try to coerce me into something I didn't fully want. "When I tell him I've met someone," I said. "I know exactly what he will say. He'll say, 'That's great. I'm really happy for you.'" And when I said this, I unexpectedly started to cry, which alarmed Marido and myself. I have been so emotional lately. I feel weak. I never used to be like this, so prone to have my emotions completely overwhelm me so suddenly.

He asked me why I was crying, if I was so sad to give up my lover if I still knew he would remain my friend. I suppose I know that he'll be disappointed, and you know I hate disappointing people. And yes, although I value our friendship tremendously, I am sad to lose my lover. I suppose a childish part of me wants to have them both.

I am going to see him in a few hours. I am so nervous. I know it will be fine, but that isn't going to stop me from smoking an entire pack of cigarettes.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

double re-entry

It has been an uneventful week at my parents' house. In-between napping and eating, I occasionally reflected upon this seemingly hapless string of wanderings that I currently call my life. Buenos Aires seems like a dream to me, although every time it starts to rain I have a compulsion to run to the terrace to take down my laundry.

If someone had told me fifteen years ago, when I was learning to drive, that in another fifteen years time I would be unemployed, unmarried, and spending large segments of time in the same bedroom I was in then, I probably would have killed myself. But I think I failed to see the possibilities in this arrangement. It just takes a lot more self-motivation to get things done. Or to get dressed in the morning.

Tomorrow I am going to San Francisco, and of course I couldn't be happier. I am excited to see my friends, to hug them and hear their voices and to walk with them on the sidewalks, sit with them in the parks, to have the long silences of observation and nothingness that aren't so doable over our dozen forms of digital communication. I want to shower them with endless love and hear their stories and thoughts on what has changed since I last saw them. I'm excited to tell them what I have learned about time and people and to learn from them about how they are balancing their lives and growing and changing within San Francisco, something I never quite learned how to do.

I also know that this trip will different than other returns, because on Friday I will be reunited with Marido, a long-awaited reunion after almost three weeks apart since our honeymoon in Spain. With all of the intense (yet measured) emails, video talks, and even (*gasp!*) phone calls, we have a lot of hopes riding on the next few weeks--not just in terms of fun, but also in deciding our next steps in remaining in each others' lives beyond this second honeymoon.

It is a lot of pressure, but it is also very exciting.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

final compulsive post from the greatest place on earth

Don't you love it when your mp3 player is on shuffle and it seems to pick the perfect songs for your mood--songs you didn't even know you had? I sure do.

I'm bidding Buenos Aires good-bye in just a few hours. It is sad and stressful and I am terribly anxious about re-entering the English-speaking world. For the past nine months, I have largely been answering to nobody but myself. There have been few questions for me to deal with here, only what I want to do each day. Many days I did nothing. And many days I did exactly what I wanted to do. It has been such an amazing and refreshing experience that I just want to keep doing it again and again and again.

I am ready to leave, though. I am ready for something new. Maybe Marido is part of this something new. Today we were wondering for a bit if we are more in love with the romance of us than us in reality. Of course, this is one of the billion thoughts that has crossed my mind, and one of the thousand that has lingered and returned. But what I have to keep reminding myself is that, like leaving Buenos Aires itself, some situations may seem unreal...but they are just as real as anything, whether we planned for them or not.

Hasta luego, Buenos Aires. Thank you for being so good to me. Thank you for depositing me in this wonderful house with these beautiful people. Thank you for challenging me, and thank you for your patience, your time, and your comforts. I hope we'll meet again.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

love and boringness and moving

It is a cold and drizzly Sunday in Buenos Aires, and I actually left the house to go about my day, and retreated home after about 100 meters, where I have spent the day eating popcorn and day-old facturas filled with dulce de leche.

I am in love, and part of me hates it. I hate the fact that last night my roommate had to practically beg me to go to a party with her because I kind of didn't see the point of going out if I wasn't going to pick up boys. I hate the fact that I was sniffly today and didn't want to tell Marido that it was because I did a bunch of coke last night. I hate the fact that I am perfectly sated to lie in bed and just think of him, or to spend an hour cooing with him over video chat. I hate the fact that I feel stupid and boring but I don't care because I am in love. I hate that I cannot work, cannot write, because the only thing going through my mind is: Aww! He's so sweet! Twelve more days until I see him again!

It has been a rather intense week apart since we parted ways at the Madrid Airport. Somehow we became absorbed into an email exchange this week that involved the words "sex" and "marriage" and "long-distance" and "non-exclusive," all terribly heavy things to be floated through Gmail with a person you met about oh, six weeks ago. But as intense and sort of unwanted as the emails were, I'm glad they happened. I feel as though we are on the same page, and this is a new feeling for me. We are in love and trying to be responsible and respectful with ourselves and the other. Even though we feel like breathless teenagers, we also feel very wise. It is exciting but also boring. I like you? You like me? Great! Great! Okay, great. Now what?

Well, the 'now what' part is actually a big deal in this case, seeing as I currently live about 6500 miles away from him. 'Currently' being the operative word, of course. That status is going to change in three short days. Then, I don't know. He's formally invited me to crash with him for the entire month of August that I'm in SF, and that sounds both lovely and crazy. Not crazier than going to Spain with him, but close. I know I've joked that he's my Marido since the day we met, but...I can't help but feel like I'm just getting caught up in this delirium. He's already booked a flight to come to see me in Chicago the following weekend. And instead of feeling overwhelmed by all of this, I am fanatically thrilled. Great! Great! Great! Snooze.

I find myself constantly thinking, "Is this really happening? I need a nap."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

what to say

The day of my last post, Marido and I left Navarra and went to the coast. I think all the togetherness was wearing on me, because as soon as we got there, I left him in the pensión and went to work on my article, which was sort of a pointless thing to do on a Sunday afternoon in Spain, because everything was closed. I took a breather in the plaza and tried to soothe my nerves and to coax myself into the loving place where Marido seemed to be, mentally, and that I seemed to be dancing around like a scared bird.

When Marido showed up to meet me, he had some bad news. He'd gotten word--through Facebook, of all things--that his mother was in a coma.

We had a less-than-pleasant evening, where I tried to take care of him the best I could. But when you don't know someone very well, you don't know how they react to stress and what helps them. We talked it through a bit, but it was a rough night where we sort of hated each other and felt helpless. While we didn't fight, there was a moment where I sat on a street corner and cried because I didn't know what to do but I was sure that I wasn't making things better and was actually adding to his stress just by being there. When you are exhausted and stressed out, the last thing you want to do is worry about how your date is doing. His mother died the next day.

I suppose many people would define this as when the honeymoon ended, but with the uncertainty gone and the finality of death, we were able to mourn for a while and carry on. He wasn´t expected to return to Argentina for the cremation, and he was at peace with things, so we moved on. This would seem callous to a lot of people, but maybe this is just another reason why Marido and I get on so well. We have similar attitudes toward a lot of things in life, and death is one of them.

The rest of the honeymoon progressed without incident, so much so that there is little to report. We motored around and observed each other as closely as we observed the countryside and the people. But while Marido poured his heart out to me about how he felt, I kept my cards very close to my chest, so close that he kept asking me what I was thinking and why I wouldn´t tell him. The truth is that I spent a significant amount of time thinking about Ex and Joe, and during almost every night I dreamed of Ex. That is not something you want to tell your new boyfriend on your faux-honeymoon in Spain. Whenever he asked me what I was thinking, I didn't really know what to say.

Something amazing about Marido is that he is extremely open. He would explain everything--from why he likes me so much to why he was changing lanes. This could be tiresome to some, but for someone like me it is kind of perfect, because I never have to wonder what he´s thinking. It´s too bad that I can´t really return the favor at the moment, but I am doing the best I can. At times I felt pressured to echo some of the sentiments he was expressing, but it is a little fast for me. I am surprised I even let him hold my hand.

I adore this man and I miss him, but I am glad we have this time apart now to slow it down a little. I actually think that my heart is full and I have to let go of some people before I can be in love with him. Surprisingly, the person I have to let go of is Joe. When I go to see Joe in San Francisco, I can't have sex with him, and this makes me sad, because that is something we do very well together. The thought of seeing him and telling him I can´t or won´t sleep with him any more makes me terribly sad. I thought of this on the honeymoon, that this is not something I could do with a clear conscience, even though I slept around when I was with Joe. And it's not just the sex. I was always waiting for the moment to be in love with Joe, to admit that I was in love with him.

Timing is funny like that. It´s not just timing, of course. There are other aspects of Marido that have landed us together in a way that never worked out for me and Joe. And while I spend nights gflirting with Marido, I feel ready to give up others to be with him, but it is still sad. I know that Joe will be sad, too. And this whole time, I thought the reason we weren´t committed to each other was so we could avoid being sad. And here it is. Again.

Any advice on ending things with your favorite sex partner?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

honeymooning

It's been a week of honeymooning with Marido, and things have been so luscious and perfect that I am not quite sure where to begin. He met me at the airport in Madrid and has been driving me around Spain, France, the Basque Country, stopping in at cute town after cute town, lying on crowded beaches, winding our way through sunny fields and tree-filled mountains. He is doing all the driving because I don't know how to drive manual transmission cars.

We figured out that I met him on Madrid exactly a month after our first date, but with our schedules this is probably one of the longest fifth dates in history. It is completely overwhelming and I am often silent on our long drives, in awe of it all, disbelief. I think I would have an easier time understanding if something was wrong---if he was giving me creepy vibes or if he were a terrible lover or if we were constantly having communication breakdowns. But everything seems so natural and easy that instead I feel confused and vaguely panicky, like I must be missing something. Because what?the?fuck?is?going?on? How did I end up on this French beach with this impossibly charming man who somehow always knows the right thing to say? Has he been cyber-stalking me all of my life, preparing for this trip together, anticipating exactly what I love, what I want, what is important to me, and what will make me fall completely in love with him? It sure as hell seems like it.

Sometimes I look over at him and am filled with an incredible sensation of being completely safe and protected yet terrified like never before. The day before I left, I told my buddy B that I was sure I would fall in love this week, and here it is, happening. He said to me, "Falling in love isn't the hard part." And he's right, of course. We can love most anyone, but it's making it work that is hard. And when we begin to talk about the future, which we dabble in at times during our long drives, it fills me with fear. It's not as though I have any specific plans at all, but I was happy before I met Marido. I have plans to go to Mexico, and plans to go to Budapest, to take photos and write books and fall in love. And I'm scared that I will wander off with this man and forget all of these plans. Because I feel like he could ask me to go anywhere with him, and I would go. I mean, he did talk me into crossing the ocean to run with the bulls with him. On our second date.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

loving it

I'm back home in Buenos Aires but leaving Saturday for Madrid, where I will meet Marido at the airport.

I totally freaked out yesterday. I was tired but bursting with anticipation and I couldn't do anything but flail around in the whirlpool of anxiety and excitement. I just know that I am going to fall in love. I am like 85 percent there already. For some reason this made me very upset. I cried a few times this week when I thought about it. I don't know why, but I am terrified.

I sent an email to my girl, the bride-to-be, seeking some words of wisdom and she really came through for me. I was all upset and unsure and feeling sick. In addition to the teary eyes, I have had trouble eating this week. ME--the girl who wakes up in the middle of the night, hungry. But I was just sick at the thought that I might fall in love--for real in love, and that Marido could be the last man I love--either because I will love him forever, or he will hurt me really badly and I will never love again. But bride-to-be had some great words for me, about trusting your body and yourself. And she said: it's not your job to know what will happen, or to control what will happen.

It's not? Somehow, I thought it was. Really. But she's absolutely right. All the craziness has been me trying to anticipate what will happen and be ready for it. But that is not love, and that is not life. I need to love in the same way that I live...with gusto, and with the knowledge that I can handle anything that comes my way.

And now I am just giddy!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

hot and cold

I went to a party last night and there was this gorgeous Venezuelan boy with one of the sexiest accents imaginable. I was a little drunk and I really wanted to kiss him. Suddenly we had to leave and I was almost grateful, because I thought of Marido and how I'd like to kiss him the most.

I have one more long day of shooting and trekking tomorrow in Montevideo, and then I go home to Buenos Aires. I'm really looking forward to returning to my own freezing house and cooling my heels for a few days. Although this trip has been uncomfortable and a little bewildering, I am thankful for the work and have been experiencing this incredible feeling of wondering, wandering, and making things work. It is also a tremendous distraction from my pre-trip anxieties with Marido, which I am trying so hard not to obsess over.

I'm staying with a host I've couchsurfed with before, one of the nicest and most generous guys in all of Uruguay. And I feel like that says a lot, since I adore the Uruguayos. They are such a welcoming, caring people. I've been asking for quite a bit of assistance getting around town and reporting this guide, and most people are extremely helpful. On the bus yesterday to I don't even know where, the bus driver not only helped me to get where I was going, but inquired to where I was going afterward, and wrote directions for me as he drove, nearly swiping a parked car.

Being in town for the World Cup quarterfinals qualifying celebration was also a trip. Everyone headed downtown for the spontaneous celebration. It felt like they had won the title. As my host said, "People don't even care if they win. They will celebrate each victory because it could be the last." Thinking I could be Korean, people get grabbing and hugging me in the streets to console me and show solidarity. It was beautiful, and I was so glad to be here.

One of the strangest things about getting used to being alone is suddenly desiring the company of specific people, to whom I find myself constantly writing letters. It is like I cannot go a few days without writing to someone. When I am really happy, I miss people the most. I just want to share everything with my loved ones, but I am surrounded by strangers. Nice strangers, though.

Friday, June 18, 2010

this is what crazy looks like

I am totally insane this week. I have not been able to sleep, but I don't feel tired or even irritated. I wonder if I am just not used to being this happy. It has been hard to breathe without the aid of cigarettes.

Marido returned to Buenos Aires a few days early so we have been hanging out a lot. I was very excited to see him, to see if I would still feel the same about him. I did. It is not the excitement of meeting someone totally new and strange and beautiful. It is the strange sensation of being with someone who seems to understand you completely, without really knowing anything about you. I don't really get it, but I don't know if there's really anything to get.

During lunch of our second date he asked me if I wanted to go to Spain with him. Of course I want to go to fucking Spain with him. But whether I can, that is another story. And whether I should--well, I don't really traffic in those terms anymore.

Basically, this is what my brain and blood and body has felt like for the past three weeks--



Of course I have reservations about going on an overseas trip with a man I have spent a total of like 12 hours with. I asked him, "Is that a good idea?" And he said, "If we don't do crazy things like go to Spain with someone you just met--who will?"

You can see why I like this guy. My finger is on the trigger. But I am nervous--not because I think anything bad will happen, but because I'm pretty sure if I do go, I will fall completely in love. What a terrifying notion. I wondered aloud what the chances are of him being totally psychotic and he said, "I think you are more likely to be psychotic than I am."

I also just turned my remaining 5 weeks in Buenos Aires to 4 weeks, because I have to go to Montevideo next week to shoot another story (or two, hopefully). Jumping a plane to Spain would cut the 4 weeks down to about 10 days. That is just weird. It is all so much to handle that all I can do is lie awake and think about it until the sun rises. And the thoughts start with, "I need to sell at least three stories in the next three weeks," and then end up with "Hm, perhaps you should get the elastic fixed on that cute black dress of yours."

I have no idea what the hell is going on, but I only feel partially in control.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

planning for the future

My computer is out of commission and I just wrote this long blog and then accidentally erased it because I´m not used to the foreign keyboards. It happened in an instant! Meh.



Anyhow, I was talking about all the dangerous thinking that´s been going on during the past extremely insomniatic two weeks. I´ve been in this utopic state of mind where I can do no wrong, and nothing bad can befall me, and so of course I´ve been entertaining all sorts of ideas that involve Djibouti, Dakar, Micronesia, Bucharest, Budapest, Macau. You know.



I was stressed out because I have six weeks left in Buenos Aires and a decision has to be made concerning my apartment--whether to sublet it, or to leave it completely--and I am terrible at making decisions more than a few weeks out. I have basically tabled my plans to return to San Francisco in the fall, seeing as that would doom me to a happy life surrounded by the people I love most, and decided to strike out into new territory. The two top contenders at the moment are Mexico City and Budapest. Dreaming about places I have no knowledge of is great company for insomnia. But I also took a long time puzzling over if I have totally forgotten how hard it was when I first moved here, deaf and dumb and lonely and wandering. Yet I haven´t forgotten. I suppose I am just so surprised that I found so much peace and happiness here, that I want to look for it everywhere.



There are plenty of people who can understand this point, of not wanting to just sit back and enjoy beautiful something they´ve discovered, and would much rather move onto the next heartbreaking challenge. I am just now beginning to get this. But with people, it seems, and looking for love--I´m not sure how similar these things are. It seems to me that looking for a perfect place to call your home is kind of like looking for your true love, and it is especially true when you think of it in terms of finding those perfect pieces and truly "settling down." I mentioned my Marido last week and I wasn´t kidding---I know I say that a lot---but what is up when you know you could be happy with someone and somehow just aren´t ready for it? What does that mean? That you prefer to be single? Or just that you love the thrill of the chase?

I have been looking for love for so long that I think I may have forgotten that there was a goal to all this dating...and it wasn´t just for free drinks.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

it must be christmas

The dinner with Dimples was absolutely perfect, and the fact that he didn't stay over didn't bother me at all. I don't want to deal with his complicated romantic situations, but I am okay with crushing on him as a friend. That is my greatest M.O.

Anyhow, things don't seem so serious when you have a Plan B, and last night I went out with this older guy (40) who contacted me last month. He's a photographer as well, and if anything, OKCupid has linked me up with several cool photographers down here. I also thought it would be refreshing to go out with a guy who (hopefully) would be old-school enough not to mention an ex-girlfriend on a first date. And older guys usually pay for dinner.

I was haggard by the time we met up. I was so high on life Friday night that I couldn't sleep until almost six a.m., and then spent Saturday stressing over my malfunctioning camera, and then lugging all of my gear around town, trying to finish this story. I didn't think I would be very good company, but stick a few drinks in me and I'm pretty good to go.

The only reservation I had about meeting up with this guy was that he is from Argentina, and my dating experiences with the porteños have been less than ideal. But he has been living in my beloved San Francisco for the past decade-and-a-half, so that was another plus. He turned out to hit all of the right notes with me. While there wasn't wild chemistry or crazy sparks, I felt really comfortable around him--maybe it was the fatigue, the whiskey, or maybe I have finally gotten the dating thing down. It was weird. We talked about a lot of things and it was like nothing really needed that much explaining--what I was doing down here, why he left Buenos Aires, why his marriage didn't work out--same wavelength all around. It was a completely different dynamic than the one I have with Dimples, who I just find fascinating because I don't understand him at all.

The 24 always figures into these stories. He was being a gentleman and didn't invite me over, so he walked me to the bus stop and waited with me. We waited and waited and waited and when we finally spied it cruising down the block, we said our goodbyes but then the bus just blew by without stopping. He asked me back to his place, and I said yes.

He's leaving for Spain in a few days, and I doubt I'll see him again before he leaves, but I promised to be in touch in San Francisco.

Oh, life. When you're in love, you're in love. With everything, everyone, all of it, more more more.

Friday, June 4, 2010

headates

Today I met up with Dimples for lunch, our third lunch date. I'd called him yesterday to invite him over for a dinner party I thought we were having tomorrow night (turns out it's Sunday), and he said yes to that, and then invited me to lunch today. I can't figure this kid out at all. On the one hand, he's totally not interested...and then he wants to meet up two days in a row? I don't get him.

He's mentioned some ex-girlfriends. Now call me old-fashioned, but whatever happened to that taboo of not bringing up exes on a first (or even second, come on) date. All these young lads seem to have no qualms about that. But today was exceptionally weird. He told me he was with a girl last night, but was into her friend, and blah blah blah. He was talking to me the way he would talk to his brother. Before I knew it, we were talking about an STD scare he had recently. This kind of shit I reserve for my closest friends. I had no idea how to respond to any of this because part of me is fascinated by it, and the other wonders "Why the fuck is he telling me this? And why do I still want to sleep with him?"

I do get him in some ways. I told him straight out I knew he was trying to get over someone, and this shocked him. When he mentioned going to a hospital for some reason, I said, "You thought you had herpes, didn't you." He said a lot of things, and it was pretty easy for me to piece things together. This is one of my specialty areas, seeing what people are really trying to say. But in the end, it I came home with the worst headache I've had since I thought I had dengue. My brain was just furiously trying to process all this shit. My roommate came home and I had to rehash everything through with her--how he talked about dating girls with borderline personality disorders, this 21-year-old he's infatuated with, as well as the 36-year-old pathological liar he practically allowed to move in with him here in Buenos Aires. Oh, and a girl he met at a party who flew from Japan to stay with him...and then he decided he couldn't stand her. But she was hot.

I tried to understand what he was telling me. Like I would ask him if he really thought it was a good idea to date sociopaths. Or if he really believed good sex alone could keep him intellectually satisfied for very long. But all this shit kept coming out. Mind you, this was our third time going out, and our other two lunches consisted mostly about talking about various Spanish phrases that we found interesting. The whole thing was so weird and maddening. Massive headache.

I kind of felt like he was trying to keep us on a buddy level. But on the other hand, one of the lessons I am constantly relearning in my thirty years of existence is that men always want sex. I put all the weird, un-matched pieces together in my head--the indifference, the sex tales, the juggling of ladies, yet the insistence to hang out--and none of it makes sense until I say "Oh, he just wants to let me know he's only interested in NSA sex. Because he's fucked up in this and this and this way."

And you know what, I'm okay with that. In fact, I think I had the same conversation with Joe in New York, only I was a lot more concise about it. My exact words were probably, "Don't expect anything more from me than this. I'm totally fucked up." And with that out in the open, everything was just hunky-dory from there on out.

Of course, I also just think that is the coward's way of saying, "I am hereby relinquishing all thoughtful matters to the custody of my genitals."

What a sad state of affairs. But I can dig it down here in the dirty south.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

southern winter

The onset of June shocks me. It is cold now in Buenos Aires--like San Francisco cold. My house isn't heated; the windows aren't insulated; I am cold. I've been here for six months now, save a few weeks here and there, and this too I find shocking. Not because it's been so long, but because I'm realizing that what makes a place your home isn't your level of comfort, or how many people you know, it's just your desire to call a place home. For now, this is home.

It was cold and rainy on Saturday night and I didn't feel all that great, but I ordered in anyhow--put a call in to my young lover, El Gengibre. We lay in my twin bed and watched low-quality movies that I'd downloaded on my laptop. It's the kind of thing I feel like you would do with someone you've known for a lot longer than two weeks, but I suppose being down here has done away with a lot of formalities. When I lived in New York, I felt like dating was all about creating an image of yourself that you then had the stress of living up to. But here we don't have such illusions of grandeur. Literally: Hey, this guy speaks my language. And suddenly you're comfortable enough to be bedfellows, dirty tissues and all. Not that I've ever been one for grandstanding, but the way I live down here...not so glamorous. Any one who sticks around for this with me, I feel, is kind of in the same mindset as me. So for now, we are just...keeping each other warm. The way that he holds me when we sleep feels far too intimate, but it is partially because our beds are so small. This forced intimacy can delude a person into thinking they are truly loved. But is it really delusional? Love is different when options are limited. You love the one you're with. Period.

It's too bad Dimples doesn't feel that way, but, eh. El Gengibre keeps me warm when I need him. And there is something very beautiful about that. And it is nice to have someone to make eggs for on a Sunday morning. No wonder it feels like home here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

hypermanic post numero tres

I am absolutely crazy right now and I love it. I had another I LOVE BUENOS AIRES day, all sappy and beautiful in the taxi on my way downtown to help out my roommate. But I tell you: shit is coming together, and I am just high on possibility and excitement.

I sold a story yesterday. A story with photos! It's nothing earth-shattering, but it will be a nice spread in a glossy magazine--fingers crossed that the same thing doesn't go down as last time, where I wrote this huge story and then the editor disappeared. (Still trying to resolve that one, yuck.)

And I am still in love! My roommates are cracking me up. All they have to do is say the word DIMPLES and I go fucking berserker. It is just love itself that gets me. That feeling! Who knows if I'll actually see this boy again. I wonder how long this feeling can sustain itself. You'd think I'd know by now.

But the *best* part is that I have really been kicking it into gear with Secret Plan 437b, and it is coming together in such a haphazard, mystical way that I wonder if I'm being delusional. When I get like this, I just have to go with it, work with it. Because in a week, when the Dimples high wears off, and I start to get all salty and cynical about this supposed progress I've been making, it will be an entirely different story. And maybe that's my grandest hope--that it will be a different story soon. Something amazing. Working works! It actually does!

I think I learned a long time ago that happiness isn't having everything you want. And now I'm seeing that it isn't even knowing what you want. It's more like a combination of the two--plus seeing things you want that you didn't even know existed (but secretly hoped for).

Love from Buenos Aires
seriously.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

being single means falling in love a lot

YES it is my second post in two days, but I treat you to so much doom and gloom that I thought I might share my latest ascension into manic excitement.

WELCOME!

I went out with the most fucking adorable, dimpled Berkeley boy yesterday. Where do I find these boys? Well, he found me on the interwebz several weeks ago, hit me with the disclaimer "I'm not looking for a best friend or a girlfriend, but..." and then a chain of emails ensued. He is 25 years old.

We went out for lunch and chatted for three hours. I wore a new dress that made me feel pretty and he maintained this beautiful smile the entire time, but also was unable to really maintain eye contact with me, which could mean either "I'm not into you" or "you make me incredibly nervous," something that I can still never tell on a first date. Of course I always think it's the former, because I just don't think I'm very intimidating.

When we parted ways, I...almost...skipped. I know it seems like I fall in love every other week, but I think the last time I felt this way about a boy was with that Guy With Girlfriend in New York, well over a year ago. I certainly don't feel this way about my new 24-year-old lover. I really felt aglow and high and I wanted nothing but to smile at everyone, the same way he had smiled his way through lunch. That kind of happiness both puzzles and infects me.

I am fully aware of how fucking ridiculous I am, but I just.can't.help.falling.in.love. The flipside, of course, is that horrible feeling that you were just completely bowled over by someone who could give a shit about you, and that after three days of hoping to hear back from him, you will just be left with the sad thought that no one you like will ever like you back, because what is life if it is not unrequited love? And even after that vitriolic post yesterday about being single, the pursuit of love is really the biggest thrill of all, even if it is not, I repeat NOT, the gateway to the only known means of happiness. It just happens to be the most addictive.

I just want to see him again. Well, see him again, coerce him into falling in love with me, move back to SF together, and live happily ever after on Ocean Beach. Done.and.done.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

unmarried and single

Turning thirty hasn't been such a big deal since, well, I live in obscurity, a surreal place where few people call my lifestyle into question. But there certainly have been moments where my age and lifestyle don't quite seem to match up. These moments come when I pop onto Facebook and see another photo of a chubby baby blinking back at me, when I'm shopping for a dress to wear to a wedding, or when I'm shivering alone in my twin bed, thinking that I really need to buy a light bulb. Sometimes, everyone seems to be going somewhere else. It is like when you are walking down a crowded sidewalk and you seem to be the only one walking upstream, and you look across the street and everyone seems to be walking the same way. So you run across the street to change sides, and suddenly everything is---fuck, everything is the same.

A couple of weeks ago, when I was in the Far East (as my Mom likes to call it), I was asked the following two questions in many iterations: Why aren't you married? Why don't you have kids?

Really, people? I would like to say that this was friendly family ribbing, but my family is really not that funny. I mean, what kind of answers do you expect here? These were also family members I haven't spoken to in at least five years, if not ten. How would they feel if I told them that my fiancé OD'd on Oxy, or that I was fucking STERILE? Because barring any sort of tragedy or lesser drama---I just broke up with someone, we're trying to have kids--the answer you inevitably get is quite boring. Because I certainly am not allowed to say that I'm trying to fuck at least fifty men before settling down, or that the idea of children is just that--an idea.

There was a Maureen Dowd column that ran yesterday called All the Single Ladies about the media frenzy surrounding Supreme Court nominee/single lady Ellen Kagan. And while it is a bit boring--because really, there's nothing that interesting about a woman being single OR married by itself--one commentor boiled it down quite nicely to say that this is all just the myth of the nuclear family being thrashed about in contemporary society. He or she went on to say that since more people spend more time at work than at home, perhaps it's more important to have a fulfilling job than an agreeable spouse.

One of the most interesting things I learned about Singapore is that they have a national dating service, free, government-sponsored. They, too, believe that strong nuclear families are not only the key to happiness, but a stable society. I mean, the notion of the family unit is how so much of our society is constructed: our taxes, our rights, health insurance, even the architecture of many homes. And in China, they have similar structures in place to secure happy families--after the earthquake left many widowed, they set up a matching system to help people remarry. (Read the Brook Larmer piece from the NY Times Magazine.)

Most of my friends are unmarried and/or single, even as we slip into our dirty thirties. Like I said, I only tend to give fleeting attention to these notions, but it is strange to have passed through two continents where the creation of the nuclear family is so central and unquestionably important, and another in which it is so central yet so singularly denied.

I want to be with someone. I really do. I may want children or I may not. But what I really would like, most of all, is for people to stop asking me why I am unmarried. Because really, the answer to why I am unmarried is that I AM NOT MARRIED. And the reason to why I am single is that YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE.

Eh, maybe I am just feeling sore because of my young bedfellows. I slept with a 24-year-old the other night. We were walking through town, killing a bottle of 17-peso whiskey when he told me about this bingo parlor where the old folks go and I asked him if they gave out cool prizes. He said, "They probably give out Sensodyne toothpaste."

I use Sensodyne toothpaste. What? I have sensitive teeth.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

friends without benefits

I am back in Buenos Aires and it is suddenly chilly, dark. Everything seems different. I forgot to bring my flip-flops back with me, and you know what? I don't even need them anymore. Sad. But I kind of like it more. The weather is more like San Francisco now, and it is more conducive to work and less to sunbathing and siesta-ing to escape the heat.

I went out yesterday with a boy I met online. A boy--just a wee lass of 24, although he's almost a foot taller than me. We met for lunch and then ended up spending the entire day together. I guess we just felt instantly comfortable together--in that zone of mutual non-threatening perception. After lunch we went to a flea market, had a coffee, walked about, drank some wine at my house, then went off to see a movie, followed by late-night grub. Aside from some young-kid cockiness--which I no longer find very charming--I liked him fine. More as a friend, I suppose, than anything else, but I don't know.

After that period of extreme sluttery that opened the new year, it's now been about...four months since I've had sex. You'd think that I would have entertained this option last night, but I was too tired to even think about fucking, which made me feel restrained and wise in one moment, and then just...old. It was definitely the "right" decision--if there ever is such a thing--but on the bus home, all I could think about was the last awesome guy that I never slept with, and it dawned on me with all certainty that the more I like a guy, the less likely it is that I will ever sleep with him.

Can someone please tell me what this is all about? It's not about loss of respect or fear of commitment. The moment I have the feeling--however fleeting--that this guy is totally acceptable boyfriend material, I lose all sexual interest in him. This seems to explain my solid posse of male friends, none of which I have slept with. The fact that half of them are gay is entirely incidental.

Tonight I am going out with him again, and I swear it's anyone's guess what is going to go on in the veins connecting my brain to my vagina. Booze makes these things much clearer.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

back to the future

Physically and mentally in a billion places right now. This week found me having many serious conversations with my dog, Little Brother, parents.

Unsurprisingly, Little Brother's advice was the most useful. Maybe I listen to him more because I know exactly where his advice comes from; maybe he just knows how to talk to me better than anyone. In any case, I am being forced to admit that my attempt to simultaneously recharge, regroup, and pursue my dreams has not been as successful as I had hoped, and that it is time to re-evaluate my strategy and chart a different course. I am not giving up on myself, but it feels like it. I feel like I have failed in so many ways--to try hard enough, to come up with clear and reasonable goals, to do what I set out to do.

In some ways I blame it on Illinois. I never feel so lost and defeated as when I'm in Illinois. It's not a bad place, but something about it just says to me, "Welcome back, loser!"

Tomorrow I am going back to Argentina with a somewhat heavy heart, like I am just postponing the inevitable--because then I will be returning stateside to start Life Plan 898, but the plan doesn't yet exist, and it's anybody's guess what that will be. I keep waiting and looking out for plans and opportunities, seeking out what I think will be my next big thing, but the pattern that is emerging is just scattershot and schizophrenic, not exactly the stuff of employability.

I have started to plot a return to San Francisco, and am looking for work. It sounds dangerously like what I was doing oh, seven years ago, but with 25 pounds on my former self. Each of those pounds represents moments of celebration, intoxication, indulgence, laziness, and...storing up reserves for my future days of unemployment.

Friday, May 7, 2010

feels like home

The two weeks in Asia turned out to be a good transition back for a week in the Chi. Singapore is homey while still being strange and exotic, and Chicago is just...homey. Strangely, it feels like I was just here last week even though it's been more than five months. It feels nice to be home with my parents and my dog, and part of me doesn't want to get back to Buenos Aires...yet.

The last week in Singapore was very exciting. I met up with a family friend who was in a sticky situation, and we played all week and went on a nice beach vacation for a few nights. It made me feel like a completely different person. I went from being the silent daughter to being the strong, older woman taking care of a friend, complete with tour-guidism, strategizing and dispensing of hard advice.

Being on three continents in three weeks makes me want to settle down, though I'm unsure of what that means. The need for stability is so vague that I'm not sure what form that would take. But all the girl talking reminds me that I desperately miss being in love, and I'm fairly certain that is a big part of the equation. I spent a large part of the past week talking about the highs and lows of my relationship with Ex, which made me both nostalgic and fearful for what is to come.

On the eve of my departure to Asia, I stayed up late with my roommates, feeling extremely apprehensive yet accepting. We are all in such loose situations that it feels like a strong gust of wind could just pick us up and disperse us in any number of directions. On the one hand, we are all ready for change and almost desirous of such a random change of course, but on the other hand we all wish we were motivated somehow on our own that we didn't have to wait for the tides to change for that to happen. We are all simultaneously waiting and seeking, and nervous to make any sort of proactive decision.

Someone asked me what I was up to lately and I answered that I had "just" graduated, but then I realized that "just" was a year ago. What have I been doing for the past year? When I think back on where I've been and what I've been doing, a dreamy feeling comes over me that is something like detached disbelief and suppressed longing. For all that I've been up to, I feel like I've yet to really get down to it. Something inside me is begging to say yes to the right question. Lately I've been saying yes to all these short-term tasks and really rising to the challenge, and I think I'm about to say yes to something else, something that I've never even considered before.

It is altogether terrifying and welcome.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

death in paradise

It has been a week. I don't even want to talk about it because it's been pretty stressful, but at the same time I HAVE TO. That is what I do.

I flew about 31 hours to get here from Buenos Aires. I watched the worst movie I've seen in a while--'Did you hear about the Morgans?' Wow, what a terrible fucking film. While I've never been a Sarah Jessica Parker hater, this movie really did it for me. The movie was so bad it made me hate Hugh Grant as well. And, oddly enough, the other couple in the movie is the cowboy from 'The Big Lebowski' and Doc’s girlfriend Clara from 'Back to the Future.'

But this really has nothing to do with anything. I suppose I just don't want to talk about the stuff that has mattered these past 10 days or so. Because that shit is just overwhelming. It is so overwhelming that I wonder if I have, in these days of wandering and isolation, forgotten how to deal with shit, so much so that everything is suddenly overwhelming. But that is not really anything to decide.

I am in Singapore for the second time in this blog’s two-year existence. I didn’t feel anxious about leaving until I started to pack my things, as usual, and suddenly I felt very homeless and worthless. It’s funny—I’ve always equated homelessness with two polar extremes of poor nomads and worldly globetrotters, but suddenly I understood that homelessness is actually just a feeling that you don’t belong anywhere.

Not belonging somewhere is a reason to leave a place. And wanting to go somewhere else—or being needed somewhere else—that is a reason to go to a place. The former is typically a reason for moving, and the latter a reason for traveling. It was relatively easy for me to leave the U.S. and now to leave South America for both these reasons.

It took me three long flights it took me to get here; I felt very anxious and useless for many hours. I guess that’s why I sat through all those movies. I had made a promise to my family that I would stay with grandmother as long as she needed assistance. I’d like to say that this was purely out of the goodness of my heart, but I’d chalk that up to Fundamental Attribution Error. The fact of the matter is that I don’t have a job or much of a plan much less an acceptable reason for existence, so the least I could do was to volunteer my services. When I made this offer, I meant to stick by it, but I was still nervous because I didn’t know what it would entail. A month? A year? I’m not big on committing myself to anything, but suddenly I had done it. I was terrified. There are many worse fates than taking care of your grandmother in Singapore, and I meditated on this thought in-between movie-watching.

My parents and I arrived in the middle of the night and in the morning we went to the hospital to see her. On the way there, we stopped to pick up my uncle. There is a bit of a story behind all of this that I will explain later, but let’s just say for now that I have not seen my uncle in about twenty years, and he didn’t say hello to me when he got in the car with me and my parents.

We arrived a little too early and a nurse was attempting to administer some sort of treatment to her, and asked my father and I to give her some room, leaving my uncle and mother there. Dad and I stood in the hallway and I cried. Dad was in shock, I think, because he couldn’t even put his hand on my shoulder to comfort me. We both just kind of stood there, me struggling to pull tissues out of my purse and him just staring into a corner of his brain, searching for a solution. We’d been in the room with her for less than a minute, but we both knew that it was bad, much worse than we’d thought.

We stayed in the hospital all day, each of us searching for our own solutions in our selves and in the hospital staff. Mom and Dad are used to hospitals because they are doctors, and I am sort of used to them because of that. I have visited people in hospitals—people who may be uncomfortable but are recovering. I have never, though, sat with someone in such bad shape. She was struggling to breathe and couldn’t open her eyes because she was in so much pain. I held her hands—at first I was sort of holding her hands down to prevent her from clawing out her IV and breathing tube. She cursed me and wailed to her god for compassion. But when she removed her tube for the twentieth time, I didn’t struggle with her to put it back. It is ridiculous to fight with an 87-year-old woman who doesn’t want a tube in her nose. So I just rubbed her back and tried to cry as silently as possible. It is a bad feeling to know that someone you love is going to die. It is an even worse feeling to want someone you love to die as soon as possible because they are suffering so much.

My mother stayed with her through the night and my grandmother passed away in the morning. I was sleeping on the floor of my father’s room and I answered the phone, received the news, passed the phone to my father, and then went to the bathroom to get dressed. When I came out, I expected him to be fully dressed and on his cell phone. But Dad was sitting on the bed, his bare feet on the floor. I thought he was lost once again, in that corner of his brain where he goes to solve problems. But instead of springing to life when I told him we should get moving, he sat for a few moments longer, and I understood that he was experiencing something profound—my mother’s pain and a feeling of helplessness, two things which my father does not experience very often.

The sun had still not risen as we drove to the hospital in the dark. Dad gave me a charming yet totally unnecessary speech about death, something along the lines of “Death is a part of life; we have to be happy that she didn’t suffer; it is time to accept this and move forward.” Like I said, I am at peace with the idea of death, even my own. (I just don’t want to die in an airplane.) My mother takes care of people who are terminally ill, and I have absorbed her attitude toward death, which I agree with. When dealing with the terminally ill, families oftentimes prolong suffering in an effort to prolong life, which is not a good thing. I hope I don't die in a hospital. I hope that if something happens to me where I can't make decisions for myself, someone will pump me full of morphine and let me go peacefully. We can't live forever, but we do have some control over how we die. Dad ended his flowery speech with, “Seriously, when it’s my time to go, just pump me full of morphine, close the door, and walk away. No muss, no fuss.”

But no matter how unmussy or unfussy your death is, cleaning up after someone’s life is a different story. I didn't realize just how much stuff has to be attended to when someone dies. We contacted a funeral director, who swept in and asked us a million questions about religious rites, scheduling, caskets, cremation, all while the body of my grandmother was being prepared for the mortuary by two attendants wearing surgical masks. The following day was the wake, the next day was the cremation, and the next day we were cleaning out her apartment.

My grandmother was a bit of a head case. She was a hoarder. She kept every scrap of paper that came into her possession. In addition to boxes of receipts and newspaper clippings, her room contained jars filled with rocks, makeup bags stuffed with plastic bags, pantyhose from the 50s (still in the original packaging), about one hundred miniature locks with keys, decks of playing cards, dozens of umbrellas and fans, old calendars rolled up with mothballs. And for some reason, every item made of fabric--clothing, bags, etc--had at least one safety pin fastened to it. It was a bit disturbing. It makes me want to live a nomadic life and die, possession-less, on a raft in the ocean, just so nobody has to be bothered to clean up after me.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

where's my freakout?

So, a bunch of stuff happened this week and, as is my usual M.O., I guess I will just go through it chronologically.

The night before my friend left, we went out to dinner. There was a lull in the conversation during which I thought, "OK, I should tell him now how I feel..." It was all the shit that my Spanish-teacher-turned-psychotherapist and I had discussed--namely, that I like to ruin things before anyone else can, but that I still wanted to tell him that he is awesome! That's when he said, "I have a confession." My heart stopped. He continued, "My boss and I got hookers last night." Oh man, I could not stop laughing. Later that night, I ended up writing him a drunken note in Spanglish.

Way too early the next morning we went on a photo shoot together and it was amazing. I haven't done any abandoned or industrial photography since getting here, and he picked out a site that I'd actually noticed several weeks ago. The shoot was incredible; the photography was amazing, and then when we returned to the city center he had his camera stolen on a crowded subway car--containing my 8GB memory card with all of the photos that I'd lent him after he filled his own card. What a shitty fucking turn of events. My FC almost-love-affair had his Canon stolen as well when he was here a few weeks ago. I feel like it's just a matter of time before I get mine stolen as well. I did end up giving him the probably illegible note and then saying goodbye. I took the bus home and slept for the rest of the day.

I didn't have time to mourn the loss, though, because the day before, after the hooker confession, I'd talked to my parents about a family situation going down on the other side of the world. And tomorrow, I am flying out to the other side of the world to try and "help," i.e., I'm just going there for moral support. It is pretty much all I have to offer the world right now, so I didn't really think about it. I am a little nervous about it, because I also offered to stay out there as long as I am needed. I don't know what this will entail. I am now sitting in my room here in Buenos Aires and wondering how to prepare for this trip. Only now it is not about what possessions I bring with me, since I really don't have anything. It is more about what sort of expectations I bring with me mentally, and again, I can't bring much, since I don't really know what is happening. It would of course make sense to bring everything with me. But that makes me feel like I am not coming back, so I will probably just leave a random assortment of useless things and one important thing--my tripod.

I feel surprisingly calm, maybe because I haven't really had time to think about it. Whenever the anxiety rises up in me, I just say, "Ssshh, anxiety doesn't help. We have to go and just...be there." (like how we are a 'we?') Also I composed a three-page email to someone this morning and I guess it helped me to put my thoughts in order. Maybe I will post the email because it made me feel good about life. And shit, when you feel good about life, nothing is a really big deal.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

tuesday fail

Today I have been worthless. It is pretty much the same as yesterday, but the weather is a lot crappier. I stayed up late with a friend who is leaving Buenos Aires for good tomorrow. We climbed to the top of the water tank on top of his apartment building and drank Argentine wine until about three in the morning, enjoying the warm, quiet night.

I wanted to tell him that I loved him, but instead I just whined that I wished he weren't leaving. It would have been a good night for some kind of loving--a heartfelt confession, some raucous sex, or even just a night of sharing the same bed--but I couldn't go there. I was just sad, and I kept thinking how it was all my fault that we weren't lovers--because of that stupid first night where I got too drunk and ended up blowing coke and fucking someone else. The thought was too depressing. But it was a nice night, last night. We talked forever, and then I went to sleep--in his absent roommate's bed who is, incidentally, a guy I went on a date with several months ago. Total coincidence.

I woke up early this morning to the sounds of construction and was pretty confused as to where I was. I caught the bus in the rain and listened to Hot Chip's 'One Life Stand' on repeat on the ride home. Then I ate a bunch of food, watched some porn, and sulked. I've never watched porn before, really. I was trying to stream the movie 'Junebug,' which I thought would make me feel better. It is an excellent movie, about love and home and being there for people the best you can. But it wouldn't stream, so I ended up watching porn. One of the videos was really depressing. It had this young girl introduce herself in the beginning by saying, "I'm nineteen years old and I'm sooo excited because I'm going to do my first DP (double penetration) today! That's right! I'm going to have two cocks in me--one in my pussy and one in my ass! It's going to be soooo hot!" She flounced around for a while, all sassy-like, and then these two big guys came out and disrobed, one shoving his cock in her mouth while the other pounded her from behind. Then they would switch. One guy was really annoying. He kept calling her a slut and asking her if she liked it, to which she could only reply "Mmm!" in a really unconvincing fashion. She was gagging on dick, and the camera kept catching her frightened, miserable eyes. All of her "excitement" was gone and I just felt really sorry for her. I had to turn it off because it felt like I was watching her get raped.

I received an invitation in the mail today for my friend's wedding, the one where I am going to be the maid of honor. The invitation was really pretty. I thought about my friend who is leaving, and how easily I could marry him. I could. He is sweet and intelligent and incredibly thoughtful and socially conscious and has a great sense of humor--and even great style. I am supposed to see him one more time, the morning before he leaves. I can picture myself confessing to him that I would move up to Canada and marry him in a heartbeat. I think we would be good together. I imagined us cooking together and tickling babies and having a perfect little life together. But there is a really fucked up part of me that finds this idea so repulsive.

And I find myself stuck in that weird place I was last night on the rooftop with him, still wondering if I should tell him how I feel about him. I tried to purge it from my mind with all that horrible pornography and then a Coen Brothers film, but I keep thinking about it. I have never even kissed this boy. I don't know. I just see him as someone who is perfect and me as someone who is so fucking fucked up.

I am just not going to say anything. Maybe we'll meet again. And in the perfect future when we do meet again, I won't be so fucked up and commitment-phobic, and he'll be...still single.

Monday, April 12, 2010

more dating in BsAs

Tomorrow I was supposed to return to the states, but I'm not! It is a funny feeling to make it to a deadline and realize how meaningless/arbitrary time is. I definitely cannot imagine leaving tomorrow. I went on a date last night who asked me where I am going when I go back to the states and it was a very profound question.

Actually, I went on two dates last night, accidentally. I have a hard time keeping track of days and made a date for 'Sunday' and then also for 'tomorrow'; they happened to be the same day. The dates were interesting. Both the guys were so soft-spoken that I kept having to lean in and say "What? What?" It made me feel like I was stupid and hard of hearing.

It is a bad idea to do dates back-to-back, even if you have enough time. As soon as I realized my mistake, I wanted to cancel one. It's just not fair and it's exhausting and by the second date I was already kind of drunk and sleepy. But the problem with online dating is that once you have made plans it is kind of difficult to break them at the last minute. That is also just poor form.

My first date was with a third-generation Argentine-Japanese boy. He was sweet. It was interesting to hear about his experiences as a minority here, things that I can obviously relate to. My second date was with a porteño who nicely took me to see a Romanian movie with both English and Spanish subtitles. It was called 'The Happiest Girl in the World' and it is not a good date movie. I think the movie was done as well as it could have been done, but I don't think it should have been a movie at all. Date #2 kind of weirded me out because he told me he couldn't stand it that people eat popcorn in movies. I thought, 'Oh god, one of these pretentious, humorless, must-focus-all-attention-on-the-CINEMA guys.' But afterward, we went to a great bar and had cocktails and somehow got to talking about a favorite bar we have in common, and how last weekend I bought some bad coke there and got so sick that I couldn't get out of bed until 6 pm the following day and had to puke in a plastic bag next to my bed.

Well, I think I omitted the last part. But he did tell me that the next time we go out, he'll make sure I don't get bad cocaine. Now there's a second date to look forward to.