Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Seventeenth Date!

So. It's a fairly nice night out and I have a fairly nice stoop so I decided, as I am want to do, to write this post while sitting outside overlooking my street in the west village, NYC. I have a glass of water (because it's still August after all, even if for a few more hours), my laptop, and my phone all balanced in my hands as I pull my door shut with my right foot (thank you yoga) before tip toeing  outside (I live in a townhouse of a wonderful family I used to nanny for, thus the tip toeing.)

Can anyone guess yet what is wrong with this picture? I have contact with the outside world (phone), hydration (water) and the impetus upon which to write this blog (laptop). What else is missing right?

My keys.

Shit.

So, yes, I am writing this on my stoop, locked out of my apartment, unsure what on earth I will do this evening to get a good night's sleep. I can't very well wake up my landlords, they have three children after all, but I just don't know if the mosquito-laden front porch of my home will do it for me tonight. Hmmm. And don't think I miss the irony in all this. I, unofficial key girl of New York, LOCK myself out of my apartment, without my KEYS. There are just too many levels to explore here.

Well, until that's all figured out, let's got on with the writing shall we? Without further adieu let me rush in the quirky, the nutty, the perhaps most surprising of all, date number 17!

The Time: Monday, August 30th, 6:02pm
The Place: Joe Holzka Community Garden, Castleton Ave and Baker St, Staten Island
The Guy: Dan, 26, another set up from my faithful friends, this time the delightful Patty Eames.
What Creative Time Says: This public gazebo was once a private casino.

About four weeks ago Patty and Chris, quite possibly the cutest couple of the century, came to visit New York. Over milkshakes I told tales of my summer of love (well, perhaps my love of summer) and the quest and challenge I was facing. Immediately, the two turned towards one another. "Dan?" they said. After scrolling through facebook pictures and learning he was a foodie in advertising with a sense of adventure, well, what more possibly needs to be said?

So here I was, Monday afternoon, leaning up against the ferry terminal wall reading my latest acquisition (Then We Came to The End, very funny.), unable to believe that I was actually getting nostalgic for my final key venture to the fifth borough. Staten Island, how I do apologize for not giving you a chance earlier along!
 The ride was, as always, tourist filled and beautiful and there really may be no better feeling in the world then sea breeze brushing around you, even if it is from the Hudson river. Dan and I are such huge talkers (we actually missed two ferries because we weren't paying adequate attention, thank goodness it was rush hour) that I imagine we sounded like two children's footsteps chasing a new kitten around an attic to a bystander down below (or just the German tourists to our left.) Upon disembarking we ran to the S46 and spent the next twenty minutes craning our necks out the window in hopes of spotting the proper exit point. Dan asked, "don't they announce the stops on a bus?" No Dan, no they do not, that would be far too practical for our oft-confused MTA system.

The Joe Holzka Community Garden (and a big thank you here for including so many gardens on this tour, they are the epicenter of community and growth and big city delight and surprise) was tended by the adorable Kathy who allowed us free reign to smell, touch, and even taste the delights around the garden. Certainly the biggest I've visited, it hosted plants from all over the world (Kathy taught us how to tell what country of origin the planters were from based off the layout of their plots.) The colors were hidden and gorgeous, like I-Spy's in nature, play sardines until you stumbled upon their bursts of reds, pinks, and yellows.


What a delightful way to spend a monday eve. Better yet was entering the adorable gazebo, outfitted with chairs and a mysterious box labeled "Take One." Inside? A whole army of tiny origami projects, many made by Kathy herself. Dan and I attempted to create our own objects before succumbing to the origami taboos of crumpling and tearing, snapped a few photos, and made our way to dinner.

Oh right,dinner. You see, "winging it", which has worked in my past and which I had also hoped for that night, is not exactly the best idea for a monday evening in the middle of Staten Island. Kathy "maybe" knew where a bus "might be" and directed us to Forest Hills Ave where the Staten, which sounded promising, was located. So Dan and I waited on the most western-archetype deserted street in NY for a bus to bring us to the corner of McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken land and the two of us, determined to find the best cuisine SI had to offer, trudged along the strip-mall like road. Where were we, Tennessee? Oh, and it turns out the Staten is a buffet mart, only open for lunch, from 12- 2 30pm. Whoops.

I was about to give up and hightail it to Baskin Robbins (hey, I'd never been to a Dunkin Deli before, that would be new!) when across the way, under a haze of florescent kegs and mugs, a green awning read "Best Burgers in Staten Island." Done.

Duffy's, where we decided to land was, in four words, old school scrumptiously perfect. The waiters were locals (we got into a great debate about the island's best pizza because, you know, now I'm an expert)  the burger special was blue cheese, the bloody mary's were six bucks and the sweet potato fries were the best I have ever eaten. Seriously it was like a crunchy juicy skin containing the most wonderfully pureed sweet potatoes in the world. I had died and gone to bar food heaven.

Dan and I decided to walk back, discussing the best in Pixar movies, his job in advertising, and what on earth the random knots of teenagers circling the island came from. We passed sparkly organic cleaners, dozens of bagel shops, and the strangest townhouse turned burrito hut this side of the Mississippi. Finally when we could walk no more (we ran out of street lights!) we boarded the bus and headed back to our little isle of Manhattan.

On the return trip, there was, I swear to goodness, the most beautiful moon I have ever seen in my life. Full yet halved, so close and yet so orange, it was haunting and beautiful and perfect in the moment. I, of course, took approximately 1000 pictures, Dan was kind enough to let me do so.

The key to the city came to me in my hour of need, bringing me a snappy burger and the most perfect of sweet potato fries just when I had almost given up all hope. Which is where I was with this whole apartment thing when who should so happen to answer my facebook cry for locked-out help but, I kid you not, our dear friend Tim, of the original Staten Island adventure.

This truly is a magical little key. Now only if it would open the door to my apartment.....

Locked Out, but with quite the view,



L.A.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Sixteenth Date

Do you ever put your ipod on shuffle and then get mad that it doesn't understand exactly what song you'd like to hear? Frustrated by tune after tune of audiobook or that CD a guy made you in High School, you just want to get to the good stuff, the gels with where you are in time? You can either be upset or, you can reframe it, as I have decided to do so, by deciding well, at least this means all the really great ones are on the way. And that is officially how I am going to think about dating from now on! With that being said I am totally psyched by this last string of dates, so lovingly chosen by my friends to support me in my hour of need, and what wonderful companions they have helped me find for this crazy adventure of mine. After spending 15 hours in a car in upstate New York with my friend Kyle for research, I finally weaseled out the information about his very charming friend Brian, in town for three months to film an upcoming documentary. Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you date 16.

The Time: Sunday, August 29th, 12:05 pm
The Date: Brian,6'4", filmmaker, bloody mary hater
The Place: Trinity Church, 74 Trinity Place, Manhattan
What Creative Time Says: To be buried in the city is to become part of the city. (sing it sister).

You know a date is going to rock when you exchange texts all morning pushing back the meeting time. Thanks to a bottle of red wine and the fact that Jared works a few blocks from my house, was having girl troubles, and gets off his shift at 1am I did not quite receive the nine hours of sleep I was planning on in order to ensure I was bright eyed and bushy for a morning date. Thankfully, Brian was right there with me and we agreed to step into the sunshine Manhattan-early at noon. We searched the corpse-like wall street area with its no man land of no-work sundays, and finally found stone street, the strangest little mecca of italy meets boston meets the 19th century I have ever seen. Tables are packed so that you can pick food off your neighbor's plate and the cobblestone ground cannot even be seen, but we were outside, our surly hostess found us a seat, and Brian hilariously mountain climbed over the benches to reach a nice landing point. I was good to go.

Brunch was delicious, thank you Smorgas Chef, and Brian had me laughing throughout my Jarlsberg eggs and chive whipped mashed potatoes. It's tricky knowing with these set ups if the guy is actually interested in going on a date with me or if he's more into the whole blog exposure, but I am sure they must feel the same way about me and what's fair is fair. Besides, Brian's obsession with Paul the Octopus made for a skippingly delightful breakfast topic when one is working very hard at staying awake. Even if he did compare me to Julia Allison. Bastard.

With a very full belly and my cheeks hurting from laughing I brought Brian to the elevated acre, one of my favorite spots in an area I don't much love, the financial district. Whoa the website makes this place look like an outdoor disco club but in reality, it's quite beautiful, with native plants and pensive couples and groups of men practicing their parkouring skills. Yep, you read me right, every Saturday and Sunday at 1 30pm a group of men in their 20's gets together to practice doing the grapevine and making high high highkicks so they can jump over the 2.5 foot stairs located around the turf grass. I love parkouring but my goodness if we NewYorkers aren't good at turning everything fun into a talent in need of perfection. I was content to lie on my blanket (I never leave my apartment on a summer weekend without packing at least one book and a giant tapestry blanket from China) and try and figure out just what the heck these guys are doing in the section of the city where the sky peaks out in quilt-like fashion and each building stands imposingly as a high school security guard on a pot bust.

Now was, of course, a perfect time for Brian to show me his top secret ninja documentary which I cannot reveal on this site for fear of it being leaked. Seriously (in part). Here is also where I begin to fall a little for Brian. You see world, there is this thing called the creative magnet and when utilized properly it can be the most wonderful catalyst for tripping over your words and becoming nervous around someone whom you have only just met. It's what makes me stammer like a schoolgirl when meeting obviously gay broadway stars and has me falling in love with every other performer at the Nuyorican Cafe or UCBT. The creative magnet is an attractive lifeforce wielded by those very talented at adding art and inspiration and life into our sometimes gray world. I know I've focused a lot on the dating here but, as important to me is the art, heck, I'd be clamoring over Paul Ramirez Jonas if the guy wasn't married as he is, inarguably, the greatest relational aesthesian of our time. To be fair, this is not always a good thing, the search of the creative magnet, and the misplays it creates, have lead me down some pretty dark paths (think rats crawling on your feet in a theater space in Manhattan, literally!), and I, who hates being liked for what I put out there rather than who I am, should understand the dangers this can bring.  But creation of art, additions to the world, making people smile or cry or think or spin, is incredibly important to me, and I can't help but recognize and celebrate that in another person. So, clearly, when Brian showed me the trailer to his movie which may be telling one of the stories that most makes me want to hopscotch that I have encountered in awhile, well, let's just say my tongue was a little more tied at the end of the four minute twenty five second trailer (but who's counting?)

Luckily, I pulled myself together and we made it to Trinity by the 3pm deadline, laughing over Brian's stories all the way. I swear this guy collects characters in his life like burs in a meadow and I loved stepping for a few hours into his world. Baring down the tourist traps of high waving American flags, just steps from the most inflammatory argument in our present time, rocking out on Mr. Softie and catching snapshots of Lady Liberty herself, we led ourselves into the back gates of Trinity only to discover the promised gate was wide open for all to explore (how indecent!) Saddened (ok, that was just me) we walked through the weathered tombs, listened to Brian's This-American-Life like collection of voicemails on his phone (seriously, he should start a podcast "The Answer(ing) Machine" is what I would title it), and then, fittingly, were locked into the park at closing time. Though Brian could have easily stepped over the 5' gate, he was kind enough to signal the guard so that I was not locked in. Thank you my dear.



Now, many have complained about Trinity's lack of a lock (clearly whoever connected with the project was incredibly quick to change her mind regarding the exclusivity of the place) and, frankly, there are a lot of whiners out there about many of the key sites that don't provide some sort of "special" prize at the end. Yes, I was as sad as the next at the inability to unlock my own world but should certain places be turned into the standard hotel, available only to those of us lucky to stumble upon the key? I like the far thrown places, the community gardens and boxes on buses, because just getting there is half the battle and the key is a wonderful reward but Trinity Church 'aint no secret friends. Sometimes you just have to let go and be grateful for the experience, regardless of the package it arrived in.

So I left Brian in the heated fog of the 14th street subway station, eager for more of his stories, more of his art, and more of, just generally, him (though maybe after a nice shower, a nap, and some AC this time, since when did July return to NYC?). For the first time in a while, however, I genuinely had no clue if he felt the same, which, let's be honest, usually means they do not. But the really nice thing about these creative types is that their art lives on. And that I got to go home, make myself some lemonade iced tea, and watch his rocking trailer, realizing, perhaps for the first time, that the art is separate from the person. Regardless of how he felt, I was laughing and smiling and dancing on my toes all the same. 

And I hope that for the men of this project, if I'm on your cutting room floor or  left behind on the paint pallet, if the gate is locked open or the key just won't turn, that the same will hold true: regardless of how I've gotten here, it's been a wonderful place to end up.

With cheeks that burn from smiles,

L.A.

Don't try this at home

Before I plunge into date 16, let me say this: I would rather be Sarah Haskins than Julia Allison any day.  I want to enjoy life, yes, but I'm not here looking for some perfect specimen whom I can pick apart with a piece of dental floss. I want to love the moments but laugh at the bad and not assume this is all some project that has to do with me just stumbling upon someone "right." I read another dating blog at the suggestion of a friend and wanted to vomit with its gendering, its simplicity, its lack of anything real. Weirdly enough, it half kills me to think of this as a dating blog itself. I don't want to be some butter churn of men switching them in and out. I want to live the moments I am in with the person I am with and of course I would rather have this all figured out by now but I don't and thus, comes ten dates in ten days.

Maybe I'm trying to make myself feel better. Maybe it's ridiculous a woman has to make herself feel better when she dates multiple guys when it's often assumed men are doing the same. But, for the record, while I am psyched for this week I don't usually prescribe to, nor love, so much dating and so much turnover in such a short span on time. And you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be psyched to have a fifth date involving homemade cooking and favorite movies down the road. But I am where I am and I'm finishing this thing darn it and I so appreciate the men who are helping me do it. Thank you for entering this strange little world I have somehow teleported myself into.

And if you want dating advice, just click HERE. 

<3

L.A.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Fifteenth Date

So this is what happens when you procrastinate or are focusing on other things (you know, like your job) and forget that, whoops, it's already late August and, uh oh, the entire Key to the City project ends on labor day (thankfully running extra-date this year) and you, ahhhh!, have TEN DATES TO DO IN TEN DAYS?

Can you do it? Will you make it? Damn right you will! And gosh darn it if you won't even have some fun!
Which brings us to the beginning of the end, and date numero quince!

The Time:  Saturday, August 28th, 10:22am (me= 7 minutes late = success!)
The Guy: Tom, introduced through college dorm-mate Meg, 26
The Place: Freshkills Park, Staten Island
What Creative Time Says:  It took us half a century but we made this together.

About one month ago I emailed Doug, the tour guide and booker for the Freshkills park extravaganza as, in order to open this key you had to secure a spot on one of their coveted tours. Thankfully, Doug was waiting for me as he wrote:


We were wondering if you'd every come out! After I read the NYT piece I looked back on our rosters and noticed that you hadn't been out - I do most of the tour organization and lead many of them and didn't think any blind dates were happening...

Thank goodness for small graces! Tom and I had also been waiting for our big moment as Meg tried to set us up way back when I only had maybe three readers aside from my parents and our schedules just never clicked into a date. Thankfully, and finally, with almost one week to go, we finally cleared our schedules for each other!

Ok now readers, so at this point in the game, I'm pretty good at a first date and I've also come to expect pretty much zero from the whole thing. It's down to a science, say hello, hug, comment on getting there, comment on the key to the city, and dive into a few hours of getting to know you chat. I wasn't expecting much, heck, Tom and I had barely exchang substantive emails before agreeing to meet, so I was going into this really pretty blind.


But there was something about this guy! Nothing big and fancy, nothing glittery, but damn if the more we talked the more I wanted to just keep talking. And the conversation wasn't all, where are you from what are your views, it was more, let's talk about that childhood pet we accidentally killed and the novel you have written that you want to keep working on (seriously, and tragically, we both had that in common.) It wasn't othat our lives were mirror images, but our life views and the rhythms of the choices made seemed to, well, compliment each other.


And see? I'm not even talking about the key site! Which was, totally awesome and fantastic and beautiful and I am losing my adjectives with which to describe it. Freshkills Park, kills meaning stream in Dutch, is a 2200 acre former landfill now being adapted to make the second biggest park in NYC. Soon (well,thirty years) to be featuring kayaking and picnicing, playgrounds and hiking trails, this massive expanse of land now operates as some kind of sanitation boneyard with long retired cranes creaking about the mountains and run down garbage trucks lining the gravel roads. Our tourbus, and fearless leader Doug, wound around the paths, over tons and tons of rubbish, literally, through highway passes and over creeks, all in the name of learning about this soon to be awe-inspiring space. I for one am happy I will still be living in NYC when it's all open. 


Being on a tour bus meant the actual key part was a singular event, one girl opened the padlocked box to reveal a giant pair of binoculars (note: objects in magnification may be further than they appear, while using them I ducked out of the way of a dragonfly seemingly soaring towards my head which was, in all likelihood, closer to Manhattan than myself) and all of us key-bearers cheered at the surprise (two of them later recognized me and told me they were loyal readers, FUN!) I still made Tom open the lock, of course, and tried to explain to him why the entire thing was so exciting to me and Tom, bless his heart, tried to play along. Well, if I can't find someone who will squeal with delight when I stumble upon a purple piece of glass on the street, than all I can ask for is someone who will smile as I do so. We had a delightful time scavenging for gas vent kegs and trying to capture a picture of the elusive butterflies and bees on the hill.


Let this be a lesson to anyone who says NYC is all buildings and crowds, my friends, you simply have not ventured out enough. The paths and grounds went on and on and I felt just as I would on top of a conservatory area in my hometown of western, MA (minus all the landfill covering but hey, I used to sled over an old landfill near my house, as long as you don't lick the snow right?) I was sad when the tour ended (I was dying to climb up onto these giant blue sculptures, I mean plows, just waiting for human contact) but Tom and I chatted the entire way back to the ferry, often in hushed tones because we were the only ones on the bus still engaged in conversation! 


After we disembarked most everyone made a beeline to the ferry but not us, we were brave adventurers here to conquer Staten Island! Walking past the scariest clown-painted bar I have ever seen in my life, a homeless shelter for youth, and the tiniest bait and tackle shop I've ever seen, a cart of used books caught my eye as carts of used books are want to do and soon we came upon the most fabulous used bookstore I have yet been to in NYC. Everything Goes Book Cafe and Neighborhood Stage is  everything that I truly miss about coffee houses/bookstores in NYC. Sure, we have housing works and McNally Robinson, which I love and are certainly able to do the trick, but here, in the heart of the oft-forgotten borough, was a place full of vintage records and current novels, 19th century playbills and local artists, but without one bit of the pretension that often occupies these areas in Manhattan. The couches were free to be sat upon, the regulars had out their tarot cards, and the hummus was homemade, I was in heaven.



Tom copied my lunch of an iced mint tea and a bagel with cream cheese, tomato and fresh basil (brilliant new combo!) though he preferred his bagel to remain untoasted, and we sat out in the completely unoccupied back porch area to delve into the realms of children's literature and our favorite movies. I don't think I've ever been out with someone with whom I had such opposite tastes in culture (the man hasn't read Matilda or The Fountainhead, people) and yet whose opinion made me want to look into the movies I may have otherwise skipped over. It was just like the bagel, familiar and delicious with just a new enough twist to keep me delightfully on my toes. I went to acroyoga after the date and for the first time in awhile I didn't even need to be flown before I was smiling like crazy. It had been a good day, a very good day indeed.


So I think it's fair to say this date may have been one of the more promising of them all. Not only does Freshkills have a lot of potential and a lot to look forward too, but I do believe Tom may reappear in this week of insanity himself as another key date. 


 





Looking Forward, 




L.A.







 

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Unbearable Lightness of Dating

Here's where I admit that this whole dating thing is really, really hard, and sometimes it really really sucks. I'm about to enter a crazy week not unlike my first flurry foray into this project, ten dates in ten days to top off a summer of adventure, of finding NYC, of finding myself and finding many, many first dates.

But, if I am honest with you all, and with myself, sometimes it's a pain in the butt. I am psyched and committed to jump full force into the next (and last?) series of dates. I'm looking forward to a trip to the Whitney, to grooving with Louis in his house museum, to visiting a courthouse without my suit on, and yes, returning to Staten Island. I'm devilishly ready to meet the men my friends have set me up with for the last venture into finding summer love and anxious to bring summer out with a bang (and a key, and nearly a dozen locks.)

But my goodness if it can't be tiring at times. Being open for three months straight? Believing in the possibility that a connection may be out there? Making the guy feel comfortable and ensure (or at least try to ensure) that he is having a fun time too? Listening to friends dismiss my idea when they go home to their husbands (for clarification,I am  not talking about any of my wonderful friends in beautiful relationships who posted comments and furthered dialogue on the last post!). Going through personal struggles and both not wanting to be negative on a first date and also wishing someone already knew. Let's face it, dating can be hard, and dating openly for one whole summer, looking for love, wanting love, but also realizing and admitting and succumbing to the idea that it's all about the experience, the adventure, the moments, well, that's a tough order.

Being single means being your own cheerleader when you want to give up, it means kissing yourself goodnight and telling yourself you're beautiful every morning. It means getting yourself out of that funk and telling yourself a funny story to make you laugh. And it can be insightful and gorgeous and comforting but it can also be, well, hard, and lonely, and, dare I say it, sometimes a little sad. I didn't expect to put myself out there just to find "someone" but the more you date, the more you are confronted with the idea of idea, and thus, the fact that you yourself are floating in orbit.

I don't want to give the wrong idea, I still love all of it, and tomorrow I will wake up and head to that ferry full of possibility and wonder.

But tonight, I just want to acknowledge that it can be tough out there for us single folks in a world made for twos.

-L.A.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Leap

On December second 2006, halfway through my senior year of college and just before my twenty-second birthday, writing " I just want to be with someone whose arms I am as excited to jump into as a pile of leaves fallen from a tree."

The air has finally begun to cool.

Which means many lovely things. It means I get to curl up in a warm sweater as I write this post from my front stoop overlooking cobbled stones. It means lovely jaunts with blessed coworkers and actually enjoying the breeze. It means acroyoga without getting over heated and the reminder of leaves changing color and newly sharpened pencils and the back to school giddiness in the stomach even if you're finally an "adult" who no longer has "summer break" and thus no longer can relish in the mystery/terror of beginnings of class sections, new teachers, cute boys, notebooks that have yet to be written in, subjects that have yet to be learned. The leaves will soon begin to fall.

It also means the end of the Key to the City project. Fear not, I promise you I will get it done (I have quite the week planned) but I have to say that in this summer of love of art and love of life there has been less love than usual in my dating experiences and adventures. What I mean to say is that it is intellectually and romantically interesting to me that I have not yet found someone to consistently share the end dates with, not because I believe men are like fish and you just have to hang around long enough to catch something worthwhile, but because in my past, it's worked out that way.

Now, to be fair, none of my relationships have exactly lasted. Dating I am great at, actual relationships, admittedly, not so much ( I  believe Morgan Spurlock proved that McDonald French Fries outlast my boyfriends in terms of a shelf life) but I have, in the past, found people with whom I wanted to share more than a handful of outings. And so far, in this project, either I haven't found them or they haven't (metaphysically) found me or, perhaps more fittingly, we collectively didn't find our connection.

Could it be the project has bitten me in the rear end? Does the possibility and knowledge of completing so many dates in a summer take away from focusing on the man at present? Or have I been allowed to explore more, look for deeper connections, so I am not just falling into old patterns of "eh, you're not so bad"-relationships that inevitably end? Maybe it's something in between. Maybe I have been allowed to look but, truth be told, I have no idea what on earth I am looking for.

It's easy to make lists of attributes, the rambling "cute, funny, smart, good guy" persona's that work like fortune tellers in that we all agree with are talking only about us. Ask one hundred people what they are looking for and I bet 90 percent will tell you much of the same. And there's a difference when you add in personal chemistry and the pace of your conversation and how wide your smile gets when he calls but really, on a first date, I just have no idea how you know anymore.

I knew with Jared, my high school sweetheart who I oft refer to (and shout out here to his fantastic mom who I am told reads this blog and to whom I would STILL like to apologize for consuming 99 percent of her sons time throughout our freshmen and sophomore years of high school, had texting taken off by then I'm sure it would be closer to 100) almost right away. I knew when I first saw him and the first time we hugged I literally, LITERALLY, got weak in the knees. Granted, I was thirteen and had maybe hugged two other guys in the non-cousin variety but still, it was everything the movies tell you it's supposed to be, your breath slows down, your heart speeds up, and everything, even the thoughts through your head, go into slow motion.

But back to life, back to reality and back to non Romeo and Juliet tumultuous hormone driven love from the 90's. These days, I'd like my love with a side of stability please and I'm willing to do what it takes to get there. Though the dramatic parts certainly encompassed a large sector of my life and, while it's been a while since I've bled a pen dry with longing over some boy in a journal, I sometimes read over my piles of notebooks in gestures of humility, thought provocation, and, often, amusement. I quoted Shakespeare, wrote poems, stated, in all truth and belief to myself, that I felt I would die without X,Y, or Zach. But for all that adolescent heartbreak and handwritten drama, I still don't know what actually made my heart go thump-thump.

 Is this the silliest of all questions, am I questioning the obvious here? I honestly find myself with guys who are smart, who are cute, who are funny, with whom I share interests and activities and I'll-be-damned if I just don't know what I am supposed to be looking for. My knees don't go weak for anyone, and I no longer stammer at the prospect of a male at the other end of the phone (ok, maybe i never stammered, I've always been quite the flirt but blazing heartbeats like bouncy balls on a san francisco hill, yes, that once existed). But still, I admit, I am totally lost.

I look now at my friends getting married, my friends having babies, my friends dating exes they had once written off and I just wonder, how did you know? Did it take more than one date? Did you ever think it could never work for you? Could you wait until he called you back or did you hold onto your phone like one grasps monkey bars in childhood? Did you know you wanted to look into their eyes forever, hear their voice for always or did you have to distort it to accept it at first in your mind? Did you fantasize right away or did you run screaming before you see things clearly in the closer-than-it-appears mirror of self-reflection? What were the right jokes and right moves and the right time to kiss and was it right because it was simply all wrong? The facebook albums flooding my newsfeed, full of white dresses and tuxed best men, show me one endpoint and I wonder, could they articulate the beginning?

I spent some time this past spring recording my friends, let's call them Julie and Pete, who, together, comprise the most wonderful loving couple that I dare say has walked this earth. I attacked the male counterpart of the pair (the female is one of my better friends from law school) within the first ten minutes of them picking me up from the train station with the question "How did you know you were in love with Julie?" I followed up with the notation that they had first been friends, and how did they know that it could be more than friendship.

Here is his response (note, Julie was with us when we were recording so he addresses her towards the end)

I'm the type of person who doesn't sort of make decisions or have epiphanies in one fell swoop. So I would have to say there were a number of moments when I sort of realized that I was in love with Julie... I think when I had a wonderful moment when I had this gut reaction was when Julie had just gotten back from the airport from visiting her sisters, and she had all her luggage, and she just looked so beautiful and she had this big smile on her face and we hugged and she gave me a kiss on the cheek and I had that butterfly feeling and I started thinking about dating Julie right at that very moment. I had liked Julie before that but I hadn't sustained the emotion before that previous moment. I had thought about it before, but I hadn't known. But then that moment, when you walked in, you were radiant and smiling and I felt all light hearted and I couldn't think about other things for awhile and I was just thinking about you. 


Damn.

Incidentally when I followed up with Julie about why she was so happy that day and why her smile was so big, she replied

Because I was happy about seeing Pete. I had to go right from the airport and Pete had sent me a cute email over the summer and when I walked in, to have him sitting there, was really great.

So my question remains, what came first, the love or the love?  Without Julie's smile, which was sparked by Pete's presence, would Pete have fallen in love with Julie in the first place? Perhaps I am getting to brainy about all this, too deep (I am a lawyer after all) but as I go on date after date with wonderful guy after wonderful guy,  I wonder, what am I missing? Should I know right off the bat or should I give it time? How do I know? And is it that I just have to let go of the knowing to truly find out, to let anything happen and be open to possibility in order for the love to creep it's way in? Is it silent or noisy, hidden or in plain view? My question is not "where is the love" but "where are my glasses so I can see it properly."And maybe it doesn't need to be there, or maybe the real kind never is there, right at the very beginning, and I need to relax and look for comfort, not love, and delight, not necessarily adventure, and find it through being open and willing to allow it to come.

The question still remains over whether I have learned anything yet from this project aside from a lot of self reflection and a newfound appreciation of Staten Island, but, just recognizing the journey is often step one. Four years ago I wrote, " I just want to be with someone whose arms I am as excited to jump into as a pile of leaves fallen from a tree." 

That, at least, is a sentiment I can stand behind and taking the plunge is something I have become a champion at. And until  the day comes when I know it's right, well, I'll keep jumping with my impish self until I find a pile suitable enough to sustain a legion of notebooks. And in my last dates, I want to jump with some of those great guys with whom, in my past, I may have thought "eh, this won't work," but who deserve a second (or third, or forth look.)

Luckily, the leaves will soon begin to fall and I've become more comfortable with the first step, the leap.

Love,

L.A.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Fourteenth Date!

Yet again, I found myself running late. I know it’s not at all shocking by now but if you are unaware of just how many distractions exist in the twenty-first century then I doubt you’re a reader of my blog to begin with. Today the subject of my tardiness lay in Bikinis. I was headed to the beach, Coney Island to be exact, and lay on my wooden bedroom floor with no less than six bikinis strung around me in my room like the after affects of a tornado rainbow. Not only would I be baring myself on this first date, down to my pale skin and freckled legs, but I couldn’t actually find a matching suit. It had thrown me through a loop. Then, I stopped and realize that should my date be lucky enough to see me in a bikini on our first date, well then, my date couldn’t very well complain over whether or not it matched. This wisdom in hand I grabbed the closest set I could find, threw on some purple shades and ran out the door to date number fourteen!

The Time: 1:05pm, Saturday, August 14th
The Place: Brooklyn Public Library, Coney Island Branch, 19th and Mermaid Ave.
What Creative Time Says: Some space is shared and some knowledge is shared.

On this Saturday I was headed to Coney Island. Home of the annual sandsculpture contest (which I have won, albeit with adorable kids but I won nonetheless), the mermaid parade (which my friends have protested in) and, of course, the nathan’s hot dog eating contest (which I was thoroughly grossed out by in the summer of 2006 right after moving to NYC). I head to Coney Island at least once a year and always find something new, something sunny, and something supremely odd. With a key in hand, I knew this time would be no different.

I was nervous for this date, perhaps so more than all the others. It followed on the tails of two dates where I may have become too detached for my own good and I needed something to kick my butt back into the world of fun and romance. Something to make my stomach flip and nerves slip away. As I walked up to the Brooklyn Public Library,  key in hand and passport and pocket, my date’s reflection greeted me first in the plexi glass windows. I saw a rather short individual, with sun bleached hair that could do with fall darkening and a nervous yet adorable smile, containing excitement and possibility. Oh, and she too, had a key in her hand.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, today I was going on a date with myself and Coney Island, where you can be whoever you are right out in the broad of dailylight even it is a, gasp, single woman!, a place that has gone through more transitions than a s scandaled US senator and has always come out on top, was the perfect place to do it.  You may protest and most certainly parts of me did when I came up with this hair brained scheme. After all, our society works in twos, we’re not supposed to go to the movies, to dinner, and certainly not the beach, with only ourselves provided the much needed company we all craved. But here’s the thing. I wanted to go to the beach, I wanted to eat a Nathan’s hot dog and I wanted to ride the Cyclone. I wanted to experience the joy of opening a lock in New York and there was no one on that particular day who I’d rather go with than myself. So that’s exactly what I did.

For those of you who remain unsatisfied, well, the library agreed with you. The gates remained firmly closed (budget cuts I was told) and I imagined a rather large woman rolling her eyes and saying “uh-HU you’re not gonna get in here without no man.” I guiltily smiled, holding up my key as if to say, well, I tried, and bowed out and away from the elusive sight. While walking back towards the beach I stumbled upon a community garden, my third through this whole key journey and ate a fresh tomato with Carlos who runs the place. “You got a boyfriend?” he asked me, teasing with his male friends smoking cigars and roasting corn. “Still looking,” I smiled back, making a mock sailor’s gaze with the palm of my hand, “let me know if you see anyone, I’ll be by the ocean.”

So a key site I would not visit but a day at the beach, well, that was something I could sink my feet into. I found a spot between the nutcracker salesmen, tattooed snake wielding locals, and blasting radios, and settled into Anna Karenina for the afternoon. Did I mention this was after I chatted with two very cute boys from Germany awaiting their flight to Las Vegas. Flirting with cute boys you find along the way. Now there’s something you definitely can’t do on a date with anyone other than yourself.

Not 30 minutes into my solo adventure I ran into Elly and Emily, two wonderful (single!) women who were freshmen at Connecticut College when I was a senior. I always think about this when I am in New York, how many people you know and love surround you at any moment, in the next subway car or the next street over. For every person you run into in a coffee shop you know there had to be another who had entered just 20 minutes before and chatting with long lost friends? Not something you can do on a date. Speaking of dates, as I was posing for a picture by myself for this very blog I reached my arm around fake shoulders and laughed, “take one of my hot date.” I kid you not my friends that my outreached hand actually hit a confused, but very cute, guy who, when he later returned after Elly and Emily had left, told me he was named Dennis, worked for the city, and he wanted for my phone number. The project was definitely on to me.



Later I strolled on the boardwalk, had the hotdog (ok Corndog) that had eluded me (and which my stomach very feverishly protested) ever since I saw Joey Chestnut take home the championship for the U.S. of A. and danced the salsa on Coney Island’s wooden planks. I walked through fairgrounds, watched couples win each other cheap stuffed animals by filling balloons with water, and tried not to get dizzy at the idea of the new contraptions in Luna Park. I sidled up the 20’s makeup styled woman running the Cyclone booth and when she said “just one” when handing me my ticket I said “yup, and it’s my first time!” Her expression softened and she winked, take a seat near the front and soon my roller coaster, spacious the seat as I had it to myself, was plummeting down towards Coney Islands beaches of proud “freaks” and the children of NY. 

On my way out, smiling with glee, and rattling in the head (the Cyclone is from 1927  after all!) I passed the small display of treasures which make up the Coney Island History Project, The most wonderful treasure there, a man named Jim, became my tour guide and pointed out the delights, sights, and unbelievable crowds that made up the tourists of Coney Island’s past. Young couples rode wooden horses and posed kissing on paper moons while the beaches teemed with the most modest of bathing suits covering, literally, every possible square inch. I loved everything about Jim, his voice, his stories, his papery hands and the laughter in his voice. I was interviewed by the delightful Natalie who compiles the oral histories of Coney Island (hear my interview here!) and when I came out I took pictures with my new love: Jim.  I teasingly asked if he had a grandson, alas, they were all married. Jim explained to me that everyone just wants to get Coney back to where it used to be and my friends, I think we shall all be able to help with that!


The day ended with Anna Karenina and myself, headed on a subway back to NY. As I opened the pages a recipe fell into my lap from the previous owner, who had sold me this copy on her stoop. “A recipe for Lemon Asparagus” read the top, and at the bottom, “Enjoy” with a heart around the letter u. Small acts people, small acts. 

Later, at home, over a dish of Lemon Asparagus and a glass of chilled white wine, I received a phone call from along awaited man I had been flirting with and another old flame pulled up on my facebook feed.  Tomorrow, I would make dates with each but tonight, my cute-if-overly-excitable date who made me slightly overcooked asparagus, was enough.


Opening again soon, ever brighter than before,

L.A.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Speed Date for a Cause!

Loves,

So if you are not one of my friends who read this blog, let me tell you a little bit about myself: I am heavily into non profits here in the city. I love working for them and supporting them, raising funds for them and putting their profile out there. In the past I have had TONS of fun putting together "Speed date for a cause" events, putting singles together to meet, greet, hopefully kick it off with a beat, and then throwing an after party for coupled friends to attend featuring performers, auctions, and raffles for all attending. It's been pretty successful in the past, with couples and prize-winners growing out of a fundraiser for a local NGO, and I'd love to replicate the experience with Key2theCity.

So here's what I am looking for.

If you are a venue, or a performer, or a place that could offer an item or gift certificate for  a raffle, shoot me an email at keys2keys@gmail.com. In the past these events have been a TON of fun and have raised a good amount of money, I just want to keep the love flowing through this blog itself.!

And I'll be posting details as soon as I have them for all you readers looking for love. And YOU, my loves, will get to vote on where the money goes, so stay tuned for that as well!

xoxo,

L.A.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Thirteenth Date

Sadly it didn't happen on Friday the 13th, and you may be able to guess how it ends but I'm hyper and awake and it's past midnight so what else is there to do but post?! Here goes!

The Time: Tuesday, August 10th, 2010, 8:05pm
The Guy: "Phil" met on Okcupid (where else?!)
The Place: Gleason's Gym, 77 Front St, Brooklyn, NY
What Creative Time Says:  Like all lockers, this one is yours as long as your lock is on it.

This post is, perhaps, too far removed as it happened one week ago and the buzz of the after glow is not coursing through my veins as I already know how the story ends. I skipped to the last page of the book and found that Charlotte died (ok ok, it's not that dramatic but you know what I mean!) and some of the fun of Wilbur's adventures are thus lost (and if I've lost you, well then, you seriously need to reexamine your childhood). But we forge on in blogging as we do our quest for love and so I will share my tale of "Phil" with you all.

In another twist of my usual style, I think I've found my metaphor before I've even begun. Usually, I write these posts and connect the dots towards the end, finding, I hope, a clever way to sign off which ties in the date and the man and the experience when I am almost finished writing but I think with "Phil" I've got it all figured out ahead of time: I had my boxing gloves on and my fists up before we even began. "Are you saying you wanted to fight, L.A.?" you may ask, but you would ask wrong, instead I was so covered and protected and ready to be beaten up that I didn't allow myself to really shine through. "Phil" (and I am going to stop using quotes now, you all get it's not his real name, yes? though he never did choose that pseudonym) does movie/tv/editing/I'm being purposefully vague work in Manhattan and has the greatest curly hair and the warmest smile in the universe. He caught me working on my cell past 8pm outside my all time favorite photo bookstore in DUMBO (yes my favorites here get that specific, I have a lot!) Power House Books. Part avante garde photo house, part camera shop, part gallery and performance space, pH has it all and tonight I awaited my first date with Phil (well, until my client called my cell, really need to do something about that) while listening to a half puetro-rican half irish woman describe growing up in the 70's in brooklyn. This is what I love about NY, you can't pass a corner without stumbling upon something that will make you smile.Apparently dumbo is extra magical in this sense. Phil mentioned he had heard music and we tore off in the direction of trombones until we stumbled upon, yes, a HIPSTER marching band. Ladies and Gentlemen, it brought tears to my eyes.

Gleasons Gym is a hot smelly wonderful sweatbox full of tough looking men and the women who beat the crap out of them. I felt like I stepped onto an actor's immersion set of some Rocky Balboa pic where the blood aint' fake and the tears don't come till you're alone in the shower. Men staged fights that must incur at least 15 bruises a minute on classic blue and red rings and here I was, little pixie in her hipster red t shirt and work skirt, holding out a key.

The locker, in its glory, revealed jump ropes (I did a double!) and hand tape (we couldn't figure out where our thumbs went!) and signs telling tourists to "go the F* away". Ha! Adventurous, giving, mean and playful, maybe here was my perfect man? Phil and I fake-boxed each other, took pictures of famous people and incredible 80's haircuts, and bought water to replace the gallons we had sweated out in the 15 minutes we were in the gym. Just try and tell me that's not a cute beginning.

And I felt I liked Phil, I really did! He was funny and cute and smart and playful, even if he was maybe too ashamed to be on a date with the key girl and didn't want his picture taken. But here was the problem! I had become The Key Girl. I had turned into that story that your friends read about and here he was on a date and here I was, feeling like I needed to be bouncy (which I was) and happy (which I felt) and refuse a second cup of coffee (which I did) because of what I felt someone else knew about me. And I was detached! I felt it! I tried to be charming and myself but I couldn't stop talking about the project and dating and I am sure I didn't make Phil feel as special as he totally is (the man has shook Obama's hand, enough said)  when he had dinner at the delicious and delightfully concepted Rice restaurant (but skip the lemongrass salad, it was lacking in flavor!)This project, which was meant to put the FUN back into dating, and make the rejections hurt less, has perhaps provided me with a little too much extra padding (and not just because I've been eating too much good food, Ba-dum CHING!) No, instead, I've become prepped for the dates themselves to fail, ready to just love the date, enjoying from a distance before I could even get close to the fire.

Which is why it's not surprising that I received the following email in my inbox a few days later (Phil, if you read this, don't kill me!)

Hey Lauren
Hope the rest of your week has been good and you werent too tired at your early morning court appearance. I had a nice time with you tuesday night– that boxing gym was crazy, and the random hipster marching band? funny stuff. That said, I dont think that we should go out again, but i look forward to following your project on your blog and wish you the best.
Cheers

Phil

Which, you know, equals total bummer. And I am sure it could have been any number of things but really, it's probably that I have become too protected by the project. Too much of an outsider, too much of an observer. I'm living my life, to be sure, but am I living the dates and the connections with the men? As of now, unclear.

So guess what this gal decided to do? On Friday, I went on a date with a guy and didn't go to a key site (hit up one of my favorite first-date spots, Gowanus Yacht Club, which is uber cool and cheap and has pirogi!) and I didn't even tell my date about this project at all. And he still told me I seemed detached! (ok, maybe I was a little too invested in analyzing the couple next to us but who doesn't do that right?) Hmmm.

So that is how I found myself lying on my bedroom floor, surrounding by bathing suits, searching fruitlessly for my cutest purple bikini, in preparation for my big saturday date. A date like no other I had tried before. A date that would break all the rules. A date which you'll have to find out about by reading my next post. :)

Trying to take away the gloves and see what's on the other side!



L.A.




P.S. In case I don't get around to blogging my next adventure soon, here's a little preview:


Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Hollywood Ending. Or, Moving Beyond.

     I am blessed by many things in life and one of those things is that I live in an amazing apartment with a family I love in a gorgeous townhouse with a lovely garden in NYC from where I am writing this post. It is a late Sunday evening and the slightest of raindrops are falling on my shoulders (and hopefully not into my keyboard but I need a new computer anyway) and the sky is tinted orange and it's a perfect place to hear and smell and see and wonder. I have been blessed in this project this summer and all the love it has brought me. Even if it is not the kind of love I have expected. Even if that kind of love may not ever happen. Even if I feel pressure to find, but want to cry because I may not have, the Hollywood ending.

      Confession: I just got back from watching Eat, Pray, Love.

     Now before you go all hipster new york judgemental on me I would like to note that the majority of my movie money is spent on documentaries and clever indie films like Breaking Upward and The Lottery but every now and then I get sucked into a chick flick. And now I am terrified.

     I don't think I am going to find love. At least not this summer. Everyone keeps reminding me that it is already mid-August and states confused that I "haven't found someone yet" and that I "only have ten dates left" (I did two last week, I'll catch you up soon, promise) and I know that everyone so badly, myself included, wants me to have this perfect hollywood ending where I ride off on a boat or a plane or the staten island ferry with a wonderful feminist 28 year old man who speaks fluent spanish and runs his own NGO empowering youth in NYC and who doesn't mind I'm the girl from the New York Times article who is silly about her life and deadly serious about her job and we kiss and everyone in the theater's eyes well with tears.

     Sort of the opposite of what this project was meant for has started to happen, I have begun to take the pressure off the dates to the extent that there isn't any pressure left at all. On Tuesday I went out with Mark who, I could tell, viewed the date as a fun idea but not something that would equal long lasting love, I am sure, in part, because he was with the key girl. This prompted me to go on a date with Chris and not even do the key experiement at all and ended up analyzing and talking about other people dating so much that he told me I seemed "detached" from the whole process. Even yesterday, when I took myself on date number fourteen, I found myself flirting with cute travelers from Germany and giving out my number to a could-have-been Jersey Shore member from Brooklyn because of the story it all creates. And while I am focused on this story I am not actually creating my own. And I blame Hollywood for a lot of that.

     When I was younger and in a relationship with Jared, the love of my teenage life, I used to imagine he would be hiding behind my door with roses when I got home on a really bad day. In my head, "Matt", my ex with whom I royally screwed things up years ago, would have realized by now what I mean to him and how I've changed and I'll find him on my front stoop and we'll share a passionate kiss, preferably in the rain, before he says he's loved me all along. According to the Rom-Com's, Cheese guy from the deli would have already slided some adorable yet quirky token through my mailslot in order to ask me out and, by now, I should have met at LEAST seven soulmates who I should be trying to choose from.

     In Eat Pray Love Liz, now played by Julia Roberts, finds her love in Indonesia and she is "rescued" in a sense from her year of unbalance, her time without sex, her lack of love. I remember being in Bali over two years ago and running tipsy on the beach with a dear though still relationship undefined friend of mine and his friend with whom I had shared some romantic connection. We stripped down to our bathing suits, avoiding fisihing lines and guided by the moonlight and dove into the warm welcoming water.  I remember swimming out until the water was at my neck, holding my breath, and sinking my knees to the sand. I allowed the waves to crash over me as my body went limp, tumbling and tossing in the waves, feeling like jello pudding moving through the sea.

       I was, I believe, waiting for someone to come to my rescue.

      Not that I was actually in any danger (I used to be a lifeguard after all) but something made me believe that being weak and vulnerable and sad was what made men fall in love with you. Maybe it's because men in my life have been drawn to my darker side, maybe I've had too many breakups after I kicked a guys ass skiing down a mountain or in my career, or on a stupid test in fifth grade (that's for you Ian!) but I always thought that if I just opened myself more, just let them see how much I needed them, just became a little more sad, my love would appear and come, "to my rescue." In Eat Pray Love, the movie, Liz/Julia gets sideswiped by her man, yes, but he later shows up with her shoes after a near-encounter with an STD from another guy. We are told that the unbalance of love leads to the balance of life and this new man is what brings it to her. Or, as my friend Suraj who was dragged to the film with his girlfriend and was complaining about it's length put it,

     "We get it, in order to get over a guy you fall in love with another one."

      I love a good romance as much as the next girl and my DVD collection is stored with all the classics, and I know I am not saying anything new but that I know I need to let go. It's a lovely fantasy but it's not for me. I think there is a great chance, much to the dismay of the artist Paul who told me he felt I'd find love, and my readers who are rooting for me, and, if I am to be honest, my very own heart. And I have to admit that even as I am writing this my brain is ticking with "oooo! but now if you let go of it, you'll definitely find it soon!" (Kantian in it's own way but I doubtfully effective in the real world) which is, of course, a hollywood trope (see He's Just Not That Into You for a most recent example).

      I just want to be more PRESENT in my life and the dates and the moments. I am so present with every seashell, every key hole, every surprise I find and yet, oddly, with the men I've detached myself. If I don't fall in love at first sight with birds tweeting and a musical number (see Enchanted) I tell myself this must not be it and enjoy my own adventure, happy to have a partner in crime, but waiting until the next guy comes along because, after all I'm looking for George Clooney and this is not it. But what if I let go of it all? What if I welcome in the possibility that the summer may just be one of fun and not that of love? What if I remove the ideal of some perfect hollywood ending, the perfect hollywood guy, my somehow turning into the, as my ex "Matt" put it, the "cute quirky girl from a romantic comedy."

     I'm just me and this is my story and I'm going to love it even if it isn't what Hollywood had in mind.

     The rain has stopped falling and my laptop is, thankfully, still humming away. My chamomile/mint tea has begun to cool and the neighbors windows above mine are darkening as lights and eyes close. I'm pulling on a sweatshirt to ward off the breeze from my skin but welcoming it weave through my hair and soon I too will go to sleep. And for once, I'm not going to picture any dream I hope to have. This time, I'm going to be happy and open with what comes along.

Open,

L.A.

 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Progress!

Tonight was a lovely night, a lovely night indeed.

It was rainy and I was ruminating and marinating of thoughts on my mind and I could have curled up at home but no my friends, NYC called as did my wonderful new friend Andrea. Andrea and I met in true NY fashion when I was hosting trivia night and her boyfriend brought her along and we just CLICKED. Clicked in a way I haven't just clicked in a while with someone, like legos when they finally snap into place. Snap! Ah, yes, that feels right. Thus began a delightful fizzy beginning of a long string of romantic friend dates  (picnics on the hudson, mojitos in Brazilian gardens, etc) which greatly confuse her boyfriend.

Tonight, it was jazz.

I ventured in the rain and my amazing "new" (read hand me down) black back-zipper pants to Cafe Vivaldi at
32 Jones St, not far from where Andrea and I live blissfully close to one another, to see the Dymaxion Quartet a delightful band of Andrea's former drum teacher, a bassist, a trumpeter, and one very cute saxophone player (seriously, it is impossible for me to go anywhere and not fall in love with someone's eyes and talent). Here's what I like about jazz: hearing the notes makes me feel as if I am being extended a massive box of crayola crayons and walls turn white and colorable and I scribble drawings all over them in time wit h the notes. Yellow exclamation dots and blue concentric circles, green boxes, red bursts over black lines. When I listen to jazz I close my eyes and lose myself in the musings on the music and the creations created in live audible color. I can paint a picture and out of the picture comes a story and out of the story lives my life and it grooves and bops with my ebbs and flows.

Andrea and I ordered a mini bottle of champagne, toasted to ourselves, and settled into an evening of choose your own adventure style music with audience interaction, song-name wit (ie Wollman's Rink: No one ice skates angry, this tune's no exception), and, did I mention, a very cute wedding-ring less saxophone player.

You may think, "oh, I bet she dates the saxophone player and brings him to the Louis Armstrong house!" but not tonight my friends, tonight was about me and Andrea and the jazz and our fizzy lovely drinks.

BUT, there is a reason this entry is called progress which I think many an NYC gal can relate (and perhaps anywhere where one walks home alone from an evening out) and that involves the dreaded WALK HOME IN SILENCE. You may not know it but apparently walking a mere ten minutes alone without headphones is the time where I call men in my life that I probably should not be calling. Exes I am not yet 100 percent over, men who live hundreds of miles away with whom there could be a spark. It's just filler and it's embarrassing but it's an activity I have honed my skills incredibly well in over the years in new york and walking home after an evening on the town.

But not tonight! No, tonight, instead, the music continued to play in my mind and I breathed air into my marinations from the day (my new mantra? I wish us peace.) and called, instead of voids where I wished love existed, those who I do love and who love me already. Sally and Kim and Travis and David and others not previously mentioned in this blog, and then I tip toed among the rain drops and wished for peace in myself and in others while jazz music played in my head. A simple step, yes, and one I've taken before, but not so deliberately and conscientiously as tonight.


L.A.





Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Twelfth Date

Whooaaaaa we're halfway there, who-a! Living on a Prayer! That's right folks we are exactly halfway through this crazy Key to the City dating game, combining locks and keys and New York and men, all to find what exactly? My next true love? My next relationship? My, let's be honest here, first ADULT relationship? Or just to strengthen my bond further with my adorable and smoking HOT city. Only time can tell. But for now let's rejoice in getting to that halfway point and pray that I'll round it out by labor day. Time is ticking so let's go!

The Time: Saturday, July 31st, 1:25pm.
The Place: The Point Community Development Corporation, 1391 Lafayette Ave, The Bronx
The Guy: Omer, 28, met online, natch, at Okcupid.
What Creative Time Says: You can make artwork while participating in this artwork.

I was perhaps, more excited for this date than any other. Omer and I had shared a delightful repartee online involving discussions about hulualu and the Phantom Tollbooth. Our online flirtation began when I "winked" at him which some would say is a no no (girls are meant to be winked at, not winking themselves) but of course I ignore all gender-based dating rules and jump right into the fire myself, both feet forward, eyes wide open. Plus, Omer is a teacher in the Bronx, working with kids with special needs and my own children's rights heart took a double beat on the prospect of discussing education in our country, perhaps while hopping through some child's hopscotch drawing on the Bronx streets. Yes, I may be just a little bit crazy but these fun visions are what get me revved up for the endless legion of first dates I go on!

I was also excited about this date because Omer chose to visit The Point whose rusted door hides an interactive art project. Let's get really meta about this, I was using public art, to create my own personal art, which is in itself relational, BY making physical art. Whoa, was your mind just blown? Because mine was!
Omer and I met up by the Hunts Point Ave 6 train stop, which, I should point out, took me three differnet subways to get to after my morning brunch in Park Slope (first time riding the new M train, yea yea!) Once I got off the train there was a wide open space with racks and racks of colorful discount clothing, a sparse yet existent farmers market, and music blasting from pully cart speakers next to men selling Icee on the street. Now THIS is what I call NYC in the summer.

Omer and I walked towards the community center and he had a surprisingly wonderful sense of direction and sense of purpose. Later, Omer told me that Hunts Point is actually one of the most dangerous in NYC, but on this day I just revealed in the open fire hydrants (I think I scared off kids when I ran my hands and feet through them myself, squealing with delight), baby Chihuahuas on the street, and the fact that I now knew where a rocking episode of This American Life: Middle of the Night, took place. I will definitely be back one day at 2am to check out the fruit vendors in insomniatic action!

But today we were here for the Point Community Development Corporation and after winding down steep hills and past giant warehouses and seemingly empty train tracks, we came upon a lovely patch of land featuring fountains to play in, grilling quinceanera participants and yes, even free boating every Saturday in handmade wooden boats. Omer and I chatted with the people who ran the project, asking about the possible involvement of our various youth groups, before the delightful Cici lead us towards a giant locked wall full of rusted industrial machinery serving as art. From there we walked inside an open space where boats were made and youth empowered, past a bright garden featuring fresh basil and to the very door itself. Turning the key and opening the door, we came into our very own Pollack-esque art wonderland, a sanctuary of a shack right here in NYC.

Once you open the door an EXPLOSION of primary colors rushes up and greets you hello like your new family in a foreign exchange program in high school. Everywhere they call "look at me! look at me!" and you just want to dip your hands into a huge vat of blue and place your handprints everywhere, shaking hello with the art like a train-caboose politician. Paint and newspaper and paper and crayons lay open to your disposal, to add onto the already existent art or make your very own imprint on the space. Omer and I climbed rickety ladders, helped add onto rainbows, and made paper mache hearts before being greeted two fantastic women  on their own exploration. Bonus, they were on a date! Double bonus, they met on okcupid too! Triple bonus, they had read my blog! It was a match made in funny connection BRONXNYCKEY connections. Obviously, we had to take the below picture!


I've begun to notice that I'm not the only one using these keys as a way to find love. Shelley and her date actually made their first encounter in Times Square while receiving the keys and countless others have expressed their self-love, searches for love, and symbolism of love on the pages and walls of the point art shack. People wrote, on the walls, both the cheesy (smile more because you never know who is falling...) the touching (whoever you are just know that I love you), the personal and silly (psst-don't tell the G-meister that I am in love with him, he makes me smile <3)  and even, perhaps a reference to this very blog!!!


(Excuse me for a moment, "Empire State of Mind" with Jay-Z just came up on my ipod, I must dance around my living room now.

Back. :) So after making some art of our own, (I had to create the above giant heart, yes, sometimes I even make myself nauseous but you've got to put sunshine in the universe if you want it to come back!) we walked off in search of the point cafe, promised to lie just up a hill. Omer and got a little lost, made some mechanics a little confused, and talked about our various travels in Guatemala. Finally, we reached the gate of The Point to find it locked. Hungry and sweaty, we were at least somewhat amused by a very bitchy newswoman attempting to shoot a story about a killing in the area. I wish you could see her outtakes.

Luckily, I had checked out Creative Time's website where Carey Clark, who I assume is linked to the project, actually posted her PERSONAL cellphone number to assist us wander-lost key holders as we explored her neighborhood. I called her and she answered right away and directed us towards Real Azteca, not five minutes away. We were definitely the only gringos in the place and the children definitely stared at me with more than a little curiosity (who is this girl in a sundress loudly delighting in the carved pictures of a man eating another's heart?) which added to our adventure feel. We HEAVILY over-ordered (my parents always told me my eyes were bigger than my stomach) but the food was so darned good, cheesy and bright with cilantro with tortillas to make you melt into their corn-thick goodness, that we were soon both leaning back into our chairs and rubbing our bellies.

After filling ourselves to burs, we headed down to central park where I do acroyoga as often as I can.  Omer and I discussed the over-medication of kids, charter schools, (can you sense a theme?) and sibling relations (he has a twin!) before we parted ways after an hour of yoga with the kindest people in NYC. Seriously, if the acroyoga bunch isn't filled with love of the universe I don't know who is.

Though it was an utterly fantastic perfect NYC day, I told Omer a few days later that I didn't think we worked in the romantic sense. He is, like almost all the guys I have met on this project, incredibly nice and smart and, perhaps more than anyone else I have yet met on this journey, I respected and admired his career and contributions to the world. Our energy levels, however, were just a bit off (perhaps I am getting to yogi for my own good but what can you do?) Omer is quiet and unassuming in a wonderful zen way but my mad-paced tea party view of the world doesn't always jive (though I often wish it would.) I dated a guy in college whose stillness when we were together calmed the chaos of my soul (not an easy feat!) but sometimes I get self-conscious when my yips and bounces are met with quiet which is, admittedly, my own fault and no one elses.

But though there was not a love connection, this was a perfect example of why the project works and how I hope it will influence dating generally. No, I probably won't end up marrying Omer but the day was one of my best yet of the summer, full of creation and spontaneity and really really good Quesadillas. Just try and beat that with a first date at a bar with a beer.


Playing in hydrants and dancing in my living room in Sunday morning P.J.'s,


L.A.

PS. This blog post is dedicated to my sassy gay friend Anthony who, if he hadn't overslept on our brunch date, would've never allowed for the time for me to finally write this overdue post!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Only in New York

Only in New York can you have a stressed day,
full of clients and motions, phone messages at bay
Get home late, go to exchange some cheese
The kind they gave you was not what you please

Only in New York can you head round the block
After cranking AC till the heat wave is stopped
Skip into a deli, walk to the meat section
Look to your left and make a connection

Only in New York is there such witty banter
Of utensil stealing, rhythmic as a cantor
You wait in the aisle pretending to look for a sweet
Step behind him in line, your eyes again meet

Only in New York do you share the same road
Yappie puppies and hipsters, last night's pie a la mode
Line the street as you exchange your names and professions
Makes you realize why pick ups are such an obsession

Only in New York, may all this take place
Unless, of course, you allow for the space
For only in new york, though true as it may be
Is really,  just an open, possibility.


Stay tuned for updates from this delightful little adventure, brought to you by L.A. and the deli counter folks who accidentally gave her American, instead of cheddar, cheese.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Happy Monday!

Hey Guys!

Happy Monday! According to my fancy google-analytics device, most of you read this blog during the week, most likely while you are at work! I hope I am able to give you a nice little respite from your return form the weekend. I know Mondays can suck, with their piled up voicemails and early wake up times (I just bought a sound deck to wake up to an actual song of my choice, I know I am behind the times on this and it's not new but it is to me!I am almost PSYCHED to wake up tomorrow! Ha!), but, as my dear friend David (aka Boston Guy, writer of THIS witty-commentary blog) once said  "Mondays are days too, cause you can't go through life hating 1/7th of the week!" He even made me the wonderful sign (and posted it on my Freshman dorm door) pictured on your left (oddly sideways...).

This weekend I spent Saturday exploring the The Point in the Bronx with Omer, a brand new date and one of my favorite sites so far! I don't have time tonight to post about the date but here's a sneak peak from Shelly, the rocking woman we met on our adventure (she was on a date too! this project is truly fantastic!)

Here! Click here!


 Keep rollin',

L.A.