Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The OG New Romantic

Well, it's safe to say, like 98% of the world, I have a MAJ #girlcrush on none other than T-Swift. I know, I know.

Please refrain from using the eyroll emoji just yet and hear me out. This girl, who is legit the soul reincarnate of Joan of Arc and Carrie Bradshaw simultaneously, is majorly under-appreciated within the intellectual circles of (borderline) Millenials. Due to her throngs of teeny-bopper fans, questionable fashion choices, awkward movements and too many model friends, she is constantly overlooked and thrown out with last week's New York Mag.

Needless to say, this girl totally NAILED my life in this current song of hers, The New Romantics. And I don't think it was on purpose (and if it was, I will spontaneously combust (Mind. Blown.))

You have got to read the lyrics, and yes, they are obvious. But I am going to propose a slightly different interpretation that literally changed my life, breathed hope into my new situation and basically told me to stop trying to fit the mold.

If you take the time to read any of my posts (I know I have about 2 fans out there), you will know rather quickly that most of my thoughts consist of trying to navigate this world as a single woman who constantly challenges the status quo; tries to explain taking the road less traveled, and basically is borderline defensive in her life choices and the way it's turning out.
Well, I am here to tell you this post is no different except....I think I finally have learned to accept myself. I think mostly, for the past decade, I have been bringing up all the issues that face us single girls (not dissimilar to our Sex and the City Heroine Carrie B) in a way that justifies our choices.

Like, as if we had to defend them.

And then, Taylor comes along, and with one song literally nails it. Gives us, "The Oppressed", our much deserved freedom. And me some much needed clarity. (Okay okay, I won't give her all the credit, but this song totally got me thinking.) Sadly, this isn't my first post about a song, so please, just bear with me.

We're all bored, we're all so tired of everything
We wait for trains that just aren't coming
We show off our different scarlet letters, trust me mine is better.

We're so young, we're on the road to ruin;
We play dumb but we know exactly what we're doing

We cry tears of mascara in the bathroom, honey life is just a classroom

Cause baby I can build a castle, out of all the bricks they throw at me
And everyday is like a battle; but every night with us is like a dream

Baby we're the new romantics, come along with me
heartbreak is the national anthem, we sing it proudly
We are too busy dancing, to get knocked off our feet
Baby we're the new romantics, the best people in life are free

We're all here, the lights and noise are blinding;
We hang back-it's all in the timing
It's poker, you can't see it in my face but I'm about to play my Ace

We need love, but all we want is danger
We team up, then switch sides like a record-changer

The rumors are terrible and cruel but honey most of them are true...

Please take my hand and please take me dancing
and please leave me stranded-it's so romantic....

It is taking all I have not to go line by line, so I will just say this...you know how you hear about those people that are "the wild ones?" Like it was Kerouac or someone- I am definitely not going to be all pseudo-intellectual and pretend to know where it's actually from; but we always hear about those people. Maybe to some they are scary; to others, they are misunderstood, or sad, or crazy. To a much smaller group, they are known as family. People we relate to because we are the same. Because to these people, the wild ones aren't contained in a story or literary reference. They are real.

I am a wild one. I am, for all practical purposes, A New Romantic. And I think, I just discovered what that actually means.

I have spent the last 7 years (with one tiny break) navigating my way through this city. Trying to find my path, falling in and out of love, thinking about establishing roots...but...something keeps coming up. Like, it's not exactly right. And I stay put because I think it means something if I can't stay in one place long enough to call it "home." Like, why can't I put down roots? Why do I always end up with the beautiful crazy love stories that never fail to break my heart? Why am I always changing people's lives wherever I go but it never feels like enough? Why do I never KNOW WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE??

Is it really just a matter of being bored? Yes. Do I know exactly what I am doing? More than I would like to admit. Is everyday a battle? Hell yes. But does everyone want to spend every night with me because it's like a dream? (You would be shocked at THAT statistic.) How many of my love stories end with being stranded, and me inevitably learning from but loving every second of it? And how many opportunities have I had to choose love and I went with danger instead?? (insert monkey covering eyes emoji here)

I've never tried to build a castle, but I have got bricks for about 349 different ones (Thank you HATERS...or more like the uncomfortable, misunderstanding MAJORITY)

For the first time in my life, I am finally ready to embrace being free. I love, but I don't want to settle down. I want to play my Ace when I am ready (and I've got more than 4). Instead of trying to make ties, I want to be my own ties. I want to dance and dance and never stop. I want to go wherever my heart tells me. I don't care how old I am or if I am on the road to ruin.

As history shows, I am in love with heartbreak. It IS my anthem and I am tired of wondering what is wrong with me because of it. I want to accept it, and embrace it. Count all of this as an experience, and sing it all proudly.

So that's it. So I want to thank my gurl, T. Swift, for shedding light on the small minority of us free, wild spirits. I hope it inspires a movement of us to unclip our wings, come out of our shells, and become the swans we are. I know I am. Now...where to next.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ironic irony.

I will preface this by saying I haven't written in eons. Literally. But perhaps it's a product of a silver lining. 

I used to always think that my life didn't fit my age. Like, I should've done what everyone else my age has done by now. Half-mastered a career, had children, gotten married, bought a house, grown a vegetable garden, became VP of the Junior League, etc etc etc. Growing up, it seemed a lot of my peers planned these things in their heads. Put ages to tasks: "by 24 I'll be married", "by 28 I'll have a child" , by "30 I'll be a director in my company..." The list seems endless. 

I'm different. I'm one of the wild ones. Not that I don't want these things---(I think I do...some of them anyway) but when I thought about my life and future, and how it was going to look...honestly, as strange as it sounds, I saw a Blue Sky. Literally. In my head, my plans consisted of a blue sky. It's this gorgeous shade of blue: cobalt mixed with periwinkle. Dotted with a few fluffy white clouds. That's it. It's still what I see. I can't decide if never setting goals in accordance to my age is why I haven't accomplished anything seemingly normal, or if I HAD set them it would just be another tool to punish myself because I haven't achieved them yet. (Chicken or the egg anyone??)

I think I got jaded by irony at a young age. A voracious reader, I took after my sister in my love for literature. One of the earliest stories read to us by my mother and grandmother was The Gift of the Magi. Ohhh, The IRONY. A couple giving up both their most prized treasures to make each other happy with a single gift; only to find out their gifts were useless without their original treasures. What. The. Fuck???

Moving on to the Giver. Don't even get me started on a reality based on no color or emotion except for a chosen one to see it...and what's the irony in that we ask? 

Then came high school: we had our famous, irony-filled, obvious story of star-crossed lovers that basically end up destroying an entire empire because they can't stand up for what they believe in. They'd rather hide it until it's too late...and then it's really too late. (And no one should ever see Leo DiCaprio in that much pain.) 

Then the Veldt. Ray and I have a lot in common--we love irony (or perhaps we just understand its inevitability). So this story:"Let's give our kids everything they want so they can hate us enough to actually kill us with the gifts WE gave them!" is the perfect vessel for irony.

Talk about fucked up. And I forgot to throw in Alanis somewhere between Romeo and Juliet and the Great Gatsby. I stole my sister's CD and literally had "Ironic" on repeat for the whole of 1995. I mean, "a free ride when you've already paid?" "A fly in your champagne?" Talk about poetic.

So I guess, when my genetic brain was supposed to be mapping out my Cinderella fairytale life, wedding and kids' names like all my friends, I was too busy figuring out a way to outsmart irony. 

Not that it got me that far.

13 cities (one twice) and about 27 heartbreaks later, I'm no stranger to our dear friend irony. In fact, just a few weeks ago irony visited me in the form of actually taking my knee away from me--during my dance class no less--also known as my bloodline. Dance: A major source of my joy, stress relief and sheer freedom. It just snapped away from me. The thing I love most betrayed me in a matter of seconds.  You would've thought I had learned about loving something so much. New York did it to me in 2011 and I swore I would never let it happen again. Irony, however, as always, had a different plan. "You love something too much, You run the risk of losing it."

So Here it is. I'm finally figuring out that God uses irony to teach the hard lessons. The ones that sting no matter how much we bandage them. The ones that make us think twice about our so-called "plans". The ones that if we don't learn after awhile, we won't stop getting taught. (And who wants to be trapped on the same rollercoaster 2,458 times?! Barf bag please!) While it's true, I have no kids, no husband, no fancy title, and certainly no garden. My dog doesn't even live with me! I also currently don't have a working knee. (Which means I have about 35 pairs of unwearable designer shoes.)

However...I do have an incredible life full of wild, amazing single girl adventures that have woven the beautiful tapestry that is my life. (Even if the main thread in that tapestry is irony.) I also have my faith. Faith in God that my ironic situations aren't lost on me. 

I have the knowledge that this, and everything else, is happening for a reason. And the sooner I give into that fact, the sooner I realize that life, in all it's essence, is one big irony. Because ultimately, we have no control. And if we start living with that knowledge, embracing our "blue sky" goals and taking everything that happens to us as a lesson, (instead of a goal derailment or plan gone wrong) perhaps irony won't get the last laugh. We will. 

Here's a toast (fly and all) to letting go of the shit we can't control and holding onto the fact that even though something seems inexplicable, unimaginable or even amazing---there's a reason for all of it. 


Thursday, November 28, 2013



It's the holiday that (obviously) celebrates all we are thankful for.

Giving thanks.

Thanks to God. Thanks to our family. Our friends. Thanks. So, how do we give Thanks amidst a tragedy? Surely we can't be thankful for bad things happening; especially when they happen on the day (or pretty close to it) we celebrate this holiday.

I lost my nephew.

Such a precious life; taken from this earth before he even got to experience it. The past 4 days have seemed like some horrible foggy nightmare that I can't shake. Like I am trying to desperately wake up but can't.

I can't be angry. I can't ask why. Anger doesn't come from love. And when I think about Xander, even now, all I see is love and peace. He doesn't know anger, so why should I? We don't know the answers, and I don't know if we ever will.

For some reason, on this windy Thanksgiving, all I can feel is peace. To be completely honest, it's actually quite surprising. Because I am mad. I am mad that he won't get to experience the life he was meant to. I am mad he won't get to ride a bike. Walk in the sand. See a sunset that will bring him to tears. Fall in love. It just crushes me. Literally crushes.

Yet, I still just feel peace. The only explanation is that the peace and love I feel from such an unimaginably horrifying occurrence is that it's not from me at all. It's from God. (and Xander of course, because he is in heaven with God).

Doesn't that just give you chills? Amidst all of the anger, sadness, nonsense, toxicity...I am still able to feel wrapped in peace and love.

So here it is. My thanks this year is twofold.

I'm giving thanks to my nephew, Xander, in heaven with God. For reminding me that peace not only comes from within-it's not just up to me to find it (because believe me, I don't know if I would). It comes from faith. A faith in God that is insurmountably huge. That no matter what, peace brings a serenity that is no match for anger, sadness and darkness. It pales in comparison. That peace will live on long after our bodies are gone.

Peace is also accompanied by love. This thanks really goes to God again, but in the form of 2 people that, in the past 4 days have completely embodied every love you ever read about in the Bible, fairytales, Shakespeare, or seen in any movie. The kind of love that moves mountains. I know their love made Xander, and was a foundation for him to grow and become the beautiful soul he is, but the love I am talking about is the love that is still here, after God called Xander to Him. The love that was left. In every word, every touch, every tear...the love grows deeper and deeper.

I wish I could take the love that I feel, see and almost touch between these two souls. I want to take it, wrap it with a glittering ribbon, and give it to every person that has never felt this kind of love. With Xander's tragic life ending, in his place he gave his parents the gift of an unbreakable love.

I can't think of anything more unbelieveable to be Thankful to our Heavenly Father this year. Forget everything else. I can't believe God chose me to be a part of such an amazing experience. I will forever be changed by the love and peace I feel. I knew he would, but Xander gave me a gift bigger than anything I could imagine. I just hope I don't let him down because it's my job to embody this spirit of love and peace that I have witnessed for the rest of my days.

My prayer is that you may someday feel the kind of peace Xander has given me, and the kind of love that he has given his parents. Isn't God amazing?

Happy Thanksgiving.

dedicated to:
xander raddon swegel

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Merry-go-round, round, round, round....


I don't really have any of it figured out. I turned 31. Am I supposed to be any further along? Let's check the evidence:

Relationship with God? Yep
Married? Nope
Children? Nope
Homeowner? Nope
Significant other? Nope
401K? Nope-ish
Loving friends and family? Yep
Expensive shoes? YEP (okay I made that one up)

Okay so there it is. I have 3 out of 8. Granted, I have the most important one (no not the shoes). But if I were a fraction on Sesame Street, The Count would totally have me pegged.

Maybe I should be looking to an older post, even (gasp) my entries on myspace for an answer. It seems...I deal with the same reoccurring themes in my life. Maybe we all do. Over and over, round and round...like a carousel.

My childhood merry-go-round experience was always the same. I always, always, always was drawn to the pink and blue pearlescent horses. The raised ones (some horses are "down" and others are "up"), with their "manes" wild and free, with some sort of gorgeous bow tied in it or on it. The second I spotted one, I was a goner everytime. With a gold, pink or other color saddle I would literally RUN to the horse the second I was allowed to get on, completely sure that every kid was running to the same gorgeous horse as mine. (Clearly I didn't get the memo that the most coveted was that sweet little carriage/sled that was actually comfortable to sit in.) As a younger child, my dad would come with me and stand behind me the whole time. I would saddle up, hang onto the brass pole and perch. My favorite thing to do would be to either look at myself in the mirror opposite of me on the carousel (duh) or stare at the crowd looking for a familiar face; a friend, parent, dog or anyone who was surely captivated by this beautiful princess (me) sitting atop my gorgeous unicorn-esque horse.

Surprisingly, I didn't ever get sick (well, I don't think I did...). But, as time usually does, it went on, and I grew older. Eventually, I quit riding the merry-go-round. In fact, I haven't ridden one in years. There was once that time in Bryant Park where I had a nostalgic whim to saddle up and quickly changed my mind when I literally thought I was going to be airborne as the carousel cranked up. So that was it. Chapter over, door closed.

Well for those of you who don't know, I am a professional caretaker. My Merry-go-Round days are just getting started. Not that I have had to face one quite yet, but I know it's coming. The other day however, I was with my best friend and we were actually discussing Carousels (you should hear our conversations when we are drunk)! And I guess, I have been thinking about them ever since.

I mean that's what life is, isn't it? It's like this huge merry-go-round. I am talking HUGE. We all start at different points, getting on at different places, finding a comfortable place to stay as we hang on like hell, hoping we survive. Every rotation is like a year. It never stops. And we never get off.

What I wonder is this: how many of us on this carousel of life do what I did when I was little? How many of us look to the outside, other circumstances, to keep us going around; to keep us moving? Or look beside them, trying to see how they look instead of what they are actually doing?

Clearly I am a victim of it. In this current 31st year of my life, I perpetuate the majority of my decisions on outside factors: who is saying what, who is doing what, who is choosing what....I look so hard to see what is going on around me that I don't realize the horse I am sitting on is rusting. It could literally be disintegrating right in front of me and I am busy looking outside to try and fulfill my aforementioned checklist instead of appreciating the splendor I should be enjoying (or deterioration).

If only we looked down. Looked within. Stopped worrying about the outside. And listened to ourselves. I wonder what would happen. Would we get more attention? Less motion sickness? Less worried? I'll tell you one thing, I am tired of trying to find people in the crowd. I am so sick of looking in that mirror behind me, paranoid about all it says about me.

I want to notice the paint chips on my horse. Feel the breeze on my cheeks as the carousel makes its way around yet another New York autumn. Catch the glitter of the paint on my horse's ribbon in the glint of the sunlight. I want to look up and be totally surprised.

It all sounds so simple I know. But isn't simplicity something we all strive for? It's time to look within. Since we are stuck on the merry-go-round anyway, we should just try, just for fun, to make the most of it. Stop worrying about what's going on around us, behind us, or even reflecting right in front of us. Live in the moment. Truly live. Live on that carousel and hang on like hell. Or don't. Let go, but find yourself right where you should be: in the moment. That's all we can ask for.

And it's just a little something I'm working on.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bright lights....big reality check


Have you ever heard this song by John Mayer? It used to be my FAVORITE. I identified so much with the woman he described:

"She comes and she goes like no one can. She comes and she goes...she's slipping through my hands she's always buzzing just like neon. Who knows how long she can go before she finds her way."

This was my secret mantra. I would listen to this song and pine away and think "this is exactly about me. I am this girl to a T. One day, he is gonna sing this to me."

Well needless to say, I gave up waiting on my doorstep for John to show up with a guitar to serenade me ages ago. (Can we say plaaaaayer?!)

The truth is, I embodied and embraced that song because it was who everyone thought I was. And in turn, I became her. The buzzy, unpredictable, shiny neon girl who did everything she wanted. Move here? Yep. Do this? Yep. Quit that? Totally. I mean look at me. On the surface, I'm Miss Neon. I endlessly shine. Never turn off. Never say no. I belong in the big city, glowing away. Bright lights big city? I AM those lights.

I have a confession: somewhere between realistic and relieved, I think my light got inadvertently shut off. Something has shifted. Maybe it's the wisdom that comes with age, or perhaps neon discriminates against 30 plus somethings, but its a good thing because I can't do it anymore.

Neon is fantastic. It's pretty, trendy, bright, happy, fun and honestly has no other purpose but to draw attention to itself (something Mr. Mayer failed to mention).

 Have you ever looked at a neon light up close?? In my old neon life, i would walk past a neon sign shop everyday on my way to the office. Like a moth to a flame, i would be drawn to the window and just stare (as people tend to do with neon). The actual lights are quite frankly, a little freaky. Buzzy, skittish and seemingly uncertain, they actually squirm. It's almost as if all that voltage makes them uncomfortable (and exhausted at that). Why on earth would anyone want to be neon??

I'm not saying I'm a different person. People are always going to look at me. I'm a tall blonde with loud voice and a major presence. Even without makeup and in sneakers I'm not invisible. But I think my transition from neon to....incandescent is that I am ready to allow other people to see my non-neon side. I can't work 100 hours a week. I can't wear perfect makeup everyday. When I leave my dance class, I literally look like I got run over by a tomato truck. I get frustrated and I can't ALWAYS SAY YES. In neon world, I always say yes. I dress like a mega fashionista everyday and every pic I
take is Facebook ready. No one sees me getting sad, angry, upset...it's just pink Barbie.

It's time to embrace incandescence. I know it's definitely going to be an adjustment, but it doesn't mean that I'm losing the neon. Unlike the wonderful world of lighting, we as humans, can actually be both. We can be gorgeous, fun, sexy, unpredictable and also sometimes tired, ugly, with limits, pain and mistakes.

I think I'm learning that's even better---because it's real. So from one neon light to the other, don't be afraid to let your real light shine. You may become brighter than ever.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

You can give all your heart, just remember to get it back

So it's no secret that I love Smash. Well, if it was a secret, it isn't anymore. I mean, it's in New York, it's about a musical, there's tons of singing and Marilyn Monroe is often the subject. Enough said. 

So each episode (though there are subplots and tons of stuff going on) always comes back to Marilyn, or the the music or the music inadvertently about Marilyn.

I am not going to delve into one of my many History lessons, but Marilyn Monroe was seriously fucked up. I mean here she was, this gorgeous blonde bombshell, with everything in the world to offer, and yet she was constantly sublimely miserable throughout her entire life. Everyone wanted something from her, and in return, wanted even more. It was take, take take, a long one-way road.

And that's not even talking about the men she was with!

Because she was absolutely gorgeous, Marilyn often found herself the desire of every man in (and out of) her direct path. Like any woman, she used this as her greatest weapon. It made her a star. It made her famous. It made her look like the most successful woman in the world. It made her the envy of every person in America. It made her powerless. Sad. Desperate. Destroyed.

The more she gave, the more she wanted back. She kept thinking that one more kiss would give her the love she was missing. One more night would ensure she would finally feel something. That saying "I Do" would tame her fear of loneliness and she could finally wrap herself in love. 

She never got it.

It's the most tragic part about the whole story. This woman, who couldn't get anymore beautiful, blonde, sexy, seemingly perfect...she literally could not get ANY BRIGHTER, was left to her own devices of emptiness, loneliness and a heart full of sorrow. For all that she gave, she never got anything back.

There was a beautiful song on Smash tonight that eerily echoes how my life has come to be, as of late and really, if I am honest with myself, maybe since the dawn of my time. It's about the men in her life....how she gives it all...she falls everytime, but she's always the only one.
"For the men that I've known
Who have clearly shown
They've been reading him from the start
Cause when it comes to me
Well, their kisses come free
But they never give all the heart"

I could write a novel (and actually am) on the art of being cautious in love. Never trust anyone, especially yourself. Suspect everything. Believe nothing. I could rant for days, and sound like your bitter cynical aunt you only see at family functions that you avoid like the plague. But the thing is, you're gonna do whatever it is you're gonna do. It's like the song goes:
"As the wise man once wrote,
Never give all the heart
Well, it's easy to see
He was writing for me
I just wish I could play that part"

It's the worst part. You know it's wrong, yet you still do it. Like a moth to the flame. So I am not here to tell you to be the strong one. To be guarded and crazy. Let loose. Take a chance, do something you know is wrong. Play the part you know you shouldn't. 

Just hear this part: set limits. If you give and give and you don't get anything back, then you stop. Don't wait until you've given, given, given, given until you've got nothing left. 

I don't really know if this story is gonna end well (Marilyn's certainly didn't), but I do know we should really take a cue from Miss Monroe's tragic life choices. 

Know your limits. And be proud of them. Don't keep giving when you get nothing in return. 

It's not a difficult concept. It's like supply and demand. Hell, our entire country is built on the principle. So why are so many of us willing to compromise everything for nothing? 

That's it. It's not about holding back, or shutting off. It's about giving and getting what you give back. And if you don't, stop giving. That's the lesson Marilyn never got. She never got the memo that she was allowed to stop if she didn't get anything in return. And that's something we all deserve. 

PS, kisses never come free.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Is that scaffolding down yet????

A new year and a new life...that comes every year like clockwork.

So it's another year. I think the saying is something like, "celebrate endings, for they mark new beginnings." For me, celebrating endings has become a religious routine of sorts.

Let me explain. As my co-workers can attest, I measure the passage of time and life in a very peculiar way: through the ending of events, monuments and other happenings set by someone else. For example, when NM/Target launched their new collection for Christmas, it was a set start and end date. My response: "OMG I can't wait til that is over!"

Construction on the 6 train will last from x date through x date? "God, I can't wait til they are finished."

That scaffolding across the street from Bloomingdales? You guessed it, counting the days until it goes down. An observatory habit, I mentally count the passage of time through things that neither directly affect me or are controlled by me.

When you put it that way, it's a little alarming and quite frankly very, very strange. Why should I care? That scaffolding could be up for YEARS. The trains? Forget it, they are NEVER going to be working the right way. In this way of time measurement, time is actually of no essence, and patience is key, for you could literally be waiting your whole life for these events to actually be over.

For another year, here I am. Single, making it on my own in this amazingly creative whirlwind of a city. I work, date, sleep, live all on my own. I juggle all my own balls. Some days are definitely better than others, but for the most part, I have no relief from this single life. So, as it flies by, instead of counting days on a calendar, I lend the task to something I don't have to juggle.

Say what you will, but the exhilarating feeling that comes from seeing Derek Lam slippers in a clearance bin or finally seeing the sun peek at you after months of a wooden view is definitely unmatched to anything else. So this year, I am going to try to apply these principles to other areas of my life, the main principle being patience.

Every new year brings the same fleeting moments: do this, do that, change this, change that: as soon as possible. With no regard to lasting results, we FLY through our New Year's resolutions: a checklist that doesn't wait for prescribed dates. It's a race to the finish, and oftentimes, we suffer in its path.

So, as crazy as this sounds, I am not going to do this for once. I am going to harness all my willpower, and go with the flow. Follow the unprescribed dates. I'm not going to demand answers just because someone says it's time. I'm not going to rush to change my hair just for a change. I'm not going to talk to someone differently or be a different person because they want me to be. I am going to let life just happen, with the end date directly dependent upon when it just needs to be (I'm talking to you, scaffolding).

I know this really makes no sense to most people, but I will say if you take anything away from this, remember that life is what we make it.
If we make it full of supposed to be's, deadlines and controlled endings, it will never reach the potential it could.

But maybe, just maybe, if we make it full of let's just see what happens, genuine actions and reactions, (and, of course, the MTA's scheduled construction dates), I think we will find that the best part of life is not what we try to fix, start over and fix again, it's what is already there.