Exes in the Inbox: Part 9.

It's so humid here.

It's humid back home in New York, but it's different here: the air is thick and still and the ground is still damp from an afternoon rain. There are owls and cicadas and crickets here, and I'm laying in my little niece's bed listening to them sing outside. 

People think they know the south and are quick to judge it, but few of those people have ever even been here. I've lived here, albeit only arguably as southerners and Floridians alike are quick to point out that South Florida isn't exactly The South. I tend to agree with them.

The air, though. The air is the same in Miami as it is here in Atlanta. 

Exactly 9 years ago this weekend I left my beautiful Miami Beach apartment for a Labor Day Weekend trip to Seattle. And it's weird, you guys. It's weird how I'd forgotten how I felt a week later when I returned home alone crying inconsolably and forever changed. I know this blog is about stories and I know stories are all we have but I wont bore you with the precise details of what happened on that trip. Not today.

I will tell you that this series is about exes, and on that Labor Day weekend long ago my lips met those of a very forbidden boy who very vocally became my ex just inside of a year later. And when he left me I fucking cried. For weeks. And I promised myself that I would never do that again.

But that very first Friday night, that very first weekend when he reached a thumb to the corner of my eye to brush away a single tear and I defeatedly let my cheek rest in his palm; in that moment before he leaned his mouth to mine I hoped against hope that I would have the will to keep it from happening. It was then, I think, when I knew that all of it would very much happen, and although I've lost some of the details these days but I remember so vividly the thick fear I felt of this imminent kiss and how every muscle in my neck and shoulders involuntarily gave way to let it happen, and I remember the faint, whispered "oh god" that escaped my lips when he brought his face from mine and my eyelids had again parted. I'm not sure guys, but I think I'm sure; It might just be all of this hindsight, all of these years between then and now that seem to make me believe that I fell in love with him that night, maybe even before his lips left mine.

But does it matter anymore? I suppose the when of him isn't near as important as the sheer fact that there was a him, but I'm obsessed the when lately, as if eliminating one little moment from our history would change our path completely. But seriously though. Would it?

What would I remove? What could that thing possibly be that would have saved me from all those weeks of tears and hordes of inappropriate boys that I paraded through my bed in an attempt to replace him?

That kiss, that very first one that we shared in the middle of the night in his tiny childhood bed, I think we've already discussed why it can't be removed. So could I take back the rest of that night? If I could, would I remove the part where I undressed that slight teenager like a savage, and in doing so would we have simply returned to enjoying the yearlong friendship that we had had until then? Maybe if I hadn't blown him in the shower in the morning. Maybe I shouldn't have fucked him again a couple nights later. Maybe I shouldn't have flown back to Seattle within three weeks time and spent days and nights laying around his apartment in Olympia in various states of naked recline. 

There's no point in debating this, I suppose. I did those things. All of those things and more; and I was good to him and horrible to him and I expected too much and asked for too little. But all of our months of being so, so in love and together and even the ones where we were so, so in love and not together were made possible by one unspoken pact we made when our lips first met: we didn't fucking tell anybody. 

Days passed, several weeks in fact before everyone really knew, and I hid him elegantly behind my problems with my best friend rather than come completely clean. I mean, wait. Let's skip ahead.

He flew to my little beach town from Olympia that New Years Eve, and by then the birthday we shared had come and gone and too many months had passed to ignore the 'us' of us. And for the first time we debuted ourselves as some sort of couple; we held hands in public and stole kisses on street corners and clinked our beers together in the sunshine. We finally began to have a dialogue about each other, but not with each other, as that took several more months and came out as a series of screaming matches that we had no idea how to navigate.

Now, I know it's not entirely this simple; I know there was no equation that dictated what would and would not happen to us, but I have to believe that all of the greif that we suffered at our own hands might have been alleviated had we been honest with each other. And it sucks, it really does, because in the end we hurt each other so much that we haven't spoken since.

You will never hear his take on things, at least not from me. Not here. I guess that's why I took the time to tell you this story, because as much as I would love his part of this series to be about some grand reconciliation or even a few terse lines traded via email, it just wont happen. Maybe not ever. 

Maybe I'm telling you this more for me than for you.

Maybe I need to tell you this story because it's so humid and still down here, and maybe it reminds me of all those South Floridian nights way back in my early twenties when I would lay awake late into the night with naught but a beautiful, naked memory of a forbidden boy far away to keep me company. 

But that was long before I had this blog.

That was even before I knew my Sister, so it stands to reason that it was long before I sat in a coffee shop in Toronto and realized that I only had one day back in Brooklyn between Canada and Atlanta, That in between visiting Acacia and my Sister I would have but one day to indulge in local forbidden boys, boys that may hail from Florida, boys that would, if they were laying here with me right now as they have joined me often in my bed in Brooklyn, could note the properties of this still night air and appreciate it as a phenomenon that doesn't occur in the flat, wide expanse of Brooklyn where we now live.

And that was even long before I promised myself that I would never, ever, make those same mistakes ever again.


Exes in the Inbox: Part 8.



Hey, I'm in Toronto.

But I thought I'd drop a little something on you just to tide you over until my return.

Meg and I were speaking about the wasteland that is OKCupid, and just for shits and giggles I decided to edit my profile to make me sound as seemingly ridiculous as the people who message me. I'm just trying to fit in, guys.

Anyway, enjoy.



The M Knickerbocker.

They closed my train stop.

I suppose I should be thankful that my train still runs, but it's hard when the only thing I really like about my apartment is it's proximity to a train stop that is now boarded up.

But this summer has been great! I've worked, worked, worked and ran about town in short dresses and sandals and indulged in daylight beers and patio wine and I have dug my toes into the sand at Rockaway. I've slept in the lap of a beautiful boy on a long, long bus ride and walked the length of downtown-hometown un-showered on a sunny morning. I've had out of town visitors at least three times a month, and they're still coming. I've gained some weight. I have laughed uncontrollably. I've come home late and rose early and laid about in sunbeams and slept silently alone and shared my bed, my new bed, both platonically and amorously. Now Labor Day is approaching furiously fast and I think about this often when I'm making the now long walk from my train, about what there is left to do in these last few days of summer.

I think about a lot of things on that walk down Myrtle Ave.

How would an up-tempo jazz version of Fuck the Pain Away sound? You know, like accompanied by a really twinkly guitar and an audible smile in the vocal. Maybe people will be able to buy tickets into space in my lifetime, just like a plane ticket. You know, like a normal thing. So they wouldn't cost a million dollars. Why is it that almost nothing embarrasses me but I am easily shamed by the smallest of indiscretions? Would people just totally freak the fuck out if I showed up at a bar one day wearing, like, lavender or yellow or something? Would anyone even notice? Are my arms really that awesome? They look like arms to me. What size panties do I wear? Panties have sizes, right? Dude, I could really use some Cake right now. Also, I get less and less opposed to the word 'panties' as I get older. I still can't really say the word 'pussy'. I've always been that person that prefers the word 'vagina'. I wonder what happened to my old passport, the one I lost that's filled with stamps. I hate my passport picture. I want to go to the beach on Tuesday. I want to lay on the beach off 13th back home and then go to The Deuce when the sun dips toward the bay. Wait, what was that thing about shame?

Shame turns so easily into secrecy which is why I swore off secrets on New Years Day, 2004. That doesn't mean that I have never kept a secret since then, but rather that I haven't kept a secret guiltlessly since then, and I have almost never done it unless someone else asked me to. Or because I assumed someone else wanted me to.

I'm obviously keeping some secrets these days, I mean, I haven't posted here in almost two weeks. If you are reading this then there are huge portions of what it means to be me these days that you don't know, and it's killing me because I said I wouldn't do this anymore. But here I am, keeping secrets from everybody I said I wouldn't keep secrets from. Namely everybody. 

But it's summer, you guys. I needed a break from all of you. I just needed a couple of weeks to wrap my head around not being here all winter and what I'm setting myself up to gain and what I'm setting myself up to lose. I'm about to lose a lot. But I'm used to that. Maybe that's why I feel so very much like regular old me these days: scanning the calendar for flights, about to get rid of everything I own, fantasizing about the day that is not to far from now when I'll shove some panties in a backpack and give my passport a little exercise.

I'm telling you that yes, I'll be leaving this winter, and for a few months I'll be leaving New York to those people who chose to winter in it, because I do not.

And yes, I'm thinking about a bit more on that walk home from the train than Peaches and beaches and how closely my arms approximate Michelle Obama's. There are secrets, giant secrets that I'm afraid to tell should my plans fall through, and naked secrets that adorn my bed and drink my coffee in the morning.

But since my toes have gone untouched for over a week, the truth is, I've really needed those long walks home to think.

I think I'm coming up with some answers.



I am feeling restless these days, like I have to get out of here for a while.

It's the lighter schedule, I think. It's all of these hours in a day that I used to be at work that I'm...well, I'm just not at work.

But really, when have I ever needed an excuse to board an airplane? Have I ever?

That, I guess, isn't entirely apropos. An excuse I always need, but it's a reason that never seems to materialize. Last time I boarded an airplane it was because...because why the fuck not? I had spent the winter cold, broke, skinny, and crying. I felt the need to return to my hometown triumphant and with lined pockets, new tattoos and fifteen hard-earned pounds about my frame. And so I triumphantly jumped right in my ex's bed. Oh, so triumphantly.

But now I'm tired of all the streets I've already tread. Again.

In two weeks I'm taking a short jaunt to Toronto, with a possible stint in Montreal (with Meg, guys--this isn't an installment of Exes in the Inbox) and I'm hoping against hope that this trip will quell this thick desire to go really, really far away for a long, long time. I'll tell you right now that it's not going away.

But that's how childhood dreams work, don't they? They stick with you, to the insides of your ribs and they consume your desires until they're satiated. If you're like me then you've year after year put this dream aside or let someone steal it from you.

Here's what I'm avoiding telling you.

I'm telling you that my contract ends in November and rather than winter in New York I'd like to spend my lazy days of unemployment on a continent where November marks the beginning of summer. I would like to do this because I've wanted to go since I was a small child and learned about continents and Haley's Comet and kangaroos. I would like to do this because I should already be home from this--but I've purged all of those things that kept me stateside and I want this to be part of the fucking gain. 

I want to gain the shit out of this dream.

That seems reason enough to me.

Stay tuned.


Summer Vacation: Prospect Park to Bushwick Text Messaging.

N: I'm finding it harder to distinguish week from weekend.

M: Weekend days start with an S and are filled with Champagne LOL.

N: Oh, right! And no Jeopardy.

M: Or The Daily Show.



Twenty in Your Twenties.

Recently a co-worker, Chris Tryfonos, asked me what were a few things that I would recommend..."accomplishing" before one turns 30 years old. Now the fact that I would get asked this question is, although completely apt, startling in and of itself, but what really surprised me is how I actually managed to come up with some good advice. Crazy, right? You should know that I only noted things that I have done myself, so I can personally vouch for their awesomeness.

So here you go. Twenty things you should absolutely do while in your twenties. Enjoy.

20. Go to a music festival.
If you're anything like me then the crowds and children at these things become more and more irritating the older you get. The younger you are, the more fun you'll have. Hint: camp out overnight, like I have a handful of times at The Gorge.

19. Participate in an extreme sport.
Ride a BMX bike, snowboard, skateboard, rollerblade, whatever. Believe me when I tell you that you will not feel this way forever, and stuff like this is way easier the better you feel physically. Will you hurt yourself? Shit yeah, you will. I once, very famously in my circle of friends I might add, hit myself in the back of the head with my own snowboard while it was still attached to my feet. But what I got immediately before that was what felt like a year of air, and I will never forget it as long as I live.

18. Get a tattoo.
They hurt less the younger you are. This is completely true, by the way. So it was super cool the time I finally got my elbow done at 31. Ouch.

17. Wax your pubic hair.
It may not turn out to be your thing, and that's cool. But it's not like a tattoo--it grows back! Even if you don't end up doing this routinely, try it once. Even if it's just for shits and giggles. You may notice that there are more pros to the arrangement then you previously thought.

16. Go to the city renowned for a given holiday on that holiday.
You know what I'm talking about--Halloween in Key West, Independance Day in Philly, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Bastille Day in Paris, Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, etc. You know that holiday that people celebrate everywhere? Go to the place they do it best. Keep in mind that the worst one of these possible just might be New Years Eve in Times Square. I once spent Dos de Mayo in Madrid, the Pope's 80th birthday in Vatican City (which fell on Good Friday during Jubilee Year), and have celebrated Pink Saturday and Pride in San Francisco. I didn't plan two of those.

15. Drive across the country.
And I mean across, bitches, as in sea to shining motherfucking sea. You will never believe this, but I've actually only done this twice. True story.

14. Perform something.
Participate in an activity that requires you be on stage. The obvious choice is to join/start a band, but you could act or dance or even do spoken work like I did. I know you should do this before you're thirty because Chris asked me to try stand-up with him sometime, and the first thought that came to my head was: "I am way too old for that shit."

13. Have a one night stand.
Walk into a bar and bat your eyelashes, have a couple drinks, and be sure to leave their house before they wake up. Hint: put your shoes on outside.

12. Go on a vacation.
Now, I don't mean travel. Not this time. I mean fly somewhere warm, sit on a beach, drink something with a parasol in it. If you have only ever travelled, you'll be pleasantly surprised with how much you'll likely enjoy vacationing. I spent my first, and arguably only, vacation in Playa Del Carmen with a bunch of friends. I suggest you bring along some of your friends, too.

11. Rent a moving van and move yourself.
I have never, ever hired movers, but I hear that this is actually a super popular thing to do. It seems crazy to me, but hey. To each their own. I will say, however, that I've noticed that a huge obstacle for some is physically driving the moving van. I was once one of you, until one day in San Diego I just got in the drivers seat of one and drove it off the lot. Turns out, those things have mirrors. Imagine that. I once drove a 14 foot moving van from San Francisco to Seattle alone on two hours of sleep. You'll be just fine. Trust.

10. Go overseas.
Traveling is not expensive. Waking up one day and realizing you amounted to nothing, have a wife and three kids that you beat, don't have any hair, can only exist by self-medicating yourself daily with marijuana, and are jealous of your little sister for traveling so much is a MUCH higher price. Have you ever met anyone who's been to Belgium? Yes, you have, because I've been there. And to 14 or 15 other countries. If you live in New York, you can go to Paris for less money than it costs to go to Burning Man. Have you any idea how little it costs to fly to Thailand from Seattle in January? Less than the cost of broken dreams, I'll promise you that.

9. Learn how to be around kids.
Whether you like kids or not, you will encounter a lot of them as you enter your thirties because all your friends will start having them. Don't look like a tool around other people's children. Trust.

8. Participate in a long term relationship.
If you have reached thirty and have never been one half (or a third, or a quarter--hey, I don't judge) of a long term relationship, prospective partners will wonder why and likely be pretty wary of pursuing any kind of meaningful relationship with you. Why? Well, I could write a book about why, but for now just take my word for it that this happens.

7. Learn how to drive. A stick.
Some of you reading this may take having learned how to drive for granted, but where I live tons of adults don't know how to drive. And please, don't be that person that can't drive a stick. If you don't, then one day you will find yourself in a situation where you have to know how to drive a manual and you will look stupid when I have to do it for you.

6. Wear a bikini.
Seriously, you guys. Just do this. One day you will wake up in your thirties and you will literally be willing to die for the body you have (and possibly hate) right now. Take your beautiful twenty something body, put it in a bikini or a speedo, and rock your shit as hard as you can near some body of water. Please, please trust me on this one. And ladies? If you have never felt the sun on your bare breasts, I suggest you try it. It will change your life.

Also, fuck it. I don't care how old you are--please, everyone, just go do this one as soon as possible if you never have. Why? Because it feels amazing no matter how old you are! There are wrinkly, shrunken, grandmothers who do naked yoga on the sands of Miami Beach everyday. You think they're there trying to show off their hot bodies? No, they're there because it feels great, and in my opinion this particular brand of balls looks way better than sculpted abs any day of the week.

And now we move on to the really important ones...

5. Move away from home.
Imagine in your mind the city in which you were born. Move anywhere but there.

4. Take a sales job.
This one is actually really important, so do it. No matter what field you're in you'll one day have to convince someone else that you deserve a job or a raise, and if you can't sell yourself you might as well not even try. A sales job will help you learn how to do this.

Have you ever wondered why some people in your field make so, so much more than you? It's probably because they were more adept at negotiating a better starting salary. Your yearly or twice yearly raises are likely based on a percentage, so you will also increase that already high salary at a much faster pace. Think this doesn't apply to your field? You can literally do this with any job. Hell, I just did this last February at Studio when I asked for 170% of what everybody else makes and got it. Even after I was told the starting wage was absolutely unwavering. Even after I was thanked for my time and sent on my way. Do you know how long it was before they called me and gave me what I asked for after I had already been told that the wage I required was unreasonable? 2 hours.

Think about it: that percentage is the difference between $50,000 and $85,000 a year. If someone making each of these wages was given a 3% raise every year, the gap between them would increase to 36,050 from 35,000 in one year. In ten years at these same trends, one will make almost $46,000 a year more than their colleague at just shy of $111,000 given that they don't use their experience and self-selling skills to leverage an even higher paying job with a different company (which you "should" do every few years). This equates to a total difference of over $302,000 in this ten year span. Kind of worth two hours of nail biting and a summer job at The Gap, don't you think? And before you ask if this one salary negotiation was some sort of fluke occurrence for me, let me assure you that I do this all the time.

3. Learn math.
If you cannot replicate what I have done in that last paragraph, you need to brush up on your maths. Seriously. You need to at least know enough to be able to spend your money. Notice I didn't say manage--most people are horrible at this (even if they're convinced that they're good at it), and most people can rationalize spending money on just about anything so I wont ask that of you. What I will ask of you is to at learn enough math to at least be capable of realizing how badly your cell phone company, the bank that holds your mortgage, the company that finances your car, and even your landlord are moneyfucking your asshole daily. You're still willing to pay it? Cool. But you should at least know how much you're spending.

2. Stop being a bigot.
Let all that shit go by the time you're thirty. Don't like gay people, Lutherans, Mexicans, the French, the homeless, atheists, mixed-race couples, people with tattoos, Mormons, Transgenders? Just let it go. If you don't, you will teach that shit to your kids and then they'll have to get over it, and then one day you will wake up and realize that you're an agorophobic chain smoking asshole with a whole mess of grandkids that are all that stuff that you hate. My maternal Grandpa did not fare very well in this respect and used to call me, although he tried to be as endearing as possible, "nigger baby". Don't let the future leave you on the wrong side of the fence, because it will get to the point where you don't even look like an asshole anymore--you'll just look moronic.

1. Live alone.
I cannot stress this enough. Please, for goodness sake, live alone. Even if it's just for a couple of years. Nothing I have ever done has taught me more swiftly who I am and how to best be me, and you deserve the same. Before you think this is something you're incapable of, just remember that it is something I have accomplished in both of the two most expensive cities in this nation. If you want to have healthy relationships with others, you need to first build a healthy relationship with yourself. Living alone is without a doubt the best way to do that. Trust me.

Now chins up, twenty somethings! Take some time to ruminate on this stuff for a while, and in the meantime, go do something totally irresponsible like get drunk or set something on fire or set something on fire while drunk. You only have a few more years left for shit like that, after all.