Tuesday, June 29, 2010


"So where's my surprise?"
"I'm not sure, babe."
"What? Not sure about what?"
"The surprise is not in my hands anymore."
"I'm so confused."

One month into our relationship, I went on a 10-day work trip. Just before I left, I sent him a postcard acquired in Hungary (of all places) - a black and white photo of "je t'aime" scrawled on a wall. It read: "I miss you already!"

After a recent trip to the Phillips Collection, I spied a postcard of the Chagall above. I immediately called him to tell him he'd get a surprise. When? he asked. When you deserve one, I replied.

Four months into our relationship comes another long work trip. I met him for a quick coffee at our cafe before my morning flight. On the walk there I dropped his Chagall postcard in a mailbox. It read: "I think you're wonderful - don't change."*

*Lest you think I'm ever so poignant to come up with such a phrase, think again. Thanks, Josh Rouse.

High Hopes for Another Fine Day

In my head, I would never see him again. I liked how it ended: with a hug and a look that meant, “This is it?” It was storybook. We were in Ireland, in front of the massive gates at Trinity College, and I remember the long walk across the campus, back to my room, thinking that I could go home happy now. I used the last few precious minutes on my Irish Nokia cell phone to call him, hours before my plane took off, and joke and laugh and put an extra sheen on the experience that was meeting him.

It was so lovely. Wrapped up in a package, neatly sealed, tucked in a corner of a country that I would visit again but never really experience in the same way. He was a part of that. The perfect day, inside the perfect 6 weeks.

Today I got a Facebook message.

Subject: Yo!

Hey Lauren,
I dont know how far along your "leave New York, go to culinary school" plan you are but if you're still in NY, I'm heading over to stay with some friends of mine on sunday. I'll be there for 2 weeks (4th-18th), if you’re around we should get together at some stage.
Hope you're well,

It’s been four years. And now that I know he’ll be here soon, I feel like I can’t wait another day.

Monday, June 28, 2010


I know I don't appreciate things as much as I should. I know I discount the sacrifices that probably went into making me who I am. I know I am the first to complain about anything and everything. I know I don't watch my mouth. I know I say hurtful things. I know I do hurtful things. I know I never pause to think of all the things that go into trying to make a dream come true.

I don't cry. I can watch the saddest of films and the most tearjerking of novels without a solitary tear making its way up to my eye, let alone down my cheeks. If ever I do feel those tears welling up I make sure to brush them away or to swallow them down, to laugh them off with an inappropriate comment that probably makes the situation worse.

But I teared up when I watched this.

And because I'm me, I now feel silly. Because who tears up over a Google ad?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hot Time

It was hotter than I could ever remember it being in my dark bedroom. I lay sweating, wondering what I could do to lessen the stifling air that seemed to be hugging my body. The fan was no help. I stood up, closer to the window. No breeze. I went into the kitchen and poured a glass of ice water. It was warm in minutes. I took a cold shower. The air felt hotter by comparison. I couldn’t shake the choking atmosphere.

I lay back down in bed, my eyes heavy with exhaustion and begging for sleep. I began to drift off when my phone beeped. A picture message. “Yum Cobb salad!” Cobb salad. The LDC was texting me at midnight to show me his dinner, and all I could think was, “Cobb salad? Who gives a shit about Cobb salad? Let me know when you’re eating scallops with champagne sauce. Jerk.”

I was wide awake. It took me another thirty minutes to drift off to sleep again, and around 3:30 I was startled awake one more time. This time it was my subconscious that roused me but I was thinking about the text. His stupid text. Whatever the meaning behind it, I was angry. And I was up again.

Another glass of ice water, but this time I perched on the easy chair in the living room, next to the only window in the apartment that provided a trace of a breeze. I sat motionless in the dark, letting beads of condensation roll down the glass, across my sticky skin, and through the thick air to the wood floor below.

I don’t know if it was the ill-timed text or the ill-timed sender, but at that moment, in the heat, I felt lucky to be alone.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cooking for one...ain't no fun...

I wash the Tilapia, then pat it dry. Place it in the baking dish, turn the oven on. I mix up some olive oil and spices, break off some fresh basil, and season the fish. Into the oven.

I get the brussels sprouts ready to go. Wash, drain, cut. A little bit of garlic, a little bit of soy sauce. The garlic splutters. The bright green winks at me through the sauce. A little bit of chili powder to add some heat.

The music is on high so that I can hear it over the sound of sizzling sprouts.

"Hey, can you set the table?" I feel like saying. "Dinner's almost ready! Can we scrounge up some dessert? Maybe the strawberries with something?"
And almost I begin "Hey ca - "

Silly me.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Date of Execution

Growing up, and even in my 20s, I had very few straight guy friends. I spent most of my time in dance and theater, where guys are few and far between or, although it is a stereotype, gay. My heterosexual male friends were kept close and valued for the advice they gave and the offers they extended to pummel any guy who treated me poorly.

R. is one of those incredible, reliable guy friends that I’ve stuck close to since high school. He is a serial monogamist and, not surprisingly, proposed to his longtime girlfriend last year. They set a date for August and sent out ‘Save the Date’ cards soon after. I wrote the date in my planner: August 21. But something inside of me knew that I wouldn’t be attending.

R. is marrying B., who has a drinking problem. At one point, her problem got so bad, that R. and B. split up. “I can’t handle her when she gets blackout drunk,” R. said once. And every time B. drank, she binged to the point of blackout. During their split, she worked on “giving up hard liquor” and once she did, they got back together. “It’s only hard liquor that makes her black out,” R. said. This past January, on B.’s 25th birthday, she got blackout drunk off of beer (what happened to that hard liquor rule?) and kissed another guy. She never told R.

Up until this point, I have been elated for all of my friends who have gotten married or engaged. Everyone has seemed to fit so perfectly together, to complement each other, and really benefit from their unions. Except for R. and B. I can not go to a wedding and pretend to be happy for my dear friend and the woman he is settling for.

That little RSVP card sits on my dresser, asking far bigger questions than “Yes” or “No.”

Sunday, June 13, 2010


It's stupid and it's silly and it's downright ridiculous.

It's not like he was here. It's not like he could hold my hand. It's not like we were eating dinner together every day. It's not like I could hug him. It's still the same. Phone calls. Skype. Text messages. Emails. That's it. That's how it has been for the past however many days. We haven't been living in the same city (or the same apartment) now for the past couple of months. Long-distance. It's already started. Nothing new. Nothing changed. He's still not in the same city and he still can't hold my hand and I still can't hug him and we still can't go out to dinner and we're still not bumming around together on the sofa. Nothing changed.

Except that he got on a plane and now he's an ocean away.

And it's stupid and it's silly and it's downright ridiculous.

But there's a lump in my throat that just won't budge.

Hating the Player

Saturday. 3:30PM.
"You don't want to watch the Germany/Aussie match tomorrow, do you? 2PM? For your birthday..."

Saturday. 9:00PM.
"Awww you remembered! I'm getting drunk with cousins tonight so I might be recuperating but if not we could hang out later in the day?"
"Sure." You'll be recuperating until 2 in the afternoon? I let it die. His birthday. His day. Chill out, Lauren.

Sunday. 1:46PM.
"Probably watching the game at Van Diemens today dear." Is that an invite? Is that a statement? Wouldn't he have said, 'Want to come and meet me at Van Diemens at 2:30?'
No response.
For the past month I've been the one suggesting plans. He either bails or tries to reschedule. I imagined myself walking into the bar and facing him and his friends, all surprised to see me since I was never technically asked to join. It was a possible confrontation I didn't want to endure.

Sunday. 7:10PM.
"You never made it."
"I didn't know if that was an invite or a statement. Probably for the best. Ouch, Australia."
"It was an invite, silly."

Am I wrong to want to be wooed? Invited? Wanted? We split every check. After I spent the night at his place for the first time and told him I really liked him, he didn't have time to see me again for a week and a half. I haven't seen him in a month because he is incapable of making plans in advance or following through on anything. He went to Europe for two weeks and texted me the day he got back. To ask to see me? No. Just to say hi.

"If he really liked me, he'd want to see me," I told a guy friend. He shrugged and agreed.

Occasionally I feel crazy. I feel like I want too much, like I hold men to standards that no one could ever meet. But I think that I am not wrong to want to be wanted.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Don't wanna

I'm not good at long distance, he says. I'm really into her, but I just can't do it. I need that presence, that physical companionship, it just isn't for me, this whole long distance thing. And she gets it, ya know. I mean, just two weeks into it, I told her, you know, it's not going to work if we're doing it like this. So thereygo, open relationship. It's good this way. It works. I'm really into her. But it is what it is.

I stand on the cusp of a long-distance relationship. And even the mere and fleeting thought of D uttering those words to someone, retelling our story like that, feels like a punch in the face. An elbow to the gut. A kick in the shins. I cringe at the bare idea of it. A part of me crumples up.

I nod, yes, it is what it is. She lives on the other side of the world, and they have to be apart for almost a year. We get another drink and move on to another topic. Another friend chimes in about that concert they're going to, the party later that night, whether the weather will hold out tomorrow. I smile, I nod. And amidst cocktails and laughter we sail through the night.

But in the back of my mind I know how I would feel if D ever said that to or about me.
And I wouldn't be nodding and smiling.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Well then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do

It began, as most romantic comedies do not, with the World Cup. I was about to turn 21 years old and I was studying abroad in Dublin. He was a floundering college student taking some time off to work and find himself, as so many young Europeans do. He was so endearing and I liked him immediately. "Do you want to meet me at the bar?" I asked. "Yeah," he answered, "Be there in two shakes of a lamb's tail." Oscar. My European love affair.

I don't know if most people can pinpoint their best kiss. Mine happened in the most mundane of settings, in the most common situation. We had been watching a World Cup football match at a favorite bar of ours. He was wearing a white polo shirt and he bought me a pint. We stood close at the bar and smiled a lot and fidgeted and touched each other lightly and should have been social with other people but we weren't. I was so incredibly comfortable with him and told my ridiculous jokes and said stupid things and all he did was laugh along and act as a catalyst for my personality. I adored him.

The match ended and I had planned to go out with the girls later. We left the bar together and I was in such a happy haze that I forgot to pay my bar tab. The sun was beaming down onto Dame Lane in an unseasonably warm early July day in Dublin, and the sunshine and the warm air and the pint made me feel floaty and dreamy and drunk.

"So, I'll text you later," he said. He smiled. He reached out and grabbed my hand and pulled me toward him, and then he kissed me. It was nice. It was gentle but given with purpose. And when I opened my eyes, I saw that his were still closed. His eyelids lifted slowly, and he grinned.

And it was perfect.

What's your "perfect" day going to look like?

So this has been bothering me for the past couple of weeks. Three, to be exact. Ever since my sister's wedding. That beautiful wedding, on a beach, full of laughter and fun. Because I was asked what kind of wedding I would like. And I could not, honestly, or at all, come up with an answer.

I know all little girls everywhere are supposed to have dreamt up this fantasy wedding from the time they were, I don't know, teething or something, or the time they first tasted cake or whatever. If movies are anything to go by (and movies always tell the truth!) five-year-old girls everywhere are enacting their fantasy weddings even as they con their six-year-old neighbor boy into acting like the groom (and the small boy always grows up to BE a groom, which means I've lost my chance oh no). Your wedding day is supposed to be "your" day where everything has to be "perfect" and in the effort to make it so you can become a monstrous bridezilla and make everyone dance to your tune. What's not to like and imagine and fantasize about?! No wonder little girls everywhere are bent on imagining up their wedding days instead of making mud pies and playing with dolls (trucks? sacrilege!).

Apparently I missed that memo.

If ever I thought of weddings as a kid it was in the context of barbies or on the rare occasion that I actually accompanied my parents to a wedding reception (there are only one or two in my memory...apparently nobody we knew got married between the time I was 2 and 12) all I registered was the fact that you got dressed up and ate food from buffet tables and in my little world that revolved around mommy and daddy and my sister, the bride and groom barely even made an appearance, but I inevitably spilled something on new clothes (sigh...I guess I should be thankful there were not more weddings, for how many more clothes I would have ruined!).

And so here I am, on the cusp of a quarter century, apparently of an age where I should have already picked out my wedding "theme" whatever that is and imagined up a fantasy "perfect" dress (besides, of course, the fantasy "perfect" groom) and decided upon what cake I'd have on "my" day. And I find myself without a clue.

I know what I don't want: a religious ceremony, a white dress, my parents giving me away.

And isn't that how it has always been? I knew I didn't want to do math or science, and so I found myself reading books and discussing politics. I knew I didn't want to work at a think tank and so I found myself applying to law school. I have always known what I didn't want. Knowing what I want, on the other hand, is the eternal and unanswerable question.

Well, I suppose I could start thinking about "my perfect day" now that I'm clued in about the fact that I'm supposed to have one and am supposed to have it all planned out before it even becomes a real possibility.

Or I could go save the world.

With the unfortunate yet complete and certain knowledge that if and when it happens, on this most perfect of all days I shall, without a doubt, inevitably and unremovably, spill something on my new clothes (have I mentioned I love Devil's food cake and curry of all sorts?).

In the meanwhile, I'd love to know...what would your wedding day look like? Or am I not alone in not having imagined it down to every last detail?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Picture

Every time I went online the other day - to check my bank statement, to monitor the price on plane tickets for an upcoming trip, to imdb that familiarly obscure actor in the movie I was watching - I navigated back.

I clicked through the one where my awkwardly raised arm consumes the rest of me. The one where my nose appears massive and oddly-shaped. The one where his jawline looks chiseled. The one where we're laughing about his new phone addiction. The one of really nothing at all.


The one.

A black and white camera phone photo of us in a friend's kitchen. I sit on a stool, reading a recipe from an iPhone. He stands just behind, his arms wrapped around my waist. He kisses the top of my head, reading the recipe along with me. Us being us.

Beauty in small things.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Something Racey

So three of us are hanging out on some footsteps. An asian guy, a black girl, and me (an asian girl for those that don't know me). Our conversation is a blur to me now that I am trying to muster some of its substance for this blog post.

But I do remember one specific comment from Chris.

"My friend told me that asian guys and black girls are the loneliest people on Earth."

I seriously have been thinking about this all weekend. My jaw dropped, and I laughed. And I still don't know how I feel about it. Probably because I didn't know who the person was and why he would say that to his friend.

Is it true? Is it OK that it's true?

It makes me sad that loneliness can be measured and categorized to a very specific demographic. Even if I don't fall under it, I don't want others to either.

And then I am reminded of a line from my favorite Killers song and it makes me feel a little better and gives me something to work towards and/or look forward to.

"We're all the same. And love is blind."

Saturday, June 5, 2010

In the middle of the night

I woke up trembling. My sheets were half on the floor from tossing and turning so much. A nightmare. That's all. That's all. A vicious nightmare full of attacks and weak attempts to fight them off and a scary stranger and evil intentions and a horrid, horrid smile. I can only hope that my nightmares are not prophetic in any way.

I won't dwell on that. It is too real even now. I have checked my door twice. An entire glass of water in one long gulp. Then another.

And I know I can't get back to sleep again. I know this night's sleep is shot. I could lie in bed for hours reliving that nightmare and not sleeping a wink, getting out of bed tired and lethargic, unproductive during the day.

Or I could just get up.

I sit at my desk. Turn the desk light on. Put on a song. And the rain starts. And slowly, slowly, my fear recedes. I even sit with my back to the door (and don't glance around more than twice).

And I let the night sink in, working in the light of a solitary lamp while the rain patters down from the dark sky, building a little cocoon of warmth and safety with nothing but a lamp, some air, and a book. I sit sipping some ice cold water, pulling the blanket closer around myself, looking up from my desk at the first rays of sunlight creeping in through the window.

Time for bed.

It isn't very good
In the dark dark woods
In the middle of the night
In the pale moonlight...
- Enid Blyton

From a Noddy book (now critiqued as being racist and sexist and all kinds of things, but I cannot forget the hours of enjoyment derived from spot-on statements like these when, as a five-year-old I knew nothing about racism or sexism and all I knew was that oh yes, it isn't very good indeed in the dark dark woods in the middle of the night in the pale moonlight).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Heart Wants

"So, I'm calling because I'd like to move back home the last week in June. And I need to know if you're okay with this so I can start putting things in motion."

A pause. A long pause. There is never a pause in conversation with my mother.

"Well, yeah, you know we're always here for you! But... what will you do if you can't find a job?"
"I'll have saved up enough money as a cushion and then I'll move to Seattle at the end of August."
"Without a job? Without health care?"

I felt my confidence deflating, slowly, slowly. My chest tightened. My eyes threatened tears.

"I have to do something!" I proclaimed, my voice wavering only slightly. "I can not stay in this job, I can not stay in this apartment, I can not stay in this city. I have to do something!"

I feel so helpless. I feel trapped in technicalities like money and health care when my entire heart and soul is telling me to go.

"I don't think it's that crazy!" I exclaimed, trying desperately to pull her to my side. It's not crazy, you're not crazy, this is not crazy. Maybe it is crazy. Maybe I will get to Seattle and have a break down and think to myself, My GOD, what did I do?!

Or I will stay in this dirty, overpriced apartment, in my dead end, brainless job, in this cruel and soulless city, and I will break down in a different way.

It shouldn't be so hard but it's the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

Today the sun shines

You know those days when everything is glum and dreary? Those days when you fixate on all the things you don't have and all the stuff you feel entitled to? Those days when every good thing in your life has a lining of dullest of dull greys?

Yes, you know them. We all know them. They creep upon you, those days. Like a little hobgoblin in a wood, waiting behind the next mushroom, until SPLAT you're covered in a layer of gloomy muck.

And then there are those other days. Days when the sun just shines and shines even if it's pouring rain. Days when you walk out of long meetings feeling upbeat and energized instead of down and drained. Days when every cloud has a silver - nay, golden lining. Days when that hobgoblin is trapped in his cave and instead a pixie and a fairy are together sprinkling you with golden fairy dust and magically lighting up unknown paths in the wilderness, leading you out to the clearing, to the oasis, to where you want to be.

And suddenly you feel silly and ungrateful to have been such a whining mess on that other kind of day. And suddenly you feel like singing even though you know it would probably bring a bucketful of muck onto your head courtesy of your neighbors. And suddenly you think: you know what, this is the goddamn effing LIFE.

And maybe you find that your yogurt has real strawberries in it. And maybe your salmon turns out perfectly. And maybe you get your assignments done in a shorter time than you expected to.

And maybe, just maybe, you smile like a lunatic ready to take on the world.

And you wish these days would be every day. But you know that they wouldn't be worth so much without those other kinds of days.