The night life, the bright lights, the good-timing friends

The cold that was “brick” relented tonight. I made my way to Crown Heights in the falling snow, earlier than my normal Sunday hour, to meet up with Micah, Marxist Queen, at Barboncino.

Sundays are family. And I hesitate to make that sound trite, like I’m shoveling unlimited breadsticks down my gullet and chasing them with sticky sweet Lambrusco at Olive Garden. But it’s true. This is the family of rag tag beautiful people who adopted me, even though I’m the only one who doesn’t and never has worked at a restaurant.

How much I owe to Courtney that she’ll never know. My Tucson life changed because I started ending my shifts at Williams-Sonoma with trips to a family friend’s restaurant in 2013. What I learned about industry folk changed my life for the better.

Mikey and I agreed on one thing tonight. New Years liberated us from a hellish 2021. I remember New Years Dat spent drinking Prosecco and grapefruit juice with Jack, this lovely human I adopted, thinking how I rang in 2022 exactly as I had planned.

Good omens today from Misha. Three in a row. A hat trick.

Now for sleep. The snow turned to rain and all has melted…including and especially my heart. All is well, my loves. Rest your weary heads. I am in good keeping.

Promise me, I’m never gonna find you fake it

At 5:02 this morning I was in bed, eating a bowl of homemade turkey soup. I was hungry after a night in Manhattan in sub freezing temperatures. That I even left the apartment was notable. Not just the cold, but omicron and money and HOOORMOOOOOONES and all the nursing that goes into a broken heart.

But I didn’t move to NYC to stay in my room unabated. There was a city to see and people to be enjoyed. Namely, Andrea.We got off the F train, paid our respects at CBGBs (now John Varvados) and saw Nikola’s show at Bowery Electric. So did Josh and Dusty. Josh is a happy hobbit. Dusty is a hobbit if they became nihilists. And not the fun kind. The kind that balls up their tiny fists and swings wildly at friends.

It was decided that Dusty, who could no longer stand or walk on his own, should be put in a cab and sent back to Brooklyn to sleep it off. It was good for Dusty. It was good for Josh. It was good for Manhattan in general. And for me specifically, because Tyler is the one who accompanied Dusty home.

I stood Tyler up on NYE. He knows why, or at least he should. Yes, that broken heart I mentioned earlier. I’ve never stood anyone up for anything ever. I don’t have it in me. I didn’t revel in doing it either. Well, maybe I reveled a little if only because I was doing unto him what he’d been doing unto me.

I love him in ways that don’t have words to explain them. Except that none of them are romantic. They only look that way because no one has come up with a word that I’m aware of yet to describe why I love him so much. It’s always the ones you love the most are capable of wounding you the worst. We hadn’t talked since the NYE incident. So, thank you, Dusty, because my night would probably have ended there if Tyler had come along. That can of worms can wait another week or so before I open it.

After Bowery Electric, we hit up The Library and KGB. The thing no one tells you before you move to NYC from the desert is how people still make it out in below freezing temperatures. Every bar was packed to the gills (we went from tinned worms to tinned fish there…). The Library was so packed that my glasses fogged up and my hair curled…and yes, I was thinking about our fearless leader COVID. How can you not? Was I wreckless? Yes. But I’ve been a very good girl and I need nights like this every once in a while. Believe me…I’ve been saying no to more invites than I say yes to, even when I really wanna see the people who invite me. It doesn’t justify anything. We all of us, dearly beloved, have to find a way to get through this thing called “life.”

A happy thing to report: the bouncer at KGB remembered me from pre-COVID days when I used to tell stories up at the Red Room on the 4th floor. I remembered him. We remembered each other. I remembered myself…the one who used to get up on stage and make people laugh ON PURPOSE!

What I love about this pack I travel with is that none of us went anywhere to be seen or particularly cared about meeting strangers or hitting on anyone or getting hit on or impressing or blah blah blah. No one was performing. Well, Nikola was performing, but that was LITERAL performing on stage. You know what I’m saying.

It was real. Real is my favorite flavor. It’s my favorite song. It’s my favorite season. It’s my favorite color. It’s my alpha and my omega. It’s why I love Tyler when it’s just us together in a room and why I despise him when we’re around others. It’s my true north. I set my moral compass by it and everything that emanates from it is what I choose to call a “life.”

These are the words I’ll never say to you

We talked of such a lofty kind of love and admiration. One so high it had to be preserved. You talked about its preservation and I agreed.

This was special. It was unique. It was glorious. I could think. I could write. I could inhabit my gifts.

And then I got so sick. And you disappeared.

I felt such betrayal. How could you speak of how you loved me so ardently and not have known the misery in which I languished last year, just down the street from your apartment?

I didn’t need you because I needed. I needed you because my soul forgot its own name and you were the only one to have spoken it.

And then you starved it. And I became lost in a whirlpool of questioning reality.

My beautiful words were gone. They became ordinary and cheap. And you read along as I chronicled my year of suffering like some voyeur, instead of a kindred soul who lived ten minutes away.

I didn’t need a fan. I needed a friend incarnate. I needed to not feel so alone and scared and tired. You had the power to absolve me of some of that pain.

But you were careless, and you let all the goodwill we built wither away until even the foundation was undermined.

I was worth something to you once. We lifted each other up. To be abandoned by the only person who understood what real loneliness was…it felt intentional.

You didn’t appreciate me when I was weak and sick. I felt that I could slip into the cracks of oblivion and you would never miss me. You, the one person who saw me as I hoped to be seen. I needed to be told that I was worth fighting for. A kind word from you would have made all the difference.

I exist! I exist! While you forgot about me I continued to exist! And when I came out of my depression and sickness, I’d done it without you. I fought my way back from hell to reclaim that version of me you adored. You didn’t miss her when she was gone. You didn’t want to help me fight for her.

You didn’t deserve her when she came back. I kept waiting for you to make yourself worthy. No one else would understand. To them I sounded like some deluded woman in love with a boy. How conventional and pathetic. How could they understand?

These are words I’ll never say to you. These are words you’ll never get to hear. This is pain you can’t possibly understand…until you’ve felt what I felt this year for yourself. It’s unfortunate. I don’t wish it upon you. Breaking into pieces and gluing oneself back together is the loneliest feeling in the world.

I forgive you for not understanding. I forgive me for being clumsy in how I conveyed it. If I’d known the magic words I would have spoken them. That’s the irony of it all.

Next time

Precocious kids are lonely kids. We try saying the things we feel to see if anyone else feels them and we get weird looks and silence. We bottle it up and try to play along and wonder why everything that was ever meant to be satisfying just isn’t.

We’re wrestling with a lot and (unless we’re really lucky) there usually isn’t anyone to share this stuff with.

So when you meet someone who gets it…any of it…and you both put down the masks you wear to protect this vulnerable side of you that no one ever seemed to understand before…a lot of feelings come forward. You can get greedy for this. You can even resent the person who gets it and then pulls back. Becuase you don’t want to have to go back into that pretend world all by yourself.

I think in these weird dimensions of time. They’re all happening at once. The present isn’t usually overwhelming unless I’m sick or lonely or grieving. Then the present can feel oppressive.

I got lucky enough to find a therapist who got it. I found a life coach who helped empower me to own myself and feel less afraid to inhabit what that was.

After that I found a handful of people who were autodidacts, iconoclasts, polymaths who got it. I can get needy around these people. I think that’s understandable. I don’t want to be the loneliest whale who communicates at a different frequency (I think that whale found a buddy). But it doesn’t have to be my whole reality. I can recognize my neediness, give it space, and not let it turn into resentment.

In the future, when I come across the next one…and there will be a next one…I think it would serve us both well for me to understand that they are just as limited as I am. And we are all broken in unique ways.

I could tell you things about my current self that are coming up in negative ways. I’ve been leaning into vanity and outside affirmation because I’m not in touch with my authentic self all the time. Sometimes I am and sometimes I forget and I go I to automatic behaviors. I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

I need to be aware of tendencies that I have to fix people. It’s not my job.

I need to be aware of intuition that requires contemplation. When I think something’s off, it usually is. But I jump to conclusions about what exactly that is when I might not have all the information yet. I need to slow that process down.

I need to be aware of having to be right. Having to be perfect. Having to dominate.

I need to stop being mean to people just because I find them insufferable. I need to stop proclaiming from the rooftops how insufferable they are. It doesn’t matter that it’s true. It doesn’t serve a purpose.

What is it I want to do with all the remaining time I have in this life? I want to cook great food. I want to catch buses for old ladies trying to make a connection. I want to laugh at silly things. I want to discover truth in unlikely places. I want to be kissed by someone who gets it and just appreciate it without needing more.

Let’s hear it for the boy(s)

Yesterday:
I took Emily for drinks at The River Cafe and then to a play at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Both are located in DUMBO (Down Under The Manhattan Bridge Overpass 🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️).

The River Cafe is about as fancy as things get in Brooklyn. It has one of those Michelin Stars everybody talks about and great views of the city. It also has a dress code. Men must wear jackets. I felt a little like Ferris Bueller trying to pose as Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago.

The place was decked out for Christmas and there was a fancy schmancy party going on with Germans in tuxedos. I was half expecting Bruce Willis to show up Die Hard style.

We had drinks at the bar (G&T for Emily and Calvados, Monkey Shoulder Scotch, fig grenadine and lemon for me). And fresh out of the oven bread with butter. And we reminisced about our childhoods as fancy ladies at fancy restaurants. And also talked about going to more fancy places together.

And then we went to the play at St. Ann’s. It’s a gorgeous brick warehouse on the waterfront that has been repourposed into a theater.

The play was great. I really loved it. And it will probably spark some good writing about my last time in a mental hospital, so that’s always a good thing.

Last, we went to Barboncino. The place was packed. People waited an hour for a table. I texted ahead and Mikey saved me some meatballs and tiramisu. It’s not something I wanna take advantage of. I’ve done it two weeks in a row now. But, honestly, I love seeing Mikey and Nikola at work on Fridays (Andrea works on Sundays). And getting spoiled by them. I love them. I feel safe and cared for. And I want the other people in my life to get to know them.

I went out with the kiddos to Bearded Lady afterwards and then walked with Mikey to his place in a salty mist and came home. Hungry because it was now 4 am. So I ate one of Jack’s bananas. He doesn’t mind.

These are the good days. The ones that you look back on wistfully. The ones you hope will come again when the chips are down and you can hardly find the energy to get out of bed. This is why you did it, Vene. To be here. In this now.

In a world full of people

While washing the dishes right now, it came to me that the reason people want us to love them, at least when it comes to Mikey and me, is that our love can’t be bought. It can only be earned. To have our love shine on them feels good.

I remember when I figured this out the first time—how giving love had to come without any thought of repayment. Because if you expect to be repaid, then there is a price. A price indicates a finite value. Love should be infinite.

But not just anyone gets it. Certainly not people who just want to be adored. People who go out into the world thinking they are shiny, charming objects. Those people end up being exhausting because they take take take with their neediness. Their need is infinite. Their charm wears off like a cheap veneer.

We know how to charm people. It feels cheap. We want to be loved for something more integral than glamours.

But then there are those who just find their way into our hearts. We love them from moment one. They never had to do anything. They just were so magnificent that we were and continue to be smitten. It wasn’t charm. It was character. It was soul.

I’m in love with ten different people for their good, their bad and their ugly. They make me swoon for who they are. I get giddy when I know I’m going to see them. It doesn’t wear off with time. I keep thinking it will. I’m so in love with them I think my heart might burst.

Is the heart fickle, or is it just truer than we know in inexplicable ways? Why is mine so selective? Why do I find most people insufferable and boring? Why do I find the idea of tolerance so disgusting? And how do so many people just go through life with lukewarm relationships?

And then I see how people cook and dress and decorate and I realize their lack of passion. And I feel so isolated. So closed off from the rest of the world in my eccentricities and proclivities. I live in the margins of the color spectrum. I may be black and white in whom I love. But I am every shade in how I do it. That intensity is my burden. It is also my blessing.

A sweet post for a sweet night

Friday night started out like most others. I try not to go out on Fridays. It’s my night to stay in, watch YouTube videos and sing along.

Jon ventured out onto the roof to get a gander at the city in her star-spangled glory. He came in pretty quickly because he’s scared of Heights and the only way down is on a rickety fire escape that is probably clinging to the exterior by the sheer power of rust.

We started watching this horrible Jason Bateman/Melissa McCarthy movie that gaslit us with five minutes of funny followed by an hour or terribly unfunny. We wouldn’t finish the film.

We heard a voice. It came from Jon’s room. From his window. A man entered from the fire escape. He was running from the cops. I wasn’t scared. I didn’t feel threatened. Just annoyed. But annoyance could wait because I had to get him out of my place without him hurting Jon or me. or the cops hurting anyone.

I gave him water. I cleaned the cut on his hand with hydrogen peroxide. I called him an Uber (he gave me cash) and when it wouldn’t come directly to the door, I walked with him down the street a block to make sure he was gone. Someone who knew him took it from there.

On the way back to the apartment, I asked the crowd that had gathered at the bodega what I’d done and if I was safe. They said yes and that I’d been a Good Samaritan.

Jon was quiet and maybe a bit shook, completely understandably. I asked the third floor neighbor to come up and talk me through what had happened and also just as a way for Jon to see that everything really was ok. She said there’s been a fight out on Marcus Garvey, that the cops had arrested the wrong guy, that the guy who ended up in my apartment had escaped by running into the trap house next door, into the backyard and up the fire escape.

I really was ok but I didn’t want to be sitting at home with these thoughts, so I called up Mikey and proceeded to get good and drunk. I told him to take care of me and make sure I got home safe. I can ask that of Mikey. I would never ask that of anyone else but him. He has this very protective masculine bear vibe that I dig.

Mikey agreed.

I ended up passing out on his couch. At one point he covered me with a blanket and told me he loved me. I felt it. I felt safe. I felt at home. He kept his word.

As for Tyler, his little brother is in town and Ty wants to recruit him into the rag tag army of Michiganders he’s slowly assembling in Brooklyn. He said we should all go out on Monday, and as it was Labor Day and I hadn’t any plans, I said yes, on the condition that he pay for everything.

Tyler agreed.

It’s a little odd, conceptually speaking, that Ty wants me to hang out with his 21-year old brother and said brother’s 24-year old girlfriend. It sounds bizarre when I say it like that, right? And not even so much that I couldn’t talk to these youngins. But if they knew I was 104, they might wonder what the hell I’m doing palling around with Ty.

I’m glad I didn’t overthink it. It was quite possibly one of the loveliest days or nights I’ve ever spent in this city. And I’ve had some real bangers.

I met Tyler on his stoop for Tigers baseball radio and Modelo beers. It’s easy to fall into baseball and beer with a Michigander. I did it as a profession from the ages of 17-32. There’s got to be something said for that. I don’t know what.

Tyler looked especially pretty on that stoop. If Mikey exudes dirtbag masculine mafioso vibes, Tyler has a dirtbag casual sophistication. Sophistication through the lens of Midwestern working class. It’s the X factor. The je ne sais quoi. He’s a weirdo for sure, and my kind of weirdo at that, but so self-assured.

We ate Mexican candy and listened to the game. We walked to the corner to hear a live band play. Ty’s brother was at IFC in the village watching a movie, so we had to figure out something to do. First we looked at theaters to see what was playing. Then venues to see if anything live was going on. And then we started googling to see if we could find any live mariachi. He called a bunch of restaurants but there was no live music to be had.

If you Google “live mariachi NYC” you’ll see that there are many mariachi groups here for hire. Ty got the idea of hiring a band to play in front of the stoop. Maybe even for his birthday at the end of the month. He callee a few numbers and I spoke to the women. $580-$600 an hour is what it costs to get a band from Queens to play in Brooklyn. We talked about spreading the cost. And how many hours. And where we would have the party. But we were still no closer to actually doing anything and the mosquitos had become violent.

I suggested the pier on Christopher Street, site of a revelation or two in the past, for a view of the sunset over New Jersey. We packed a couple of Modelos in my Prada bag and caught the train. And then jumped off that one when it stalled onto another at Barclays. And then to another until we arrived on Christopher. I showed him where the 🦄 used to live. We crossed the West Side Highway and then there we were. No plans, just spontaneity and a little trust. Oh, and a conversation in Spanish.

The lawn was covered in picnickers. The boardwalk with joggers and strollers and rollerbladers. I guess a lot of people had the same idea. He pulled the beers out of my bag and we toasted. We talked about porn and tango and the damage current culture does to brains and the Twin Towers falling.

Ty had mentioned never having eaten at a French restaurant and also wanting a martini so we went on the hunt. We went up one street and down the next. He was searching for a mood. Dark. Nice. No food. No Bros. It’s harder than you think. And at once point I tripped on the sidewalk and fell hard on my knees. I think I scared him a bit. I was fine though.

We found a pretentious speakeasy in Chelsea and ordered two martinis (gin for him, Belvedere vodka for me) and talked some more. This time about Halloween and his plan to stay in Puerto Rico this winter and maybe me coming out for a while to join him.

He rolled cigarettes and we smoked and stared up at Vega, high in the sky. His brother and gal pal got out of the movie, so we left and met them at Johnny’s.

Pausing to reflect

Today I said goodbye to Jon.

He said he was bummed to be leaving. But then he realized that he could jump in a plane any time he wants and stay on my couch.

Before he came, I had no idea what it would be like to have a friend from Tucson see my life in NYC.

It wasn’t all easy. I left for a reason and Jon is in love with that town. But he’s come to see how it is possible to be in love with this city. It challenged him to grow in similar ways that it challenges me. And he wants to grow.

I get to play a part in the growth of this human being. What an immense responsibility.

I saw a meme recently that said something about how you should remember that the life you’re living today, that can be annoying and awful, is the life you dreamed about living five years ago.

I count my blessings because this life is very much the one I dreamed of. It isn’t perfect. I never asked for perfect. I did ask to be worthy of a substantial life.

All I want to do is learn and teach and help and grow and get lost in beauty and talk long into the night and run around in the moment and meet up with old friends in new cities and make new friends in old ones. Maybe worry a little less. Maybe mellow my firey nature a bit.

Let me learn to handle the complexities of health issues with grace. Let me learn how to show others that this life can have dignity even if it isn’t ideal.

Give me time. Give me patience. Give me a sense of humor to get me through tough times.

This end up ⬆️

The other night I told Andrea and Mikey that Tyler wanted mariachis for his birthday. They thought it was some ironic joke on his part. I said it wasn’t. I’d made the same mistake years before when Ty said he liked drinking at Applebee’s. There’s so much bullshit irony in this world that we just assume it of everyone.

But Ty’s not like that. At least, with me he’s not. It makes conversations easy because I don’t have to parse his words and tone and face for sarcasm and cynicism. With other people, I can feel cruelty resonate after answering their question in earnest, only to discover there was no earnestness intended in the prompt.

I know better now. I know they’re just hiding pain. Someone once hurt them for being vulnerable. So they wrapped their wounds in lies and misdirection.

Later I told them about riding the train into the city and practicing Spanish with him.

“Spanish?” They said at the same time, in surprise.
“Yeah, we talked in Spanish.”
“He speaks Spanish?” Mikey asked, sort of stammering in disbelief. Andrea frowned.
“Yes. He’s been studying for months. He even has a crush on his tutor. It’s cute.”

Mikey put his hand to his heart and smiled. It was a tiny pause. Just a beat. He was touched. “I remember Ty when he was just a baby. They grow up so fast!”

Do you see how the love strikes through defenses? It disarms so quickly. There’s so much of it out there, hidden under exoskeletons. It takes bravery to lead with it. Bravery gets too easily confused for foolery and cynicism for wit.

A sweet night, one week ago


Friday night started out like most others. I try not to go out on Fridays. It’s my night to stay in, watch YouTube videos and sing along. 

Jon ventured out onto the roof to get a gander at the city in her star-spangled glory. He came in pretty quickly because he’s scared of heights and the only way down is on a rickety fire escape that is probably clinging to the exterior by the sheer power of rust. 

We started watching this horrible Jason Bateman/Melissa McCarthy movie that gaslit us with five minutes of funny followed by an hour or terribly unfunny. We wouldn’t finish the film. 

We heard a voice. It came from Jon’s room. From his window. A man entered from the fire escape. He was running from the cops. I wasn’t scared. I didn’t feel threatened. Just annoyed. But annoyance could wait because I had to get him out of my place without him hurting Jon or me. Or the cops hurting anyone. 

I gave him water. I cleaned the cut on his hand with hydrogen peroxide. I called him an Uber (he gave me cash) and when it wouldn’t come directly to the door, I walked with him down the street a block to make sure he was gone. Someone who knew him took it from there. 

On the way back to the apartment, I asked the crowd that had gathered at the bodega what I’d done and if I was safe. They said yes and that I’d been a Good Samaritan. 

Jon was quiet and maybe a bit shook, completely understandably. I asked the third floor neighbor to come up and talk me through what had happened and also just as a way for Jon to see that everything really was ok. She said there’s been a fight out on Marcus Garvey, that the cops had arrested the wrong guy, that the guy who ended up in my apartment had escaped by running into the trap house next door, into the backyard and up the fire escape. 

I really was ok but I didn’t want to be sitting at home with these thoughts, so I called up Mikey and told him I needed to get good and drunk. I told him to take care of me and make sure I got home safe. I can ask that of Mikey. I would never ask that of anyone else but him. He has this very protective masculine bear vibe that I dig.

Mikey agreed. 

I did get good and drunk ended up passing out on his couch. At one point he covered me with a blanket and told me he loved me. I felt it. I felt safe. I felt at home. He kept his word.