The Lobbyist: The NoMad

Nomad-Hotel-Facade-510x432 The Lobbyist is a division of JBLY that specifically handles reviews of hotel lobbies and hotel bars.  If you’ve got a good suggestion (or, preferably, a bad one) for a place I should visit, please send me an email at jennyblovesyoudaily@gmail.com.

Sink into the velvety luxury of an art deco sofa while you soak up the chilled out vibes purring from the stereo. Is that Radiohead? Evan Voytas? Foals? I have no idea, but it’s chill. Yes, in the black and gold womb of the NoMad’s boudoir-inspired lobby, you’ll feel your cares slip away, instantly forgetting that guy who didn’t call you back last week, that $2,500 dental bill, or the fact you’ve made the journey to pseudo-gentrifying buttfuck Flatiron, where, just hours ago, men were slanging jugs of body oil and fake gold chains the size of nautical ropes. “Shhhh,” the NoMad whispers. “None of that matters anymore.”

It’s true; it doesn’t. Let this sexy beast pillow talk the shit out of you. It has all the slinky vibes of Paris’ Hotel Costes, minus all that fashion week BS and the whole oui oui oui Grey Poupon French-y thing. Unless of course, that’s your jam, which is completely acceptable. I like inhaling secondhand smoke and not eating 30 euro salads just as much as the next supermodel.

WHEN:

Because I’m incapable of reading text messages intelligently, I found myself sitting in the lobby waiting for a friend who I had – quite incorrectly – assumed to be staying there. Nevertheless, it was the perfect opportunity for a Lobbyist, given that this joint is too expensive and dignified for the Brooklyn skeeze I run with.

WEAR:

Despite the clienteles’’ collective tax bracket, the fashion left a little to be desired. There was the lady with the $2,200 Goyard tote and the New Balances (rich people casual). Then came the Tory Burch outfit (for the WASP in your life who’s just, ugh, bored of Lilly Pulitzer). The shining beacon of hope, however, was the group of men in black and white, sporting bowties and good manners.

Negative points go to the 65-year-old man who checked me out like he had a chance, though, in truth, I myself was wearing the leather mini-dress I sported three years ago with ripped tights, smeared lipstick, and leaves smashed into my hair when I dressed like a [insert something completely offensive here] for Halloween. So, that said, considering the circumstances, he likely thought I was 1) a prostitute, 2) a sexy foreign exchange student from Holland, 3) all of the above. Lurking is to be expected.

SEEN:

Older men with age-appropriate wives, French people, a good-looking employee with shaggy hair (likely a resident of Brooklyn).

HEARD:

“Dad, what’s your color acuity?”

“Well, Sally, what do you mean? Hue? Saturation? Brightness?”

This is the type of learned downtown conversation I never had growing up. My parents could give two shits about color acuity; it was all, “Hey, get good grades and play sports so you can go to college. I don’t care if you’re color blind.”

EAT, DRINK, AND BE MERRY OR WHATEVER

The NoMad – the restaurant adjacent the lobby, in particular — attracts that rich and successful 40+ crowd who doesn’t mind journeying towards middle-Manhattan for $8 radish snacks. If you’re feeling flush, there’s also the $78 whole roasted chicken for two, which comes with fancy things like foie gras, black truffle, and brioche. For those of you who have had the $7 chicken from Costco and call bullshit, there are hundreds of five-star reviews on this dish on Yelp.. So there. Being rich really does taste better.

THE LOBBYIST RATING: 5/5 KATE MOSSES

True, the Flatiron District is this weird, ambiguous No Man’s Land, but you know what? So was Soho… and Tribeca… and Williamsburg. And you know what happened to those places? They got real expensive and filled up with douche bags. The Flatiron isn’t like that yet, and neither is the NoMad. So get there while the getting’s good. Just don’t forget to buy me a drink.

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Kate Moss: The gold standard in everything. 

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Quiche. Quiche. Everywhere It Smells of Quiche.

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It’s Sunday morning and the whole city steeps in butter – the smell of croissants and burnt quiche seeping from under door jams and through cracked windows. The sun’s out for the first time in days, warming the lumpy unpaved pathways in front of the Louvre, sitting on the shoulders of our black coats.

“Thank fucking God!” I yell. Paris can often be so drab, so irrepressibly gray. That, and my warm wool coat is back in Brooklyn, sitting on a wire hanger at my local drycleaners doing me no amount of good. I’ve been freezing for three whole days.

Michelle and I are late again for brunch, routinely waking up about two hours too late for a proper morning. By the time we arrive, Café de Flore is out of their breadstuff and nearly all of the breakfast options. No pan au chocolate for us today, just “baguette and…uhhhh…jam…if you want” says our server. Michelle exhales loudly and considers the laminate menu. Americans are the most spoiled citizens of the world. In New York, I can get bananas at 4 a.m. and foie gras from Blue Ribbon at 3 (you know, in theory). But here, there are constraints for every purchase, short windows of opportunity for every desire. Paris is the land of “Is Not Possible.”

They’ve seated us in between a group of four men who apparently got served the last of the croissants and the most silent lesbian couple in all of Europe, likely pioneers of the movement (judging from their heartiness of build, also likely German).

I look around the room for perhaps hints of the café’s storied history. I try to imagine Ernest Hemingway or Truman Capote sitting at these sticky wooden tables, around the red vinyl banquets, their reflections bouncing off of the mirrors placed between cheap-looking marble columns. I take a note on my iPhone: Typing on this feels like literary blasphemy.

“Hey, is that Waris?”

In the foreground of two fashionable women is the back of a white turban hovering above a nicely tailored suit. Given the week, and the context, you hardly need to even bother asking.

“Yeaaahhhhh… I think so.”

Why I know the names of designers and niche fashion celebrities but I probably can’t list all of the states in my own country is beyond me. I hate myself.

Michelle orders quiche with salmon and chives. “And for you?” the server asks. He squeezes my shoulder when I tell him “just coffee” and smiles that “I would try to have sex with you in a back alley” smile before he walks away. If Michelle were closer, he’d likely squeeze her, too — a ménage trois of gross discomfort and European sexual harassment. Unfortunately, I’m the one most convenient for groping. The rest of the meal will be spent fielding various untoward advances, my least favorite being the needless proximity of his crotch to my body whenever he places something on the table. Each time, I look behind him to see if there is anything forcing him towards me, perhaps a crushing mass of hungry tourists, only to find a vast and empty nothingness.

Pardon me, while I place this plate… right… here…

I immediately regret having unbuttoned my blouse on account of the stifling heat inside the café and Michelle’s comment about me dressing like Annie Hall, giving our server carte blache access to my non-existent cleavage, a pale expanse of taut skin pulled over sternum bones like a drum.

“You good?” he asks, squeezing my shoulder again. I’m waiting for him to pat my head or stick his tongue in my ear.

“Bathroom?” I ask. “I mean, water closet? Restroom?” Asking where to pee in Europe always leaves me fraught with lingering anxiety.

“Upstairs,” he says, squeezing me one more time and then letting me pass as I head towards a narrow set of stairs, just behind a woman with a Fendi bag and a white Labradoodle. How very Hemingway.

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Paris Fashion Week: Day 1.1

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The old woman next to me begins to clear her throat immediately after sitting down, the phlegm dragging against her esophagus until it makes it way into her mouth and screams for release, finding an exit between her parted lips. After a ceaseless twenty minutes of this, it becomes obvious that this is a condition that plagues her chronically, and it will be a condition I will be plagued by for the next seven hours to Paris.

“Give her a cough drop?” a friend advises via text.

“Is it alright to kill grandmothers?” I respond.

Four months of Bikram yoga have done wonders for my in-flight anxiety (though, apparently, not my tolerance). The plane hurtles forward until we are airborne. I breathe deeply and hear my half-naked teacher with the shaved head and the impressive ab muscles screaming “Puuusssssshhhhhhh the floor away! PUSH!!!!!!!” – only I imagine it’s the plane pushing from the earth, which gives the whole venture a deceivingly safe quality to it, one I would not ordinarily fall for. For the rest of the flight, we travel over the Atlantic on a pair of sturdy, invisible arms, which provides me with more confidence than any scientific tutorial on aeronautics.

An hour in, the flight attendants are making their rounds with the usual “Pick Your Poison” routine.

“Beef stroganoff or cheese ravioli,” a man with a tidily tucked shirt and a gold wristwatch asks me.

Neither?

“Beef.”

The girl next to me practically giggles with delight at the sight of her vegetarian platter, a steamy, potent combination of rice and curry. I look down grimly at the tray in front of me: shrink-wrapped white roll, a triangle of nuclear cheddar, something you might call a salad, and gray mess of overcooked beef and dry mashed potatoes sweating under a plastic cover. I find one carrot and two pieces of broccoli and forgo the rest. Better safe than sorry.

I drape my men’s coat over my head and do my best to fall asleep, which I think is successful in that I wake up hours later to the familiar sound of the food and beverage cart hulking down the galley. “Breakfast?” he asks. These questions always seem misleading, as though from them you could distill what is actually coming. “Sure,” I say, and then I remember that American Airlines has removed 90% of the components of their continental breakfast option, leaving only a sad croissant clinging to a paper doily and a round plastic container of orange drink.

Just beyond the bulkhead, I see a woman with shaky hands paw around for butter and jam to adorn her infinitely superior croissant, which stands, tall and flakey, upon a proper dish. I seriously want to know the cost difference between a shitty croissant and a real one, and if it’s done less as a measure for cost effectiveness and more to just further accentuate class hierarchy in life.

“Actually, it’s okay,” I say, handing my tray back to him, like a prisoner who would rather starve than suffer the indignities of his jailing.

Our tires hit the ground at 7 a.m. As usual, it’s darker outside than you’d imagine it to be. Here, the sun feels like it doesn’t come out until noon. I follow Business Class out the doors and trail the same silent parade of plastic wheels over red carpet as we walk through the white metal and glass corridors towards a “Sortie” sign.

French customs is the usual, disturbingly casual affair. I am asked no questions. My passport is stamped without hesitation.

Bonjour, Paris.

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Social Vampire Diaries: New Year’s Eve

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The club is pitch black. Shapes and forms move around anonymously, highlighted only by a thin, inconsequential haze. Todd finds a person he knows, some skinny gay kid who works as a promoter. Names are exchanged. I shake this lithe thing’s hand. I can’t hear or see him.

“What’s his name?” I shout into Todd’s ear.

“Wilhelm,” he says. “WILL-HELM.”

I’m pretty sure this kid’s name is just Will, and he is probably from Idaho, where everyone he’s known since diapers refers to him as “Billy.” Just another twenty-something who moved to New York City to be fashionable and fabulous and knew what bait would make people buy in. You have to make the people here articulate you, the essence of you – the way you dress, the way you do your hair, your name. You must be memorable, like some character from Party Monster, lest you fade into an incurable anonymity. It’s not Will. No, not pedestrian Will. It’s Wilhelm. The annoying correction makes it memorable in a place where you forget 99% of everyone you meet.

Next to Wilhelm is a shorter, jumpy little kid who looks like one of the backup dancers in Madonna’s Truth or Dare documentary. He’s got holes in his shirt and a sweater wrapped around his waist, sort of like how Brantley looked when I first met him, only less wholesome. The drug dealer, not the drug doer. He aims his chin north and whispers something into Todd’s ear. I catch enough to know that it pertains to drugs.

I trail behind the hulking mass that is Todd Jenner, snaking through the crowd under a black ceiling and a shining disco ball. I sit down and hold court on the top of a vinyl booth, tucking myself away from the swoozy, boozy masses. And for the next two hours, I’ll stay mostly here. This is the type of place where you get your wallet yanked out of your purse and you walk home in the freezing cold with no jacket because someone stole that, too.

Everyone here tonight is some caricature, a sitcom version of what Manhattan is supposed to be like. I’m sitting next to some balding models-and-bottles guy who looks like an investment banker even though he probably isn’t, given the fact that it’s New Year’s Eve and this place didn’t charge a cover. All the real investment bankers are either on yachts in St. Barts or standing in the middle of the Boom Boom Room wearing suits and ties, wishing they were in St. Barts. The children and the cheapos are here tonight, ringing in 2013 in a veritable ghost town.

“You got any coke?” David asks — quiet, meek little David, with his awe-shucks grin and his apple cheeks, those tufts of toe-head blonde. No one in this city has been spared the need to go go go, to talk too much, go out too much, see and be seen until seven in the morning.

“No,” I say, but to indicate that I’m not judgmental, I offer up would-be alternatives: “I don’t think Todd has any either.” And then David disappears for an extended period of time, maybe an hour.

Carrie Who Hates Me is standing in the center of the dance floor, coming in and out of the light as it switches from pitch black to dusty azure. Her hair hangs into her eyes like a well-groomed sheepdog, grazing her eyelashes nearly to the point of voluntary, fashionable blindness. Pretty soon she will need someone to guide her around, pull on her skin-tight designer jeans, thread her little arms through the sleeves of a leather jacket. Carrie taps away on her iPhone, its glowing screen lighting her up from below, while the floor of bodies moves around her.

Todd dances near the DJ booth – if you can call the person clicking the mouse on his MacBook Pro a DJ.

David eventually returns. He leans over in front of me while the boy in the ripped shirt from earlier tells him he has “really, really amazing coke tonight,” as though coke is some kind of fine delicacy that the chef changes on a whim, which I guess isn’t far from the truth. For me, though, this is not a selling point. For me, this brings to mind the people who are actually making the coke, cutting the coke. I imagine how it gets here on boats, smuggled in bags, skated through security to land here, of all places, on some black dance floor in New York City to assist the tired masses – the masochists who live in this place and feel the need to milk it dry, ring that towel until there’s nothing left, get out every last drop of it.

David leaves with the drugs and the Fairy Drug Dealer sits next to me counting money in a plastic sandwich bag procured from Drug Deal No. 2, an exchange that happened with models-and-bottles guy and a girl with bleached blonde hair who looked like some extra from that first scene in Blade, where those ‘90s vampires danced around to rave music in a basement, waited for the blood to start spraying from the fire sprinklers overhead.

“Do you know what time it is?” the Fairy Drug Dealer asks.

“1:44,” I say.

“I’ve got to go to work,” he tells me, though I don’t know to what end.

“Where are you working?” I ask. Obviously simply selling blow isn’t paying all of the bills. Maybe it’s more of a recreational thing, a hobby of sorts.

“We’re doing an after-party.”

“Oh, really? Where?” This is merely a routine line of questioning, a common courtesy in continuing a conversation, not an eager plea for an invitation.

“Oh, just, like, the Lower East Side.”

“Yeah? Where at?” My journalistic tendencies for probing often mislead people into thinking I give a shit.

“I really can’t say. I mean, if you’re with Wilhelm or Blaze or Frankie you’re good. But otherwise… I can’t really tell you.”

AWWWWW, SHIT. JUST GOT BURNED BY A TWO-YEAR-OLD.

“I was just asking,” I lobby back. “I don’t really care.”

“You really shouldn’t,” Fairy Drug Dealer says, putting emphasis on the “really” in a way that is patronizing and condescending, as in you “reeeeaaallllllyyy should because this is the coolest party ever and I’m the coolest person ever but don’t go home and slit your wrists over it, Party Girl. One day you’ll be as cool as us. Don’t worry.” And then he leaps off of the banquet and flits away, disappearing into the dark. This is why old people stop going to clubs – little shitheads like this that still live for after parties and boring conversations with half-developed retards with fake names and iPhones.

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Things I’ve Done Since The Postal Service’s Last Album: Field Trip

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Click through image above (or click here) to read my list thingy on every accomplishment I’ve made over the last ten years. Well, maybe not every accomplishment… Sample below.

It’s been ten very long years since I stared at the screen of my Sony Vaio laptop – the one my dad got me as a graduation present instead of the gun he really wanted for himself – watching the video for “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight.”

Freshman year at NYU, 2002. I was sitting on the concrete slab of a twin-sized bed, wearing a pair of sea foam green Roxy pajama pants and sporting an East Coast winter tan. I remember this video like I remember a handful of others. The marriage of image and noise and my own personal experience.

First, the guttural, electronic buzz. Then, Ben Gibbard’s shaky, contemplative whisper of a voice. Cobalt light over a sleeping girl, paper suns over a paper city, holograms of ex-boyfriends, strangers dancing, lips kissing, running clocks. It had a distinct feeling, a mood that I liked but couldn’t relate to because I was a freshly minted eighteen-year-old with $1,100 in my bank account and an inability to cook for myself. High school was a still a memory whose distance I could count in days.

Last week, when The Postal Service announced that it would finally be recording its first album in a decade, it got me thinking about what happens over the span of ten years. As it turns out, a lot. In the 3,650 some odd days of Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello sitting on their lazy asses, here’s a list of my accomplishments…

SEE THE LIST AT FLIP COLLECTIVE, CHEATERS.

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The Four Seasons of Michael James: June, 2011

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The following is an excerpt from a finished book that I may or may not eventually publish,The Four Seasons of Michael James. For now, I’ll be periodically dropping bits and pieces here. 

Serena, Mona, and Kris are standing outside of a brownstone on 13th Street.  Everyone is wearing short shorts and sandals, sporting side-boob or, in Serena’s case, real cleavage.  We look like summer sweat, urban beachcombers.

There’s a row of young kids sitting outside against rough iron rails smoking cigarettes, waiting for something that’s never going to come.  “Are you sure we’re not on the list?” one moans, helpless and uninvited.  Mona gives her name to the man at the door.

We step through the threshold into a clean hallway with a view into a well-outfitted kitchen where two women frantically gather plates of hors d’oeuvres to walk upstairs.  The wood floor is new and refurbished and there are layers of crown molding where the wall meets the ceiling.  It’s the type of place that would be perfectly suited for a Nancy Meyers film about privileged people who live perfectly normal lives while they deal with their relatable, real people problems in million dollar houses with perfect lighting and living rooms that never get used.  Needless to say, this is not our usual environment – a place more often filled with Red Stripe-drinking, chain smoking hipsters with $100 in their bank account that they’re supposed to live off of until the end of the month.

Someone asks Mona whose party this is.  She doesn’t know.  Nobody knows.  We laugh the nervous, satisfied laugh of the uninvited.  “I have no idea what this is going to be like,” she warns, though judging from the rosewood banister leading upstairs, we can all guess.  Toto, we’re not in Brooklyn anymore.

I follow Mona and her jean shorts up the staircase towards the party.  The first person I see is a woman in a white, silk jersey cocktail dress standing next to a man in a blazer and tie.  She adjusts the diamond stud in her left ear.  Her legs cross at the ankles, two gym-toned calves wrapped over one another.  She looks like she’s showered in the last hour.  And she is not in the minority; everyone here looks decidedly country club.  We, on the other hand, look like prostitutes.

The friend of a friend of a friend who invited us here is a well-spoken and well-to-do art history buff with long brown hair.  She reminds me of Catherine Hepburn – someone astute and reserved, poised even when laughing, always composed and never sloppy.  Compared to her, we all look like a ridiculous bunch of overgrown children.  Girls in Never Never Land.  I try to assess any abject horror on her face upon seeing us enter the party, our scrappy little crew with uncurled hair and dewy foreheads.

I look around the room, scanning the scene of hungry, waspy men and their equally waspy girlfriends.

“I’ll take the one in the button-up,” I joke.

We walk straight to the bar and Serena hands me a watermelon drink that supposedly has rum in it but I don’t think it does because it doesn’t make me want to vomit.  In high school, I had an epic evening spent with six friends and a bottle of Captain Morgan from which I have never fully recovered.  The night included dancing on the wooden table in my mom’s living room, crawling on the white tiled floor of her kitchen, and dragging my friend Jeff out into the backyard “to see Lady,” my dead dog who we had buried three weeks previous under a lavender bush and accompanied by one of her favorite toys, a fuzzy blue Cookie Monster with bulging plastic eyeballs.  We sat down in front of the fresh mound of upended earth until I remembered that Jeff had just buried his father, and – given how drunk I was – I apologized profusely, making the situation increasingly awkward.  That was, at least, until Jeff tried to kiss me, his eyes drooped with drunkenness and his mouth in that half-moon frown that came when your brain started to loosen its control on your motor skills.  “Just friends,” I said, waving my hands in front of him as though I were directing flight traffic.  “Just friends.”

Serena asks where the bathroom is and we make a joke about how you actually have to go down a hallway to get to it.  In New York City, this is usually only a two-door decision: closet or bathroom, take your pick.  “There’s another one downstairs,” someone offers.

Over the polite din of chatter comes the sound of a knife being aggressively banged on the side of a glass.  “CAN EVERONE PLEASE QUIETEN DOWN?”  A robust man in his early 30s with the cholesterol level of a 60-year-old takes to a white stepladder.  A server stands beneath him holding a tray of banana pudding in white paper cups with red spoons.

The man is the fiancé of the birthday girl – this is the point where I realize this is a birthday party.  He gives a speech about the birthday girl apparent, who stands to his right with glassy eyes and nice hair, a chunky necklace and wide hips.  He tells a parable about a little boy and a beach of starfish and for a moment I find it charming, until he wraps it up saying how many lives she has touched over the years, proceeding to list all of her accomplishments that reads like a bibliography of all of my own failings.

We’re the kids in the room.  This girl, this woman, is only three years older than myself.  She’s been on the boards of charities, produced television shows, is getting married sometime next year.  And here I am, 27, untethered and grasping.  I still feel like I’m supposed to be leaving for college soon.  I still wear sneakers and shorts that barely cover my ass cheeks.  I sit cross-legged on concrete floors even when a chair is available to me.  I have no idea when I will grow up, when I will be like any of the people in this room with their white teeth and their pink shirts, when I will be the girl who’s turning 30 and is engaged to some 30-year-old man with a steady job and cigar nights with the boys.

He finishes his toast and people that know her cheer and when we sing happy birthday I get quiet at the part where I’m supposed to sing her name because I don’t know her name.

The crowd gets louder as the music gets worse.  Serena and I pluck fat strawberries off of a silver tray and dance around the table under a chandelier with dripping crystals and round glass spheres.  I put the chewed-off stems into a white paper napkin and wonder if this is considered appropriate strawberry disposal behavior.  No matter what we do here – whether we’re dancing around the table or drinking watermelon drinks or eating fruit for desert – we’re going to look like the bastard kids who snuck in through the backdoor.

I’m introduced to the host of the party and the owner of the townhouse, a man who looks like he’s in his twenties until you get a little closer.  He’s neither tall nor short, neither handsome nor offending.  He’s not my type but maybe he could be.  We fall into conversation easily because he likely wants to have sex with me and I am hell bent on challenging my patterns of attraction.

The two of us discuss his current conundrum: he is debating an invitation to St. Tropez set for the following week, the problem being that the group consists of all of his married-with-children friends.  A girl behind us chimes in with her own suggestion.  “Never go to St. Tropez unless you’re with your single friends,” she laments.  “I’ve done it the wrong way before.”  White people problems.

I excuse myself and lock myself in a bathroom with black and white wallpaper and an absurdly large sink that’s the size of most New York City bathtubs.  I note that they have run out of hand towels, but that’s the room’s only fault.  I wash my hands and dry them with toilet paper that disintegrates in between my fingertips.  I stare at myself in the mirror – my blonde hair, my red shorts, my summer tan legs and shiny forehead.  I wonder how I would fit in in a place like this – this townhouse with Italian marble floors and light fixtures imported from France.  I imagine that I am dating the host and try to see myself here.  My reflection looks back at me and we wonder if we are nice enough for a life such as this, refined enough, deserving.

 

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Field Trip!

Police Discover A Victim Of Jack The Ripper

Flip Collective started off their first season of 2013 last week and that means I’m back in that saddle for the time being. Click on the image above to read my latest piece, “Bullets and Butterfly Wings.” Excerpt below:

The four of us sit in an expensive restaurant on Kenmare, four blondes from all over the world gossiping over the smudged surface of a copper table: Milena from Denmark, Hannah from Sweden, Anneli from Finland, and myself from glamorous Woodland Hills, California. Ultimately, we all speak the same language, the language of I’m-Single-in-New-York-City-and-This-Is-the-Fucking-Worst. That language. With the exception of Milena, who has been married for thirteen months. Even so, she’s got stories that would last anyone more than a few years…

 

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Make Me a Match. Light Me on Fire.

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My phone whistles at me, my Steve Jobs cat call. A text message: “Holy shit. I’m sorry. I owe you an apology.” There’s no name, just an anonymous series of numbers.

“Who is this? New phone!”

[Not true!]

For the record, this is an excuse that is viable and understandable – equal in scope of forgiveness as the tried and true “I’m getting back together with my ex” story. In both instances, the other party is obligated to be forgiving because, hey, you can’t fight with history or someone’s $800 phone sinking to the bottom of a pool and wiping out all of their contacts. No truth, no harm, no foul.

“I didn’t make the cut in the new phone?”

Errr… messing with my batting record, dude.

“Lost all my new contacts. Sorry!”

Phew.

Last week, while sitting on a red-wine chenille sofa in my mother’s living room, I went through and deleted all of the phone numbers of the men with whom I’d spent some portion of 2012 being self destructive with – with the exception of Richard, who was, by leaps and bounds, the more self-destructive one of the two us. So I suppose it was more of an embarrassment ratio, not merely black and white grounds for termination.

Jake: Delete.

Tom: Delete.

Corey: Delete.

I imagined myself in a boardroom, calling in the slackers. “We’re making fourth quarter cuts, you see,” the corporate boss version of myself began. “And while I’m very sorry you’ve got family issues and career issues and loneliness issues that I would, as a human being – especially as a woman – feel compelled to tend to, we just don’t have the resources to continue this relationship going forward. I hope you understand.” And then I sent them on their ways, watching as they each hoisted their cardboard boxes filled with text messages and a few scantily clad pictures of myself and walked out the door. Only — because this is an imagined conversation in an imaginary world where I am somehow the boss of these assholes and not just some chick they were into for five minutes — none of these men, in real life at least, know that I have so wisely gotten rid of them. Fired them, as it were.

Delete.

Delete.

Delete.

Whoever is sending this message right now is likely one of three people. I take a shot in the dark:

“Is this Corey?”

Corey was deleted less because I felt compelled to embarrassingly message him at 3 in the morning (not even his two-million dollar loft in Tribeca could inspire this sort of sad desperation, which is perhaps evidence that I am not the horrible, soulless golddigger that I could be), but because of ego. Corey ducked out after two dates and didn’t even bother trying to sleep with me first.

When he doesn’t respond, I realize that I am wrong: Corey had too much Southern charm for the phrase “holy shit.”

“Or is this Tom? We can keep playing this game!”

Tom was deleted well before LA, his number given to Serena for safekeeping, or, rather, safeshaming. If I ever wanted to resort to contacting Tom again, I would have to go through Serena. I did the same with Jake’s number.

“It’s Tom.”

“Ahhhhh, hey.”

“What did Corey do?”

“Same old.”

“I felt like I owed you an apology.”

As I’m typing “All good dude”, my phone rings. I pick up.

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

And then he tells me a whole lot of things I’m fairly sick of hearing, words like “beautiful” and “smart” and “amazing.” These are like pearls that have been gathered together in my honor without bothering to string. They move quickly and roll away, falling through cracks in the floor. Stupid, empty, meaningless little pearls.

He tells me how right when he met me he had started to hang out with his ex-girlfriend again. I told him I could have guessed as much. “I know guys at this point,” I say. I don’t need a conversation two months after the fact about why a guy stopped calling me. He, however, feels the need to wrap up 2012 with a clean conscious, using me as his dumping grounds on New Year’s Eve.

Tom gives me a whole host of reasons on how he slid back into a relationship with his ex: she watched his dog, he was working a lot, blah blah blah. Then he says something that you’d hear in a movie, something like “But then I met you.” Only this conversation doesn’t end with the boy leaving the old, worn out ex-girlfriend and jumping into the terrifying unknown. No, writers make movies that end with potential love trumping all because those movies sell. No one wants reality. Reality feels like this: sitting on my couch eight hours before I ring in 2013 while some guy I trained myself to stop thinking about seven weeks ago reads off a list of all my selling points, which, ultimately, don’t matter.

“It was hard,” he says, “because I thought, Do I start this relationship back up again? Or do I see what’s out there? Because there are other people out there. Like, you know, you.” Then comes the beautiful-and-smart complement. Next comes the sexy-hot thing. And in true New York City style, he tells me he loves my apartment, how it’s decorated, which is about as flattering as complementing someone’s fake breasts or other non-integral plumage. At this point it just feels like I’m having someone read my own Match.com profile back at me: Tall, blonde, Aries, agnostic, non-smoker, anti-social drinker, lives in railroad apartment by herself with two non-working fireplaces and hardwood floors, eats kale, reads Hemingway.

The question “Do I start this relationship up again?” is a sleeper of a “yes” – the evidence of his decision being most obvious when he tells me he “knows a really nice guy.”

“What?” I ask, not quite sure I heard him correctly.

“I have… I have a friend who’s great that you might like. I mean, is that weird? I didn’t really plan on saying that. It’s just, he’s a buddy of mine from growing up, and I just thought, you know, you’re great…”

This is the part where my ears start ringing and my throat clenches up, my body tries to curl into itself, incinerate, disappear. I feel like an apartment stumbled across by someone who wasn’t planning on moving, but who thought it was too great to let go. If they couldn’t have it, a friend would. I am just a piece of property, getting shuffled from hand to hand until someone gets tired of house hunting and signs the lease because of timing and convenience.

“No… no, I definitely don’t need that,” I say.

He fumbles for some words while I stare at the ceiling.

“No, no, really, that’s okay,” I repeat, and then I laugh to push away any real emotion. Depressingly, this is the third time I’ve had this exact same conversation.

The first was riding an elevator with a boy I had a very sophomoric (read: bizarre, dysfunctional, and clueless) relationship with during a time when I had no idea how any of this boy/girl business worked. “You know,” he started, “in a couple months, when this isn’t weird anymore, I have a friend that I think would be really good for you.” This conversation ranks up there in my Top 3 Most Depressing Post Coital Conversations Ever.

The second time was just a few months ago, with a person I fell in love with in 2007 and still, to this day, have unresolved feelings for. “How’s dating going?” he asked, having called me up out of the blue just to chat. “Bleak,” I laugh dryly. And then he keeps asking me questions, gives me the “intelligent/ beautiful/ funny” line and tells me I won’t have a problem finding somebody. “Do you know Brett So-and-So?” he asks. “No,” I say. “He’s a really interesting guy. Maybe I could try to set you two up.”

Murder me. Please.

Now here I am again, the girl for everyone and no one, getting match-made by ex-notfriends, some version of Fiddler on the Roof from hell.

(Photo: Courtesy of Care2)

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A Toast

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Dear Readers,

I just wanted to take a timeout and give my sincerest thanks for your continued support in coming here, whether you’ve started two weeks ago or as far back as four years. If it weren’t for the random comments, the kind emails, the sharing in an experience… I wouldn’t be doing this, really and truly. And, most importantly, I wouldn’t have improved. Writing is like a sport: you need challengers, goals, an audience. You throw yourself into the gladiator ring and pray you’re the guy who kills the other. I guess that means you all are the blood-thirsty Romans? And I’m killing words? Or other authors? Hell, I don’t know. Might not be my best analogy.

I remember starting this badly named blog on a lark in 2008, after someone stole $300 out of my wallet at a runway show. Thusly inspired, I wrote “Letter to a Thief” on a plane from Chicago to Los Angeles, typed it out on my phone while feeling, well, pretty goddamn angry. When I landed, I handed my Blackberry to a friend who read it aloud while we worked our way towards the exit of an LAX longterm parking structure. She laughed. Amber, thank God you laughed.

It started small. Less than small, really. Five-hundred words about being a child and walking to get candy from a gas station without my mother finding out. In 2009, Tyler pushed me more. “If you don’t write every day, no one is going to read.” So I wrote every day. Not necessarily good stuff, but stuff nonetheless. That same year, I went to some LA party where Weezer sang Lady Gaga covers ironically to a crowd who did not understand irony. I was standing on a staircase when a photographer whose work I admired, who had shot many of my model friends but never showed interest in shooting me, walked my direction. He told me he read my blog, that it was good. “This is what you need to do. This is what you need to do with your life.” It meant more than any modeling job I had ever booked, compensated handsomely for any infantile feelings of unworthiness I had previously felt. Randall, thank you. Tyler, thank you, too.

The rest of you, all you silent partners in this, have been just as integral to the journey. I cannot tell you how much it means that these stories — funny, depressing, niche, or otherwise — resonates with each one of you in some capacity. Because that is point: the collective experience.

Anyway, I just thought it appropriate to write one of these on the dawn of a new era or, at least, a new year. I wish everyone the best in 2013. Work hard, listen to good music, love a lot (cry a lot? seems to go hand-in-hand but I’m probably most definitely doing it wrong), and be grateful for everything you have.

Thanks to you all for changing my life.

Jenny B really does love you.

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12 Days of Christmas: Day 2

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Creature of bad habit that I am, I text Jake : “What are you doing?” “Sitting at home, watching the news,” he writes. “Depressed.” Thinking it’s the normal bout of self-consuming sad-story narcissism, I tell him I won’t open the blinds or try to cheer him up. That’s our deal: Just be there. Until he finds something or someone worth occupying his time – a blockbuster movie or a drug-addled B-rate model who barely got her GED – everything and everyone serves as knowing placeholders for the Bigger Better Deal, myself included.

“I’ve got time to kill,” I write, also a prerequisite for our hanging out – me having to be somewhere else. The expectation of having to entertain me for an undefined period of time would be unfathomable to suggest, although I did just the other week, stupidly, when I said maybe, if we weren’t doing anything else, we could go on some tropical vacation. Traveling with the devil you know instead of the devil you don’t (I’ve done that before, trust me). This suggestion was not enthusiastically embraced. More often than not I feel like one of those emotionally challenged kids wearing a helmet and banging my head against a wall like a metronome.

Back to depressed TV sesh.

“Haven’t you been watching the news?” he asks, and then he tells me that some whackjob just shot up an elementary school in Connecticut. Twenty some-odd kids, most of them around six years old.

“No, I’m working. We don’t have TVs.”

“Okay, come over.”

It takes me an hour to get there. When he opens the door he is out of breath, a jump rope in his hands. “I didn’t have time to go the gym,” he says. I still have a vision of him doing handstand pushups in the corner of his hotel room last December, back when I thought he was something else.

“I haven’t done coke since New York!” he says, expecting my praise, which he both respects and resents.

“Ah, I don’t give a shit what you do,” I say, waving my hands and looking away. “Everyone gets fucked up. Who cares?”

Who cares? I care. I care and he knows it. Immediately after it comes out of my mouth, and then more later on, I regret it – the trying to be the cool girl who doesn’t give a shit if he dies or not. But I do care. I do care if he dies.

I sit on the sofa, knees tucked into my chest. We watch the news until it becomes too depressing and repetitive. Too many speculations and images of young children standing outside of the school, hands pressed to their eyes. Aerial shots from helicopters hovering over police cars, SWAT teams, single story buildings, cracks in cement. Jake changes the channel. Puts on a comedy. Some movie I haven’t seen in awhile.

He talks about God knows what for awhile, his voice booming around the room at a volume more appropriate for a cocktail party. He blames this habit on being alone all the time, as though coming out from a coma and no longer being aware of social cues.

Pat shows up. He pulls out a box of Margiela sneakers and says “Look what I got.” Jake’s wearing the same ones. Now they’ve got matching shoes. We talk about holidays and what everyone is doing. Jake’s leaving Tuesday, which is good because whenever we’re in the same city I end up getting depressed in the way that made me pack up my things three years ago and move 3,000 miles away from Poinsettia Street and my ex-boyfriend.

“I’m going to head out,” I say, already feeling as though I’ve overspent my welcome by five minutes. “Wait for Adam to get here,” he says. “I want you to meet Adam.” The only reason I can think he wants me to stay is so that Adam can see me, so he can put a face to a story. Jenny, that decent-looking girl I’ve kept in my back pocket for a whole year. There’s a difference between approval and bragging, and the difference is that it doesn’t matter if Adam likes me as a person or not; Jake already made that clear last January. Jake and I are on different pages, but too often in the same room.

(Photo: Courtesy of Image Spark)

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