Monterey Mischief, or In All That Time Since

I’m homeward bound on an airport shuttle bus after spending two days in Monterey with College Roommate Danielle and one persistent thought that’s been bouncing around my brain parts throughout the ride is that we shared a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn thirteen years ago and in all that time since neither of us bothered to build back the boundaries we obliterated while living almost literally on top of one another as crazy college kids.

For the past two days we’ve shared a bed, a clothing store dressing room, salads ordered out of guilt, late-night pizza slices and close personal secrets and space typically reserved for those in long-term physical relationships.

And I think that’s lovely.

It’s comforting to know that to some I will always be a 21-year-old idiot.

Keep Dancing Through

In the winter of 2005 four of my closest friends used their spring breaks to visit me at school in the Big Apple. Wicked was a hot ticket on Broadway at the time but we pooled our young luck and managed to coax four front row seats out of the pre-show lottery anyway. Laura was one of those friends and earlier this evening, nearly a decade and a half after our first viewing, the two of us nabbed tickets to see Wicked again, this time in London where we’re traveling for the company that employs us. A great many things have changed in our lives since college, but it’s comforting to know that some things, like a silly, touching musical about friendship, never do, and that such things can still give a couple of old pals a night to remember.

My Leaving Song

On the final day of a college literature course that I enjoyed very much the professor, a brilliant and effortlessly cool young woman named Lara who once treated us to an impassioned lecture on why Eminem's "Lose Yourself" belonged in our textbook alongside Keats and Poe and Tennyson, led us out of our building on Mercer Street and into Washington Square Park where she instructed us to sit in a circle.

"I have something for you," she said, gesturing to a box next to her.

Earlier that semester she had asked each of the students in her Literary Interpretations class to share a song that was meaningful to them. As a parting gift she compiled a mix that included each of our answers. All of us took a disc from the box and were poring over the track list when she set a stereo down in the middle of the circle.

"This song," she said, pressing play, "is my contribution to our mix."

As the park bustled around me I listened, for the first time, to the haunting beauty of R.E.M's "Leaving New York". When it was over our professor explained that she'd been offered a job at a small college in Colorado and that, after nearly a decade in the Big Apple, she'd be packing up her apartment and leaving New York. I remember how sad it made me feel then to even consider leaving such a magical place for somewhere else, and I also remember being lonely on her behalf.

I, of course, knew nothing at all.

That day in Washington Square Park left a mark on me. In fact, when I myself left New York City after graduation the following year I made my little brother play my professor's song in the car as we drove over the Brooklyn Bridge one final time on our way back to the Midwest.

You might've laughed if I told you
You might have hidden your frown
You might've succeeded in changing me
I might've been turned around
It's easier to leave than to be left behind
Leaving was never my proud
Leaving New York never easy
I saw the light fading out

It has since become my leaving song and I played it this afternoon as our ferry pulled out of Provincetown Harbor, feeling gloomy about another magical week ending, another adventure coming to a close.

Throwback Thursday, or Farewell Matt Lauer Crush

"Did you hear about Matt Lauer?!"

I was still in bed and part of me, the majority actually, wasn't yet awake, but B was shouting at me from the hallway outside of our bedroom anyway.

"What?" I asked groggily.

"He got fired! Your boyfriend got fired from NBC! For sexual harassment!"

I stretched to grab my phone from the nightstand next to me, performed a quick Google News search and, an instant later, confirmed Bevan's report.

"Shit," I whispered. 

Much to Bevan's irritation, I'd always harbored not-so-secret feelings for the longtime Today Show hunk host. I mean, in all honesty, how could I not?

In fact, during my junior year of college I was taking a course called TV and the Information Explosion and I actually got to interview Mr. Lauer on camera. Our big, end-of-semester project was to track down a working journalist and find out how much they knew about the history of the spread of information. Because we were ambitious, young over-achievers, my working group chose to camp out at the Today Show and try our luck in getting then-co-hosts Katie Couric and Matt Lauer to talk to us.

We'd been standing in frigid New York City weather for several hours early one winter morning when Katie and Matt stepped into Rockefeller Plaza to film a promo for NBC's Academy Awards coverage. After they'd finished I waved for Katie to come over and, to my surprise, she did. I told her about the assignment and what I was studying and despite my horrible goatee, self-haircut and what-the-eff-was-I-thinking sideburn length, she invited me and my classmate/cameraman inside 30 Rock to ask her some questions.

Katie was totally gracious and sweet and witty and gave me as much time as she could before she had to head back to work. After she'd answered all of my questions Matt sauntered in and kindly did the same. He was also funny, and handsome, and taller than he was in my fantasies I'd imagined.

After following the news for the past few weeks, the reports about Matt joining the ranks of other rich and powerful white male creepers didn't really surprise me, but it was still pretty heartbreaking nonetheless. I mean, who wants to have wasted a decade-plus-long shine on a dude who has to resort to locking his lust interests in an office to keep their attention?

Not I.

Which is why today is the day that I bid farewell to my crush on Matt Lauer. As of this date I am no longer sorry that things didn't work out between us.


Eight Things From Day Two in New York

We woke up late this morning because we got zilch sleep the night before and were floored to find ourselves in the middle of a freakin' snow globe. It seems like only yesterday that we were frolicking through Central Park in sweatshirts and tennis shoes. Oh wait, that fucking was yesterday. Anyhooter, a list of the crap that we did on our second day in NYC is below.

  • stared up at the gorg AF ceiling inside the Main Concourse of Grand Central Station
  • accidentally touched somebody else's discarded chewing gum while riding a downtown-bound 6 train
  • ate a delicious soup and sandwich combo and drank the dopest blueberry and mango smoothie ever at Siggy's Good Food in NoHo where Sid wouldn't touch her $13 bowl of mac and cheese because she "likes the stuff at home better" (she meant Kraft, just so we're clear)
  • ditched B and Sid to sip a warm beverage and read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at the Starbucks on campus (more on that below) while occasionally glancing out the window to watch people younger than I heave snowballs at one another in Washington Square Park
  • met B and Sid at the Regal Union Square Stadium 14 to see A Dog's Purpose which I wouldn't recommend to anyone who doesn't feel like adopting twenty-five dogs immediately (P.S. Dennis Quaid, call me)
  • consumed a literally smoking bourbon cocktail at Todd English's Stinger Cocktail Bar and Kitchen on West 44th Street (for serious though, my drink smelled like a GD campfire)
  • ate dinner with Bevan's friend Jim (and B and Sid) at Marseille in Hell's Kitchen and learned the oh-so-valuable lesson that one single piece of regular-sized shrimp can cost eight dollars American here
  • saw Jessie Mueller in Waitress again because she's leaving the cast next month and also because I felt like seeing B and Sid ugly-cry

I'd like to note that Starbucks was a splurge item for me when I was a v. broke student at the University of New York University which doubly sucked because I was often invited to group study sessions at the aforementioned Starbucks location on campus and hardly ever bought anything so even though I was just purchasing a caramel macchiato today it felt like I was hoisting a mother-fucking "Look at Me Now, Bitches" trophy because I could actually afford to be buying it. I know that must sound totally idiotic, but it's nice to know that I've made at least some progress, however small, in the last decade-plus since graduation even if it's just not having to feel guilty about spending a few bucks on a cup of hot, caffeinated liquid.

Also, I went to grab the bathroom key from the barista at said Starbucks because I had to pee because coffee and a guy grabbed it from her before I got to it but handed it to me and said, "You should go first. I'm about to take a shit." which is literally the nicest thing anybody's ever done for me.