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Saturday night, I had a delicious meal. So rewind 6 months to my trip to Austria, where I discovered the most delicious food. I thought, thank God I live in NY, I can eat Austrian food anytime when I get home. Wrong. There are only like 3-5 Austrian restaurants in NY. NY the epicenter of foodies, where there are hundreds of french bistros. But I find chef Kurt Gutenbrunner has 3 Austrian restaurants in the city. Score. For my birthday B and I went to Wallse. Amazing food, great atmosphere (perfect for a quiet dinner) and awesome service. A definite go back soon. This weekend, Z and I decided to celebrate his b day. Belatedly. So I suggest Blaue Gans another Gutenbrunner restaurant. It’s in Tribeca. OL helps me with the menu and determining what I want to eat. Thank goodness for him. I am super excited to have Austrian food because a) I love it and b) it reminds me of the best vacation I ever had in Austria.
Z orders beer. I start with a Riesling. It’s light and fruity and sweet. Puts me in a great mood. The atmosphere here is very loud brasserie but we adjust to it. At time I can’t hear Z but we just repeat ourselves. The decor is fun with high ceilings and old posters everywhere. The place has a real neighborhood feel. As soon as you walk in you feel a part of it. We end up splitting a sausage platter with horseradish and mustard. Scrumptious. Then I order the Jager Schnitzel in a bacon and mushroom sauce with rice and Z get the Wiener Schnitzel. The Jager Schnitzel is to die for. The meat is soft and succulent. The sauce is perfect. (I love bacon and mushrooms) The rice is herbed and buttered. I never knew rice could be so tasty. We get a side of brioche dumplings and spatzle. Z loves the spatzle. I love the brioche dumplings.
I can’t help feeling happy. Good food, good friend, good times. We catch up on our lives. He advises me to invest more in the market, I explain I don’t have time to research and select investments and write novels and write the blog and work on submissions to agents and contests. I know his advice has merit, I just can’t make time up.
Then dessert time comes and I order the sacher torte and the salzburger nockerl thinking I may not like the second one but I want to try it. I’ve had the sacher torte many times and loved it. Z get the sacher torte and I have them put a candle in it for him. He is amazed that I am getting two desserts. Turns out the salzburger nockerl is to die for. It’s a souffle of sorts with a rasberry compote at the bottom. LOVED IT. The sacher torte was good but it had a hint of freezer taste to it. We both had lattes which meant after dinner I was wide awake and vacuuming at 1AM. Couldn’t get to bed until 4 AM. But completely worth it!
If you’re asking this question, it probably ended a long time ago and you were just holding on because it hurts to say goodbye and let things go. Harsh? Yup. Valid? Probably.
I was looking through photo albums of the past 15 years and I’ve known some awesome people. I’ve had some deep meaningful friendships that I thought would sustain me for decades and I’ve had convenient friendships that I never expected to survive more than a few months. Most of the time, I was dead wrong in my predictions.
Unfortunately, relationships don’t come with expiration dates. We never know who will stay and who will leave. Who will evolve into someone we no longer care about. Who will surprise us with loyalty and depth we never expected.
I see pictures of people whose names I no longer know. Their faces are familiar and I can feel remnants of the emotions I felt for them, but I cannot tell you who they were or why they mattered. Because time marches on. So if people do not move forward with us, they tend to fade away over time.
A few days ago, I got an email from someone I still loved. We had been close friends in college and he always held a special place in my life. But he told me he determined that allocating time to me was a waste and he needed to build friendships where he lived, not with someone he didn’t see since he moved half way around the world. It stung.
Look, we all may think these things about efficiency and time allocation, but to say it to someone is rather cruel and shows a complete lack of feeling for that person. So I left. I ended what remained of a once beautiful friendship. My only regret is I should have walked away sooner. I held on and now I have these terrible memories of a person I have come to dislike. If I had let go and never tried to reach out, the past could have remained untainted. We could have had our unspoiled beautiful memories.
The simple fact is people change. We grow together or we grow apart. We love and we laugh and sometimes it stops. We can’t go back. We can’t make it work. Then comes the hardest part. Letting go. Like any death, it’s a blow. But it’s kinder to walk away with good memories than to linger and become bitter.
Sometimes, things need to be allowed to end. Standing in the middle of the road refusing to get out of the way is a bad idea. Like that old Bonny Raitt song says, “I can’t make you love me if you don’t. You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t.”
How do you let go of old friends and people you loved?
Just caught the new Gaga video Telephone. I know I’m way behind. I think that woman is uber talented. I didn’t want to miss a second of her onscreen antics and couldn’t eat my dinner until it ended. She is such a visual artist. I am so glad she came along because she really sparkles. Whatever she’s doing, she’s doing it her way and I really respect that.
I read online how India Arie was saying the video is socially irresponsible. Art is not supposed to be socially responsible. And if it is, where do you draw the line? Because it has to be across the board. So all those rapper and hip hop videos that display women as meat and sex objects must be done away with as well. To me, they send a far worse message than this video does. Watching the video, it felt like a parody of oversexed movies. We’ve seen these scenes before in movies and on television. She has just put them together in such a way that you can’t help but react. To me, that is what art is supposed to do. Make you think. Stir you up inside. Make you question things. Poke fun at society.
From where I’m sitting, that is what Gaga does and she does it amazingly well. Here’s a great article on all the symbolism and influences on the video. Whether you like her, hate her, approve or disapprove, she has got you thinking and feeling. To me, that is what life is all about. So thank you Lady Gaga for stirring things up.
Two weekends ago, this random stranger gets in the elevator with me and exchanges a few words about the weather. We never introduce ourselves, but that doesn’t stop him from telling me that I’d get along great with his friend James, who likes to party a lot. Then he asks if I party. I reply No, I’m too old. This should be a conversation ender.
But no, he keeps going, saying how I should come and meet James. Again, my spidey senses are going off and visions of a Lifetime movie flash through my head. How could a total stranger know what or who I’d like? It makes me very edgy. The doors open on his floor and he’s like you should come meet James. I was like no I have to get home.
What type of crazy are they renting to in my building? What guy asks a girl he doesn’t know back to their apartment to meet his “friend” and then acts like she’s weird when she says no? At this point, I’m thinking of taking the stairs for a while.
Where do you stand on the issue of holding elevator doors? Frankly, unless the person is in sight and seconds away, I think it is rude and inconsiderate of everyone who is in the elevator to make them wait on someone else. Especially in my building which had 4 elevators. It’s the same principle with holding subway train doors. You aren’t that important that everyone else must wait on you. This is especially true at rush hour, when we are all trying to get to work on time.
But not in my building.
I am running late for work and finally get out of the apartment. I push the button for the elevator and wait for its arrival. There is a guy standing waiting too, but I pay no attention to him because I am trying to find the right getting to work music on my iPod.
Anyway, the doors open and I rush in. He takes his time moseying in. The he puts his hand up and holds the door. I don’t hear anyone. I don’t see anyone. I’m thinking who the hell is he holding the elevator for? Is his roommate still in the apartment?! I wait a count of 20 seconds, which trust me feels like an eternity when you are in a hurry and I state, “I need to get to work.”
He gives me a dirty look and asks me, “What the hell is wrong with you?”
Wrong with me?! I needed to get to work and I let him know he was being discourteous by holding the elevator for a prolonged amount of time. This girl scurries in and apologizes. Not her fault. He’s the one who held the elevator and spoke rudely to me. Next floor another person gets in. The guy then decides he has to lambaste me. He again starts in with ”What the hell is wrong with you?” But he’s on a rant now and orders me to ”Calm down. We all live in the same building and on the same floor. Be courteous. We are a community.”
I can’t believe anyone would talk to a total stranger in such a downright hostile manner and have the gall to couch it in terms of building community. Weirdly, the only one who is yelling is him. So why am I being told to calm down? I do not take orders from anyone. Especially strange men.
Plus his argument makes zero sense. Why is it okay to be courteous to her and be absolutely disrespectful to me? If he had asked me, “Do you mind if I hold the elevator?” that would be courtesy. If he had said, “Didn’t know you were in a hurry, just trying to be nice,” I could understand his argument about courtesy. But the fact that he verbally attacked me with 100x more force than necessary invalidates his argument.
Pure anger ripped through my veins. If I didn’t say something, I’d get a migraine from the sheer force of holding it all inside; but I had zero desire for a huge confrontation. I manage to calmly respond, “I didn’t hear anyone say hold the elevator and don’t speak to me that way.” I choose not to engage further because I sense that he wants to argue and my spidey senses are screaming that he would have no issues with hitting a girl. I always listen to my spidey senses.
That’s it. I’m done. He, of course, cannot let it go. As we exit the elevator, he waits until the others are gone to tells me, “Get up five minutes earlier.”
Obviously he wants to argue and he likes to pick on girls. I ignore him and race out of the building to get away (and make up the lost time). Again, his argument makes no sense. I was ready and at the elevator. She was not. She could have gotten up five minutes earlier too. Or she can arrive, push the button and wait her turn. That is simply fair and courteous.
I really like this post on elevator etiquette. Too bad most people don’t have the common sense to follow it.
What’s you’re craziest elevator stories?
So a few years back I begged my mother for a food processor for Christmas. I swore I would use it all the time. It would change my life. I could get rid of the electric mixer. A year later, I was having a fondue dinner party and we ran out of cheese and had to make more. Out came the food processor. But I hadn’t read the manual or watched the instruction video, so I had no clue how to use it. Luckily, my friend had one too and she went to work on it. The fondue was scrumptious.
Fast forward two more years. I just finished cleaning the cabinets and moved the food processor to the front of the cabinet, planning to use it soon.
Tonight I decided to make mini cheesecakes in ramikins. The recipe calls for a food processor. So minor problem. I still haven’t read the manual or watched the DVD tutorial. I know 5 years and I can’t get around to it? Well, priorities my friend. I haven’t vacuumed in 2 months either. Anyway, I decide to read about the three blades. Luckily, my friend left the mixer/chopper blade in. I decide what the hell, I’ll try it.
Wow, it was mind-blowing. So much easier than an electric mixer. So neat and tidy. It blended all the ingredients perfectly. The cheesecake mix was so smooth and easy to pour into the ramikins. I am stunned at how quick and easy that was. I gave myself a mental slap in the head for being such a dumbass about using it. I can’t wait to find something else to use it for. I may even go skim the manual right now.
What do you find yourself buying (swearing you’ll use it) and taking years to get around to it?
A few years back, I was working at a brokerage firm and thinking that was it. I’d made the decisions that led me to that point and there was no way out of it. I was stuck. What I didn’t realize then was that I was only stuck because I decided it was so and ignored any evidence to the contrary. Being right was more important than being happy.
Until I started thinking outside the box. I could write in my spare time. I could restructure my free time and reprioritize so that writing became like a second job. A job that didn’t pay, but I still showed up every day. Even if it was only half an hour. I put in my time because I loved writing and I was committed to doing it. I’m not saying it was easy or that there weren’t sacrifices along the way. But that’s what you have to do to achieve your dreams and your goals. You sacrifice other things.
Of course, life has a way of throwing us all curve balls. I’ve taken a few months off from writing for back problems and surgeries over the past few years. But I returned to it.
I know it is hard to find time in the day to juggle everything we do, but it is possible. You prioritize. You decide to dial it in on something else. There are places to cut corners and ways to make your dreams come true. I have to believe that. Otherwise, what is the point of going through the daily grind?
As a writer, I struggle with my ego and my desire to be published. It’s hard to know what criticism to accept and run with and what to hear but decide not to implement. Anyway, I finished revamping the entire book The Curse of the Radcliffe Rubies. It is now down to 92,450 words. From a record 104,000 in November. My goal was 95K. So I am thrilled to have a shorter more palatable novel in terms of word count. I am excited to have improved my editing skills to the point where I could zero in on all the 12K words that were not needed. I think I cut 3-5 scenes at most. Mostly it was about finding repetition and redundancies and clearing them out.
As I was making the last of the edits, I got excited to see how the story wrapped up. I outlined and wrote and rewrote this story 300 times. So I know it by heart. But on every rewrite, I change it. So I wasn’t quite sure how it would wrap up. I have to say, I think my writing is improving with each version. What I wrote in 2006 and 2008 was unpublishable. But I didn’t see it at the time. Hindsight. Probably the most useless tool we have. It’s like not being able to smell smoke until the fire encircles you. Yeah, that’s helpful.
But by pushing forward and refusing to give up on the story, I think I have told a much better story. I loved the plot and the characters from day one. It was just a matter of getting my writing skills to a level where they could do justice to it. I think I am fast approaching that point. At least, I hope I am. I’ve gotten great advice from some stellar agents and I’ve run with it. (Hopefully, in the right direction.) I’ve got a one day seminar in April and a 3 day writer’s conference in May. Those will be the testing ground, I guess.
But for now, I want to take a moment and bask in the fact that I finished all my edits to the entire novel. It feels pretty freaking awesome to hit that milestone.
Saturday night, Emerson demanded a walk. He does this by sitting beside my desk, shuffling his feet and sighing with an occasional moan thrown in. It’s like living with a cranky old man sometimes. But he’s so damn cute, I give in and stop work on the last chapter of the book. He races to the end of the hall rearing to go. I double back to the desk to check the weather, and he yells at me (well barks, but that’s his version of yelling). I shout that I’m on my way and head down the hall. I put his shoes and collar on him and I slip on my sandals. It’s 62 degrees out at 9:30 at night. Crazy March weather. One week snow, then rain, then bam spring’s here.
So we take our walk to Battery Park Esplanade. He loves being near the water. Alright, I love the water, he likes the benches and the bushes he can pee on. The water was remarkably calm. And the moon. Goodness, it was a Cheshire cat moon. I couldn’t remember seeing that before. And the horizontal sliver had a glow around it. Gorgeous. The breeze was nice and not cold or harsh.
It felt like the entire world was waking up. With Spring Equinox on Sunday, I guess it was. So we strolled for two hours. Emerson loved being outside. Enjoying lying on the bench and people watching. We called mom and chatted with her. It was a perfect spring night. We got home around 11:30 and I went to cleaning the bedroom. Now all that is left is under the bed and the closets. Gulp. A couple more weekends and all the hardcore cleaning will be done.
The trouble is maintaining. It’s work to not slip back into clutter. To not let things multiple and divide all over the place. To constantly throw away. But if I’m on top of it, things won’t get so bad again.
Anyway, I must go finish the edits. I am seven pages from finishing edits on The Curse of The Radcliffe Rubies. Then one more round of edits on chapters 1-3 and I can move on to redrafting the query and synopsis. Then I get to query again. And hopefully work more on the other novel. Even with good time management skills, it’s a constant battle to stay on top of everything.
How do you prioritize? What do you find yourself letting slip most often? For me, it’s vacuuming and dusting. I hate doing them and even more wasting my time doing them. Hence, the need for massive spring cleaning.
Friday I wake up with the beginnings of a migraine. I decide to wait until it festers before I take my medication because the medication makes me nauseous, dizzy and spacy. So I take a short nap and head to the office. It ends up being a crazy busy Friday chock full of meetings. I reach for my migraine pills at 11AM, only to find I took the last one in my bag and there are none left. Screwed. Somehow, I have to get through until 4 PM (when my meetings end). I remember that caffeine can help so I end up downing 3 cups of coffee. Great. Now I’m shaky and nervous and I have a migraine. Though I am still functional despite the floaters and sparklers in my vision. For me, the aura goes on throughout the migraine. Not just in the beginning. Nope. Oh and it feels like someone is sticking needles in my eyes all day long. Of course, my meetings go to 5 PM, at which point the dizziness and nausea are so bad I am certain I will throw up or pass out if I don’t lay down soon. But I need to get home to the migraine medication so I brave the subway.
I get home and immediately take my medication and lay down for an hour. The migraine passes and leaves me with horrible nausea. On the upside, I don’t feel like I’m having a stroke anymore. So that’s good. I had on my to do list to get a new cell phone at Verizon. The store is 4 blocks from my house but it is only open Monday-Friday. So against my better judgement, I decide to walk over. This should be easy. I did my online research. I want the Droid with the keyboard. I just want to go in buy it and have it set up and then bring it home and figure out how to use it. I’m due for an upgrade. I should be the dream customer. I know what I want and I have the money to pay for it. I say should because NOTHING ever works out the way I expect.
So I enter Verizon and little did I know I traveled back in time to circa 1880. Because here, women cannot make decisions. Here women can’t think for themselves. Here women need menfolk to approve their choices. Let me tell you how it went down.
I walk in and state that I am an existing customer and would like to get a new phone the Droid with the keyboard. Contrary to popular belief, I do not have time to memorize all the names of the phones they sell. I simply found the one I wanted and identified it. So the guy hands me off to another salesperson, who starts asking a lot of questions. Mind you, my migraine just ended so I am not up for 20 questions. I give him the info he needs then I tell him the phone I want to buy. He asks if I have tried it. I said yeah my mom and dad have it. He tells me he did not ask me about them, he wants to know if I played with it. The tone here is very condescending and demeaning. Then he says I have to try it in front of him. I do not like being put on the spot. Obviously, I don’t know how to use the phone since I don’t own it. So I was like what do you want me to do? He’s like type a text. I was like can I use the keyboard? (I prefer the keyboard for typing) He tells me there’s no point in getting that phone if I don’t use the touch screen to type. I say I don’t like using it for that. He’s being argumentative and acting like I have to prove that I have a right to buy this phone. I say okay the keyboard is just like the one on my old phone. Now can I buy the phone? He tells me No. He will not sell me a phone unless I convince him that it is the right phone to sell me. Never in my life have I had to prove that I can handle anything I wanted to buy. I mean this is just insane. So I say look, I just want to buy a phone, I have a migraine and I’m not up for this today. I walk out.
On the way home, I realize shit that was straight up discrimination. I’m a woman and I can’t make decisions. Doesn’t matter that I have an advanced degree or make enough money to buy 10 cell phones (if I wanted). Because I am female, I have no right to free will. Doesn’t matter if I am willing to pay the price, he refused to sell me a phone because I wouldn’t prove to him that I could handle it. Like he was the gatekeeper of cell phones and I was some imbecile he didn’t want to entrust with this sacred gift. It’s a freaking cell phone not a bomb or a gun.
Imagine going in to buy a sweater and not being allowed to buy it unless you can prove you know how to match it properly to the rest of the outfit. Or going into a jewelry store and having to take a quiz on diamonds before you can purchase one. Frankly, it’s absurd. It’s not a financial investment, it’s a cell phone.
I called Verizon Wireless to complain, and they offered to help me buy it online. I’ve gone that route before. It always goes awry and ends up costing me hours in headaches and phone calls to get it working right. Frankly when I drop $200 on a phone it should be set up for me and I should have to do nothing. If it’s free, sure I’ll waste 1-3 hours setting everything up and troubleshooting. But for that price, you should set it up for me. So the recap: (1) no new phone and (2) I’m seriously considering switching providers cause the Verizon phone selection stinks and the customer service is straight out of the Middle Ages. Sadly, they have the best coverage.
Anyway, I came home and rescued the day by going to the gym and working on the novel. I am almost done with the edits to The Curse of the Radcliffe Rubies! Today is feeling like a better day. Let’s hope so.