When I was in Jaipur, I finally got to looking at my scars.

It wasn’t that I had been deliberately avoiding looking at where they’d put my hip back together, it was more that I’d had the surgery last summer and hadn’t had occasion to wear a bathing suit through the long, brutal New York winter. And then, for a time, I didn’t have a full-length mirror in my house, so it wasn’t like I even had the ability to put myself into perspective.

And I wasn’t ashamed of them, I just hadn’t really ever taken notice of them before.

We are all constantly called to improve ourselves. To give something up. To take up healthier habits. To be better than we are. Every day, someone in my social media feeds is giving up coffee or taking up running or going paleo or swapping out their plastic containers for glass ones, or engaging in some incrementally annoying activity reminding us all that we’re not good enough the way we are.

I wondered for a moment if I should do something about the scars.

But then I stopped thinking about it, and settled back into a chair by the pool, with the peacocks screaming at each other in the distance.

IMG_4830

In April, I decided to go to India.

Explaining this decision in great detail is probably not worth it, so let’s just say that at some point earlier this year, out of the blue, Paul exclaimed, I got this great REI dividend! They gave me like $400!

And I replied, That’s weird. They don’t just give you money, you have to buy something first.

This was the moment where he confessed that he’d booked a two week-long trekking trip in Bhutan with his friend Nigel, and that maybe I should pick somewhere I wanted to travel solo and just go.

Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, Paul is typically slightly irritated when I want to take a solo holiday.

So I decided to go to India. By myself.

In a prior iteration of my life, I really liked to Figure Things Out On My Own, and I relished Booking My Own Travel. I was totally into roughing it. But after five years of taking the 6 Train down the Upper East Side to get to work, I am not nearly as into savagery as I thought I was. I won’t shy away from a backpacking trip or a tough and dirty race if the mood strikes. But I take a taxi to the office most days now because the lawlessness of the Lexington Avenue Line and the general water-torture effect that That Whole Thing has had on my psyche has made me question whether I want to do anything even remotely uncomfortable in my free time, ever again.

And I am no longer of the mind that I should stay at terrible hotels or deliberately try to spend as little as possible on travel. If I can’t afford to do it comfortably, I’m staying home.

Oh no. Is this middle-age?

This is the back story of how I wound up travelling through a bunch of fancy hotels in India. It was only when I got to Jaipur that I found out that the travel agent who had been deputized to book my travel had been arranging for only high-level diplomatic guides to meet me. In Jaipur, the guide was so popular that we’d have to stop and talk to people and I was constantly being introduced to folks, and I couldn’t quite sort what was happening.

It was only at the gift shop at one of the palaces that I noticed that the guide’s picture was plastered everywhere, and then I discovered that he was a member of the Maharajah’s court, and was one of the personal assistants to the British royal family when they were in town (which, admittedly, was once every decade or so).

I also learned that there is a new-ish Maharajah (who is something like 16 years old), but the recently deceased Maharajah apparently went by the name Bubbles.

I’ve never really had a nickname, so I am particularly fond of people who are called by delightfully frivolous things that are not their given names. I don’t know why this gives me so much pleasure.

I digress.

But is this who I am?

In India, I went from Mumbai to Delhi to Agra to Jaipur. I had guides everywhere; I had drivers. I was fussed over constantly. There was so much to see and do and experience, but there was also the sense that as a small, blonde woman, my movement was a little restricted and I needed to keep to myself.

It was a wonderful, weird, overwhelming experience. And if I had known that everything would be so regimented and restricted from the start, would I have picked that trip?

Maybe. Maybe not.

There is nothing that can easily or adequately prepare you for India if you’ve never been. It’s not like anywhere else. You’d think having been in big cities all over the world, or travelling in hot climates, or being exposed to extreme income inequality would help to put it all into perspective, but…it doesn’t.

So that was what I did. I got on a plane, and went to India by myself. And dealt with ever changing plans, and people who wanted to take pictures with me, and Bubbles’ personal assistant, and was led around by the guy who had spent countless hours with diplomats and royalty.

And me.

And still I wondered: Is this me?

3032

#Reverb15 is the opportunity for us to reflect and project throughout 2015.   Each month, KatSarah and I will be posting on a new prompt.  Please check out the #ProjectReverb main page and join in.

Daily Life | Show us a day or a week of your life! Include pictures!

I love ABBA.

I don’t remember when or where this began, because my parents are, at best, ambivalent about ABBA. They may have been the only people who made it through the 1970s without owning a single ABBA album.

So at some point in my young life, with or without the assistance of Mums and Daddy, I discovered ABBA. And I loved the beat; the enthusiasm; the vaguely Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice-ness about the foursome; the fashion; and mostly, that biting Scandinavian earnestness that was at once an invitation and a fuck you.

And I think there are two types of people in this world: People who love ABBA, and People who don’t get ABBA. There is no hating ABBA. That’s like saying you hate IKEA or Volvo, and similarly, ABBA is just too mild and ubiquitous for one to have a strongly negative opinion about them.

No one hates IKEA or Volvo, because even if you THINK you hate IKEA, you probably have a BILLY bookcase somewhere in your house. And even if you THINK you hate Volvo, you probably have a fond memory of making out in someone’s mom’s flesh-tone 240 GL Volvo wagon.

Mild. Ubiquitous.

I rest my case.

On Saturday, I flew from NY to London, and London to Mumbai, and I watched an endless amount of in-flight entertainment because that’s a lot of air to cover. During the course of scouring British Airways’ TV system for something — anything — new to watch, I stumbled on to an ancient documentary about ABBA and iconic photos taken of the band.

Early in the documentary, they played the Lasse Hallstrom-directed music videos the band released with their first few albums in countries in which they weren’t immediately touring: U.S.; Australia; etc….

I began to laugh.

There was one night during my last year at UCLA when my roommate Legs and I went down to the Blockbuster? Hollywood Video? (I’ve reached the age where I can no longer remember the things I thought I’d always know!) at the corner of Gayley and Wilshire – you know, the one where you had to park on the roof.

Legs and I were famous for many things – among them, renting absolutely terrible films and returning them months late. By the time we graduated, there was not a single video store on the Westside that would rent movies to us.

So we walked in one unremarkable night – undoubtedly in our matching uniform of running shorts, UCLA sweatshirts, and Rainbows – and instead of the ordinary action films playing on the TVs, ABBA’s classic music videos were on all the screens. Some bored clerk had unearthed those precious laser discs and Benny, Bjorn, Frida and Agnetha were writhing and grooving across the CRT TVs rigged up all around the video store for our viewing pleasure.

We were mesmerised.

We were too young to have seen the videos the first time they were played, so we were hooked. I think we probably stood there in the middle of Hollywood Video for an eternity that night – slack-jawed and entranced by the sparkly, soft-focus jamming happening on the screens as ABBA awkwardly shuffled and danced to their greatest hits. We were witnessing history. We were witnessing love, Scandinavian style.

I’m not even sure we left with a video that night.

In the intervening years between that night on Wilshire and last Saturday, I’ve listened to a lot of ABBA. But I hadn’t thought about those music videos until I was leaving New York on a London-bound plane.

It had been a long time since I was a student. It had been a long time since I was the kind of girl who wore low pig-tails, and smoked cigarettes, and tied up the landline with gossip; and sat outside in that heavy, salty Westside night air; and since Legs and I made pasta in our shared kitchen and drank too much cheap beer and ate too many cheese fries and cried over silly sappy TV shows.

Now Legs sings ABBA songs to her infant son, and I’m on a flight from New York to London, and London to Mumbai, and we’re a long way from Westwood, but we’re still those same girls, I think.

IMG_4783

#Reverb15 is the opportunity for us to reflect and project throughout 2015.   Each month, KatSarah and I will be posting on a new prompt.  Please check out the #ProjectReverb main page and join in.

Daily Life | Show us a day or a week of your life! Include pictures!

Friday, April 17: Strand came over for dinner.

Our lives have chanced so much over the years! I have known Strand since she was freshman in college and I had just moved to New York. I had shown up on Staten Island to be a sorority advisor, and was wholly unprepared for what Staten Island was.

I had landed at the ferry terminal in my herringbone trousers, and my preppy cashmere half-zip with a popped collar underneath, topped with the red coat I wore back in those days. And I walked into a too-hot room full of girls in shorts with their rear ends hanging out of them with PINK written on the butt, and their big hair piled up on top of their heads, tied with giant bows, and with names like Toni Ann, and last names that were so unpronounceably Italian, this WASP had no idea where to even begin.

I was a long way from Westwood. My own sorority house had been a quaint turn-of-the-last century Spanish hacienda nestled into a hillside between Bel Air and Beverly Hills. Staten Island was a long way from Hilgard Avenue. And at the time, I was fresh out of Georgetown, but Grymes Hill wasn’t really…the Hilltop.

This isn’t a knock to Staten Island – I was the one who was out of place; I was the interloper. And Strand had moved to the NYC area just a few years before and so we became friends – even though we were in a very different dynamic of power: Advisor and Advisee.

I will not lie: Those years as a sorority advisor were not easy. It was a fun an adventure as you can imagine, but it was also as challenging as could be. I made lifelong friends with my advisor sisters, and with other officers as I moved up the ranks and started working with more sorority chapters, but being in the service of college women is a lifestyle not for the faint of heart!

And so eventually, I had to move on. My life changed, and I took a job where I had to travel a lot, and I got divorced, and it was just…time. And the girls who were freshmen when I had started were long graduated.

Strand and I had always had a special bond – she was kind to me when I needed it the most. I am so grateful for her friendship, and her compassion, her heart, her thoughtfulness. I’ve climbed Mount Whitney with her; I’ve run a marathon with her and watched her cross her first 26.2 finish. I’ve also scolded her for having alcohol in her room and smoking on the floor.

I love sharing this season of our lives where we’re both going to be brides; and we live on the same block; and our dogs love to give each other a hard time.

I’ve loved growing up with this girl.

IMG_3850

#Reverb15 is the opportunity for us to reflect and project throughout 2015.   Each month, KatSarah and I will be posting on a new prompt.  Please check out the #ProjectReverb main page and join in.

Daily Life | Show us a day or a week of your life! Include pictures!

Wednesday, April 15: Unsurprisingly, I am super compulsive about my workout schedule. And I am way more relaxed than I used to be since I am no longer really racing or running for time or within sight of an achievable PR.

I like this workout called Refine Method – which is a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) class with a lot of science behind it, and the following is not…culty, and the people are nice, and the classes are small, and it’s generally a good fit for my personality and body. I try to go at least once a week.

So Wednesdays, we do Refine.

Since I had hip surgery, I’ve been strangely…emotional about things. A yogi friend of mine recently reminded me that many yogis believe we hold emotion in our hips; that’s partly why balasana (child’s pose) is such a release for most people.

I have to remember that I had major surgery last year. That healing takes time.

IMG_3819

I’m still the strong athlete I used to be…it’s just new equipment.

#Reverb15 is the opportunity for us to reflect and project throughout 2015.   Each month, KatSarah and I will be posting on a new prompt.  Please check out the #ProjectReverb main page and join in.

Daily Life | Show us a day or a week of your life! Include pictures!

Tuesday, April 14: While I am normally not one to go out two school nights in a row, my friend Jean was launching her book Icebox Cakes at Baked in Tribeca, and there were promises of booze and cake. I will admit that the cake and wine helped motivate me to go below 59th Street on a school night.

(At some point in the last six years, I became One of Those People who snorts and sniffs when I have to leave the Upper East Side, acting like I have been banished to Outer Mongolia rather than having been invited to a party south of Canal.)

I arrived maybe 15 minutes into the event to a packed house. Jean and her ginger mane looked amazing (I’m told her hair smelled amazing too, but I decided to stick with convention and not ask to sniff the hostess’s hair), and all of the treats were delicious. It was also a fun crowd – which I discovered when I randomly started talking to strangers, since I had come alone.

I stopped by the table set up at the front of the shop to talk to Jean; made her sign my book. I had also really (reallllly) wanted to get a picture with her mom, who is pretty much a celebrity (a fact you know if you follow Jean on social media), but I didn’t want to be That Girl who turned up at the party to guzzle the Prosecco, eat the cakes, and start getting weird with people not personally known to her.

IMG_4745

To be honest, the place was so packed, I’m not really sure anyone would’ve noticed me being That Girl, but I decided against it nonetheless. I just flashed Jean’s mom a couple of creepy, winning smiles like I was about to ask her about her personal relationship with Jesus, and headed back uptown.

Sometimes, I miss being A Writer. Sometimes I miss the culture and community and all the people I used to know. Sometimes, I wonder if — when I decided to be In The Trenches with the work I do now — I had known what I would be giving up, I would have made a different choice.

But this is what I’m doing now. And that is Okay.

And hey, I’ve got friends who have parties with wine and free cake!


#Reverb15 is the opportunity for us to reflect and project throughout 2015.   Each month, KatSarah and I will be posting on a new prompt.  Please check out the #ProjectReverb main page and join in.

Daily Life | Show us a day or a week of your life! Include pictures!

Monday, April 13: A month or so ago, I bumped into my ex-boyfriend in Paris. This might be remarkable for some of you – for me, this was wonderful, but unremarkable, because I have finally accepted that I am simply the sort of woman who bumps into people in unexpected places. I am therefore not the kind of woman who could ever expect to work as a spy or carry on an extramarital affair.

Matt and I were high school sweethearts, and I’ve written about him, and us, before. We were weird kids, and artists, and good at supporting each other’s creative endeavours – especially for being teenagers.  He grew up to be an actor and singer and composer – exactly as he had intended.  And I grew up to be a lawyer and a financial services executive – maybe not as planned, but still not a bad gig.

He and his partner were in Paris for a meeting, and to support one of their Ugandan students who had won a modeling competition. I was in Paris for a half-marathon and attend a conference at the invitation of a group I do a lot of work with.

How different our lives were! From each other; from the past; from whence we came.

We grew up in a former onion-and-spinach farming town just outside Los Angeles, on the edge of the Mojave Desert – a planned community that has grown exponentially since we both left.

Matt and I grew up in a place that valued sameness. That’s not a knock on the place or the people who live(d) there. It’s simply to observe that the very essence of a planned community is to cultivate similarity. People buy houses in those types of places precisely because they want to live where stuff matches, and they like the predictability of shopping centers and big box stores. That’s not a bad thing, and I can’t really judge that instinct, except to say that I’m not sure I’d pay any sort of premium for the privilege of adhering to draconian CC&Rs dictating the three shades of taupe my eaves can be painted – OR ELSE.

But when you grow up in a place that’s not just treating you like you’re a teenager, but also like you’re weird, sometimes you move on to adult life questioning: Am I weird? Are these feelings normal? Is it okay to feel X or Y? And you lose touch with how to cope with Big Feelings or Confusing Stuff because you feel a constant pressure to stuff down every out-of-the-mainstream instinct and feeling.

Or maybe you never learn it in the first place.

That’s the back story.

But all of this back story aside, I bumped into Matt and his partner Griffin in Paris because they’d posted a picture of themselves at Charles de Gaulle Airport on Facebook, and we wound up having the chance to spend the better part of a day together.

At some point during that afternoon, Matt and Griff suggested I should help them raise money for a concert they were helping to host for the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s 15th Anniversary Celebration in April.

It’s a WASP’s wet dream! Matt said.

Well, in that case… I laughed.

So after an afternoon of walking around Paris and eating Speculoos ice cream and talking, I agreed to be on the benefit’s host committee, and a week later, Matt sent me the details.

On a Monday in April, I headed up to the Apollo Theatre to meet a few friends at the benefit, and to see Matt and Griffin perform songs from their show Witness Uganda. The show itself will open off-Broadway later this year.

IMG_4737

It’s wonderful, and weird, and wild, and strange to have shared that relationship with Matt, and to watch this chapter unfold for all of us. And I’d be lying if I said it’s not sometimes hard – figuring out what role to play, and how much to say, and how to feel in This Part Now.

Growing up in a Los Angeles suburb where every house looks the same might prepare you for how to pick the ideal shade of greige to paint your garage door, or how to pick the perfect shrubbery for your front garden, or even how to be on a benefit committee, but it certainly does not prepare you for Paris, or Broadway.