This is the ninth in a series of posts about New York.

Approximately one million years ago, in the era when MySpace was still A Thing, I was addicted to shitty reality TV. (Who am I kidding? I am still addicted to shitty reality TV.) In fact, I was a huge fan of the show Flavor of Love. I have no excuses or explanation for this, other than to say, I was new to New York, and I was working long hours and studying for my master’s degree at the time, and I needed something to take my mind off of work, and law, and labour economics, and ERISA, and all of the new and heavy stuff that was happening in my world.

One night, propped up by liquid courage, some girlfriends (who had earlier in the night all confessed to being Flavor of Love fans) and I decided to become MySpace friends with some of the FlavGirlsincluding, but not limited to that one notoriously outspoken Cast Member Known by the Name of The State In Which I Live.

In the moment, I thought nothing of this. I had grown up in Los Angeles so interacting with celebrities was not wholly uncommon for me. But Social Media As We Now Know It was relatively new back then. The very act of becoming “friends” with a reality personality on nascent social media seemed as if it would be more like writing an anonymous fan letter, and less like interacting in real-time. For example, I didn’t think my girlfriends and I were going to be invited to hang out with the FlavGirls. I mean, we were mere nobodies. We were just going to become – if approved – ones among thousands of friends/fans on the buddy list of  minor Basic Cable Celebrities.

I went on to sober up and write a blog post about my thoughts regarding Flavor of Love, and the novelty of interacting with a D list celebrities on the internet. It was a think-piece, really – nothing negative about it – just a few words about being amused by the cult of celebrity, and where would this new form of media and communication and accessibility take us??

Then I went on with my life, and forgot I had ever “friended” The Girl Who Went By The Name of My State.

Apparently, I was the only one who forgot.

The reality star in question had apparently looked up my social media profile (where I linked to my blog); read my post about Flavor of Love; took it as a grave insult; sent me a nasty note; blocked me on MySpace, and so on and so forth. All over a completely innocuous blog post.

I shut down my MySpace account not long thereafter. No regrets.

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Put your hand the gearshift
Put your foot off the break
and take one last look at the place that you are leaving.
Take one last look.
 Oh take one last look at the place that you are leaving.
Take one last look.
– 
Tom Waits

This is the fourth in a series of posts about New York; a guest post by my friend Smplefy.

Tom Waits debuted this song on one of the last Letterman shows.  It resonated with me and got me thinking about New York.  The crowd energy on Letterman always made it clear that the show was filmed live in New York City.   That show is gone now.  One the other hand Jimmy Fallon brought the Tonight Show back to New York.  That’s a microcosm of New York right there, with things and people coming, going, redefining, repurposing, reinventing.

In 1995 I stood on Statue of Liberty Island and took a picture of my wife, Laura with the Twin Towers prominently displayed in the background. That black and white 8×10 still hangs in our living room.

During a visit to that same island in August 2001, Laura asked if I wanted to retake that picture.   Wanting to conserve film and oblivious to the events just weeks away, I callously said, “No, I already have that picture”.

On this 30 May, 2015, I stood in line at the opening of the One World Observatory, an observation deck on the 103rd floor of One World Trade Center. This beautiful and sexy building stands adjacent to the site of the lost towers, where two solemn memorial fountains remain.

The observation deck presents the visitors with a 360º view of the city and surrounding areas. The views of New York were beyond breathtaking on a clear day.   I was giddy as I saw all of Brooklyn spread out before me in one direction.  Standing there I could make out Prospect Park and could see all the way to what I thought should have been Coney Island.

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Brooklyn from the One World Observatory (click to expand)

Along another wall was Manhattan in all its glory with its landmarks and beautiful bridges beauty.  Just over there was Queens and back there was Staten Island in yet another direction.  I sat on the floor for a while in each direction, seeking out and studying the landmarks like I was taking some type of a test that I had been studying my whole life for.

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Manhattan from the One World Observatory (click to expand)

I was told many years ago, that if you want to take a great picture of the Statue of Liberty, you have to find a unique way to take it.  The view of the Statue of Liberty from of the observation deck was unlike any I’d ever seen before. It eventually struck me that this was how many in the World Trade Center used to see the Statue of Liberty on a daily basis.  That realization brought me pause and brought me back to the tragedy.   That’s the thing about this observation deck, it exhilarates and it reminds us.

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Lady Liberty from the One World Observatory

I circled the observation deck several times during my visit.  In my last moments there, I got up close to the glass and discovered a view of the 9-11 Memorial fountains I hadn’t seen before.  It was an unexpected surprise to see a new angle on what is a relatively recent addition to New York.

As much as I would have enjoyed staying to see the sunset, I had a plane to catch.  I kept seeing the One World Trade Center from various points along the train ride to New Jersey.  It seemed to be waving goodbye and inviting me back.

And when I settled on my plane, while the other passengers were still boarding, I looked out window and there she was again, following me in her twinkling dress.  With Tom Waits’ voice in my head, I took one last look at her and the place that I was leaving.   I tried to take in the moment and hold it before the plane took me away from this day to start a new adventure, elsewhere.

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One World Trade Center from Newark Airport

Foolish is the man who loves places and things, for that love shall be unrequited.  The Twin Towers were a source of pride for New York and then they were taken from us along with so many of the strangers that were part of the New York family.  These two buildings in this city that I hold dear have not been replaced, but the space has been repurposed to remind us of all we have, what we have lost and what we hold dear.   I don’t mean the girders, rebar and concrete, but the spirit, the enterprise, pride and love of ourselves and one another.

Welcome to the New York family, One World Trade Center.  Be great.

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The One World Trade Center

About the author
Born in New York, living far from the land he loves, but still happily managing to live the dream in Sunny, drought-stricken, California.  If you read this, send water.

#Reverb15 is the opportunity for us to reflect and project throughout 2014.   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!

Sunday, April 12. There are some things that are weird about being a second-time bride.

Is it ok to have a big, white wedding? Is it ok to get excited about getting married again after you’ve spent the last few years publicly dissecting and discussing your divorce? Are there any rules?

Let’s be honest: Zsa Zsa Gabor had nine husbands. Liz Taylor was similarly maritally prolific. Two weddings before the age of 40 isn’t going to make anyone but the most conservative amongst us blush any more.

So at a certain point, I decided that I didn’t care. I mean I did – do – care. I’m human. I care what people think of me. But someone is always going to have an opinion. Someone is always going to say some intentionally or unintentionally hurtful thing about marriage or divorce that leaves me in tatters. And I am going to have to Live With It. Someone is inevitably going to ask too much, or not ask anything at all, and I will be suspicious of their motives, and my feelings will be hurt.

These are the perils of having to live amongst other humans.

That said, I knew I had to protect myself. I had to set boundaries: What is Desired; What is Acceptable; What is Tolerable; and What I Will Not Stand For. I had to protect myself, so I could enjoy this experience.

My first wedding was not that…fun. And I love weddings. I’ve loved everything about them since I was a little girl. So I hated that the Big Thing I’d looked so forward to turned into a giant shitshow, with my ex-mother-in-law turning up at the Cathedral in an evening gown with a V-neck down to her navel; and my brother shooting up in the parking lot; and my sorority sisters co-opting the DJ and asking him to play the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl” early enough in the night for it to be malicious – and forcing me to get up and sing it with them.

So when it came down to shopping for a wedding dress, in the spirit of protecting myself, I decided to go it alone.

I love “Say Yes to the Dress” and all the bridal shows on TLC as much as the next girl, but I didn’t want that to be me. I knew that one boundary I had to draw was limiting even the well-intentioned commentary on my appearance. Accordingly, there would be no weekend outing to Kleinfeld for the requisite Tri-State bridal rite of passage.

Of course, then someone called me a hypocrite for loving those programs, but not giving into the cult of bridal gown critique – but I don’t think that I am. Simply because that experience is not one I want for myself doesn’t make me a hypocrite for enjoying observing other people willingly participate in that kind of stuff. There will be so many great things to share throughout this process. But some of it should just be for me; some just for Paul; some just for us; and some for everyone.

That’s how I wound up at my first wedding dress fitting on Sunday, working with a local designer to have a dress made.

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I think about all of the tiny moments that led up to this moment – of me, on the first sunny, mild Sunday; standing in a patch of sunlight in the wedding gown being designed for me – and I have to marvel that this is just an ordinary Sunday in extraordinary time.

Reverb14 is a prompt-a-day series for the month of December designed to reflect on 2014 and project hopes and dreams for 2015.  Throughout December,SarahKat and I will post each day with a new prompt.  Join us by writing, or join us by reading.   Follow us on Twitter @project_reverb and #reverb14.

Leap of FaithWhat decision did you make this year that was a leap of faith? Did it work out? Or not?

It began in the wee hours on Monday morning, 24th of November.

I’d gone to bed just after midnight, in my half-unpacked new apartment, due to leave for California for Thanksgiving that evening. I was missing my long-dead grandfather for no discernible reason. He had been gone for nine and a half years, and yet I was overcome with the desire to send him photos of Roo; to tell him about Paul; and, to tell him to his face: Look, your being dead has been highly inconvenient for me.

He would’ve laughed at that.

I went to sleep and woke up with a start around 2.30am. The house was silent, then I heard hysterical laughter. My grandfather’s distinctive laugh. And then it was quiet again.

I hadn’t heard Bop’s raucous laugh in a decade and still, there was no mistaking it. It was like the laughter was trying to tell me something, and I didn’t yet know what.

I flew to Los Angeles that night, and the next morning was getting ready to leave for the drive to Yosemite National Park, where my family spends Thanksgiving (and indeed, has spent the last 31 Thanksgivings.) I mentioned the story about Bop to my mother, who was a True Believer in the supernatural, so virtually nothing was too batshit for her. Whereas I was feeling marginally self-conscious about being the type of person who had just heard her dead grandfather laughing in the night, my mother was the type of person who whole-heartedly embraced that sort of thing.

Of course, my mother said, I’ve been feeling Bop nearby too.  As if what I had just told her was the most normal thing in the world.

There was nothing more I could say to that, so I began to blow-dry my hair and got ready for the long drive to Wawona.

Paul and I drove to Yosemite, and were planning for a Big Hike in Yosemite Valley the next morning. I thought nothing of this, because we’d discussed doing this the year prior, and hadn’t gotten ’round to it. But he was pushing the idea again this year, and asked me to plan it, so I did. (And if you have ever run a race or done a Sierras climb with me, you know that this is my specialty). We had initially settled on Half Dome, but after further consideration, decided upon Upper Yosemite Falls.

At 5.30am on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we set out for Yosemite Valley from Wawona, and embarked on a Big Hike.

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And so we climbed.

We didn’t talk much on that first mile up. It was early, and cold. And I was thinking a little on how Paul and I had met. It was the end of May 2013, and I had been in Scotland for the Edinburgh Half Marathon. I had been dating a Random Finance Guy, and the relationship clearly wasn’t going anywhere.

In the course of hanging out with a friend who was also in Edinburgh for racing; eating Mexican near the University (shockingly, not half bad); waiting in a hotel room for the northern sun to set around 10.30pm; and, running in the sunshine along the North Sea, I had sent a message to Random Finance Guy calling it quits. He wanted to be a senator, and had told me time and time again that I wasn’t senator’s wife material.

I didn’t want to be with someone for whom I wasn’t enough. Again.

After the race, I left Edinburgh and went back to London to see PG, and then flew back to New York. And I listened to my mother moan at me for breaking it off with Random Finance Guy because No one is just going to walk into your office and sweep you off your feet. You need to put yourself out there.

That following Friday, Paul walked into my office for a meeting.

We’d talked on the phone and by email for some time — his firm had done work with my company for years, and I’d worked with him on a few projects. But we’d never met. And he was looking to talk to me about some European directive, however, the conversation never got that far. Instead, we spent an hour or so talking about life and friends and California and how we’d both been to Easter Island.

At the end of the meeting, he said he was in town for the weekend, and asked for some suggestions on what he should do. I gave him some and wondered if he was asking me out.  But at the end of the meeting when no date was forthcoming, I shrugged it off.

I would later learn that Irish men are oblivious.

He emailed the following Monday, confessing his obliviousness, and asking me out. He booked a trip back to New York, and…on a leap of faith, I booked a trip to Dublin. From there, it wasn’t all smooth sailing (for instance, we didn’t really get along that first weekend), but we’d been together ever since.

So fast forward a year and a half or so to the present day, there we were, climbing the trickling falls above Yosemite Valley in the place nearest and dearest to my heart. It was the place I sought shelter in times of trouble. It was the place I went to feel triumphant.

Look at that view, Paul remarked, a couple of hours into the climb.

Gosh, it’s gorgeous.

I pulled out my phone and snapped the view. I had been taking photos all the way up, but this particular vista seemed especially breathtaking.

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When I turned back around to him on the trail, he was, down on one knee, asking me to marry him.

Of course, I said yes.

And then I knew immediately why I’d heard that laughing in the night earlier in the week.

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To borrow a cliché, they say that a second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience. But I don’t necessarily look at it that way. I would say that I waited my whole life to meet someone who I don’t have to explain myself to; who is perfectly receptive to my batshit suggestions like Let’s go to Japan, and then doing it; who knew my heart so well that he proposed in the Sierras halfway through a strenuous hike, with Half Dome in view.

I would say that this is the sum of experience and a hopeful willingness to look stupid with someone.

One might even call it a leap of faith.

#Reverb14 is the opportunity for us to reflect and project throughout 2014.   Each month, Kat, Sarah and I will be posting on a new prompt.  Please check out the #ProjectReverb main page and join in.

Luck: Is luck what you get?  Or is luck what you make?  When have you been lucky?  When did you create your own fortune?

I have had this in draft since mid-March.  When I did Sarah’s podcast, we talked recovering from perfectionism (a topic on which Sarah muses frequently); tinkering with writing; me having over 250 drafts in my drafts folder on WordPress.

I’m not kidding about that — I do write a lot, and often, but it seems I can’t gather my thoughts as well as I used to.  I’m pulled in a lot of different directions, and my life is very different than it was a year ago; two years ago; five years ago.

That said, here’s how I’ve been lucky this year:

1) A few weeks ago, I ran the Rock & Roll DC half marathon with some of my best girlfriends.  I’m so lucky to have such amazing friends, whose interests are so similar to mine, and who have been there in the trenches with me through everything these past few years.  Love these girls (and Bethany’s wee babe on the way!).

RnR DC

2) Having the chance to see Witness Uganda in March.  Matt and Griffin’s show was gorgeous, moving, and generally incredible, and I’m so grateful to have Matt in my life and to have spent some time with Griffin.  We are going to be watching their shows for generations, I think.

Griff Matt Mere

3) This great spa Paul took me to in February.  I generally feel pretty lucky we live a charmed life.

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4) And finally, this boy.  Every day I remember how lucky I am that he chose me.

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Do I think we make our own luck or take what we get?  I think it’s probably a little of both.  But I think, overall, I’ve been very, very lucky.

I’ve been taking a brief break lately — not fully intentional!  I was recovering from surgery, then travel, then more travel and a couple of huge projects, then I got wildly, unexpectedly sick.  Bah humbug.  I’m on the mend now, but going to bed at 9pm every day is not terribly conducive to blogging.

But I’m back, however briefly, to share that I’m a guest on Sarah’s podcast this week, and we’re chatting about being recovering perfectionists, sharing the ugly stuff, personal mantras, and rest/recovery, and anticipating the road ahead.

Please be sure to check out Sarah’s blog and subscribe to her podcast via iTunes.  That way, you can hear what I sound like IRL, especially that weird question mark I make with my voice when I’m thinking too hard about what I’m going to say.

During this break, I’ve been weirdly busy, but also had a certain amount of time to read other writers, and enjoy the challenge of my work, and take in things that I feel like I’ve been missing.  It’s that old wisdom from the Sermon on the Mount; the old speck-of-sawdust-and-plank thing.  I kept talking and talking and talking trying to tell people how to get specs of sawdust out of their eyes, but I wasn’t taking care of myself enough to notice the plank in my own.

I’ll be back very soon with new stuff.  But in the meantime, please check out Sarah’s blog and podcast.

It has been a wild six weeks.

As you may have noticed, I usually participate in our #Reverb project, however, this year, some unexpected personal and professional matters overtook my December.  A few weeks ago, I got the news that I had some health issues that needed to be dealt with rather urgently.  I had surgery this past Friday, and when this whole situation is a bit clearer, I’ll be more forthcoming.

As this the madness was unfolding in December, Paul and I decided that I would spend Christmas with his family in Dublin, and then we would go somewhere warm for a little holiday before I had to go back to New York and face this surgery.  We booked a last-minute trip to Ile de la Reunion, through Paris, and all was set.

We landed in Saint-Denis just after Christmas, and just in time for a Category 3 cyclone to hit the island straight-on.

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(100+ mph winds)

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(Happy New Year, indeed!)

After a very tense few days, with intermittent water/power, and no mobile phone service, we eventually made it back to the airport and got back to Paris.

It was all…hard.  You know, I wanted it to be easy.  And it wasn’t.

The very fact that we can do stuff like that — decide at the last minute to take a sunny holiday; fly to places near and far — reveals how privileged we are.  I’m not unaware of that.  But in those difficult moments in December — when I had few answers about what was happening to me, and I was physically and emotionally spent from the year — I just wanted it all to be perfect.  I wanted the scrambled eggs to be the way I like them, and I wanted to sink into a fluffy white-linen’d bed every night, and I wanted to take dramatic hikes to volcanoes and waterfalls each day and look out and feel…okay.

Instead, I got a hurricane.  And Paul and I were at each other’s throats the whole time as we coped with changed plans, and changing expectations, and disaster and uncertainty.

But we made it through alive.  And finally made it back to the airport a few days into the new year.

So we were on the flight back from Saint-Denis to Paris, and we hit more storms, and the plane dropped significantly in the air.  Paul’s wine flew off the tray and went all over me; dishes were falling; flight attendants were diving for their seats.

And we had no choice but to look at each other and say, So what happens now?

The answer: NothingWe were powerless to do anythingThe only thing we could do was sit still and wait out the storm.  It wasn’t up to us to guide the plane, or make the decisions…all we could do was sit and let others do their jobs.

That was it, really.  I spend a lot of time trying to control or compensate for or understand things by being and doing, and I often forget that there is so much value in just sitting still; letting someone with more experience or expertise take the wheel.

We made it to Paris alive; made it back to Dublin safely.

And in the midst of travel chaos, and life-madness, I wrote a list of resolutions to guide the rough ride of 2014.

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Right now, I am incredibly grateful for wonderful friends, a good surgical outcome, and a great partner, I am mostly trying to embrace even the suckful moments. 

I am trying to sit still and wait out the storm.