psa: nola love

You should go to New Orleans. I promise you will love it.

You’ll love the way the air is always thick. And the way the sidewalks are all broken in every direction, and you’ll love the million-year-old oak trees that made them that way. You’ll love the way you can just pop into some divey bar to use the bathrooms while your friends wait in line to go to the real bar and how while you’re there you can pick up one drink and three beers for $11 and they’ll pour it all in plastic cups so you can bring it out on the street with you. And you’ll love the food, no matter what you’re eating.

You’ll love that it’s always a party. You’ll love the ghost-faced bum on the sidewalk who does nothing but wish you well. And you’ll love the ghost-faced shotgun houses on the side streets, not just the wedding cake ones on St. Charles. You’ll love the way there’s still something getting started at 4 a.m. and how it’s ok to have a drink and some fried seafood no matter what time you wake up.

You’ll love the street names you can’t pronounce; you’ll love Tchopitoulas and Freret and Carondelet. And you’ll love the couple, still on the sidewalk of the bar you left hours ago, bickering and pausing only to make out and share sips of what you imagine, at 10:45 a.m., to be a very warm, very stale Bud Light. You’ll love cab drivers who take off without asking where you’re going because they need to tell you their stories so badly. And you’ll love the comfortable shabbiness of it all.

You might even love the way the water from the cold tap is lukewarm at best or how it could rain at any time or the way your hair smells that forgotten, actual bar smell the morning after.

New Orleans isn’t all Mardi Gras and hurricanes; it’s the best city in the country. And it still needs us. You should go.


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falling asleep

I heard you talking in your sleep. Word salad. It was funny; I wanted to remember it so I could tell you. But I was sleepy, too, and I forgot. It was nonsense, but it made it all feel real.

The next time, I remember. “At least they’ll be pretty.” A conclusion without the argument; a punchline without the joke. I want to know you, to know what you’re thinking in that honest place between awake and asleep.


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top secret

I’m a sabateuse. I’m a stealthy secret agent. I’ll smile while I loosen screws under the table. I’ll set a trap of neediness, bait it with self-consciousness. I’ll casually ignite my fear and doubt. I’m a triple agent. Can you be a quadruple agent? Sometimes I can’t remember what I’m working for.

Sideways glace and eyelash flutter as, with a carefully-studied clumsiness, I nudge a priceless vase from its ledge.

But you are a super spy-- master of disguises, weapons expert, nimble ninja in baseball cap and sneakers. You disable my explosives and sidestep my trap. With three back handsprings, only visible in slow-motion replay, you extend an arm to catch the vase before it can hit the floor.

And when the table collapses, you say we never needed that table anyway.

I should come with a warning, “This girl will self-destruct within four months.” But I’m afraid you aren’t going to let me.


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it's an adventure.

We had a good day even though we missed the movie. He showed me his new rooftop. And we bought some books from a guy on the sidewalk for twenty-five cents each and spent all the quarters at the bottom of my bag. And we investigated a microwave someone had left with a sign declaring “I work“. We should have known it would be sold out on a Sunday afternoon at Union Square.

So we went to look at wedding magazines at Barnes and Noble. It was for work, I promise.

“You’re really going to look at these with me? You don’t have to.”
“It’s ok. I’ve never done this before. It’s an adventure.”

And when we finally left the air conditioners and books, we went to Vanessa’s for dumplings and Ted’s first sesame pancake sandwich. It was a hit because sesame pancake sandwiches taste like heaven except with delicious delicious sauce, and they are practically free. I could have bought one with the quarters from the bottom of my bag if I hadn’t already traded those for books, which are a much heavier thing to have in your bag.

Then we made an S down 13th to pick up cookies at Milk, even though we were full at the moment, and down 12th to see if that microwave was still around. And back toward Alphabet City, where instead of walking through Thompson Square Park, we went into some of those cute stores on Avenue A where we looked at everything and bought nothing.

We walked across the bottom of the park, and while I was in the middle of saying, for at least the fifth time, how I hate walking through that park, I remembered:

“Oh! Cookies! I forgot! We have cookies!”

First he laughed at me, then said possibly the most romantic thing anyone has ever said to me:

“I love that you love dessert so much.”

But I pretended it wasn’t a big deal:

“Everyone loves dessert.”

He’s a funny boy, and he spent that night flipping the channel between basketball finals and the Tony’s. And we ate the cookies.


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where am i?

“It’s a good thing he’s not jealous.”

Pete was playing a song on his ukulele and interrogating me about Ted while I did Wii yoga .

“Of course he’s not jealous. Why would he be jealous?” from a tree pose. “Well. . . I mean. . . he doesn’t know where I am.”

The F train is the worst train, and I suddenly I don’t know where I am. I’m not even sure what borough this is. Is there really a 23rd Avenue?

I got home really late, talked to Cooper for a minute. He asked about my night.

“Why aren’t you with your boy? Does he care that you were with Pete?”

Really? Am I missing something? Doing something wrong?


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something is certainly working

We were in the throws. The whispery, giggly throws because he had friends in town, sleeping in the next room.

I don’t remember why he mentioned the grocery store at a time like this, but he did.

I moaned, then laughed, “I love the grocery store.”
“Oh yeah? What’s your favorite part?”
“Oh! Produce. . . .”
“Produce from the grocery store? . . . or the farmer’s market?”
“Oooo. . . Farmer’s market. . . .”

Giggles, before he starts again.

“ I was thinking of vegetables. Like butternut squash. . . or zucchini.”
“I’m more excited about summer things. Like tomatoes. . . and corn.”
“I like corn. . . .”
“Oh! Oh! And peaches!”
“I think this is why we work.”


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it would be slightly less terrifying than introducing him to my dad


Sam manages to squeeze that into the lunchtime conversation, which screeches to a halt, all eyes turned to me.

There are questions and more questions, and then the excitement passes.

But after lunch, Phil asks in a lowered voice, “So when can I meet your boyfriend?”

I told Ted that, laughing, but his answer was serious and immediate, “Well, I’m usually free on Fridays.”


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“I’m helping my boyfriend move.”

This sentence kept rattling around in my head as I packed his closet and helped take apart his bed.

“I’m helping my boyfriend move. I have a boyfriend. We do important things together. Someday, we could look back and say, 'Remember that place in Park Slope?'”

Ugh. Ok, that was too far. Anyway. . . .

I helped him move the clothes from his chest into a box. The last thing out was a pair of fuchsia panties.

He seemed embarrassed, but I didn't really mind.

“Well, I have. . . .”
“It’s like girls with boys’ t shirts.”
“Yes. It’s like that.”

Except I hope he never wears his artifacts of lost relationships.


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I was laughing and couldn’t stop. I don’t know why. This was not really a laughing time. But it just kept bubbling up and wouldn’t stop.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

He’s good at this:

“I think. . . just. . . don’t ask questions.”

It's like this.


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this one is really good and you don't want to miss it

“So is this your. . . girlfriend. . . ?”

Somehow I’m standing in front of his best friend from high school. Unexpectedly. Because the universe has decided I might as well meet everyone important at once. And there’s this question.

We look at each other. His palms to the sky, with a half shrug. My head tilted with an eyebrow raise and probably a funny mouth thing. A Morse code of nods.

The angel-voice and devil-voice in my ears are shouting at each other. So loud I can barely hear the friend mumble, “Yeah, so, not, like. . . your cousin,” now aware of what he’s started.

“Girlfriend?! You can’t be somebody’s girlfriend!” in one ear, and “You had lunch with his third cousins! You came to New Jersey! You better be his girlfriend!”

I can’t tell who’s shouting what, but I give a final nod. Definitive.

“Yeah. . .” Ted finally says. “Yeah.”

The friend and I move on to proper introductions and are soon engaged in some sort of staring contest. I’m sober, but he’s not.

And Ted’s still saying to himself, “Yeah. . . Girlfriend sounds about right.”

To say meeting his family was non-traumatic would not be fair. Because they were lovely-- welcoming and clever and funny.

It was a long day, but I survived. I remember all the names, but I’m still working out how they fit together. We had strawberry shortcake for dessert. And after the drive home, we fell into bed, exhausted, but couldn’t fall asleep.

Girlfriend sounds about right.


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“Where should I put these shoes? In the trunk?”
“You can just put them in the back seat.”
“Yeah, but I should put them out of the way. How many people are coming with us?”
“This is it. Just us.”

I was confused. He’d said his brother and his girlfriend were coming. I know them. They are nice and familiar and I was prepared to count them as allies. Ted says he forgot to tell me they couldn’t come anymore.

Deep breaths. I tell myself I’ll be fine, but after 45 minutes in New Jersey (a place so strange you aren’t even allowed to pump your own gas), it really hits me.

“How did you convince me this was a good idea??”


p.s. i will be away for another wedding this weekend, but this time with harper. i absolutely cannot wait. i hope you have a nice weekend, too.

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i don't have swine flu

“In an effort of full disclosure, I don’t feel good. And I might have fever. So it might be swine flu.”

Ted came over anyway, which was good. He brought Tylenol, and we ordered dinner. He slept over even though I was 12 million degrees and kept covering up, uncovering, opening the window, closing the window and turning on the air conditioner, turning on the light to better see the air conditioner knob, turning off the air conditioner. . . .

We talked a lot. There’s not much to do at my place besides sleep and make out. But that’s the thing we didn’t do: kiss. Not that night or the next morning. It was responsible. And hard.

But we talked. A lot. And I like being with him, even when he can’t kiss me.

I think we might have something here.


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why do girls want to be holly golightly anyway?

Somehow it’s always been more convenient for me to go to Ted’s. There’s a timing thing and a commute thing. If we lived anywhere else the one hour and ten minutes it takes me to get from my place to his would qualify us for long-distance status.

But now he says he’s coming over. He says he wants to make sure I actually have an apartment. I think that part’s a joke.

I do have an apartment, but it has a sort of Holly Golightly thing going on. You know, no furniture, mounds of clothes and shoes. . . . Except I don’t always emerge from it looking perfect in Givenchy, and I don’t have that awesome bathtub couch from the movie, and I can never get my hair to be tall like that, and, you know, I’m not a whore.

So here’s the plan:
Step 1- Clean up.
Step 2- Act embarrassed that my apartment is such a mess today.
Step 3- Take off my clothes and distract him from everything else in my apartment.


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i guess that's what you'd call it

B: I might meet Ted’s family this weekend. Like his whole family.
H: Wow. So is he your boyfriend?
B: Um, maybe? We sort of talked about not wanting to kiss anyone else.
H: That’s a big step. So can you kiss other people? Or no?
B: I don’t want to.
H: Like “I don’t want to but if I get drunk or someone trips and lands on my lips it’s okay”?
B: I probably shouldn’t let anyone accidentally fall on my lips.
H: But if you do it’s not cheating. . . . So you and Ted are voluntarily exclusive?
B: I guess that’s what you’d call it.
H: Why aren’t you boyfriend/girlfriend?
B: We just haven’t exactly used those words. I took Single off my Facebook profile.
H: That’s a good move in general.

. . . .

H: So you’re going to meet your voluntarily exclusive man-friend’s entire family. . . .


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the edit

Pete called to tell me the latest in his tale of woe. The words come out not so much in a stream, but in a puddle. By the time he finished, there’s not much left for me to say.

“If this were a movie, you’d either end up with her, and everyone would want that, or you would end up with her sister or neighbor or assistant, and everyone would want that. It would just depend on how they edited it.”

He laughs before he gets serious again:

“I told her that if she give me this chance, I’m not going to let her choose someone else without putting up a fight.”

I want to tell him not to do this, not to let her do this to him, but I know it won’t make a difference. We all want a love we’d be willing to fight for, but do we want one we have to fight for?


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technology is so hard

I think it’s time. I don’t really feel single anymore. I’m not ready for a big step, just this small one.

Once my baby brother’s name showed up in my Facebook newsfeed: “Baby Brother is now Single!”

“That’s the biggest piece of non-news ever.”

He had taken it off because he was dating some girl, and he had just changed it back.

Now I want to not be Single. And to not be In a Relationship. Just to be nothing for a while. But I don’t want to Facebook to announce to everyone that I’m in dating purgatory. But why do they keep changing it? Where are the privacy settings? I don’t want to deal with questions. I don’t want Ted to see or my brother see. . . or my mom to see. . . .

I did it anyway, and hoped for the best. Thank you Facebook for making this harder than it already was.


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something like the second scariest question ever

Four days, a three-day weekend, and two outfits-- it just doesn’t quite add up. I just kept ending up in Brooklyn and not leaving. There’s sun and lots of food and hours of awful reality shows and naps. There are lots of great naps.

Everything is good, but I feel like something is stirring.

He asked about my plans for the next weekend. He told me what he was doing. I’m ignoring it until he makes it impossible not to.

We’re sitting on his bed, kissing and cuddling when he asks me:

“Do you want to come to Princeton next weekend?”

I sit back. He’s going to a big family graduation party, and I’m not sure I’m ready for that.

“I don’t know.”

That’s all I’ve got.


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I don’t think I can look in his face and say the thing I want to say, this thing I need to say. I mumble it into his neck.

Last night. . . I was thinking. . . .”
“What were you thinking?” He brushes the hair out of my face and kisses me somewhere around the eyebrow.
“I was thinking I don’t really want to kiss anybody else.”
“I don’t think I do either.”


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Maybe I shouldn’t have had wine. Or maybe I shouldn’t have let him pay for my dinner. Maybe I should just never have dinner with boys at all. I definitely shouldn’t have gone up to see his place. But I just keep hoping that girls can be friends with boys and that I don’t have to play defense all the time.

He’s a friend of Prince Charming, but tonight he’s not saying his name. Only five months ago he stood there and told me he was sure we’d end up together-- that Prince Charming wasn’t ready now, but that it would work out.

“I don’t think you’re right,” I told him. “And I can’t just wait around for him.”

He spent dinner laughing at me, but now he’s sitting too close. I had mentioned my boy in Brooklyn, dropping “we” whenever I could. It seems so wrong that he’s touching my hair. I don’t like this anymore.

He leans in. I turn my cheek-- a kiss-dodge in the truest sense. I know something now. I wait a few minutes, make some excuses, hug him goodbye when he insists.

On the sidewalk, I try to catch my breath. Why do I let this happen? I feel tears behind my eyes, but hold them back and walk. I think about walking home. I don’t want to go home. I know it. I clutch my phone, send a text:

“At 59th street, trying to decide what train to take.”

I know it’s needy before I press send. But that’s what I am right now.

It’s late, but not too late. And I find what I need on a stoop in Brooklyn.


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escape plans

I have a simple life. I have a tiny apartment and a straightforward job. Yet somehow this little life requires eleven keys. Eleven. Plus two to my parents’ house that I think are in the cabinet over my stove. And I used to have the three to David’s. So there were sixteen, all in all.

But one of mine is funny; I’ve never seen one like it. It’s uncopy-able as far as I can tell. I ask whenever I’m in a hardware store, never with any luck.

I used to call it the breakup key. I told David that one day he’d come over and my door would be locked with both locks and that would be it. He’d know.

With Cooper, it was a joke he’d make.

“You don’t like puppies?” I’d demand.
“I like puppies. With a little salt and pepper. . . .”

I told him that one day he’d say it, and I’d just turn and walk away from him and it would be over. All the better if it happened in the Park, because then we could both just walk home.

That’s not the way either of those stories ended. They were jokes. They just weren’t funny.

I’m a cynic. A cynic with an escape plan. Looking for the problem with this one.


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