Oddz ‘n endz.
Had a great birthday. Mister took me to Eleven Madison Park for dinner, and I found a new wrinkle on my forehead. Best 29th birthday so far!
Signed up my BFF PH for the Hamptons Marathon. Surprise!
First visit to the Row House for a cardio class last Wednesday. If you’re in New York City, you should definitely try it out.
About 300 pages into The Great American Novel by Philip Roth. Baseball is not my forte, but this book rocks. Hilarious and prescient.
Listening to AWOLNATION's “Sail” on repeat like a major dorkus.
Ordered a Topsy Tail because I practice what I preach!
Net-a-Sporter launched! There go my savings.
OK, happy summer, y’all! I’m off to the beach (again).
"At the beginning of my life was a forest."
When I was small—a time that grows more rapidly far away with every blink—my favorite picture book was Once Upon a Time by Pamela Prince—a collection of short stories inspired by the artwork of Jessie Wilcox Smith. The idea that a picture could inspire a story was then new to me, and I pored over each page for hours, creating my own little worlds peppered with water fairies and seashells and children in sailor suits and pageboy haircuts and beautiful Edwardian mamas who wore dresses to the seashore and hung the laundry out to dry. When I stumbled upon one of Ms. Smith’s illustrations the other day, it took me right back—I jumped in my mind to that garden above—hiding, imagining, so tiny I thought I’d never grow up. Well, I grew up.
It only occurred to me yesterday that my Uncle Marc, who died in February 2010, would not be known by his grandchildren or his grandnieces and nephews. And that they, even worse, will not know him. And every day, my own memories of him become more mythic till one day I’ll look back and only remember remembering him—I may not remember him at all. He was my mother’s brother, but we lived so far away from him and he was so much larger than life that even when he was alive he seemed mostly legendary to me. Still, he was real, and as much as my children will not know him, I never knew him in his everyday form. And that loss, that loss of potential, I miss it even more.
Yesterday, some of my family (and all of his friends) gathered at Christopher Newport University to unveil the school’s new trading room his friends created in his honor. I couldn’t be there, but I called my mom before and after, and Marc was on our minds all day.
Pain and grief and mourning never go away; they adapt with time. Where he, still living, once resided in my heart, where he, then gone, left an empty space, there is now something solid and resilient. It is him, but it is the absence of him, dark matter where a star used to be.
Do you write Thanks at the end of every work email? I do this even when I have nothing to be thankful for and when, worst of all, I should really be saying You’re welcome. Or if I have been thanked, I’ll write You’re welcome, and thank you! Thank you for thanking me. Thank you for making these countless hours of Outlook correspondence so joyful. Sometimes I write Thanks! to be on the safe side, like in case I should be grateful, in case something important happened for my benefit and to eschew Thanks! would be to drive a stake between my colleague and me. And then I feel foolish. What if the recipient of the email (and my gratitude) reads it and thinks, Thanks? What does she have to be thankful for? I just dumped a pile of work on her desk, and it’s all due tomorrow. Or what if my uniform Thanks! become useless with overuse, a word devoid of meaning like love on a drunken first date or Peter’s Wolf!? What if? What if switched to the insufferable Best or the unprofessional (but most truthful) TTYL!* What can be better than what I think might be the worst? But I just sent an email without saying Thanks! and it felt cold. Heartless.
*Talk to you later!
Lately: white tulips (with a streak of lavender), vintage Ralph Lauren cowboy boots, and massive piles of crudités for dinny din din. I’m trying this: dress easy and focus again on home and health. Lost myself in the last few months, forgot what made me happiest, etc. etc. Always grasping, pushing, sprinting uphill, straining to see what’s beyond the horizon, and swearing to improve, improve, improve. If not tomorrow, then by the end of the week, the month, the lunar cycle; if not here, then there; if yes, if no, if if if. Goal: Ride high by April; don’t get shot down in May.
In honor of Valentine’s Day…
…this is the speech that I wrote and delivered at my friend Kate’s wedding this past New Year’s Eve.
One of the greatest mysteries is the bond that exists between a husband and his wife. Seven billion people in this world and an infinite number of pairs—mother to daughter, brother to brother, son to sister—but of all these great mysterious couplings, the greatest is that of a man and a woman wedded together.
Kate has been a best friend of mine for ten years now. I lived with her once, in college, and I could finish her sentences, I could almost read her mind—but I never did. Now Scott has known her half as long, just over six years, but he knows her better than anyone else in the world. And she knows him. And today, they not only join hands in marriage but become in the eyes of God, one—one pair made one whole person—two bodies, one heart, one mind, and the mystery of their bond grows.
Even since Homer’s Odysseus endured his famous sojourn in the Trojan War and on the Mediterranean Sea, absent for twenty years from his wife Penelope, great romantic love has been defined, it seems, by its fortitude in the face of adversity. Superhuman physical strength beats the odds for love in movie theaters the world over, in poetry and novels and our imaginations. In reality, it is not brute force that conquers all but the strength of getting up in the morning and facing every day loving this one person as much as you always did and always will in spite of real odds: growing older, raising children, earning a living, facing death and taxes and new life together.
Life will not be perfect for Kate and Scott, just as it never has been before, and though their dreams may not always come true—Kate will likely never become a ballerina nor Scott an astronaut—they will still find in that mysterious marital bond something extraordinary. No one but they will ever know or understand their love for each other or their secrets or their weaknesses; no one but Kate or Scott will ever know what it means to be Kate and Scott, and from that private knowledge, from that secret is, I think, where the strength of love is born. It is the only love that cannot be shared between anyone but Kate or Scott; it is theirs alone to cultivate, to evolve, to make fruitful.
Love is a cage and it is freedom, it is strength and weakness and joy and resolve, and, yes, love is patient and love is kind. Today, Kate and Scott will redefine their love for one another in a new and ancient way, and we—not knowing the mystery between them—can only guess and wonder, confident, at least, that they have each put themselves and the other in good hands for their odyssey that lies ahead.
"When I’m driving the highway by myself is when I write best."
Miami was pretty amazing. A colleague and I flew down last Tuesday to cover Art Basel for RL Magazine, but of course there was as much play as work. I had never been to the art fairs, never seen so much beautiful, crazy, enraging, and shocking art in my life; I had never been in a room as big as the Miami Beach Convention Center. It felt as though I had just woken up.
As in Capri, I arrived with no expectations and no real game plan but listened and watched and asked questions and tried to make a story out of everything I experienced. The artists we met have so much passion and believe so strongly in what they’re doing, I mean, you’d have to totally believe in it or else you’d go crazy, and I left feeling as if I too would go crazy if I didn’t start doing what I love most again, which is write. With real love behind it.
Anyway! Long runs on the beach every morning, late dinners at Lure and La Sandwicherie, a private coastal tour by seaplane, and you bet I got a story.
I took this photo underneath a bough of palms at the Soho Beach House; Saturday, December 7, 2013.
Dang. Where have I been all your lives? Time is moving too fast. We spent Thanksgiving at the beach; it was just the unplug-and-do-nothing break that I needed, but something was missing. Mom, Dad, Jane, Emily. I had a cold. Couldn’t play outside. Never enough fresh air and the light faded at four. Still, chocolate cake every day and Nebraska, which was very good.
Tonight through Sunday: Miami! Six days of beach running, art party hopping, and a private tour of the whole joint by seaplane. Follow my adventures there in real time via Instagram.
Last night: While running, made a pit stop at the mid-Manhattan NYPL branch. I haven’t checked out books in years, but it was all so familiar: finding the right stack, searching the author by last name alphabetical, seeing where that search lead—one, two, three—three books was enough to carry home (while still maintaining an 8:00/mile pace). They really do smell like nothing else—words and aging paper and, yes, a little bit of filth, but that’s part of why reading is so thrilling. You never know what you’re going to catch. Finished one last night (The Lost Boy by Thomas Wolfe) and starting Philip Roth’s Goodbye Columbus on the plane. Have you read either? What do you think?
Mister: good. Work: okay. Running: not much. Home: Liquiteria on 15th and Eighth. Want: long hair again and a tan! One of those is attainable. The other, patience, patience, grasshopper.
"I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. So I have spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air."
When I realized about a month ago that, between ultra training, a promotion and unexpected upheaval at work, my sister’s engagement, and holiday travel, I would not have the time to devote myself to my Camp Interactive marathon project, thereby likely missing my $3,000 minimum goal, I emailed the race organizer at Camp Interactive for help. Could I donate less than the minimum, I asked, or have an extended period of time to meet my goal?
The answer for both questions was a flat no. I started to sweat. Through CrowdRise, Camp Interactive will automatically charge my credit card for the difference between goal and monies raised on November 2. That amount is currently $1,500. That isn’t pocket change; that’s more than a month’s rent! Thus for the past several weeks, I have lain awake at night racking my brain for ways to raise money for a charity I frankly no longer care about. I have emailed every ex-boyfriend, top-level executives at my company, family members, Facebook friends, FrED fans. I have shouted into the void.
If you read Mary Pilon’s article "Hitting the Wall" about marathons and charities, published Friday in the New York Times (or if you are running the ING New York City Marathon for a charity or were asked to run for a charity but declined or have been hit up repeatedly by runners looking for donations), then you know that the run-race-to-do-good bubble has officially popped. My roommate sent me the article today after a heated discussion about how sick and tired we are of fundraising—and feeling guilty and resentful for not raising enough—even though months ago, we (perhaps stupidly) pledged thousands of dollars in exchange for a race bib.
Here’s what I know about the act of charity: Give what what you want. Tithe if you wish to tithe. If you pledge $3,000 dollars to an organization and can’t meet that goal but raise, say, $1,500, you’re still giving $1,500 that the organization didn’t have. And maybe you’ll give more later or you’ll work to earn money for another organization. And everyone gives now and then, and now and then, they cannot, or it’s not their top priority, and this is how people remain generous without going bananas.
Reading Pilon’s article yesterday, I realized that I’m not alone in my pre-race fundraising frustration. And that the very friends and family who I hit up for cash have already given and are still inundated with requests. CrowdRise’s motto is: “If you don’t give back, no one will like you.” But why should anyone feel obligated to give over and over again? And do organizations like Camp Interactive truly believe that locking voluntary supporters into set fundraising goals—with the threat that they will be held accountable for any money not raised from outside sources—is sustainable? That it will breed goodwill toward the organization? When is enough enough?
That answer, for me, is now. I’ll never again support another charity that raises funds through CrowdRise. I’ll probably never want to work with Camp Interactive again. And I’ll definitely never again marry fundraising to my long-distance running hobby. In this past month, all the joy and anticipation of training for and potentially finishing the ING New York City Marathon has been sapped and turned to blood-boiling resentment. I’m pissed off at CrowdRise, at Camp Interactive, at the system in general which allows runners to buy their way into a race by asking friends to help chip in, using charity as an excuse. But most of all, I’m furious at myself for signing up for this goddamned race in the first place.
- The Ralph Lauren editorial team needs a new Women's Style Editor ASAP. Must be a strong, experienced writer, preferably with a background in magazines.
- RL Magazine needs freelance writers in Miami, Paris, London, and LA.
- If you or someone you know fits either of these bills, send me your contact info, and let's get down to business.