This weekend I came across a copy of The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook in a used bookstore—it wasn’t the edition my parents had when I was little, though, the cover was different. I still felt nostalgic/happy (nostalpy?) when I saw it, and I thought of Hippy Kitchens, which you should follow if any of this means anything to you.
Brooklyn Girls wear brown, not black; they go to beer gardens, not lounges or clubs with bottle service; they listen to Spotify, not DJs; they drink bourbon, not scotch. If they diet, it’s under the pretense of healthy eating and frugality; if they exercise, it’s in a park or on a bike. They aspire to have jobs in publishing, not PR. They have artistic temperaments, but think a Pinterest board is the perfect outlet for it; they consume news through Twitter. —
Today in fun mental self-comparisons. For the record, I wear gray and navy; I don’t go to beer gardens or bottle-service clubs; I listen to Rdio or KEXP or WNYC or MBPN; I drink scotch but lately I don’t drink much at all, and when I do it’s wine or Campari; I eat enough produce to qualify as a healthy eater but then there’s my wicked salt tooth, so who knows; I will do 30, 40, 50 miles on my bike no problem; I don’t aspire to a job in either publishing or PR, at the moment; I use my Pinterest boards primarily for jokes and jam recipes; I consume news through Twitter.
The issue here may be less that I live in Brooklyn, more that I’m old enough to not call myself a ‘girl.’
Data point: My 25-year-old cousin, who works in Manhattan and communicates with me exclusively via Snapchat, subscribes to the print version of Time Magazine because she believes it’s “the best way to know what’s going on.” This was her status update the other day.
The other thing is, it takes a certain personality type or set of skills to become the guy who’s going to Silicon Valley and schmoozing and getting some ridiculously advantageous deal that he shouldn’t be getting, probably, or that doesn’t really reflect the value of your site. You have to be a certain kind of person, and if you’re not, it’s probably not going to work. So even if I, in 1999, had moved to San Francisco and tried to go to a bunch of events and do whatever people do to schmooze, I don’t think it would’ve worked anyway. At least I like to tell myself that. —
For years I wondered why Diaryland hadn’t gone the way of Blogger and Livejournal—louder buzz, multi-million-dollar acquisition(s), the founders going on to work for Google or whatever—and I finally got my answers, direct from Andrew.
Also discussed: Kids today, Ironminds.com, a time when you couldn’t get internet in airports. You will feel young or old, depending.
The other day I was walking up Seventh Avenue in the soft evening heat, wearing one of the blazers I wear when I think I should look important in meetings, drinking a bottle of overpriced coconut water and talking on my phone. All right, I was shouting. It wasn’t my fault: Seventh Avenue was a cacophony of traffic and sirens.
I’ll spare you the details of my conversation, but as I strode through a crosswalk I barked out a sentence that ended with “and the New York media world,” after which I took a large harried sip of coconut water. Just then a man about my age—scruffy hair, t-shirt, mild expression, no earphones to block out strangers’ exclamations—looked directly at me. And grinned. Then the grin became a chuckle. Then he was gone.
The moment passed so quickly I didn’t quite register it until the next block. At first I thought the mild-mannered man was laughing at me for being a jackass, but then I thought no, maybe he was laughing at me because he could tell I’m not a jackass, but was acting like one temporarily. What his chuckle said was, In a few years’ time you will look back on that beautiful summer evening when you were power-walking up Seventh Avenue in your cat-hair covered blazer, shouting blustery inanities into an iPhone in between sips of a marketing gimmick, and you will laugh and laugh, so let me get you started on that, okay?
Yes. Okay. And thank you.
Bruce Springsteen: piece de resistance 09.19.78. Passaic, Nj. #bootleg #vinyl #3lp #brucespringsteen #theboss #deepjersey #streetsoffire #bruce #garrytallent #maxweinberg #littlesteven #roybittan #dannyfederici #theprofessorroybittan #mightymax #thebigman #clarenceclemons #clarence #thebigmanclarenceclemons #thepromisedland #darknessontheedgeoftown #passaic #newjersey #broooce #broooooooooce #bruuuce #bruce #bruuuuuuuuuuuce #jersey #borntorun #bornintheusa #theriver #thewildtheinnocentandtheestreetshuffle #theestreetband #estreet #estreetband #E #street #band
Important lesson in tagging, right here.
I think it’s impressive because there’s—to be able to say it was as hard, if not harder than losing my dad, but that’s because we don’t have anything mixed up in the pure emotion of grief, that we have in a relationship with an animal. There’s no “I should have said this,” or “Unfortunately, they said this to me and that stuck with me and sent me to therapy for 20 years,” none of that, you know? All there is is pure joy, pure love, unconditional, and then that level of loss. —
My cat died twenty-six days ago, although I have to qualify that, explain it like this: The cat who died twenty-six days ago was mine and had been for many years, but for the past year he’d been living in my old apartment with my ex-boyfriend. In most situations pet ownership is defined by physical proximity. My cat is the cat who lives in my current apartment and who is, at this moment, attempting to trick the automated feeder into dispensing more kibble.
I think that’s the problem with the way we describe our relationships with pets—we own them, they exist around us, as do our couches and windowsills. Is the cat your cat when you pack your bags and leave? My brother is my brother even though he lives in Connecticut and I only see him a few times a year. If I were married, my husband would be my husband, even if he spent the next two years stationed overseas. So by the same token my cat was my cat, even though he “belonged” to someone else and I had not fed him any kibble in over twelve months.
Over the years I have lost many pets, many animal friends, and that’s the risk you take when you love someone or something, obviously, your relationship can end without warning and before you are prepared to let it go. I am familiar with those solemn visits to the vet’s office but I will never get used to them. Twenty-six days ago, when my ex-boyfriend texted me at work to report that something was terribly wrong, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to run out of the office and into traffic to hail a cab, I wasn’t ready to break down among the steel exam tables and disinfectant smells, and I certainly wasn’t ready to explain to the nice woman with the paperwork why I should not be the one to sign any of the paperwork, because the cat wasn’t mine.
When it was over I went home and sat on my bed and sobbed for an hour because my cat was gone—except my cat wasn’t gone, he was sitting on the bed with me, patting my face with his paws. I had no toys to pick up and donate, no litter box to empty for the last time. Those things happened in another apartment that wasn’t mine and hadn’t been for a while. But I didn’t know what else to say, when I cancelled plans the next morning, except “My cat died.” Then I had to say, no, not Milo. He’s here, he’s fine. The other cat. Another cat. A cat I loved.
Later that week I read this New York Times piece about mourning the death of a pet. Surprise, science says that grief is grief, whether it stems from the loss of a friend or a parent or a pet or an aunt to whom you were particularly close. I am fortunate that most of my friends and co-workers are people who either understand what it means to lose a pet—no matter where that pet lived—or who are humane enough to refrain from judging another person’s grief, so I was spared the humiliation of having to apologize for the way I was feeling.
Which brings me to the most important thing I realized over the past twenty-six days, as I struggled to Be Okay In Public and to explain what had happened in the moments when I wasn’t okay: Grief is a sneaky motherfucker. It has zero regard for whatever we as a society have decided is “appropriate.” It will sucker-punch you in an elevator or on the F train. It doesn’t care who lived where or who saw whom last. You can’t stop it, you can only stare it down, and if someone you know is staring down grief, the greatest gift you can give is not asking that it be understood.