Monday, January 15, 2007

Letter of Resignation

I don't really know how to say this, so I'm just going to come right out with it: I quit.

I started this blog two years ago on the advice of a friend, who suggested that, because I love to write, I should get a blog, put what I have out there to be found. And, after much consideration and poking around at other people's blogs, I decided to go ahead and go for it. I didn't tell anyone I knew about it, I just kept it my little secret, a place where I could write every day, twice a day, or not at all. I was proud of myself for keeping it to myself, but when my first comment came, I couldn't contain my joy. I told my parents. And then some friends. And then my boss. And I started mentioning it in conversation. The more people who read it, the better, I reasoned.

I won't lie, a piece of me hoped to be one of those blogger-Cinderella stories, where someone would run across my page, see the genius between my lines, and offer me a multi-million dollar book deal. Obviously, the chances of that happening were slim, and as I let go of that possibility, I began to fall in love with the idea of blogging just for the sake of doing it. I met some incredible people, I enjoyed the feedback, I liked that it made me write regularly, something I'd failed to do sans blog.

But there was the bad side, too. Anonymous people who accused me of being self-centered and bitchy, judgemental and superficial. People who assaulted my character and my abilities and me. I've cried over comments, to my then-boyfriend, who didn't understand why some stupid comment made by some random person could get me so upset. Later on, I complained to Billy, too, that people could be so mean to me. "If you want to be a writer," he said matter-of-factly, "you're going to have to learn to take criticism. You're going to have to accept that not everyone is going to like you, or your writing." He had a point. And I thought "Okay, I'll toughen up."

But it's easier to steel yourself against the wrath of strangers who think they know you, than it is to prepare for the wrath of people you actually know.

Turns out, I'm too sensitive to steel myself for much of anything. I pour myself into the words here most times, and someone's misunderstanding of what I've written breaks my heart. I feel the need to explain it, to rectify the inadvertent wrong I've done. But sometimes explaining isn't enough when people feel that you've said something horrible about them. Even when you haven't.

So, some people in my real life, Billy included, stopped reading. I offended people I had no intention of offending. I cried over that, too. Because it's one thing when complete strangers hate what you write. It's another thing entirely when it's people who know you.

Having always been concious (or so I thought) of other people's feelings, I then started watching what I wrote more closely than ever. I went over each prospective post with a fine-toothed comb, trying to find ways - other than how I intended - that the post could be read. And I had to leave entire chapters of my life out of the blog because I knew I was only playing with fire to write about it. And, before I knew it, the blog just became fluff.

From time to time, after writing a really good post and hitting "Save as Draft" instead of "Publish," for fear that someone would be mad at me for talking about something that was completely benign in my book, I started to get bitter. Wait a second, isn't this supposed to be my blog? Shouldn't I be able to write about whatever I want to write about? It's about me. Shouldn't I have the option to talk about my life?

The answer, apparently, was no.

"That blog," I've said about a million times, "is more trouble than it's worth." I'd say that, and then briefly consider quitting. But I always came back to the fact that I love blogging. Love. It. It's the one thing I do for myself. The one thing that I truly enjoy. So I wouldn't quit, I'd just censor myself a little bit more. Try to move past worrying about what other people think and just write. And that would last about three days. Then I'd be right back to worrying again.

There are a handful of things I'm dying to write about, but can't. And those are the things that weigh heaviest on my mind, yet I can't write a single word about them. I'm not allowed. Not because I want to say anything nasty about anyone, but because there's bound to be one person out there who would find a way to be offended by it. So I struggle for something else, something less radical, to write about. And what am I left with? Posts about the fact that I have a cold.

That's not why I started this blog, and that's not why people read it. I started it and it was read because of posts in which I was completely honest about my neuroses, my insecurities, my fears, my life, my heart. And I stopped writing that way a long time ago. Not because of comments - I guess, in opening up your life on a blog, you're apt to get people who think they know you because they've read a handful of posts - but because of people I actually know who may, somehow, take offense to what I've written. Even though, nine times out of ten, I have no idea how that happens.

And now, almost EXACTLY two years after I began it, I'm realizing that I should've stayed anonymous. I should've refrained from telling anyone about it. I should've pretended I had no idea what a blog was. But it's too late, now. And I can't go back and change anything. Here I thought I was sharing a piece of me with everyone I told. I was wrong. No one took it that way. I guess the same way I've made every post relate to me, people who read it can just make it all about them. Even though it's not. It is about me. It was my blog, to write as I wish. But I lost that privelige.

So I quit.

I'm sick of making excuses for this blog. I'm sick of worrying that I've hurt someone's feelings by writing. I'm sick of not writing because I fear someone will find a way to be offended by it. I'm sick of writing, posting, and then removing things because all I do anymore is second-guess what I've written. I'm sick of staring at the same stupid post on the main page for days because I can't write anything else. I'm sick of not being allowed to write about parts of my life. I'm sick of all of it.

This blog was supposed to be about me. Not a tiny sliver of me, padded with safe anecdotes that didn't run the risk of offending anyone. It wasn't supposed to be about what other people thought. It wasn't supposed to foster worry and anger and embarrassment and fighting. It wasn't supposed to make me feel this way. I'm just sick and tired of making excuses for it, of explaining to every person in my real life who gets pissed at me over it, "It's not about YOU." Because it's not. It never has been. It's always been about ME. Selfish? Sure. But, if I'm not mistaken, this blog is mine. And I'm so tired of explaining that. I'm sick of writing while I'm worried about everyone else's feelings but my own. This was the one place I had in my life to not worry about that. Well, no longer. This blog is just as infested with my desire to make everyone happy as my day-to-day life is. Even now, writing this, I'm thinking about who will read this and think "She's talking about me." I'm not, okay? It's not about you. Whoever you are.

This decision wasn't spurred by a certain event. It's more a culmination of about a million things. But the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back came this morning, in which I found myself writing yet another email explaining myself. Before I even finished writing the fucking email, I just gave up. I can't bear to send out another letter, make another phone call, have another conversation in which I say "That's not how I meant it." I thought I was a clear writer, I thought the reader could surmise my point in what I'd written. Turns out that's not the case. (But, statistically, it seems that strangers get the point better than people who know me. Go figure.) And I just can't do it any more.

I've loved this so much. I've loved every person I met through this blog, every friendship I've fostered, every email conversation it initiated. But I just can't do this any more. It is more trouble than it's worth.

Thank you to everyone who has read what I've written. Thank you for being kind enough to write nice things in my comments section. Thank you for spending your time on my words. Thank you for sticking around.

It's been fun. And I will miss you terribly.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Under Pressure

After a long, drawn out conversation, some tears, some fighting words, some debating and some pleading on both parts, Billy and I finally agreed to get married in fourteen years. It was a compromise between our two very different views on the subject: Me, wanting to get married STAT, and him wanting to get married never. He chose the time frame, not me. I don't know that he based it on anything specific, only that it seemed to be pretty fair middle ground between "Now" and "Never."

Since our agreement, since the day he sighed, slouched in defeat and said, "If it will make you happy, we can get married...In fourteen years," things on the marriage front have been quiet. I know it's going to happen, and I know I needn't bother myself with questions of when or how he will propose until roughly 12 and half years from now. It relaxed my tightly-wound neuroses of "he loves me, he loves me not," knowing that a man who never bends went ahead and got flexible enough to keep our relationship alive. It's all about compromise. I give up being a young bride, he gives up indefinite bachelorhood. It's fair.

It also makes discussing the future easier. I feared that, in finding yet another man who never wanted to enter a state of Holy Matrimony, I gave up the ability to wish, out loud, for my wedding. To be called a missus. To use "When we get married" in conversation. But now that it's out there, now that an agreement has been reached, I can use it whenever I want.

"Thirteen and a half years left!" I say whenever the subject of marriage comes up. He rolls his eyes and laughs, then does the math in his head.

"I believe it's thirteen years and EIGHT MONTHS," he'll say in a know-it-all-voice. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves." And then he laughs and kisses my forehead and I feel at ease. I know where we're headed, and how long it's going to take to get there. He may never have been on the freeway of love this long, but damnit if he hasn't gone ahead and put it on cruise control. Because we ain't stoppin. Whether he likes it or not.

Yet the time remaining until our nuptials is always up for debate. It's a constant source of mock-debate and mock-anger, the perfect segue into a wrasslin' match that finds us worn out after too much time trying to pin each other down while giggling profusely. And, while I'm satisfied with where we are and where we're going, I still like to bring it up. And I'll always say the time remaining is a little shorter than it is, he'll maintain it's a bit longer. It's become a little joke between us, the constant disparity between his timeline and mine.

And so, to settle any dispute, I found a countdown clock online that could be customized to whatever date, whatever event you wish. While Billy sat in the living room watching some bird documentary, I went ahead and made a little countdown clock of my own. Big bold letters on a bright pink background read "You are cordially invited to the wedding of Laurie and Billy in..." And below that title, time ticked away. Five thousand days, fourteen hours, thirty-two minutes and 10, 9, 8, 7... seconds until we were pronounced Man and Wife. I laughed diabolically as I created it, pleased with myself and how hilarious it was.

"Biiiillllyyyy," I sang through the house. "Cooomeee hheeeeerreee..."

And, oblivious to what I was doing on the computer, he lumbered into the room and sat down next to me. "Look!" I commanded, smiling from ear to ear.

He started to look a little pale as he took it in, then looked at me with are you serious knitted into his eyebrows. I kept giggling. "Isn't it wonderful?" I said, bringing my clasped hands up to the side of my titled face, my tone and demeanor hyper-romantic and dreamy, like a character from some 1950s romance movie.

"Five thousand days?" He said, shaking his head. He sucked in air through his teeth. "That's pretty close. We'd better push it back."

I stopped laughing, and gave him my pseudo-angry face. He laughed at my reaction, and I resumed laughing to myself as he meandered back into the living room to continue his television watching.

My giggles slowed to a stop as I closed out the page and, with it, the countdown to our wedding.

A few days later, getting ready for work together, we were listening to a radio show in which the DJs were discussing people who date forever and then get married, and how those marriages never work because, and I quote, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Billy shot me a knowing look, and I shot him back a "Whatever. Don't think these douchebags are going to convince me that we shouldn't get married. You have to come up with something better than that" look.

While he brushed his teeth, the DJs took a call from a man who declared that he proposed to his wife after ten years only because he felt pressured; that he wouldn't have gotten married if not for her constant pressure. So he broke down and did it. Against his will.

I looked at Billy in the mirror, under the wand I was using to apply mascara. "I don't pressure you," I said matter-of-factly. I finished my mascara application and screwed the tube closed. "You're lucky."

He spit his toothpaste into the sink and looked at me, a look of shock and disgust on his face. "Countdown clock," was all he said.

I laughed as I tossed all of my makeup into its bag. "That was a joke, not pressure. If it were pressure, I'd have made it so that it popped up every time you turned on the computer or something. But I didn't. I just made it, showed you, and deleted it. See? I'm awesome."

"Riiight," he said, eyeing me suspiciously.

"Oh trust me, babe. Make no mistake, when I start pressuring you, you'll know it. You've got about 4,000 days until I really kick it into high gear."

I think he started to argue, but he passed out. All that marriage talk was just too much for him.

But, no matter. He's got five thousand days to get used to the idea.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I have a cold. It started yesterday with a tightness in my throat, then became an inability to clear said throat. Then it became a full-body exhaustion, which rendered me completely useless from two in the afternoon on. I cancelled plans with my little brother so that I could lay in bed and feel sorry for myself and possibly nap. I couldn't sleep, but that didn't keep me from just laying there all night.

Today, I woke up to find someone apparently replaced my esophagus with sandpaper. It feels great. I feel like that kid in the Chloraseptic commercial when I was a wee one: "It'll hurt if I swallow, it'll hurt if I swallow, it'll hurt if I...MOOOOMMMMYYYYY!!!!"

Having a cold has the following effect on my life:
  • I stop going to the gym, because I'm always looking for a valid excuse to not go, for some reason. Even though I pay a monthly fee and want to be tight and toned, I'm ecstatic when I think of an actual reason (besides sheer laziness) to not go. The Cold Excuse is brilliant because it works on so many levels. One, the "I can't breathe right *cough cough* and I'm severely uncomfortable working out in this state" angle. Two, the "Coughing and sniffling make me run out of breath faster, so I can't keep up with the class" angle. And the third, but most undisputable, angle: "If I'm sick, and I go to the gym, I could get everyone else sick. And I don't want to do that. I'm really not going for you, my fellow gym patron." See? I'm so altruistic. So there's that.
  • But while I'm not going to the gym, I'm busy eating everything in sight. It's easy to convince myself that it's okay to eat those dozen chicken wings, and that tub of Ben & Jerry's when I'm saying, "Feed a cold, starve a fever! I need calories to fight off this sickness! Calories, calories, CALORIES! Hey, are you going to finish that beef jerky? Can I have it? What about that chocolate bar? And, do you know what would be really great? SALSA!" And I can't get full. So I just keep going. And I don't feel guilty until the morning after, when I go to get in the shower and realize that my gut cannot be sucked in. Whoops. So then I vow to go to the gym. And then I realize I don't have to! I have a free pass! I have a cold!
  • I can't write. Nothing good, anyway. I spent the better part of yesterday trying to get this intricate web of parallels between Billy and this show we watched into a coherent post, but to no avail. Instead, I wound up with a disjointed three pages of gibberish. My words were flat and boring, my thoughts just jumped around all over the place. There was no unity to the damn thing. Unless you were actually inside of my head and knew what I was going for, there was no way you'd understand it. So I just saved it and I'll go back to it later, when I don't feel like curling up under my desk for a nap.
  • I cry. I cried last night because I cancelled plans with my brother. And then I cried while watching Patriot Act: A Jeffrey Ross Movie, because all of those comedians went Iraq to see the troops. And I love the troops.
  • I'm irritable. I was grouchy because A) Billy put his cold hand on my bloated belly, B) he wouldn't let me get up to eat and C) he layed almost directly on top of me when we got to bed. Normally, I love all of these things, but my fuse was so short, and my desire to be touched so minimal, that I just sort of panicked and got away from him as quickly as I could. It's a good thing he loves me. A lesser person would get mad at me for it.
  • I'm mushy. Because, even though I was irritated, it made me all soft and squishy to think about the fact that, even with puffy eyes, scratchy throat, runny nose and a generally bad attitude, Billy loves me enough to still touch me and take care of me.
  • I also revert to childhood. I'm whiny and needy. Luckily, Billy's the same way when he's sick. So we understand each other.
  • Where did this become a post about Billy?
  • I need to sleep.

So, anyway, yeah. I have a cold. I want to post something worth reading, but I'm just not up to it. As soon as I start writing, my brain just veers off in another direction (see above). So I can't be trusted with a keyboard and blank post page. I just can't. There's no telling what I'll write about.

I'll write something when I can think clearly and stare at a screen without zoning out and coming to five minutes later, wondering what I was doing in the first place.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Because I can't write about anything else right now, how about this?! I found this meme at Temporary Madness a while ago, and was saving it for just such an occasion.

If Your Life Was A Movie:

Here’s how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Play, iPod, etc.)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that’s playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don’t lie and try to pretend you’re cool.

Opening Credits:
Nuthin' But a G Thang - Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg

Waking Up:
We Belong - Pat Benetar

First Day of School:
Blessed - Martina McBride

Falling In Love:
Cheating Man - Anthony David

Sex Scene:
Enough Cryin' - Mary J. Blige

Fight Song:
Something Happened on the Way to Heaven - Deborah Cox

Breaking Up:
Catalyst - Anna Nalick

Gasolina - Daddy Yankee

Don't Dream it's Over - Crowded House

Mental Breakdown:
Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood

She Is - The Fray

Try a Little Tenderness - Otis Redding

Getting Back Together:
Just Friends - Musiq

Lucille - Anthony Hamilton

Birth of A Child:
I Give, You Take - Maria

Final Battle:
Last Call - Kanye West

Death Scene:
Platinum Blonde Life - No Doubt

I'd buy that soundtrack....Even if most of those songs have absolutely nothing to do with the scene it's attached to.

And, while we're on the topic of music, can I just say that someone really needs to get me away from iTunes? Seriously. I'm going to go broke. I don't even want to tell you how much money I've spent on songs so far. And let us not forget that I still have a three whole books, a bag and a moving box full of CDs that I need to import into iTunes. My iPod, in case you don't know, only holds 500 songs - my iTunes has, right now, at least double that currently stored. This makes for quite the precarious situation. Because I have a really hard time deciding which songs have to be cut from my bulging list. Granted, all of those songs are stored on my computer, and I can add or remove songs whenever I like, but still: What if I'm driving down the road and I have a sudden urge to hear Kelis' Milkshake (a song I removed because it continued to come up on the shuffle, and each time it began, I hit next before I get through even five seconds)? Huh? What then? I mean, I doubt it, but the chance is there. Just today, I bought eight songs and a whole album. And the only reason I stopped at that was because I had laundry to do and I got distracted. So far, I've listened to all of those songs all day long. But now I'm back at my computer, and I can't be trusted. iTunes is right there, just begging me to buy more songs.

That being said, if I ever had to actually plot out a soundtrack to my life, it would be a boxed set of, oh, about A MILLION CDs. Let's be glad I was limited to the categories as instructed by the meme.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I Want Candy

“I read your blog,” said my fellow gym-member yesterday as we each wiggled into our respective gym clothes in the locker room.

My eyes went wide as I tied my new sneakers. “Oh yeah?” I said as I searched my brain for anything possibly offensive I may have written. It’s my standard reaction anytime I hear that someone I know in real life has found my piece of the internet.

“I think my favorite line,” she said, pulling her shirt over her head, “was ‘the sight of [Billy] walking into a room is followed immediately by the sound of hundreds of panties falling to the floor.’” We both laughed. “What is he, made of chocolate or something?”

“To me he is.”

She zipped up her bag and tossed it on the floor. “You are so in love, it’s disgusting.”

“I know.”

It’s true. I am. It is disgusting. But I can’t help it. In fact, I’m so in love with that man that I spent the better part of yesterday being mad because he chose to spend the previous night playing video games instead of hanging out with me. Because that’s totally justified, right? Being mad because your boyfriend – who spends approximately 98.76% of his very sparse free time with you – decided to actually spend a little bit of that free time on himself?

I thought so – because I needed him, and he chose PS2. That, to me, was reason enough to get all salty and bent out of shape. I relayed my woes to my mother via email, and was met with a response that went a little something like this: Oh, STOP it. He deserves time with himself or his friends. Stop acting like a spoiled kid.

That’s the abridged version of what she wrote, but it really gets the point across. It’s true, I was acting like a brat who didn’t get her way and, therefore, decided to throw a tantrum. And I was totally out of line. And I knew that, even while I was sticking out my lower lip and threatening to stomp my feet. But it didn’t make me any more agreeable.

My reasons, though arguable, all boil down to me loving him. Because, when he’s home, I want to be with him. It doesn’t matter that we’ve spent the last three days attached at the hip, that we spent the better part of his New Year’s Day birthday in bed. It doesn’t matter that we live together, that we talk during the day, that I’ll see him tomorrow. The only thing that matters is that the time he’s choosing to spend a floor away from me is time we could be spending together. And I want to spend it together: Why doesn’t he?

What’s hard to remember is that he works so much. And while I’m visiting my friends, driving around by myself, shopping alone, doing laundry, tooling around on the internet, going to the gym, seeing my family, he’s at work. While I’m marinating in alone time, he’s at work. While I’m fulfilling social obligations, he’s at work. And I’m getting everything I need to get done out of the way before he even thinks about getting in the car to head home. So it’s hard to remember that those things, for him, still need to be tended to: The time with friends, family, himself. The way I see it, from my selfish vantage point, those things have been taken care of already, and I’ve been saving up my day, just waiting, with baited breath and expectant eyes, for him to come home so I can see him.

And, if I had the choice, I’d spend my every second with him. I’d talk to him until his ears bled, until my vocal chords wore thin and snapped. Because I want to share all of me with him: From the start of my day to the fuzzy end. I want him to know it all. And I want him to want to know it all.

And, usually, he does. But, sometimes, he just wants to relax. He wants to spend most of his time with me, but sometimes, he needs time alone. And I know it, I do.

But it’s hard to remember that when I get giddy with the sound of his footsteps downstairs; When all I want to do is curl up in his tired, warm arms. I’m childish in my excitement to see him, so why wouldn’t I be childish in my reaction to not seeing him?

So, yeah, he must be made of chocolate.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year

So I guess this is the post where I'm supposed to talk about all of the resolutions I'll be making for the year 2007. I'm supposed to say that I'm going to be a better friend and eat less and work out more and keep my priorities in check; Love more, worry less, be more willing to take chances, be less uptight; be more accepting of change, stop clinging to my routines. I'd love to write all of those things, but I'd love even more to write them and actually have an intention of following through. Sadly, I know I won't.

I never stick to my resolutions. Never. In fact, I don't even make them anymore. Because, by January 3rd, I can hardly even remember what I'd resolved. So I give up. No resolutions for me.

And, anyway, I don't feel like this year is a fresh start. It seems that, the older I get, one year just bleeds into the next without me noticing. I don't feel brand new, I don't feel on the verge of change. I feel like me, except that now I have to pay special attention when I write out checks to ensure I don't accidentally write "06." That's the only real change I feel.

Maybe I'm just not in the right frame of mind: Maybe I'm just too comfortable in the way things are right now. It's just the general feeling of quaint similarity that clings to me that keeps me from shouting about change. I've been desperate to escape '06 since June, when each visit I made to the doctors office just brought more bad news. And I was even more desperate to escape it when our house was robbed, when my cat died. But I pushed through December with some good stories, and a handful of heavy experience. I felt the love of the friends who were there for me when I needed them, felt the absence of the others. I found a new appreciation for my family, and for my boyfriend.

Last year was a thick mix of good and bad.

Standing on this cliff that is January, I don't see a whole lot of change or possibility ahead of me. While I see more doctor's appointments, I also see the same few friends I've always had, the same incredible family, the same amazing boyfriend. I see that I'll still care too much what people think about me, I'll want too desperately to be liked. I see that I'll continue to be burned by certain people, and continue to be soothed by others. I see that I'll never learn, that I'll be too trusting even when I know I shouldn't be. I see myself stressing out over nothing; I see myself freaking out over the smallest things. I see all of it because that's just who I am. And making some proclamation at 12:01 on January first will never change that. I'll always care. I'll always worry. I'll always want to make other people happy, comfortable. I'll always bend over backwards to do that, and I'll always wind up only turning myself into someone's whipping girl to ensure their comfort. But, too, I'll always have that family, that boyfriend, those friends. And they love me because of - or in spite of - my idiosyncrasies, my neuroses. Because I do have a good heart and always the best of intentions. Because I'm not malicious or hurtful. Because I'm genuine and overly sensitive and overly analytical. Because that's who I am. And I don't need to resolve anything to make me more me.

The better me is in the works every day, every year. I don't need January 1st to make me look at myself with a critical eye.

This year, I traded wishes for a happy new year with my mom via cell phone, and missed my family when the clock struck midnight. But I slid from 2006 into 2007 with the man I love, and with some really incredible people. I was happy as I left the party in the wee hours of the new year. Happy with my life, the people I love, me. And that's really all that matters, isn't it?

Happy New Year. May this one be as interesting as the last.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

"It Costs A Lot of Money to Ride This Train."

After holding one massive "I have no friends, I'm bored, I have nothing to do" pity party for myself on Wednesday and spending 100% of my day in my house, mostly in my bedroom, Billy insisted that, on Thursday, I get the eff out of my house. "Do something," he said, as he buttoned up his shirt for work.

"Like WHAT?" I whined from my spot in the bed. The same spot, incidentally, that I'd been in since the day prior. "There's nothing to do."

"We're an hour away from New York City," he insisted. "Go to the city for the day. Have lunch in some hole-in-the-wall cafe. Or walk around. But you have to get out of this house today."

I rolled my eyes and sighed. "I don't know my way around the City. I'm not going there."

And as soon as I uttered that sentence, my little brother's car pulled up in our driveway. Having the week off of school and days of nothing to do, too, he'd come to see if I'd like to go with him to get his oil changed. I told him no, but that if he gave me an hour to get ready, we'd go get lunch or something. As he drove back down our driveway, Billy looked at me with a face that had inspiration all over it.

"Take your brother," he instructed. "Go to the city with your brother; you'll get to spend time with him and you'll get out of the house and actually do something."

"He doesn't know his way around the city either," I protested.

"It's a grid pattern. You guys will figure it out."

"I don't think so," I said. "But I'll go to Middletown with him and get some lunch or something."

"Fine," he replied, tightening his tie, figuring the battle was lost.

But as soon as he left the house, I called Chase. "We're going on an adventure," said into the receiver.

"To where?"

"I'll tell you later," I said.

And two hours later, we were at Garrison Train Station, waiting for the New York City bound Metro North train.

That's Chase at Garrison's platform, captured via my camera phone; because, in all of my excitement to go on an "adventure," I forgot my camera. Brilliant. I didn't think of it until we were sitting there, listening to the sizzle of the tracks that preceded the train's arrival. So, quickly, I cleaned out all of the random shots I've captured on my phone in the past few months so that I'd have enough space to catch the city in the tiny memory my phone affords.

I was excited. And not just because Chase was tickling my chin like a little puppy. But because it did feel kind of adventurous for me. Being on a train on a random Thursday, speeding toward one of the biggest cities in the world. I mean, sure, we had no plan, no directions, no specific landmarks to visit; Sure, we were totally flying by the seat of our pants, unsure of what we would do once we came to Grand Central...But, still. That was the very definition of adventurous. Right?

It was Chase's first time on the train, and also his first time going to the City on a trip that wasn't a field trip for high school or on an outing with my mom's coworkers. I've been on the train many times before, but always going to meet someone who knew where they were going. So it was a big deal for the both of us. But, he was pretty unsure of what to do with himself and the tickets and so forth. So I bought his ticket and handed it to him, told him not to lose it, and to give it to the ticket guy when he came around. "That's it?" he said after it'd been punched and given back to him. "Well, yeah. Because that's your return ticket, too. So don't lose it."

We were talking about how they must change hole-punches every day to make sure people don't get all sneaky and try reusing their tickets. We concluded that that particular day must've been "Cock and Balls" Hole Punch Day:

See that? Right under the "O" for "Off-peak?" Totally inappropriate, if you ask us.

Before we got on the train, Chase bought some Cheez-Its. He LOVES Cheez-Its.

But they don't love him. They get stuck in his teeth. So he takes the classy route and digs all the way into his mouth to retrieve those stubborn bits. He makes me so proud.

Excitement was mounting as we got closer to the city. I took this picture through the window. Chase insisted it wouldn't come out. This proves him wrong and, thus, pleases me greatly.

An hour after boarding the train, the train whined to a stop, we stood up, minded the gap, and exited the train. We walked through Grand Central and walked outside to this view.

"We're in the city!" I said to Chase, just as geeky and overly-exuberant as that exclamation point implies.

"Uh, yeah. We are," he replied, totally not as excited as I was. He just didn't get my excitement.

Maybe because he somehow knew this was what awaited us. People on top of people on top of people, all moving in different directions, stuffed into sidewalks meant for half of the tourists currently stomping along. Oh yeah, and that pesky bit about having no idea of what we wanted to do or how we were going to get there. Let's not forget that part.

When faced with indecision, my first and best reaction is to drink. "Let's find a bar," I said.

Two glasses of wine (me), a round of soda and hiccups (Chase), and an bitchy remark made (by me, to the table of two touristy girls right next to us. Whoops.) later, I had an idea.

"What do you think about going to see the tree at Rockefeller Center?" I asked Chase.

"Sure," he said. "But how do we get there???" He was irritated by the fact that I was distracted by every makeup and shoe store on every street.

"I have no idea," I admitted. So we just walked. Down this street, up that one, over here, across there. And, there in the distance, I saw a beacon of hope:

"OH!" I cried. "LOOK! MACY'S!" So we headed in the direction of the glowing snowflakes that stretched all the way up and down the facade of the building. "We can look at the windows, too!" I said, dragging Chase in the direction of the lights, drawn to them like every girl is drawn to big, sparkly things.

On the way, I made Chase stop into Sephora with me. An experience that he claims was boring, but I think he secretly enjoyed. I mean, c'mon, what twenty-year-old guy doesn't love being in a huge room, positively packed with people, with nothing to see but makeup! Seriously.

After my purchase, we got back onto the street at continued toward the department store I kept referring to as "Macy's."

At this point, anyone who knows the city, or at least the landmark/holiday decoration part of the city knows that the building that caught my eye was not, in fact, Macy's, but Sak's Fifth Avenue. The classy, high-end store that decorates its windows every holiday season. It's famous for its window decoration, and, being directly across the street from the tree, draws thousands of people daily to look at it. And I thought it was Macy's. Because when Chase said he wanted to buy a coat, I suggested that we could "go to Macy's" to get one for him. I still thought it was Macy's as we fought through a pulsating crowd to get to the door. I thought it was Macy's even as we entered, failing to pay attention to the BIG SIGN on the door I was opening that claimed "Saks Fifth Avenue." I thought it was Macy's as we walked through the clogged store, Gucci and Prada and Fendi name brands jumping off of the walls at me. I still thought it was Macy's as my eyes glowed with excitement over the fancy name brands I love so much but cannot afford. I thought it was Macy's as I looked at $400 sunglasses. I thought it was Macy's even as we made our way past all of the shoppers carrying Saks Fifth Avenue bags. I thought it was Macy's even as we made our way to the back of the first floor to the elevators.

All of these people knew they were in Saks. I did not.

Chase knew we were in Saks, too. Even though I continued to refer to it as Macy's. See that smug look on his face? I think he was enjoying my ingnorance. He's very mean-spirited sometimes. Jerk.

Even as I took this picture for Billy, to show him that they carried one of his favorite tie-designers - ties that cost well over one hundred dollars each - it still did not occur to me that they do not carry Ike Behar ties in Macy's. I know this because I buy ties for Billy all the time in Macy's, and Ike has never been one of them. I just figured, "Hey, we're in the city. Everything's a little bit more expensive, a little bit more name brand driven here. That's all." Also, I'm pretty dense.

It was only after we were out of the building that I realized that - aha! - we were in Saks not Macy's!

"Uuuhh, yeeeeah," Chase said, drawing his words out, the emphasis on my stupidity. "What was your first clue? Maybe the sign on the door that said Saks?"

See? Mean.

So we watched the snowflakes dance around on the building, to the tune of "Carol of the Bells," and then turned around to see The Tree.

Even from across the street, it looked huge and gorgeous. The picture doesn't do it justice, but it was spectacular. I've only seen the tree once before, on a trek into the city about three years ago that found me so drunk that I don't remember half of the evening. Apparently, I embarrassed myself, my boyfriend, and his aunt and uncle, and spent the better part of the next day apologizing to my boyfriend for it. But that's another story for another time.

We wanted to get closer to the tree, but the crowd was just too much to bear. There were, oh, about nine gajillion people all clamoring for an up-close look at the tree. So we decided, in unison, "Fuck it," and just continued walking. Before we knew it, we were actually right next to the tree.
But there was no time to linger, as we were being pushed by a throbbing mass of people, all fighting to either get closer to or away from the very tree whose presence we were admiring.
Chase was adorable, constantly apologizing to each person he brushed or bumped into. He kept saying "Excuse me," and "I'm sorry," making a point to let each person know he didn't mean to hit them.

"You don't have to do that," I said as I plowed over a small child. "We're in the city. People are expected to be rude here."

"I can't do that," he said. "I'm too polite."

Indeed he is. He gives me hope for the future generations.

And after taking in Saks Fifth Avenue (Not Macy's) and the tree, eating a hot dog from a street vendor, and stopping in about a million shoe stores, we decided to head home.

That's me, walking through Grand Central, toward the track that would take us home. I was ready to go, but a little sad that our day was coming to an end.

We said goodbye to Grand Central in stereotypical geeky tourist fashion: Taking a picture. But I did it quickly in hopes no one would see the Girl from Pennsylvania doing what every other non-New Yorker does, taking that damn picture. But I'm sure someone saw it. I'm still a little embarrassed.

But I was tired, too. See it in my eye?

See how exhausted it looks?

My extreme fatigue was also due, in part, to my poor choice of footwear.

For me, for some reason, the desire to look fashionable/classy/sexy always - and I do mean always - wins out over comfort and sensibility. And intelligence, for that matter. Because, let's face it, it's not particularly smart to wear three-and-a-half inch heels to a destination that is no doubt going to entail no less than two hours of walking. But I was a trooper, if I do say so myself. Sure, I did make Chase sit in an Aerosoles store - a store that I've never ever gone into before, but whose name at that point sang to me like a chorus of a thousand angels, the foot-comfort implied in its very name - so that I could perhaps buy a pair of less painful shoes. It was a labor that yielded no fruit for either of us. They didn't have my size in the one pair of reasonably attractive shoes I could find (though, Lord, those were like walking on air!), and so I left empty handed, while Chase was just traumatized over being so bored that he actually gave in to my pleas for him to tell me what he thought of each shoe I tried on. And he even held my purse. He was that bored.
That's normally his reaction to shoe shopping.

Not only was he polite enough to apologize to the strangers whose sides he swiped, but he did NOT lose his return ticket.

As we waited for our 7:51 train to take off, we watched other passengers pile on, and listened to the conductor as he made announcements over the in-train speakers:

"Attention: This is the 7:51, Poughkeepsie-bound train, with stops at Croton-Harmon, Peekskill and Garrison. It does not stop at Yonkers. THIS IS A PEAK HOUR TRAIN. If you have an off-peak ticket, you will be required to pay the difference between peak and off-peak fares. It is more money to ride this train. All transactions are CASH ONLY. Tickets purchased on the train are a lot more expensive than tickets purchased at the station. It costs a lot of money to ride this train."

How right you are, Mr. Conductor. In the five hours from purchasing the tickets to sitting on that train, I'd spent over a hundred dollars. Between the tickets and the wine and the appetizer we ordered, and the makeup, and the snacks, and lunch, I'd racked up a pretty hefty debt. Thank God, though, I'd had enough foresight to purchase an off-peak/peak ticket. At least I'd be saving the three dollars or whatever it would've cost to upgrade.

But, hey, thanks for reminding me about all the money I did spend, Conductor Man.

And we were on our way home. We were really starting to get tired. Luckily, we had the foresight to stop by Starbuck's in Grand Central.

Chase enjoyed his drink.

But his strange way of drinking it made me think he'd never had one before.

Either that or it was so delicious he wanted each and every morsel he could get out of that damn cup.

That being our last treat for the day, we settled in to say goodbye to the city.

Clearly, I'm exhausted. You can tell by both my heavy hand (as evidenced by the lazy waving), and the quite shocking bags beneath my eyes. There just is not a flattering picture to be taken when you've been walking around New York City, for even a couple of hours.

So, yes, I was tired. And broke. And ready to go home. But I was just so happy, too. Not because I got out of Milford and into the city. And not because I'd gone on an adventure. But because I was with my little brother, who managed to make me laugh more in one afternoon than I laugh in an average week. Because he's just so polite and wonderful and so much fun to be around. Because I just love that boy so damn much that it hurts sometimes. Because, ten years ago, this sort of thing - an afternoon we voluntarily shared with just one another - would never have happened. Because we've come a long way from name-calling and physical fights. Because I had such a good time. Not because we did anything amazing - just because it was us. What we did was little more than we would've done had we gone to the shopping mall half an hour away from our house. It was different and it was nice, but the incredible feeling I had about the day had nothing to do with the location, it was all Chase.

I didn't want it to end. But, as the train pulled into Garrison, it did.

"Bye-bye, New York City," Chase said, in the weepy and childish voice he usually reserves for getting me to do something I don't want to do. And then the threw a rolled up gum wrapper at me and hit me right between the eyes. Thereby sucking all of the adorableness out of the moment. Typical.

We spent the whole ride home making each other laugh and, like two eight-year-olds, throwing things at one another in true brother-and-sister fashion.

It would be cheesy to say it was a wonderful day, so I won't say that. But I will say that I can't remember the last time I had that much fun doing nothing.