20 April 2009


The snow flowed freely this weekend.  The weather was beautiful, and yet the snow (metaphorically) flowed, and it was simple and gorgeous.  Now it's time to put that snow globe back on the shelf, which is always difficult.  It was a beautiful beautiful weekend, full of markets, dogwood blossoms, pastel-painted houses, curved lines, heart-shaped sunglasses, shared salads, french toast, inside jokes, rooftop wine, waterfront photos, hands, soul kisses, perfectly tart lemonade, but most of all, understanding.  It was perfect, and not complicated, and it's always hard to snap back to reality after perfection.  

16 April 2009

deep breath

Too much melodrama.  Right now I'm collapsed on the couch in a state of torpor, watching the #1 mindless movie of all time: John Tucker Must Die.  I need to relax and quit feeling guilty.  I think I may deserve more than I've settled for.  When my to-do list is a mile long and none of those items is remotely satisfying, how do I take care of myself?  This blog is not meant to be a pity party.  I need to revise my original purpose: searching for beauty in the smallest of places.
And I need to tell myself this:
(both photos from here)

15 April 2009

Brutal honesty (heart on my sleeve)

Exbf is coming to visit this weekend, and I suddenly find myself being terrified by the eventuality, by the possibility and lack of possibility.  The rational side of me knows that this shouldn't be an issue anymore.  We both have our separate lives, and in the end, he couldn't give me what I needed.  Correction: he couldn't give me what I deserved, which was affection without trepidation.  But the thing about love is, even though you're no longer "in love" with someone anymore, unless there was some sort of blow-up knock-down drag-out fight, love is like energy.  It can't be destroyed, it just changes forms (meaning that in its many incarnations, it's bound to touch back on its original form or to trick you into believing it, at least for a weekend).
I sometimes feel like our life together is like a snowglobe: most of the time, it is sitting on a shelf, a placid souvenir, but occasionally (namely, when we get together and I convince him to leave behind his logical side) we take it off the shelf and shake it.  It's gorgeous, but it's anything but calm.  
I want to shake up the snowglobe this weekend-- but the thing is, I don't want to be left with the aftermath of sadness and loneliness, nor do I want his logic to kick in and lead him to say, "Hmm, maybe we just should let it be.  It looks so nice just sitting there, and we wouldn't want to spoil the arrangement."  That would be humiliating for me, and I don't know why.
In the end, it's still so frustrating to me to know that I am not yet at that point where I can make myself happy on my own.  I just want him to tell me I'm beautiful and for us to be able to go back in time, even if it's just for a weekend, so that I can feel wanted, so that my mind can be erased of all stresses and so that love will be the only item on my agenda.  I want kisses on my eyelids and and escape to simplicity, even if it is not the best choice...Sometimes you just need to be held by someone who matters.

Why am I frightened?  Why am I trembling?  Both the possibility and the impossibility are too much to bear...
"Hold your breath, because tonight will be the night that I will fall for you, over again...
Don't make me change my mind."
"Oh you are in my blood like holy wine
Oh and you taste so bitter but you taste so sweet
I could drink a case of you, darling
 And I would still be on my feet."

"Songs are like tattoos
You know I've been to sea before..."

11 April 2009

Dear me

(typewritten wisdom from here)

Dear me,

Despite what your mother says, and despite your confusion in the moment, and despite some very catty girls who have been a waste of your time for far too long, you have a shimmer inside you that radiates from here to Alaska (the people all call her Alaska...). You are beautiful, and your life is bound to catch up sooner rather than later.


Photo from here

09 April 2009

And while we're on the subject of pop-culture...

I used to watch Gossip Girl. There, I said it. Not only did I used to watch Gossip Girl, but I adore Blair Waldorf and her enormous headbands. In fact, I dressed up as Blair Waldorf for Halloween. I also have an incredible crush on Dan Humphrey of the first season, back when he was not a sell-out to the rich kids, was a writer, listened to "New York I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down," and wore argyle cardigans. I even considered buying a similar argyle cardigan in case a future boyfriend should end up being as sensitive, astute, and artistic as Dan Humphrey.
That said...DAN HUMPHREY DOES NOT EXIST. At least not in teenage boys, and definitely not in twenty-something yuppies who live in Washington, DC. In fact, the sensitive artistic community does not seem to exist in Washington, DC, or at least I have not discovered it. I am reminded of a genius comment that I read on New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer Blog last year:
"A word about Dan. We've said this before, and we're going to elaborate now: No teenage boys are like Dan. Teenage boys are not quick-witted enough to make the right joke at the right time. They are not sensitive or unself-conscious enough to sit in the hallway with your bitch best friend and console her when she's having a hard time. They do not have values, or make "bold gestures." Nor are their jaws chiseled, their clothes artfully, sexily ruffled, their brown eyes deep and searching as they lock onto yours and tell you, "Just for the record, I like you." The generation of tweens watching Gossip Girl, take note: Dan is your Jake Ryan, and believing that guys like this exist can ruin your life."
Unfortunately, it is quite true. I remember my first viewing of Sixteen Candles in high school. Jake Ryan became my obsession-- he fell for the everygirl! Not only was she the everygirl, but she was awkward, she was a late bloomer, she was painfully filled with angst and unrequited love...and he rescued her from all of that. Jake Ryan may have been the cause of my "rescue me" complex and, subsequently, all of the disastrous relationships I've had over the years. Not only have I been waiting for Jake Ryan (albeit a slightly more emo version), but I have been waiting for a Prince Charming to rescue me, the mousy princess, from my emotions. (NOTE: I now realize how ridiculous this is, so take my self-deprecating tone into consideration, and do not think that I have terribly low self-esteem). For a while, I even believed that Michael Schoeffling, the actor who plays Jake, really was Jake, despite the fact that he became a carpenter living in Pennsylvania or something to that effect. I even named our children-- Kate, Julianna, and Benjamin.
Now, don't get me wrong-- I still wish for a Jake Ryan/Dan Humphrey hybrid to hop into my life and serenade me with a combination of the Thompson Twins and Death Cab for Cutie. At least Dan Humphrey is a bit more believable than Jake Ryan. However, holding out hope for perfection (and men who don't exist) is only going to lead down a road to heartbreak. Imperfection is far more interesting, even though it is messy. Still, I cannot help hoping that one day (soon, please, soon) I will meet a guy with mussed dark curls, a writer's notebook, a dog-eared copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald's short stories in his back pocket, a slow sensitive smile, and yes, an argyle cardigan-- which is, after all, the modern equivalent of Jake Ryan's sweater vest.
Real Men Can't Hold a Match to Jake Ryan of 'Sixteen Candles'
(The Washington Post | February 14, 2004)
By Hank Stuever

Listen to all the Thompson Twins songs you want, but let's finally admit that Jake Ryan from "Sixteen Candles" is never coming to get you.

Not in the red Porsche 944, and not wearing that Fair Isle sweater vest. Not with his shiny black hair moussed gently heavenward, not with his gooey brown eyes and square Matt Dillonesque jaw. He will not be standing there with his hands in the pockets of his 501 button-fly jeans (while leaning against said Porsche), and he will not be shyly waving at you from across the street. ("Yeah, you," he mouths, just as in the movie, after you look behind you to see what girl he could possibly be interested in.)

Let's be even more clear: Popular high school seniors don't dump their cheerleader girlfriends with great bods so they can ask out a sophomore girl nobody notices. Jake did not actually do this, because he is not real.

This last fact has not stopped many, many women (and not a few men on the refreshment committee) from wishing there was such a thing as Jake Ryan.

Jake Ryan, Jake Ryan, Jake Ryan. Write his name in loopy cursive on a piece of loose-leaf notebook paper and pass it on. Even though it has been two decades since the release of John Hughes's high school comedy "Sixteen Candles," there are women out there in their late-twenties to mid-thirties (and even younger, including teenage girls today who weren't even around in that era) who to this day are still pining for a fictional character, the perfect high school crush.

"Jake Ryan? He's only the most popular boy in school," goes a line from the movie. The simple utterance of his name is enough to add salt to the wound of Valentine's Day.

"He's the whole package," says Andrea Danyo, 28, who does public relations work for National Public Radio. "Even just the name has become something. I swoon when I hear it. . . . For just about all of my friends, 'Jake Ryan' is a given moniker for the ideal boy, as in, 'Yeah, it was a good date, but he's clearly no Jake Ryan.' "

"You had to believe in him," says Amy Kramer, 34, a producer for "Good Morning America" based in Washington. "The world would have been a much better place if everybody had a Jake Ryan. That movie came out when I was 15, and imagine being a 15-year-old and you find out there's a terrific, handsome, popular, rich guy who breaks up with the bitchy gorgeous cheerleader and actually notices the quirkily smart but not exactly attractive redhead. . . . And don't ever forget this, Jake Ryan was the guy who got back her panties from the geeks and did not make a big deal of it and didn't tell the whole school about it. And the same thing with the 'sex test' that she filled out and then dropped on the floor, which Jake found. Did he then show it to all his friends? No, he did not. If that happened now, that sex test would be scanned and on the Internet in two seconds. Oh, gosh, Jake Ryan. Just thinking about it now, I get . . . kind of . . . It's all just too good to be true."

It turns out the hardworking women of the broadcast milieu have lots of thoughts about Jake Ryan.

Kramer attributes her own advanced studies in Jakeology to the many weekends she used to work at CNN, where the television on her desk received only Ted Turner's channels, which have long had a habit of rerunning the John Hughes teen movie oeuvre ad nauseam Saturday afternoons. (And anyone who went to high school in the 1980s understands how difficult it can be to turn away from "Sixteen Candles" or "The Breakfast Club" or "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," no matter how busy they are, how many times they've seen it, or how many commercial breaks come along.)

Women who fell hard for Jake Ryan have for years secretly harbored the idea of the one true and perfect boyfriend who (through some Hollywood miracle we're never quite made to understand) notices the freckly, insecure wallflower Samantha Baker, played by Molly Ringwald, whose family has forgotten her 16th birthday. Ringwald stands in for Everygirl, who, on some subconscious level, hated being a teenager.

In the movie's happy ending, it turns out Jake (played by long-ago vanished model-actor Michael Schoeffling) has just as big of a crush on Samantha. He shows up at the end and takes her away to his big, rich house and gets her a birthday cake aglow with candles. This image of them sitting on top of the dining room table burned hot and permanent into the post-boomer female psyche.

"Make a wish," he tells her, about to kiss her.

"It already came true," she manages before the lip lock. Cue New Wave popsters Thompson Twins singing "If You Were Here."

And here's where reality intrudes:

"Thanks for bringing this [Jake Ryan's nonexistence] to my attention," e-mails Penny Britell, 35, who works as a producer at CBS News in Washington. "It reminded me that my lawsuit against John Hughes, Michael Schoeffling ('Jake'), and Universal Studios (collectively, 'the parties of the second part') is still in limbo whilst the Supreme Court decides whether to hear the case, which seeks unlimited damages for the permanent emotional disability incurred as a result of seeing aforementioned film and consequently believing such perfect men existed."

They don't?

"Sadly, no," Kramer says. "I mean, did anyone ever find a Jake? I have a terrific husband I love dearly, but when it comes to Jake Ryan . . . I'm speechless."

"Sixteen Candles," believed in some circles to be the best of Hughes's hyper-realistic paeans to suburban teenage life, offered the hope, before life dashed it.

"In hindsight, what a load of crap! As if the popular high school boy would ever dump the pretty blond cheerleader for the alternative girl," types Lisa Ling, 30, from someplace in China, presumably off on another assignment for her host duties at "National Geographic Ultimate Explorer." (Ling is also a former kaffeeklatscher on "The View.")

"If you're going to totally mislead your audience into believing such a farce to be true," Ling writes, "how about having the hot chick fall for Long Duk Dong?" (Long Duk Dong, for the uninitiated, would be that unfortunate Asian stereotype in "Sixteen Candles" played by Asian stereotype specialist Gedde Watanabe. He would be a tangent all his own, as would Anthony Michael Hall's triumphant portrayal of "the Geek," aka Farmer Ted, the anti-Jake. Now focus, ladies, please.)

* * *

Why Schoeffling? Why Jake? Why him and not any of a hundred other hunky love interests from underwhelmingly successful teen flicks and TV shows? ("I'm trying to think of another one who compares to him," Danyo ventures, "and there aren't. . . . Maybe that's why I'm single. Maybe he really has ruined it for us all.")

Women can talk about Jake two ways:

The first way is easy and chatty, in the hyperactive sing-song you hear from people who appear on all those VH1 retro-documentaries about '80s pop culture. (Oh, those weird, wacky '80s trends! Remember??!!) Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar told Cosmopolitan magazine in 1998 that "John Hughes killed high school for me" and Jake Ryan ruined her on love (this was before she met Freddie Prinze Jr., who falls somewhat short of Jakeness). Same goes for Jennifer Love Hewitt, who in 2002 told Rolling Stone, "My whole life, I've been waiting for Jake Ryan . . . to come and get me." And Moon Unit Zappa -- the ur-Valley Girl -- told the Times of London in 2000 that she used to carry around a photo of Schoeffling in her wallet, and even now: "I'd watch ["Sixteen Candles"] with anyone, even a stranger off the street. And if they don't like it, they're no friend of mine."

The second way of talking through Jake-related issues is harder. It's about an ache, a loss. It's about the imperfection of life. In the movie, Ringwald's character muses on what a 16th birthday is supposed to be like: "A big Trans-Am in the driveway with a ribbon on it and some incredibly gorgeous guy you meet in France and you do it on a cloud without getting pregnant or herpes." In this way she is asking for a miracle and Jake is Christ, redeeming the evil sins of high school. Jake as the ideal. Jake as the eternal belief in something better. (Jake on the phone, leaving a message Samantha is temporarily fated not to receive: "Would it be possible for you to tell me if there is a Samantha Baker there, and if so, may I converse with her briefly?")

Some women admit, when they look back at the movie, that there are a few red flags: "I don't really like guys who drive nice cars," Danyo says, thinking of the Porsche. "But I think he still has values." Also, there is the nagging suspicion that Jake only notices Samantha when he chances upon the lost "sex test" she fills out in her independent study period, writing that Jake Ryan is the one boy she would "do it" with. Also, he's a rich kid who hangs out with jocks and bimbos, and nothing good ever came of that, not in high school.

But Jake stands the test of time, even in his good looks. His wardrobe -- cargo pants, plaid shirt -- portends an Abercrombie vibe years before it came. His haircut requires only minor tweaking in a mental update of the fantasy. "He's timeless. He doesn't have a Flock of Seagulls hairstyle or anything," says Rick Sayre, 30, a bookstore employee in Miami who started a Web page devoted not only to the Jake Ryan ideal but to locating Schoeffling.

(Sayre's not the only one to try to root out the reclusive former actor. A 16-year-old high school junior in South Carolina named Julie also has a hunt-for-Schoeffling Web site. She didn't want her last name used, but would tell us, by phone, that she thinks it "would have been really cool" to go to high school in the '80s, instead of in this century.)

* * *

Finding Michael Schoeffling isn't nearly as easy as finding his fans. He did eight movies after "Sixteen Candles," none of them a big hit, the last of them in 1991. He played small parts, mostly as the hunky love interest.

He's 43 now and, last anyone heard, lives near Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where he owns a hand-crafted furniture business. (Yes, Jakettes: He's a carpenter. He works with his hands. In his last interview, in 1991, he was happily married to his wife, Valerie. Their two children would be teenagers now.) He's unlisted, and other Schoefflings in rural Pennsylvania won't help inquisitive fans. GQ magazine looked for him in 2002, and gave up, calling him "the Salinger of male model/actors."

"I cannot over-explain or over-emphasize the importance of Jake Ryan and that movie," says Amy Kramer. "You go look in the Social Security database. Look at how many baby boys were named Jake by women who saw 'Sixteen Candles' in the 1980s. Or even Ryan. Go to a toddler park and count all the Jakes. If your kid's not named Max, he's named Jake."

"The whole thing is he's not real, I know that," says Melissa Raddatz, 26, a New York-based publicist. "What he does in that movie are things you would just want a guy to know to do. And in reality, they don't."

"He takes care of everything," says Allison Deiboldt, a research analyst at Disney/ABC in New York and a bit young, at 23, for Jake worship. "Who knows if she ever ends up being with Jake or marrying him. You don't even need to know if they end up being the best couple on the planet.

"You just need that hope."

Streetlights, people...

Oh my goodness. I am a little too excited about this:

I don't think I've been so excited about a new show since Eli Stone premiered last year. Here's hoping Glee has a bit more luck.

06 April 2009

Please, tame me

From The Little Prince

"What does that mean-- 'tame'?"

"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. "It means to establish ties."

"'To establish ties'?"

"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world..."

"I am beginning to understand," said the little prince. "There is a flower... I think that she has tamed me..."

The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.

"Please-- tame me!" he said.

"I want to, very much," the little prince replied. "But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand."

"One only understands the things that one tames," said the fox. "Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me..."

I may have been tamed long ago...(when you are tamed, you don't forget)

05 April 2009

The aesthetic solitary, part II

One of my college literature professors used to tell me that I reminded him of Sarah in The French Lieutenant's Woman.  I was always puzzled as to whether this was a good thing or a bad thing, and I believed that the comparison had to go beyond our common hair color.  Sarah is a controversial character, one who may be found to be both enthralling and cruel.  I guess it depends on which ending you choose to uphold.  But one thing is for sure: Sarah is not like other people.  She has a fire inside of her that is not the norm-- indeed, is not widely accepted-- and that isolates her, but she clings to that mark of uniqueness as a saving grace, even though she knows its presence may cause her to suffer.  And while Sarah chose to walk the cliffs of Lyme and wear the badge of her shame, I choose to be my quirky, old-fashioned, what-could-be-seen-as-uptight, intellectual, artistic self in a society full of conformists.  It's a struggle, though.  I'm sure that Sarah felt lonely a lot of the time, lonely and frustrated with her surroundings and wishful that she could be more simple so that her life could be all happiness.
How do you fix this situation, for a Sarah in the modern day?  I do want to be happy, and I want to feel like I belong, but not through the sacrifice of my selfhood.  It's a struggle that seems all the more present today, when I was surrounded by blissfully happy couples and strange men who seemed content to just lounge around in a dark bar on a bright afternoon when there was a bustling market and a bubble machine to explore right outside.  I meant to buy a scarf, a beautiful, colorful, springy scarf that I could drape around my neck for that oh-so-Left-Bank appeal.  But I never got the chance.  Today, at least, the outside factors won, and I find myself pulled into my dark thoughts as if by the writhing demons in Ghost.

"We are all in flight from the real reality.  That is a basic definition of Homo sapiens."

"[Her eyes] could not conceal an intelligence, an independence of spirit; there was also a silent contradiction of any sympathy; a determination to be what she was."

"Sometimes I almost pity them.  I think I have a freedom they cannot understand.  No insult, no blame, can touch me.  Because I have set myself beyond the pale."

"A remarkable young woman, a remarkable young woman.  And baffling.  He decided that that was-- had been, rather-- her attraction: her unpredictability.  He did not realize that she had two qualities as typical of the English as his own mixture of irony and convention.  I speak of passion and imagination."

"Shall I ever understand your parables?"

(all quotations from The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles; photo credit to forgotten flickr user)

04 April 2009

The aesthetic solitary

I just took a Facebook quiz on "What writer/author is the voice of your SOUL?".  The answer?

Your Result: Anais Nin

You are Anais Nin. An incurable romantic, dancer to the tune of a thousand piano solos reverberating across the stars. For you, dreams are necessary to life. Although age does not protect you from love... love, to some extent, protects you from age. You will not be just a tourist in the world of images, just watching images passing by which you cannot live in, make love to, possess as permanent sources of joy and ecstasy. You do not seek the 'because' - in love there is no because, no reason, no explanation, no solutions.

Makes sense.  Sometimes I feel like I live in a dream world in which everything is all haze and I don't fit in with anything I see.  Tonight I especially feel that way.  I moved here with a huge group of friends waiting for me.  Now it seems that they just move forward and leave me with my wheels spinning in the dust.  I will not be the girl who is constantly chasing after people.  That is not me, and if they keep moving, maybe I should just let them go.  I am sick and tired of having to run after them to find out what is going on this weekend and if (yes, if) I'm invited.  I guess my problem is that I have never fit in, nor have I wanted to, and that makes finding friends unbelievably difficult.  My parents keep yelling at me for not putting myself "out there" (out where, I ask you?), but I am not the type of person who can just go to social gatherings by herself, knowing nobody, and then can go up to complete strangers and make inane small talk, all the while putting forward a version of herself that is completely and utterly fake.  I feel like it's asking them to take pity on me for my lameness and my inability to form lasting friendships.  I just wonder where to go from here.  I seem to be a square peg in a round hole wherever I go, and I don't know how much more of this loneliness and alienation I can take.  

Sometimes I wish I could be like a snake and just shed my skin.  Life might be easier.

03 April 2009

It's that old devil moon in your eyes

My apartment is surrounded by Dogwood trees that have suddenly burst into full bloom over the past week.  It makes the trees look like they have little bits of antique lace hanging from each branch.  So pretty and delicate and Victorian meets Jazz Age!  All whimsy and exuberance and pixie dust.

I have decided to dress the part.  My fingernails are painted the color of frosted lilacs, and I went on a bit of an accessories spree yesterday on amazing, splendiferous Etsy site Bungalow.  I wish this girl lived in DC so that we could go shopping together!  Her site is amazing.  She actually has Sunday Best corsages that make me want to wear ribbons down my back and go buy fresh flowers at the farmer's market, then alternate between reading Everybody Was So Young and This Side of Paradise.

See my purchases below.  What do you think?

01 April 2009

Will you hose me down with holy water if I get too hot?

There are no words.

I have an unhealthy fascination with all things Meat Loaf. Somehow 
his videos always involve a masquerade, a ghostly lover, a terrible 
tragedy, and lots and lots of Gothic fantasticness. It makes me want to 
purchase a smoke machine and carry Black Magic roses.

"Some days I pray for silence, some days I pray for soul, some days I just pray to the god of sex and drums and rock and roll."