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C&C Dinner Party Series: Summer’s Over When I Say it is

Why does everyone languish at the passing of Labor Day? As far as I’m concerned, one of the perks of the working world is that summer lasts until September 21st. I’m not starting a new semester, so why adhere to an outdated concept for the end of the season? Not to mention that we’ve had the hottest weather of the year this passed week, might I remind you, POST-labor day.

Alas, the warm weather proved for a perfect occasion for another C&C-hosted soiree on the roof of our building. Overlooking the Hudson with beautiful views of Uptown and Downtown Manhattan, the setting is an effortless backdrop for a bougie evening with friends. Though this time I wanted to mix it up, lower the pretentious factor, and give guests the opportunity to mingle and enjoy a beautiful NYC evening.

Current goal for my personal life? Meet as many new people as I can in my sparkling city. Nance and I have developed a theory that with fewer commitments, less restriction, and overall fewer concerns, youth breeds the willingness to connect (NOTE: This rationale does NOT apply to Nance but then again she’s an “against-the-grain” legend). Albeit, in NYC it’s hard to connect to anyone. We’re all so busy with our jobs, social lives, and personal vanity that it’s hard for meaningful connections to stick (romantic, business or otherwise). Though what I’ve discovered is that you need to be persistent, follow-up and be patient. Easiest tactic? Meet others through mutual friends.

That gave me the idea to have a quasi-plus one party. All of the betches of the blog had to bring someone who had never graced a C&C party before. BFs or fuck buddies don’t fit the bill, but guy friends ideal since my short list for male party goers is rather…short. With a spacious roof in play,  they could invite more than one person, but someone new who  would mingle well and enjoy the vibe (It’s not a hard sell). On top of that, I invited friends from work, those I haven’t seen in some time, and friends of friends, all the while hammering home the casual feel.

As I am the perpetuate host I needed to somewhat flex my culinary chops even if it was a purported low-key evening. I served lite finger foods such as my Moroccan-spiced lamb meatballs (Paleo friendly) and Zuchini Fritters. Nance added the contribution of her her tried-and-true Rum Bundt Cake. However it was in the drink category where I wanted to impress serving a Geoffrey Zacharian-inspired Watermelon-Basil Rum Punch, Ginger Shandies, and Cactus Pear Martinis provided by Éva – not to mention the cavalcade of drink selections provided by my generous friends.

Overall it was a perfect evening. The turnout was great. As I looked around I saw college friends mingling with work friends mingling with Nance. The interactions seemed effortless and the vibe? Somewhere between  subtly refined, recklessly youthful, but oh so hedonistically Manhattan. I mean I should have used more hairspray for a somewhat breezy rooftop and maybe I had too many Patron & Fireball shots, but if those are my biggest problems, I think we’re good.

It’s so easy to get stuck in your circle and forget that we live in a metropolis where your network is however big you decide it to be. I have always enjoyed bringing friends together as I find playing host both rewarding and invigorating. The chance to forge new meaningful connections and see what they can become with time, proves to be an exciting prospect. I’m not one to approach strangers at a bar or in a club (Ummm you’re free to dazzle me with something interesting) but as I try to work on that issue, it’s good to simply know that about myself. That being said, a dinner party with mutual friends and friends of those friends is a perfect outlet.

I think the most exclusive rooftop off of West End Ave may be closed for the year – C’est triste! Though as we hurtle into more-intimate dinner party season, Nance and I may need to invest in an event space to accommodate the growing list of dinner party guests – Exactly my intent for the evening.

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Ten Guys in One

Like a pop quiz, here’s a surprise question for you — what do you consider an aphrodisiac, i.e. what arouses your sexual desire? There is no right answer so I’m waiting for your interesting replies. For Henry Kissinger, the ultimate aphrodisiac was reported to be power; the Porcupine notices confidence; I know that Brian swoons at an Australian or New Zealand accent. For me, I find the guy who is capable of surprising me impossibly sexy. In fact, the one who never ceases to surprise me will win my heart. Sometimes I surprise myself. Quelle surprise when I realized that I occasionally prefer the guy way of talking, that is, silent communication. Since summer is my season, lately I’ve been enjoying the shy smiles of approval that random guys have been throwing my way. To my astonishment, I seem to make their day just by walking by and in return, they make mine. For mutual gratification, I smile back. In case you didn’t know it, it appears that being validated is primordial to our happiness. In Oprah’s final T.V. episode she highlighted the importance of validation. “I’ve talked to nearly 30,000 people on this show, and all 30,000 had one thing in common. They all wanted validation.”

I must still be looking for the approval from guys that I never received in high school, rooted in my sad ass experience of never having a date. Hard as that is to believe as I now shamelessly prance around in a white unitard while trying to make my left cheek jump, then my right cheek jump, a la Ying Yang Twins, I was a certified wallflower in high school. Seriously intense and usually crying in some corner, especially at sorority meetings, I had very little fun during those years. Anyone notice how I’m always having fun now? It’s because life evens out. If you are ever in my bedroom, check out the framed article from the New Yorker about life evening out. Some people get through their divorce with Ben & Jerry’s; the humorous words of this essay buoyed me along with a heavy dose of sassy P!nk lyrics.

The experiences in our formative years have the power to stay with us. I remember that my BFF made the cheerleading squad in high school. Not me as I wasn’t even remotely athletic. Life is now evening out as I kick butt in Powerstrike. Doing all those high kicks helped her find a boyfriend but I didn’t. I did get a surprise one day, though. I recall my brothers snickering in the background as JB stood on our front porch asking me to the senior prom. I was so stunned that I abruptly turned him down. He was the weirdest guy in the entire senior class with a wild white boy afro and epilepsy. Most people didn’t notice his brilliance. Wish I had sooner.

So life is evening out now as my daughters are immune to my brilliance as I make lemonade from the lemons of my life. They routinely withhold their approval and hence, their love. It seems as if as complicit as we were formerly, we are equally estranged presently. Despite my deep sadness, I refuse to live my life according to someone else’s rules, not even my daughters’. Feeling bad about myself in their presence, I am enjoying less and less being in their company.

This realization helped me understand how one gets over unrequited love and when we “could have loved someone like the one I see in you.” How do we stop loving when someone doesn’t love us back? I came to understand that the psychological need to feel approval – getting that positive feedback from people that one is acknowledged and appreciated for who we are – is something we can’t ignore forever because we need it deeply. Over time it becomes too disheartening to be with people who don’t approve or validate us, who ignore our needs, and don’t see us for who we are. We eventually will seek someone who does and it’s then goodbye to you!

So I promise myself to ease up on that desire for approval, give up on it raining men who adore me. Anyways, who am I kidding, I don’t have time for an army of men. As I wait for life to even out in the department of love, all I need is ten guys rolled into one. But then, that would be Superman.

Talk to Me Dammit!

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Although in a previous post I’ve stated my aspiration to inspire and be someone’s muse, I must admit the obvious. The Porcupine is my muse.  Now that he is adapting his persona to become a lovable Porcupine, I am loving watching that unfold.  Another obvious fact is that the Porcupine is a non-talker. Since I always want to talk to him, I wonder whether all this talking bothers him. I also admit to wondering whether, like many guys, he becomes a talker after sex.

What drives this involuntary urge for me to talk to him although he doesn’t relish talking back? Interestingly with Omar I seem to have found a person who “speaks to me” silently. He, ever the teacher, shows me how to respect the silences between words and embrace the ambiguity of what’s not “spelled out”; in sum, savor what is left unsaid. He feels like a magnet pulling me towards something I need. Do I, the over talker, need to learn to talk less? My personal challenge presently at work is to see if I can respect the silences between people as non-threatening and merely the reality of this new work environment. It is not something I do easily.

In truth, conversations with people can be so like V-Day – full of potential but usually “meh”.  How often do we suffer listening to what others have to say out of politeness? Decidedly the porcupine pays less attention to matters of politeness than most of us do. He doesn’t make time for people who don’t interest him. For instance, I noticed that he never says goodbye to me at the conclusion of our brief conversations. It’s as if he sees no need to validate the exchange of our words.  This painfully reminds me of my ex who, after a dinner table family talk, would look up from his plate and contribute a dis-engaged “Just send me an email about it”. Maybe what hurt most in married life were not the biggies (for instance — infidelity) but the small things – like ignoring what I had to say.

Yet just maybe it is time for me to deal straight up with my desire to over-talk; accept that I might not have something interesting to say to everyone. Maybe it’ll be enough to find one person who longs to hear the sound of my voice. In the end, I find it extraordinary that despite my deep rooted love of words in at least three languages, the bifurcated conversations with the porcupine always charm me. He teaches me to live frugally with words – on surprise, wishing for nothing larger than my own small heart.

Expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
Become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Given out
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.

Discover the reason why
So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.

Alice Walker

Top Ten Things Guys Ever Said to Me

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  1.  Namaste or I bow to the divine in you. (words not needed)
  2. “I remember every word of our conversation.” (this guy’s a keeper)
  3. If we’d ever spoon, he’d be the bigger spoon. (pre-gaming in a bar)
  4. “I would never not have something to say to you.” (words as foreplay?)
  5. “Write your name here and your phone number over here if you are single.”
  6. “How young is too young for you and I’ll be one year older.” (young black buck)
  7. “Vous êtes une perle”! (no list of mine is complete without the French)
  8. “Will you marry me?” (my gay “husband” while on bent knee going uptown on the M104 bus)
  9. “You are as beautiful as my car!” (22 year old guy)
  10. “I wonder what her bush looks like?” (Bachata partner’s thoughts on the dancefloor)

Happy Valentine’s Day to the men who are in my life, have been in my life and will be in my life. I’m happy that I stopped and listened to what you had to say. 

Top Ten Things I Like About Naisha

1. Her legs go on forever and I don’t even hate her.

2. She’s smart as in Morgan Stanley worthy; why not try Harvard?

3. She’s ambitious. Private plane really is the best way to travel.

4. She’s independent. Can travel solo.

5. She’s fearless. Sitting on a barstool expecting an adventure any minute.

6. She’s got a sexy voice. An effortless tool of seduction.

7. She’s got a sexy accent….more seduction.

8. She’s centered. Even on the dance floor.

9. She’s my friend. For who else would I splurge on a taxi from UWS to a warehouse party in Gowanus?

10. She’s in love with her life. May you be so forever.

Happy Birthday!

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Dear Laura and Betch

 The following anecdote is a lesson I’d like to share with you. I want to spare you from recreating my recent life FAIL.

All I can really do at this point.

All I can really do at this point.

Last week I was sending a professional e-mail and could not remember the name of the second recipient of the message. In true Brian fashion, I drafted the e-mail on the couch as “Dear Laura and betch” and continued in the body of the paragraph to say “As betch mentioned…”. Later when I got the correct name of “betch” from my room I corrected the body of the e-mail with the correct name and proofread the e-mail before hitting send.

Clearly not carefully enough. Immediately I thought to myself oh shit. I had sent the e-mail as “Dear Laura and betch”. Not knowing if re-calling an e-mail was possible on g-mail, I immediately corrected the e-mail and sent out a new version moments later. I mean what can you possibly say to correct that faux pas… “Oh sorry I didn’t mean betch, I meant Sarah”.

Clearly mortified I sat in disbelief of my stupid betch move. As Ivanka said, so unlike me! Alas maybe they think I’m schizophrenic. Maybe they found it funny. Nance consoled me and said maybe they thought I meant “Beth”. Unlikely but regardless of how the e-mails were received, not my finest moment.

Laura in question responded to the second e-mail, failing to address the first, with a generally nondescript response. Though despite no mention of the questionable salutation line, I for one am going to put this contact on the back burner. Please learn from my moment of silly bitchness. Be careful what you draft. Use blank spaces instead of “betch” as a placeholder. Send is only one click away!

That is all.

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Musing about a muse

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It’s 8:45 am on a Saturday morning at the Equinox gym. I’m passing the time as I wait watching some guy get stretched out by his trainer.  I can’t help overhear him ask why a line has formed that snakes through the gym. “That’s Omar’s class. He has a following. People line up early to get into his class and they follow him from gym to gym”.  And so, my interest in just why someone had a “following” was born.

Although I never became a follower maybe for a lack of access to all clubs or lack of time, I became a follower in my heart. Although it’s hard not to notice him or the people who line up for him, right from the start, I noticed more than his body in Superman inspired neon spandex.   Since I like nothing better than to notice what’s not obvious, I notice what he says, doesn’t say; what he does and doesn’t do. This has been a very silent but fruitful exchange for me as it has spurred massive amounts of reflection and speculation that have brought clarity on major subjects of interest to me.

Coinciding as it did with my pursuing a Masters degree in teaching ESL, I started to wonder what kind of teacher I would be one day. Would I ever become a teacher with a following?  I wondered if there were universal characteristics of teachers who inspired this kind of devotion. Although it might seem obvious, what kind of people become followers?  Did I really want to inspire a following?  So much to think about while doing renegade rows! It was hard to maintain my perfect form and focus and not drop an 8 lb. weight on my foot.

I brought my daughters into this thought process because I am fond of thinking of them. JuJu, who trained as a competitive gymnast in middle school and now frequents SoulCycle, would be a definite candidate to be a TM follower. JaJa on the other hand, always our resident couch potato, often could not motivate herself off the couch to the eastside for a movie with friends. (BTW, as their mother, I love their differences.)

I came to a preliminary conclusion that it comes down to what kind of motivation you inspire. Omar’s brand of tough love has the capacity to make me smile with some of his priceless trademark expressions.  “If you don’t work hard, you are dead to me” or “I want to make you work so hard that you puke”.  JuJu, who could climb ropes in a V straddle, would love this.  JaJa would be kicked off the island first round.

I once worked for a yeller boss, one of those guys who threw his weight and self-importance around because, I would guess, he was insecure about something. During my tenure at that job where fear was a constant, I thought a lot about what it takes to be a good leader since he was not.  My experience and observations tell me that a good leader knows how to stir up the pot enough to create a perfectly controlled storm. Fearing for your job daily is counter-productive while being on your toes can be highly productive. At the other end of the spectrum, an easygoing leader’s laissez faire style won’t inspire hard work because innovation requires forward moving energy.

If we think about it, our life experience is enhanced by the presence of attainable goals. This is what a good leader or teacher provides. They keep the bar appropriately high but not unattainable because tasks miles beyond our reach will discourage us. Since I l like to reach beyond my comfort zone, encountering a person who offers this kind of inspiration is rare and special.

Actually this kind of inspiration is mythical. I’ve always been enchanted by the idea of the Nine Muses in Greek mythology as they are deities who gave artists, philosophers and individuals the necessary inspiration for creation. They are in their own right goddesses of music, song and dance. They were brought to life to help people forget their sorrows and the evil in the world. So in the end, maybe I’ll never have a blog following or a student following.  Maybe I’ll aspire to inspire and become someone’s Muse.

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The Porcupine goes on Vacay

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My obsession with the idea of a following officially continues. I secretly wish there was a mini-series entitled “The Following” airing on PBS right now.  But all I’ve got is that The Porcupine went on vacay so, rather than getting myself to hot yoga, I spent his week’s absence pondering whether a following is a curse or a blessing. Can a following become the ole ball & chain if people feel like they own you?  Did his followers go into withdrawal from his five-minute rounds of Titan Method?

These reflections are related to my on-going quest to be indispensable.  Never having felt indispensable to anyone, it became my personal holy grail to be so.  It also became my favorite talking point in my numerous job interviews during these past few years.  Being indispensable to a boss became my mantra in order to increase my job security.  One day I was interviewed by a remarkable woman who challenged this viewpoint.  Rather, she desired to be dispensable so that she could leave her team with the knowledge that they could adequately carry on without her. Although I didn’t get that job, I’d found food for thought.

It’s funny how life conspires to teach us something when we least want it. I found myself in a new job where my co-worker held the enviable position of being indispensable to the firm.  Not initially realizing this, I didn’t pay attention to the question of where this would leave me.  It recently left me without a job.

You might think that finding myself unemployed would have confirmed my suspicion that it is best to be indispensable.  Oddly, I learned quite the opposite.  The experience of working along side someone who actively excludes the contributions of others was supremely unsatisfying and frankly – egocentric on her part.  It communicates something critical about an outsize need for validation at the expense of others and demonstrates how you overvalue yourself in relation to others.

As later in the summer I watched a good friend leave us too early from cancer, I realized that our goal as mothers is to be dispensable – to leave our children with the strength and tools to carry on.  Why not base our goal of job security on making our team, our crew, our posse, and finally, our followers strong and independent, able to think on their own? Be the master teacher who transmits so much enthusiasm to your students that learning becomes independent of any classroom.

A French friend once extolled the virtues of vacation by pointing out that it is when we feel at rest and peaceful that new ideas emerge and when inspiration has a chance of finding us.  I don’t know about you but I don’t have my sexiest thoughts when I’m multi-tasking but rather when I am in repose.  Girls – likewise don’t be afraid of sitting alone at a bar, as isn’t it when you least expect it that someone finds us?

Just as it’s beautiful to see a strong guy be gentle, it’s especially inspiring to see someone indispensable to a multitude teach us how to be dispensable. I was glad to see Omar step away from his classes for some personal time. Maybe it was in this moment that he experienced a great personal discovery or possibly dreamed up Titan Jacks.  He knows that when you let something go, what should come back does. And what came back were his true followers.

The Porcupine in the Spotlight or Omar answers my Proust Questionnaire

The Porcupine

The Porcupine is a Titan as the leader of his Titan Method followers from Equinox gym to gym.  He is also like a lover who let me blindfold him with a “do whatever you like” because when you ask him Omar for a favor he responds with a “whatever you need”.  This kind of guy reminds me to do what I like and ask for what I need. Frankly ladies who needs another guy who can’t man-up in diverse circumstances?  It’s the “just do it” guys who are the keepers.  In order for all of you to see that he is someone worth knowing, he’s answered my Proust questionnaire at the gym – blindfolded.

1.  How does it feel to have a “following”? Like

  1. a head rush
  2. the ole’ ball  & chain
  3. nirvana

Answer:  None of the above… did I really think that he would make this easy?  His answer is that it feels like he is giving guidance to those who choose to live life with intensity, no limits, creating no obstacles.  Sounds like a head rush to me.

2.  If you got to choose, which would you prefer to have?

  1. Entourage
  2. Following
  3. Crew
  4. Posse

Answer:  Nuanced response as he responds that it depends on the circumstances.  Crew is his ultimate choice and mine in case you want to know.  We are making progress, although I wish I had brought a bottle of Jack.

3.  Do you ever wear the same color sneakers?

Answer:  Surprise! He borrowed this idea from someone in his class who didn’t follow through.  Now he owns this.  I have never seen him wear the same color sneakers, just so you know that he’s able to make a consistent fashion statement.

4.  What’s your favorite name?

Answer:  Zorrito, a childhood nickname, which means skunk.  As a child, he was not fond of washing and was subjected to ritual teasing.  That he was a maverick is not unexpected.  I secretly love this and have since said this name in my sleep.

5.  How many times this year did you wear a suit?

Answer:  Once this year to a wedding.  And I bet you looked better than Michael Strahan on the Live Kellly & Michael show.  But then again, I have a thing for sports stars in suits. I-Bankers move over!

6.  Which kind of tree best describes you?

  1. Douglas Fir
  2. Sequoia
  3. Redwood

Answer:  a Bonsai tree.  Really?  A bonsai tree is a miniature tree.  I bet there is nothing miniature about him.

7.  What is your theme song?

Answer:  Slut like you by P!nk.  Big up to P!ink.

8.  What quality do you most admire in a man?

Answer:  Confidence (even when blindfolded).

9.  Who is your celebrity crush?

Answer:  Neil Patrick Harris.  Who would have guessed!  But wait, isn’t he known as a renowned womanizer in How I Met Your Mother?

10.  What is your idea of happiness?

Answer:  To love and be loved.  Girls – the line starts here.

11.  What is your most inspired pick up line (besides “Hi”)?

Answer: He professes to not have a pick up line because he’s shy.  Or shall I hazard to suggest that he doesn’t need not worry about his game?

12.  What quality do you most desire in a woman?

Answer:  Independence and confidence.  Smart girls will take note.

13.  What is your number?

  1. Phone number
  2. Number of conquests
  3. On a scale of 1-10

Answer:  Hmmm, 69.  Shy, you said?

14.  I’m happy that you took my advice.  What advice was it?

Answer:  Taking a mental break.  Not remembering my advice is bad and makes you lose swag points.

15.  What would be your “last supper” besides pistachio ice cream for dessert?

Answer:  His grandmother’s cooking.  Glad that I like to cook.

16.  On a scale on 1-10, how do you feel about toe cleavage.

Answer:  No number – whatever makes a woman feel sexy.  Even more glad that you care what makes me feel sexy.

17.  What’s the hardest part of being loved by your followers?

  1. Continuing to exceed their expectations?
  2. Not letting it go to your head?
  3. Choosing just “one” to love?

Answer:  Nothing – following what you believe in is not hard.

18.  What is one thing you consider your “crack” (besides exercise)?

Answer:  Women – they are perfect creatures.  So you are “the man who loved women”?  Yes, I could imagine you in that Truffaut film but not as Burt Reynolds.

19.  Since you have been both, do you prefer being a mentor or protege?

Answer:  Both because it’s important to continue to learn so that you can teach better.

20.  Could you do a perfect push-up with a petite woman lying on your back?

Answer:  Yes, he can.  You know that I love to have fun.  Where’s that bottle of Jack?

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Like a Virgin

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Although Madonna (alias Madge) is less relevant than she used to be, I’d like to personally thank her for giving me so many quotable song lyrics. She is still dancing full out in the center of the room and owing it – a true role model for women of a certain age.

In English, women of a certain age is such a sad phrase implying stolid maturity; in French (une femme d’un certain age) evokes a woman who has passed middle age with flair. Do you wonder why I pretend to be French? You find a lot of these women of a certain age in divorce support groups. Some of these women want to be in a relationship again and some don’t.  Some still want sex and some are “done with that!” Let me say straight up that I am not sitting in judgment of anyone’s decision.  As for me, I am positive that the best romantic relationship of my life lies ahead of me. I have good karma coming to me as my attorney surnamed Valentine called me on Valentine’s Day to tell me that my divorce was final.  Some people thought this was oh so sad but I saw it as opening the new chapter on the day of love.

Which brings me logically to the question of sex at a certain age. Since women of all ages become complexed about their nakedness, women of a certain age are often complexed at the mere thought of it.  I knew a woman who had to power clean her apartment to cleanse her environment to perfection both before and after the whiff of having sex.  So sterile, so antiseptic, so American; sorry but it sounds like avoidance tactic to me. So not sexy.

Me, I like the first time.  I embrace feeling like a virgin touched for the very first time by you.  Think of how special is the first time you see the nakedness of another person. The vulnerablilities that are shared in that moment will never come again. Like Mastercard says, “It’s priceless”.  For me, sex doesn’t need to be perfect.  In fact, it’s better if it isn’t perfect so that we can practice.  Imperfection is what interests me. So be forewarned that I’m likely to fall in love with you because of your imperfections.

Our first time will never come again  – so let’s enjoy it.

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