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Women Do Whiskey: my new web series

April 1, 2015

A friend and I started a series on YouTube where we review whiskeys and make jokes…check it out! This week’s episode is Mad Men themed.

Why Father John Misty’s New Album Promotes Unrealistic Expectations For Love For Beard-Chasing Non-Basic Bitches

March 28, 2015

 I Love You, Honeybear, the latest recording from Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman turned solo artist J. Tillman, turned Father John Misty, is fantastic. It is beautiful and funny and musically delicious. In its own twisted way, it is a record about love, but it is also about consumerism, malaise, drugs, sex and his marriage to filmmaker and photographer Emma Tillman.

Here in 2015, the idea of love, especially within the subset of tragically hip milennials who resent that very moniker, is deformed. It is so mainstream that it has possibly transcended and come out the other side and become “cool” again. In the dark, raunchy, and deeply funny FX show You’re The Worst, the lead character delivers a speech about marriage in which she says that, “maybe buying in is the punk rock choice.” If you give I Love You, Honeybear a few listens, it sure seems that way.

Album Art

Album Art

Tillman’s lyrics ring equal parts romantic and cynical. In Chateau Lobby #4 (In C For Two Virgins) he sings, “People are boring/But you’re something else completely/Damn, let’s take our chances.” In the same song, “So bourgeoisie to keep waiting/Dating for twenty years just feels pretty civilian.” Many young-ish people today look at life through these beige colored glasses; endless choices, Tinder and other dating apps providing myriad options, but nothing satisfies. In many ways, society has homogenized. People are boring. Almost everyone loved Breaking Bad, has a tattoo, has an opinion about Kim Kardashian, uses mason jars for things other than canning preserves, and let’s face it, here in America, kale is the new black. What’s the ideal way out of this vortex of normality? In the near perfect Holy Shit, we get an answer: “Maybe love is just an economy based on resource scarcity/But what I fail to see is what that’s gotta do with you and me.” Maybe, the answer is as simple as finding the “right person”, which Tillman has seemingly done.

This is where the problem of unrealistic expectations arises. Some people tend to romanticize life, and when listening to an album like this it is easy to do so. Upon the first few listens, it would seem that a love like Josh and Emma’s is ideal. In fact, jealousy may even arise; possibly massive, soul-splitting, deep sadness and jealousy. The sex is great, he idolizes her, all other women pale in comparison, he respects her art, they don’t try to change one another, etc; it is ideal, or at least it would seem to be. After twelve (or four-hundred) listens, it becomes painfully clear that there is nothing perfect about this relationship.

Tillman refers to his Father John Misty persona (if that is indeed any different than his own) as “aimless” twice in the album’s thirteen songs. The artist has reinvented himself twice since embarking on a solo career and clearly suffers from indecision when it comes to his artistic direction. In this album, he also references an inability to keep an erection due to prescription drugs, and the fourth line of the whole album is a list of what substances coat the Tillman’s marriage bed (It’s “mascara, blood, ash and cum.”) While at first a deeply artistic and bohemian sentiment, most self-respecting adults, even those who lean left, “forget” to wash their hair for several days, and spend the better part of a given week wrapped up in creative projects, really, really just want to wake up in a clean bed. Additionally, there’s nothing romantic about a lover who is so inundated with mood-boosting pills that he can’t get it up.

If Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear has you aching to find your perfect hipster lover, just remember, love is never perfect, but it’s those very imperfections that allow it to be yours. This is an album about imperfection and the mess that is life just as much as it is an album about love, because the two go hand-in-hand and failure to recognize that will result in dishonest relationships and more naïve pretension.

Because That’s Love Too: Imperfection

February 18, 2015

Revolving doors of romance and disappointment. Eager, but petrified of the mental capacity that emotion fills. The lack thereof, equally tedious. The ability to compartmentalize “like a man” would be nice. Looking for a balance like an abundance of all the things that “perfection” would ride in on like a wave. A wave of: money and good sex, and creative fulfillment and academic praise and career advancements and California weather and New York ethics. Family at my front door and friends waiting at the bar and children who remain toddlers (who can change their own diapers) for ten years and then go off to prestigious schools on scholarship. Also abs that never form a paunch and travel to the corners of the earth and always the right music playing. AND LOVE. That is love, but love is IMPERFECTION, too.

Imperfection of debts and loans and lack of sex and creative roadblocks and New York weather and California attitude. Family at the front door and family growing old and illness and inevitable death and friends who simply can’t go to bars anymore. Children who will literally shit all over your life and cry through the best part of all the movies and then grow-up and slam doors and resent that love. Children that don’t like school. And that inevitable tummy paunch and the travel plans that get cancelled or changed last minute. And lots of terrible music. And love. Because that’s love too.

And that’s life, baby.

Moving Forward

January 6, 2015

Several times now, I’ve tried in vain to sum up 2014. For the past few years I’ve been able to chronicle my previous year on this blog and come out with some big lesson about the past twelve months. This past year was tough, though. I can’t seem to make sense of 2014.

My MapMyRun app tells me I ran 419.77 miles in 2014.

Spotify told me I listened to a ton of Beyonce, Ray LaMontagne, Hozier, Prince, Jessie Ware, Talking Heads, and Fleetwood Mac.

Virgin America and American Airlines tell me I’ve flown to New York and back five times [facepalm], San Francisco once, and New Orleans once.

Instagram tells me I posted 350 photos. Rough guess: 10% food, 10% selfies, 25% sky, 55% other.

But none of this matters, really. 2014 was tough. 2013 was exhausting and emotionally draining, but 2014 was a whole different kind of challenge. It was…close. It was close to right. It was almost right, but in being so close to being right, it was effectively, really, really, really wrong. The kind of wrong that is so close to perfect that it stings, it burns, it takes a melon baller to your gut and says “CLOSE, but no cigar, fucker.” Being so close to having things right is both uplifting and disappointing. Maybe, the lesson to bring into 2015 is that “you’re close” or maybe “don’t settle”, or maybe it is simply, “you know what you want. Go get it.”

The thing that’s great about almost getting what you want is that you realize what it is that you really do want, and that is priceless. Disappointment has always been my least favorite feeling. Anger goes along with yelling, sadness provides tears, joy allows for laughter, but disappointment has no release. This is why it is maybe, actually, secretly the best feeling. There’s no release for disappointment, but simply the opportunity to move forward differently and create a new, better outcome.

I decided sometime towards the end of 2014 that I wasn’t so much interested in being an actress anymore. This wasn’t devastating, or debilitating, or something I felt like announcing as much as just an evolution. I had the rare, bittersweet gift of two weeks of limbo mid-October to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and I realized that I’ve been doing it all along. Acting is a treat, but I’ve always been just as passionate about writing my own material, in fact, I’ve always been writing. I have notebooks and diaries and pages and pages and pages of words. I have entire folders of unfinished scripts on my desktop. It’s time to finish them. It’s time to realize that you almost have what you want, so now you can see what it is and go get it.

To You

October 29, 2014

To you,

You who don’t believe that life ends when you meet the “right guy”. You who doesn’t believe that you “have to do” anything. You who sees an empty piece of paper as a symphony or a poem or a new life, not an empty field of fear.

To you,

You who looks around you and tries, desperately and without any ground beneath your feet, to remember that what you want is still out there. To you who knows that disappointment is for the strong and “sticking with the pain” is for the weak. To you who understands that life isn’t about one person or one thing or one day, but a succession of moments, some good and some bad.

To you,

You who listen to loud music and soulful music and complicated music to drown out the monotony of everything…and when that doesn’t work, you listen to the radio to understand the monotony of everything.

To you who use big words in your lyrics. To you who can’t sleep at night for fear of underperforming. To you who can’t sleep at night for fear of ideas. To you who can’t sleep at night for fear of nightmares, or worse, dreams.

To you who have dried tears on your cheeks. To you who re-watch movies and play songs on a loop to feel bigger. To you who hyperventilate about nothing because nothing is everything, or everything is nothing. Because you know that.

To you,

Who look at me and say “take care of yourself”, you who smile, you who say “take a deep breath” when you don’t know that I need to hear it.

You who sleep alone and dream of another’s face.

To you who will never understand the superiority complex of the upper-middle class, no matter how many you meet. To you who empathize. To you who sympathize.

To you who wish I’d used the word “whom” this whole time.

To you, I’m sorry.

And to you,

I have pages for you.

Yaffa Cafe: In Memoriam

October 3, 2014

It was 2002 and “going into the city” still had a lot of 9/11 fear attached to it. I was fifteen and my older, scruffy-faced boyfriend was picking me up. I’ve never cared about cars, but I remember climbing in to his black BMW and my heart beating really fast as I smelled the fresh leather interior. I was going into the city with a guy who had a BMW and smoked cigarettes out the window. We crossed the bridge and went downtown. I will never forget walking into Yaffa Café on St. Marks Place and marveling at the cluttered, eclectic décor. In the back patio, drenched in twinkly lights and the charm of the East Village I was smitten: with him and with the place. It represented everything I wanted to be: effortless, chic, and a little bit dirty. As we sat on the silver metal chairs, me devouring the avocado melt, him chain smoking Camels, I felt like a grown up, even if I had no use for the condoms they gave out for free at the register.

After my senior prom, held somewhere far-too-swanky, followed up by some scummy club and far too many Mike’s Hard Lemonades, we were hungry. Friends shouted out suggestions: “McDonalds!” “The Tenafly Diner!” My first real boyfriend and I had other plans. We’d made the rookie mistake of forgetting to bring a condom but we were manipulative and convinced the group to head to Yaffa Café. It was open all night! While I’d like to say that I lost my virginity with a Yaffa condom, it was actually a Virgin Megastore condom about a month earlier. It’s a goddamn wonder I didn’t get pregnant in high school using so many complimentary contraceptives. However, I get to say that I lost my virginity with a Virgin Megastore condom, which I’m sure kids in high school have never heard of, because it was a record store and Spotify doesn’t make condoms.

Two years later, I got a killer summer job as the production assistant for a major movie. I was nineteen and the most of the cast I was interacting with on a daily basis were up and coming actors between eighteen and twenty-five. They weren’t familiar with New York and wanted someone to show them around the East Village, where the majority of the film they were about to star in took place. After a month of falling in love with every straight guy on set, they finally asked me if I’d take them out. They wanted to go somewhere where we could all eat, drink and the scruffy-faced Brits could smoke. We jumped on the subway to Yaffa Café. They were smitten with the décor, the vibe, and me. Okay, fine so maybe no one was actually smitten with me, but for one night it was enough…and the next morning when I had to go buy a new outfit at H&M so no one would know whose hotel room I’d wandered out of was even better. Yaffa Café was magic.

Three years later, in 2008, before the market crashed, I was enrolled in a summer theatre intensive. The program was full of international students who were desperate for a local to show them around. I was clueless when it came to Brooklyn, but I was able to offer up one suggestion: sangria carafes at Yaffa. I told the scruffy-faced Brit in the group that there was a patio where he could go smoke, I’d even go with him. Nah, I didn’t want one, but I’d sit with him…because I have a thing for scruffy-faced smokers. He was leaving in a few weeks and assured me that it would be better if we didn’t get involved, because he lived in the fucking UK. I agreed and four hours later we stumbled into his bedroom. Yaffa Café was magic.

Four months later, a broker showed my best friend and I a two bedroom on Avenue A. We moved in two weeks later. I got a waitressing job on St. Marks, across the street from Yaffa. The city was changing, as it does, and I was changing with it. I didn’t need gratis prophylactics because I had my own apartment five blocks away and a Duane Reade on the corner. Every so often I’d finish a long shift and head across the street for sangria, but there were other bars on the block where I could drink for free.

About a year later, I met an older, scruffy-faced guy while on my first SAG job. He asked me out on a real date and I spent hours standing in front of my mirror on Avenue A trying to figure out what you wear on a date when its 20º with a wind chill of “fuck off”. We met for dinner at Café Colonial on Houston, another staple that has since shut its doors, saw a movie at the Sunshine, and walked up First Avenue shivering as the wind blew through the fibers of my coat. “Want to go somewhere for coffee?” He suggested. We sat at a table in the back at Yaffa. I wrapped my numb hands around a chai and we shared a chocolate cake, the first of hundreds of desserts we’d share before breaking up four years later.

This week, when I woke up to a text that read: “Yaffa Café: shut down”, I had a visceral reaction. All these memories flooded my head. Those were my benchmark relationships and flings, and all of them had Yaffa Café associations. I’ve lived in LA for the past four years, and the avocados are better, my kitchen is bigger and I could easily whip up that melt anytime I want, but Yaffa Café is gone and I didn’t get to say goodbye.

Cities change, people change, we move on, we move away, but one thing always stays the same, and that’s my soft spot for a scruffy-faced man in an all night café.

2009

2009

2008

2008

That’s What It’s All About

September 16, 2014

This isn’t about love.

It isn’t about feelings for another.

It’s not about the heat rising from the sidewalk or the sun setting in the purple sky behind a row of arcing palm trees.

It’s about the first eight notes of a song that make the side of your mouth curl up and a smile rise into your chest cavity.

It’s about watching a moment happening to someone else and feeling it in your gut.

It’s about thinking the word “crescendo” and hearing it come out of someone else’s mouth.

It’s about not having to say a thing.

It’s about touching toes, once.

It’s about the kind of happiness that comes from leaving your misery in a dust cloud.

It’s about imperfection and simplicity and carefully measured indulgence.

It’s about opening up a suitcase full of problems in the middle of the room but leaving it to go through later, because you are busy.

It’s about making one person feel something new. Once.

Even if that person is you.