Esther Greenwood

Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

778 Forest Green Drive

In Uncategorized on August 30, 2009 at 1:58 am

“There’s no place like home.”

– Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz

There’s a fire surrounding my childhood home/my parents’ house in La Canada.  All I can think about is how badly I want to go home right now and how scared I am for my parents, my house, and all physical souvenirs of priceless memories.

Here are some photos of my street earlier today, and the fire apparently is less-contained than it was when these photos were taken:

I grew up in my house, you know?  I got my heart broken while living at 778 Forest Green Drive.  I met my best friend while living there, studied for midterms, applied to college.  I mapped all ways to sneak out of the house without being caught.  My worst fights with my parents occured in its premises, and some of my best hugs with them have happened in the den.  That kitchen has been the site of countless parties and laughter.  And now it might all go up in smoke.

This isn’t about a relationship, but it’s the best I can do for the time being.  Some people have mentioned this journal comes off as “too personal,” and today I had hoped to write something impersonal.  But right now, fuck it, I can’t.  I’m upset, I’m scared, and I want to go home.

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One year ago… and some thoughts on writing

In Uncategorized on August 27, 2009 at 7:42 am

The other day I asked someone where they were a year ago.  Then I realized that a year ago I myself was in a pretty messed up place, caring-wise.  While I was going to write a blog entry about my relationship with myself, that’s taking longer than I thought to write.  So in celebration of me being much, much happier and healthier than I was last year, I’m posting a story that I was inspired to write 365 days ago.

Cigarette


I want to put a cigarette out on your back.
Okay. I continue to dig through my purse.
Still not looking at him, I wait for the cigarette sting. In my low-cut dress my bent back is bare and naked, exposed to both the elements and the small circular nub of fire he holds between his smooth fingers. I wait, but the pain never comes.


I turn to look up at him and arch an eyebrow. I thought you were going to put a cigarette out on my back.
I’m afraid.
You’re afraid? I’m the one who is going to be scarred.
That’s why I’m afraid.


I watch him finish off his cigarette. He flicks it haphazardly onto the ground, and I try not to be annoyed by his defacement of my apartment building.
Now you’re done with your cigarette.
I could light another one.
I stand to walk back in to my apartment; a wave of vertigo passes through me. I would eat something but he likes me thin.


Smoking gives you cancer, I offer as we sit in silence on the couch.
Surprise surprise.
I shrug. I’m disappointed he didn’t hurt me, and I’m worried about my disappointment. I thought I was just an emotional masochist.
I want a cigarette.
You don’t smoke.
What, are you afraid I’ll put a cigarette out on you?
I doubt I would feel it.
I know you wouldn’t.


We smoke in the courtyard in silence. I cough with my first drag and curse my lack of poise. My neighbors’ two kids play cards on their stoop. The older one wins a game and laughs in victory.
I notice his cigarette is almost out.
Okay, I say. I’m going to turn around and watch those kids. You put your cigarette out on my back, right under my left shoulder to the right of the mole.
Are you sure?
Yes.
I turn away. I hear him take his last drag. I wait for the burn.

Man, I miss that Los Feliz apartment.  It was awesome.  And those kids totally thought I was nuts until I offered to teach them Spades and bought their watered-down lemonade for two bucks a red cup.

So I guess I should write about the “let me hit you over the head with symbolism” symbolism in this piece, but I don’t really want to.  I’m over it.  And no, nobody ever burned me with a cigarette and I never really asked anyone to do that, nor do I want anyone to do that to me now or ever.  I think that experience was more than enough of a burn.  That story pretty much works perfectly to explain parts of  summer 2008.

I think writing is cathartic, and maybe that’s why I haven’t really been as prolific with the short stories for a while.  (That, and trying to get the YA novel done.)  My “writing safety net” is to write depressing shorts about past relationships, and I really, really do not want to do that anymore.  A) It’s been done, B) It’s annoying, and C) Whoever it’s based on usually gets pissed even though it’s fiction.  Now, granted, the last two short stories I wrote were 100 percent fiction– one was called Platonic and this last one was about a dog pound.  And I was actually thrilled that I could write something that wasn’t based on truth at all, yet kept the emotional poignancy/depression that I like to go for.  But goddammit, would it kill me to write something happy?  Especially when I’m in a happy place?

In that vein, why is it that so many of the “good songs” out there that we listen to on repeat are so damn sad?  I need to add to my “happy music” oeuvre.  I have some amazing, fantastic mixes that were made for me full of upbeat tunes, and there’s a lot of happy Beatles songs, but when I’m scrolling through my iPod I can’t help but notice how many of the artists I have are just so. damn. depressed. And that’s no good.  That’s no good at all.  Maybe being an artist involves sadness, or opening yourself to hurt, or being a pretentious fuck that says shit like that.  Ugh.  Gross.

This post makes no sense.  But at least it’s something.  The next post will be interviews with people about long distance relationships.

Sweet Nothings

In Uncategorized on August 20, 2009 at 10:20 pm

“Rose: Do you love him, Loretta?
Loretta Castorini: Aw, ma, I love him awful.
Rose: Oh, God, that’s too bad.”

– Olympia Dukakis and Cher in “Moonstruck” (1987)


My grandmother has always been somewhat of a siren.  A vixen, if you will.  Old photos of her show a glamorous, ethnic Audrey Hepburn in silk.  A real exotic beauty.  My mother tells stories about how boys in her class used to ignore my mom and serenade Citu (Lebanese for “grandma”).  So, it should come as no surprise that as a little girl I used to listen, captivated, as my grandmother gave me advice on men that I wouldn’t really have cause to use for eight or so more years.

“Never let a guy know how much you like him,” my grandmother would tell me as she lounged on one of our sofas or buttered a scone.  (Citu has a weakness for all things carbohydrates.)  “The minute they know, they treat you like shit.”  This is advice echoed in Moonstruck to Loretta (Cher) by her mother Rose (Olympia Dukakis), “When you love them they drive you crazy because they know they can.”

Fearing that was the case, I tried hard as a teenager to never get too attached to the guys I was dating.  I never wanted them to know how much I could like them.  I never wanted them to know how much they could hurt me.   I was afraid of being abused, of being taken for granted.  Still am.  I was also lucky because for most of my teen years I never had that “head over heels in love” feeling with a boy.  Sure, I loved my boyfriends in whatever sense of the word I knew that to mean at the time, they could definitely cause a few “down days,” but I did my best to make sure I could survive without them.

This, ironically, would end up making the guys crazy about me.  It disgusted me in a way, the meaner/the less I cared about these boys (and remember, this is highschool and the beginning of college), the more they’d do things to try to get me to fall in love with them.  I started to wonder, was my grandmother right?  Should I heed my mother’s warnings, as well, and never to get too attached?

In the end, of course, these “games” hurt me.  I never got to have a mutually loving relationship.  The closest I came to that was in college, and near the end I acted abysmally; I still feel bad about that.

But I got my comeuppance.  Karma’s a bitch.  (And I truly believe in relationship karma.)  I got my heart broken, peeled open, salt thrown in the wound, pissed on, crushed with the bottom of a boot, and broken again.  Of course, this only happened after I let a guy know how much I cared.  So again, I stared to wonder if the women in my family, who were so much older and wiser, were right.

Meanwhile, I took a long time off from relationships.

Yet, I look at my grandmother and my mother.  Both of them have been in rather unhappy marriages.  Do I want to be a part of that?  Do I want to repeat their mistakes?  No.

So I made a promise to myself.  The next time I liked a guy, I would be mature.  I wouldn’t go crazy emotional like I still managed to pull off in high-school and part of college.  But I also would not shy away from repeating the sweet nothings that I would undoubtedly feel if I honestly liked the dude.

This, of course, scares the shit out of me.  I still hear in the back of my head my mother’s warning tone that she used to get when I used to call my best friend Keagan more than once every few days in middle school.  “You’ll smother him away,” she used to warn.  If that could happen with a friend, imagine what could happen with a boyfriend?  To this day, I shy away from calling or texting guys I like because I don’t want to scare or smother them away.  I’m a people-person, yet even I like my space, so of course they like theirs.  The problems arise when I want to hear from them but I’m afraid if I call they’ll be like, “not this bitch again.”  It’s a neurotic world, the one inside my head.  Thanks, Mom and cultural stereotypes.

My friend Vince mocks me constantly about my fear of picking up the phone/being sweet.

Vince: I mean you’re so goddamned passive aggressive
Emily: WHAT
Emily: I AM NOT
Emily: I AM NOT PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE
Vince: you so are
Vince: just telling you straight
Vince: with men you are dating rather
Vince: you so are
Vince: which is the shit of it all
Vince: with your friends, TOTAL STRANGERS
Vince: you’re absurdly up front to the point of total inappropriateness
Vince: but then a boy you like and it’s like all withdrawn

I don’t think it’s passive-aggressiveness, I think it’s fear. Being honest with total strangers is easy– who cares what they think?  Being honest with someone who can hurt you– that’s a whole other ball game.

I’m working on my batting average, I swear.

Being open with someone, letting them know you care about them, miss them, whatever, it’s terrifying.  What if you say something sweet and they don’t reciprocate the feeling? What if your sweet nothing is met with… a nothing?  There’s a pain nobody wants to experience more than necessary.

I’m a sucker for romantic comedies.  The cheesier, the better.  Yet for the longest time when I heard a cheesy line I would blush and look away because even if I wanted to respond favorably, some part of me told me if I did so, I’d get hurt.  (Plus, if you don’t really like the person and they say something cheesy, part of you just cringes.)

Kevin:

anyway i think possibly perhaps thinking in terms of how the other person will react and/or how they will respond might make murky the basic idea of the gesture.

of course, that’s theoretically speaking.

in the heat of the reality, it’s sometimes difficult to tell someone something sweet and get nothing back.
on the internet it’s even worse because even if the reciprocant smiles upon reading a wall post/comment or got a glaze over their eyes like they were thinking about you, you wouldn’t be able to see that.
an empty receiving of the gesture is the same as a nonverbal receiving of the gesture.

I don’t even want to get into the mess Facebook makes of things.


So what do you do?  I guess swallow those fears and plunge ahead.   It’s what I’m trying to do.  Don’t over-think, don’t overreact, just dive in.  Hopefully you’re with a guy who can reciprocate those amorous feelings and doesn’t just want what he can’t have.  And if you get hurt, you get hurt.  At least that way you’re really living.


And I’m so not passive aggressive.

Guest Post: Eric Bilitch, “Koalas”

In Uncategorized on August 18, 2009 at 7:00 am

Editor’s Note:

A few weeks ago, my dear friend Eric Bilitch wrote an incredibly well-written response to my post “Sex Changes Things.”  I was so impressed with his retort that I asked Eric if he would like to write a “guest column,” and he complied.  Below is his post, unedited, in his words.  Enjoy!

***

koalas

by eric bilitch


So we made the hard decision and we each made an incision
Past our muscles and our bones, saw our hearts were little stones
Pulled them out they weren’t beating and we weren’t even bleeding
As we lay them on the granite counter top
– Regina Spektor

I just ripped a Build-A-Bear to shreds.  And not violently either.  Very systematically-like a detective.  I cut a really small hole in his back, starting tearing out stuffing (by the way, that shit is plush) and went searching for something that I never found.

It’s easy to say that the road that led me to sitting in my house tonight ripping up this poor defenseless Koala in a Red Sox outfit started innocently enough.  It was my senior year of college, second semester at that, when I first saw the stereotypically beautiful brown eyes of the eighteen year-old girl who I was sure I was going to marry, raise children with, and die together in some field during a lightning storm.  At least that was the plan she told me numerous times.  Not to say that I was opposed to it.  I was fully in favor of that plan.  In a whirlwind of a four month romance, we finally came to the eternal question of “To do this shit after college when you’re still in college and I’m not, and I’m out on the road for a year without any home like a rolling stone and oh yeah you are nineteen (now) and who knows what will happen after that and ‘I don’t want to hold you back… No, no. I don’t want to hold YOU back…No-NO-You first… I love you more…  (You’re nineteen!)  You’re twenty-three!  What the fuck should we do!? God dammit, I love you. We’re going to do this!  And we’re going to break all the odds, and yeah… Yeah… that sounds good.  It’s JUST three years. Okay?”  That question.  You know… Something like that.

I should say before anything else that I loved um… we’ll call her Eloise… or no… Laila… I loved Laila with every ounce of everything I had in me.  I can easily say that Laila has a power about her that has sucked in other before me, will suck in more after me, and will perhaps, suck me in again.  Laila used to say that all the guys who ever liked her-at some point-realized she was a fad and ended it.  I never thought that.  I still don’t.  But I do think what is more than likely- is that Laila thinks of everyone else as a fad.  Or at least that is how she treated me at the end.  You ever wonder what inanimate objects that were fads felt like when all the kids found something cooler-more exciting-more new?  I was like pogs and she was transitioning from 1995 to 1996, and I didn’t get to make the journey. Maybe she’ll come back when I’m vintage.

I haven’t spoken to Laila in about four months.  While I guess I could add up the pieces that led to the breakup, it’s easier just to say that it came as a huge shock to me.  Not the pieces that led up to it-those were all natural.  We had a good solid year of really not a lot of problems, other than the distance.  And then we had about two months of a big blow up, producing many small blow-ups leading to the culmination.  You know, standard.

We were obviously- now- on two separate tracks.  I mean… I knew that then.  Of course I did.  I’m not so stupid to think that a girl in her sophomore year of college would be in the same place as a guy who was in the “real world”- or vice versa.  I promised to myself- after a few unsuccessful attempts in the past- that long distance was something that could never work and would be something I would steadfastly refuse under all circumstances (see Emily’s “The Rules” blog entry).  In fact, when I first saw Laila-wasted in a bar, by the way- I was just getting past a year and a half relationship followed by a 8-9 month break up.  You know the type.  But Laila and I seemed to defy rules and laws and obligations and everything else BAD about relationships.  Even now- EVEN NOW, though it all often feels like a big lie- it was the best relationship I have ever had.  It was corny.  It was magical.  It was frightening (for all the reasons that something frightening feels good and right and beautiful).

In fact, I think in the end, it might have been so frightening, that that is why it ended.  I sometimes think that the reason she made it come to a screeching halt was that old “she was so scared by the fact that she could be with me forever” thing, but I quickly gain my composure to reassure myself that- Um…No.  That is… in fact, bullshit.  That’s not the reason.  Was it that she felt the need to break out, be on her own, and explore the world?  No.  I mean, not according to her at least.  That one would have made sense to me.  But I asked at least eight times- and no… Not the answer.  Was it that I had become overbearing?  Too needy?  I think that was some of it.  I can admit my faults there.  I was out in the country-a new city every night for a year- essentially alone.  Yes- I used her as a safety net.  But it was because I loved her and she…loved?me?  too. …?  Guys aren’t allowed to get needy.  It is an instant turnoff-maybe even grounds for breakup?  In a relationship more than a year old-even in a situation where I was told that she would never leave me unless I did something “really bad.”  I asked for clarification on what “really bad” was.  “Well, I mean…  If you killed my mom or something.”  Yeah.  I agree with you, Laila.  THAT would be “really bad.”  So, anyway, she made allusions to the fact that this might have something to do with my middle of nowhere no one to turn to I thought you were the love of my life and there for my “neediness.”  And though this was cited as a factor, it was never confirmed as THE reason.  In fact- there never was A reason.  And that is what led to the ripping up of the Koala Build-A-Bear with the Red Sox uniform on.

When someone leaves you so abruptly from a relationship you invested every fiber of your being in (and by the way- not unrealistically…she was-at least in what she said-just as on board and in love and willing to accept the challenge of this thing head on) and would have gladly sacrificed a LOT for- It is just as confusing as it is heartbreaking.  When a couple weeks later (after not talking); you bust your ass to take three different planes, almost have an asthma attack as you run across the Philadelphia airport to get on the third plane that you just yelled and screamed like a little baby demanding to get on when your scheduled flight was cancelled- just to see Laila in a show she was the lead in (even though she had broken up with you a couple weeks earlier with no real explanation after promising a beautiful life together) AND you do your best to not cause a scene by leaving the theatre as soon as the show ends- and then when she talks to you next, her response is “well I didn’t ask you to come…”-which is by the way-AFTER you bust your ass to get back to your job the NEXT day-another plane ride away- WELL, THAT turns more to the frustrating side.  When the last time you talk to this person they are so stubborn that when you suggest that you felt abandoned by their actions, they respond “You’re not my child-I can’t abandon you,” I think that falls more in the heartbreaking category.  Yet again- also confusing.  And still, more importantly- to the context of this blog entry- not producing any answers… except to want to sing “Heartless” by Kanye West in your head over and over and over again.  Well, if Laila was wondering, by the way, here is the New Oxford American Dictionary definition for the word abandon:

abandon |əˈbandən|

verb [ trans. ]

1 give up completely (a course of action, a practice, or a way of thinking) : he had clearly abandoned all pretense of trying to succeed. See note at relinquish .

discontinue (a scheduled event) before completion : against the background of perceived threats, the tour was abandoned.

2 cease to support or look after (someone); desert : her natural mother had abandoned her at an early age.

leave (a place, typically a building) empty or uninhabited, without intending to return : derelict houses were abandoned.

leave (something, typically a vehicle or a vessel) decisively, esp. as an act of survival : he abandoned his vehicle and tried to flee on foot.

( abandon someone/something to) condemn someone or something to (a specified fate) by ceasing to take an interest in or look after them : it was an attempt to persuade businesses not to abandon the area to inner-city deprivation.

3 ( abandon oneself to) allow onself to indulge in (a desire or impulse) : abandoning herself to moony fantasies.

So, I mean… any of those work, really.  I go with this one, mainly: “condemn someone or something to (a specified fate) by ceasing to take an interest in or look after them” though all the definitions do work.  I know it doesn’t bolster my case that one of the sentences is about a mother and child… but you get the point.

So how does the bear fit into all of this?  (GET TO THE FUCKING POINT ALREADY, we’ve all been through breakups before, jerk… I know-I know…)

Back in our days of Rebel Without A Cause type relationship excitement, she told me about this time she made a Build-A-Bear for a boyfriend and put a note in there that said “Please break up with me.”  Looking back, this probably explains a lot about Laila.  But also… Damn… I must have been a fucking tyrant to actually be broken up with and not just left a hidden note somewhere.  Then again… maybe she was maturing by doing the breaking up with my poor lonely abandoned ass.

Well, anyway, I filed that story in the back of my memory and forgot all about it when she gave me this lovely Red Sox themed (pretty easy way to my outside heart) Koala (likewise) Build-A-Bear (hmm) as just a random present (Easy way into my real heart.  Not a present- but the random act of kindness and caring for no particular occasion), I loved it.  When she dumped me, I was away from the little creature.  When I came home from tour and I moved into my own place, for some reason I took this souvenir of Laila and my love with me- though I think it was more for the outside appearance and general cuteness, and well, it had something Red Sox on it.  In fact, I don’t even remember thinking, “Oh, this is from Laila” and then making a decision to trash it or keep it based on that.  So about five months since the last time I heard Laila’s voice, still with no answers, and not a real dramatic effort to find them (I figured I should grow up and just try to get over it… Good days and bad days on that account.  Must be easy for her-she’s the only one in the world that knows the reasons- and she has done nothing to reach out to me other than sending me a box of stuff that said “thought you might want this.  Good luck.”  THAT pissed me off.  Nothing for months and then “Good Luck” after being madly, deeply in love. Anyway… irrelevant…)-about five months since that last conversation (oh by the way- she broke up with me over the phone and I haven’t seen her since with the exception of endlessly supporting her by going to see her show, aforementioned…)- I was sitting in my house and all of a sudden, I got into a fucking staring contest with this Koala.

I remembered the note story.  I took the bear down.  I started feeling all over this little plush toy to see if I felt any paper inside it.  Nope.  Oh, wait.  Yep.  I feel a piece of paper in there.  I got some scissors.  I took off the Koala’s clothes.  I cut a small hole in his back- near where I felt the paper.  I started-very gently- taking stuffing out.  (Again… that is some soft, plush shit.)  I found the “paper.”  A piece of cardboard with a bar code on it.  More stuffing.  Oh, what’s that?  A little half-inch heart.  I didn’t know they did that.  Does that mean she really loved me? There was no note.  Just stuffing.  And the little heart.  No answers.  Fuck.  For a second there, I was sure this wonderful amazing girl who confused me and broke my heart so quickly on the turn of a dime was some kind of fortune teller who had, about a year earlier, inserted a note with all the reasons into a Red Sox Koala bear-just sitting there for me to find like buried treasure.  Nope.

By this time, my dog (who also resembles a bit of a stuffed plush koala) was looking at me, head cocked sideways, like…well… “What the fuck is wrong with you?”  I asked myself the same question, laughed a lot, and then put all the stuffing back in.  The heart was still sitting on the table. Oh, HOW poetic, right?  I should leave the heart out of this thing, since clearly there was no heart left in this girl, right?  Meh.  I put it back in.  And actually… I have NO IDEA why but… I feel a little bit more resolved before I opened up that bear.  I put it’s clothes back on, put it back on top of my bookshelf, and sat down and wrote this story.

My dog is asleep.  My iTunes is playing some weird song I have never heard before.  I’m still alive.  I’m okay.  And I’m okay with okay.  If it has to be a mystery forever, so be it.  I know how I feel about Laila. She’s a person-flawed and fucked up and selfish and beautiful and talented and nice and smart and young and vibrant and charismatic and lovely and funny and genuine and a liar and heartless and poetic and polite and loving and with the biggest heart I know and the most beautiful telling eyes and the most amazing voice and you know, everything- she’s just a person.  Just like me.  Maybe I gave her something she is ripping up for answers too.  (Though I doubt she even ever expresses missing me- not out loud anyway).  Maybe we should just talk.  Oh- we’re both so fucking stubborn.  But I think, we are maybe- sometimes- definitely- still in love.  Oh, and the bear is fine.  Though I’ll never look at it the same way again… Like after Squints kissed Wendy Peffercorn in The Sandlot… It will never be the same.  We shared a moment.  He’ll always be looking down every time I pass him by.  …Smiling, smiling…

Relationships in Nora Ephron’s “Julie & Julia”

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2009 at 1:27 am

While it’s not uncommon for me to cry during a “chick flick,” it is uncommon for me to cry during a comedic one.  Yet, Nora Ephron’s “Julie & Julia” elicited that reaction from both me and my mother (a repeat viewer) not once, but twice.

“Julie & Julia,” for those who don’t read the papers, watch commercials, or notice billboards, is the movie version of Julie Powell’s blog where she attempts to cook her way through Julia Child’s famous tome of French cooking.  While certainly a lighthearted flick in general (what movie with Meryl Streep portraying the hilarious Julia Child could fail to be so) there were many deeper, more meaningful moments in the film.  Moments that were anything but lighthearted– especially all those concerning the two heroines and their often beleaguered, albeit amused, husbands.

The love felt and, more importantly for the medium, shown, by the husbands for Julie and Julia took my breath away.  I fell in love with those relationships.  I have never before seen a movie for women about women where men weren’t the villains or the main focus.  Writes New York Times movie critic A.O. Scott, “Most strikingly, this is a Hollywood movie about women that is not about the desperate pursuit of men. Marriage is certainly the context both of Julia’s story and of Julie’s (about whom more in a moment), but it is not the point.”  Yet, for me, the portrayal of relationships in “Julie & Julia” was one of the points, if not one of the main high points.

Both Julie (Amy Adams) and Julia (Meryl Streep) are characters in their own right– neurotic, anxious, prone to fancy, slightly crazy, and while obviously in love with their respective spouses, not always the best at showing it.  The husbands, meanwhile, do an excellent job of supporting their women.  (While I was at first seriously displeased that the women weren’t portrayed as equally supportive, there is a nice moment where Julia Child supports a rather distressed Paul Child (the superb Stanley Tucci) regarding his career.)  Julie and Julia both reach for rather extraordinary, insane goals involving food, and the husbands, while fully aware that their wives’ ventures can end in disaster, are nonetheless supportive.  Not because they believe in the projects, per say, but because they believe in their wives.

When Julie experiences one of her many freak outs over her life/blog, her husband Eric (Chris Messina) responds in what we learn is his usual teasing, witty way that is meant to be nonetheless a simultaneous pick-me-up and a means to bring Julie back to Earth.  It’s both beautiful and enjoyable to watch the couple’s witty repartee and Chris Messina’s many amused reactions to his crazy love.

Tucci, meanwhile, has the best moments in the film– the ones that made me cry, the ones that made my mom and I look at each other and go, “I want that in a marriage.”  For example, there is a scene where The Childs host a Valentines Day dinner for their friends in Paris.  Tucci stands up, looks at his wife with this deep, soul-consuming love in his eyes, and proclaims, “You are the butter to my bread, the breath to my life.”  While it’s sappy in text, it’s anything but corny in context.  (Plus, Paul Child really did say those words to Julia Child.)  The way Tucci’s voice breaks and Julia smiles up at him, the way Paul kisses Julia’s hand or cheek, the way she blows him kisses, and the look in both the Child’s eyes…  they adore one another.  While it was a movie and the actors were acting, it felt real.  I wanted it to be real.  And because of that, it made me cry.

Plus, being a young woman living in très-hip New York, it was absolutely invigorating to watch these “based on a true story” romances where the men did not care if their women were bone-thin sticks or, as Julie sobs at one point, fat.  They still find their loves beautiful.  They still want to grow old– fat or thin, wrinkly or tan– together.

In an age where so many married couples seem to be unhappy or divorced, it was a relief to watch a film where support and nourishment– both physical and emotional– were the main entrees.  I have precious few examples of those relationships in real life, and yet I think it is what we all strive for.  Sure, Ephron throws in a random spat between Julie and Eric to show that no marriage is perfect, but spats are normal.  Disagreements are normal.  We all know that. What was nice about “Julie & Julia” was that the fights didn’t necessarily mean the husband would go off and cheat on his wife and the film would end with her victorious but alone.  They worked things out.

In most movies involving true love, the romance is unbelievably passionate and sexy.   And while Nora Ephron has no qualms  showing the healthy sexual lives of her two couples, the passion (specifically the Child’s) had, over time, begun to show itself in the ways the couples would hold hands or cook dinner together or just generally talk to one another.  For example, nothing seemed more romantic than the moment where Julie– feeling incredibly guilty– has to boil a live lobster.  The lid flies off the pot and she runs away screaming.  Eric, who had been singing “lobster killer” throughout the day to the theme of The Talking Head’s “Psycho Killer,” runs in and holds the pot down.  He helps her out on something he personally finds incredibly ludicrous.  That’s sexy.

While I’m not calling “Julie & Julia” realistic by far, in moments such as those it did seem more true.  No marriage or long-term-relationship that I know of is nonstop “tear off one another’s clothes” passionate… love, deep love, and passion, they’re there, but shown in ways other than good ol’ fashion sex.  And again, physical intimacy was most definitely still present.

I went to “Julie & Julia” expecting to hate it;  perhaps that’s why I enjoyed it so.  I had low expectations.  But I know one of the main reasons I left that movie wanting to see it again was it gave me hope.  Maybe even I, in my crazy, neurotic, scary-creative way, would not scare away the good guy.  Maybe I could end up happy and with someone to love.

My mother informs me that my father, upon seeing “Julie & Julia,” kept whispering to her throughout the film whenever Amy Adams came on the screen, “She looks like Emily!  That’s so Emily.”  In how the women (for the most part, again I’d be way more supportive of my other half) are members of a loving relationship well past their twenties, I can only reply– “I hope.”

Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide

In Uncategorized on August 13, 2009 at 12:54 am

“Oh no love! You’re not alone
No matter what or who you’ve been
No matter when or where you’ve seen
All the knives seem to lacerate your brain
I’ve had my share, I’ll help you with the pain
You’re not alone.”

– David Bowie


Today I experienced one of those awful airport days you read about or hear told at a dinner party after the hosts laugh about how the “stupid airline” lost their luggage during their honeymoon.

The day began easily enough– I woke up, dressed, was picked up by my car service and arrived at the airport a full two and a half hours early.  I waded my way through baggage check and security for an hour, had an overpriced bite to eat, and went to my gate.  I sat down next to a friendly Midwestern family and waited.

First, the flight was only delayed an hour.   Then two hours.  Then three.  I finished one book (David Eggers’ Zeitoun) and volume one of the comic Scott Pilgrim— soon to be a movie staring Michael Cera.  I listened to a mix.  I listened Kanye and tried not to laugh at myself.  I listened to random music.  I started to notice Delta was canceling more and more flights and tried my best not to get frustrated.  There’s a lot of ugliness in airports, people packed together in stressful situations such as flight delays tends to bring out the worse, and I didn’t want to add to it.

But, when news came that my flight was canceled and I saw the line that I would have to wait in to rebook– easily already over fifty people long, with only one Delta employee to help them– I wanted to cry.  Instead I bit my lip, took out my cell phone, and texted those closest to me.

At that moment, as I lugged my backpack and purse and stood in line listening to a guy bitch out an airline employee on his cell and an elderly couple proclaim “this bullshit only happens to us,” two thoughts crossed my mind: sometimes it sucks to be an adult, and thank God I have people I care about in my life.

Regarding the first thought: when I was a little girl and things went wrong at airports, my dad– who frequently flies United for work and is one of their VIP passengers because of this– would just go and talk to someone and sort it out for me.  While I villainize my father a lot of the time (sometimes rightly so, sometimes unfairly), at times his temper works in my favor.  So when everything went wrong, the first thing I wanted to do was call my parents and have them sort it all out.

This, of course, was not an option.  I’m an adult and have been acting like one (or at least vainly attempting to) since college.   Just because the situation was new didn’t mean I had to panic.  Sure, I was overwrought and felt like sobbing and screaming, but I had to buck up and get myself together.

Looking back on it, I just wanted someone there with me.  I didn’t want to shoulder all this chaos (by then four other flights had been canceled and a security guard had been called to handle the hordes of pissed off passengers) alone.  Yet, there was another reason I craved company: When I’m in a terrible situation, if I have someone else there that I have to act “together” for, I usually am a hell of a lot better and being upbeat and cheerful.  For example, I HATE the rain.  When it’s raining and I’m alone in it I bitch to myself and want nothing more than to give the sky a glowing neon middle finger.  But if I’m out with friends and the weather starts sucking, I’ll turn it into a game.  Bad weather is a lot more enjoyable when you are out with people you like.

During my freshman year of college, my friend Danielle drove me and my friend Katie to see a play.  Well, a car t-boned us and totaled Danielle’s car.  We were all scratched up pretty bad and ended up going to the hospital.  But what I remember the most is the aftermath of the accident.  Danielle and Katie were hysterical, and while I was just as cut up as they were, I calmly talked to the one car that had pulled over and dialed 911.   I went into “take care of people/be strong” mode.  Meanwhile, three years later when the same thing happened to me but I was alone, I lost it.

Though, then again, the airport situation was pretty terrible.  I’m not sure I’d have been able to remain smiling even if I had Glenda The Good Witch with me all pink and sparkly.

The main reason I wanted someone there with me was because I needed, I wanted a hug.  I wanted solid comfort. So I was eternally grateful when I received support via facebook messages or text from friends and a consoling and considerate text from Boy who was all the way out of town and on vacation.  I felt bad pestering Boy with my shitty news, but at the same time I realized that had the situation been reversed I’d of course want him to do the same.  It’s what you do.  And, dare I say it, it’s one of the perks of being in a relationship (and having a cell phone)– even when you are physically alone, you don’t have to be so emotionally.  There’s someone you want to be there for, and there’s someone who can be there for you.  The same goes for close friendships.

In a way, I guess I was never really alone at the airport.  Everyone on those canceled flights were thrown together in a relatively awful situation.  For every asshole I heard complaining, there would be a gentleman.  It was while waiting in line that I got to know the kids of the Midwestern couple (the oldest girl was applying to NYU).  I made more polite conversation with an intern from a NYC bank who was being sent on a “business trip” by his bosses to Kansas City to pick up BBQ sauce for lunch the following day.  While I’ll never see these people again, they were nice to have around.

Of course, it’s not the same as having people who know you and care about you be there for you in times of stress and trouble.  But it’s something.

Eventually I talked to a ticket representative (though my father, again to the rescue, had managed to secure through a coworker who was big with Delta a not-too-painful flight for me the following day) and, seven hours after I had arrived at La Guardia, I made my way home.  A shower, some chocolate, and a food delivery later I was as right as the nonexistent rain Delta blamed for the cancellation.  But I know, had it not been for the support of my loved ones, not even a bubble bath and champagne would have cured my bad mood.

“No man is an Island, entire of itself.”

– John Donne

Head of the Class

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2009 at 3:19 am

“Would she go down on you in a theater?”

– Alanis Morissette

Yesterday I was sitting outside my favorite coffee shop reading Dave Eggers’ latest when a man in a polo-shirt sat down next to me and stuck out his hand.

“I’m Paul,” he said.  “You look like you give good head.”

This line (if you can call something so brazen that) shocked me for a variety of reasons.  First of all, I was in Gramercy.  If I wanted some guy to say crude nothings to me I would have dressed like a skank and headed to some frat bar by NYU.  People raised families and millions in Gramercy, they didn’t raise innuendos.  Especially at a yuppee coffee shop with excellent chai.

This was the other thing: I was at a coffee shop.  Did this man honestly think that coming up to a woman at a coffee shop, a woman dressed in a pastel floral dress reading a hipster novel, would respond favorably to something so … unnerving?

And that, of course, begs the question– what exactly about my appearance screamed “Blow Job Expert”?

Yet, what shocked me the most was my reaction to Paul’s comment:

“Uh, thanks?” I mumbled, looking down at my lap.  I couldn’t believe it– was I actually blushing?  I briefly wondered how to elegantly retreat from this very uncomfortable situation.

Paul did not move.  His hand was still awkwardly sticking out.  I was afraid to touch it.  Who knew where it had been.

Actually, I had a pretty good idea.

“Well?” Paul asked.  A bit of iced latte dripped from my chai’s straw.

“I have a boyfriend.”  That seemed the best, and most honest, way to get this creep out of my space.

It worked.  Paul stood up and nodded, leering down at me.  I was pretty sure we both knew what he was thinking.  Now, finally, I was indignant.  It was one thing for this preppy freak to pervert me, but to pervert my beau?  Fuck off.

Paul must have seen something in my face because he made a quick getaway down Irving Place.  From the other side of the coffee shop’s door, a soft female voice spoke up, “Did that just happen?”

I looked towards the woman whose own shocked expression matched my own.  Simultaneosly, we burst into laughter.

***

The above is a true story.  I’ve spent the past 24 hours thinking over the situation.  Other than the man’s basic crassness in his attempt to flirt, why had he so thrown me off my game?  Usually I was incredibly suave at getting myself out of compromising and uncomfortable situations.  Instead, this time I had some serious deer-in-headlights syndrome.

I believe now it’s because this guy broke The Rules.  We are all well aware of The Rules.  Originally a book written in the 1950s for our parents, The Rules were a guide for women on how to conduct themselves during a courtship.  Never accept a date for the weekend if he asks past Wednesday.  Never have sex.  That kind of fun.

While The Rules have definitely changed since our parents were dating, there is definitely still an etiquette involved in dating.  There’s the rule about how soon you can call a girl after getting her number.  How soon you do or do not make jokes about taking trips together.  Women know better than to ever even make a joke about their friend’s friend’s second cousin’s upcoming marriage for fear that the guy will think they’re hinting.  And when it comes to dropping the “L-word,” yeah.

Of course, mastering this etiquette takes time.

A male friend of mine recently became entangled with a young woman of twenty.  She of course committed the very common rookie mistake of falling too quickly too fast and, even more inappropriately and naively, has repeatedly stated her very intense declarations of adoration to my friend.

Now, we’ve all been there.  At the beginning of the courtship before you really get to know your paramour (and they’re still projecting their best selves) they of course seem perfect.  But we learn after a few heartaches not to trust our intense and irrational infatuation and, most importantly, not to scare the guy by sharing the crazy.

Yes, it sucks.  We all want someone we can “be ourself” with.  But I think before we get there, before we can be ourself and snore and maybe admit that we don’t like disco as much as we claimed to, we have to first follow the rules and act accordingly.  We have to not freak the other person out with our neediness and basic humanness.  Dumping such intense realities on a person in a very quick amount of time is scary for both people involved.  Take time to get to know each other.

I guess there are do’s and dont’s for both the sexes.  Don’t come on too strongly.  Don’t say every thing that comes in to your mind, even if it’s true.

Dealbreakers

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2009 at 2:24 am

When I first moved to New York in January, my friend Leah and I were both going through a hard time when it came to relationships.  While I wasn’t in one, a boy who had expressed an almost frightening amount of feeling towards me had suddenly turned cold.  Meanwhile, Leah was in the midst of a break up with her boyfriend of five years.

So it comes as no surprise that Leah and I bonded.  While we had been acquaintances and college peers in the past, the sudden drama surrounding me at the worst possible moment required that I move out of where I had been staying (which lacked heat and hot water anyway).  Leah selflessly and graciously offered her couch and many hugs.  She’s been my best friend out here ever since.

Anyway, one night Leah and I decided to get coffee before seeing The Wrestler.  To the immense amusement to the old married Jewish couple sitting at the table next to us, Leah and I talked out a list of “dealbreakers” for future relationships.  I still have the list:

dealbreaker

I can’t help but smile when I read over this list.   While we all have our “dealbreakers,” I think there is definitely a level of how much we respect the dealbreaker list.  For example, while “cheating” and “ignores you” are pretty standard definite no-nos, things like “bong in the living room” and “ambiguously attractive female friend that he has made out with/had a crush on in the past” we’re a little more willing to work on/compromise over, depending on the situation.

My friend Jarvis has a dealbreaker that he won’t date a girl on anti-depressant medications.  This is due to bad experiences in his past; and I totally understand.  Nonetheless, I am sure if he met a girl who met all his other “dream girl” but happened to need some light medication to get through bouts of sadness or anxiety he’d at least give her a chance.

So why do we create “dealbreakers”?  I think we do so to protect ourselves.  For example, after my heart was ripped open, bleeding with pus coming out and had salt rubbed in the wound after being repeatedly kicked into a bloody pulp, I made the rule that I would never, ever date a musician again.  Yet, of course, all the men I’ve ever been attracted to happen to have a penchant for music.  If they aren’t playing the guitar, cello, keyboard or trumpet, they’re still ten times more up to date than I am on music history and the music scene.  Should I just turn my back on every person that likes music?  Hell no.  Just because one music afficiando broke my heart doesn’t mean another will.  It’d be like a guy refusing to date me because I’m a writer and the last woman who broke his heart wrote poems.  It wouldn’t be fair to me or him.

I think dealbreakers are just guideposts to help us not fall down a particularly gloomy path that we may have already travelled.  After all, we construct our list of dealbreakers from past experiences.  I, for example, will never date another man who refuses to tell his parents about my existence and refuses to call.  Some dealbreakers are obvious red lights, but most are yellow.  Proceed, but slowly, and with caution.

Cage #64581A

In Uncategorized on August 10, 2009 at 4:43 am

Author’s Note:

Sometimes I write fictional stories about relationships.

Below is one of them.


I’m watching my boyfriend coo sweet nothings at Susie.  In response to his praise Susie whimpers and drools.  I check my watch.

“She’s perfect,” Todd informs me as he stands up from his kneeling position.

“She sheds,” I reply.  It’s two o’clock.  We were supposed to be having lunch by now.

He pats me on the small of my back.  “So do you.  It’s cute.”

I wonder if he expects me to wag my tail like the tiny Beagle now shitting on the cement floor before us.  I have a feeling dog hair is a lot less cute than the hair of the woman who fucks you twice a week.

“Do you think we have room in our apartment for a dog?” I ask.  Off his look, I continue, “I don’t want her to feel cramped.”

I fail to mention that I’m the one who feels cramped, what with the antique bookcase Todd found on the street two days ago and installed in our living room half the size of a minivan.  As an empty bookcase makes Todd feel sad, the next day he went to the Chelsea flea market and had the bookcase overstuffed by seven pm.  He also had two ceramic cherubs displayed proudly on its top.

“They’re a symbol,” he told me as I served us Cajun chicken on the couch-come-dinner table.  He balanced his plate on his knees and poured Cabernet into the glasses sitting on the wood floor.  “They’re a symbol for how much I love you.”

I kissed his cheek and spilled my yellow rice.  Two years after we first started dating, he still can say things that make me blush and forget my carefully constructed insouciant demeanor.

Then he dropped the bombshell.

“I think we should get a dog,” he said.

So here we are, at the pound.  An employee whisks away Susie’s offending secretions while our adoption counselor Michael repeats the sob story already typed up via typewriter and displayed on Susie’s cage door.  Abused by her owners and left for dead on the New Jersey Turnpike, Susie fears men but will eventually turn loving after consistent affection.  She’s one of Michael’s “favorites.”

“I bet you say that about all the bitches,” I joke.  Michael blankly looks me and then turns back to Todd.

“Shall we go sign the paperwork?”

“She’s so cute!” Todd squeals.  He smiles down at Susie and starts to clap his hands.  “Who’s the cutest puppy in the world?  Who’s the cutest puppy in the world?”

“She’s not a puppy,” I correct.  His repetitive baby talk is annoying.  I’m hungry; I want my Caesar salad and glass of Pinot Grigio.  “She’s five years old.  Isn’t that like thirty-five in dog years?  She’s older than your big sister.”

Todd ignores me and gives Michael a thumbs up.  “Let’s get her out of here.”

It’s only when the boys exit Susie’s cage, which Todd pointed out earlier was half the size of our aforementioned miniscule den, that I realize the “her” Todd speaks of is Susie and not myself.

Apparently my response, “There’s more breathing room in here than in our den,” was not appreciated.

“Why don’t you stay behind and bond with Susie?” Todd suggests with a look that informs me this is anything but a suggestion.

He’s still mad about our discussion over oatmeal three days ago, the day he fled the apartment and found that horrific bookcase.  I nod mutely and try not to cringe when I hear the cage door close.  I watch the boys walk away and then turn to look down at my dog, our stand-in for the child I do not want to have.

Susie sits on her haunches and stares up at me.  Her brown and white fur is dirty and matted.  This dog is not cute; she’s a mess.  I wonder how often the pound cleans these dogs, whether she’s been checked for fleas and, most importantly, how often I’ll be expected to wash her.

I’ll make no bones about it (pun intended), Todd wants the dog but I know I’m the one who will be stuck taking care of it.  For him, this is a lark, another venue where he can express love without repercussions.  Last year we became supporters of some starving child in Uganda.  A gold-framed photograph on Todd’s desk represented our “daughter” Anita.  The most noticeable thing about Anita was her array of bones: they stuck out prominently from areas that hadn’t even occurred to us contained bones.  Todd wrote her every day and donated an extra twenty-five to fifty bucks a month.  Six months after we joined the program we received a notice from the government that Anita was a scam.

Susie waddles up to me and starts to lick my flats.  Awkwardly, I reach down and scratch her head.  Her hair is coarse.

Todd will run off to the lab and study chemical compounds while I, the writer who works from home, will be the one who takes Susie for walks around the block, feeds her, and begs her to stop barking while the neighbors call to complain.

My feet hurt, and the dog’s slobber only accentuates this.  I have a feeling Todd will be a while.  Most likely he will get distracted by the pound’s pet supply store we passed on our way to the cages.  With a sigh, I sit down Indian-style on the cement and thank God I am wearing jeans.

Susie launches herself into my lap and knocks my stomach with her hard ball of a head.  I wince; I still haven’t fully recovered from the surgery.

I will never tell Todd about last month’s abortion.  What for Todd had been a “quick trip home to visit my friends who you find childish” was really a “quick trip home to let my friends take care of me while I killed your child.”  I hadn’t outright lied, the girls had been visited, but the reasoning for my trip was left purposely vague.

Avoiding sex hadn’t been too tricky.  My lie of an ulcer (conveniently discovered when visiting the girls) had been believed, and as long as I went down on him a few times a week and let him cum in my mouth Todd remained unsuspicious.

Susie licks my face.  Her breath smells like dog food.  When I turn away so as to not get her slobber on my lips, I come face to face with Susie’s neighbor, a large black poodle missing her left eye.

“Hey girl,” I say.  The poodle grunts and turns away.

Suddenly hot, I stand and push Susie off of me.  She lunges for my Met Museum tote bag while I look around us and try to imagine what it feels like to be a dog in a pound.  There are so many cages, and so many disgusting, rank smells.  The staccato shrieks of children (“Look Mom!  A puppy!”) interrupt the chorus of barking dogs.  I want out.  The cage is locked.

Susie starts making unsettling wheezing noises behind me.  I turn, my personal effects are scattered on the floor and haphazardly pushed around while Susie continues to choke as she runs in misshapen circles.

“Shit!” I gasp.  “What did you eat?!”  The dog pants in response.  My lipstick is there by her water bowl, so is my wallet, and my cell phone…

The chorus of canines increases in volume.

“Susie!”  I fall to my knees and shake her.  Her eyes meet mine, and I see fear so pure I catch my breath.  I let go of her and she continues to wheeze.  I pry open her mouth and can just make out the pink and white wrapper of a maxipad.

My friends told me that when I came out of my surgery, morphined to the max, I was crying.  They kept asking me what was wrong, was I in pain, what could they do, but all I did was cry in response.  They say it was the scary kind of crying, the kind with no sound, just empty, open mouth gasps.

Susie is on the ground, gasping heavily on her right side.  Unsuccessfully I pry open her chops, with red-manicured hands wet from her saliva I tug at the end of the pad to no avail.  I stand up and yell for help.  My voice is surprisingly hoarse.  No staff employees or volunteers pay us any attention; they are too busy assisting happy families with the adoption of their new members.  It is only when I try to wipe dirt out of my eye that I realize my cheeks are wet.

Five minutes later, Todd and Michael return.  Todd’s arms are filled with multi-colored doggy toys.  I hold Susie’s body, rocking her back and forth.  I’ve stopped crying.  “I killed her,” I say flatly from behind the cage bars as Michael rushes to get help.  Todd stares at me, his eyes an echo of Susie’s from moments before, and I am fully aware that at that moment, the relationship is dead.

Friends as the Benefit

In Uncategorized on August 7, 2009 at 8:01 pm

“The bird a nest,
the spider a web,
man friendship.”
– William Blake


A common question I ask when meeting my friends’ friends is how they met.  Usually there is an entertaining story involved, where the friends in common giggle and swap inside jokes.  An amusing anecdote is shared, and everyone comes out feeling a little more chummy.

When it comes to a group of my closest friends, or at least the friends I’ve known the longest, my story is also a bit awkward.  My closest friends, often referred to as  “The EEP Crowd” (EEP stands for Early Entrance Program, they all skipped high school and went straight to college), I met through my first boyfriend when I was fifteen years old.  Now, nine years later, I still talk to many of them regularly.   When I’m homesick, it’s their hangouts (Dungeons and Dragons, Rock Band, all of it) I miss the most.  I think I was always the baby of the group– after all, I was the youngest.  Jon was 19 to my 15 when we dated for our brief couple of months, and so most of the EEP crowd happens to be a good four to seven years older than me.  They watched me grow up from a teenager to a chick approaching 25.  They know my most embarrassing stories, my weaknesses, and I miss them terribly.

But I realize that’s weird.  After all, they were Jon’s friends first.  And he’s still friends with them too; we’re all friends.  It was only awkward when we first broke up, as all teenage breakups can be.

My EEP friends aside, I realize friendship with your beau’s friends is a tricky territory, especially with the dawn of Facebook.   I know people who get friended by random dudes they meet in a bar on Facebook and are totally okay with it, yet when it comes to friending their better half’s friends, fears of intruding on their personal space come in to play.  For example, my friend Henry is afraid to Facebook-friend any of his girlfriend’s amigas: he waits for them to friend him.  But what if you’re the girlfriend and want to friend your boyfriend’s awesome pal on Facebook?

In the past, I’ve especially have a hard time because I usually really like my boyfriend’s friends.  I think it’s because I tend to get along better with men than with women, and so I’m immediately more comfortable joking around with them.  But I’ll hold back on Facebook friending them, because nobody wants to be that creepy girlfriend who forces herself into her boyfriend’s life.  And nobody wants that creepy person doing that to them.  So it’s with a smile and a sigh of relief that their friend will Facebook contact me, because it means a) I didn’t freak them out and b) I can continue the witty repartee when appropriate.

I used to get really nervous when meeting my beau’s friends.  After all, I really want them to at least approve of my existence.  The only more nerve-wracking thing is meeting their family.  As I’ve gotten older, I’m a little more calm about the whole meeting-friends situation, especially because I realize that when the roles are reversed, I’m well aware of how possibly awkward it can be for the other person.  The point is to have fun with people your date has fun with, and chances are, if you get along with your date, you’ll at least have a passably good time.  And usually, a great one.

If not, don’t worry about it.  You’re dating the person, not their friends (and if their friends become an issue, well that says something about the relationship/person involved).

In the show How I Met Your Mother, two of the leads Robin and Ted begin as sort of romantic interests, with Ted in love with Robin and Robin not quite as interested.  Yet, Ted and Robin and Ted’s roommates and friends become a tight nit group.  While it doesn’t usually work like that, it’s nice that that fiction is out there to tell us it’s okay to get along with your love’s friends.  They don’t need to be best buddies or pen pals, but an ability to get along in the same space is always appreciated.

The problems come about when you like the friends more than the paramour.  Then of course it’s time to break up, and if you have to break up with the acquaintances too, so be it.  That’s life.  Maybe that’s a way Facebook is actually helpful– you can still remain fringe friends with the people with whom you’d already lose contact.  In other words, if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.  Kind of like with all relationships.