We have the Babylonians to thank for many things. They’re the ones who put 60 seconds in the minute and 60 minutes in an hour, a system called “sexagesimal” which is a word I think we can all agree is best left out of our vocabularies. We can thank the Babylonians (5500 to 3500 B.C.) for page numbers in a book. Very helpful, guys. Thank you.
And we can thank them for New Year’s resolutions. At the turn of the new year, the Babs had an eleven-day festival to celebrate the occasion, during which they made promises to the gods so the gods would show them favor. (Now that’s what I call accountability.) According to sources that I’m too lazy to cite, most Babylonians pledged to get out of debt.
I gave up resolutions years ago, mostly because I hate going with the flow. There’s one I flirt with each year, but as I know I cannot achieve it, I quit while I’m ahead. I resolve not to try and fix what I need to change. Want to know what I want to change?
I want to answer the phone every time I can see/hear it ring. I have a terrible phobia of talking on the phone, even to people I love. And I loathe voicemail. A week can go by before I finally enter the numbers to access my voicemail and when I do, my fingers feel like they have those little finger weights on them. “You seriously have to listen to voicemail,” I’ll say to myself, and it feels the same as when I say, “You seriously have to make a dentist appointment.” If I discover I only have three messages, I feel like I found twenty bucks on the sidewalk.
What is the root of this crippling phobia? Is it a control issue? Why am I this way? I just can’t do it. I can’t answer the phone. Text messages are the greatest invention since the telephone.
I cannot resolve to get better at this unless someone unlocks the problem. If you can do that, I’ll help you in your resolve to eat Marshmallow Fluff straight from the jar. I’ve got that down.
It is very silly, but it’s also meant to be informative.
It explains a bit about the webinar series I do called “Color Me Quilter.” The next one is on Thursday, and it’s all about blue. Blue and white quilts, indigo dye, how to “audition” blues for your quilt (green-based? red-based? help!) and a bonus lesson, plus all kinds of other pretty fascinating stuff you never knew about blue as it relates to quiltmaking in America. These webinars, they’re kinda neat.
Pendennis helped me make this video and I’m afraid he appears extremely ornery in it.He’s actually well-mannered for a monkey. I think it’s a snack issue. He needs a lot of snacks and he didn’t have one before we started. As you’ll see in the video, he reaches a point where he simply can’t wait.
In 2013, the Census Bureau reported 8,405,837 million people living in New York City. If nothing about that number has changed except that me and Yuri moved here, it’s now 8,405,839. If you count my sock monkey in the number, which you should, we can get to a nicer, roundish number of 8,405,840. I’m confident Yuri, Pendennis, and moi are not the only changes to the New York City population since last year, but this is why its funny.
All of these people. There’s one of everything.
I play a little game when I’m out and about. When I see someone totally one-of-a-kind, or outlandish, or remarkable in any way (and everyone is remarkable in some way) I note their characteristics and then try to imagine imagining them. Like:
“Could there be on this earth, at this moment, a person who is a nun, around fifty years old with pink socks, a guitar, and a suitcase with a Grateful Dead sticker on it? Could that person possibly exist in this wide, wide world?”
Then I answer myself that yes, there could plausibly be such a person because in that moment when I’m asking myself, that means I am looking at a person who matches that exact description. The nun was standing in front of Penn Station the other day, waiting for a bus, I assume. Then I play some more.
“Does a person exist who has a spiderweb tattooed on his face and wears corrective shoes?”
Yes, this person lives on my block. Yuri and I call him “Spiderman” and he is frightening to behold. He is acutely homeless.
“Could there be a 4’5 Asian-American girl with a panda backpack and a tattoo of a Pac Man ghost that covers her entire leg, who is screaming at her boyfriend that she wanted peanut butter froyo, not caramel froyo, dammit Reggie????”
Yes, that argument happened about an hour ago out on St. Mark’s Place.
“Is there a male model whose girlfriend is also a model, and are they both wearing large hats and are they both wearing all denim, and are they both Serbian?”
Yep, and yep. Just another piece of the crowd on any given day.
And consider what you’re wearing. Right now, look at your outfit. Someone in New York has that exact thing on, I’m telling you. I can’t say I’ve seen them in it because of course, I can’t see you in it. But someone has it on. They might even share your name.
There’s only one you, but New York gives that concept a run for its money.
Sometimes, I think I must be out of my mind to do what I do for work these days. I’m on camera a lot and I find it painful to be on camera. Why? Because:
– Whatever you’re wearing, however you style your hair, that version of you is out of date by the time the show airs and forever afterward. You’re like the new car that’s just been driven off the lot — and no one likes a depreciating car.
– I’m not sure the camera adds the proverbial 10lbs or not, but there is most certainly a widening that takes place; an unfortunate spread of oneself onscreen. Is it the worst thing to look a bit more zaftig than you are in person? No. Does it feel unfair when you’ve been working hard to keep fit precisely because you know you’ll be on camera in the near future? Yeah, it does. [Note to self: First time using ‘zaftig’ in blog, possibly first time using it anywhere. Mark in planner.]
– You think you sound one way, but you don’t. You sound that way.
– Editing can delete a multitude of sins, but you can’t edit down to nothing. Thus, the horsey laugh, the bad habit of interrupting, the weird thing you said weirdly — it’s all on tape. Forever.
If you find yourself having to be on camera anytime soon, don’t despair. I have come up with five ways to help you cope with the trauma. Here now:
Mary’s Top 5 Survival Tips For Watching Yourself On Camera
1. Enjoy several alcoholic beverages before you begin. Everyone looks better after a couple drinks, right? This applies to you watching you. If you can get to the point where you start hitting on yourself through the screen, you’re in a great place.
2. Have a friend watch with you. This needs to be a friend who loves you so much she/he can withstand two of you for the duration of the video. Put them in your will if they agree to this.
3. Worried about your hair or clothing choice? Those potential blunders fade quickly when you realize you were younger then than you are now. Instantly wistful and desirous of that outfit, now, aren’t you? Mm-hmmm.
4. Oh, come on. You must’ve said something humorous or intelligent. Find that instance and play it multiple times. Then let the video continue while you go to the bathroom or get more snacks/vodka.
5. Go watch a bunch of Beyonce videos. Isn’t Beyonce amazing? There you go, much better.
Let’s out with it: Yuri is younger than I am. Notably younger.
Notably, but maybe not noticeably. I moisturize, I don’t smoke, I hardly drink. I do my best to keep trim. But there’s nothing like dating a younger man to make you moisturize more, continue to not smoke, and pass up the pork belly appetizer and the second glass of wine you would definitely have ordered if you were dating a man who was, say, fifty-six. As opposed to a man (ahem) thirty years that man’s junior.
Do you see what I’m saying? Yuri’s in his twenties. Yes he is.
In the grand tradition of comparing women to cats, I have learned that there is a feline name for me. As a woman in my 30’s dating a man in his 20’s, apparently I am a “cheetah.”
I can’t be a cougar, you see, because cougars are women in their 40’s who date men in their 20’s, and cheetahs are younger than cougars? Anyhow, I’m not a Courtney Cox-starring sitcom pitch yet, but I am dating down, age-wise, so I must be given a moniker. How else could I be effectively marketed to? I’m sorry, my cynicism’s showing. I should stop. Wouldn’t want any fine lines forming when I furrow my brow in that cynical way I do when I think about Proctor & Gamble/Lancome/Big Pharma.
In the years since my divorce, I have done some dating. I have met wonderful, kind, interesting, intelligent men. They are out there. I met a few I didn’t click with, sure, but that doesn’t mean they’re frogs*; we just lived our lives differently and it wasn’t practical to pursue a relationship. Every one of these gentlemen were older than me, sometimes by a notable (there’s that word again) margin. I thought that’s what worked for me and what a gal generally wants: a fellow older than herself. I’m not sure why, but I think for many of us it has to do with security. It’s deep-seated. It’s not easy to explain, but the converse proves the rule: I would never have considered dating a person younger than myself if you had asked. Are you crazy? Younger men are immature! They’re still figuring out everything! They drink non-micro-brewed domestic beer. Ew!
Enter Yuri, The Younger Man. Exit Hamlet’s Ghost.
There is so much that’s wonderful about dating someone in their twenties, someone who is currently climbing various ladders. Older men have climbed. They’re in the business now of maintaining their perch. But I’m a hustler, so I love the guy scaling the cliff wall. The ambition, the drive of Yuri, this excites me because I recognize it. Every day of my life — and this was true before my illness but has been much stronger since — I am aware that I have a woefully limited time on the planet. I must work hard, must play hard, must go hard as I possibly can because this is a war with death. I can’t wait, can’t stop. And Yuri’s right there. His energy to go matches my energy to go. So we go, then check back at the end of a bone-wearying day, knowing we did wring every last drop of marrow. And we sure do have fun doing it.
There are other benefits. I will spare you any crowing about his physique, though you must pardon me while I fan myself with this here fancy fan on this here fainting couch.
:: fans self, faints ::
Do I fear the semi-significant age gap? From time to time. There have already been a handful of moments when a twenty-something chick plopped down on a barstool near us and I thought, “Ah, she graduated when he did,” or something equally self-defeating. I’ll take a deep breath and have to consciously remember that I have earned every single day of my life and am rather proud of the sum, thank you. In a way, these moments are good. I’m reminded that, as cute as that girl may be, I do not want to trade places with her. At all. I’m stoked that I’m a) still alive and b) wearing cuter shoes. The second isn’t so petty: when you work really hard for many years and can buy the shoes that make your heart sing, this transcends catty Girl Zone stuff and becomes more about loving oneself and setting an example. When I was in my mid-twenties, I totally wanted to be able to afford better shoes. Now I can, and that came from working hard. No shame in this, no competition. Just achievement, and all girls can claim it if they like.
I miss you, Yuri. I hope it’s okay I told everyone you’re younger than me.
*Men get amphibians, women get cats. I don’t make the rules, but I am happy with the arrangement.