A Weekend Vacation

Michigan delivers a comfort like only the Midwest can. After returning from a much-needed escape from skyscrapers and street traffic, I could not seem to discard my homesickness and give in to the inevitable chaos of the city. I needed a vacation from my vacation. Rather than brave the crowds of museum goers, a few friends and I trekked to Brooklyn. I make it sound as though we, cloaked in mosquito netting, set off on foot Louis and Clark-style, journeyed deep into a jungle of bicycle-riding hipsters hacking our way through with over-sized machetes. (Although, with the ongoing construction on the weekends, our train ride was trickier than normal.) Luckily, the trip allowed for sundresses and sandals in lieu of safari camo.

A classic, and very inexpensive, brunch on the back patio of Cheryl’s Global Soul, followed by an afternoon wandering through the Brooklyn Botanical Garden provided the most pleasant expedition, as well as droves of complimenting exotic flowers and foliage to sniff, peruse and photograph.

We finished our afternoon back in Manhattan (*whew*) at the Pacific Grille located in the South Street Seaport, a bay-side haven with prime views of the harbor and perfect for watching the boats and water taxis coming and going from the pier. Also, delicious bar food and $5 margaritas. Planning excursions out to Long Beach and chatting about taking a cruise next spring had our trio forgetting we were New Yorkers and pretending we were Parrotheads vegging out on some floating Florida key.

My homesickness subsided as the sun slipped away and we all went home happy having experienced a full day of fun for under $40.

Although, as a side note: my suitcase still sits in the corner of my apartment. Unpacked.

Kim K & the Divorcee

When folks say that celebrities ruin the sanctity of marriage…I chuckle.

As a contributor for People Magazine over the past few years, I’ve done my fair share of digging through the dirty laundry of celebrity couples. I’ve sweet-talked more busboys, bouncers and bartenders than I care to mention to pump them for all the juicy details. I worked the Demi and Ashton story (which led to a split) and then the Courtney and David story (which led to a split). And I’m intimately connected with someone who predicted the JLo and Marc Anthony split well before Marc’s last divorce was finalized.

So when I read ‘divorce’ headlines or see the news of a split take over my Twitter feed…I absorb it without flinching. Nothing surprises me anymore. Least of all Kim
Kardashian and Kris Humphries—the odds of an LA party girl and a grizzly Midwestern jock finding marital bliss seems improbable even without throwing Kim’s family fame into the mix.

I understand why some people are critical. To say that most stars don’t have the staying power needed to make a marriage work, using their wealth and fame to rapidly bounce back isn’t entirely inaccurate. In most cases, including Kim’s, irreconcilable differences is cited as the catalyst for the split. Infidelity, while usually highly publicized, is rare. Why run the risk of being caught cheating when you have unlimited resources at your disposal?

The reasons why many unhappy couples stay together, and are subsequently unfaithful, don’t apply to models and movie stars. There is no fear of ending up alone when you’ve got major hits at the box office and a personal trainer. Children will happily be carted from mansion to mansion with the assistance of hired help and, regardless of the split, be given the best education money can buy and enjoy double the holidays and lavish vacations. When an equal division of the assets means that someone goes out and easily buys all new assets, worrying about paying a divorce lawyer or collecting child support just isn’t an issue. Divorce is a quicker and less messy alternative to cheating.

Call me crazy, but I would prefer a divorced celebrity over one whose marriage is riddled with scandal. I guess I’m pretty progressive. Besides, us commonfolk have done enough to defile the institution of marriage without the help of the Larry King’s and Liza Manelli’s of the world.

Some people could say I don’t get a voice when it comes to divorce, considering I have
limited personal exposure to it. My parents have been lovebirds since the age of thirteen. They were married a year after they graduated from high school and have been together ever since. They laugh, they cry, they fight and I’ve always, ALWAYS known that, no matter what, they’d be together. As an adult, when that idealistic veil falls and you realize how challenging a marriage can really be, I look at them and see their partnership as that much more remarkable.

Knowing this, you’d think I would find myself disgusted or shocked or at least confused
about movie stars with multiple marriages and divorces.

But all those skeletons in my closet have taught me a thing or two about ‘I do.’

First and foremost, I will never be judgmental or critical of another person’s life
choices. While I’d never wish the type of insight I have into this issue on anyone, it’s given me the wisdom to understand that unless you’re in that moment, whatever it may be, your right to pass judgment is forfeited. Life is complicated and I will never again condemn someone else’s decisions.

Secondly, I’ve learned I do believe that all is fair in love and war. Especially love. I
struggled with this for a long time, knowing how messy and heartbreaking getting in and out of relationships can be. A cliché at its best, I can’t help but believe that there is one person meant for everyone and that you have an obligation to fight for that person, no matter what the cost, for their sake and for yours. Life is short and so many things are mediocre. Love should not be one of them. And if everyone did that, flew across the country on a moment’s notice and showed up on doorstops and, damn the torpedoes, left their spouses in the pursuit of that…I think the world would be brighter. What better example can you be than to follow your heart, trust your instincts and be with the person you love?

Thirdly, I’ve come to believe that respect and honesty are every person’s basic human right. Everyone has a right to be told the truth, even if it hurts or is inconvenient. I will never get so caught up in what I’m “supposed” to do and feel and say that I lose respect
for myself or the person I’m with. And even if it’s me watching someone walk away for someone else, as it has been a time or two, at least I know that I’m respected enough to be left rather than cheated on. I don’t believe in standing on ceremony. If you don’t want to be with me, please, for the love of God, DON’T be with me.

So we face a great social paradox. Which is more despicable: someone who’s been married and divorced six times or someone who’s been married for six years but only
faithful for six months?

Especially in New York City, the more single men I meet, the more I think, my God, I would so rather be alone for the rest of my life than spend another second with you. And the more married men I meet, the more I think, thank God I’m not your wife and I don’t have to put up with you.

Diane Kholos Wysocki, a professor of sociology and women’s studies at the University
of Nebraska at Kearny recently told the New York Times that “cheating is alive and well [and] on the rise.” However Dr. Wysocki doesn’t blame men, women or even the easy access of technology.

“I don’t believe the Internet is causing people to cheat,” she says. “There seems to be
something going on with marriage that’s the bigger social issue. Before, people would just get a divorce. For some reason, people are staying and cheating instead.”

So it’s a choice between divorce or infidelity…it seems we’re lacking the gumption as a society to even recognize monogamy or even—gasp—love as a viable selection. Thanks for not splitting up the family, honey, now go enjoy your mistress.

The New York Times recently published another article on divorce trends, reporting that
the number of divorces has rapidly declined in recent years. The women’s liberation movement of the 1970s and 80s has passed and many women are citing social pressure as a reason to avoid splitting up. A Brooklyn divorcee says, “The notion of divorce has become one of failure again. It used to be ‘You’re free, rock on!’ Now it’s, ‘You couldn’t make it work, you failed.’”

From where I’m sitting, whether you’re married, divorced or single, if you find yourself really and truly content and happy, then you haven’t failed. To me, the only real example of a “failed marriage” is one that you’re still in.

So to Kim K I say, take the $18 mil worth of media rights you made off of your fairytale wedding and relax. I’ll support a 72-day marriage that’s honest over 75 years of a lie
any day of the week.

A Homecoming

Less than 24 hours in my home state and my life in New York already feels like a distant dream. Have I been on vacation for the past four months (because I ran out of spending money a long time ago) or did I really move there?

The flight was quick, just an hour and 20 minutes. Once the wings cleared the low-hanging clouds, I saw the freeways illuminating for miles underneath me, stretching out like a neon spiderweb. I remembered them better than I thought I would and found myself picking out intersections. I knew I was officially back home when the car rental agency had nothing to give me but a white F150. I didn’t even fight it; the choice was more than appropriate. I climbed in the cab and discovered driving this monster was like riding a bike. I preset the local radio stations and drove through a Taco Bell. (Worth every cent of the airline ticket.)

It feels good to drive, to step on the gas and feel speed again. I love the sound of that engine. Spent the night with an old friend; we told the same stories. It felt so good to be with her. Unfortunately, my new problems with falling asleep followed me to the Midwest. I spent most of the night wide awake wondering if this is what home feels like. Familiarity. Comfort. Memories. The leaves here, unlike in New York, have already turned colors.

I shopped in downtown Royal Oak as if I’d never been gone. It has been easy to remember why I fell so in love with this city. The sights, the sounds, the smells…everything still so familiar. Chilly and rainy, but I was prepared for that. The same coffee shops, the same library…and, of course, the same shoe store. I drove past the house in Ferndale I used to live in, my old apartment and even my old office. Things haven’t changed at all. I remember that being on my list of reasons to flee this town—the fact that everything always seemed to stay the same. And I needed a change so badly; I was desperate for it. I was always frustrated by the fact that this place seemed to have such a huge impact on me all the time, while I struggled to leave my mark. Effected but never effecting, at least not enough anyway.

We moved around a lot growing up, though always in Michigan, enough to uproot me from school a handful times. I was always grateful for that. It made me independent, got me used to change and the unknown. I fall into the ‘new kid’ role quite comfortably; maybe that’s what helped me cope with moving 500 miles away with my dog as my only companion. I learned, very quickly, to associate home with the people you spend your life with, not with a city or a house. And, truth be told, I always felt a little superior because of it, like I had caught on to some insight on life in a way most people never would.

But I’ve also discovered that this belief is why I feel so lost when people move out of my life. I want to scream at them, “Don’t you get it? YOU are home to me. Please don’t screw that up.” And so I wonder if there is some kind of advantage for those who’ve been in the same place all their lives. A city block will never just up and walk away. A neighborhood can’t break your heart into a million pieces and disappear off the map, as if it’d never existed. Maybe I’d have been better off if home had meant the four walls of a house. If I had truly grown up here, would I feel differently?

Being back in Detroit made me realize that I don’t really know people here anymore. That all-consuming life that commanded every ounce of my passion and attention is gone. It’s like someone took a big bite out of my history; gobbled up two years-worth of work and relationships. There weren’t many people here waiting for my visit. Maybe it’s because I flirted with their husbands.

So just as obvious as the reasons to stay are the reasons why I had to leave. Ghosts. Visiting old haunts…they’re called that for a reason. Tis the season for skeletons. Physically, I’m good at living here. Emotionally…it’s like that white elephant analogy, except I’m the only person who sees it in the room.

I once read that in Greek the word “nostalgia” literally means “pain from an old wound,” which is probably why everything that makes me smile here also makes me sad. Sad that I feel a sense of loss for the past two years, sad that the reasons why I want to come back are the same reasons why I just can’t. I keep thinking that if just one thing had happened differently, one choice, one decision—maybe I’d be different.

There’s a new Lebanese restaurant open on Main Street and the Lions are finally playing some decent football. But, for me, it feels like this place is in ruins.

Or maybe I am.

If home is where the heart is than I’m screwed.

#OccupyRealityCheck

I got into a little skirmish with a member of the Occupy Wall Street clan yesterday.

The group decided to migrate from their make-shift campground in the Financial District up into my neighborhood to protest…rich people I think? (I’m never really sure of what exactly they’re protesting.) Almost home from work, I spied one of the young girls in the group verbally traumatize an elderly woman who was cleaning up after her dog on the corner of 82nd Street, screaming slurs and sneering.

I was mortified. This twenty-something activist didn’t look radical or like some Brooklynite hipster. She looked like me, sounded like me and was probably my age. And somehow she was convinced she was owed something from this poor woman. Instead of hurling her into rush hour traffic, which was my gut instinct, I decided I needed to know more. I needed to know her story. How had she been so wronged by Wall Street…or whomever she was upset with.

I walked over and calmly said, “I’m a writer. I write a blog and I want to know your story.”

She enthusiastically strayed from the herd and sat with me on the edge of a planter bed, tearing up as she regaled the horrors of her life story. The short version: she graduated a year ago from a major university on the West coast with a very high GPA and a degree in art history and she hasn’t been able to find a job anywhere that is even remotely related to her degree.

That’s it.

And barking at a toy poodle and senior citizen is going to do what…make her feel better. Because it certainly won’t change anything.

I realize that this specific person isn’t a great representation of the millions of hardworking Americans who are facing real financial hardships. And I got angry. First because her behavior, along with that of the rest of those howling hyenas, is absurd and makes the rest of my generation look naive and delusional. Secondly, because her I found her pithy little problems to be belittling to the people who have trouble feeding their children, the people losing their homes unable to pay their medical bills.

This activist, and her ridiculously lame excuse for a hardship, made me question the entire purpose of Occupy Wall Street. Is it really to instigate change? Or is it just banging pots and pans in front of a news camera? If this group is really looking for change, they’re looking in the wrong place—go protest in front of city hall or in Albany. If this is simple a venue for self-expression, please do it in a way that doesn’t interfere with my daily commute, harasses my neighbors and trash my city. Our right to self-expression isn’t a free pass to be an idiot.

But let’s just pretend for a moment that Occupy Wall Street is somewhat purposeful, that they are really trying to do something…anything. Let’s talk about protests; moments where the masses converge to initiate social justice and inspire political change.The civil rights movement, the women’s lib movement, even the recent and continuing protests in Libya had a tangible cause. Their actions were motivated and measurable. These movements were not only organized, garnered mass followings and were newsworthy—they had purpose. They had leaders and real ideas and, most importantly, actions plans. In addition to hooting and hollering and marching in the street, they were creating legislation and working with supporters, politicians and influential leaders.

Clearly the participants of Occupy Wall Street are bright, outspoken, creative individuals. They obviously possess a wealth of endurance and determination and have the capacity to attract followers across the globe. Although, for some perspective, they’re boasting 447,000 supporters worldwide. Justin Timberlake has 6,500,000 followers on Twitter. More people would rather listen to “Sexyback” than stand as part of the “99%.”

Irregardless, they’re obviously passionate.

So why is that not being channeled into an actual mechanism for change? Pick a cause, any cause and CHAMPION it. Contact and network with lobbyists and politicians, create petitions, volunteer, conduct research…DO SOMETHING. I can’t call Occupy Wall Street a ‘movement’ because they’re not. They’re not moving. Not moving forward with any articulate message. Not doing anything of REAL value that will ignite this change they so desperately claim they want.

I shared a small portion of this with my new young activist friend who looked at me wide-eyed before shoving her finger in my face and declaring, “You! You’re the 1%!”

And again, I fought the urge to toss her into the busy intersection.

I don’t know what percent I am and I really don’t care what percent Occupy Wall Street is. I also don’t care if this group is comprised of hippies or purple kangaroos. I am a 25-year-old young adult living in New York and I am smart enough to know that roasting marshmallows over a trash can fire and howling slurs at podiatrists living on Park Avenue is the LEAST effective way to bring about change. But I, like so many, have plenty to be angry about.

I know that I am part of the dying middle class. My father, incredibly well-spoken, Master’s degree and three decades of experience in his field, has been unemployed for three of the past seven years. My mother never earned a college degree and knows her salary will never grow beyond what it is now. She’ll continue to work 80-hour work weeks on a 40-hour salary for as long as she’s physically able. Why? Because she has nothing saved up for her retirement. In 2007, my parents lost the house they spent every last cent to build. This makes me angry.

My 17-year-old brother has changed schools four times and is constantly ridiculed for always being the new kid. He is smack dab in the middle of this bullying epidemic. Because he knows my parents won’t be able to pay for college and he worries that he’ll find himself unable to pay back student loans, he plans to enlist in the military. This makes me angry. My 21-year-old brother struggles to find even a part-time job as he works his way through college. He’s studying to be a high school math teacher even though he knows the pay will be terrible and finding stability will always be a challenge. This makes me angry.

As for me, I somehow manage to keep a roof over my head and food in my belly, though it will be, for the foreseeable future, living paycheck-to-paycheck. And I am just me. I do not have a husband, a boyfriend, parents, a rich aunt or a sugar daddy to bail me out when times get tough. I can’t qualify for loans because I don’t make enough money, and I can’t qualify for government assistance because I make too much. I am a college graduate fighting to use my degree every single day. This makes me angry.

I’ve gotten jobs and lost jobs. I’ve worked behind a counter, at a desk, serving popcorn at a movie theatre and selling landscaping services from the cab of an F150. I’ve pulled weeds and worked at the mall. I’ve worn high heels and work boots. And I’ve been unemployed, too. I’ve had my fair share of conversations with collection agencies and credit card companies. And this makes me angry.

But being angry doesn’t change my situation and neither will joining Occupy Wall Street.

The bottom line is that we can sit and share sob stories all day long. (I can write mine on a piece of cardboard and hold it over half of my face if it would make it easier to digest.) I’m sure there are some far worse than my own. We can all find where our leaders on every level have failed us. My feelings about the upcoming presidential bid aside, Newt Gingrich articulated my point of view perfectly during last night’s Republican GOP debate:

“Virtually every American has a reason to be angry. I think virtually very American has a reason to be worried. I think the people who are protesting in Wall Street break into two groups: one is left-wing agitators who would be happy to show up next week on any other topic, and the other is sincere middle-class people. And actually…you can tell which are which. The people who are decent, responsible citizens pick up after themselves. The people who are just out there as activists trash the place and walk off and are proud of having trashed it, so let’s draw that distinction.”

“…And I think it’s perfectly reasonable for people to be angry. But let’s be clear who put the fix in: the fix was put in by the federal government. …Let’s look at the politicians who profited from the environment and the politicians who put this country in trouble.”

Feeling cheated, feeling betrayed…I think we all feel a sense of that, but let’s channel it in the right direction. Financial executives are in the business of making money, no matter who it hurts. I expect that. Politicians, however, should be held to a higher standard.

The fact is that, for the time being, Wall Street fat cats will keep get fatter. Politicians from both sides will continue to make promises they can’t keep. The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. And the world will keep spinning.

Life isn’t fair. Get over it.

All I can do is keep working. And if I can’t find work I’ll keep trying to find it. I’ll keep making every penny I have stretch as far as it can possibly go. But I’ll keep moving forward.

And if I want to enact change, I’ll get my facts straight and develop a viable strategy before I don my face paint and join a picket line.

Live from New York, it’s (almost) Saturday Night

We’re now well into September, which means the fall season is officially upon us here in New York City! Always my favorite season, I’m looking forward to more mild temperatures, college football, fashion week and watching Central Park ignite with color. Equally as exciting is the upcoming season of Saturday Night Live.

Approaching it’s 37th season, I am an unapologetic SNL junkie and have spent many summer nights doubled over with laughter in front of my laptop, streaming episodes from seasons gone by.

So, as you can imagine, I’ve spent a few solid hours racking my brain over the perfect personalities to grace the Studio 8H stage. I’m sure the good people at NBC will be happy to know that I’ve come up with some great prospects.

NBC has already revealed a few upcoming hosts slated to appear this fall. Alec Baldwin, always fantastic, will host the season opener for an unprecedented 16th time, followed by the hilarious Melissa McCarthy who was cast in the summer blockbuster Bridesmaids. Additionally, one of my personal favorites, Mr. Jimmy Fallon, has also been scheduled to host the Christmas special.

Yet, in all my TMZ-scouring and magazine cover-studying while in line at the Food Emporium, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the ladies this year who have taken the entertainment industry by storm and deserve the chance to confront their parodies. (Cast members beware.)

Hang on to your hair piece, Lorne Michaels. If it were up to me, you’d have a fall-full of females.

Here are a few of my feminine favorites, guaranteed to garner viewership, meet ratings projections and, in some cases, fog up your television screen.

Christina Hendricks                                              Well known for her role as Joan, the sassy secretary on the AMC drama “Mad Men,” Ms. Hendricks is one of my personal fashion icons. Recently featured on the cover of New York Magazine, it’s been said that she’s responsible for “the return of voluptuous,” which the rest of us shapely sisters are all too grateful for. Hendricks is  currently working on three pre-production films and has two movies coming out on September 16th: I  Don’t Know How She Does It, starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Drive, a thriller featuring Ryan Gosling.

 

 w/ musical guest Jessie J                                                                I was thoroughly impressed with Jessie J’s house band  performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. It showcased her  ability to be vocally-diverse and also that she wasn’t willing to let a  leg injury interfere with her rocking out! I have a strong suspicion  that she has some big things in store this year.

 

 

Anna Paquin                                                         In my book, this blonde bombshell is one of the most underrated female actresses on television. Recently married to her “True  Blood” co-star, Stephen Moyer, Anna was the second-youngest person to ever win an Oscar (for her role in the The Piano). She’s currently filming the dramatic comedy Straight A’s alongside Ryan Phillippe and Luke Wilson which is set to be released in 2012. Coming off next week’s season four finale of “True Blood” Paquin would bring the HBO to NBC.

 

w/ musical guest Britney Spears                                                 It’s Britney, bitch, and she’s back with a vengeance. It seems the shaven-head, baby-juggling, shotgun-wedding days in Brit’s life are now distant memories. Her fan base is booming and her records is chucked full of chart-topping dance hits. The blondes have it in this episode.

 

 

Mila Kunis                                                              First of all, can we talk about this dress?? This was, by far, my favorite look from last year’s award show season. Hot off of her Black Swan role, Mila wore this stunning Alexander McQueen dress to the Screen Actors Guild Awards in January. Since then, she’s only bolstered more of a following from her Friends With Benefits role and her rumored romance with co-star Justin Timberlake. (He put that to rest, and very publicly, at another awards show.) She’s got her hand in a few upcoming films and is without question, one of the most “in” celebs out there right now.

 

w/ musical guest Nicki Minaj                                                   She’s proven there’s nothing she won’t say. Or wear. She’s     already bared a breast in NYC this summer, and her new single “Fly” is the perfect opportunity to bring her back to the city.

 

 

 

 

Lea Michele                                                       I just can’t help myself, I think this girl is downright adorable. The obnoxious, shining star of “Glee” on Fox, she has only scratched the surface on, what I believe, will be a long, successful career in the entertainment industry. I’m looking forward to seeing the acting chops of grown-up Lea Michele and Rachel Berry’s graduation this season will hopefully force that. Lea will be featured in the upcoming romantic comedy New Year’s Eve (think Valentine’s Day) with names like Robert DeNiro and Hilary Swank. The movie will premiere in December.

 

w/ musical guest Adele                                                                    I love everything about this chick, and God knows I’m not alone. In addition to having sick vocal capabilities, Adele is known for connecting with her music and her audience in a profound and almost palpable way. I’d like to see a “Turning Tables”/”Someone Like You” collaboration and a second song that can feature host, Lea Michele. Perfect combo.

 

 

Emma Stone                                                   When I saw Easy A, I fell in love. This girl, and I call her that because she’s actually younger than I am, is funny and she makes freckles sexy. (Just ask Jim Carrey.) Emma has had dozens of hilarious supporting roles but is, undoubtedly, on the fast track to a booming movie career. Starring in the recently released Crazy, Stupid, Love, she has two films set to release in 2012 and two more with possible 2013 release dates. Look out ya’ll, this red head is ’bout to be in EVERYTHING.

 

 

w/ musical guest Beyonce                                                         Her performance at the VMAs blew my mind. FOUR key changes?! Is there anything this woman’s voice can’t do?! Coupled with her recent baby news, people are just going to want to see (and hear) this woman on television. And I’m one of them.

 

 

 

Sarah Jessica Parker                                               I love her, I love her, I love her. I love her because she shops for her own groceries at Whole Foods and rides the subway. I love her because she’s a classic New Yorker and uses words like “insipid.” I love her because she’s a mom and wife and is fabulous incarnate. Her new movie I Don’t Know How She Does It opens September 16th and I will be a Ziegfeld’s battling the crowd for the premiere. SJP is also teaming up with Manolo Blahnik for the Fashion’s Night Out event in New York where she’ll unveil a shoe she helped design. Be still my beating heart.

 

w/ musical guest Demi Lovato                                                 This is one Disney Channel prodigy that doesn’t nauseate me. Despite her recent treatment for depression, her new album Unbroken a huge success, along with her newest single “Skyscraper.” It’s only a matter of time before she transitions from a sitcom starlet into a force to be reckoned with.

 

 

Photo Credits: Christina Hendricks- Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez – © 2011 Getty Images, Jessie J- Photo by Kevin Winter – © 2011 Getty Images, Anna Paquin- Photo by David Livingston – © 2011 Getty Images, Britney Spears- Photo by David Buchan – © 2011 David Buchan, Mila Kunis- Photo by Kevork Djansezian – © 2011 Getty Images, Nicki Minaj- Photo by Kristian Dowling – © 2010 Kristian Dowling, Lea Michele- hoto by Frazer Harrison – © 2011 Getty Images, Adele- Photo by Kevin Winter – © 2011 Getty Images, Emma Stone- Photo by Stephen Lovekin – © 2011 Getty Images, Beyonce- Photo by Kevin Winter – © 2011 Getty Images, SJP- Photo by Steve Granitz – © WireImage.com, Demi Lovato- Photo by Kevin Mazur – © WireImage.com

I am not Carrie Bradshaw.

I am not Carrie Bradshaw.

For many of my friends and family back home in Michigan, trips to the ‘big city’ translate into to destinations like Detroit and Grand Rapids, shiny slot machines, martinis or a hotel with a view. Others save their pennies for vacationing at various lakeside retreats, most of which require non-Michiganders to Google them for reference.

My grandparents, for example, live near the small northern resort town of Petoskey, where the last name on the mailbox has been there for generations. (Like I said, Google it.) Their home, beautiful although rustic, is set back nearly a quarter mile from the road and nestled snugly into the forest full of pine trees. Deer and wild turkey feed in their front lawn. My grandma still hangs clothes out on the line to dry. There’s a garden where fresh vegetables are grown in the summer. And my grandpa has, on more than one occasion, been seen standing on the back porch in his underwear with a shotgun to scare away coyotes.

I grew up climbing trees, picking wild mushrooms and scraping the skin off elbows and knees as quickly as it grew back. And it’s with this upbringing that I observe the smelly, noisy street corners, designer price tags and New York nightlife that keeps libations flowing until 4 a.m.

Indeed, I am not Carrie Bradshaw.

Like her I am a working writer living on the Upper East Side. I’m cynical and sarcastic, but have a deeply-ingrained sense of convention and am, in most situations, idealistic. I have a quick wit and would tell you one of my best attributes is my sense of humor.

I too stop to salivate over Italian-made strappy sandals encased behind glass and have spent my rent money to take them home on more than one occasion. I order alcohol with my eggs at brunch and enjoy taking myself to the movies. I’m not afraid to venture out on my own.

Like her, I feel as though the city speaks to me. I love how the lights reflect off of the street after it rains. I love the sounds of humming traffic and the echo of a street-corner saxophone player. I’m hopeful here, wistful and romantic, as though at any moment Mr. Right will pop out of a cab, onto the sidewalk and into my life. I feel, for the moment, at home.

I am single and, to be sure, fabulous.

While intimately connected by a few major similarities, personality quirks and a whole heap of relationship baggage, I find myself a separate girl entirely.

I do not have three single girlfriends to gossip and laugh with and who are always there to tell me how great I am when I’m feeling low. I didn’t have them when I lost my job or when my would-be wedding fell apart or when I was so poor I stayed in for weeks with my Ramen noodles and my Netflix subscription. I have a dog who therapeutically licks my face until the tears stop falling.

I cook things and bake things. I can tell you it’s cheaper to buy your meat by the pound at the deli and also to buy your fresh fruit at the stand on the corner of 85th and Lexington. I have recipes sorted in categories like “dinner for one,” “pies,” and “for when I have little ones.” I do not keep sweaters in my stove.

I’m a bargain-buyer and a second-hand store shopper. I take the train to the outlet malls. I know a thrift store that sells Jimmy Choo stilettos alongside LLadro dinnerware and Kate Spade furniture. I’ve learned that fabulous has no price point.

I’m not twisted and jaded and afraid of commitment. I’m level-headed and very much aware of what I want. I have the bride gene. I am excited to, one day, incorporate wifedom and motherhood into my daily life.

I can’t afford to take a taxi when I know I can walk eleven blocks. I don’t have connections at Vogue. (Although, I’m working on that.) I’m not a glamourous party girl who sweeps in and out of movie premieres and 5th avenue couture salons each night of the week. I wake up at 7 a.m and go to work every day.

Most importantly, I’m ever-mindful that a world outside of Manhattan exists and even thrives.

New York has always been a melting pot for different cultures and ethnicities. But now I see that it’s also home to people like me, the new New Yorker. It’s true what they say about living in the city: if you can make here, you can make it anywhere. And most days I still can’t believe that I’m somehow making it—without Miss Bradshaw’s advantageous income, gaggle of gal pals and the all-important Mr. Big.

I am not Carrie Bradshaw.

I’m better.

Skyscraper Therapy

Last night I spent a few glorious hours at 230 Fifth, a restaurant famous for its spectacular rooftop bar and unbeatable skyline views of Manhattan. As you can see, I forced cocktails down my throat just long enough to see the Empire State Building burst into flame. It is, at times, overwhelming to be surrounded by so many skyscrapers; a little claustrophobic. As one tiny little person among millions it’s easy to feel so very small. Some might find it difficult to feel hopeful—how could I possibly have an effect on all this. From my perspective, I welcome the idea that the rest of this metropolis would view my problems as petty. It’s a comfort to see the world race onward in every direction, never stopping or slowing because someone is heartbroken or homesick—perhaps, the most literal example of how life goes on. I think it’s the city’s way of showing me that all of my challenges and insecurities are minuscule, insignificant in comparison to all its steel and glass. With New York lit up all around me, it’s almost possible for me to feel that way about them, too.