Honesty Will Never Break You Or, No. It OK. Don’t Be Cry.

About a month ago, Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino/Troy from Community/NOT Danny Glover’s son/NOT Spiderman because people are assholes/The inspiration behind Toofer on 30 Rock) Instagrammed a collection of hand-written, deeply introspective notes.

gloverbetter

And the internet lost its collective shit.

Because that’s what the internet does best. It’s basically a fainting couch. With kittens. And porn.

A lot of people expressed worry, some called it a craven publicity stunt of sorts and at least one comment I read wondered if dude was ghostwriting for Drake.

Personally, I just saw it as a guy having a pre-dawn moment of honesty and deciding to share it with the world. One of those rare, “You know what? Fuck it” moments where you pull the lever, hit send, buy the ticket or jump the stall.

Maybe that’s why people lost their shit. Because seriously – when was the last time you saw that kind of honesty online?

Internet and I are like me and Mrs. Jones, right? We got a love thing going on. I Facebook, I Tweet, I Tumble, I Instagram, I Yelp and I blog.

And all of these social media outlets are a generally accurate reflection of the person I am but they’re certainly not close to resembling the whole picture.

I write about the good stuff – high-end gin, how the bassline to Seven Nation Army is a jaguar stalking its prey, how Raylan Givens is the greatest character on television and seriously, are you fucking kidding me? You’re still not watching Justified? Dude. It comes back in January. You have plenty of time to catch up.

You know – the Holy Shit, I Love You stuff.

I don’t write (much) about my personal life, my fears and insecurities or how a Sherman Alexie quote had me tangled up in blue for a solid three days.

But maybe I should because it’s honest and as a writer, shouldn’t I constantly be fumbling towards honesty?

And hell, maybe I should just because it’s okay. It’s okay to be sad and it’s okay to write about it. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes.

One thing struck me about Glover’s epistolary – “You’re always allowed to be better.”

I like that. I like the promise that encircles those words. You strive towards the hope that you’re not the person you want to be yet…but you will be. It comes back to my boy Fitz because it always comes back to my boy Fitz – “Tomorrow, we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther and one fine day…”

I’m not as brave as Glover. I’m not quite willing to bare my soul…but I want to get there. I want to be more honest. I want to be brave. I want to be better.

So, in that spirit – the Sherman Alexie quote that got me all wound up?

He loved her, of course, but better than that, he chose her, day after day. Choice: that was the thing. ― The Toughest Indian In The World

I’m not brave enough to say why. Not yet. But I really hope one day, I will be.

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Simultaneously Enchanted and Repelled by The Great Gatsby Or, I Wanna Change My Hair, My Clothes, My Face

I am the first girl to hold out her fork and say, “Dude! This is so good! You have to try this!”

If I love you and you need something, I’m going to damn well make sure you get it.
Or a very close approximation of it.
Or a sandwich because dude, even if I did have Ryan Gosling’s phone number – I wouldn’t give it to you first. I mean, we’re friends but I’m not running for Jesus here.

As demonstrated above, I’m very selfish in a very peculiar way.

If I have a particular affinity to something, I’m reluctant to share it with the unworthy. It doesn’t take much but you have to earn your way to my favorite menu item and my most beloved b-side.

And that’s why I’m really worried about the fallout of Baz Luhrmann’s take on The Great Gatsby.

gatsby

The movie comes out on Friday – all bombast and bling. Slick and shimmery as Beyonce’s thighs and calm like a bomb. And with this comes the inevitable gaggle of idiots who get taken in by the, ‘Oooh pretty shiny!’, idealize Jay and Daisy’s romance and basically, take something I love and like it wrong.

Can you ‘like’ something wrong?
Yes.
Yes, you can.

I’m fully aware of the fact that I sound like a crazy person right now. I mean, The Great Gatsby is a classic and it belongs less to be me and more to the collective conscience but I still think of it as mine.

I’ve written about it extensively, I own two copies (one of which lives in my purse) and when I miraculously have more body mass, I’m going to get that last paragraph inked on my flesh.

I love this story even though it’s been criticized as being nothing more than a glorified anecdote. A shivery wisp of a story we’ve all heard a million times – boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy reconnects with girl, boy loses girl again – but there’s a whole other world that ebbs and flows within the confines of that cliche.

As much as I love the lushness of the language, my favorite thing about the novel is its duality. The notion that the very hope that sustains a man is the same that will eventually slay him knocks me out.

Only love will break your heart, right? Love will tear us apart. Love is a battlefield. Love is blindness. Love hurts, right? It wounds, it scars and it breaks your fucking heart…BUT hope? Hope will reduce a man to ashes.

Love pretends that it’s dangerous, but hope will drag you through hell before it kills you and whisper sweet nothings in your ear the entire time.

A couple of nights ago, I had a conversation about the novel and it got me thinking about reinvention, reinterpretation of self, how it’s never too late to start over and how The Great Gatsby really is the great American novel.

The blue-jean clad, hip-swiveling hero from Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark is James Gatz:

I check my look in the mirror
I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face
Man I ain’t getting nowhere
I’m just living in a dump like this
There’s something happening somewhere
Baby, I just know that there is

Both men springing from platonic conceptions of themselves. Both sons of God, but while Springsteen’s jukebox hero spent his time twistin’ the night away with a pre-Friends Courteney Cox, James Gatz ached for Daisy and casually dispensed starlight to moths in the tenuous hope that she would grace his doorway.

God, is there anything more redolent of the American spirit than this? After all, what are Americans but conceptions of themselves? Children of God who don’t mold themselves in His image but rather their own.

Unlike Gatsby, I don’t regard the silver salt and pepper of the stars looking to repeat the past. If anything, I want to extricate myself from its gnarled roots and I hope this marked difference will spare me the elegiac tragedy that befell Fitzgerald’s high bouncing, gold-hatted lover.

However, I am fascinated by the idea of reinvention and living out your personalized runaway American dream.

My life is kinda up in the air right now and I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I’m buoyed by the same sense of extraordinary hope as Gatsby.

I don’t really have a plan and I don’t really know what’s going to happen, but I do know that if you don’t like something – you can change it and start over.

That I can be the person I want to be and live the life I want to live.

All I have to do is run faster, stretch my arms out farther and one fine morning…

Bruuuuuuce Or, How I Learned To Stop Crying and Accept My 29th Birthday

So, this happened today:

In the past seven days, I have cried three times and not the single tear-environmental Indian kind of crying. I’m talking wracking sobs that leave a girl all snotty with puffy red eyes.

Yeah. It’s real cute.

This whole 29th birthday thing is not treating me well for a variety of reasons and just…feelings. Ew.

I cried again today. In addition to making unintelligible squealing noises, flapping my arms and forgetting how to breathe.

(I’m pretty sure that Augs’ family was thinking, “There are a million girls in the world that he could be with and he goes out and picks the most crazy one. Awesome. Also, why is she so short?”)

I am so damn lucky to have such incredible people in my life.

My family. Genetic, extended, the whole bit. These are the most generous people I know and are always there when I need them.
My friends who never fail to make me scream with laughter.
My co-workers who understand the importance of birthday hugs, Magic Cake and giant fountain Diet Cokes.

And finally, my guy. I love him with all the madness in my soul…and if this past month has proved anything, it’s that there’s whole lot of cray packed in there.

Impending Adulthood, Pernicious Beasties and Chapped Lips Or, Who Cares? I Mention Jordan Catalano at the End.

In two weeks, I’m going to be 29 and I’m a little freaked out about it.

And by little, I mean I’ve spent the past month mentally listing every insecurity ever (alphabetically, numerically, from most to least psychologically jarring) and chewing my bottom lip to shreds.

Hey gang! You know who’s the most fun person in the world? An emotionally unstable 28-year-old with chapped lips and a penchant for power-pop, gin and cursing!

Twenty-nine is dancing cheek-to-cheek with 30 and thirty? That is the decade of big changes – home ownership, parenthood and abandonment of the notion that Diet Coke constitutes as breakfast.

It’s all utterly terrifying.

Even more so because you know, I’m the only person in the history of ever to turn 29 and have apprehension about adulthood and all that it entails.

A third-life crisis like this is to be expected but I swear, goddamn Facebook just exacerbates the whole thing because now, I’m wrist-deep in information about people with their living rooms that look like a spread in an Anthropologie catalog and their chubby-cheeked babies and their travel to exotic locales because fuck you, job! Health benefits are for wusses!

(And no, it’s not as easy as disconnecting from Facebook because if I did, I wouldn’t be able to watch awesome videos of my nephew saying he loves me. Twice.)

I’m trying to listen to myself and keep it in check, but it’s tough. Insecurity gremlins are pernicious little beasties and just when you think you’d smacked them all away, one shows up and tears into you like a ravening wolf going after a limping gazelle.

So to quote The Police – I’m sending out an SOS:

How do you deal with this stuff?

How do you handle those moments where your life seems to freeze-frame and you ask, “What the hell am I doing?!” Those moments where the seemingly solid ground beneath your feet turns to pudding and you scramble to find footing. Those moments where you become the dog.

This is one of those times I really wish my life was an episode of My So-Called Life.

Firstly, my life would open with really great theme music and then, I’d go through this crisis for like, 35 minutes but in the final nine – there would be some spark of resolution.

Ricky would say something profound to me in the girls bathroom or I’d call a temporary ceasefire on wanting to stab Patty with my salad fork and we’d have a great talk in the kitchen or Jordan Catalano – Jordan fucking Catalano would look at me in the hallway in that way that only Jordan Catalano can do and I’d know what to do.

And even if I didn’t, who cares because, hello? Did you see the way Jordan Catalano looked at me?

I Need Seriously Need To Stop With The Facebook Or, You Procreated…And It Worked?

I’m in a relationship with Facebook and it’s complicated.

I keep trying to disengage but as anyone who’s been in a shitty relationship knows — breaking up is hard to do.

I hate the social networking site because it’s evil, annoying and basically everything Drea says, but I also love it because it makes passing judgment so much easier. Being a judgmental a-hole is one of my favorite things ever, ranking right up there with live music, gin gimlets and this animated gif of Ron Livingston (dudes, I can’t even…).

So, for the past couple of months, I’ve been logging on to discover that essentially everyone I graduated high school with is either expecting their first child or pregnant yet again.

Ummm, what the what?
Did I miss the memo?
Is this a thing now?

Considering I’m in my late twenties, yeah, I’d say this is a thing now.

What freaks me out is the fact that no-one seems freaked out about this.

Did birth control go the way of Airwalks, body glitter and No Fear shirts? I mean, how are all you people ready to be parents already?

John F. Kennedy once said that to have a child is to give fate a hostage. If there’s one thing that fate isn’t, it’s predictable. And if there’s one thing that a good parent should be, it’s predictable. Does anyone else see the complete and utter lack of convergence here?

You take your last easy breath the moment you become a parent. From here on out, your life is a constant state of free-falling panic and a deluge of ‘What Ifs’ – What if they get sick? What if they get hurt? What if they’re bullied? What if they’re the bully? What if they drink, do drugs and get pregnant before their Bar Mitzvah? What if I screw this up so monumentally, they end up on the pipe, the pole and Nancy Grace within five years? What if, what if, what if?

I’m not ready for that kind of pressure and I’m definitely not ready for something so profoundly malleable and pure to be dependent on my screwball ass. After all, I can’t keep a poinsettia alive and the most important thought I had today was, “You know, I should really own all the Rolling Stone albums. Because that Exile on Main Street rerelease is pretty goddamn amazing. Man, Tumbling Dice is an amazing song.

So, I guess the question I’m asking here is how is it that I’m in the minority here? How is it that so many of my peers are ready for this? Was there I class I opted out of – Not Being An Emotionally Stunted Buckethead 101?

To the parents out there – when did you know that you were ready to be a parent? Was there some biological ding that went off or was it more a case of, “Huh. Two blue lines. Well, shit…”

It’s the biggest step a person can take and I am certainly not ready to leap into that abyss. Hopefully one day, I will be but right now? I’m kind of digging on being an aunt to the world’s most adorable kids (my nieces and nephew are cuter than yours. Smarter too. And funnier. And way more bad-ass. Seriously, my niece would straight up house your kid with a Lego block and her blanky), cursing like a sailor who just lost shore leave and arguing about the best song The Stones ever released (Gimme Shelter. Look, I love Wild Horses and have 21 different versions of it on my computer, but Gimme Shelter is a much better track. It’s smart, political, dangerous, symphonic and featured in two of the greatest movies of all time – The Departed and Adventures in Babysitting).

P.S. – Mom and Paps – Remember when I was a kid? Yeah, I am so sorry. Looking back, I swear it’s like I was purposefully trying to induce a massive coronary. Between smashing into walls, jumping off bunk beds and refusing to adhere to the notion that no, a stranger isn’t a bloody friend you haven’t met but a tweaking junkie who’d sell you to a Bulgarian child slavery ring for an eighth of kif and packet of crisps – I have no idea how the two of you got a decent night’s sleep.

Slouching Towards Thirty Or, I’m Starting To Get That Vonnegut Line About True Terror Being Your High School Class Running The Country

My birthday is less than two weeks away.

I’m going to be 28.
Which is practically dancing cheek-to-cheek with 29.
Which is essentially a hop-skip-and-a-hug away from 30.

Which means I should just kill myself now because, sweet Caroline, 30 is really old.

I kid. I kid.
Kinda.

Thirty is a whole new decade and the legitimate genesis of adulthood. Thirty is children, mortgage payments, watching CBS and turning down spicy food because you don’t want to risk heartburn.

That’s not me. I’m more childish than children and more ain’t nothing going on but the rent than about a mortgage payment. I’m the girl who is still perplexed by the fact that most tables in the Northeast don’t feature hot sauce alongside salt and pepper and as for CBS? The only way I would watch it is if I couldn’t find the remote and the TV was stuck on the channel.

Anyone who knows me knows that I can hardly be considered an adult. Yes, I work 40 hours a week in an office, own a pair of sensible black pumps and have had several conversations about the importance of your employer providing a good benefits package, but that’s where the similarities stop.

I watch Batman: The Animated Series, think popcorn makes a decent dinner (what? It’s a whole grain!) and gleefully sing/scream Biggie songs when I’m doing the dishes (dudes, I don’t care who you are — “Honeys play me close/Like butter play toast/From the Mississippi down to the East Coast” is an awesome rhyme).

Adults don’t do that. In fact, most adults would actively frown on stuff like this. Case in point – Mom. She’s reading this right now (probably over Paps’ shoulder – Hi guys!) and lamenting the fact that her eldest daughter eats snack food for dinner.

So, I’m a little freaked about this birthday. I’m slouching perilously closer to adulthood and I’m not ready for that.

But I figure I still have a couple of years before the big 3-0 and I can spend the next 1,051,200 minutes figuring it out..and y’know, listening to more Biggie.

I Bet in High School, Everybody Made Somebody’s Life Hell, or Ten Years Gone.

Dear 17-Year-Old Jaime:

Hey! It’s me — your decade-older counterpart chiming in for a quick chat.

So, I just got a battery of Facebook messages (It’s like an online yearbook used primarily for social networking stalking people and growing digital crops. You’ll dislike it but find yourself unable to disengage because it makes communication easier and because you’re kinda of a judgmental a-hole) about our 10 Year High School Reunion.

Yeah, you’re that old now.

Dude, please stop making the face. Not only is it wildly unattractive, but I fear something might fly into our eye and cause permanent damage. Our vision isn’t so hot to begin with and I really don’t need you mucking it up further.

Anyway — high school reunion. It’s happening this summer and right now, I’m in two minds whether I want to attend.

So, we’re going to make like Mick and Keef and do a little Point/Counterpoint (references to classic SNL sketches will always be cool. Always). You ready? Here we go:

17 Year Old Jaime: You’re like, 64% less gawky than you were in high school. And 62.5% of that can be attributed to your prodigious flat iron usage.
Present Day Jaime: I would like to rebut with a three-fold answer:

1. 64%? Who taught you math? Low 80s at least. At least.
2. Duh.
3. Who are you trying to impress? The lunkheads you went to school with? Come on, dude. Seriously?

17-Year-Old Jaime: You get to spend quality time in Florida.
Present Day Jaime: I have to book a flight, take time off work, arrange travel to and from the airport and see if I can coordinate this whole venture with Augs’ schedule. This seems like an awful lot of work for a trip that may not result in me spending quality time with my sister or D, Steve and the dogs.

17-Year-Old Jaime: You know you want to see who got fat, who knocked up who and who came out.
Present Day Jaime: ….

So, what conclusion are we deriving from this dialetic exercise? Inconclusive.

Damn it.

Look, I’ll keep you posted on whether I go or not but in the meantime — study hard, stop fixating on the cute guitar player in yearbook  (trust me on this one, dude. Seriously) and listen to Bruce Springsteen.

Lots of Love:

27-Year-Old Jaime xx