Tag Archives: high school

Monday’s Watch, Listen, Read

Watch

I would not have made it through high school or college without some of my best friends. We were all outsiders for one reason or the other. There’s a kinship shared between outsiders during those tumultuous years that helps you get through. I could not imagine life without these friends and relatives, some of whom happened to be gay, lesbian or bisexual. These peeps were my film camp buddies, musical theatre program friends, my prep school and college classmates, my relatives by marriage, and my family by choice.  They were (and still are) my rocks.

The main thing you learn from being an outsider, gay or straight, is that it sucks when you’re in it, but it helps you to become a stronger person. You learn a lot faster that life isn’t about judging or winning, it’s about loving and living in those little moments of beauty — seizing them wherever and whenever they can be found.

Whatever you’re going through now, know that you’re not alone.  There are other people going through the same thing and it will get better. Every day you wake up and every night you go to sleep, you’ve conquered another demon. Keep going. The world has so much to offer and you have so much to offer the world.

Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project is a series of videos aimed at gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered youth. The message is simple: whatever you’re going through now, it gets better. No amount of bullying or loneliness should push someone to the point of depression or suicide. You are worth more than that. Listen to Dan & Terry’s story and to all the other videos on their YouTube page. These stories will one day be yours, too.

Listen

This song has been playing on a continuous loop in my head. The paper animation in the video reminds me of a Victorian-era valentine. Beautiful.

Read

I’ve been catching up on back issues of the New Yorker, so this week’s reading is a little less formal but no less habit-forming: Refinery 29. This site is one of my daily go-to sites. It’s a bit of an obsession. I’m sure they have my IP address flagged as a stalker.

I’m not a person who spends a ton of money on clothes. I’ll splurge the day I find the best pair of jeans ever created (or maybe a custom pair) or if I find a fantastic pair of shoes I know will haunt me for years to come if I don’t buy them — this has only happened three times, so far. Apart from those things (and perhaps, one day, an Oscar dress) I’m a pretty practical shopper. That said, I grew up with a mother who made us compare fabrics: brushed cottons and cashmeres to acrylics and polyester. “Feel the difference? You don’t want that rough stuff against your skin.” Our mother always told us the staple pieces in every wardrobe should consist of at least one crisp, white man-tailored shirt, a pair of black pants, a good pair of dark jeans, a nice black leather belt and a dark brown leather belt. Everything could be built on from there. Most PTA moms wore khakis or Lily Pulitzer. My mom dressed like she never left Manhattan, all clad in black with the occasional pop of a white collar. You can take the girl out of the city …

My mother’s fabric obsession lead to my sister’s interest in fashion and later, her degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology. My love of fashion is quieter, though no less passionate. You can wear what you want and I won’t judge (like my mom and sister do) but I’m very specific in my tastes.  I’ve also forecasted my share of trends. I take full credit for bringing back the chandelier earring. I was also wearing a Mad Men-style skirt and peep-toe shoes six years ago, when Matthew Weiner was still developing a little pilot about 1950s ad men. Those peep toes and skirt were inspired by my favorite Carolina Herrera collection ever, RTW 2003. I stalked and refreshed Style.com till that collection was finally posted an entire day after it hit the catwalk — it nearly killed me to wait that long. I’ll also profess my love for The Rachel Zoe Project here. But please, Bravo, focus more on the Balenciaga and less on the babies.

Whether it’s in or it’s out, prêt-àporte or Haute couture, Refinery 29 is my little pop of white in a sea of inky black fashion coverage.

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Do It With Thy Might

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“When you leave this place … be sure to come back. Coming back enables you to see how all the dots in your life are connected, how one twist of fate, good or bad, brings you to a door that later takes you to another door, which, aided by several detours — long hallways and unforeseen stairwells — eventually puts you in the place you are now.” – Ann Patchett

It’s hard to believe ten years ago I was this person. It feels like another world and another lifetime, but also a moment ago. To quote one of my favorite documentaries, “it’s very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present.”

Look Back on Time with Kindly Eyes

In a fair suburb of New York, the same suburb where Uptown grew up, I spent my formative years at an all-girls middle/high school nestled on a hillside. The school was founded at the turn-of-the-century. We had a headmistress, a tragic Gothic tale, which resulted in a lively ghost who was rumored to roam the halls, beautiful old stone buildings and dormitories whose rooms were nestled in the eaves. It was an idyllic setting where we all read Jane Eyre, spent evenings laying on the great lawn looking at the stars, and winter days sledding down the steep hill on our lunch trays. We all had that teenage angst (some more than others), but we were part of a global community, with nearly 70 percent of our student body hailing from around the country and around the world. Two of my closest friends however, were New Yorkers (one suburban and one a city kid).

I was always fascinated by the city friend, she possessed an “otherness” about her that could only have been a direct result of her growing up in the Village during the 80’s and 90’s to artistic, Bohemian parents. Her mother looked like a dark-haired version of Claudette Colbert, but spoke in a voice more akin to Lauren Bacall. Her father was a little more of a wayfarer and eventually moved out of their apartment and to the “gritty” neighborhood of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.

Having our school situated on the train line to Grand Central, my two friends and I spent almost every weekend in the city, visiting the Met and sitting directly across from the massive “Joan D’Arc” painting (second floor, make a left, walk down the hall and another left and it’s all the way down on the right) where my suburban friend would sit sketching, while my city friend would be writing songs about the paintings. I would simply sit there staring, taking in the art and watching people react to the paintings. We would then roam through the Village, stopping at Hudson Street Papers and Tea & Sympathy and walk along Charles Street. My city friend had such a self-possession. Everything she did intrigued me. She was perhaps, the person I most wanted to be at the time, because she was so unlike me. I didn’t have an air of mystery, grow up in Manhattan, attend art openings since birth, or act in my mother’s movies and performance art pieces. But I so wanted that all, minus the dysfunction that seemed to come with it.

In tenth grade however, my city friend betrayed me in a typical adolescent way, and we were no longer friends. There were no more impromptu photo shoots in the music building while she strummed Mazzy Star or Tori Amos on her guitar, no laughing in the dorms as we recited ShakespeareDickinson or Rossetti with each other. My suburban friend remained, but after her parents died within a few years of each other, she receded, feeling a bit like she had been marked by a scarlet letter. I stuck by her through high school and even college. September 11th happened while she was studying in Morocco. We spent the day instant messaging each other, since news was being censored on her end, I was her one link to the rest of the world that day. I sent her a care package with peanut butter and that horrible cover of Time magazine with the Twin Towers being struck. We lost touch shortly after that. Until today, when I reached out to her and then the other friend found me.

I met my suburban friend at Tea & Sympathy. A place which I’ve written about and been to hundreds of times. As we sat down today, examining each other’s faces for signs of the girls we once were, she remarked, “I haven’t been here since high school.” She looked around and I knew she saw exactly what I did. A version of our younger selves, sitting in the window, having tea, laughing and whispering. Who would think that in nine years, not much has changed. We were both the same people at the core. She’s still funny, honesty and fiercely intelligent. I’m still me. But we’re both free of that adolescent pain that held us back from being ourselves. We picked up exactly where our last tea left off, we laughed and whispered, talked about our lives and passions and our futures. “This was fun,” I said. “Let’s stay in touch. Maybe do something next week?” And true to her humorous and candid form, my friend replied, “I’m glad you said it first. Because last week I said that to someone I hadn’t seen in a long time and they said, ‘ummm, yeah. Maybe I’ll call you.”‘

And our city friend? She has changed her name, and now shares her new identity with that of a Pre-Raphaelite muse. Her photo square sits in my “Friend Request” box on Facebook, her strong features staring back at me. I haven’t accepted her yet. The adolescent in me is brutal, she wants the adult me to remain mysterious, self-possessed, and let the city friend wait there, in limbo. And for once I’m listening to my younger self, and leaving the request “pending.”