The End of a Hiatus

I turned the corner just in time to see the Physicist walking up to the entrance of my gallery and stopped dead in my tracks. Before he could pass through the bronze doors he paused and turned, catching what I’m sure was a look of shock on my face. For a moment we stared right at each other, and in that same moment I traveled back in time three years…

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I was wearing that stunning piece by Anya Caliendo. He was wearing tweed. We were different. 

He was standing in that doorway the first time I saw him, walking into the opening reception for one of our exhibitions. It was a wintry Sunday afternoon in February, and he was wearing a long white-black tweed coat over slim red pants and a black turtleneck. He looked so bloody French (which we was), and therefore was the best thing I’d seen in a longtime. I was wearing  a sequined feathered whimsy on loan from one of Lady Gaga’s milliners. It happened to sit right in the center of my forehead and project a foot into the air. I looked… different.

He was walking out of that doorway when I decided to run after him to give him a piece of paper with my phone number scrawled on it. I was two weeks out of a serious relationship and was in an empowered mood that bordered on reckless.

It was a week later, on Valentine’s Day, when a few doors down from that doorway we went on our first date.

And then a month later, we were in his doorway and he kissed me good-bye. As I walked out into the lion’s roar of March, I was certain that I’d never see him again…

And then, here we were, three years later on a wintry Friday afternoon in January standing in that doorway again.

“I wish you had told me you were coming in,” I said. “I would have made sure my hair looked better.”

The Physicist was visiting a chapter of his old life, on vacation from his new life in eastern Europe. We caught up over coffee in a trattoria behind the gallery.

“You don’t blog any more,” he remarked once we made it past a catch-up on work life and started the transition to personal lives. “Is that because someone’s given you reason not to blog?”

“I’ve been seeing someone, but he’s not the reason I’m not writing. I just haven’t had any time to write. And maybe, these days, I have too much to say.”

“You should make time. I liked reading it. And writing mattered to you.”
He handed me a deck of playing cards — my gift. The face side of each card was a soviet-era “propaganda” poster. I laughed out loud as I shifted through the images and he showed off some of his Russian. img_20170106_164308060

Sometimes it’s hard to attribute any value to the ephemeral relationships that make their way into and out of our lives. I always considered the Physicist as a quasi toxic vignette in my dating life (even if was French and had a six pack.)  But his cameo at the start of 2017 was a valuable one — he reminded me to hold onto all the things that make me ME.

And so, just as the American political leadership is trying to silence the voices of women and minorities, and just as I start down new paths of my own, I return to my soap box.

They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband is back.

Thanks, Physicist.

 

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The 12 Days of Christmas… and the 12 Men I’d Need to Get Me Through Them

Look, I know it's Ryan Gosling and not a lumberjack, per-say... but It's Christmas.
Look, I know it’s Ryan Gosling and not a Lumberjack, per-say… but It’s Christmas and I’m allowed a wish-list. 

Dear Santa,

2014 has been a good year for me, and while I’ve been enjoying myself, I’ve been sure to do all the right things to get on your “Good List” again for the 27th out of my 29 years (let’s not talk about that one year in college…)

So while I’m in full-on Holiday Elf mode (the stockings are hung by the chimney with care!) here’s a list of things I want, no NEED, to make my Christmas a success for me, my family, and our guests. It’s reasonably straight forward and I’ve designed it as a kind of “installment plan” — one gift for every day leading up to Christmas. Advent-style. Amen.

So here goes:

On the First Day of Christmas, please Santa send to me… a lumberjack with a pick-up truck

The best day to buy your tree is the day after Thanksgiving. It’s a truth no one wants to tell  you, but all the trees you see in nurseries or on the side of the road have all been cut down and shipped at the same time. Even the ones you buy on Christmas Eve were harvested in mid November. A lumberjack would see my tree is the freshest on the block.

One Second Day of Christmas, please Santa send to me… a fireman with a sizable hose.

In case said lumberjack fails, and the tree is a little dried out, it’s always handy to have a fire specialist on hand…

Let's just not
Let’s just not

On the Third Day of Christmas, please Santa send to me… a chauffeur with a trailer for my shopping victories.

I drove into the mall parking lot on Sunday only to drive out of it 15 minutes later — there were exactly ZERO spots available. Several people are going to be short stocking stuffers this Christmas… a shortcoming that could easily have been avoided with my own Chauffeur and a Royce.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, please Santa send to me… a man with an electrician’s degree.

Lights on the porch. Lights on the hedges. Lights on the family Christmas tree. Lights, lights everywhere… and broken bulbs, wiggling wires, and frizzing fuses to go with them. For some men, the front yard Christmas light display is a sparkling, LED-enhanced demonstration of their masculinity. But whether or not he approaches the strings of bulbs and illuminated snowmen with a competitive edge, he should, in the very least, know how not to electrocute himself…and how not blow the entire East Coast grid.

Clean my blinds then make me a drink.
Clean my blinds then make me a drink.

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, please Santa send to me… a butler with a feather duster… and a stiff martini. 

Where did all this dust come from? And all this stuff? Someone needs to see that it’s all sorted out… and while they’re at it, pass me the Tanqueray.

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, please Santa send to me… a masseur with strong hands and open timetable.

Does this one need explaining? I think not.

On the Seventh Day of Christmas, please Santa send to me… a free-range organic farmer. 

If you think the malls are bad in the final days before Christmas, try the supermarkets. I’m a big fan of farm to table — this would make it all possible.

On the Eight Day of Christmas, please Santa send to me… a top chef with a knack for catering.

Tree-trimming party, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, New Year’s Day, Post-New Year’s Day — the final two weeks of the year are full of parties. And it would be so much easier if I had a chef to do all the work for me… ideally one that looks a lot like Curtis Stone, but with better recipes…

Curtis, any day you're in my kitchen is a holiday. I'll bring the mistletoe.
Curtis, any day you’re in my kitchen is a holiday. I’ll bring the mistletoe.

On the ninth Day of Christmas, please Santa send to me… a personal trainer.

Oh, God. Have I really eaten this much already?! Preparing a 4-course meal is physical work. I need a trainer to not only help me shed those holiday half-dozens, but to help get be buff and ready for next year’s cooking marathon.

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, please Santa send to me… 10 Lords a Leaping.

I used to go to the Nutcracker at the NYC Ballet every year. The Candy Canes were always very impressive, and it isn’t a party unless someone is dancing… and why can’t it be 10 athletic, land-owning, titled gentlemen?

On the eleventh day of Christmas, please Santa send to me… a plumber. 

Because all of a sudden the radiator in the living room isn’t getting hot and the guests are coming in an hour… like I really need THIS!

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, please Santa send to me… Benedict Cumberbatch.

Because it’s Christmas, and why the hell not.

Benedict can be my Santa any day... #naughtyelf
Benedict can be my Santa any day… #naughtyelf

I thank you for your consideration and attention to this matter. As you’ve probably witnessed (since you know when/where/with whom I am sleeping and you know when I’m awake) the internet and real-life social networking have come-up short in fulfilling these needs. I hope you can come through where all else has failed.

Merry Christmas to you and Mrs. Claus. I’ll leave the cookies and the milktini on top of the fireplace mantle this year — sorry the dog got to the coffee table first last year…

Many thanks,

Kathleen

So, What’s Your Type

For as long as I can remember, people have always had strong opinions about what type of guy is my Mr. Right.

The summer I graduated from high school, my South African godfather came to visit. At the same time, a boy I knew from out of town was staying in our guest room. It was a house full of foreigners.

“He’s a nice young fellow,” Hilton said of my 17-year old guest, “but he’s far too young for you. You need to be seeing someone who is at least 21, maybe even 22.”

I assured him that the young fellow sleeping in the room next to mine was in no way a romantic interest. I was flattered that my worldly godfather should think I deserved a boyfriend who wasn’t a boy, but a grown-up man. It felt good to be a teenager who seemed mature beyond her years.

Dan decided I need a "No Reservations" style Aaron Eckhart to my Catherine Zeta Jones

My godfather was typical of those in my life — everyone I met had ardent beliefs about what type man was my match. They may not have all agreed on age difference, profession, and nationality, but all were quick to offer an opinion.

My roommate in college decided the only person I could have children with was Charley. “You’re sporty and strict. He’s awkward and friendly. You’d be the disciplinarian. He’d be the one that takes them for ice cream. Together, you’d read them The Odyssey at bedtime.”

I didn’t necessarily mind her pick, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about her assessment of my potential parenting persona. I do like ice cream, after all.

“You can’t marry a guy who makes you cook for him,” Dan said as he watched me drop homemade butternut squash ravioli into a pot of boiling water. “He has to be someone who will cook with you.”

I’d gotten so accustomed to people telling me who I should be looking for that I never designed my own version of  Mr. Right. Then one day, I was blindsided by a question no one had ever asked…

Could I say Gerard Butler is my "type?" Or is Gerard Butler just a look?

“So, what’s the deal — what type of guy are you looking for?”

I was at a loss. Smart, funny, athletic, and good-looking is non-specific– it’s the standard-issue type for the indecisive. When I thought about it, every guy I ever knew or dated was, in some form or another, smart, funny, athletic, and good-looking.

I racked my brain. Could I name an actor? Would Gerard Butler suffice, or is Gerard Butler a look (and an apartment)? Someone interesting enough that our wedding will win the “Vows” column in the Sunday Times? Likewise, non-specific.

Finally, it hit me:

“I want a guy who makes me smile the way my puppy does. He should be the kind of guy who would propose while we’re hiking up a mountain but want to hold the reception in the atrium at MoMA.”

“I don’t know anyone like that,” the person replied. “But I can set you up with a guy who has season tickets at Yankee stadium.”

I shrugged and wondered why he bothered asking. It looked like for now, a man with Yankees season tickets was just my type.

We’re All Pretty, Pretty, Neurotic Princesses

Of late, I’ve found a kindred spirit in Cinderella.

Sure, I have neither an evil step-mother who locks me in an attic nor ugly step-sisters who steal my clothes and spill pizza grease on them, but I have my share of chores that keep me looking like I just rolled around in a cinder bin.

 

Every Cinderella needs her own set of seamstress mice

 

Mornings are spent makeupless in old jeans and a t-shirt running errands for the family while my mother recovers from her recent hip replacement. I race through grocery stores, power-mop the kitchen floor, dust away the cobwebs from the corners of the living room, transfer the laundry from the hamper to the washing machines, groom the dogs, and put two meals on the table while prepping the third for my return at night. The projects I’m working on have me on call 24-7, and the majority of what I accomplish during the day is done between blackberry emails on the run and conference calls from my compact-SUV. At night, I’m “training” and if I’m lucky, home in my sweats by 10PM.

In short, I’m like every other modern woman as she tries to make her way in life on her own two feet while contributing to her family’s overall well-being. There isn’t much in the way of glamor, but there isn’t much to complain about.

On the console table near my front door sits an invitation to a charity ball. The event is being organized by a woman whose generosity, strength, and heart I greatly admire, and who has recently emerged as a fairy god-mother of sorts. A little bit of sparkle is something to look forward to, especially in the name of a good cause. As for the Cinderella transformation, do you remember that scene in the Disney movie when all the worker mice team-up and create a ball-gown for Cinderella from scraps of material? Yea, I’ve got seamstress mice too. Rather than buy something new, my tailor is reviving a unique vintage piece. It is a recession after all, and I’m a big believer in “once couture, always couture.” A needle, some thread, a little bibbidi, bobbidi, boo, and I’m good to go.

Hopefully, I won’t leave a Ferragamo behind on the dance floor.

All these parallels got my friend Annie and I thinking: If the 21st century New Yorker edition of Cinderella looks like me, what would the some of the other princesses look like in today’s Grimm fairytale?

 

Grace (of "Will & Grace") is the modern Snow White, and we love her

 

Rapunzel is that girl that lets men walk all over her. She’s the one most likely to get back together with the jerk who dumped her. Because she spends most of the day locked away in her room/office, Rapunzel is bound to get into trouble when she’s partying away a Friday night. As she goes off to the bathroom to make-out with the bartender, her friends say “It’s no wonder her mother had to lock her in a tower!”

Snow White shares a flat with 3 gay guys. In fact, all of her friends are handsome gay guys who take her shopping and tell her she’s fabulous and that they can’t live without her. She stopped having girlfriends after her jealous best friend slept with her boyfriend. Snow often eats indiscriminately and feels bad about it later when she’s passed out on her sofa in an apple-turnover-induced food coma.

Sleeping Beauty is the girl we all hate because every guy hits on her and she’s totally oblivious. She has no idea how beautiful she is or how charming. Men stumble over themselves trying to buy her a drink. She’s nonchalant about dating because she never has to work to get asked out, but she doesn’t like to ruin a good night’s sleep by having a strange guy stay over.  All her friends secretly hope she has an eating disorder…

They Warned Me I’d Find Love

A few days before I left for my 2-week-plus roadtrip to and through Newfoundland, Canada, I stopped in on a psychic. It was one of those post-lunch-with-a-friend-margarita-splurges, so I have something of an excuse for dropping $25 on a tarot reading. I won’t go into the details of her assessment of my future — that’s a story for another blog — but I will say that she rightly tagged me a globe-trotter and proceeded to predict that my soulmate would come to me within the next 6 weeks.

An optimist.

Newfoundlanders have a definite rugged masculinity that has a certain sex appeal

Considering that nearly 3 of my next 6 weeks were to be spent in the rough n’ tumble, fishery-driven, foot-stomping Canadian province of Newfoundland, odds were  50-50 that my “soulmate” would be a Newfie — that is, if you invest any credibility in psychics.

I didn’t necessarily mind that possibility.

Have you ever been somewhere and been hit by an overwhelming feeling that love was waiting for you there? I don’t mean a holiday fling when you’re on vacation. I mean a sense that the real, meaty, lasting stuff is right around that next corner in that city. I was hit with that feeling once — when I was in Vancouver.

Truth is, New York (or perhaps just New Yorkers) has always felt like a romantic deadend for me, (this is not a jaded singleton speaking, it’s intuition). Yet, there’s something in the Canadian air that always makes me feel like  love is possible.  And I’ll confess, I’ve always had a thing for Canadians. Maybe it’s because the men I’ve met there know what I’m talking about when I say I daydream about a Necky Chatham. Maybe it’s because they don’t look like they’re trying too hard when they wear plaid. Maybe it’s the wholesome accent. Or maybe it’s because I’m in the process of applying for Canadian citizenship and I realize marrying one would save me a lot of paperwork.

Newfoundlanders are friendly...go to Living Planet for your own T-Shirt with this Lichtenstein-esque image.

Our psychic might have been on to something?

Newfoundlanders are notoriously hospitable, and everywhere I went in the province I made friends, starting with a retired fisherman/musician I met on the ferry from Nova Scotia. Before we disembarked he looked me in the eye and warned me:

“You’re going to meet someone here. Newfoundlanders love girls like you.”

I laughed, thanked him, and not entirely sure what he meant by “girls like you,” went on my way. I didn’t give him and his warning another thought until a few days later in St. John’s when a local, keen to give me restaurant and concert advice, suddenly stopped our lively chat to say: “You should be prepared. It’s happened before, you know. People come here and fall in love. You’re going to meet someone. Go with it. Newfoundlanders make great mates. They’re very loyal.” He then took his dog and walked away.

It seemed that with every day on the Rock, came another prediction that Newfoundland would present me with new found love. If you’ve seen or read “The Shipping News,” then you have some sense of the real mysticism that hovers over the island. The setting is romantic, the people magical, the tone otherworldly, so with all the forewarning that I would be swept off my feet by a local, I started to think… why not?

It turns out, at the end of the day, they were right. I did meet someone, fall in love with him, and discuss the possibility of taking him home with me…he just wasn’t exactly the Newfoundland stud they might have had in mind…

Newf and I had something special.

Sorry, I can’t date you. You’re the kind of girl I want to take home to Mother

“The problem with you,” a mother of a guy friend once told me in conversation, “is that you’re not the type of girl guys want to date. you’re the kind of girl they want to marry.”

the glass of champagne in my hand tipped sideways, and a few precious drops fell to the floor before i chug-a-lugged the remaining contents in an attempt to mitigate her revelation. I didn’t really know how to respond. Had she just uncovered the source of all my men “trouble”? Certainly, she had just dealt me a new out for the question “why aren’t you seeing anyone?” She meant her comment to be complimentary — I’m a nice girl, who “deserves to be treated well,” she explained when she saw my jaw drop. Guys my age, despite their other shortcomings, are at least sensible enough to realize that they’re not ready to be in a “grown-up” relationship with a girl “who has her act together.” They don’t want to make girls like me cry.

By the time I got home, I had decided it wasn’t important if I was “one of those girls.” The more important question was: Do guys under 35 really approach women so sensibly? Do they really separate girls they want to sleep with from girls they want to have children with? I was skeptical. Maybe, I’m not giving the opposite sex enough credit.

Indeed, maybe I’m not. Recently, I read an advice column that claimed to shed light on “What it Means if He Doesn’t Call You Back.” It corroborated my friend’s mother’s observation — sometimes guys “go poof” because they meet a girl that deserves more commitment than they’re willing to give. It’s not that the fellas are commitment-phobic; it’s that the girl is the kind of girl they marry, not date.

I then recalled a conversation with Generically-Named-Male-Friend. He told me that within the first 5 minutes of meeting a girl, he  shuffles her into one of 4 categories: one night stand, short-term dating, long-term dating, friend. The “one night stand” category wasn’t a surprise. However, the 2 dating categories, short- versus long- term, were.

But despite these assessments/confessions, my questions remain. Is Generically-Named-Male-Friend an anomaly? Was that column really written by a woman whose girlfriends all tell her that every time her date goes AWOL? Was my friend’s mother’s comment based on a story her son wove when she asked him why he and I weren’t dating? Or, when it comes to girls, do guys use more of their northern brain than we give them credit for?

Fellas, enlighten us. Please.