Don’t Forget Sandy Hook

I’m not a mom –but I’m like one. I’ve always had dozens of cousins and now I work in the parenting space, so I often find myself relating to mothers and tucking away ideas and tips for when that day comes. Maybe it’s that mothering mentality that everyone notices about me that made what happened at Sandy Hook so devastating to me.

It was a day like any other — I received an email from our news editor alerting us that there was a shooter in Connecticut and we planned to follow it to see what happened. I don’t think anyone was prepared for 20 children and the 7 adults to lose their life in under ten minutes at the hand of one shooter. And post-tragedy, I still don’t know what the answer is to make schools safer. Part of me thinks there will always be disturbed people who do these heinous things but a bigger part believes in the good that could come out of it — and in stricter gun control laws, too.

I spent most of the weekend following Sandy Hook in a daze — praying and thinking about those families who just lost a special little light that lit up their entire lives. I thought about their full stockings on Christmas day that will never be opened. About all of the things I’ve experienced that they never will. About how heavy and broken so many hearts were, are and will continue to be.

There isn’t really anything anyone can do. No way to get those moments back, no way to make the moments before last longer. No way to give them one more hug or one more kiss.

But I wanted to do something.

Inspired by what the Running Mama did for Hurricane Sandy, I decided to do something similar through Confessions of a Love Addict for the families affected at Sandy Hook. Regardless if you’re a runner or a walker or just want to give a donation, anything goes a long way to rebuilding lives and to keeping the memories alive of those lost.

Here’s how to get involved in the Run For Sandy Hook Remote 5K

How it Works:
On Saturday, January 19, you and a group of your friends will run/walk a 5K wherever you are and then email your race time to confessions.loveaddict@gmail.com. All who sign up for the race will be entered into a drawing for a fun, awesome grand prize pack. The winner will be announced on January 20. The more money you donate, the more chances you have to win! (**Note — if you don’t want to run, you can still donate!)

Sign up here to join the race
Donate money here ($20 suggested minimum, but any amount is great!)
(Note: you’re not officially signed up for the race until you donate something)
All money raised will go to the United Way of Western Connecticut Sandy Hook School Support Fund.

I will also post photos of runners, so send them race day!

Please feel free to spread the word and to ask me any questions you have. If you’re in NYC, I’ll be planning a run in Central Park — so if you want to join, you’re more than welcome to, just email me.

Thanks for helping out Sandy Hook — there’s not much we can do, but joining together can make a huge difference.

At the End of the Day

As dozens of scattered droplets, falling gently yet surely across my tired body, I kept my eyes tightly shut until the warmth made me accept the morning. I let the stream splash against every patch of skin and ring of hair, saturating the impurities and freshening the scent that’s so  distinguishingly mine. Along with the grime from these filthy pavements and soiled city streets, I let the clean wash away my worries, too. I exhaled my frustrations off my brow, the heaviness off
my heart and the ache that causes tension from my bones to my emotions. Though invisible to anyone but me, I saw the muck swirl its way down the drain, leaving me wide awake and shining in the rising sun across Amsterdam.

I let my shower cleanse it all away.

In motion with the bright beats of the pre 9 a.m. crowd, I sauntered in tall wedges from my padlock door to the closing ones of the subway. The rhythm floated through my vibrant blue hi-lo skirt, perfectly in sync with the early August breeze that’s as rare as its lovely. I let the music play as I dared to close my eyes on the subway ride, knowing that a sudden stop or a passenger with unruly intentions could cause a detour I wouldn’t appreciate. The harmonizing voices serenaded me all the way to work, singing words I yearn to hear from the man I can’t wait to meet one day.

I let the music take me to a place where my dreams have lyrics.

I listened to all of them, all around me, near and far, chatter away. About the weather (hot), about their weekends (nice), about their weeks (busy), about the men they have and wish to have (plenty!). I imagined their pink nails tapping away at the keys, putting something in motion while sipping the coffee that’ll keep them awake. I watched their lips move and their eyes light up, full of ideas and excitement, sleepiness and interest. I spoke the language of a manic Monday morning in brief sentences and tenured phrases, meant to show empathy and understanding, meant to put us both on the same page.

I let the ones I love talk away my day.

Praying that delays and rain stray, I counted the minutes until I’d arrive at my stop. I walked quickly in those wedges that made my ankles sore and promised them that soon, they’d be out of these painful pieces and into the running shoes that mold to their every curve. I breathed deeply and slowly as I rounded the first mile, watching the life of the park unfold around me. The soccer players kicked, the volleyballs bounced, the basketballs spun, the bikers did circles around me and the runners nodded as we passed. All sweating, all moving, all feeling it all roll off of us, knowing the only thing we need to focus on is one step and then the other. One more step, one more mile.

I let my run, run away with me.

I watched the couples walking back from the park — some on one end of a leash, others gripping a stroller, many just holding onto each other — and I tried not to smile. I felt nighttime arriving for the first time in months, and that green reflecting top meant to protect me, wasn’t warm enough, even after 40 minutes of jogging. I glanced from lightpost and traffic stop to those glittering eyes of a duo so obviously in love, and I tried to figure out which shined the brightest. I took my time picking up fruit from the grocery store, helping someone older and slower in front of me and striking up a conversation with the clerk who rarely gets thanked. I walked around the block, past those men sitting on stoops, those ladies selling frozen yogurt and the kind homeless man who knows me by name, and though I was sweaty with makeup running down my face and my toes tired from all their work today, I gave them all a smile. I made sure they felt noticed, even in this boisterous land.

I let my city restore my faith, again and again.

Finally, I made it back to the place I started. Trying hard not to obsess bitterly about the lack of text messages or the conversation gaps I wished weren’t so, I put away my iPhone. Hoping whatever it is, however it’s going can wait until I open my eyes in the morning, I sat down my Blackberry to let it charge. I peeled off those running clothes and shoes, I freed my face of its daily armor. I felt the crispness of my sheets, the softness of the bed I bought with the money I made doing the things I love the most. Without the fuss or the must, the paths to follow, the people to know, the city to invigorate or irritate me, without the rushing and the gushing, the loving and regretting, without all of it in between — there was only one thing left at the end of the day:

Me.

And I thanked the powers above that I was enough. That I can endure and I can slow down, I can embrace and I can relate. I can go and I can move, I can relax and I can inhale. And yet, after all that a day puts me through, time and time again, over and over — I can still be the same me that walked out that door…ready to face whatever is in front of me. And whatever will ever come my way.

Miles Behind Me

Both transitioning between one part of our life into another, my good friend M and I spent a recent afternoon going to the gym for several hours (no exaggeration, actually), sunning ourselves slightly (we’re embarrassingly pale for July), and talking about our futures. What’s coming seems to be a popular topic of interest among the majority of my 20-something friends, as we’re all continuously waiting for a grand gesture from the universe that somehow never seems like it’s coming.

(Until it does, that is. And it always does, eventually…probably, maybe, hopefully…right???)

As we’re walking back to my apartment in desperate need for a shower, we are faced with toddler traffic. Three strollers with happy, bouncy, adorable babies are coming toward us, their nannies leading the way. Reminded I live on the Upper West Kiddie Side, we moved aside to let them pass before crossing Amsterdam. Getting closer to my place, I casually say to M, still thinking of the cute blue-eyed, dimpled two year old, I say, “Isn’t it strange to think that we’ll probably have a baby of our own in ten years?” Not one who is keen on commitment and breaks out in hives at the thought of trying on a wedding gown, M said: “Yeah, it’s odd but think of all that’s happened in the last ten years!”

Hmm, let’s think about it.

In the past ten years, I’ve graduated from high school, started, and finished college. I’ve moved from my first home to a second home, from that second home to a lakehouse, from that lakehouse to a third home. I’ve packed up my all of my things to move to college, then a year later, packed up more things to move into an apartment, put those things in a storage unit, only to take them out a week later to move into another apartment. And then again to move to New York, my family mailing a box a week for six weeks. I’ve had several New York addresses. I’ve interned and transplanted myself in the city. I’ve bought furniture twice, paid utility and credit card bills, taken out students loans and started to pay them back, with a lovely thing called interest. I’ve saved up my money, only to spend it, and then save it up again, and again…and again.

I lost my virginity and then proceeded to sleep with x-number of people I’ll never reveal to this blog. I’ve fallen in love three times, learned how to orgasm, how to break up with someone, and how to nurse a heartbreak with puppies, alcohol, and cupcakes. I’ve shattered spirits and hearts, made friends and lost them. Joined groups and made them better, left them and started new ones on my own. I’ve experienced the annoying curse of Mother Nature for being female 120 times. I started getting acne and never stopped. I learned the difference between a push-up and a regular bra, miraculously in front of the mirror at Victoria’s Secret with the saleslady encouraging me to purchase a dozen outside the door: “Don’t they look great, pretty thing?”

I’ve gained ten pounds, only to lose 15. I’ve gone through clothes and through men, trying different ones on for size, only to find they just didn’t fit quite right. I learned how wear makeup, how to straighten my hair, and how to just accept my natural little, uncontrollable waves as they are. I passed the driver’s test in North Carolina, only to crash my car a month later, and have my parents say a prayer of thanksgiving when I moved to New York and was off the road, off their insurance. I became a runner and slacked on my schedule when things heated up with Mr. Idea and again, when things became official and steady with Mr. Possibility. I learned to play tennis and then took almost every guy I could to play a match with me as a great second date (and to see them run a bit).  I’ve traveled across the states, but not abroad, though my piggy bank will soon allow me to go overseas. I’ve seen my first byline appear in a tiny publication in a tiny town in North Carolina, and then on Cosmo’s website in bold, beautiful pink letters I’ll never forget. I’ve had two four-page spreads in national publications and started this blog, that you, whoever you are, wherever you are, are reading, right now. (Thank you!)

I’ve figured out I like it on top more than I like it from the side and while charming and handsome is great, dependable and cute is better. I’ve fallen for the wrong guy and passed up someone who may have been the right guy if he was just a few inches taller (or larger). I’ve been kissed in Grand Central Station and the Lincoln Center, as I always dreamed, and figured out that sometimes dreams are more vivid in your head than they will ever be in reality. I’ve landed my first job, paid my dues as a hostess (with the most-ess), a maid (seriously), a freelancer (always), retail sales clerk (folding clothes, yay!), and a babysitter (girls are better than boys).

And now, I’m here. A 20-something with a lot of highs and lows, ups and downs, trails and successes, loves and losses, hopes and failures, miles and travels behind her. But you know – it’s only been two decades. I can’t even begin to list what I hope (and know) is ahead of me.

Daily Gratitude: I’m thankful for huge coffees and the company of a new best friend :)

When I’m 80

Last night, Mr. Possibility and I attended the preview party for the new location of the Copacabana. For those of you unfamiliar with the Copa, it’s the iconic nightclub that launched the careers of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, a place frequented by performers like Frank Sinatra, and the inspiration behind Barry Manilow’s song.

Basically, ask your grandparents – or ask me.

After fourteen years of piano lessons, I developed a certain affinity for playing the greats, both classically and the songs bore from the Rat Pack. There is something romantic and beautiful about that period – where love hung on strings and was cherished instead of something we all felt entitled to. I’m sure those in the era worried about finding their match like so many do today, but at least then there was a certain innocence to relationships, and class was still in style.

I was excited about the event because I expected to be brought back to the time of the Copa dancers, to courting, and to dancing that didn’t involve grinding in spandex with bump-its in our hair. Not to my surprise, the crowd was primarily older – I was probably among the youngest in attendance. The food was incredible and bountiful, the music continuous, and the sangria refreshing – but something was missing.

Even with a new location and the same owner, the Copacabana had lost its luster.

Sure, the space was beautiful and I’m sure will attract tourists near-and-far, but that’s the problem. As I sadly reiterated my opinion to Mr. Possibility, he said, “Well, it’s not that time anymore, clubs pop up and have their ride and then they’re gone. We’re onto the next thing.” In the age of over-demand, where everything is simply a thought and a Smartphone away, we don’t grow attached to things as we used to. Even nightclubs that gave some of the best singers their humble beginnings.

Toward the end of the evening, a handful of original Copa dancers, now well over 80, graced the stage and told their story. They each held more enthusiasm individually than the current group of Copa dancers did collectively. You could see, even from far away, the love they had for the Copacabana and for New York. This place symbolized their youth, where they grew into themselves and their sexuality, where they mingled with artists who would become legends. This was part of their story; the Copa was a place that helped define them as girls, and now brightened their eyes as seasoned women.

As Mr. Possibility draped his arms around me and kissed my cheek affectionately, I looked at him and asked, “What will my story be?” I wasn’t looking for a direct answer, he knew that and didn’t give me one other than a few sweet compliments and words of encouragement, but as we walked through Times Square to another bar for some more sangria, I couldn’t get that thought out of my mind:

When I’m 80, how will I view this time in New York? Will I look back and replace all my memories of being flawed as visions of me young, healthy, and beautiful? Will Mr. Possibility be a fleeting face that I call the first man I truly cared for in New York? Will my friends, the ones that took me so long to find in this city, still be my friends then? What will I think of this blog? Or of my writing style as it is right now?

I’ve always imagined myself growing older and one day having the wisdom that only comes from experiences. I see myself still active, still pushing forward, still thinking creatively, if my body allows. Like the majority of Americans who fear being alone, I don’t want to be by myself rocking in a chair on the front porch of an old plantation house in Charleston, but I also want to make sure I have that look.

That look that those Copa dancers had. That look that says, “I’ve lived a good life. I’ve seen many wondrous things. I’ve tried things and tested my limits. I’ve explored my sexuality and what it means to be a woman. I’ve liberated myself and traveled this world and I know this city. I’ve loved and been loved. And I’m here, at my age, to show my face and my cryptic smile that’ll never reveal all of the joys I’ve had with people and places that you’ll never see again or meet.”

Daily gratitude: Today, I’m thankful for the laughs I’ve had to give me the lines that already appearing on my face.

Patience is a Virgin

I really feel sorry for my Facebook friends. Truly. I spam the hell out of my page – with posts from WordPress, Tumblr, and my own random thoughts/updates of the day. I disconnected Twitter because I didn’t want the people I actually know and I’m actually friends with to get completely irritated with me. Now, when I add a new friend that I actually talk to, I warn them of my overly active spewing.

Though it may be a little spam-rific at times, there are posts I have that cultivate conversation. When this happens, I find myself engaged in cyber conversations with people I normally don’t talk to often, but maybe I should. Such a thing happened today when I posted a status that read, “If patience is a virtue, then I’m not very virtuous.” Obviously, I was illustrating my frustration with finding peace in today and in tomorrow. Mr. Possibility and I are leaving for vacation on Monday morning for a week, and though I’m swamped at work, the hours between 9 and 6 can’t pass any slower.

In response to my update, a friend from NC said, ” My friend’s daughter, 8 years old, recently reminded us: ‘Patience is a virgin.’ Upon further reflection, and after several minutes of laughing, we realized that she had, in fact, made a good point, albeit unintentional.” After reading his message, I giggled and instantly liked, thinking about the meaning behind the words, the cryptic message an innocent kid sent without knowing.

A lack of patience only comes after you’ve experienced the many games of waiting. Like waiting to hear back about a job or waiting for a guy to text back after an incredible first date. Or waiting for a promotion or waiting to be approved for a loan, a house, an adoption. Or waiting to meet the man you’ll marry, the baby you’ll have, and the apartment you dream of owning, but don’t. Waiting for the perfect title or for the time when you can pack your bags up and head North.

Once we get to the age where waiting becomes commonplace and ordinary, we stop focusing on patience and instead, try to distract ourselves into some meaningless task until the waiting period is over. But we don’t really grow good at it, we don’t really learn to be peaceful and patient, we just find something to get us through.

Was the little gal right? Is patience only for the virgins? For those of us who have never wanted, never yearned, never hoped for something or someone so deeply that it hurt to wait? And what about when we are broken in, when patience is popped the first time we are put to the test? The first experience where we hold out for something, we cross our fingers, our toes, our legs and even our eyes wishing for something and then at the end, it’s one of those wishes that wasn’t meant to come true? Or a love we tell ourselves wasn’t meant to be?

Once we’ve lost our patience virginity, once we’ve become adults who want and need, instead of having everything provided, how do we learn to practice peace? Master the art of doing without but cherishing what we do have? Instead of being ancy and dissatisfied, twiddling our thumbs in anticipation, forgetting about giving people a break and giving life a chance to take over without controlling every aspect of our existence?

Can we re-virginize ourselves? I mean, I hear it’s a happenin’ trend now.

I don’t think so – but I do think we learn ways to cope. We learn to practice self-help, self-motivation, self-soothing methods that bring us some sort of calm in the in-between times of uncertainty. Because we’ve been there before, because we’ve felt these same things in these same way, we know how to handle it. We become better equipped to balance ourselves and we learn tactics for dealing with our fears and our frustrations. We survive and if we’re among the ones who strive, we eventually thrive. But we’ll never get back to that virgin-like state, that purity, that honestly, that only comes from being blissfully naïve, young and unaffected by the perils of patience.

That’s the thing about any type of virginity you lose, regardless if it’s having sex, living away from home, having a big girl job, having real world bills and rent, being someone’s wife, being accountable for your own actions, and being responsible for someone’s broken heart – once you let go and burst the bubble of oblivion…there’s nowhere to return to. No outlet to restore.

Instead, you just pack up what you have, who you are, what you’ve learned and you go out to face another day, another opportunity to lose another virginity, getting yourself one step closer to being one of those cool, independent, sophisticated adults we always wanted to be.

You know, before we lost our adult virginity and found ourselves laying in bed, feeling like a stranger naked in the company of ourselves, wondering: “Really, this is it? This is what everyone talked about? It’s really not all it’s cracked up to be.”

Rough Around the Edges

A few weeks ago, I was out for happy hour drinks with the clan when my attention turned to an attractive brunette entering the bar. Wearing an off-white Diane von Furstenberg dress and peep-toe Jimmys, she gracefully found her table and tossed her locks as she sat down. The little makeup she wore highlighted her natural rosy-tint and her group of friends matched her easy elegance. She carried a Balenciaga clutch that she carefully sat on the table, reaching in to find her lipstick and apply it subtly without anyone noticing.

But I noticed. And I was surprised my friends didn’t see me turn green in envy as I watched her from across the room, wondering when I’d finally feel how I imagined that woman feeling. She seemed completely together, confident and assured, stable financially and otherwise, and beauty radiated around her.

Me, on the other hand? On the other side of the bar, away from the reserved tables she was welcome to join with sparkling wine and towers of expensive liquor, sipping on my signature pineapple and vodka (with a cherry) or house Merlot, I’m not like that woman. I’m not refined and utterly comfortable in my own shoes, though I often lust to walk a mile in someone else’s designer ones. I’m not a polished Manhattanite with a high-paying job, trust fund, or the ability to save every penny.

I’m rough around the edges. And sometimes, as much as I attempt to hide it, I know it shows.

I don’t always think ahead and I sometimes see each decision as the end-all-be-all to my future and definitely to my present. I freak myself out more than I calm myself down, and when it comes to thinking about the big picture instead of letting the little one weigh me down, I’m guilty as charged. I don’t keep my purse organized and clean, my clothes are not sorted by color, and my dishes are hardly washed before bed.

And while I’d like to think I’m quite poised, I don’t sit calmly and laugh in a not-too-high, not-too-soft tone, and I don’t (or at least I don’t think) I exude a sense of maturity and elegance. I don’t think about how I’m perceived or if I’m stomping in my heels instead of cascading, and if I’m greeting friends, I almost always insist on a hug. I’m even starting to get used to this Northern kiss-on-the-cheek salutation that’s not customary in the South.

I can’t decide if I like the way I am or if I’d rather be a smoothed out. Could I chisel away those pieces that keep me feeling like the woman I know I am, just don’t always show? Or is it that like a good wine, I’m really just going to get better with age? With more experiences and more trials that give me the skills and know-how I need to find my own footing. To find grace?

Is it better to be a little rough or finely polished? Or is there ever a happy medium between the two? Between maturity and immaturity? Between taking note of the little characteristics that go into making a person, and learning which of those qualities to tuck away until appropriate, or if appropriate at all? Between not feeling like you have to have the right thing to say, the right thing to do, and just saying what you want and doing as you please?

Am I a diamond in the rough….or just jagged?

Louie Armstrong Moments

The morning my flight left from JFK, the last day of my summer internship several years ago, I set my alarm early so I could take in as much New York as possible before our extended separation. I decided to sit  in Madison Square Park, a place I frequented to people watch, lay out in the sun, and meet friends before heading out. Though not anything particularly spectacular, this miniature space of green housed several of my memories from that summer.

After stopping at a café across from my apartment, I grabbed a scone and coffee, and found a table near Shake Shack. For an August morning, it was rather chilly and the leaves were falling much earlier than I anticipated. Yet, the energy of the park, even at this early hour, was buzzing. There were families and dogs, couples and strollers, children and musicians, waking and rising, starting their New York days with conversation and caffeine.

I sat in a wrap dress and cardigan, my hair air-drying and curling, writing in this giant blue journal I kept almost daily while in New York. Even though I now live here permanently, that tattered and worn notebook remains one of my most prized possessions and will always have a home on any bookshelf I own. I scribbled sentences that don’t mean much, yet mean everything – and as I was finishing up the last paragraph, a single yellow leaf stained with red tips fell to the page. Seconds later, a tiny bird landed on my patio table, picked at a crumb I left, and flew away.

Charmed by the simplicity of that single moment, I smiled, and looked up, catching the eye of an older woman reading a book across from me. Maybe she was watching me or just happened to look up at that instant, but when we locked eyes, we shared the same thought in that park on a Sunday, when the sun was making its way mid-sky.

I’ve always called these experiences New York moments. Recently, however, I discovered a better fitting name from my friend, K. She calls them Louie Armstrong moments.

We were sitting at Fig & Olive on the Upper East Side, after just leaving the opening of Pipino 57 – Wella Professionals Flagship, where champagne and celebrities were ripe, and talking about our unique New York experiences. Though, maybe not that unique. If you hold a certain love for the city, if it is a place you’ve always wanted to live in, your experience doesn’t differ too much from the other dreamers who always wanted to gaze at the lights of the Empire.

And that’s kind of the beauty behind a Louie Armstrong moment. Where you realize what a wonderful world it really is by sharing it with other people, even the ones you don’t know and never will know.

When you’re in a place where most people are strangers and not friends, it’s easy to feel alone. You can walk miles without seeing a familiar face and when you battle the street trenches and crowds, you can feel like just another number, just another gal whose hair is frizzy from the humidity and whose feet are tired from unreasonable heels. But if you wait for it, if you don’t look for it, but stay positively alert – you’ll find yourself sharing an experience with someone you don’t know that you’ll cherish forever. For me, it’s with a woman who witnessed a bittersweet ending to my first New York adventure, for Kate it’s the natural smile of a man who watched butterflies take flight unexpectedly. Both of our Louie Armstrong moments coincidently happened in Madison Square Park, but we’ve had more.

And we’ll continue to. As long as we’re blessed enough to live in New York, that is. I’m sure it is capable to connect in a fleeting instant with people you’ll never see again anywhere, but for me, the only Louies that I remember are in the place where I see weathering trees in Central, and tulips too – for me and for whoever walks by. I see skies with scrapers; stars that don’t come out at night. I see the colors of the rainbow in Chelsea, so pretty walking by. I hear taxis cry, I watch them speed, and I realize they’ll see so much more New York than I’ll ever know.

And still, I think to myself, what a wonderful world.