Taking Off Cowboy Boots

Tonight I stood in a small dark venue and listened to a soulful singer. Many songs we listen to throughout our lives are connected to some of the happiest and saddest of memories. The singer sang a song that stirred so many emotions inside of me. I cried. It reminded me of a time when my heart was a little bit broken and my ideals of love became jaded, once again. I started to remember how I felt at that point in my life. How one person made me feel so good and then, suddenly, made me feel so bad. The song narrated a montage of memories for a short moment. But in the end... I was revived. 

I found myself standing back in the present, thinking about what I have now. What has left my life and what has walked into it. I think I read it in a book or heard it in a movie... 'You have to experience the bad moments, that way you can appreciate the good ones in the end.' It goes something like that. At this very time in my life, I am happy. I have a grand love. But I wouldn't appreciate it if I didn't take a few falls in the past. 

When I got home, I sat on the floor of my apartment. I stared at the cowboy shoes on my feet that I love so dearly. I struggled to take them off. I wanted them on so badly and now I wanted them off immediately. It took what felt like forever before they flew off my feet across the room. It felt amazing to finally be free of the boots. I laid back down on the floor and thought to myself, "That's how it feels." You've got to get through the struggle sometimes to feel good in the end. 

Whether it's a song or a pair of cowboy boots, you need to remember the past to feel great in the present. 
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Jealousy's A Bitch

I'd say it was a pretty good week if I didn't once turn into the worst version of myself. That version is a girl I don't recognize. Basically, she has a lot of jealous bones in her body and she won't stop until she's assumed, accused and agitated. The three A's. If you don't tame yourself, the three A's can sting your relationship. 

It just so happens that when some women get into relationships, their paranoia level reaches dangerous proportions. I don't know where it comes from but it's an evil monster that lives under our skin and I like to call it... Jealousy. First, there's the Ex Factor: we compare and wonder if the guy ever thinks of them. Are we better in some way shape or form? Need I say more? Second, there's the Random: Do they think that girl who just walked by is more attractive than me? Do they want to hook up with them? Did they hook up with them? Yes, this sounds like a case of the crazies. A lack of confidence. A girl who needs a good dose of 'calm yourself' medication. 

Mental health professionals might say that this kind of jealousy stems from (my) trust issues, which, in turn stem from a series of rotten relationships with guys who cheated (on me). I'm going to go with the latter since I like to think that I have maintained my self-esteem and I consider myself a fairly confident person. 

So, the question I've been asking myself recently is... When will it stop? The bitching, the moaning, the three A's? I have yet to find an answer. So far there's no cure. Meditation maybe? No. The devil on my shoulder is waiting for bad news around every corner because that's what I know and that's what I expect. For now, I attempt to listen to the voice of reason whenever I feel the waters of jealousy begin to boil. That voice says, "Don't go to the dark side."

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Here’s what The Beatles had to say about Love: “Love, love love… you can learn how to play the game. It’s easy”. 

Is it? I can tell you that I think about it all of the time, I write about it a hell of a lot, and I throw “I love you” around like it’s my job. To friends, family members, random cats and dogs on the street… So, there’s definitely ‘that’ kind of ‘love’. Then there’s the kind of love without one proper definition. The kind that mystifies us. As Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson’s characters in the mediocre but heartwarming film, ‘It Takes Two’ say: “It’s that can't eat, can't sleep, reach for the stars over the fence, world series kind of love.”

I think ‘that’ kind of ‘love’ makes you do things you never thought you would do. It makes you take risks. Please excuse all of my romantic comedy references here but, in the film ‘French Kiss’, Timothy Hutton calls up his current fiancé to tell her he’s fallen in love with another woman. The only way that he can describe his state of euphoria is by saying that he could “urinate with someone standing right in back of him”.  In other words, he could do anything. In a situation where he would normally be scared, he let’s go. 

I’m not defining love here; I just want to talk about it. I’m the kind of girl who loves ‘Love’ so much that I would buy it in a store if I could. The problem is, I have no idea what it looks like. If it was an object, I wouldn’t know its shape, size or color but I’m starting to have a good idea of what it feels like. Someone once told me that I had never been in love before. That hurt. The people closest to me will tell you that I live for falling in love and I’ve attempted one too many times. The truth is, even though I’ve made last minute trips overseas and stood outside a boy’s apartment with flowers, I did those things for the idea of love… not for the love I felt for them. 

When I write about it, the character’s love epiphany is usually followed by a chase to the airport or a surprise visit to the one they want and need. So what I’m thinking is that love is the Gatorade that fuels the marathon. It’s this wild energy that swings back and forth between you and that other human. It’s not just about you and it’s not something you can ask for and get right away. It's caring, it's sharing, it's passion, it's vulnerability, it's a lot of things rolled into one and it's born from your experiences with that other person. It does happen when you least expect it and it does drive you crazy. Love has a fighting quality about it. It’s not easy. It’s definitely fantastic. It’s going to pull you in all sorts of directions. When it’s present and you can recognize it, you’d be stupid to let it go. 

For fun… here is the soundtrack to my chase for love. 

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A Man Called Marlboro

People say that love is a drug. It’s addicting, intoxicating and a large amount of it can be dangerous enough to cause an overdose. If you part with love or love parts with you, your head and heart go through a sort of mourning period. If you’ve ever seen the end of a relationship, then you know that feeling of withdrawal. Lonely nights where you absolutely need a fix and the fix is that person’s face, voice, body or just their presence. You yearn for the feeling when love was running through your veins. It was a high… and being down gives you the uncomfortable shakes. 

I recently quit smoking. Sure, it’s about the tenth attempt but I actually wanted to stop this time around, as opposed to someone making me, or me just quitting without the belief that I could actually do this for my health and add on the years instead of cutting them down. 

The thing that has actually helped me the most and kept me from sprinting to my local tobacco shop is looking at this stage in my life as me going through a little thing I like to call HEARTBREAK. 

I was in a relationship with a man called Marlboro. We’ve been on and off for about twelve years now. I’m twenty-four, so that makes me the tender age of twelve years old when I first met him. Sad and scary, I know. But it’s the truth and the more I tell myself the truth, the more I realize how long I was being abused. I was also abusing myself for staying with him. Things were good for a while. They were pretty great, actually. I thought I knew the definition of ‘cool’ when I was with him. The kind of cool that movies introduced you to. Marlboro was there for me when I was stressed and hand in hand when I was having a great night out on the town. What more could I ask for? But everyone around me started to say that he was bad for me and that I should leave him. I couldn’t bring him around my family and some friends sneered when I took him out to social gatherings. I kept telling myself that love stands above everything else and, no matter what, I would stick with him. A lot of time went by and people close to me just dealt with the fact that Marlboro was here to stay. I will admit, some days he really slowed me down and made me feel worse than better. At a certain point, we became so comfortable that it seemed pointless to end it… even when we hit rock bottom. Anyway, after several years I started to see things in the light of day. I relied on him too much and, on top of that, he started to give me a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t like wanting and needing Marlboro that much. So, one day I ended it. I ended it and I broke my own heart doing it. 

Sometimes I think about him and how he would know exactly how to comfort me when I felt like throwing a fit and screaming in a public place. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have him with me when I go out with my friends. But I know he wasn’t good in the end. I know he would turn his back on me one day and hurt me so I thought it would be better to feel this small pain now instead of a bigger pain later on down the road. Every day I tell myself, “You’re going to be okay. You don’t need him. You’re much better without him.” And every day I forget about him a little bit more. With the turn of a few calendar pages, I’m sure that I will have completely erased him from my memory.
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The Talk

Where do I start? Well, it's hard for one. Two, it's never a good idea to have 'the talk' when one party is ready to speak up and the other is not. Three, if you're not prepared to hear the good and the bad then it's best to leave it be until who knows when. We all know it, we've all heard of it, and we've all had the unfortunate and fortunate experience of having that conversation. "What are we?" This is the point in a relationship when communication is key.

I used to think that the best thing to do was to never bring 'it' up. 'It' being 'us'... What we want from each other, what bothers us, what makes us happy and of course, are we exclusive? I think my fear stemmed from the possibility of finding out that perhaps I cared more, or that they didn't want to be with just me. I'll put that out there, why not? But if you get to the point where you've spent a fair amount of time getting to know someone and falling for them in some way, shape or form, then I recommend stepping up to the plate and opening up. Otherwise, the not knowing can eat you up inside. Sure, curiosity killed the cat, but wondering about how your lover feels or doesn't feel can turn your thoughts into assumptions. That can't be good.

If you find yourself having 'the talk', look your lover in the eyes, be honest. You may say things that they don't want to hear and vice versa... and if it's a sure thing, you'll breathe a sigh of relief. You know that saying, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going?"... Well, I look at it like: When it gets tough... the stubborn leave and the tough are ready to work on it, whether the ride be bumpy or whether the ride be easy breezy.
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Two to Tango

Tonight I saw a love story disguised as a horror film. Two completely different young souls blended perfectly together in the presence of one another. The boy was your typical bullied odd-kid out with just a Rubik's cube to call his friend. The girl was not quite human. A 12 yr. old vampire unable to grow close to anyone... in fear that she might one day hurt the one she loves. But feelings can be stronger than your subconscious DOs and DONT'S. In a short time, they went from strangers to companions. What they thought could never be... happened. I watched the stages of attraction: from 'Nice to meet you', to the yearning to want to be close to each other, to finding that they cared. They cared enough to sacrifice and protect.

There is a fence that two people leap over at a certain point in their time spent together. That fence is the initial and superficial attraction. The leap is the moment when you know you want to be there with them, for them and speak a few words to lay your cards out on the table. You will feel vulnerable and you might find it easier to run than to stay, but at the end of the day it's best to call yourself lucky to have such a human connection.

Caring for another person is an obstacle. Is it because we're looking out for ourselves? Maybe it's because we fear the 'inevitable' downfall... Heartbreak. But we can't think of ourselves when we're caught up in a tango and we all know, it takes two to do it. If you find yourself in a lucky streak, jump the fence.
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Omens In Red

I was first introduced to the 'omen' in the B romantic comedy, 'Fools Rush In '. If you don't recall or haven't had the pleasure of viewing this semi heartwarming film with Salma Hayek and a pre-drug addicted Matthew Perry... Allow me to recap: Boy meets girl, boy impregnates girl, boy struggles with fatherhood, girl's family does not approve of boy, boy and girl fall in love, conflict arises, you know the rest. At the point of the picture where boy and girl fight and split, boy begins to see 'signs' all around him. Teensy signals that remind him of girl... On a billboard, words from an old woman, lyrics in a song. And let us not forget about John Cusack's journey of omens in 'Serendipity ' while he ran amok looking for that sweet British girl (Kate Beckinsale), whom he only had a moment with long ago.  It was a series of omens that made him turn his back on his fiance and run for a stranger. Yes, these are 'movie' omens. Scripted fairy tale versions of the adventures of love. But, in reality, I have experienced similar signs. Some even convinced me enough to fly overseas and stand across the street from the 'boy' with a bouquet of flowers. I'm cheesy, but let's put that aside.  What the hell do they mean, these strange things we call omens? Are they in fact meant for us specifically? It's really the question between whether they appear by pure coincidence or if they are true signals that someone is supposed to play a certain romantic role in our lives for however long. By true, this would mean that fate and destiny also play a palpable part in our world. Or, we just happen to hear that one song lyric, see that movie poster of their favorite film, or receive a phone call when we least expect it and... it doesn't mean a damn thing. It's simply our imagination and our hopeful hearts that turn these happenings into omens so that we can continue to convince ourselves that this connection between us and another human being is, possibly... Meant to be. This is not a bad thing, unless of course, we need to let go. We may never know if they're a part of our reality or our romantic inventions. You can go right ahead and write them off and throw them in the bin. For me, omens are a pleasant push n' shove... a little hope towards that great thing called love.
Dedicated to C.D. (Braaaoowwn)
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Let It Be

We are constantly weaving through phases in our life, experiencing moments of wholehearted pride-filled independence, rock bottom loneliness and two-to-tango connections. At times, we'd just as rather sit down to a dinner with ourselves, whereas somedays we desire to reach across the table and find the touch of another's hand. Each individual is different but there is no doubt that, at one point or another, we all want absolute freedom one day and an ultimate partner the next.  Sure, the days - months - and years in between the wanting vary, but we 'want'. That's the point. 

We all want to be wanted. I surely do right now (at this very moment) and I will admit it to you with every particle of passion that runs through my body. I've known this for quite some time now, realizing that I've spent a good amount of months/years on my own and now yearn for the warmth of another human's admiration. 

Ah, but here lies the itch - the obstacle - the fact: The connection I go to bed thinking about is not immediate. We can't snap our fingers and have them (whoever they may be) in our lives with the blink of an eye, nor can we plan and seek as if it were a project. All I've been told by the people around me is to simply 'let it go'. Know that I want what I want and let it be. When someone comes along and that someone is right in the moment, well, then it's right. 

This is easier said than done, I tell myself. But the truth, whether we like it or not is that we must let time and circumstances take their course. This is not to say that I'm putting the belief of fate and destiny on the table - but you never know. I don't know. I can only know what I want and, as Lennon and McCartney put it,  "Let It Be." 

Here's to knowing what we want, letting it go and keeping that nugget of hope that they will come around the corner eventually. 
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Time To Love

People go to seminars for stuff like this: Where to go to find someone. Places to frequent in order to make a connection...

I was pondering this issue and then some while I was standing somewhere in between the canned food aisle and the bread aisle of the grocery store. I pushed my goody filled cart past plenty of men and women; every now and then exchanging a glance or two, or three. I found plenty of moments where I could have struck up a conversation with an attractive 20-30 something being while reaching for the same Tropicana OJ carton or Progresso soup can. But I didn't... because I didn't feel like it. Maybe it was the circumstances: A long day of work, not feeling physically pristine, Not looking, etc., etc. Who knows?

Whether it's at the supermarket, the museum, that party next Friday, or the cafe down the street, the opportunity is there for you if the time is right. Everyday you can meet someone new and it's entirely up to you and your guts' level to make a move in some way, shape or form. Unless, of course, you're lucky enough to be approached by someone with courage ahead of your game. Hopefully you'll be in the mood to meet and vice versa.

Let's look at it as one big equation: You meet someone and they meet you + If your hearts and everything that life has thrown your way happen to be on the same frequency level = Then so be it. This is not always the case. 

I've been involved in several conversations recently where a friend was racking their thoughts, trying to figure out why he/she seemed so perfect with their lover but life's circumstances set them on two rafts drifting in opposite directions. "Why, oh why?" They asked themselves, "Did something so bound... unwillingly fall a part?" I found myself giving the following advice regarding romantic timing:

The problem is....   "It's not who you meet, it's when you meet them." 

Now, you can interpret this any way you like, but I see it as - It's All About Timing. I've met someone and cared for them dearly but at that specific point in my life, I was completely in my own head and my life was too jumbled to settle into a relationship. The other party had their career in place and their heart ready in the line of fire. He was ready to fall and I was ready to fly.

The constant flow of two people meeting in this world is like the constant movement of a see-saw. Up they go, down you go, up you go, down they go. When you find someone on the other side who can help you to effortlessly settle the see-saw to a steady balance, well, then you know. The time is right. 
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Saved By The Serenade

Allow me to preface with a flashback: We must have been 'seeing' each other for a good two months. Much to my chagrin, it was to the point where I had somehow found it sensible enough for me to actually commute out of dear Manhattan in order to spend most of my nights in his bed ---> In Jersey. So there we were, two twenty-somethings convinced that we didn't want a relationship but had somehow inevitably wound up in, what the books would call, a 'relationship'. Fancy that. -- Three words came to mind, "What are we?" Did anyone say it? No. So there we were again, scavenging the corner bodega for some sandwiches in silence and I just had to say something. Cat got my tongue and apparently it got his too. As fate would have it, John Mayer's, "Say What You Need to Say"  chimed in just as we approached the register. It was speak now or forever hold your peace... and so we spoke.

It's funny, don't cha think? The soundtrack of our lives sometimes speaks for us or gives us a push 'n shove when the moment is just about right. Music can have quite an extraordinary effect on a romantic circumstance. There are messages in lyrics and unspoken emotions in melodies. For your listening pleasure, I've gathered some admirable crooners and ballads which may accompany each and every kind of situation under the amorous sun:

For when you've fallen, yet again...

Simply for rejection and irresistible temptation...

When you think you want your friend to be more than a friend...

When the goin' gets goin', what are we?...

For the one whose worthy to star in your daydreams...

And finally, when you've found him or her and you just know...

I dedicate this particular blog to John Mayer, or the radio DJ from that fine day in the bodega. If it weren't for you or him/her, I might not have said anything and may never have found out that I was not the only lady traveling to that bed in Jersey on a daily basis. Here's to the one... and it certainly wasn't him.
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To Touch v.

To Touch v.

1. vti. to put a part of the body, especially the fingertips, in contact with something so as to feel it.
2. vt. to apply the slightest pressure to something.

Sometimes it is difficult to be so close to the person that you adore. Even a pure accidental touch is quite unbearable and the body is sent into shock, a nervous shock filled with excitement. For some, a brush between one’s arm or hand against the other is enough physical contact to please. It’s not that you can’t stand it, but it’s overwhelmingly hard to handle.

A single touch can, at times, be sexual. Okay, so maybe it doesn’t result in an orgasm, but the outcome is something more, especially when you can’t get enough of being with that particular person. The physical and mental reaction can become a sort of addiction, similar to the desire for someone’s scent. The scent of a human being is an entirely different kind of compulsion for admiration. The cologne, perfume, or laundry detergent can be bought anywhere, but the presence and feeling of a specific man or woman becomes enchanting and is impossible to purchase.

Touching knees and elbows places you under a trance and it is only that individual that can make you feel the way that you feel in that moment. Though you may feel satisfied and delighted, after the fact, you urge for something more.

When that simple touch turns into something supplementary; a physical relationship containing passion and fixation, the sensation is quite sublime.
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Paris Charming

Parisian men… what can I say about them? Well, there is a lot to say. I could generalize and state that this well-dressed species behave no different than tigers hunting for their prey. This is true in some cases, but they come strong and they come gentle.

For an American girl a Parisian man can be just what the doctor ordered. Unlike the typical Mr. U.S.A, a French man does not stand and wait in the back of the bar. They will talk to you, look into your eyes, buy you a drink, caress your hand, and when the moment is right… kiss you like you’re the only woman in the world.

This all sounds cliché right? Try sitting in a café alone with a book and your nice cup of chocolat chaud. If a man doesn’t sit right next to you and tell you all about his life, then you’re still guaranteed some good “eye sex” from the attractive wait staff.

Sure these Parisian Casanovas have plenty of amorous adventures, but there is a beautiful quality that they possess. No, it’s not a physical quality (although those are quite nice). It is how they live, and most importantly, how they live in the moment. Though tomorrow may be another day consumed with new rendezvous and another lit cigarette, in that one instant with Mr. Paris you are heard and you are made to feel like the extraordinary woman that you are.

Paris is not romantic because you’re supposed to fall in love and kiss in front of the Tour Eiffel. No. Paris is romantic because you open your heart to a complete stranger, you have conversations you would never think of having, and you share a moment with one person who, though you may not know very well, seems to be the only one you want to walk down the street with for hours.
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Lately it seems as though the women of my generation have been more concerned with their physical well-being, as opposed to the “mental.” I’m not talking about “making use of your monthly gym membership” or “sand-papering your cellulite with the latest Bath&Bodyworks loofah sponge.” No, I’m talking about sex; about our natural desire to orgasm. It has always been said that men were more concerned with sex… “Sex is all they think about.” Wrong, incorrect, false, that’s a nada. We all want it.

But let’s get back to the topic, the issue at hand. “I’m just in it for the sex,” is what I hear most from my friends, the drunk girl at the diner on 86th and 1st, and my own conscience. But what does it mean to be “just in it for the sex?” One-night stands are a different thing but sleeping with someone on a regular basis will never be “just sex.” The act of sex is intimate. Your body is lusting for another human being, just as they are lusting for you. When these moments of pleasure happen on a weekly basis, there is bound to be something else between the two, other than lubricant and condoms. Continuing a sexual relationship has an affect on your mind and body. Eventually one person, or even both, want more out of what they’re getting.

It’s complicated, I know. Generally the case is that you can’t have one without the other. So, either get what you want and leave or be prepared for the “What are we?” conversation.
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The Heart of the Matter

You always know it’s that time of year when every storefront window display is chalk-full of paper- mache pink and red hearts. Valentine’s Day; when couples actually have to ring out the romance and hang it out to dry with some processed chocolate hearts and a pair of red-laced underwear. But what is it with the hearts? Or, the heart, if you will. It is love’s mascot, the symbol for feeling all emotion. We use it in expressions: “My heart is heavy,” "My heart is sad," “My heart is breaking,” “My heart is filled with love.” Why is the heart the center of love? How did it come to be that a small beating muscle would measure our feelings for another human being?

Let me first point out that I am no scientist. I can only draw information from what I learned in 7th grade biology class. Scientifically, the heart is what keeps us alive. It is connected to our neurological nerves, blood stream, and air. If the heart stops, we stop living. It’s funny how we feel a physical pain when we are rejected or our special someone has just broken up with us. But it is the heart that continues to beat long after we hear, “I’m sorry but this just isn’t going to work out.” Emotion is a part of the physical, and so is the heart. Sometimes our mind thinks one thing, while our heart feels something else. But really, the heart and the mind are connected.

Why do you think your heart begins to beat faster when you see someone you want walking towards you? Your heart knows what you want. Sometimes it just needs to slow down, but when you are in a moment, it’s simply impossible.
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Wait and See

Age… twenty-one years old. Relationship status… single and waiting for something or someone, but not sure what. Currently… sitting in a café a la Place de la Sorbonne.

I’m sipping on a cup of chocolat chaud and one word comes to mind. Waiting. This is a word that, though you may not think you use a lot, happens to find its way into our thoughts and conversations on a regular basis. Tsk, tsk…always waiting. We are waiting for the check. Waiting to meet your friend. Waiting to receive your exam grade. Waiting for your next period (that one is for the ladies). Waiting for the bill. Waiting for the dog to pee. Waiting for your skin to clear up. “Waiting for the world to change,” as John Mayer would put it. Waiting until the next day to begin your diet. Waiting for your friends to get a clue. Waiting for the next paycheck. Waiting for that special someone.

Sure, in the meantime we are busy doing all the other things we have scribbled in our daily planner. But often we wait. In terms of waiting for the one, is that the norm for every man and woman, boy and girl? Eventually, many people marry, or end up with someone for the rest of their lives. In between we spend most of our time dating different people. But what does it mean to wait for someone? Essentially, it means that it is in the cards for us to eventually meet our compatible other. All of the dates and meetings that we have with the opposite sex are like tests; getting the feel for the person across the table from you. We carefully look into their eyes and examine their potential as a lover. This “test” goes for everyone we romantically see, whether they’re walking past us or sitting across the restaurant.

It seems romantic doesn’t it? Waiting for the cliché lightning bolt. Walking down the street, glancing into the eyes of a stranger. But love will come along one day, maybe even more than once. Just you wait.
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