I wake to the stifling heat of my bedroom and the radiator’s satisfied hiss. My face feels puffy. I regret the last martini, sipped on a velvet chaise at a bar with an identity crisis - a pseudo gothic pub shilling $10 drinks and french fries to a motley crew lounging awkwardly on antique furniture. The worst karaoke I have ever seen. And now a cosmopolitan colored flush in my cheeks and dirt under my fingernails.
I wake up to a text message from a boy I barely know. I wonder when I will start calling them men. I wonder when I will start calling them.
I hide out under my quilt, put off washing my hair. Outside, it’s trench coat weather. Wet pavement and leafy sidewalks and grey light. I miss you, still, the only lover I ever called a man. I miss making dinners and making out and making you angry. I miss being roughed up. I miss the warm sting of being wanted by you.
I slide out of bed. I pace the length of my apartment in bare feet and a bubblegum bra, plie at the fridge. I’ll eat strawberries. I’ll take a shower. I’ll dress myself in something other than regret. Maybe I’ll text that boy, but he’ll still be a boy, and I still can’t get these memories out from under my fingernails.
“As we peruse the same three pairs of square toed Perry Ellis sneaker/loafers, it strikes me that a person would be hard-pressed to find a more lost, hopeless looking group of men than those in the shoe department of the Union Square Filene’s Basement at 10PM on a Monday night.”—Chamberlain!:
A website where gentle, talkative men and tired, worried women could connect for bedtime storytelling and kind, comforting monologues until the former runs out of words or the latter drifts to sleep. A place for those who need a voice in their ear, telling them it will all be ok in the morning. A place for those voices.
Working evenings in Manhattan means that much of my shopping gets done in the middle of night at drug stores, overpriced bodegas, and late night pizza joints (I use the term “shopping” loosely here). My favorite is a 24 hour CVS in the West Village, cozily nestled between a tattoo parlor and a sex shop. Almost nightly, I greet the rather shockingly well-endowed mannequin in the window next door, rather than make eye contact with the leering individuals who call this ten foot stretch of sidewalk home.
As I enter the CVS, I quickly run through a mental checklist of things I need: shampoo, toothpaste, nail polish remover. It is a last-ditch effort to keep myself focused on the task at hand, but it all goes out the window rather quickly when I pass the Burt’s Bees display. The yellow packaging cries out to me - "Caroline! Don’t you need another peppermint lip balm? Remember that bath oil that makes you smell like lemon drops? You haven’t lived before trying this lavender body lotion!"
And so it begins.
Gone is my practical shopping list, and in its place only an intense, deranged desire to buy armfuls of expensive miscellany. With the trepidation of a true drugstore shopping addict, I approach the beauty aisle. Nail polish, especially the sort that comes in a handy little nail pen, has a particular, inexplicable draw for me. I delight in the Fancy Shampoo aisle. The more overpriced and obscurely scented, the better. Fifteen dollars for a bottle smaller than my hand? I’m there! Pear basil with jojoba and rice proteins?Sounds healthy! Sign me up! I refuse to make eye contact with the giant $1.99 CVS brand bottles, lined up so smugly on the shelf, judging my frivolity. They don’t know my life.
I work my way up and down the aisles, slowly and deliberately, pausing at the sparkly band aids, the cinnamon dental floss, the travel bottles of coconut-scented sunscreen. The candy aisle is its own haunting little world of odd temptations. Gummy worms and Sno Caps suddenly seem like irresistible delicacies. I have a soft spot for what’s best known as Old Man Candy, that is - Werther’s Originals, Junior Mints, and the imaginatively named Butterscotch Discs. Basically, anything that belongs in the pockets of your grandfather’s corduroy blazer is coming home with me.
I’d like to take a moment to point out that I am not alone in my post-midnight CVS trolling. On the contrary, the drugstore is New York City’s best kept secret after hours hotspot. Here, you’ll meet a bevy of eligible, glassy-eyed singles. In my professional opinion, CVS is better than a bar, as I find it’s much easier to judge a person based on their drugstore purchases, rather than their drink of choice. For example: expensive shower gel, salsa, and four kinds of corn chips? Match made in CVS heaven! Duct tape, batteries, and canola oil? Steer clear, friend! I once stood in line behind a psychic I had (jokingly) visited. She was haggling over the price of some hair dye, an argument I assume she already knew she’d lose.
This particular CVS knows its sad, lonely clientele well, boasting a freezer displaying boxes of single-serving Lean Cuisine meals and Ben & Jerry’s cartons for one, conveniently located right across from the cookie aisle. Curiously, there also happens to be an oddly extensive offering of mixed nuts in every possible flavor combination. In fact, it takes up a good four foot wide shelf space, stretching from floor to ceiling right by the register. I find this enormously puzzling, but then again I’m the one with a basket full of Crest white strips, Russell Stover chocolate boxes, and six kinds of eyeliner, so what do I know?
As I approach the counter, shame sets in. Despite the fact that it’s 2 AM on a Tuesday, there will inevitably be a line, forcing me to awkwardly juggle my items, hiding the more embarrassing choices in the crook of my arm. Finally, I reach the cashier and spread it all out between us - all my embarrassing, hasty decisions, my secret desires, my impulse buys. I feel vulnerable and guilty. The cashier, however, maintains his neutral, sleepwalker’s expression and asks if I have a CVS card. “No,” I say, with just a hint of indignation. He nods, wordlessly scanning the store copy for me. “I don’t really shop here often,” I lie, and for the briefest moment, a look of understanding passes between us. He knows better.
“If you take a book with you on a journey,…an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it…yes, books are like flypaper—memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.”—Cornelia Funke (via atomos)
“We can pick our teachers and we can pick our friends and we can pick the books we read and the music we listen to and the movies we see, etc. You are a mash-up of what you let into your life.”—Austin Kleon (via ricktimus)
“I am, moreover, a liberal with a lifelong habit of opting out of the political conversation—and out of most kinds of activism—because I find its language dishonest, combative and unjust. I understand perfectly that our politics proceed according to a kind of barter system where each side continually overstates its convictions. I understand that the nation is a behemoth, and that to shift it, however minimally, requires the kind of herculean effort that very few people can muster. No wonder there’s so little moderation among the grass-roots organizers on right and left alike; it takes an unhealthy obsession to even want to participate in a system that can’t and won’t hear you unless you scream.”—The Livestream Ended: How I Got Off My Computer And Onto The Street At Occupy Oakland | The Awl (via peterwknox)
“All the men she’s been with and now you, just you, and the barges going by, masts and hulls, the whole damned current of life flowing through you, through her, through all the guys behind you and after you, the flowers and the birds and the sun streaming in and the fragrance of it choking you, annihilating you.”—Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer (1934)
I know she’s an easy target for everyone’s pent up frustrations with today’s over-privileged, under-talented celebrities, but sometimes I feel really thankful that Ke$ha made “sparkly drunk mess” a Look.
Without her bravery, I would never be able to put on sequined shorts, a sloppy tank top, an old cardigan, and tights with holes in them, and walk out the door without brushing my hair with confidence. Thanks, Ke$ha, for making morning after makeup look trendy (because I probably wasn’t going to wash my face anyway).
“And I guess what I mean by situational depression is just kind of trying to pull yourself out of the hole. I’m not by nature a depressive person; but when life gives you lemons… you hide in your apartment for a little while.”—Annie Clark/St. Vincent (via ricktimus)