Eight days ago I convinced myself the dry air and pigeon dander at the Javits Center were to blame for my tender throat and mild migraine. A winter storm approached and my headache was attributed to the pressure changes and unseasonal snow. But when the boyfriend took a beating, clearly inundated by a no-nonsense virus, I knew I was next in line. So here I am, sequestered in my little studio apartment with a ring of autumnal-flavoured candles, hacking up a lung or two and thinking how not a single thought of my boisterous mind could meet the limitations of a tweet or status update.
My nine-pound chihuahua, though equipped with the feistiness and ferocity of a rabid bear when infringed upon, is quite adept at training his owner. I’m so pleased that now he has a routine of pouncing at the door whenever he needs me to haul him down five flights of stairs so he can relieve himself on Broadway. Having been raised with dogs that were hardly trained, I thought training a dog was near impossible and my family possessed a genetic defect in training our pets to be obedient and do their business outdoors. But I was wrong. Nothing makes me happier than coming home and watching my dog’s painstaking efforts to sit politely, his body in a flurry of muscle spasms suppressing his impulse to jump and run up to me. Because he knows how happy I am when he sits and stays calm, aiming to keep his emotions at bay. My boyfriend, on the other hand, comes home and shouts, “Do race car, Jack! Do race car!” He’s coined the term for the greyhound-inspired trollop through the apartment the dog does, his full fan-tail tucked between his speeding legs as he dusts the floor in pure bliss. Having a dog, a boyfriend, and a triangle of glowing candles makes being ill a bit less of a burden. But it still sucks.
I’ve become infatuated with “Cagney and Lacey,” lamenting on the old New York and the television programming that opened the doors for stronger, character-driven women. My boyfriend’s first remark about the show was, “If they did that show today, those characters would be much hotter.” That’s kind of the sad point. I miss the saucy, spunky casting choices of days gone by. When I see a show like this it makes me consider being a detective or changing my career because they look like they’re having a blast. This week’s “New York Magazine” (my absolute favourite periodical) did a feature on “Ms. Magazine” and I felt a touch of sadness that we aren’t in a more turbulent time of women assessing how we are portrayed and defined. That being a strong woman today means you’re also willing to shake your booty ala Beyonce or be in an outlandish wedding-possible PR stunt ala Kim Khardashian, or half-naked and transgendered appearing like Lady Gaga. But if someone were to mirror Gloria Steinem in today’s media, she would not receive the same level of attention or respect (or even disrespect) because she wouldn’t make the same waves. When I was 19, I boldly applied to be an editor-in-chief at Ms. Magazine, which was hiring out of LA (of all places). My cover letter was brazen, explaining that the magazine needed a new voice and direction to appeal to my generation and that I had ideas to steer the publication. I received a very kind response, obviously reflecting on my lack of experience as a magazine exec, but offering a follow-up and possible position if I was interested. Of course, my mind back then changed with every Santa Ana wind and I opted for an actress-celebrity greeter string of gigs instead.
But now, I wonder if following the figurative winds and my undying allegiance to doing what I want with my time has amounted to a less than brilliant career. Apathy tends to trump passion, until the right project comes along. What’s more is the layer of guilt I feel with my own contentment, so very much against the American dream instilled in us all to acquire… and acquire some more. As far as acquisition goes, I’m happy enough with a new Crumbs in my neighborhood and enough candles to get me through another month. The Crumbs alone is enough reason for me to stay in this tiny apartment for years to come. That and the amazing no-frills attitude of my boyfriend, who really appreciates the simple things in life. Who would rather buy me new rain boots and five new sweaters than to even consider buying himself a few new sweaters. Who uses his sick day to take our dog to Petco for some new balls and for a romp around his favourite hills in Riverside Park. I still long for travel and making an impact in entertainment, in creating music that really inspires people, in seeing my dreams realized. But at the same time, I have such a level of fulfillment with what is in my own “backyard”. Even if my backyard is haunted by the eerie, animalistic screams of a crazy lady on a bi-hourly basis. I guess it’s to remind me that I’m in New York, as if the cozy quarters wasn’t enough of a reminder.