Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cat Cafe? More Like Crap Cafe Where Nothing Happens

If you know anything about me at all, it's that my desire to hang out with animals will always outweigh my want for human companionship. Said desire extends to dogs, cats, rodents, maybe birds. I can't think of an animal that I do not have a natural and inexplicable affinity toward, except for most reptiles but they don't count because they don't deserve love.

So when I first heard about the opening of a cat cafe in New York City, I was like a 12-year-old girl at a One Direction concert. (I was like myself at a One Direction concert.) I soon found out actually experiencing the cat cafe is more like being a normal person at a Phish concert: it never ends and everyone enjoying it possesses the worst taste in everything. I feel it is safe to say that it may be the least amount of fun I have ever had in my life. And I say this as someone who once attended a silent rave while listening to a dead iPod.

For those of you unaware -- because your WiFi connection cut out three years ago or you don't have friends -- the cat cafe first originated in Taipei fifteen years ago. That means it took fifteen years to build a Hub of Disappointment in New York City that has zero relation to the MTA. If you're unsure of what a cat cafe is, I'm not going to elaborate further, because it is the most self-explanatory phrase in the world. Cat Cafe. It's cats + cafe. That's it. It's supposed to be the happiest place on Earth, unless you are deathly allergic to cats, in which case it still manages to be the happiest place on Earth if you're a piece of shit that people want dead.

New York City's cat cafe (called the 'Meow Parlour' because we are now in England) currently has a wait list that extends well into March. You would think it housed something rare and extraordinary, like the entirety of the 27 club (and the half-ghosts of all its future members) resurrected in an underground lair that leads to Atlantis.

Maybe that's an exaggeration, but I figured that, at the very least, there would be cats and coffee present. Those were my standards.

Because what's the first thing you think when you hear the word 'cafe'? Coffee? Is it coffee? Maybe the word you think of is 'coffee.' Because 'cafe' literally translates to 'coffee' in at least seven million different languages. I don't need Rosetta Stone to tell me that statement is true. So I was kind of expecting I'd be able to choke down a latte while in the presence of cats. I don't think that's too much to ask. In case you do not know where this is heading: there was no coffee. Health violations.

Disclaimer: The day I rushed to the cat cafe, I was mildly hungover, unshowered, and there was a gaping wound in my knee, crusted with blood from being dragged across a sewer grate the day before. I wasn't exactly in the most understanding mood for meeting with the world's most unfeeling creatures.

The vast majority of New Yorkers are witches, so the cat cafe saw quite a few cancelations from people afraid of melting in the rain. So I hobbled down to SoHo in an attempt to take someone's newly surrendered spot. I mistakenly walked toward whatever river is down there by mistake, because I am the world's most broken compass. Everyone is surprised when I tell them I am a native New Yorker; no one is surprised when I am late.

Before entering the cat cafe, my friends and I were required to sign a waiver. I did not read the waiver because it was so long. Maybe there was something in it prohibiting blog posts about how boring it was. I'll find out when I get a cease and desist.

Imagine a room. Imagine cats. Imagine slumber. Now, be bored. That's it. That's the cat cafe. I've ruined the illusion. I've saved you nine dollars.

All of the cats were asleep. None of them responded to love. It was like observing the aforementioned silent rave while sober. People were having fun and I still don't understand why.

And here's the thing: those cats don't owe me shit. They don't owe me niceness or comfort or love or acknowledgement. They're rescues for fuck's sake. I am an asshole for writing this post. This is one of those things that's kind of not about me in any capacity. But my god, those cats were so fucking dull. Interacting with them was like trying to feed a glass of milk to a cardboard cutout of Zac Efron.

I'm aware that cats sleep for an average of 16 hours a day because I have had so many of them. I have a cat right now. He's diabetic and scared of everything and I like him. When I was unemployed in 2013, I essentially was a cat: I slept when I wasn't eating and I gained so much weight and apathy. The weight came off but I no longer care about anything. So I know cats are not dogs, and yet I was still vastly underwhelmed.

There was one three-legged cat which is cool if you like broken things. She was my favorite, because she shifted in her seat at one point.

To be fair, I do think the cafe is doing wonderful things for those cats, truly cares about keeping them healthy and happy and wants to adopt them out to loving homes. That does not change the fact that I would rather struggle through The Bible written entirely in Eteocretan than ever visit again.

The moral of the story is that I wound up paying nine dollars to be silently rejected by sleeping cats for an hour. This is something that happens to me on a daily basis, but by men and for free. Don't make my mistake. Ride the subway less than four times, instead.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Am Taylor Swift in 'Blank Space'

Two weeks ago I spent an evening that transitioned seamlessly into mid-morning with a boy so unbelievably charming and stunning and smart that part of me doesn't believe he existed at all. If I hadn't woken up with my collarbone covered in bruises the next day, I would have fully subscribed to the notion that we are all merely brains in jars, subsisting in our own bodily fluids in a lab somewhere. That this world is nothing more than a hallucinatory experience we create for ourselves. Only, mine got fucked up somewhere along the way, because if experiences like this one and all the ones before it are the products of my own creation, I must have a supremely low opinion of myself and of what I believe I deserve.

pictured: a collective photo of the men I have gone out with in 2014
Fact or fiction, fantasy or reality, here I am, once more, to bitch about dating, not dating, nearly fucking, feeling too fast and then feeling like shit. All in the span of a week and a half. So it goes.

We met around 2am in a dimly lit bar, whose first Yelp review says: "I would take a date here if I were trying to get laid." The boy in question was too good-looking, too smart, too agreeable. Conversation came easy. We talked about literature and poetry -- two things I save for myself, because words about words don't come as easy for me, I keep it all too close to my heart. But I felt at ease with him; I felt challenged and I wanted to win. He was brilliant and totally alluring, ideal; he seemed honest and sincere. He was a cuter version of Andrew Garfield circa 'The Social Network,' and I am a stupid, shallow bitch.

He was the epitome of my very own James Dean daydream, and I'm embarrassed that I allowed myself to be so manipulated by a boy with a pretty face and prettier words. He placed a hand on my thigh and said: "I can't help it, Ali, I'm drawn to beauty." And in any other bar, with any other boy, I would have rolled my eyes so far back into my skull that the nerves would have detached, warranting me instantly blind. Instead, I was charmed. This one knew what he was doing. I know nothing about biology.

After less than two hours of talking, we walked back to his place, because my need for male validation will always outweigh my natural instinct to survive.

We talked some more about books, he pointed out the four on his bookshelf he was currently reading. I was reading one of them, too. He put on some weird music I wasn't into, because I'd rather listen to that Justin Bieber/Slipknot mashup than early 20th century jazz. He slipped his hand around my waist and pressed his lips against my neck. I will spare you further detail. But I will allow myself this: I have never felt so desired, like the touch of my skin could alight inside someone like that, before. I am no archetype of beauty, of goodness, of woman -- but I do believe so many decent things about myself. I am funny, I am loyal, I am smart and I am strong. But I hardly ever feel beautiful, like my aesthetic is worth a second glance, so I deflect and I poke fun at myself and I roll my eyes. This is how I build my walls.

But this boy, the one with the endlessly flourishing vocabulary, who had a way with words like the type of quirky male protagonist that exists solely in a John Green novel -- this one, he knew what to say to get my dress down around my ankles in record time.

When we paused the first time, he pulled me to his chest and we talked. It was disarmingly candid. He traced the lines of my body and I told him about the boys who never called. I made it clear that I'd been hurt, that l'd been pushed heavy into self-doubt, because people didn't even have the decency to fade away anymore. They simply weren't, one day. That there is something about me that turns people into ghosts.

He said it was clear to him the guys who came before him, the ones who disappeared, had some kind of problem that had nothing to do with me. That there was nothing wrong with me: I was gorgeous and funny and interesting and smart. And in that moment I believed it, because he was a beautiful boy and I was naked in his bed. I allowed myself vulnerability, transparency. I was a glass case when I should have been steel. 

He went on to tell me his friends have this tendency of radio-silencing a girl if she is too great. Too pretty, too charming, too much. He said that if these men, these boys, have any inkling of falling in love with her, they disappear. They stay gone. Because they aren’t willing to commit — not even in the form of a final goodbye. That the very possibility of love, even in its infancy, is a risk not worth taking. It was the opposite of every tired romantic trope I have ever read. I didn't believe him.

He said the guys who radio-silenced me were probably thinking along the same lines. And I won't lie, it’s a nice thought. This idea that I’m so wonderful, so magnetic, so distracting in my perfectness that the only way to solve a problem like Maria is to end things. Suddenly and, well, without an end.

He told me not to derive my sense of self-worth from the absence of a phone call, and I suppose there's validity in there somewhere. But he was trying to flatter me, to fuck me, and I should have known better. I believe too much in sincerity, in the weight of one's words. It felt like an exorbitant amount of effort just to get his dick wet, so I took him for face value when he said that even if I never wanted him to fuck me, he would still want to see me again; that he actually liked what little of me he'd come to know over the course of those hours.

But maybe the fun for him was in the challenge. I didn't drink anything he handed me, so he drained half my glass of water in one gulp before insisting I finish the rest. He could tell I don't trust easy.

When we'd finished -- once he'd finished -- I stayed. He asked me to read him a poem that I loved. I said that I wouldn't, it was too personal. The reality is I was embarrassed. My hair was a mess of knots because, as Buddy Wakefield says, we are desperate in our fucking. My skin was blotchy and imperfect and I believed he had no business looking at me. So when I declined, he took a book from his bookshelf: "I'll read you something, then," and he read me some Nietzsche bullshit. 

He sat at the window, his face turned toward the light, cast in that mid-morning glow, that post blow job languor. He took a drag on his cigarette and he was fucking luminous and he was shirtless and everything I'm writing is the worst young adult novel you have ever read. But it's true: suddenly, my 15 year-old self's wet dream was very much personified, mere inches away from me. When he finished reading he asked me what I thought. It was one of his favorite utterances, "What do you think?" As though he actually gave a flying fuck.

He looked to me expectantly, like I could blow his mind the way I'd just sucked his dick, so I chose honesty: "I don't get it." It was a half-truth, really. I had tuned out. I was too busy watching his hands, the rise and fall of his chest, the tangle of his hair and how much better wild looked on him than it looked on me. 

It all sounds grossly pretentious, and believe me, it was straight out of a scene from the type of freshman year of college experience I'd never had but always secretly wanted. He asked me to sleep next to him, he needed a nap before work. It was nearing 10am and sleeping next to boys is something I don't do, so I declined. He offered me a magazine for the subway, some coffee before I left. He touched me while I found my clothes around his room, smiled when I showed him my newly-ripped tights. The last thing he said to me was: "Hey Ali. Stay beautiful." That, I couldn't take. I cackled like a witch (like a bitch). I told him he was a corny motherfucker, and I left.

I sent the first text, two days later, because I have no qualms about texting first. In the past, I have sent the first text, the third text, the what the fuck JUST TEXT ME BACK text. He replied immediately and I read it in his voice. Then the texts came less and less, until they didn't come at all. So it goes. Again. And it's not that I fell in love with him over the span of eight hours. It's that I have yet to learn that people are cowards who refuse honesty. That no matter the anecdotes he supplies me with to assure me that he's different -- he told me the story of a girl he'd met and wasn't interested in, so he said he'd been honest with her -- the simple truth is that he isn't. That I am right not to trust. That we are born with our hearts encased in bone for a reason. 

It's almost like an absentee, passive form of gas-lighting, at this point. Those things he said? That I was beautiful and smart and worthy? That he actually wanted to see me again? It was foolish of me to believe him, to believe any of them. None of it ever happened. And it's because this wasn't the first time, or the second or even the third that I have to question myself.

I am that tired old Taylor Swift joke: the common denominator in all of my dating failures is me.

I am embarrassed that I'm writing about it now, without humor. That I can't remember how to be funny. That I don't know how to end this.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Insert Taylor Swift Lyrics Here

I didn't fall in love after two dates. But god did I love the idea of us.

Everyone makes fun of Taylor Swift for writing an entire album about her 2 month maple latte relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal, but the truth is I could probably direct an 87 episode telanovela story arc based on the two dates I went on last week.

I'm going to say it again - we went on two dates. Not ten, not two hundred. Two. We communicated for a grand total of 4 Earth days. I am self-aware enough to know that I deserve to be committed for being so invested and for feeling so intensely about this. I've spent more time in the same room with John Frusciante than I have with NAME REDACTED but I can't quit letting the What Ifs chip away at me when I'm alone.

My dream man is a cross between Lee Pace's height and Ezra Koenig's twitter feed. All I want is a tall, funny, creative guy who doesn't take himself too seriously and will understand when I leave him for Dave Grohl someday. So when I walked into that bar and saw his 6'3" frame standing there, it was just like that Beatles song. Technically he was sitting down, 32 years old and a man, but my heart did go boom when I crossed that room. I don't believe in love at first sight, but something ignited in my chest and I fell.

Before I reveal more of my psychosis, let's talk about, "The Spark." Along with being ugly and antisocial, the mythical abstraction known as 'the spark,' is what makes dating so fucking hard. It's the idea that when you've finally met the Ryan Gosling to your Rachel McAdams your innards will alight and your smile will come easy and, put simply, you will know. The conversation won't be stilted, his touch will set you on fire and everything will somehow be equal parts familiar and new. Newsflash: it's complete bullshit, until one day it isn't. When it comes to love and men I am the ultimate cynic, because I have no reason to believe otherwise, but I had a total Notebook moment when we met.

I picked a bar with soft lighting, though maybe a bar with no lighting would have been better.  I was 5'11" in those shoes; we both had terrible posture, so busy leaning into the other. It turns out we both work retail. It turns out our stores are across the street from each other. We share a birthday month and obsessive personalities. He let his cat pick his own birthday; it's the same calendar date my parents met. It felt a lot like fate.

His face lit up when he showed me his artwork, mine when I mentioned tequila. We talked about music and when I expressed disappointment in missing my dream lineup at this year's Firefly Festival due to flakey friends, he asked why we couldn't just go together, "Pretty girl... music... summer? What else do you need?" I don't need to get stabbed in a sleeping bag by some guy I just met, and normally I would decline. But he was too charming and funny and familiar and he seemed to feel the same way about me, "I feel like I've known you for a while.. is that weird?" This is how serial killers get away with making book spines out of human vertebrae.

He joked about getting married at the festival, so I told him Dave Grohl is an ordained minister. I would have shaved ten years off my life to have Dave Grohl marry us there. (I would shave ten years off my life to have Dave Grohl spit in my mouth.) It felt more right than the time Meryl Streep was cast in every role she's ever played.

Game four of the Stanley Cup finals was playing at the bar, and it was projected to be a pitiful loss to the LA Kings. I'm a reluctant Ranger fan, in that I don't actively give a shit about sports, but I appreciate the skill and occasional violence involved in hockey. I also didn't want to return home to see my brother and father weeping before the television set after New York's inevitable loss, so I silently rooted for them. When The Rangers unexpectedly scored their first goal and the bar erupted like Mount Vesuvius circa AD 79, he played up the romcom and kissed me hard. It was better than Love, Actually.

He told me I was funny when I wasn't; he told me I was pretty which I'm not.

He asked me to go home with him, and maybe that was a red flag, but he was cute so I was flattered. I told him I had work early the next day and a dog with a weak bladder, so he walked me to the subway instead and we kissed until it hurt. He told me he wanted to see me again, and so I believed him.

He texted me that night about Firefly after I'd already fallen asleep, "We can totally do this..." He just needed to get the days off work, and I just needed to rob a rich widower to afford it, but we were both on board.

We spent five hours talking that first night, then five hours texting the next, because of course I counted. He asked to see me again the following night. Since my life is an episode of 20/20 waiting to happen I agreed to go to his place deep in the bowels of Brooklyn straight after work. It is important to note that he offered to pick me up in Manhattan, but I declined. It is equally important to note that this blog post is turning into a short story written by Ernest Hemingway. I might be drunk. War.

Instead, he picked me up from the train station, something the last guy I dated didn't 'believe in.' The last guy I dated was a short, racist elf from Connecticut.

In the end he couldn't get the dates off work for Firefly, but he showed me the post-it where he'd written out the cost and transportation. He bought me cider and fed me pasta. He made me laugh the way few people can. He was an artist deserving of the title. We spent the rest of the night half watching a movie but mostly waiting for it to end, and I made the fatal mistake of equating physical affection with genuine interest. I went even further and believed him when he ended the night by saying he wanted to see me again. That he would call. I let myself get excited, and that's where everything went wrong.

def did not take an entire week to fall apart

The Rangers officially lost the Cup that night, creating the most appropriate parallel to my dating life this universe has ever seen.

Spineless assholes of both genders who are reading this: why are you the way you are? Let me give you some advice. You're you and I'm me and we're on our second date in three days, initiated by you. Do not tell me I am pretty and funny. Do not tell me how bad you want me.  Do not tell me you like my legs, my eyes, my ass, my thighs.

Do not, as you're lying on top of me, hard as a brick, say, when I hesitate to rip my clothes off, "You can say no. I won't be mad. I'm still going to want to see you again." Do not then brush the hair away from my face, look into my eyes and smile, "Don't give me those sad eyes. I'm not mad. Ok?" Do not kiss me softly after.

Do not walk me to the subway station after I decline your offer to sleep over and kiss me deeply and grip my waist and promise to call. Do not make the last thing you say to me in person be, "Sorry again about postponing the wedding next week."

Do not respond to my text the next day. Do not ask me how my day is going. Do not send me a photo of your cat.

Do not remember the inconsequential things I told you the night before; do not bring them up now.

Do not, then, go Radio Silence on me and think you're doing me a favor by not saying the words. Say the fucking words; say any words. I can handle it.

maybe I can't handle it

I want to hate him and shit on his life and burn down his house for being this vehicle that has driven me to question my sanity and my worth, but the truth is despite his cowardice, I don't think his intention was to hurt me. He probably thought I was a normal human being who would react to silent rejection in a normal, human way: that I would feel disappointment, not crippling loss. That I would delete his texts and move on, not replay every interaction we had and wonder where I went wrong, since he did everything right.

But if there's one thing in this world that I'm good at it's obsessing.

need I remind anyone of 2012
He told me he told his mother about something I'd said; that she'd laughed. I didn't think anything of it until I couldn't stop thinking about it. It's one of my favorite things to shout into the void when I'm drunk these days, "He told his mother about me! He. Told. His. Mother. Why would he do that!?" The answer to that question is: many people tell their mothers many different things. It doesn't have to mean anything. Clearly, it did not.

"I'm not usually this funny... especially on a first date. You must just laugh at everything." Except Amy Poehler told me I don't have to laugh when boys aren't funny. I didn't then and I never will again. His last girlfriend didn't think he was funny. Maybe if I had laughed less he would've liked me more. Maybe I shouldn't have told him to watch Bob's Burgers; he fell asleep during the pilot. Maybe if I'd spent the night like he asked he would have called. The What Ifs are fruitless, of course. If sex is what would have kept him, he never meant to stay.

I realize in the grand scheme of things, two dates should mean nothing. They obviously meant nothing to him, and they would usually mean nothing to me because I am so guarded. I have always refused to be this current version of myself: the one who overthinks and disappears and doesn't eat. Much like being drunk around giant cacti, when I allow myself vulnerability I get hurt. I have long suspected that I am not the type of girl people fall in love with; I have never been made to feel like anyone's first choice, so I don't get attached and I don't get excited. Perhaps it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, but this time felt different. It just sucks that it was one sided. It sucks more that I'll never know why.

He clearly didn't like me as much as I thought he did.  Maybe he got back with an ex or saw in another girl what I saw in him. Maybe he fell from Belvedere Castle, suffered a concussion and died in his sleep. In the end it doesn't matter, because whatever his reason for wanting to Eternal Sunshine me from his existence is knowledge I will never be privy to.

And I get it. Shit happens. You get corrective lens surgery some time between the first and second dates, you meet someone else, you fall down a well and suffer from retrograde amnesia. Whatever. It's the total disregard for my feelings that makes me want to post his number to numerous online sex forums.

Just tell me you're over it so I can buy a handle of tequila on my way home from work. It's about seventy thousand times more considerate to be honest with someone and reject her so she can move on, than to force her to dwell on the maybes, the whys, the what did I do wrongs. But to just cut off all contact without warning? When things seemed hopeful? More spineless than Gilderoy Lockhart.

I'll never know. I will never know how we went from marriage to death in four days.

I am grateful to the friends who have been very supportive. I am not an easy person to deal with when I am hurt. First, when things were great:

and then when things were bad:

I haven't been this disappointed in the outcome of something since Justin Guarini beat out Tamyra Gray on season 1 of American Idol, but I also know that when I look back on this a year from now, a decade, I'll be more embarrassed than when my mom asked me what a MILF was for a second time.

Logically I don't want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with me. Who thought I wasn't small enough or soft enough or kind enough or clever. Who fails to have the decency to respond to my (completely normal, reasonable) text of, 'if you're no longer interested I'd appreciate a heads up.' But logic and love do not run perpendicular to each other. Even though it wasn't love.

I told him I'd never had my heart broken before; I guess he took it as a challenge.

Even though he seemed perfect for me, it never would have worked out anyway; he hates karaoke.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Last Goodbye

We got Buster a week before my 6th birthday - 18.5 years ago. Aside from my family, I've known him longer than anyone. That's a stupid thing to say; he is family.  I'll start over.

We grew up together, both puppies with boundless energy and trust and love.  It's cliche because it's true: dogs are totally limitless in their loyalty.  He was my alarm clock every day, urging me awake, prodding at me with his paws.  He would tug on my school uniform before I left, begging me to stay with him. I wish I could have brought him with me, I wish he wasn't leaving now.

He loved me even when I left him.  He waited by my door when I left for college, four long years of 'why did you leave?'  and 'you're finally home!' Even after the arthritis kicked in and he could barely hold himself up, he was always the first one to welcome me back. Weak limbs be damned. 

When he was older, calmer, I would hold him, swaddled in a thick blanket, and he would fall asleep on my chest like a baby - his belly rising and falling with ease and comfort, his breath coming out in soft wisps as he slept. This was peace.

Now there are no more false alarms or false hope. My dog, my little bear, my Buster, once so filled with life and energy, has been reduced to only moments of wellness, short bursts of clarity.  He can no longer walk; instead, he howls, he sleeps. It's time.

And so I say goodbye to my oldest companion. My heart isn't heavy so much as it is hollow. Times like these I pray for an afterlife, for some sort of Heavenly world because any other reality is too much right now. I need to trust that I will see him, see all of them, again someday.

I know he's held on so long for us - his love is that selfless - but it's finally time to let go.

Goodbye my little bear, I love you. I'll see you when I see you.

Monday, December 31, 2012

suck it, 2012

They say the way you spend midnight on New Year's Eve is the way you're going to spend the rest of your year. I'm glad that saying is farther from the truth than any predictions made by Miss Cleo because otherwise I would have spent the entirety of this godforsaken year blacked out, drunk on tequila, lying on the floor of a karaoke room. Actually that probably would have made 2012 a little more bearable.

My resolutions for the past year were to blog more and get out of retail. Oops. The only thing I succeeded in was regressing further into the emotional maturity of a tween girl. My resolutions for 2013 are to actually blog more and to stop being late to every single thing I attend as I am convinced the reason I get invited to nothing now is because I am always late (and also because I never show up).

I think we all put too much emphasis on New Year's Eve. I'm about to leave my apartment but my makeup is terrible and I'm wearing the same outfit I wore for NYE 2010. I'm not going to kiss anyone at midnight, I'm too tired and embarrassing to drink to excess, and I'm already pathetic at 24. This year sucked. I'm only celebrating the fact that it's over.  To be honest, a huge part of me really wants to stay home and fall asleep at 11:30. If sleep is all I do in 2013 it will already have been better than 2012.

But enough complaining. Here's to the money I didn't earn, the job I failed to quit, the weight I didn't lose, and the pop culture that consumed my existence. Thanks to those who have yet to abandon this blog, even though apparently I am not one of those people.

Happy New Year! and many thanks to Ke$ha for my mantra of 2013:

found out you're full of it I'm over it so suck my dick