Anyone Else Becoming as Unhinged as I Am Lately?

The past few weeks have seen me having more melodramatic breakdowns than usual, and it’s a problem. One second I’ll be all balanced and happy and zen, and then the next I’ll be spiraling into a black hole of fury: arguing that working forty hours a week is bullshit, telling myself that I’M THE SMARTEST PERSON I KNOW, and randomly IMing my friend Steven with nonstop pictures of Mariah Carey alongside her various love interests throughout the years.

Like, the other day I saw this beautiful passage on Louise L. Hay’s Facebook. Basically it’s all about how if we use a tomato plant as an analogy for creating the lives we want, we can be happy. Because we trust tomato plants to grow, and so when our personal tomato plant starts to sprout, we shouldn’t get angry and ask, “WHY AREN’T YOU BIGGER AND BETTER?” but rather we should keep watering it and say, “Woohoo! It’s on its way!”

I read it and thought, That’s how I’m going to live my life from now on.

Then this IM conversation happened after I randomly went off on a tangent to Steven about how I wish I had a year off to eat, pray, love, and finish the millionth third draft of my book:

  • Steven: i feel like you’re on the verge of a breakdown
  • me: dude it’s true
  • Steven: i can feel it
  • Steven: coming in the air tonight
  • Steven: i FEEL it. when your messages get short and sans caps and punctuation and proper capitalization
  • me: there’s just gotta be more to life
  • me: than chasing down every temporary hiiigh
  • Steven: oh god you’re breaking out the Stacy O
  • Steven: every time you do that, you have a crisis of faith
  • Steven: and then you throw shit and start crying
  • me: and the worst part is that I’m lucky to be employed where I am
  • me: and yet
  • me: WHERE’S THE MEANING?
  • Steven tomorrow you’re gonna be all, “we must reach for the stars with our highest energy and smoke our own poz toxins and look out of our third eyes and be the best versions of ourselves”
  • Steven: followed by quoting some zen writer I’ve never heard of
  • me lmao. true

Later that day…

  • me: the issue is simple
  • me: I just need to hold on through this rough patch
  • me: and continue to strive toward creating the life I want
  • me: I’m just getting so fucking impatient
  • me: like… fucking.. WHEN
  • me: but I mean, I know we mustn’t attack our tomato plants
  • me: WHY AREN’T YOU FUCKING GROWING YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT TOMATO PLANT WORTHLESS FUCKING PIECE OF GARBAGE
  • Steven BAHAHA
  • Steven: I’m dying
  • Steven: I think you need to work toward being your best self
  • me: I’d like to be handed everything on a silver platter
  • me: WHERE’s my platter
  • me: omg I’m a fucking abomination
  • me: that’s negative
  • me: I’m a radiant expression of God’s love
  • Steven: I. Am…Dead

So, I don’t know. I guess the one lesson, if any, I’ve gleaned from this whole thing is that if you’re lucky enough to have a tomato plant, don’t be an asshole. Be grateful. Be graceful. Let it grow. And then go make some marinara sauce, maybe? Or: schizophrenically unravel via IM and then blog about it later. That always works too.

tomatoplant

 

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That Married Dude I Made Out with Last Year? SAW HIM AGAIN

Last November I met a man on a train. Let’s call him James. James and I bonded all the way from New York to Connecticut, and then we passionately made out in his car like a couple of horny high schoolers until we decided to cut the party short due to the fact that he had a wife whom — no big deal — he almost forgot to tell me about. It was a debacle, and really you should just read my entire original post about it to get the full effect before continuing, because OH MY GOD – I saw him last week.

I was stuck at the train station due to a delay and decided to treat myself to a large iced coffee to ease the pain (because large iced coffees always ease the pain — they’re a lot like Vicodin and/or puppy therapy in that way).

As I approached the Dunkin Donuts stand, I noticed that there was a man with an effortlessly strong build standing at the front of the line in sharp tan suit pants and a white T-shirt. His suit jacket and dress shirt were cradled loosely under his hot right man-arm.

I’d so hit that, I thought to myself, apparently not requiring any knowledge whatsoever of what his face looked like.

Then he turned around and our eyes met.

AND IT WAS JAMES.

We hadn’t seen each other since the night we met, so this was kind of a BFD. (That’s “big fucking deal” for those of you who actually put your educations to use and therefore don’t speak in profane teen girl abbrevs.) (Abreva?)

I immediately went into super-adrenaline mode and decided that I would just pretend I didn’t see James in front of me or that I did see him but had absolutely no idea who he was because I’m the type of person (in this imaginary scenario of me not recognizing him, that is) who just makes out with strangers on trains all the damn time and so trying to keep track of them would be like trying to keep track of the number of nipple rings at a Bear convention.

(Explanatory side note for straight people: Bears are large hairy gay men who are traditionally into body piercings and leather. And conventions, apparently.)

Our eyes met again as James stepped to the side to wait for his coffee and I moved to the front of the line. He looked nervous.

“Large iced coffee, please,” I said, trying to look as directly at the cashier as possible. “With milk only.”

I spoke loudly, immaturely hoping that the sound of my voice would initiate some kind of nostalgia or arousal or regret or why-isn’t-Nic-saying-hi-to-me?-ness (emotion of any kind, really) in James.

I wanted him to notice that my outfit was similar to the one I wore the night we met seven months ago – a button down shirt, slightly open at the chest with two chains of contrasting lengths showing (because yes, on Tuesdays I dress like the owner of a pizzeria). I also wanted him to notice that I had a bunch of new half-hippie/half-someone-who-hangs-out-on-boats bracelets on my left wrist, so I made sure to really stick out my hand as I reached forward to pay the guy behind the counter.

Why did I so desperately want James to notice everything about me?

Maybe it was just my way of acknowledging how bizarre it was that last fall we shared an intimate moment – a moment that I’ve since written and talked and thought about at length; a moment that has been the subject of blog posts and essays and bar conversations and marathon phone calls and so much else – and here we were pretending to be total strangers.

It felt rather dishonest.

But it was all either of us could bring ourselves to do, I guess. And so James and I continued to stand there in awkward silence until we each got our respective cups of fuel for the morning.

“Thanks,” I said to the DD guy.

“Have a good one,” James told him.

And then we each sped off in directions so completely opposite that anyone watching would have never known we were both going to the exact same place.

I couldn't really think of a good picture to accompany this post. So here's me squatting on a rock during a hike a few weeks ago. There's a message here somewhere, maybe.

I couldn’t really think of a good picture to accompany this post. So here’s me squatting on a rock during a hike a few weeks ago. There’s meaning here somewhere, maybe.

P.S. It just occurred to me that, when left open to interpretation, the last line of this post could totally make it sound like I was insinuating that James and I took roundabout routes to the men’s room and then gave each other blowjobs in the handicap stall or something – and I’d just like to clarify that that’s not what happened at all. I just meant that, you know, we were both commuting into the same city. There was probably some underlying metaphor there, too. I didn’t need to clarify any of this, did I?

P.P.S. How gross would it be to give a blowjob in the stall of a train station bathroom? How gross would it be to do anything that involves heavily breathing through your nose in a train station bathroom? Just, ew.

P.P.P.S. No judgment, though, if train-station-bathroom-blowjobs are your thing! To each his own.

P.P.P.P.S. But still I probably wouldn’t share a drink with you.

P.P.P.P.P.S. Unless that drink was a vodka gimlet. Or a Guinness. Or a White Russian. Or a jalapeño margarita. You know what? Never mind.

 

I’m a Fast Pedestrian with Angry Thoughts, but at the End of the Day I’m Spiritual So It’s All Good

One of the things I advertise on my OkCupid profile is the fact that I can walk really fast through crowded urban streets.

Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 8.24.16 PMIt’s not that I’ve ever been particularly proud of this ability – frankly, there are many other, more important things that I can do well – but “walking briskly in New York City” was really the only answer I could think of for that question that didn’t make me sound like a pretentious douche bag who looks in the mirror on an hourly basis and probably has a pet name for his penis. Because that’s nobody’s type.

(Although now that I think about it, I have been involved with or know more than a few of those kinds of dudes. And they never seem to run into any problems getting laid. So maybe I’m wrong and that’s actually everybody’s type?)

(Holy shit. I think I just figured out why I’m single.)

(Hold on…)

Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 9.04.04 PMOkay, I’m ready for all the men to want me now.

(Side note: While the above answer is of course a joke, I did have to change my real-life profile to that for about twenty seconds in order to secure the screen shot. And it was the most anxious, frightening, and uncomfortable – and yet oddly invigorating? – twenty seconds of my life.)

Moving on.

Wait, where was I going with all of this anyways?

Oh, slow people. So I started writing this post from my seat on the commuter train, because basically I had to zigzag my way through an army of molasses-paced pod people at Grand Central Station to get there, and it was so fucking annoying because everyone loves to walk in every which direction while being all “I’m slow and I wear mittens” while I’m just internally like, “ARGH! GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY AND LET THE TALL GUY THROUGH SO HE CAN GO HOME AND DRINK WINE AND GOOGLE LYRICS TO NINETIES POP BALLADS AND FANTASIZE ABOUT BEING FRIENDS WITH OPRAH AND VENT ABOUT HOW SLOW YOU ARE ON HIS BLOG.”

But then I started writing, and then that whole OkCupid introduction turned into a way more involved tangent than I had originally intended it to be, and so by the time I was ready to get into how enraging slow people are, the frustration had worn off and my desire to angrily rant was (mostly) diminished. And then I reminded myself that having to deal with dawdling pedestrians is small. fucking. potatoes compared to the real issues in the world (potato famines, for instance), and we are all cut from the same divine thread of oneness and so really I need to be spreading love and light to everyone — even people with shorter legs than me.

Wow. I’m pretty sure this entire post just turned into like, a deep lesson in perspective, love, forgiveness, and the Golden Rule, all at the same time. You’re welcome for the wisdom.

Now move.

 

Possibly the Best Unintentional Metaphor for Life as a Disillusioned Young Professional Ever

Every so often I get the brilliant idea to wake up super early in an effort to gain control of my life and make the most of my pre-work morning time.

Here’s what my living room looks like in my head on those mornings:

Room1

ESPN? Porn? What the hell am I, a straight man?

Here’s what my living room looks like in my head on every other morning:

Room2

Admittedly more common.

In both scenarios, I get to work at the same exact time.

But I mean, in Scenario A, there’s this whole illusion of freedom and choice happening. ”I’m an adult who is in control of how he spends his time,” Scenario A proclaims.

“Hey asshole, no you’re not. Shut up and go to work before you get fired and therefore have no living room to procrastinate in in the first place,” says B.

“You know what? You’re mean. Maybe I don’t need a living room,” Scenario A might reply. “Material shit doesn’t matter! What is money, anyways, but paper and energy and an illusion?”

And that’s usually I get all What-am-I-doing-with-my-life-and-if-money-doesn’t-matter-then-why-don’t-I-just-quit-everything-and-move-to-a-shack-somewhere-in-the-woods-so-I-can-focus-on-my-true-passion-but-then-how-will-I-pay-my-student-loans-and/or-Wu-Tang-Clan-Fan-Club-dues?-FUCK-I’M-TRAPPED and my brain short circuits.

(Side note: I’m totally kidding about the Wu-Tang Fan Club thing. I have no idea where that random gangster rap reference even came from. Actually, wait. I do. I was going to write Mariah Carey Fan Club, but coming from me that just seemed far too predictable at this point. So then my mind was all, “Okay, well Mariah did that ‘Fantasy’ remix with Ol’ Dirty Bastard in 1995… and he was a part of the Wu-Tang Clan… and sure! I’ll say ‘Wu-Tang Fan Club’ and it will be funny.” But now that I think about it, I could have done better. I mean, I wasn’t even a Wu-Tang fan in the nineties, let alone today. Also, I highly doubt they would have had a formal fan club for me to join in the first place. I mean, would that have even been legal? I feel like drugs and guns would have been involved in some capacity, and I’m assuming that the post office would have had something to say about that. And then arrests would have probably been made, and then I wouldn’t even be able to write this right now because I’d be too busy wasting my days away IN JAIL, WONDERING WHY I CAN’T HAVE CONTROL OF MY OWN LIFE.)

Holy shit. Did the Wu-Tang Clan just prove my entire point for me? I think they did.

 

How to Make ANYTHING Healthy (Yes, this Post Contains All the Secrets)

(Alternate Title: True Life: I Use Healthy Substitutions to Rationalize My Binge Eating – Part Two)

Every Friday at my company is “Wing Day!”

It’s kind of like Casual Friday, except instead of wearing non-professional attire, employees come to work dressed up as winged creatures – bees, pterodactyls, slutty angels – anything, really, so long as it can fly.

(Side note: Can we talk about how I just managed to spell “pterodactyl” right on my very first try? I swear. This kind of thing never happens, and frankly, I think it means I’m brilliant.)

Okay, so actually, I’m lying. (About the dressing-up-as-creatures thing; the getting-pterodactyl-right-on-the-first-try thing is completely true, and I’m standing by my brilliance.)

Wing Day is, in reality, just an excuse for everyone in the company to pig out on Buffalo wings for lunch, as they are the Friday special in the cafeteria.

And so here’s a conversation that occurred in the lunch line between my coworker JaJa (this pseudonym was her choice, by the way, and that tells you pretty much everything you need to know about how much of a delight she is) and myself the last time I indulged in this obesity-fueling ritual:

  • Nic: I can’t believe I’m doing this. I have a date tonight. A date. I’m now forever going to be The Guy Who Ate Wings for Lunch On the Day of a Date.
  • JaJa: Oh, stop. It’s fine.
  • Nic: Hold on! [Dramatically sprints to the salad bar. Returns ten seconds later, panting.]
  • JaJa: What did you just do?
  • Nic: I had to grab some fresh baby spinach.
  • JaJa: OMG.
  • Nic: Yes. I am having my chicken wings on a bed of spinach.

In related news, I sometimes add broccoli to my macaroni and cheese:

IMG_20140302_134134

I also like to add about a third of a packet of additional shredded cheddar, but that’s neither here nor there.

Did I mention that the macaroni is made with fifty percent whole grain? I mean, this meal is basically a power smoothie. That is, if power smoothies were all carb-y and cheese-laden, which, aren’t they?

STOP LOOKING AT ME THAT WAY.

Am I doing power smoothies wrong?

P.S. In case you missed Part One of this series, because apparently my reprehensible eating habits are steadfastly becoming an epic trilogy similar to The Godfather and/or Star Wars (and/or the nineties horror gem The Leprechaun… that was a trilogy, right?) you can find it here.

P.P.S. The folks over at Kashi have actually read Part One, and they told me to eat their cookies “in moderation.”

Screen shot 2014-03-05 at 10.18.57 PM

FOOLS.

Initially I was super offended by this tweet, but then that wink-face changed the game. So I’m willing to brush it off. Also, does the wink mean that they’re asking me out on a date? Because… yes. Kashi, I’ll date you. I mean, I’m already in a borderline-sexual relationship with your cookies (PUN!) anyway, so everything about this scenario just feels right. And yet so wrong.

A Brief History of My Cosmic Connection with Mariah Carey

1993: I am five years old and watching TV unsupervised when I happen upon the music video for “Dreamlover.” Who is this perfect woman? I ask myself. I spend the remainder of the year emulating the video – frolicking in open fields and longing for a hot air balloon to whisk me away.

1994: Mariah releases her inaugural Christmas album, Merry Christmas. My dad tells me that holiday stuff is always cheaper after Christmas, so in an effort to seem like I understand how money works, I ask him to buy me the CD on December 26th… at full price.

1995: “Fantasy.” Enough said.

1996: While flipping through the C’s at the local music store, I learn that there are still many Mariah releases I do not own. I embark on a fanatical campaign to acquire her entire catalog – including CD maxi-singles and VHS concert tapes. I also spend hours meticulously furnishing a lavish Mariah scrapbook, which essentially becomes my Sistine Chapel. While in the midst of compiling information for the scrapbook, I discover that Mariah and I share the same birthday (327 WHAT WHAT), and the whole thing is a lot like that moment in The Princess Diaries where Anne Hathaway learns she is of royal blood. (Or something? I don’t remember The Princess Diaries accurately.)

1997: Mariah releases her magnum opus (/the answer to everything ever), Butterfly, and ALL BETS ARE OFF. This CD becomes my best friend and helps me cope with everything from my parents’ divorce to my frequent existential crises to my destructive and crippling addiction to Oreos. (I was clearly a very damaged nine-year-old.)

1998-2002: I continue to follow and support everything Mariah does, but in an effort to fit in with my friends (all of whom are boys who somehow don’t understand diva-worship), I do so secretively – effectively going into the Mariah-closet. As a result, I become dead on the inside.

2003: High school begins. I clandestinely attend a Mariah concert alone and feel the presence of God in the theater.

2005: The stellar Emancipation of Mimi album is released. I hesitantly reveal my extreme excitement to my best friend Fran, who is also a huge fan, and she effectively drags me out of the Mariah-closet. Like Mimi, I am emancipated.

2006-2011: With each passing year, I grow more and more outspoken and unapologetic with my public love of MC. I go to concerts. I stand in my truth. Mariah eventually just becomes an inextricable part of my persona and identity.

2012: I am twenty-four and working in music and television in New York City. I manage to finagle my way onto the guest list for a random launch party for a Caesar’s Palace thing at Gotham Hall, where Mariah is making a rare appearance and performing. I bring Fran as my plus one. The setting is living room-intimate, Mariah’s eyes sync up with mine twice, and life is a dream. Much to my chagrin, though, Mariah and I don’t get to formally meet. But I take what I can get.

2013: A friend of mine who works for Jimmy Fallon surprises me with tickets to a taping of a Fallon-Mariah interview in promotion of “The Art of Letting Go.” Mariah and I still don’t get to meet, but again I take what I can get.

2014:

Monday, February 10th: Mariah puts out a teaser for her new single, “You’re Mine (Eternal).”

Tuesday, February 11th: I read a press release early in the morning that states that there will be two versions of the song released on Wednesday, along with a video premiere and a Mariah interview TAPED LIVE FROM THE TELEVISION NETWORK FOR WHICH I WORK. I freak out for about twenty minutes over how there’s a chance I won’t be allowed anywhere near the taping, but my hysteria is calmed when I get a phone call from a colleague close to the production who is aware of my status as a Mariah disciple and gets me on the list.

Wednesday, February 12th: I spend the entire day in a perpetual state of nervous excitement. When it’s finally time for the taping, I head up to the floor of the studio and feel as though I’m living in a surreal alternate universe. As I’m standing outside the studio entrance, I see Mariah’s entourage emerge from the hallway, followed by the deity herself. She is everything I expect her to be and more – wearing heels, calling people “dahling,” and radiating an energy of playfulness. Mariah’s best friend RaeRae (whom I immediately recognize from Instagram and the song lyrics to “’Betcha Gon’ Know”), takes a spot beside me as we wait for Mariah to make her formal entrance onscreen. Mariah stops right in front of the both of us for a last-minute touch-up, smiles at me as if we know each other, and I have to restrain myself from reaching out and pulling her into my arms for an impromptu embrace.

Backstage during the taping, I go back and forth in my head trying to think of ways to introduce myself to RaeRae without looking like a total creeper. I finally settle for, “Hi! I’m Nic. I totally recognize you.” We proceed to have a conversation about photo booths and dogs and children in which I’m awkward and blubbering on account of the fact that I’m FREAKIN’ TALKING TO MARIAH CAREY’S BEST FRIEND, but we eventually exchange Twitter handles, so I decide that I couldn’t have been that embarrassing. (Or RaeRae is just really accustomed to being fanatically approached by Mariah-obsessed weirdoes. Probably that.)

When the taping ends, the wonderful guy who got me on the list (to whom I am eternally grateful) pulls me into the studio where Mariah is hanging out and drinking Dom Perignon with husband Nick Cannon, Jermaine Dupri, MTV’s Sway, and a number of other people who are all desperately trying to get as close as possible to her. I recognize that the odds of my getting any one-on-one time in which to actually talk to her are slim to none, as there’s simply too much competition with people who actually seem to know her from somewhere. I come to terms with this quickly, though, and am willing to take what I can get. (As per usual.)

During a random photo op in which I’m creepily hovering/mouth-breathing over Mariah’s head, RaeRae pulls out her phone and takes a quick video. Later on, the Dom Perignon gets passed around and I take a swig directly from the bottle. Yes. I take a swig of Mariah Carey’s Dom Perignon. From. The. Bottle. After about twenty more minutes, it’s time for her to leave. I give her a smile and a wave and a round of applause, and she reciprocates. (Minus the applause, but whatever.)

At the end of it all, I go downstairs to my work-wife Mila’s office, where I’m delighted to find her still working past nine o’clock. Still on a Mariah-high, I give Mila a highly dramatic retelling of the night’s events. We then log in to Facebook and find that the video RaeRae spontaneously took earlier has just been posted. TO MARIAH’S OFFICIAL PAGE.

Screen shot 2014-02-13 at 8.19.34 AM

Did I quickly scan through the 1,000+ video comments to see if anyone referenced the weird dude in the back? No…

For the remainder of the night, I ride a feeling of floating all the way home to my apartment. It’s as if I’ve been whisked away by a hot air balloon. The experience of the past three hours has confirmed that what I’ve always said is indeed true: Only three things matter in the end – how much you loved, how much you forgave, and how many times you were in the presence of Mariah Carey.

 

Tell Me Again Why We’re All So Competitive?

My daily morning journey typically consists of the following three checkpoints: Gym, train station, work. (Think GTL but with less sunburn risk and more general real-world bleakness.)

My gym (which is actually just a workout room conveniently located in my low-rise apartment building – which, yes, I realize has everything to do with my forthcoming complaint) is about the size of an airplane bathroom. So when there are more than a couple residents in it at the same time, the competition for machines is fierce. Like, RuPaul’s-Drag-Race-with-a-side-of-Scar-from-The-Lion-King fierce.

And then there’s the Metro-North train, which I take from Connecticut into New York City. I start out standing amidst a sea of fellow commuters on the platform, all of us solitarily minding our own business – maybe even bopping our heads along to whatever motivational morning music happens to be blasting through our headphones on any given weekday (angsty female country for me, please!) – but then the train shows up and the scene turns into the freakin’ Hunger Games as everyone tries to push and shove their way inside first to snag a coveted three-seater.

And then there’s work, which… Well. I work in Manhattan. Enough said.

And so I don’t mean to sound whiny, but seriously – why? I get that there are only so many machines in a gym, and only so many seats on a train, but I can’t help but sense that all of this speaks to a much larger issue at hand.

The first time I heard about the dreary concept of a “scarcity mentality,” I was watching a conversation between Marianne Williamson and Oprah on Super Soul Sunday, in which they talked about pie. (Metaphorically, mostly. I think?) You see, pies are cut into slices, of which there can only be so many, and so if someone else gets a slice, then we might not get a slice for ourselves, and so therefore – thanks to pie – we are all conditioned to be in competition with everyone for everything.

Fun!

Except not, because exhaustion. (And disappointment. And detachment. And disenchantment. And… I could keep going with the D-words, really, but I’ll stop now before I get carried away and spiral into what Mariah Carey would call a “woe-is-me diva on a tangent moment.”)

So back to Super Soul. Marianne and Oprah eventually got to talking about how the rules that exist for physical things (like pie) don’t necessarily hold true when applied on a spiritual level. Which means that, on a spiritual level, we can ALL. HAVE. PIE. We can even have multiples slices of pie! We can have multiple pies! (If you’re into that kind of thing.) It doesn’t matter.

1084924_789639823882_1123041889_o

You get a pie! You get a pie! YOU get a pie! (Also, a doughnut, it seems.)

When I watched this conversation for the first time, it resonated deeply. I felt liberated, like a lifetime of restrictive thoughts and dead weight had been lifted off my shoulders. This means I can let go of my irrational fear that all the authors in all the land are going to publish their (subpar) books before I do! I proclaimed to myself. There’s room for us all!

But then I kept running into roadblocks on my path to publication, which forced me to recognize that I always seem to love new age wisdom when things are going my way – but then bitterly return to Self-Pity Central once something (a literary rejection, for instance) comes along and screws with my plans.

Still, though, one has no choice but to recover and continue growing. And as I get older, I can feel the moments of self-pity lessening in both frequency and intensity. I can feel myself getting more and more confident in the fact that there is an infinite amount of pie – if we just have the right perception of it.

In other words, the pie probably isn’t the thing we need to compete for. I mean, how many times do we learn this? Me, I competed against a lot of people to get into a super-selective graduate program four years ago – and I got in! And? It didn’t make all my problems go away. Then I competed against a lot of people to get an internship at a hip television network – and I got it! And? It didn’t make all my problems go away. Then I competed against even more people to turn that internship into a full-time job – and I got it! And? It totally made my problems disappear once and for all. LOL — kidding. It actually created a cute little army of brand new ones.

And so it seems that the task isn’t to get consumed with competition for the things we think we need to complete us (be it a treadmill, seat on the train, job, or book deal), but rather to redefine what the pie is in the first place. Is it something that other people – “decision-makers” – have the power to control for us? Or is it something that we can control and generate from within? Does it require external validation? Or just a little self-love?

Some combination of all of the above?

Frankly, I’m still trying to figure it all out myself. But the one thing I do know for sure is that whatever it is, it’s not going anywhere. And we don’t have to compete with anyone to get it.

 

I Accidentally Made Out with a Closeted Married Man, and Now I’m a Hot Mess

First and foremost, I feel the need to assure you that the events I’m about to recount actually took place. Like, in real life. Which you’ll soon realize is insane because one) I have already written extensively on the subject of falling in love with hot suited strangers during my daily commute on the Metro-North train, two) I once even blogged about a fantasy sequence in which I made out with one of them but he ended up being married, and three) that is somehow EXACTLY what happened to me last Friday night, in real life. IR-fucking-L.

There’s a lot to discuss here, so let’s just start from the beginning.

It was the end of a long week, so naturally I went out for post-work Sangria in the city with one of my best girlfriends. One pitcher turned into two, and before I knew it I was a little tipsy on a late-night train back to Connecticut. The train was delightfully empty, so I got cozy in a four-seater all by myself and prepared for the fifty-minute ride home.

Then he showed up. Hot businessman guy. He was wearing a grey pinstripe suit, fancy watch, and (according to my tipsy-goggles, at least) was ruggedly handsome – kind of like Brandon Walsh from 90210. Except manlier. And thirty-something. And, again, in a suit.

I took about five seconds to observe and appreciate his hotness, texted my friend something like “OMG, this man on the train is my everything,” glanced his way again, and then went back to staring at my phone (lest he catch me looking at him and interpret my stalkerish gazes as reason to desert me and switch to another train car that wasn’t crawling with predatory gay bloggers).

As we pulled out of Grand Central, the conductor came on the intercom and was all, “Please make all seats available,” and then the hot businessman opened up a roadie Coors Light, took a swig, and responded (to everyone and no one), “Uh, the train is empty!”

In my mind: He totally just opened the floor for conversation!!! Should I respond? I should definitely respond. No. That’d be weird. Wait, but he was weird first to even make the empty train remark to begin with. OK I’m doing it! No. YES. NO. Yes.

Out loud: “I know, right? The train is so empty!”

To my surprise, he looked my way and smiled warmly as I mentally congratulated myself for being capable of putting words together quickly enough to respond to his declaration. (Even though, let’s be honest, all I did was say exactly what he said except with a “so” in front of it.)

From there, we engaged in a bout of small talk about our commutes (we live in the same town, turns out!) and jobs (we work in the same part of the city, turns out!) and interests (we both watch football, turns out!).

While all of this was going on, I started developing the hopeful feeling that this guy was maybe gay, maybe into me, and maybe meant to be my husband. I mean, why else would he be so friendly? But then I told myself, “No. Calm yourself down, Nic. This dude probably thinks he’s just having a man-to-man discussion about Eli Manning and meanwhile you’ve let your mind go to that ‘ohmiGod is he gay and in love with me?!’ place in not even five minutes. GET A GRIP.”

After a few moments, we reached a lull in conversation. And then some random ass creepy guy in a black trench coat showed up out of nowhere and took one of the seats directly in front of me in my four-seater, despite the fact that there was a whole train car of empty seats available to him! James (the hot businessman guy — fake name, FYI) and I immediately exchanged glances to acknowledge how bizarre this was.

The creepy guy must have realized that James and I were telepathically discussing his weirdness (or maybe he just had to pee), because he abruptly got up and went to the bathroom, leaving me alone to wait for him to return and maim me take his seat back.

But then.

Like a knight in SHINING fucking ARMOR, James got up, swooped over into my four-seater and asked, “Would you like me to sit here instead?”

And so of course I said, “Yes!” and officially moved on from the “ohmiGod is he gay and in love with me?!” place into the more confident “My life is a romantic comedy and James and I SHALL BE MARRIED AND THIS SHALL BE THE STORY WE TELL OUR ADOPTED CHILDREN’S CHILDREN!” place.

For the remainder of the ride home, James and I talked. About our educations, occupations, hometowns, hobbies, and dreams. At one point I told him how I was working toward becoming a full-time writer and he responded with, “That makes sense; you give off a crazy-creative vibe,” and I had to pinch myself to ensure that I wasn’t just train-hallucinating this whole situation.

When we got to our stop, we walked off the train together.

“Alright,” I said as we approached the escalator, “I guess I should get on my way. Got a bit of a walk home.”

Then James was like, “Do you want a ride?” and I was like, “Yes!” (Because an exclamation-pointed “Yes!” had clearly become my go-to answer to any and all of James’ questions that night.)

I know what you may be thinking: Nic just accepted a ride from a stranger? Is he fucking nuts?!

Yes, I did. And yes, I am. And this is why hot people are dangerous. Because had this dude been gross looking or even just average, there’s no way I’d have said anything other than, “No, thanks.”

Still, as we walked to his car, there was a small voice inside of me that was like, “Uh, Christian Bale in American Psycho, Nic. He was hot. He wore a suit. And he killed bitches!” But I was able to quiet it down by asking James flat-out, “You’re not a crazy American psycho, are you?”

He just laughed adorably and said, “No! Trust me, you’re in good hands. I never do this. At all. Is this weird? This is weird. But I feel comfortable with you.”

And so we hopped into the car and continued talking for the duration of the ride to my apartment while our hands almost touched on the center armrest and I realized that I still didn’t have any conclusive evidence of his gay or straightness. There was a part of me that truly wondered if James was just a really nice straight man doing me a favor… but then there was another part of me that wanted to believe we had been flirting all night long.

Either way, when we finally got to the front of my building, I didn’t want to say goodnight. I considered inviting him up to my apartment, but then I was like, “WHO ARE YOU?” (to myself, not him) and instead settled for exchanging cell phone numbers with the intention of hanging out on purpose sometime soon.

And then.

I thanked him for the ride and reached out to shake his hand goodbye.

AND THEN.

He leaned over and went in for a kiss!

And so before I knew it, I was living in a dream and we were making out. And y’all — it was good. This man clearly knew what he was doing. Which is why it was so jarring to me when he abruptly stopped mid-make-out, said, “I don’t know what I’m doing!” and freaked the fuck out.

“What?” I asked, acting as if everything about this whole situation wasn’t bizarre enough to begin with.

“I don’t do stuff like this,” he nervously responded. “I’m married.”

So then my heart kind of casually just stopped, no big deal, and I said, “Wait. You’re married?” [Dramatic pause.] “To a human?”

“A human, Nic?” he replied. “Yes. I’m married to a woman.”

Jaaames!!!” I whined. “WHY?”

And then I punched him. (Playfully and on the chest, but still.)

He proceeded to apologize for not telling me about his wife before kissing me, and then he got this really sad look on his face, and for a second my heart felt incredibly heavy for him. Because I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to be trapped in a straight life and married to a woman and have to deal with inner demons and family pressures and tempting little hot pieces of ass like me just occupying four-seaters on trains on Friday nights.

But then I felt more bad for his wife, because I’m friends with quite a few women and I know for a fact that none of them want their husbands to be repressed gay men.

But then (and maybe I should be ashamed of this?) I felt mostly bad for me. Because seriously, WTF? I meet this perfect-in-every-way man — the old-fashioned, technology-free, just-like-in-the-movies way, even! — and we hit it off tremendously, and he’s the most passionate kisser in the history of the world, and then he’s somebody’s husband? How did I forget to check his left hand for a ring? How did he think it was okay to pursue me in the first place? Do any quality, available men even exist anymore? WHERE HAVE ALL THE COWBOYS GONE?

After about thirty awkwardly silent seconds of sitting in James’ car post-wife-confession, I decided to just start making out with him again. This was desperate and not okay, I know. But again: his kiss. It was delicious. Delicious and forbidden and sexual and hot. And I knew that he was a very dangerous person to even think about getting involved with, but I wanted to pretend for just the shortest moment that he was good and genuine and mine.

And so we kept making out in his car for about ten more blissful seconds, but then — and I think this may have been my conscience resurrecting itself from the low-self-esteem-y grave I’d just dug for it — I started wondering what his wife’s name was and what she must be doing and what she might think he was doing and what her Pinterest might look like. And so I finally mustered up the strength to say, “Dude. This is fucked up. We can’t do this.”

“You’re right,” he replied, not fighting me at all. “I understand if you want to just lose my number. I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine,” I sighed. “It’s fine.”

Then I got out of his car, walked up to my apartment, and aggressively slammed my bag against the floor in a fit of rage. I ran to my window to see if his car was still on my street, but he had already driven off. Regardless of all the reasons not to, I wanted to call him right then and there to ask him to come back so we could try and recapture whatever the hell it was we had both just discovered and lost, all within the past hour.

But then I walked into my bathroom, looked at myself in the mirror, and realized that I really, really needed to take his advice — and just lose his number.

2014 UPDATE: We ran into each other at Dunkin’ Donuts and it was weird.

 

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