The Day I Skipped Chipotle

Or, Me & Julia Stiles at Joe & the Juice

OK, so I made myself talk to this actress, as you guys are on me about not speaking to celebs I see in Soho (including Otto Sanchez from Oz & L&O, who’s also my coworker; Julianna Margulies jetting from Equinox gym, pale in all black; and Claire Danes laughing with a friend during one of December’s sunny & warm, near-apocalyptic afternoons).

I spent half my time sizing her up. She wasn’t wearing any makeup & was dressed like a commoner (i.e. me), so I took a few minutes maneuvering at different angles to place her unique face. I did this while simultaneously coveting her white wool, belted winter coat, standing out in the completely black-clad customers surrounding us. One ridiculously trying-to-be-seen chick sat cross-legged with her shoes off (!), staring intently at her MacBook Air through what seemed to be mandatory square-rimmed Warby Parkers.

I finally saw an opening after she ordered & asked goofily if she was going incognito that day. She said “No” immediately and bluntly (like she speaks in movies, pretty much) & quickly shot back at me, “Are you?” I stammered, “No, I’m always just—” I fumbled, gesturing vaguely toward my head & she offered, “Fabulous?” I said “Sure!” for lack of a humorous comeback. I was NOT prepared for actual conversation.

We squeezed closer and noted how busy, hipster-y, and crazy popular this spot was, and she asked what I’d ordered as she’d never been. We agreed the sandwiches, mostly avocado-based paninis, looked awesome.

After more semi-awkward small talk–picture a scene opening with two distant friends of friends suddenly reintroduced–a Juicer (tm) screamed my name like an angry parent. I retrieved a cup of what looked to be blood (I bought the healthiest thing they offered, which involved beets). I grimaced & asked her to wish me luck as I gingerly held my grotesque-looking $9 drink. She told me to enjoy it & have a great day.

Are y’all happy now?


Workshopping: It Ain’t for Kids

So every several months I think of my different writing workshops, what I’ve gained, friends I’ve made, others who have vanished after half a session…The whole shebang. For the most part I’ve been great with taking criticism, critiquing others (I think), and making sure that even if what I’m reading is garbage, I can give the writer some sort of positive takeaway. That’s the way it works.

Then there was Flight. I’m giggling just thinking about it, because I don’t think I take myself too seriously and my experience is one writers, or anyone who thinks they’re just killing it, goes through.

I thought this one out. Did a proper first draft and all. Short story shorter, a college-age teen is off to visit her divorced dad in another state and is stopped at airport security. Turns out a prized keepsake is on the Prohibited Items list and, refusing to give it up, she doesn’t board the plane. Turns out mom waited outside, expecting this change in plans.

Having gotten wildly good feedback on my last effort, I was vaguely sure this would go over as well. (btw, I still keep all my typed & handwritten comments from colleagues in a special box; I keep saying I’d like to type it all out one day when really, seeing the mode of communication and personal handwriting is what pulls me back, pleasantly, in time.)

This is where I start chuckling. After a week, I sauntered into this living room like, boom, where’s my deal? Where’s U Iowa begging me to lecture? What’s up? I downplayed this because no one likes an arrogant person & it’s not really in my nature, but I felt I was in a zone.

“And now, I’d like Nira’s primary reader to begin a synopsis of her work.”

This is where the smugness started to melt away. Kindly, politely, and with absolute concrete examples and conscious criticism, my fellow workshoppers began to detail how awful this story was. It was the voice, their tone of voice that did it; it was the tone I’d given a teen kid once who’d brought in a story about killer clowns in the suburbs and was never heard from again.

black woman typing


Continue reading “Workshopping: It Ain’t for Kids”

Happy Mother’s Day (and so help me, you better be mothers)

So I’m coasting on some great spring weather and good visit-with-my-mom vibes, and decide to pop into a bodega before I head home. It’s not my usual spot: it stinks of cat, the lighting is sketchy and there’s always some young neighborhood person who vaguely guards the door. But it’s closest to my house and so for that, I have only myself to blame. The following took place at about 5 pm. It’s approximately 5:20 now.

I’m buying two rolls of toilet paper. The storekeeper wishes me a cheerful “Happy Mother’s Day,” to which I genially reply, “I’m not a mom but thanks!”

The below conversation was transcribed verbatim.

SO: (astonished–kiddingly, I think) “Why no kids?”
Me, chuckling: “I’m an auntie to many, many children.”
SO: “What are you, 35?”
Me: flinging hair and pulling off glasses in dramatic reveal. “Thank you, I’m 41.”
SO: His sudden pounding of the counter deadens my sails. Pounding does not mean kidding. “WHAT? And no kids? Can you have them?”
Me: “Theoretically? Me-Medically? I think… I mean…” (not prepared for this level of interrogation when picking up tp) “Yes, I’m pretty sure I could…” (trying to count out change simultaneously)
SO: Pounding again. My posture keeps tightening. “Listen, you go home & tell your boyfriend, you tell your husband to give you babies NOW. You must have babies. Babies are life.”
Me: “Uhhh–” (contemplate telling him I’m single, decide I’m way over my head already)
SO: “Without babies you become these women with the dogs and cats. They walk them and they have 5 and 6. It’s NO. GOOD. Don’t wait till 50. No babies after 50.”
Me: “Fifty,” I repeat dumbly.
SO: “Tell your husband TODAY. Babies are the answer!” He pats my black plastic bag and with that, I’m dismissed into the bright sunlight, slightly dazed but knowing I need to share this ASAP.

This entire ‘chat’ was over so fast it would take me a full day to process. But if I’m honest with myself, is it really Mother’s Day unless a stranger remarks on my fertility? I feel oddly at peace now.

(Note to self: never be nice to anyone AGAIN.)

eta: Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and women who have been moms to me. I hope my chronicles make you smile, or just shake your head in disbelief, as I think that’s funny too.

choc lab