Boys versus Girls

Dear Friends,

Recent experiences have led me to believe that girls and boys didn’t just stop getting along. They have never gotten along. Boys have always been more simple-minded; conflict minimalists that do not want to hash anything out for too long. Two 11-year-old boys taught me that this week. They were trying to help sort a problem out with their friends (who were girls) and they sounded so calm and sane, yet the girls were annoyed at their calmness. The girls wanted to thrive in the drama and live in it, providing only circular logic whereas the boys could call their next move with effortless ease. I wasn’t sure if the boys would ever get through to them and then I stopped and thought: could I be acting like these little girls sometimes? Do I just not want to be talked some sense into at times when I’m feeling out of control? Or are these 11-year-old boys truly more mature than the boys I date? Both could be true – and I’m shocked at the latter.

There is a level of caring that comes with being young. And I don’t mean young adult young, I mean grade school young. When did everyone stop being so sensitive? All the mean-spirited-ness that I’ve witnessed recently has been more of a joke than anything and the second one realizes they are hurting each other, they stop and try to make it better. The boys reach out to the girls or vice versa. And I am fascinated by this. Girls will always be quite mean to each other, but boys are almost born into a fraternity, where they constantly support each other and think whatever the other person does is “cool,” whether it’s a flip on a trampoline or an 80 second keg stand. I once did a 20 second keg stand but that’s neither here nor there.

I wish all of us could get in touch with our younger selves and remember what it’s like to be the last kid on the playground, or the only one in the pool, playing Marco Polo alone. Because somewhere along the way, people stopped caring whether to leave the nightlight on for you, so to speak. It’s harder to find someone who will hold your hand in the dark more than ever, and I just have to think: why is that? Were we more mature at 11 years old in some respects? Or were we just purer and less jaded? Holler if you feel me. I’m enjoying my childish vibes this week.

Kisses,

Jessica

Better In Theory

Dear Friends,

So many things in life are better in theory. Bangs, for one. Those peanut butter milk shakes at Jamba Juice, coconut water, GPAs, stargazing, dance clubs and theme parks. Long walks on the beach, cuddling up by the fire, Justin Bieber, popping open a bottle of champagne, fairy tales. Some things in life are just underwhelming, but seem really loud and therefore assume importance. Beauty marks are better in theory because they can turn into moles that can become dangerous for your health, maybe, and you can throw in tanning too. So that makes even the sun better in theory. Sometimes, taking people’s words is better in theory. But then, sometimes life surprises you and it was worth the gamble. The gamble that you might get hurt again, but you might not. Life is short, so learn fast. Roll the dice once in awhile – you might roll a pair. Be sure that you’re in control of your emotions though, since the House always wins.

Following your heart will never be better in theory, and will most likely never go out of style, although sometimes it feels like you’re the only one in town following the trend. My grandmother, who is not a woman of many words, always told me, “Jessica, you’ve got to make up your mind.” I hated getting out of bed for school each morning probably because it was another day to question, another day of treacherous instability, another day of utter disappointment. She will never know how far that statement has gotten me. Make up your mind and follow the path in your mind, even if you’re the only one who can see it – especially if you are. Because you are the only person who can unlock the key to happiness and staying conscious in the moment. It doesn’t really matter if you make mistakes. Mistakes can be fun – take that back. Mistakes are always fun and they are part of the moment. Just make sure you don’t marry one, or hold one too close to your heart. One of my favorite songs is called My Favorite Mistake, by Sheryl Crow. It’s about being cheated on, and still loving that person, and not regretting the time you spent with them but at the same time, you are gone from their lives. Vanished. Poof. The fairy tale ends when someone else makes a mistake. Or sometimes, the fairy tale ends because the prince has lost his charm. Something tells me even Sleeping Beauty wouldn’t regret that resuscitating kiss, even if the Prince went on to bang Snow White. She’d be thankful for that kiss, but let it go.

A fairy godmother once told me this will all pay off someday soon – the contemplation. The constant wishing, deep breathing and heartache. The constant passion thriving deep inside. And you don’t have to be in Never Never Land to catch a glimpse of her. If you look hard enough, she’s in New York City waving her magic wand all around us. If you look deep enough, she’s inside of each and every one of you.

Kisses,

Jessica

Crossing the Street

Dear Friends,

One of the first justifications I gave myself for moving to NYC was, “I’m not afraid of being hit by a car.” Growing up driving in California, how could I be? It’s not that hard to see pedestrians, and it’s not that hard to put your foot on the break last-minute. I love J-walking, in fact. I’m such a wimp, I get a little thrill out of it without a total, all-consuming adrenaline rush that is otherwise abhorrent to me. I used to be afraid of everything and now I still am – except I’m not afraid to cross a busy street in Manhattan.

And then you get to one of the busiest streets in the country – a street so busy it turns into a bridge that takes you into Brooklyn, apparently. Delancey Street. My favorite street in NYC. Not for its great stores, shops or restaurants, but because I saw a terrible romantic comedy back in the 80’s about ugly Jewish people falling in love while crossing Delancey. G-d only knows why my parents wanted me to watch this with them. The film is one yenta away from Fiddler On the Roof. But then again, my parents saw nothing wrong with that either.

I crossed Delancey Street last night, in fact. It wasn’t the first time but it felt like the first time. It felt like crossing the street might be a risk again – it felt very humid, but then I felt a rush of  fresh air. It was pitch dark, but I could see ahead of me crystal clearly. I crossed Delancey Street last night with a stranger. I’m so accustomed to crossing the street alone, I never imagined I would be writing a blog post about ironically crossing a street with a stranger, and reflecting on it today, as it leaves me wondering – what’s next? Delancey Street and beyond? Or is that our first and last crossing? The stop light turns red and we part ways. I really wish a little yenta had been in the background cheering us on. One step across Delancey Street, three steps for Jew-kind, perhaps.

Kisses,

Jessica

The F Train

Dear Friends,

I almost got F-ed on the F train today. And I don’t mean that literally. I was running late to work: my hair was in a bun which just proves how rushed I felt, considering my hair hasn’t been in a bun since a dance recital in Irvine circa 1994. I’m riding the train and it appears that I’m on an E train because the little sign is showing me that we’re approaching 23rd street. But all of a sudden, I look up at the little track you can “track” your train on and it says 15th Street/Prospect Park. I don’t even know where that is – I’m a new New Yorker. That sounds uber far away from me. My heart drops because there’s no way I got on the wrong train, this is an E train. It looks and feels like an E train and it was on the E track I take every morning! The horror I felt. It is quite scary, even if you’re not claustrophobic, to take the wrong train somewhere, even if you aren’t running late because once you’re in uncharted territory, you may as well be on a stranded island. I don’t understand how to read the subway map, you don’t get service on your smart phone down there in the dungeon of mass transportation, what are you supposed to do? Oftentimes I don’t carry food with me, and I wouldn’t even be able to email work to say I’m late. Oh F, now my bun fell out.

For a minute there, I kind of felt like how I do when I meet a guy I really like, and I feel a sense of familiarity about him, and then it turns out he’s not the E train I’m trying to ride, he’s actually an F train masked as an E train, faking his way on my track, and I’m stranded underground with no wi-Fi to consult with. Girls, I know you’ve felt similarly before. He looked like an E train, I swear! But it turns out he was something else. Perhaps a not-so-nice word that I don’t want to be associated with my blog. It is not ladylike to have your SEO come up with terms like, “A**” or “D****e.” So, I’ll censor myself, and kindly let you know that by the time I had untangled my bun and the F train had nearly F-ed me, I realized I was in the right place – I did make it to Penn Station. Even though this was an F train on the E track, it came through for me; even though it’s different, and even though it was trying to be something else.

I guess my lesson of the day is: don’t judge a book (or train) by its cover (or track), or by it’s words either. Sometimes, the F train will F you on the E track, and sometimes the trusty E will seamlessly take you home.

 Kisses,

Jessica

Rejection

Dear Friends,

Rejection. Is there anything worse? If you’re like me, you’re a person who takes risks, moves across the country, believes in herself, and does her best to suspend disbelief into the “universe,” or nothing, if you’re at all as cynical as I am. There are so many things in my life that are up in the air and instead of feeling liberated and curious, I feel scared and defeated. It’s not fun for me to not know what’s going on in my life, if it ever was. I don’t need to know everything but I need to know that this quest I’m on for the right literary agent won’t go as poorly as my quest for the right man is going. Everyone keeps telling me patience – I need more patience. All about patience. I’ve been patient. Months, weeks, and days go by where I wait for perfect strangers to enter my life or respond to my queries. When does it end? And then when someone does mildly connect to my work, they drop me some strange note that ultimately means nothing to me and can be vaguely associated to a few different parts of my work. “It’s not you, it’s me,” why don’t they just say? It’s true, you know. Most people don’t ever know why they don’t connect with someone or something the way that other person wants them to. So they default to vague because unlike dating, in the literary world it is considered rude if you don’t respond. What they really mean is: Well, if I can’t sell these five other memoirs I have more faith in on my desk right now, then I might want to hear back from you, but that could take months and years, depending on how much vacation time I take.

I am left with so many questions, but one main bottom line: When did people stop taking chances? After the year 1957, apparently.

I watched “An Affair To Remember” the other week, and it’s amazing to me how much patience these two characters had. Instead of “bitching” out and giving up (a common theme in modern society and specifically, in my generation), these people honor their promise that they made over the course of seven days of knowing each other, get single, and wait for each other. They wait for each other for respectable things, not just to get out of respective relationships. Both characters have pride complexes and need to prove to themselves that they are independent before they can be together. It’s really a beautiful message, but it seems that’s not the way the world works anymore. People aren’t operating out of integrity: they operate out of selfishness and don’t take risks. Why wait six months or a year for someone, or invest the time into someone or something, when there’s probably something else out there that takes less work? So people keep on fishing. Agents wait at their desk for the flood of emails to come in, whereas men just go for it and get out their fishing poles and bait the ends. I don’t care who wants to argue with me about it – selling a book is like dating, and if you’re me, that means it sucks. And the name of the game is the same: both my book and I are good. We are attractive, multi-demensional, refreshing and honest. If you call me pompous right now that just proves that you and I would not be a good match because I wrote the damn book, of course it’s awesome. But, both of us (me and my book) could use some work. We both need someone who wants to invest the time to edit us, and show us that we’ll all never be perfect, but we can invest time, effort and compromise for what is truly important in life. We’ll sell the book and I’ll live happily ever after. It’d be cool if a glass slipper was involved, and my future agent doubled as my husband. Thoughts?

Kisses from a June-gloomy,

Jessica

Smell the Coffee, Bachelorette

Dear Friends,

My best friend visited a few weeks ago and we met these two married men out. Of course, they hid their rings in their pockets as per usual bar-etiquette goes. Classy. One of them took some interest in my writing that he never followed through with, and the other told my friend he worked in the coffee business, but that he hates Starbucks and Coffee Bean. “That was the end of our conversation,” my friend later told me. But it reminded me of something, even though the comparison is bit of a stretch. New York is full of cliques – there are some who love Starbucks, some who desperately miss Coffee Bean from the West coast, and some who refuse to drink anything but independent coffee. It’s a lot like politics – who would think individuals would care so much about a Weiner or a bean?

In my industry, the one I don’t totally feel apart of yet, but the one I desperately try to step my way into – we like Starbucks. But I’ll always miss Coffee Bean from LA, and I also like independent coffee shops. What does that mean? That I like everything? That I’m not selective enough? That until I commit to one brand, I will never be admitted into my clique? I hope not. Because the last guy I dated brought me coffee at my door, Starbucks in fact, and we no longer speak. Which means that Starbucks indirectly took a hand in fooling me into thinking that I might have met someone who might fit into my clique, and even worse, my life. I have to say – F you, Starbucks. The next time a boy brings me coffee to my door, I’ll make sure he’s a man before I let him in. And that’s a lesson we all have to learn, don’t we? It can be so hard to see the good from the bad, especially in Manhattan, but “at least we live here” – is the conclusion everyone comes to. Sure you’ve got your Wall Street arrogance and your musicians who then work at investment banks because they can’t afford Manhattan on gigs alone. You’ve got your writers who work hard and quietly, but then you can’t figure out what kind of coffee they drink because if they were at a Starbucks (there are 171 in this city), I think I would have seen them. I have a sixth sense for writers and guys who are good in bed. I recently learned I have to dial down this sixth sense because when you’re 23 years old, it’s better to see dead people than fall for the charm of a young bachelor, or succumb to a person in the literary world who gives false hope.

So life goes, fighting the demons of the coffee industry, dating and trying to find people who believe in you. Until then, the only thing all of us singletons really have is the belief in ourselves. Oh, and all those independent coffee shops on your block that you can walk into without being clique-ified.

Kisses,

Jessica

Morning

Dear Friends,

I am NOT a morning person. In fact, I hate the morning. The worst things happen in the morning. You have to wake yourself up out of your own slumber, and realize that whatever happened the day before is now further away from you, such that you might have to question yourself if it’s actually there anymore. There’s this pathetic song from the 1960’s, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” that maps a girl’s inner angst as to whether or not she should sleep with a man. I was thinking about it on the plane ride home last night. I was grimacing at my former blog post I wrote about being “Bitten” in a good way. Two weeks ago my life was different in regards to a man, and no matter what I do or the other person does, it’s almost like on clockwork, you can map when it’s going away. It was true when Carrie Bradshaw said that some relationships have the life of a dairy product – by two weeks, the whole thing starts to curdle and you’ve got to throw it away even though you wanted that raspberry flavor so badly. You’d think by now I’d be older, wiser, smarter. You’d think I wouldn’t fall for the regular tricks the puppies are up to, but I still do and then before I know it, I’m wrapped up. And I say things I don’t mean and I lose sight of what’s actually going on. The questions that mean the most to me – does this person care about my writing? Does he understand me? Is he real, or just trying to get real so that he can really get down with me, suddenly go out the window. I begin to be competitive, and overwhelmed and scared – or maybe they do. But either way you slice it, it’s deception at its worst. I’ve had situations where it’s taken months and long emails for a guy to explain to me what exactly happened but it always comes down to the same thing – it doesn’t work out. This time, it could have been my fault, but it does take two to Tango. Not that I know how to Tango. Please.

I know if my mom were here (and she’d teach me how to Tango,) she’d tell me to appreciate the mornings. That every new dawn is a new way to be positive and change your life. It’s very hard to believe that, but I will. Why? Because what else is there to believe. You wake up every morning and you, and other people around you, have the potential to become brand-new. Brand-new things can happen to you. You can let go of new things. You can float up your wings and forgive yourself, and just like that, you stop wondering what ifs and what may be. You start to believe that if things were going to be, they would be, and that even you don’t have the power to change that. You start to believe again and again, that maybe you just changed your life for the better, like say moved across the country for your career, and that things don’t always have to be fair because life isn’t fair. But most of all, when you finally accept yourself, mistakes and all, and when you take responsibility for those mistakes, there’s absolutely no reason not to be happy. Bug bites happen. Lust happens. But one day, love will happen and there won’t be a damn thing you can do to get in the way of it. By the way, those bites I had, were actually an allergic reaction to a medication – how’s that for irony?

Wishing all of you a lovely summer…

Kisses,

Jessica

Bit In My Behind

Dear Friends,

Last week I wrote about being “bitten” and this week I feel that I have bit myself in the ass – and it’s only Tuesday. Oh, boy. Sometimes I feel like I have an inner girl in me that I let loose. This inner girl is not very cool. She has zero self control and thinks she says things tactfully when they’re actually everything but. My mother taught me to always speak my mind, but sometimes I feel like it’s more of a curse than a gift. So which is it, Mom?

It’s so hard to explain yourself sometimes in a world full of people who love uncertainties and who aren’t bothered by question marks in life. Half the time, I am bothered by the question mark, not the thing in front of it. It’s not that I need whatever is being questioned; rather, it’s more like I don’t appreciate the question mark. And if this makes me “undesirable” at times or look nuts, maybe I should protect myself. Maybe I’m being so freely honest because I know that when I’m honest, the best things reveal themselves. Writing a book really sobers up your outlook on life, albeit adding a false sense of self-importance. For six months, I cared what I had to say, and those words that I communicated on paper and to others, separated me from the outside world. And as most of the world does so well with creative people, from beginning and beyond, I was accepted. My work was accepted – my thoughts were accepted. But now what’s happening with it? Where is my next accepting hand and open ear? But in all honestly, I am tired of being afraid of the unknown. Too many times have I gone silent when I should have spoken up and I end up paying the consequences – not the other person involved – I did. And for as smart, funny, cute, adorable another person can be, they’re nothing if they don’t respect you. And that’s a gift my mom did give me that I appreciate. The only thing you can demand from another person is their respect. Respect means different things to different people. But a wise woman once told me as long as a person’s words match their actions, things will probably work out. But there’s a fine line between speaking your mind and biting yourself in the ass. So, friends, as my bites have gone away on my legs, don’t be surprised if I still complain about the emotional flare of bites that seem to be creeping up all over my body.

 Sometimes being methodical sucks. Book 2: The Curse of Being A Writer.

 Kisses,

Jessica

Bitten

Dear Friends,

The only thing that can be sometimes nerve-racking about being me is when things are actually going well and I’m suddenly concerned that somebody might be reading this blog and understand exactly what or who I’m referring to. I guess that’s the price I pay for being an aspiring author. I chose to be honest with the world and share my non-fiction life in a fiction-like way. Usually I complain to you, but today I’m not. Today the only thing I have to complain about are the huge, huge NYC bug bites on my leg.

Something happened to me this week that hasn’t happened to me in quite some time. I don’t know what it all means yet because it seems too good to be true, but one thing I do know is: I’m happy. Not that I’m not usually happy, but happy about something that’s happening to me, not something I’ve chosen to create. When I moved to New York, I was so fearful, but now I’m fearless. I was so afraid that everything I wanted would never come true and leaving my nephews would be a disaster. I was so afraid that no one would read my book, and I would be screwed over by shady agents and things would be disappointing. And some of that was true. More than 50 percent of me wondered if I had just made a huge mistake. I came here to get everything: to get The Butterfly Groove published, to find a new social scene, to live in a city that stays alive and if I was lucky, I might find a man who complemented all of that. The jury is still out on that. I mean when do you ever know if something is bigger than you? You can’t know when it’s happening. You just live life to the fullest and see what happens in the end. And then maybe in the middle, you say to yourself, I knew it from the start. But did you?

 I lightened my hair yesterday and it looks super cool and trendy, but I just keep staring at these bug bites. But hey, who knows. They could be love bites. Either way, this Apple is turning up the heat.

Kisses,

Jessica

The Dart Board

Dear Friends,

I had the oddest experience on the subway yesterday. I took a line I don’t usually take at an hour I don’t usually take it, and it was like a whole new world. It felt almost like a bar on a Friday or Saturday night: everyone was chatting amongst themselves and really excited to be off of work even though it was only a Wednesday. However, there was another strange occurrence. Three young, cute businessmen were checking me out. Like hardcore looking me up and down. Any one of them could have accidentally bumped into me and said sorry, using it as an excuse to talk to me and get my name, or number, or website. This is my new thing – when I meet someone out and they ask for a number I know they won’t use, I give them my website address instead. “I need traffic,” I half-heartedly joke, although I’m not joking at all. I do. Anyways, I thought it’d be so very “New York” of me if I had a subway romance. (This only sounds cute if you live here – even then, it’s kind of disgusting what with how muggy it can get down there). But, for a split second, I thought it might be cute. Then the subway stopped at 23rd street and the moment was gone.

What is up with men and not pursuing? Isn’t that their job? Isn’t that their evolutionary calling? Men need to hunt and gather, therefore don’t present yourself too easily and they will come hither, or something like that. Women have been saying this for yours. But really, that is false. If men want to come hither, they’d have to grow some guts and speak up. And then it dawned on me: I’m aggressive when I’m not sober, and they don’t talk to me when they are sober. Where does it end? When will the meeting ever occur – if we’re sober?

How depressing is that. It dawned on me as the subway sped away from 23rd street, that the likelihood of me meeting someone randomly sober, is not likely at all. But that’s why I moved to this city, I tell myself. It’s so easy to meet people and it’s like that John Mayer song. Oh, no, my Wednesday is like a John Mayer song – not a good fact. He sings a lyric, “I could’ve met you in a sandbox, I could have passed you on the sidewalk, I could have watched you walk away…” Or I could have gotten off the wrong subway stop is what he should have said because men tend to be wimps in this city.

It’s like darts – I’m rather good at darts. When I play (which is not often) I ordinarily get at least two double bulls-eyes. Why? Because I aim to please, and I don’t fail. An opportunity presents itself, I take it. No questions asked. If only subway-riders could get this message through their mind. Instead I have to be entertained by the homeless person singing, “I Will Survive” from her disc-man. She’s kind of good actually, I think to myself.

I get off at 8th street and walk towards Waverly Place, trying to shake the pathetic fact that the next time I meet a man out, we’ll both be out of our minds. Or maybe the right one won’t. Maybe the right one will spot me at 42nd, and not let me out of his sight until he’s bookmarked jessicabarraco.jlm.me in his iPhone.

Kisses,

Jessica