Unbreak that heart

For better or worse, I've had my fair share of heartbreak. Whether it's a relationship that seemed to have great potential or a supposedly "casual" affair where feelings weren't meant to grow and get hurt, it's nearly impossible not to feel a sense of loss and a need to rebuild a life that doesn't include the last object of affection after something comes to an end.

For better or worse, I've also gotten really good at bouncing back. I don't know if it's because I've had a lot of practice or it's because I just hate conceding to defeat. It could very well be that I've been through some terrible things so everything else pales in comparison. For whatever reason, I tend to bounce back rather than break. And because of this, I get a lot of people asking me how I do it. It's not that I have a heart of stone; what I do have is the ability to laugh in the face of ... well, pretty much everything. While my checklist probably won't single-handedly patch you up, it will hopefully at least get you to crack a smile through the pain.

Without further ado, here are my top tips for beginning to unbreak that heart.

1. DON'T listen to Unbreak my Heart. For the love of god, please keep this and other wrist-slitting music off your iPod. Same goes for Against All OddsTotal Eclipse of the Heart and anything by Céline Dion. Music that lets you wallow in misery and desperation are only allowed in your life when singing karaoke. And if you start crying while singing karaoke, I beg you to PUT. THE. MICROPHONE. DOWN.

2. DO flood your ears with fighting words. Lines like "Don't wanna be aaaaall byyyyy myyyyyseeeeeelf ... " should be nowhere near your eardrums. What you want to be listening to are songs that are more along the lines of:
"Been there, done that, messed around, 
I'm having fun, don't put me down,
I'll never let you sweep me off my feet."
- La Roux, Bulletproof

"It's hard to dance with the devil on your back
So shake it out."
- Florence + the Machine, Shake It Out

"I guess I got my swagger back"
- Jay-Z, Otis

Here's my playlist of music that's always put the fight back in me. If that doesn't make you feel more empowered ... well you'll have some new music, at least.

3. DO watch He's Just Not That Into You. This will save you several hours of mulling over what you could have done differently and what he really meant when he said such and such. This movie tells it like it is: If a guy is treating you like he doesn't give a shit, he genuinely doesn't give a shit. Words to live by right there. Also, it's just really funny. Watch this clip. I dare you not to laugh. 

4. But DON'T watch the movie until the very end. For the purposes of this exercise, we would like to keep you from falling into the trap of thinking that you're the exception and not the rule.

5. DO bring sexy back. Spend all this marvelous new free time doing something that makes you feel like the sexiest woman alive, whether it's poledancing, buying atrociously provocative lingerie or baking a molten chocolate cake in aforementioned provocative lingerie. Feel free to feel smug about all this sexiness that damn fool is missing.

6. DON'T replace one failed relationship with another. It's tempting and it seems to make moving on easier but seriously, DON'T DO IT. First, it's terribly unfair to the other person. Second, nobody needs to watch He's Just Not That Into You six times in one year #truestory

7. DO get an endorphin rush. Are you losing sleep because your mind won't shut up about the would've could've should'ves? Do you feel bogged down with seemingly unshakeable sadness? Put on your workout clothes and go for a run. Take a yoga class. Get your ass kicked at krav maga. Just get yourself all sweaty and exhausted to the bone. The endorphin rush you'll get afterwards will act as an antidepressant and the exhaustion, an all-natural sleeping pill. Plus, you'll be one step closer to getting that much hotter. Revenge is a dish best served looking smoking hot, as far as I'm concerned.

8. DON'T give up. It may not have worked out this time but at least you've sifted out one more guy from that sea of men obscuring the guy who will love you for both your lovely bits and your creepy quirks. One of these days you'll find each other. In the meantime, get happy and get hot so you won't scare him off when he finally does show up!

There's a lesson here somewhere

Today I bought a scrumptious Gala apple from the farmer's market. I could hardly wait to take a bite.

But just as I about to finally sink my teeth into its juicy goodness, I saw an ominous bump on its surface.

"There's a worm in your apple," a co-worker told me.

So I took a sharp knife, cut the worm out and ended up with a heart.

There's got to be a metaphor hiding in there somewhere, don't you think?

When the concrete jungle fever broke

After several days of nonstop work, dinners, nights out, booze, dancing and barely getting any shut-eye in the city that doesn't sleep, I desperately wanted out. I had a bad case of concrete jungle fever and would have given up my walk-in closet just to see something other than skyscrapers and neon lights.

Thankfully, I didn't have to take such drastic measures as my buddy Bob opened up an amazing escape hatchet and got me out of the city. We decided a hike would be a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon with the leaves just turning and the temperature pretty much perfect. The hike alone was good enough for me but come Sunday morning, Bob managed to make the plan even better.

"Do you wanna take the motorcycle or the car to the trail?" Bob called to ask.
"Now what kind of silly question is that?" I answered, "The motorcycle, of course!" 
"Ok, dress warm."

I went from excited to positively giddy in seconds. I hadn't been on a motorcycle since I checked that off my little list and was raring to have another go. A few hours later, there I was, clinging on for dear life as we hit 130mph on a quiet road. Underneath my helmet, there was a ridiculously huge smile on my face. It had been a while since I last had a massive adrenaline rush and boy, did I miss it. There you are, you nut job, I thought to myself. Good to have you back.

One minute we were zipping through curving country roads, consumed by the roar of that engine—and the next, it was just us and Mother Nature as we followed a trail near the border of New York and New Jersey. We walked through the woods, hopped over small streams, and clambered over exposed rock. I thought I was in good shape but damn, it felt like being on an unforgiving Stairmaster! But as with every hike, once you set your eyes on the prize, all that huffing and puffing becomes a vague memory.

We had to mark our achievement with a few artsy shots. Here Bob channels James Franco in 127 Hours ...

... while I channel some character from Lost in Translation who is, I guess, now lost in the woods.

Then we continued walking on the exposed rock until we reached what the locals call Surprise Lake. It's a fitting name because who wouldn't be surprised to find a lake on top of a mountain?

By the edge of the lake were some beautiful leaves that I couldn't resist snapping a photo of.

The foliage on the trail was pretty fascinating to me. I'd never seen these fluffy, carpet-like things which grew right on the rocks.

I was tickled pink when I spotted this mushroom, which looked like something right out of a Super Mario game!

After our hike, we rewarded ourselves with some beer, wursts and beef stroganoff at a German restaurant by the lake before riding back from whence we came. It was a day well spent.

I realized that for the last few months, I had gotten so caught up in the noise and frenzy of the city that I lost track of some little pieces of myself—the very pieces that make me a bit of an oddball but a lot happy. When the fever broke, I found myself a bit more whole and a lot more at peace.

Good to have you back, you nut job. 

Last Halloween

... all of this happened ...
... plus a few more shenanigans that should never ever find its way to the blogosphere!

My first memory of Halloween in New York is of walking out of F.I.T. at lunchtime and running into an Energizer Bunny on the street. New York does Halloween pretty darn well. In a city full of folks who don't do anything in half measures, Halloween is always a crazy good time. I can't wait!

This year, Halloween will be Occupying Wall Street—our FiDi digs, to be exact. My mind has been swimming with thoughts of jello shots, pumpkins, skimpy costumes, and all the craziness that can occur when there's a stripper pole in the apartment. 

Halloween 2011, you better bring it!

C'est la vie

"That's an amazing bottle of wine."
"Really? Awesome."
"You mean you've never had it before?"
"Well, the truth is I'm one of those people who'll buy something just because the label looks cool."

I walked into a wine store Friday night to pick up a bottle of red and gravitated towards this bottle immediately because of the label. I'd had a rough week, with one curveball after another thrown at me. To my surprise, I made it out relatively unscathed. When I realized I was pretty much okay in spite of everything that had happened, I remembered a conversation I had with my friend Tricia a couple of years ago at a time when things were so bad that I thought I'd never be able to climb out of that hole.

"I know it sucks right now," Tricia said. "But the good thing about having really terrible things happen to you is that you find out that you're strong enough to handle anything."

It was hard to see that tiny sliver of silver lining back then but I see now that she was absolutely right. Life has been quite good to me for the past few years but inevitably, every so often things just don't go my way. And when that happens, it's fine. I can take stock, hopefully learn a lesson or two, and move on. No fuss. No drama.

C'est la vie!

(Footnote: It was indeed a nice bottle of wine.)

... and they lived happily ever after

A long time ago, I read the essay "Partners and Marriage" from Kent Nerburn's Letters to My Son. It talks about how immobilizing the fear of marriage can be, with the norm seeming to be couples who at best tolerate each other and the rarity those who, even in old age, seem to glow in each others' presence. How do those rare few do it? What keeps their love strong through all the years of routine, sameness and inevitable petty little irritations?

"The central secret seems to be in choosing well," says Nerburn. "The truly lucky people are the ones who manage to become long-time friends before they realize they are attracted to each other. They get to know each other's laughs, passions, sadness, and fears. They see each other at their worst and at their best."

I see the truth in Nerburn's words when I think of my friends Kathryn and Adam, who exchanged vows a few weeks ago in an intimate ceremony on the beach in the Outer Banks.
I witnessed Kathryn and Adam go from being the best of friends to husband and wife, and it has been one of the most beautiful things I've seen in my life. People scoff at the idea of soulmates, but there's no better way to describe them. When I see them throwing a football around in Battery Park, swigging beers at the beer garden, dancing up a storm anywhere there's some semblance of a dance floor, and unabashedly belting out Against All Odds in karaoke, I think about how wonderful it must be to share your life so completely with the person that you love.

As much I like to explore seeing the happily ever after in lives that don't subscribe to the norm, I still do love a beautiful fairy tale ending. Kathryn and Adam's love is something to aspire to and one I've felt truly fortunate to witness.

I am so happy for you, Kathryn and Adam! I look forward to sharing many more wonderful moments with you both as the years go by.

When brunch turns into a scene out of Entourage

When I woke up on Saturday morning, my only plan for the day was to have a boozy brunch with my roommates. And I guess you could say things did somewhat go according to plan. Except the boozy brunch ended up being in Lavo, where Veuve Clicquot flows like water and skinny models go into a feeding frenzy over pizza ...

... where it's apparently never too early to dance on tables, wear flashing glasses or send out glitzy dancers on stilts ...

... where the music is provided by one of the Black Eyed Peas ...

... and where said Black Eyed Pea is your brunch buddy ...

Hanging out with Apl on his visits to NY has been surreal. On one hand, he's Filipino just like we are and we have conversations about eating nilaga without rice when dieting and he jokes with me about whether my bangs are "tunay or 2.95." On the other hand, he's one of the Black Eyed Peas!!! So there are those moments that make you pinch yourself on the arm, like when Apl stops to talk to some fellow in front of the hotel and the fellow turns out to be Will.I.Am. Or he plays a cool song at the after party that I've never heard and when I ask what it is, he says it's going to be on the next Black Eyed Peas album.

How on earth did I get here?!

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore ...