Tag Archives: Albuquerque

A Beginner’s Guide to Being the Single Girl at the Wedding

Last summer, my best friend R, then single, had seven weddings to go to. Seven. I felt horrified on her behalf: how could she possibly withstand the trauma of attending so many celebrations of romantic love when she, herself, didn’t have any?

She shrugged me off. The weddings were fun, she said. She loved seeing the dear ones get married. She wore pretty dresses. It was no big deal.

I didn’t buy it. But this summer–with three weddings under my belt so far and one more coming up–I’ve changed my tune.

Weddings are fun. They’re fun as part of a couple: D he might not be the most talented dancer, but–with the help of no small amount of scotch–he humored me; we made friends; we had fun.

But now I’m back to flying sola, and I am here to report that R was right: actually, it’s fine. Actually, it’s better than fine. It’s awesome. So, here, a beginner’s guide to making the most:

Step One: Go alone. The morning of the wedding I called my Albuquerque friend A to make plans for transportation. “Aren’t you bringing that guy you’re seeing?” she asked. “Hell no,” I said. I explained that I had been given the option, and had sincerely thought it through. There were compelling reasons: the guy (let’s not even discuss his initial, you can guess) would have been a fun date; he would have looked damn good on my arm; in my state of relative fragility, it can seem appealing to avoid presenting yourself as conspicuously single. But then, I thought better: what if I didn’t want to get stuck babysitting him? What if there were cute boys to flirt with? We aren’t committed–why limit myself unnecessarily? There’s no question: it was the right choice.

Step Two: Wear something skin-tight. Or whatever it is that makes you feel completely, undeniably sexy. During that phone call with A, she asked me what I planned to wear. “I’m not sure,” I said. “I have a couple cute halter dresses…and this slinky thing that I’ve never worn…” “Definitely wear the slinky thing.” she replied. I started to talk like a silly woman. “Well yesterday I felt great about my body, but today I don’t feel so great, I dunno…” “Wear it,” she said. I did. I felt hot.

Step Three: Apply red lipstick. A lot of it: by the end of the night, it will come off. Not because you forgot to put it in your purse, but because by the end of the night you will have no idea where your purse is. Or, probably, your shoes.

Step Four: Flirt. Recklessly. I don’t condone leading someone on when you’re dating over a period of weeks, months or years. But for a few hours in close proximity to an open bar? It’s not exactly polite, but it’s not the worst crime in the world either. There are times for restraint–this isn’t one.

Step Five (Optional): Maybe, make out a little bit. I’m just saying, if you find yourself near a handsome guest toward the end of the night, I would not judge you for kissing him. Bonus points if he’s legitimately single.

Step Six: Wear sunglasses to the morning after brunch. And do not remove them: no one needs to see that your mascara is still creeping down your cheeks or that your eyes are extremely red because you’ve hardly slept. (It helps if, on the way to brunch, you stop to pick up a generous and resourceful friend in possession of eyedrops.) Eat bagels, drink coffee and copious amounts of things with bubbles.

Step Seven: Be grateful that you are not accountable to anyone besides your bed, your dog, and your Netflix–all of whom are expecting you for the afternoon. And enjoy all of the above.

Repeat as necessary.

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On A New Yogic Obsession, and Trying to Accept

Today, for the tenth day in a row, I went to a bikram yoga class: you know, the 90-minute, 26-posture routine that you do in a room heated to 105 degrees. A room that the practice’s founder (Mr. Bikram himself) refers to as his “torture chamber” and that my father refers to as the thing he would rather hang by his toes than enter into voluntarily.

(Me: “I just feel so euphoric afterwards!” My father: “The word, I believe, is delirious.”)

I have hesitated to write about this because, well, normally–stray mention of an O Magazine article I read while pounding on the stairmaster aside–I don’t write about my exercise habits. But also, normally, I hate yoga. And, by extension, the people who preach its’ benefits.

Don’t get me wrong: some of my best friends are dedicated yogis. But, in my (limited) experience, the practice requires twin virtues that I gravely lack: patience and flexibility. (When I tell you that I was afraid to do a summersault as a child, it is not only neuroses of which I speak.)

And yet here I am, smiling all the way down Central Avenue on my way to yoga morning after grueling morning, wondering: if I can do this for my body, why wouldn’t I?

Well, I can think of a couple of reasons. Namely, time and money and the need to prioritize other things like work, writing, and having a dog. You know, life.

But it’s summer, and I’m therefore giving myself permission to temporarily suspend concern for such petty things while I focus on the supremely significant task of bending my spine more backwards.

(You see? I don’t even try to mock and it happens. Years of cynicism do not so easily diminish.)

Really, though, I have to tell you that I feel amazing. And, if you’ll indulge a small amount of benefit-preaching for a moment, I’ll share (part of) why.

You see, besides the perpetual battle against impatience and hamstrings, another thing that has repelled me from yoga is judgment. I’m sorry, but no matter what those hard-bodied blondes in capri leggings recite about Buddha and breathing, usually, I feel very judged. I stare at my soft, straining body in the mirror, and I see those hard, bending bodies that surround me, and I feel the opposite of relaxed.

In Bikram classes, the temptation exists. After all, clothing is minimal. Those fierce yogi forms are there, and they’re even barer than usual.

But for whatever reason–perhaps because beginners practice alongside instructors, and everyone, everyone sometimes gets dizzy and needs to sit down–that judgment seems to go away.

Also, there’s that elderly man who’s in class every morning at 9 am and who all the instructors know by name and who is just standing there, breathing, and then laying there, breathing. Attempting a posture every now and then when the urge or comfort strikes.  And that helps. I won’t lie: that helps.

Most importantly, doing the practice daily has taught me to accept: to accept how far my back will bend or my balance will hold. To accept that, today my knees won’t let me keep this posture, but yesterday they did and probably tomorrow they will again. To accept that, despite over a week of daily practice, I still fall out in the first set of standing bow and, still, my belly is not as flat as that hot girl’s in the back left corner.

It isn’t easy to extend this acceptance outside the yoga room. But one can’t help but try: to accept that, even though it’s no longer cute or novel that my boyfriend lives sixty-three miles away, he still does. And that’s okay. To accept that I’m not getting as much writing or reading done as I imagined, because I never do. And that’s okay, too. To accept that not everyone will ever respond to my work, and that some of those who don’t might leave exceedingly nasty comments on silly, light-hearted blogs of mine on the Huffington Post. And that, also, will have to be okay.

(For the record, I scanned them–these aforementioned nasty comments–and immediately decided not to read any closer. I may need to accept that these people hate me, but I don’t think I need to pay them much mind.)

Are you feeling nauseous yet? I’m starting to, so let’s stop. But thanks for indulging me. You may, or may not, accept my recommendations.

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Team Tannen Forever

The first time I got sick from alcohol, at fifteen, I was with all three of my older brothers–at a Christmas party that my oldest brother M’s best friend held annually at his Tribeca loft.

It wasn’t their fault. Each time I finished off a Heineken, said best friend would swing by and replace it; before anyone could have seen or stopped it, I found myself in the bathroom with M holding my hair back and showing me how to use my fingers to make myself throw up. (A skill that, not too many but a few times since, I have been very, very grateful for.)

Putting me to bed that night, my brother J’s then girlfriend made the well-intentioned but misguided move of placing my trash can next to the bed. The parents were furious with all of my brothers for months.

If you’ve ever been a sibling, you can understand that, as the baby girl, I will always be the baby girl: at fifteen, at twenty-seven, at forty. There is a way in which, in my family’s eyes, I will never be as accountable as my older brothers.

A fact that, I’m sure, was in the back of J’s mind when he took me, today, to get matching tattoos: my first, his a small complement to the collection that already fills both his arm sleeves.

So here’s the story:

Up until last Friday, I’d always told people that I “didn’t understand” tattoos.

“I just don’t get it,” I’d say. “I can’t imagine any image that I’d know I’d want on my body forever.”

And then, a day before he and his wife D arrived in New Mexico after driving six days in a rented minivan to get here, J sent me a text: “Tiny matching tattoos in NM?!”

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When a Woman “Finally” Gets Married

Like any good, compulsive iPhone owner, I sometimes check my email during my morning run. You know, Cee-lo and Kanye and various NPR podcasts can only hold a girl’s attention for so long. Even while jogging. Even while jogging with a highly excitable mutt who has been known to throw said girl on her back via enthusiasm for a passing terrier. But I digress.

The problem is that the place where I run–a trail around the campus golf course–doesn’t have very good network reception. And so when, one morning this week, I looked at my email and saw a message from my father, I could only see two things: one, that the subject was “news alert.” And two, that he’d sent it to me along with all of my immediate family members–brothers, mom, sisters-in-law.

I have a grandmother who is about to turn a hundred. I have a sister-in-law who recently pulled out her back and a niece who has had a chronic fever for the past three weeks. Also, I’m Jewish. In other words, I spent the  next five minutes, until the full content of the message finally downloaded, in a state of panic.

Then, I saw what it said: “We just heard over the weekend,” my dad wrote,”that Ilene and Allen got engaged.”

Then, I felt a little ridiculous. (Actually, I felt a little angry too: immediately upon returning home I typed a ‘reply-all’ asking that everyone refrain from sending emails with such ominous subject lines in future; two of my siblings quickly seconded the request.)

But back to the message. Ilene, you see, is my paternal cousin. She is about to turn fifty. She is a very successful, very well-paid corporate lawyer with a condo on the Upper East Side. This is her first marriage.

The “news” my father sent wasn’t exactly breaking. My mother had, rather breathlessly, delivered the information via phone the night before.

The thing is that no one in my family is particularly close with Ilene. None of us are that close to the entire side of the family, I should say: they’re lovely people, but they’re a bit, well, different. You know, they have bigger hair and bigger belt buckles and the political persuasion that such things often imply. Even when I lived in the same city, I’m sure I went years without seeing her–or, certainly, any of her Florida-residing relatives.

The news, then, was not so significant because of our relationship. It was so significant because of the particulars. Specifically, the fact that, at almost-fifty, no one expected her to tie the knot.

Most notably, Grandma Edith–the one who is a hundred.

“Did you hear about Ilene?” she asked when I called to check in on her this morning. (You’ll have to imagine my vocal impression here: full-on Brooklyn, Yiddish accent applies. “Here” is more like “heah.”)

“Yes,” I said, patiently. “I heard.”

“Could you believe it?” she asked. “It’s about time. She’s no spring chicken, you know.”

I will chalk up the fact that she repeated that last phrase, or some version of it (“she isn’t exactly young“) about half a dozen times throughout our ten-minute conversation to age: I’m of the opinion that, if nothing else, surviving a century earns you the right to say whatever the hell you want.

But what about my parents? As I alluded above, they’re pretty progressive types. If my father had his way New York City would be its’ own country and all Fox news anchors would be lined up and shot. They’re supposed to be liberated, feminist, enlightened.

So why were they so brazenly glib with the news that this “old maid” was finally getting hitched?

I don’t really want to call my parents sexist–they’re not. (They are, also, wonderfully tolerant and well-humored, relatively private people who put up admirably with an aggressively oversharing daughter–for which I am ever-grateful.) That is, they’re not sexist any more than the rest of us are. And the reaction to Ilene’s announcement reminds me that “the rest of us” still have a ways to go.

Talk about news that isn’t quite breaking, but it still unsettles to realize that, even in our post-“Sex and the City,” women-getting-more-educated-than-men era, the notion that a woman is only worth her marriage persists. To be a single man is a choice; to be a single woman is pathetic.

I’m glad my cousin is getting married. But not because there’s anything significant about a ring or a ceremony. I’m glad because Allen seems like a really good, honest guy who has a good chance of making her happy. Which, no matter how old or successful we are, is all any of us can hope for.

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Mechanical Girl (I’m Not)

Last week I bought a space heater.

There’s heat in my house, but not in my (pretty large) room and it was getting down into the teens at night and I began needing to sleep with multiple layers of pants. I also refused to stop insisting that Bonita sleep next to me (I required the warmth), and feared she would learn to dial Animal Services if this all continued.

So on a schoolnight when I had approximately thirty-one other things to do, I dutifully drove down to True Value hardware on Lomas and grilled an unsuspecting (and, sadly, woefully uninformed) salesman about which product would keep me warmest.

Once we’d (rather arduously) reached a decision, I thought of one last question:

“This thing is all set up, right? I don’t have to put anything together?”

“Oh yeah,” he assured me. “Just plug it in, it’s all good to go!”

It was only after getting the thing home and using my full body weight to heave it from its paper box that I realized this was not, entirely, the case. Before it could be “good to go,” one had to secure a set of unattached wheels. I saw odd-shaped pieces of metal. I saw screws.

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On Keeping Up Friendships, Far and Farther Apart

A few months ago D, one of my closest friends from Washington, told me that he was moving to Boston: he’d gotten a new job, one that he was incredibly excited about and perfectly matched the professional criteria he’d spent years looking for.

Part of me was thrilled for him: D had been desperate to leave his then-position for a long time. But another part of me felt disappointed–genuinely sad to hear that he would be leaving DC.

Aside from being incredibly selfish, this reaction does not make much rational sense. I don’t live in Washington. In fact, I live several thousand miles and two time zones away, in New Mexico. Whether he’s in DC or Boston shouldn’t affect me at all; If D had told me he was moving to Sarasota or Bhutan it would not have meant that much more in terms of how often I’ll see him.

But. But the reason it made me a bit melancholy is that, even though I spent most of my time in Washington whining about it–the transience, the smallness, the salmon-colored whale pants–ever since I left the city I’ve loved going back.

I appreciate now things that were lost on me when I lived there: the walkability, the music scene, the free and fantastic museums.

Most of all–and forgive me the sentimentality I am about to indulge–I appreciate the family of friends that I, eventually, made there.

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When, And If, The “Game” Ever Ends

Last weekend, when I was catching up with E, I told her about the guy I’ve been seeing. (You remember, the one I’m not blogging about.)

I mentioned something, it must have been a little hesitant, about the pattern of our correspondence.

“Huh,” she responded. “How long do you think that’s gonna last?”

“What?”

“You know, the whole game-playing thing.”

Now might be a good time to note that in a few weeks E and her boyfriend will celebrate four years of being together.

I wasn’t sure how to respond to this for two reasons:

1) I hadn’t really considered whatever anxiety I expressed to be part of any sort of “game.” To me it just felt a natural aspect of the regular early courtship routine. You know, my life.

2) Assuming that it could be construed as “game-playing”–whatever that means–I have no idea when, or even whether, it does end.

The feeling that it might not probably comes from something I recently read: specifically, a nonfiction essay by Brian Doyle that is one of the best pieces I’ve come across in a while. (Not surprisingly, I read it in this year’s Best American Essays.) It’s called, “Irreconcilable Dissonance,” it’s about divorce, it’s about 1000 words, and each sentence is around 100.

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