Tag Archives: girl talk

Girl Talk: I Fought With A Priest About “Commitment” And Then Cried

Here is a list of people who really, really, really want to see me engaged:

  • Me. (Obviously.)
  • My boyfriend, who is saving money for an engagement ring. (Although you probably know more about that than I do.)
  • My mother. (Who, every time she sees him, badgers offers to help him pick the aforementioned ring out.)
  • A Roman Catholic priest whom I was seated next to at my girl friend’s wedding this weekend.

Now. Guess which person made me burst into tears on Saturday night, snatch my purse, and storm off in a blind rage? Keep reading »

Girl Talk: How I Ended Up Falling Into A Lake At My Best Friend’s Wedding

Three years ago, I went to a friend’s wedding in California. My boyfriend at the time (eventually my ex-fiance) got so drunk that he passed out on the side of the road as we made the trek from the reception to the after-party. I had to take M. back to our hotel and ended up missing all of the late-night festivities. When we broke up a year later, one of the more strangely profound resentments I felt was that he’d ruined that evening for me; I should have been celebrating, not taking care of him. Keep reading »

Girl Talk: I Lost 100 Pounds (And Found Out What The World Thinks Of Fat People)

I come from a small-ish town in Oklahoma where we’ve never met a vegetable we couldn’t fry and the only thing more super-sized than our portions are the huge church complexes that alternate with fast-food restaurants along our roads.

So it maybe isn’t such a big surprise that by the time I graduated from high school, I weighed 260 pounds. My prom dress was a size 24, and my mother had to help me zip it up, a five-minute ordeal during which we grunted and cursed at one another. My aunt had to custom-make my graduation gown, a huge white tent in which I resembled the Stay-Puft marshmallow man. Keep reading »

Girl Talk: I Quit Drinking — So What?

no drinking photo

At a recent dinner party, my friend’s roommate poured guests another glass of white wine. It smelled crisp, cold, and juicy—clearly the sort of wine that prickles the gums, softens the face and transforms a summer evening into one soft-hued hum. She stopped at me. I held up my glass of sparkling non-alcoholic apple cider. “Cheers,” I said.

Three years after quitting drinking at the age of 27, I’ve accepted my role as the non-drinker at any given dinner party or social event. I’m happy with my decision to teetotal, but some of my peers are less so—for example, my friend’s roommate.

“So you’re not drinking? At all? Really?” Keep reading »

Girl Talk: How Black Nail Polish Changed My Life

I’d always thought black nail polish was only for goths, but against my jeans and plain pink t-shirt, my manicure looked perfect.

I’ve always been too self-conscious to sport a style of my own, and unlike my friends, I’ve never felt comfortable in what the masses are wearing. My personality—dark, satirical, literary, depressive—doesn’t always go with pretty or dainty. The look I’d like to go for is attractive with a jaded undertone, something that says, “fun could happen here,” as long as we’ve acknowledged in advance that life is abysmal.

One evening in May, after leaving my downtown editorial job, where I’d had some wine on an empty stomach with a coworker, I stumbled into the CVS near my Upper East Side apartment. A bottle of black nail polish caught my eye. Standing in a row with other contrarians, like blue and taupe, it was dark, defiant.

At home, waving the blackened brush over my fingertips, I felt like Geppetto in his workshop, crafting some new being with high aspirations for a better life. The result was miraculous. Black nails. Wow. Who knew? I’d always thought black nail polish was only for goths, but against my jeans and plain pink T-shirt, my manicure looked perfect.

For the next few days, I went out of my way to let people see my nails: I wrapped my fingers around the bar on the 4 train. When recording a video blog at work, I touched my face to get my hands in the shot. I put the world on notice. Things were different.

Clothes were different. I went shopping alone and felt confident as I picked out shirts and dresses, thinking, these will go great with my black nails.

My mom hated it and seemed hurt. “You’re 26 years old. Why are you doing this?”

My friends approved. “I think black looks good once in a while … it’s elegant,” said Cathy.

“Once in a while is fine for you,” I said, “but I want my nails to be this color permanently. I finally feel comfortable in my own skin!”

I carried around the bottle of polish and touched up my nails all over town: at work, in restaurant bathrooms. I branched out and polished my toes as well. I felt complete, studded in black. My anxieties about having no style of my own evaporated as I settled into my new nails.

One Saturday afternoon when I was visiting my mom in Queens, she asked if I wanted to get a manicure and pedicure. I hated going to the salon, but my feet were calloused from weeks of walking around Manhattan in sandals, and my nails looked disheveled thanks to my habit of polishing them and then rummaging through my bag for an iPod or wallet.

“Hmm. OK, but I’m getting black,” I said.

Mom looked horrified.

The salon had one lonely bottle of black, but I handed the technician my own, feeling sentimental. We, the polish and I, had made this transition to confident fashionista together.

He looked me up and down, sighed, and raised his eyebrows. “Oh. OK,” he said.

As he began scrubbing several weeks’ worth of black polish off my nails, two girls walked in. I caught a glimpse of them in the mirror. With their short shorts, tight t-shirts, and tan lines they looked 17.

“I told my dad the only reason I’m getting a job this summer is so I can get my nails done every few days,” one girl said to the other.

I shivered at the high-maintenance remark, remembering again why I hated nail salons, where the conversations touched on all things superficial and reality TV. When my manicure was finished, I admired my fingers. They looked much better than when I did them myself. People were going to notice. Leaving Mom to finish her manicure, I hopped over to get my toes polished.

As the same technician got to work, the female employees at his side had their eyes on my feet and fingers. One pointed to my hands and spoke in Korean. Billy, at my feet, nodded, spoke back, and laughed. He showed her the bottle of polish I brought. They both rolled their eyes and got back to work. I started to sweat.

They’re talking about me … Does it matter? Maybe? No … It doesn’t matter. I’m unique! I’m awesome, I’m …

The woman lifted her head again, spoke, and gave me a look of disgust, all to the pleasure of the man polishing my toes.

They hate me. I’m an idiot, I thought. My eyes darted from one disapproving scowl to the other, and my heart started racing. Just then, two ladies, who were both carrying bottles of delicate pink, sat in the empty pedicure chairs on either side of me. They spoke in Russian, and I felt their eyes graze my fingers. It was too much to bear. An old familiar pang of social anxiety struck my stomach, the kind that called when I didn’t know in high school that pointy-toed boots were out of style, or in junior high when the butterfly hairclips I bought were too large.

Another nail technician joined the fleet at my feet. “Nice color!” she said. The gaggle burst out in laughter and my face turned the shade of the Russian girls’ nails.

I tried to say, “It suits me.” The words got lodged in my throat.

His job finished, Billy led me over to the drying station. As I sat down, nauseous, and close to tears, the 17-year-old girl walked toward me, her nails a new, bright shade of red. “I’ve got to get this off,” she said to her friend. “Should I get black instead?”

I nearly yelled out. Yes! Yes, get black, PLEASE, GET BLACK. I watched her lift the dark bottle from its shelf and had to suppress a “THANK YOU!”

When I was through drying, Mom and I headed back out into the thick summer air. As I reveled in the comfort brought by the nail polish choice of a teenager, I recalled being 8 years old, overhearing my mother complain I was wearing my hair in my eyes because my older cousin Nancy was doing it. I am still that girl, seeking someone else to validate my appearance, needing more to hide behind than this black coat.

Photo: iStockphoto

Girl Talk: My Biological Clock Is Broken

I’m smack in the middle of my 30s and recently married. For some childless women my age, this is tick-tick-tick time. However, while other women may be intimately in touch with their ovulation cycles, I’m in no hurry to have kids now, if ever. My old man and I have talked about it, but we’re both horrified by how much our lives would have to change — not to mention how big a pain in the ass kids are for, oh, say, 18 years. Keep reading »

Girl Talk: When Does “Concerned” Become “Nosy”?

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend came home from hanging out with his male cousin with a startling report: the cousin had an ugly, yellowing bruise on his upper arm. The cousin also needed to buy a new cell phone because his had been smashed. We noticed his Facebook status had been updated over the weekend to say that he’d made his recent ex-girlfriend cry.

“What happened?!” I gasped. My boyfriend shrugged.

“What, you didn’t ask?” I sputtered. These two are as close as brothers. They’ll be best men at each other’s weddings. But he shrugged again and responded, “I didn’t want to be nosy.” Keep reading »

Girl Talk: My Brother Is Getting Married

My younger brother Dan used to sleep in a car bed with a GI Joe tent over it. He owned a skateboard, a boogie board, a BMX bike, a moped, and a scooter. His favorite movies were “Rad” and “Gleaming the Cube.” But underneath his little daredevil facade was a kid that worshiped me, his older sister who occasionally used him as a human Barbie doll. He did whatever he could to please me — even if it meant wearing a dress — whatever it took to be accepted by me — even if it meant watching “Annie” every day for a week. I embraced him as my apprentice, my little neophyte. As we got older, I tried to instill him with values and culture. I introduced him to indie films and alternative music. I dragged him along to parties with my artist friends and gave him books to broaden his perspective. I encouraged him to leave the state for college and travel, to grow as a human being. I supported him 100 percent when he decided to move to New York City post-college to pursue a career in finance. I was always there when he needed advice. Staring at the clean-cut, 26-year-old man sitting across from me at his engagement dinner, I barely recognized the person he had become. Keep reading »

Girl Talk: How Our First Anniversary Was Saved

Two weeks after confessing my worry about surviving my first ever road trip with my husband, I’m happy to report we made it home alive — with our bodies, minds, and marriage all safely intact. The trip wasn’t without a few close calls, though. While driving for the first time in three years — on narrow, winding back roads, no less — was nerve-wracking, it turns out our most anxious moments came before we even picked up our rental car. But what could have turned into a disastrous first anniversary — or, at the very least, a terribly unpleasant evening — quickly became one of the best weekends we’ve ever had together and was another reminder just how important a positive attitude and an open heart — not to mention an adventurous spirit — are in maintaining a happy relationship (with yourself or a significant other). Keep reading »

Girl Talk: Love Me, Love My Hair

I was in fourth grade when my grandmother first took me to a hair salon. She drove me to her hairdresser, Betsy, a 50-year-old woman who dyed her hair pitch black, and had a head full of curls the perfect shape of large hot rollers. I squirmed as Betsy ripped out the rubber bands holding in my afro puffs and inspected the black cloud of kink on my head.

“Naomi, have you been trimming this yourself?” Betsy asked, horrified.

“Well, yes, but I don’t know how to do her hair.” Gram said sheepishly. Gram raised five straight-haired Irish-American kids, my mother being one of them. No curls were in sight until my father’s African-American hair genes messed it up. She was lost. Keep reading »

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